Resources for executors and Estate Administrators

Understanding Estate Gemstones – With the help of the GIA

Understanding Estate Gemstones – With the help of the GIA

August 12, 2022

Whether your estate has a large collection or a few pieces, understanding what you have is critical to fair value at distribution time or a wise informed transaction at sale time.  We cannot under-express the value of a certified jewelry appraiser, and in the case of gemstones, a GIA-certified gemologist {Correct designation?  Can GIA expand?}.

The Gemological Institute of America Inc. GIA is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization was founded in 1931 to “is to ensure the public trust in gems and jewelry”. (Full GIA Mission HERE.)  The organization protects the standard for Gem identification and classification.  For the novice or initiated, such an executor who finds themselves in charge of determining the value of jewelry in an estate, the

Value of estate jewelry

GIA has many resources that can be depended on, from very basic primer gemstone identification information to GIA assessment report services that an estate can definitively rely on for determining value.

{GIA: More Here? Is this accurate?}  {GIA: Does the GIA provide current market value in their reports?}

By definition, Executors are administrators, fiduciaries, not subject matter experts.  For specialty assets, such as jewelry and gemstones, executors depend on experts for asset determinations.  A little information, however, is useful in any area concerning estate assets so executors have exposure and a rudimentary understanding of the subject matter.  The following GIA resources are helpful to the uninitiated in getting your head around gemology.

GemKids:  The GIA’s website pages dedicated towards children may be a great place to start.  By design, simple and non-overwhelming, this website section presents the basics of gemology to lay a foundation of understanding and framework for building more knowledge.

Gem Encyclopedia: Aptly named, this page presents a chart to help start identification of the different types of stones.  Each stone provides links to attain more info and education.   a comprehensive Overview provides the history, process, treatments, and quality factors for the individual stones.  A buyers guide is provided for each stone:  “What to Look for,” “Surface,” “Shape,” “Color” is discussed so even the non-gemologist can have an intelligent conversation with an appraiser or gain a better understanding of a GIA report.  Each stone has additional research, articles and detailed guides available in addition to the fundamental information provided.
For example, checkout the Topaz page HERE.

Other GIA Resources

A GIA Report is the industry standard for diamond grading and gem identification. GIA tests every material submitted to determine whether it is natural or not, and discloses any treatments discovered during their examination. {Does GIA have a dummy/sample Report to link to?} There are 3 ways to submit a gemstone to GIA for their Lab Services: 1. Find a local GIA Registered Jowler {GIA: Correct Designation} that will submit the Gem on your behalf and manage the process and mailing (Find a qualified GIA Jeweler HERE, 2. Submit your Gem for Analysis and Grading and mail yourself (The form to submit is HERE), or 3. Hand deliver to any 16 drop-off locations in 11 countries ((The form to submit is HERE).


Understanding what the estate has is key to fulfilling your fiduciary responsibilities and assuring fair asset distribution among the heirs.  While becoming a gemologist isn’t a requirement of the job, having a level of knowledge and comfort with the assets you’re tasked with managing is good stewardship and discharge of your duties.  If the estate has jewelry or gems, a knowledge of the resources provided by the Gemological Institute of America is a good place to start.