Interview with Caroline Savory, Expert Appraiser


Ed Jastrem, Director of Financial Planning at Heritage Financial Services, connected with fellow Colby College graduate Caroline Savory to discuss her role as President of The Appraisers’ Registry of New England. Caroline and her team of expert appraisers have assisted Heritage clients with inventories and evaluations of artwork, jewelry and collectible cars. In the Q&A below, Caroline shares the background of her firm and services.

How did you become involved in appraisals of artworks and antiques?
Caroline: I come from a family of collectors. My grandfather was a designer and an avid collector of all things interesting and eclectic. My own parents had an affinity for antiques and I grew up appreciating beautiful things. During college, I lived for a semester in Nepal and was introduced to Tibetan paintings and carpets, which remains my favorite area of art today.

How do you and your experts come up with values?
The first rule of thumb is to know what you are looking at, which requires you to draw on extensive experience. Once you have identified what is in question, then you examine current trends in auction and retail values.

Where do you get your information?
From internet databases and past auction sales worldwide, and depending on what the item is, retail and gallery sales.

Who are your clients?
People who inherit antiques, art, jewelry, etc. from their family and wish to have general fair market value for planning purposes, or people who need to know the value of their household items/collections for insurance purposes. Many clients are in need of a fine arts rider on their insurance policies. We also are called upon for estate tax purposes.

What often prompts someone to get an object appraised?
Often, our clients have received new information that an object they have may be rare or valuable, perhaps from a family member, or after seeing similar material in the media.

What questions should someone ask when deciding to hire an appraiser?
What experience does an appraiser have? Does the appraiser have an expertise in the area you need? (i.e.: Asian art, carpets, jewelry or specifically coins/stamps or even classic cars). It would be important to know that the appraiser is not looking to purchase anything at that time or in the future. In other words, you want an unbiased, professional, and trustworthy appraiser.

What trends have you observed recently in your industry?
Middle market and low end antiques and art have gone down in value significantly. Anything to do with a dining room has dropped, barring silver which, if not a big name or rare piece, follows the spot value. Brown furniture has dropped in value especially. Rare Chinese pieces continue to sell high along with any high end item that is rare and in good condition. Big names in high end art, and contemporary art are setting records.

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