Before seeking out an appraisal, first know what you have. Take a complete inventory of your china and document your findings. Note not only the quantity of items, but the specific type such as salad plate or dinner plate. Also record whether there are any imperfections in a particular piece, such as a scratch or chip, as those will affect the value. It is important to know the official name of your china pattern and the manufacturer, because many online sites can give you an estimate without actually seeing your china. Sizes are also needed for certain items, like round or oval serving bowls, because most manufacturers offer the same shape bowls in different diameters, and size affects the value. If you are unsure of what you have, measure the diameter to be certain.
Decide first on what you plan to use the appraisal for. If it is for insurance purposes only, there are several options. Online appraisal services such as ChinaTraders.com or ChinaAppraisals.com will provide you with an official appraisal that can be used for insurance, probate or divorce settlements. You will not need to send the china to the company but simply provide a list of the inventory and its condition. The appraisal will provide current replacement value detail.
If your pattern is an antique or has significant monetary value and you are planning to sell some or all of your pieces, a visit to local antique dealers who specialize in china may be better suited to your needs. Just be sure you are aware that dealers may give you a conservative estimate if you are planning to sell it out right to them so they can resell at a profit. If the appraisal comes in lower than expected, you can get a second opinion or go with a dealer who allows you to sell out of his shop on consignment. In this situation, you are able to set the sales price and the dealer takes a predetermined percentage.
Replacements.com is another online option if you want the appraisal in order to sell your china. Replacements will make an offer for your china depending on the condition of each piece, whether you have complete sets and the popularity of your pattern. You can then either accept or decline their offer. If you accept, the pieces are shipped to the Replacements warehouse in North Carolina and put on their website as available inventory to sell. This will give you an idea of the fair market value of your china.