Why do I need to have my jewelry appraised?

Appraisals are useful for many reasons; insurance purposes, estate tax purposes or perhaps you’ve just always wondered what that family heirloom is really worth. The price of gemstones and precious metals are always changing and there is a very good chance that your jewelry has appreciated over time and that’s why we recommend getting your jewelry appraised every 3 to 5 years to stay current with an ever-fluctuating jewelry market.

What is an appraisal?

An appraisal is a professional opinion of value for a defined purpose and intended use such as replacement value, fair market value, cash value for the purpose of insurance, estate, divorce, liquidation or other reason.  An appraisal identifies, describes and documents an item in detail.  Value can vary drastically depending on the purpose and intended use of an appraisal, so knowing why you need an appraisal is the most important first step.

What Type of appraisal do I need?

Insurance Appraisal

An insurance appraisal establishes the cost jewelery appraisalto replace an item in case of loss, theft or damage. An accurate and detailed description of the item is the most important aspect in this type of appraisal, because in most cases the insurance company insures the item and not its value. The value stated is a mathematical figure by which one’s premium can be calculated. The documentation enables the underwriter to not only assign the appropriate premium, but also ensures that the client can be fully compensated in case of a loss.

Estate Appraisal

An estate appraisal is used in the administration of the estate of a deceased individual to establish a basis of the inheritance tax liability and/or for equal distribution of personal property among the estate heirs.

Divorce Appraisal

A divorce appraisal is used in the administration of the common estate for items purchased as communal property. Before a court can divide marital assets, it must know how much the assets are worth. A qualified appraisal assists in the equitable distribution of the assets allowing the court to balance the value of the jewelry against the value of other marital assets.

Liquidation Appraisal

A liquidation appraisal is normally used when someone is required to convert their assets into cash. The value is affected by the time constraints of the conversion of assets. The time constraints imposed for liquidation will affect the resulting value and therefore will need to be disclosed as well as any other restrictions.

Donation Appraisal

When an item is donated to a charity or other non-profit organization, the donor may be entitled to a tax deduction. Some examples may include educational institutions, philanthropic organizations, museums, or other public institutions.

Collateral Appraisal

A collateral appraisal is used when someone wants to offer items in exchange for a loan. The time constraints imposed by the lender will affect the resulting value and therefore will need to be disclosed as well as any other restrictions.

Hypothetical Appraisal

A hypothetical appraisal is used when the item being appraised is no longer available due to loss, destruction, or because it was sold. The value is normally based on a previous appraisal, laboratory report, photographs or on the verbal description of the owner. This service is normally requested when a loss occurs and the item has not been appraised recently and/or correctly.

jewelry appraisalDamage Report

This report is used to calculate the difference in value between an item as damaged and the item in its original condition. All damage is documented and photographed. We can estimate what a damaged gemstone would be if it were re-cut to remove the damage.

Customs Report

This report is used to document items in your possession when traveling to a foreign country. This can eliminate confrontation with US Customs regarding payment of duty.

 Qualitative Report

A qualitative report does not contain a monetary value. It is used to establish or reconfirm the identity and quality of an item. This type of report is commonly referred to as a gem identification report, laboratory report or grading report.

How do I find a qualified appraiser?

Not all appraisals and appraisers are created equally, so finding a qualified appraiser is the most important first step to protecting your assets properly.

An expert appraiser will adhere to the standards set forth by the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) and the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA) as well as have experience and knowledge of gemstones, grading and branded or antique jewelry.

Henne appraisers’ unbiased appraisals will meet or exceed the requirements established for insurance policies, estates, divorces, etc. Our grading standards for diamonds and colored gemstones are based on the most respected and recognized grading standards in the world: The Gemological Institute of America. We also have extensive knowledge of and experience in appraising antique jewelry (Art Deco, Victorian, Edwardian, etc.) and branded jewelry & watches such as Rolex, Tiffany, Cartier, etc.

Our three appraisers have a combined experience of 60 years. We have two GIA Graduate Gemologists and one Fellow of the Gemological Association of Great Britain. One is a Certified Gemologist Appraiser with the American Gem Society and one is a Certified Member of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers. We employ state of the art technology combined with expert knowledge to bring you the most comprehensive appraisal service. We have been previously accepted as an expert witness and have provided litigation support numerous times, helping prevent our clients from having to go to court.

Fees will be estimated before any work is started so you will have no hidden costs. We will expertly clean and inspect the items, checking for damage, loose settings, etc. We will advise you on what needs to be appraised and what doesn’t and recommend repairs when deemed necessary. If you’d like to have a professional appraisal performed or schedule a complimentary initial consultation, please contact Christine by email (christinem@hennejewelers.com) or at 412-682-0226 to set up an appointment.

