Why you should insure your jewelry and how.

Why you should insure your jewelry and how.

To a newly-engaged bride, practical and time-consuming tasks like learning how to purchase engagement ring insurance—and then getting around to actually doing it—can seem a lot less thrilling than, say, finding your perfect wedding dress. However, if your engagement ring falls down the garbage disposal, flies off on a rollercoaster, or sheds a diamond or two, you'll wish you had better protected your sentimental stone. We've asked jewelry and insurance experts to weigh in on what it takes to make sure you'll be able to enjoy your ring for years to come—no matter what life throws at your left hand. Read their advice, below.

Choose a Coverage Provider

When it comes to insuring your engagement ring (or other valuable jewelry for that matter) you have two options. If you have homeowners' or renters' insurance, you can purchase an extension (also called a "rider") that covers your engagement ring specifically. If you don't have homeowners' or renters' insurance you can take out a policy through a company that specializes in jewelry insurance like Jewelers Mutual. Independent companies like Jewelers Mutual are also worth a look if your insurance provider doesn't offer the specific coverage you require.

The cost of coverage will vary greatly based on several factors including the value of your ring, where you live (and theft rates in the area), as well as whether or not your policy has a deductible, says Kash Bulsara, a team manager in the homeowners insurance division at State Farm. "Policies without deductibles will have higher monthly premiums. And, just as with health and car insurance, it's a great idea to ask your insurer what types of repairs contribute to your deductible."

Other important questions to ask a potential policy provider: Can you choose who repairs your ring? If you're insured for replacement (instead of a cash payout), where can you purchase a new ring? What happens if a suitable replacement cannot be found? How will you need to prove the ring vanished if you make a claim? And are there any circumstances that aren't covered?

"In addition to engagement ring insurance, remember this is a time when you should be reevaluating all of your insurance needs as newlyweds," says Jeanne Salvatore, senior vice president of public affairs and consumer spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute. Even consider ramping up your insurance coverage to account for expensive or hard-to-replace wedding gifts.

Get an Appraisal

You can't protect the value of your ring if you don't know what it's worth. "A thorough appraisal will include the carat weight, cut, color, and clarity of all the diamonds, the carat weight and shape of any colored stones, the metal type and fineness or karat, as well as any identifying marks, hallmarks, or stamps," says Elizabeth Doyle, president and co-founder of Doyle & Doyle. Most insurance companies will require an appraisal for higher value pieces (for example, rings worth $5,000 or more) while an invoice or receipt suffices for less expensive items.

If your center stone is around half a carat or larger, your jeweler will often provide a diamond certificate or grading report from an independent gemological laboratory like the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the organization that founded the "4Cs" used to evaluate diamonds: Color, cut, clarity, and carat weight. This assessment of quality—while not an appraisal—lists all of the measurements your appraiser will need to make the most accurate determination of value. (This detailed information can also help track down your specific diamond if it's ever stolen.) "If your ring is lost and you're without an appraisal there is no way you'll be able to recover the ring's actual worth," says Russell Shor, senior industry analyst at GIA. "The GIA report is unassailable if people lose their ring or are victims of theft."

Find a reputable appraiser with sparkling reviews, preferably one who also holds a graduate degree in gemology and is a member of a national appraisal society. (The GIA recognizes these associations.) "It's very important that your appraisal is accurate," says Zaven Ghanimian, designer for Simon G. Jewelry. "It's not a good thing if the appraiser inflates the value of your ring." Sure, you might be thrilled when the sparkler that cost your groom $2,000 appraises for double, but you could end up losing money in the long run. You'll pay a higher monthly premium for a ring that appraises for $4,000, and if it's lost or stolen, your insurance company may just replace the ring—which could also only cost them $2,000—instead of cutting you a check for the cool 4K.

Remember to a Reappraise

The good news is your engagement ring was a smart investment! As its value has likely gone up since it was purchased, it's important to have your ring reappraised every 2 to 3 years for insurance purposes. And consider going back to the same appraiser each time (assuming you had a good experience), says Bulsara. Most reputable appraisers will retain a copy of your original appraisal and can work from that instead of starting from scratch—and that cuts costs. (But bring a copy of your appraisal in the event they don't keep records for that long.)

—Alyssa Wells