If you're lucky enough to have Santa put something small and sparkly in your stocking this year, make sure he leaves a receipt with it. Knowing the price of something does take away the romance of the gift-giving, admittedly. You might not want the realisation that your beloved has blown the best part of his paypacket on a trinklet for you - bang goes that summer holiday. But, should the worst happen and you wake up on New Year's Day without it - or someone's broken in and carried it off when you were at the party - then you will need to show your insurer evidence that you owned it in the first place to make a successful claim.
Without a receipt, proving ownership is difficult. Your granny, for example, may have passed on to you a family heirloom whose record of purchase has disappeared into the mists of time. So that's when you need a valuation.
In a previous blog I wrote about how I was thrilled to find an online company called Value My Stuff who would carry out an evaluation of my diamond and emerald necklace and matching earrings for just £15. This was a huge cost saving on the average high-street jeweller who usually charges a small percentage of the worth of the item, often with a minimum of £50 or so.
Well, you get what you pay for. I uploaded the photos of my necklace on to the site, including one of the original receipt which detailed the number and weight of the gemstones. I waited a couple of days and got back a PDF full of spelling mistakes. The valuer had also ignored the fact that there were seven diamonds and seven emeralds in total and totted up the value as if there were only one of each. The end result was much, much less than I had paid for it several years ago.
I complained, of course. Value My Stuff sent back the PDF with one typo corrected. When I pointed out the gemstone error, they told me it was too complicated to do online and I should take it for 'first-hand inspection'. I suppose I should be grateful they refunded my money.
Back to the high street then, a move which I'm resisting because I don't want to pay those overinflated prices. If anyone has any ideas, I'd be pleased to hear them - give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org. Long winter nights are useful sometimes: I'll be spending them photographing my rocks and copying receipts.