Posted in Pittsburgh Jewelry and Fashion | Leave a comment

What is the Meaning Behind July Birthstones?

Each birthstone has a unique meaning – something special that resonates with the people born that month. Wearing a birthstone is a symbol of pride, whether you’re wearing your own or one that represents someone you love. Today we will be exploring July’s birthstones, including the well-known ruby and some of the lesser known stones of the month.

What is July’s Birthstone?

The most recognized birthstone for July is the ruby, a rich red gemstone that has been around since the dawn of time. Researchers often affiliate the existence of rubies with the collision of continents that occurred more than 50 million years ago. These precious stones are found in royal crowns, ornate necklaces, ornamental armor, and many forms of modern-day jewelry.


As with all birthstones, July’s birthstones are associated with the zodiac signs for this month: Cancer and Leo. Cancer birthdays take up the majority of the month, but a Leo born in July can also claim the ruby or one of the alternate July birthstones as their own (Sapphire, Onyx, Carnelian, and Turquoise).

The Ruby and its Meaning

What do rubies do? What do they represent? Rubies are often associated with wealth and prosperity. Many ancient crowns were decorated with rubies, because they represented good fortune and courage. The ruby’s deep red color also has ties to love, passion, and raw emotion.

Long ago, humans believed that rubies contained drops of Mother Earth’s blood. The stones were highly sought-after because they were thought to hold the key to life itself. Some legends say that sapphires would turn into rubies if they were left in the ground long enough. Others say that rubies were used to tell if misfortune was to come. (The stones would turn a dark red color before an instance of bad luck, giving the user time to prepare for what was to come.)


image credit: GIA.edu

Unique Facts about Rubies

Did you know?

  • Rubies are gifts for milestone anniversaries, including the 15th and 40th anniversaries. Husbands, keep this in mind if you have a big anniversary coming up with your wife!
  • In some Asian cultures, rubies were laid below the foundation of a building to promote fortune and wealth. Rubies were also used in harnesses and armor for noblemen in China and India. Hindus believed that rubies would shield them from oncoming enemies.
  • The largest known ruby in existence is the Liberty Bell Ruby, which was found in the 1950’s in East Africa. It weighs over four pounds and was sculpted in the shape of the Liberty Bell. The Liberty Bell Ruby was stolen in a jewelry heist in 2011, and four suspects were arrested for the theft in 2014. Nonetheless, police have been unable to find the stone since the heist.
  • The National Museum of Natural History is home to some of the most famous rubies in the world. One of them is a 23-carat Burmese ruby that was donated to the museum by philanthropist Peter Buck. The stone came from Mogok, a region in Myanmar, in the 1930s.
  • The most expensive ruby ever sold was the Sunrise Ruby, which was purchased by an anonymous bidder in 2015 for $30 million. It is the most expensive colored gemstone ever sold, and the most expensive gemstone overall other than famous diamonds, such as the Pink Star Diamond that sold in April 2017 for $71.2 million in Hong Kong.
  • One of the rarest types of rubies is the Star Ruby. The surface of the stone has a six or twelve rayed star on it, created by tiny needle-like inclusions in ruby. These inclusions give the stone a silky sheen after it’s been polished, and it allows the ruby to shimmer as it moves in light. Star rubies come in the same shades as traditional rubies, but pigeon’s blood star rubies are the most sought after.

Factors That Influence the Value of Rubies

Rubies are graded much like any other gemstones based on clarity, color, cut and carat weight. Traditionally the most valuable and sought after rubies on the market were of Burmese origin, known for its pure red color. Today fine Mozambican and Malagasy stones rival the quality and color of the traditional Burmese sources.

Both rubies and sapphires are in the mineral family corundum and made from aluminum oxide. Rubies that have more blue in them than red are often categorized as sapphires instead.

Large rubies with strong color and clarity are rare to find. These stones increase exponentially in value as they get larger, as long as the clarity and color are still intact. Stones with a lot of inclusions or disruptions in color are less valuable than clear, rich stones.

What are July’s Alternative Birthstones?

In addition to the ruby, there are several alternate birthstones for July. These include:

  • Sapphire: The sapphire is September’s birthstone, but it can be used for July as well. This gem represents truth, honesty, peace and serenity.
  • Onyx: Onyx stones come in a variety of colors, from black to white to yellow and more. Onyx is considered a protective stone, meant to guard the wearer from intruders or people who may cause them harm. Onyx can also be used to enhance a person’s physical strength.
  • Carnelian: Carnelian is a red/orange stone that mimics the color of fire. Carnelian is known to boost energy levels and bring about joy for the person wearing it.
  • Turquoise: Turquoise is a stunning blue/green stone that is found in many Native American artifacts. It is associated with an improvement in mental health, preventing panic attacks, mood swings, and post-traumatic stress. Turquoise is said to give the wearer clarity and a pure frame of mind.

