J-Bar offers home-study appraisal course

The Jewelers Board of Appraisal Review (J-BAR) is introducing a basic home study course and exam that’s designed to help jewelry professionals gain competence in basic jewelry appraisals and enhance the reputation of the appraisal process among the general public.

J-BAR is a department of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee that was established to provide support and promote education for appraisers and users of appraisal standards. The new course is the second major initiative of the organization since it was formed less than three years ago, said Cecilia Gardner, JVC executive director and general counsel, during a seminar on Wednesday titled “Appraisal Liability—Learn Your Way to Responsible Appraisal Practice.” The first initiative was the creation of minimum standards and practices for making appraisals.

Gardner said J-BAR and the home-study course were created as a result of the approximately 500 appraisal complaints the JVC receives each year as well as the lack of standards and enforcement in the appraisal industry.

“What’s required to become an appraiser by any legal standard is that you need to go to a shingle store, buy a shingle, put your name on the shingle, and hang the shingle outside your door,” Gardner said. “There is no legal standard. Anyone can do it.”

However, she said that even though there is no legal standard, those who make appraisals could be held legally responsible for their representations. “This is dangerous territory,” she cautioned.

Gardner also noted that there are an estimated 20,000 retail jewelers who provide appraisal services (although she considers the figure more of a “guesstimate”) while there are at most only 1,000 members of accredited appraisal organizations. The home study course is divided into the following topics:

* Legal responsibilities of performing appraisals
* Methods of valuing
* Appraisal requirements
* Mistakes to avoid
* Language to include on your appraisal
* Anatomy of an appraisal
* Client interview

The course and the exam can be taken in book form or online at the J-BAR Web site www.jbar.org, Gardner said. Those who are associated with at least one of the appraisal organizations or who have taken appraisal courses may qualify to take the test without having to take the course. The test is taken at home. “It’s on the honor system,” Gardner said. The course and the exam are available for $89.95. The exam by itself is $49.95. Gardner noted that the course will help to better enforce industry standards before the government decides to take enforcement action and will help improve appraisers’ and jewelers’ reputation for integrity among consumers.

“We want to protect jewelers from the risk and legal liabilities that are involved with appraising,” Gardner said. “We don’t want people going to the shingle store and performing inadequate appraisals.”