How to Store Art and Jewelry
Written by: StorageUnits.com Editorial Team - Published: Nov 6, 2023
Depending on the item, there are several factors to consider when storing valuables such as art and jewelry. Delicate items require a carefully controlled environment, and tight security is the highest concern for all types of precious goods. Many people choose to store valuable possessions in their homes using safes, totes and other storage containers. Larger spaces, like a basement or attic, are common places for precious collections and family heirlooms.
- 1 Determine where to store items based on size, quality and replacement cost.
- 2 Store small valuables in a safe deposit box or well-constructed home safe.
- 3 Store large and delicate valuables in a climate-controlled, secure facility.
- 4 Purchase or review your current homeowners insurance policy to ensure it covers valuable items in storage. Add special coverage if necessary.
While at-home storage is fine in plenty of cases, there are situations in which homeowners are better off storing their valuables outside their homes. Moving, going on an extended trip and running out of household space are several reasons to think about outside storage.
Storing Small Valuables
If stored at home, small items such as jewelry, rings and gemstone accessories should be in a secure container away from easily accessible areas. Putting these valuables in the living room, bedrooms or any other common place makes them an easier target for thieves. Ask a local hardware store about safe and tote options. Some consumer storage products even have advanced features like fingerprint scanning and voice activation.
It’s also possible to store these valuables at home by purchasing the smaller containers offered by storage companies. This can save money in the long run and makes moving batches of items easier. If the items are packed properly, it will prevent them from being damaged as well.
Storing small valuables outside the home takes careful consideration. A popular choice is a safe deposit box. These small, medium and large safes are located inside banks and are rented out to consumers, typically for $15 to $25 per year. They have two locks and can’t be opened without both the customer’s key and guard key, which is kept at the bank.
Though many people like using a safe deposit box for the security, there are a couple of drawbacks. Banks impose severe (and variable) limitations on what can and can’t be stored. In addition, it can be a hassle to access the deposit box in an emergency, so it’s necessary to weigh the trade-off between security and convenience.
Using a portable storage unit is much simpler, more convenient and less costly than using a safe deposit box or regular storage facility. The main drawback of this approach is insurance. Homeowners insurance policies often exclude damage or theft of jewelry, pottery and other fine art, including their storage units. You will have to buy a separate insurance policy for these types of valuables.
Storing Large and Delicate Valuables
Large and delicate items are usually better off in a storage facility than at home. Large valuables take up space, and fragile valuables can be damaged by the presence of excessive moisture or humidity. Large and delicate valuables are bound to sustain damage if kept around the house. Furthermore, depending on home security to protect these precious possessions is a major risk.
Fine art, such as large paintings, sculptures and so on, can be placed in an art vault. In general, a climate-controlled storage facility with a high level of security is the most appropriate place. Before placing items in a storage facility, call and ask about its climate control measures and security. You will want to visit the facility in person to be sure the unit you are getting is free of any damage like leaks or mold.
To keep fragile items from deteriorating, check the following:
- Facility temperature (especially maximum temperature)
- Humidity (shouldn’t exceed 50%)
- Container materials
- Backup generator
- Emergency maintenance options
Insurance for Valuables Stored Away From Home
There are several good reasons to insure valuables placed in a storage unit away from home. Most storage units don’t come with insurance coverage. For the safety of customers’ property, and to ward off liability claims, storage companies can legally require renters to provide proof of coverage for their property before they can sign a rental agreement. This can be troublesome for renters who haven’t insured their items yet. Therefore, some people choose to purchase homeowners insurance, which provides coverage in the case of theft, damage or general loss of property.
However, homeowners insurance doesn’t necessarily cover items stored outside the home. It’s important to check with your insurance agent to verify what is and isn’t covered. Some items, such as high-value jewelry and furs, can be insured with an additional coverage plan, but, naturally, it will increase the plan’s cost. Be prepared having done your research on insurance coverage because if you haven’t you may feel pressured to make a sudden decision to sign up with one of your storage company’s business partners when you rent your unit. This may or may not work in your favor, depending on the coverage your investment requires.
Extreme weather is another reason to insure stored valuables. Losses from natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires can be unpredictable. As always, renters should ask an insurance agent about what weather events the policy covers. Flood damage, for instance, usually needs extended coverage.
On the consumer side, the primary concern should be security. A reputable storage company will have 24-hour surveillance to monitor the facility for criminal activity. Unfortunately, this won’t deter every burglar, so it’s still critical to have insurance in the case of forced entry or even security missteps by the storage company.
Getting Insurance Coverage for Valuables in Storage Units
Considering the risks, it’s wise to purchase homeowners insurance even when a storage company doesn’t require it. There are a few things homeowners should do before stashing their valuables elsewhere:
- If you have a current policy, call the insurance company and ask about coverage for items in outside storage. Keep in mind that specific items may require additional coverage.
- If you don’t have a current policy, do your research. If you need help, you can always ask the storage company you plan to use for their recommendations. Those who work in the storage industry are often knowledgeable about coverage options.
- Research and compare options on your own, taking into account each plan’s coverage limit as well as any restrictions and rules, including types of damage covered.
What’s the best kind of safe for storing valuables at home?
The appropriate safe depends on the size of the items, the safe itself and your home. An extra large safe in a small place will only attract unnecessary attention. The average hardware store carries numerous types of safes. Some can be installed in walls or floors, and others are camouflaged to look like regular household objects.
How should I store valuable items when traveling?
This depends on the length of the trip and where you’ll be staying. It’s safer to keep possessions in one place while you’re on the move. The number one priority should be security since some items, like those with sentimental value, can’t easily be replaced.
If traveling internationally, consider looking for a bank or safe deposit company for small items. For large possessions, it’s better to leave them in a secure storage facility back home.
Should important documents be stored in a safe deposit box?
Aside from the inconvenience of banking hours, safe deposit boxes are a bad choice for storing personal documents. The FDIC doesn’t insure safe deposit boxes, and if the government or a government official needs to access your documents, they can be confiscated with ease.
Is a climate-controlled facility really necessary?
While it depends on the item, exposure of valuables to the environment can destroy them over time without anyone noticing. If you choose to keep delicate items at home, avoid putting them in places like the basement or attic, where they’re at risk from moist conditions, unstable temperatures or accidents such as basement flooding or roof seepage. Climate-controlled facilities are designed to prevent this from happening.