So which July birthstone is right for you? Well, it’s entirely up to your personal style. You could always wear jewelry that features multiple July birthstones, like a ruby ring with sapphire side stones. Or chose a piece with some edge to mix the timeless beauty of ruby with a modern twist. Either way, choose the gems that hold the most meaning for you personally, for these pieces carry your day-to-day stories and your unique journey.

Posted in Pittsburgh Jewelry and Fashion | Leave a comment

Jewelry Heirlooms – A Lasting Legacy for Your Family

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice.” This simple statement encompasses the essence of change, and it’s just as true today as it was then.

Think about how quickly material things come and go. We welcome new clothing trends every season. We upgrade to new phones within a year. We purchase cars to replace old ones. Even items that were seemingly important at one time may end up in a donation box or at a garage sale.

The items we hold most dear, however, are the ones interwoven with memories – the ones that have meaning. They are the family heirlooms we pass down from generation to generation as a testament to family, history, and moments that are significant in our lives.

These heirlooms often are jewelry, and for good reason. Fine jewelry is made from materials that last and retain their value. Jewelry also tends to be nostalgic and emotional, because of the person who owned it or because of when it was worn. Third, jewelry may represent traditions, such as a cross necklace worn by every son in a family on his graduation day or all daughters wearing the same diamond bracelet as they walk down the aisle.

diamond bracelet

However, some people pass these family heirlooms without wearing them, or even taking them out of storage. Typically, this happens because of three reasons:

  • The necklace, bracelet, or ring is not in style currently.
  • The jewelry is tarnished, broken, or doesn’t fit.
  • The owner doesn’t know the true value of the piece or see it as relevant.

As a family-owned business founded in 1887 in the East End of Pittsburgh, we at Henne Jewelers understand the sentiment that travels with a piece of fine jewelry. It transcends material worth and becomes part of your family’s history, legacy, and identity. Here are a few suggestions for updating your family’s treasures and adding to the tradition.

5 Ideas for Jewelry Heirlooms in 2017


We can show you ways to modernize your great-grandmother’s necklace. Looking for something truly unique? We can custom design jewelry to match your distinct sense of style. Additionally, we offer appraisal and jewelry and watch repair services.

ring gemstone and diamond

Blend old and new for your engagement ring.

Use the center diamond from your mother’s or grandmother’s engagement ring and choose from dozens of our exquisite settings. Save a few examples of engagement rings you like and bring them into our Pittsburgh store, right in the heart of Shadyside. If we can’t find the perfect match, we can customize a mounting just for you.

engagement ring setting

Purchase a wristwatch for your son(s).

High-end wristwatch brands like Rolex hold their value and increase over time, and they’re always in style. To make it even more meaningful, talk with your son about the watch or have him pick it out. Wear it, show him you care about it, and plan to gift it to him during a momentous occasion. Pretty soon he’ll be proud and notice when you wear “his” watch.

40mm Rolex Yacht-Master Watch

One-of-a-kind for your pride and joy.

Maybe your family doesn’t have many heirlooms, but you’d like to begin one. Many of our pieces are hand-picked or original, so you can trust that whatever you choose will be special. If you’re looking for recommendations, start with a diamond pendant or sapphire necklace. Or, for a truly unforgettable piece, ask to see our gem bar. Our own gemologist chooses these precious gemstones, which we can customize into whatever type of jewelry you’d like.


Engrave it.

It’s common, but relevant and still worth mentioning. Engraving helps to recognize the significance of your heirloom jewelry, possibly show its date and place in the history of your family, and share something special with future generations. For a different take on engraving your jewelry, consider adding a quote or words that represent your family. We can do hand or machine engraving on just about any item purchased in our Pittsburgh store.

For more jewelry ideas, stop in our store located on Walnut Street in Shadyside (parking garage conveniently located adjacent to the building). You can also visit our website or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Posted in Pittsburgh Jewelry and Fashion | Leave a comment

John Henne: 2017 National Jeweler Retailers Hall of Fame Inductee Single-Store Independent Category

Integrity comes first, and always, at Henne.  We are so proud and honored to share with you, our loyal customers, the news of this prestigious industry-wide recognition.  As Matthew Trainer, the publisher of the National Jeweler publication best explains, the benchmark for the Retailer Hall of Fame recognition is not financial success.  It is in fact, that this retailer has thrived beyond themselves and is a special part of the community.


John was chosen by his peers as the best in what he does because of maintaining a high level of achievements through challenges and changes.  If you are unfamiliar with the history of Henne Jewelers, founded in 1887, and now in its fourth-generation, the feature in National Jeweler does a fabulous job of showcasing Henne and our leader, John Henne.

