How to protect your jewelry from theft
Having your jewellery stolen can be traumatic: Loosing something of monetary value is bad enough, while loosing items of vast emotional value can be even worse. Hiding your pieces well can help to prevent the theft, but what to do if it actually happens? Here is a list of tips which will help you get back to enjoying your jewellery again
Whether going on vacation or just being away from home, you have to calculate with a certain risk of theft. It’s a reality that burglars make their living by breaking into people’s homes in order to steal their valuables – amongst these your jewellery. The good news: At least here in Denmark, burglaries are on a steady decline:
Source: Danmarks Statistik
Having your jewellery with all its intrinsic value stolen can be heartbreaking. The reason why, is the fact that jewellery to many of us are linked to feelings and memories. Like your mother’s wedding ring, that bracelet you inherited from your favourite grandmother, who got it when SHE gave birth to your father. Or perhaps that special necklace your now husband gave you on your very first anniversary.
In rare cases the stolen goods get found and returned to its rightful owner, but most of the times you unfortunately have to deal with your insurance company in order to have it replaced by other, new jewellery. More on that below. But how do you determine what was stolen and how much it was worth? This can quickly become a farce of guesswork where you might risk asking for too little or the insurance company doesn’t believe your claim. In order to be able to have a clear answer to the question “what was the value of your jewellery?” a bit of work BEFORE the (hopefully never happening) event is a very smart investment of time:
Your insurance company will ask for pictures of your pieces and very often they are left to work with blurry pictures of you, 25 years go where it is JUST possible to make out the general shape of your piece. But in no way it is possible to discern what it was made of and the size and quality of the gems. This is why it makes sense to think ahead and whip out your jewellery box, set up an improvised photo studio and start photographing. Luckily, most of us own very good cameras in our smartphone and so actually taking the picture is not a big issue.
Here is a step-by-step guide to getting the best pictures:
- Photograph at daylight (close to a window) but not in direct sun. This provides the best lightning and reproduction of the colour of the gems
- Use a clean sheet of white paper as a background
- Measure each piece, the dimensions of the gems and count them if there for instance are a lot of small diamonds
- Write this data plus what material it I made of (look for a stamp on the inside/backside of the piece) directly on the sheet which you are going to photograph on. If you know its value, write that down as well
- Lay your jewellery flat on the sheet next to this data. If it’s a ring, use a cloth peg to stand it up
- Place a ruler next to the piece, making it easy to discern the dimensions
- Define the distance you want to photograph from: You want to get as close as possible, but not sacrifice sharpness. All cameras have a sweet spot right before it starts to get blurry. Find it and perhaps in some way mark it to make it easier for you to take the following photos. If you have a tripod this is perfect, but otherwise, a stack of books to lean on will do the trick
- Do this setup for EACH piece of jewellery Tip: you can reuse the sheet of paper – just move to another area and write here
Storage of pictures
Once all your pictures have been taken, consider how and where to store them. Smartest in 2 places: one digital and as a printout. ICloud or Dropbox are examples of good solutions. Make sure you create a separate folder for these pictures – maybe also of other valuables such as designer furniture, silverware (made of actual silver) etc.
Print physical copies of the pictures. Black and white prints are better than nothing, but a colour print makes it easier to determine the quality of coloured gemstones. Store these printouts together with various certificates which came along with your jewellery in a binder somewhere else than close to your jewellery box. You don’t want to actually HELP the burglar moving his stolen goods for a larger amount of money, right?
Third party certificate
If you own a piece which you suspect could be very valuable but don’t have a certificate telling you the specifics, it might be worth having a third party value it. Search the web for a local jewellery appraiser and have him or her value your piece in order to have peace of mind (pun intended).
Hide your jewellery
On a daily basis, hiding your jewellery is impractical -we often store them in a jewellery box on a dresser, visible to most. But if you go away on vacation, it is worth to actually hide your jewellery – preferably in places you would never look for valuables. I won’t write specific ideas here (let’s not actually HELP the burglars, right?) but be inventive and don’t copy something you have seen in a movie – chances are the burglar has seen the same movie!
However: Do NOT hide your jewellery in for instance (locked) attic or basement rooms of your building (if you live in a flat) or a locked shed in your garden! Though these might be good hiding places, most insurance companies will not reimburse you in case of a burglary from these rooms because they deem the storage was insecure.
Does your insurance company cover ALL your jewellery?
Most insurance companies only cover jewellery up to a certain amount. Research this information carefully and if you own jewellery which adds up to a higher value than this amount, you need to act! Otherwise you might lose not only your valuable jewellery but also your money! In this case you need to create an additional insurance just for your jewellery - your insurance company will happily help you do this (of cause). Some insurance companies will demand that you install an alarm and/or a hidden safe in your home if the value of your pieces surpasses a certain level. An alternative solution to installing an alarm could be storing the most valuable pieces (if you use them rarely and only bring them out for the extra-posh parties) in a bank.
The Adorabella tiara created of white gold, diamonds and tahiti pearls spends her nights in the safe of the shop - until the right person comes along to purchase her, that is
Many noble families are challenged by the insurance issue because the insurance fee of for instance costly diamond tiaras is so large. Many companies also demand that the owner only wears the tiara under certain security conditions and no more than a set amount of times per year. Quite a few wonderful pieces therefore are hidden away in the vaults of high security banks never to be worn by anyone. What a shame!
Find the information about your jewellery online
At Castens we have done our best to help our customers in the unhappy case of needing to determine the worth of a piece bought at our house: All jewellery at a certain value comes with a certificate (which also has a page reserved for telling your story about the piece to your future heirs ). Additionally, all orders including materials, dimensions and price are registered online and our customers get direct access to these data via a membership of the Castens Club (an automatic feature when ordering a bespoke piece of jewellery at Castens). This way you can always log into your account and draw the information as well as a copy of the original drawing for your insurance company.
You got the compensation – now what?
It’s an irrevocable fact: Your beloved pieces along with their memories and emotions have gone for good – now how do you in any way reclaim it? At Castens we (unfortunately often) meet those poor heartbroken customers and we do our best to mend the situation. Obviously what came from known brands is easy to repurchase, but what if that is not possible anymore because they have gone out of production or the pieces were special because they were uniquely handcrafted or antique? We can help. However, we only in the rarest cases attempt to create actual copies of the missing pieces because it will never be the same anyways. Instead many of our customers choose to have us create an entirely new piece which will have new sentimental value, unmarred by the event of the theft.
The Lady of the Lake ring is a very good example. In this case my customer had all her jewellery stolen from her by a burglar – including pieces with large affectional value. She was devastated but instead of purchasing many smaller pieces of jewellery to replace each of them she decided to have ONE new and gorgeous ring built for her. This ring was to symbolize her family, which she after all didn’t lose in the burglary. The ring consists of vines in yellow and white gold which encircle and hold a number of white and blue topazes, sapphires and diamonds, each symbolizing a member of her closest family. She wears it every day now and this way cherishes the truest value in life: Love.
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