Jewellery and art insurance: the importance of valuations

The art world was awed earlier this month by the sale of the most expensive painting ever sold at auction. Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi fetched a staggering $400million at Christie’s in New York. The painting, which was rediscovered less than a decade ago, presents an image of Christ holding an orb—and had only been predicted to fetch $120million, showing how hard it is to value artwork effectively. And this isn’t only true for the purchase price—it can also very difficult to ensure that artwork (and other assets such as jewellery) are insured properly. So what should you look for when considering jewellery and art insurance?

Jewellery insurance

Regardless of the size and value of your collection, a valuation from a trusted partner can ensure you have the correct level of jewellery and art insurance in place.  Jewellery is slightly easier to value, because it’s less subjective—the value of gold is set, for example. Some types of jewellery are also less likely to decrease in value over time. However, it’s important to note that you can’t insure for ‘sentimental value’—family heirloom status, for example, often won’t be taken into consideration during a valuation.

Art insurance

Art insurance is more complicated, because the value of art—as is made clear by the sale of Salvator Munid—is subjective, and can often be based on more than just the aesthetic value of the piece. Marketing, notoriety, and other movements in the art world can all have an effect—especially in today’s world, where negative events in the personal life and reputation of the artist could cause a significant drop in the artwork’s value.

Instructing a trusted art advisor is essential for ensuring you can the correct level of art insurance. We recommend Gurr Johns, for example, who have been in business for over 100 years.

It’s also important to get your art and jewellery valued regularly—every three to five years is a safe bet. This will ensure your artwork and jewellery isn’t under or over insured. If your collection is over insured, you’ll still only receive the cost it’s worth at the time of the claim—you can’t just insure for over the value and expect this to pay out. Conversely, if it’s under insured, you won’t receive the true value if your art or jewellery is worth more than the amount insured.

It’s also important to catalogue your collection appropriately. For example, I advise clients to take pictures of artwork and jewellery in situ, and to ensure they have a digital copy of proof of ownership, to keep alongside a copy of the valuation.

If you have questions about jewellery or art insurance, I would be delighted to advise you further.