To learn more about John and Henne Jewelers, click here.

Posted in Pittsburgh Jewelry and Fashion | Leave a comment

How To Choose Your Engagement Ring

Halo Engagement Ring on Hand of Woman with Blonde HairAn engagement ring is a purchase that will last a lifetime, and the process of choosing a ring can be exciting for any couple. It is a symbol of love and fidelity, and has larger significance than other jewelry.  At Henne Jewelers, we believe in forever.  Whether your engagement ring is passed down from generation to generation, or you would like to design your own ring, one thing remains the same, your engagement ring is very special and will be one of your most cherished pieces of jewelry and you will want to show it off.

Continue reading

Posted in Pittsburgh Jewelry and Fashion, Ring Things | Leave a comment

8 New Jewelry Trends for Spring

If you have the right pieces of jewelry, you can create your own look no matter what you have in your wardrobe. Keeping up with trends can be effortless if you grab a couple of the right pieces of jewelry this Spring. Take note of these Spring items, and you’ll be on track to look and feel in style in the upcoming season.

1. Statement Necklaces

Chokers continue to be popular.  woman-wearing-green-sautoir-necklaceIn addition, the long necklace, which is also called the Sautoir, is still as popular as ever this Spring. Look for long necklaces that pack a punch. Whether they feature bold colors, chunky designs, or asymmetrical feels, they make an otherwise plain outfit stand out.  Popular at Henne are necklaces made from various gemstones such as labradorite.

2. Artsy Earrings

Earrings can pull an outfit together or they can stand out as individual pieces of art. The innovative use of materials can showcase earrings, making them distinctive. They are often paired with toned-down ensembles so they don’t overshadow the outfit or make the overall look too busy.  At Henne, you can find artsy earrings made with moon stone and mother of pearl.

Continue reading

Posted in Pittsburgh Jewelry and Fashion | Leave a comment

Classic Jewelry: How to Wear Pearls

Pearls are some of the most ladylike, versatile, and fashionable elements you can have in your wardrobe. Their simplicity and timeless style make them the perfect accessories to add that extra bit of expression to your ensemble. But there are a few things you should keep in mind when deciding what styles and occasions you will use to show off your pearls.

Types of Pearls

There are many different types of pearls. The look of your jewelry depends a great deal on what kind of pearl is used in its design.

Continue reading

Posted in Pittsburgh Jewelry and Fashion | Leave a comment

2017 Engagement Ring Trends

So you’ve met ‘the one’ and you’re ready to choose an engagement ring. It will be a symbol of your love and your impending marriage. And it’s also something worn on a daily basis for decades to come. Classic styles like single solitaire rings will always be in style, but there are a few trends that are on the rise in 2017. Here are a few to consider when choosing your engagement ring.

Intriguing Halosm646601-halo-engagement-ring

Halo settings have gained popularity over the years. It’s easy to be mesmerized by them because they include a row of sparkling gems that help draw attention to the center stone. This year, the halo settings are taking a leap and becoming even more unique. You will see intricate designs, vintage options, and geometric styles. The most popular halo style will look more retro and antique.

Continue reading

Posted in Pittsburgh Jewelry and Fashion, Ring Things | Leave a comment

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Do you know what you’re getting the special someone in your life?  We put together some great ideas, no matter who you’re planning to surprise.

Valentine’s Day Gifts for Men

The following are just a gift ideas that the man in your life might appreciate:

  • A new watch – A watch is to men what jewelry is to women. When a man dresses up for a special occasion, he makes sure to put on his favorite watch. This doesn’t mean he can’t use another watch if he already has one. Variety is the spice of life, and no man will mind having several watches to choose from. Just be sure to pay attention to the types of watches he generally wears in order to get a feel for his style. One of our favorites is this traditional quartz watch by Mont Blanc.6622-Mont-Blanc-Tradition-quartz-watch

Continue reading

Posted in Pittsburgh Jewelry and Fashion | Tagged , | Leave a comment

John Henne’s Holiday Gift Picks for Him

Who better to share his favorite picks for the holidays than owner John Henne. Here are a few of his favorite gift picks for a special guy in your life.

Custom 14 Karat Yellow Gold Cross Pendant

This gold cross pendant is on a 20-inch yellow gold solid rope chain.  It’s one gold Cross pendantof my favorites because it’s a basic cross that can be worn every day and is a reminder of the significance of my faith.

Tuum Origine Burnished Sterling Silver Cuff Bracelet
This bracelet features the ‘Our Father’ prayer in Latin. I personally have worn a Tuum bracelet daily for the past two and a half years. It is very stylish and subtly reminds me of the Lord’s Prayer, which is something I say every day.

Continue reading

Posted in Pittsburgh Jewelry and Fashion | Leave a comment