Appraisals

Fontana Jeweler offers a wide range of gemological and appraisal services, including:

  • Jewelry, watch, & clock appraisals for insurance replacement value
  • Gem identification & grading
  • Precious-metal testing
  • Estate assessment in cooperation with your attorney
  • Verbal estimates of value
Jewelry Appraisals

Fontana Jeweler will perform your appraisals quickly & affordably. Since each design varies in complexity, some items require more time than others. For every item that is left in our care, we fill out a jewelry repair slip in triplicate and provide you with a carbon copy. Your items are also insured under our store insurance policy while they are with us. In some cases it isn’t necessary to leave the item at all. We can take notes while you wait, then either mail the completed appraisal to you or have it available for pick-up in the store.

For every appraisal, the appraiser’s first step is to inspect your jewelry for loose gems, worn settings, or other details in need of repair. If additional services are needed we will explain the recommended work in detail and offer a free estimate before performing any repairs.

Next, we thoroughly clean the items, weigh the precious metal content, and precisely measure every gem. We do not remove your gems from their settings to weigh them. Instead, we use a micrometer to take measurements to within 0.01 millimeter, taking into account proportion variations such as girdle thickness and hidden weight. This data is entered into an advanced scientific computer program that generates a highly accurate weight estimation. If you have a previous appraisal, gemological certificate, or receipt with exact gem weights, we can use that data on the new appraisal.

The third step is to grade the gems and record the results on the appraisal. Diamonds are graded according to the GIA “4 C’s” quality scales. We use a master-stone comparison set to grade their color under professional daylight-equivalent lighting, and a gemological microscope for evaluating their clarity at the industry standard 10x magnification. For colored gems, we describe their color and clarity using GIA standardized terminology for easy identification.

When all the data is recorded, the valuation process begins. The value of each gem is calculated based on current replacement cost and added to the value of the precious-metal content. This subtotal is combined with the cost to create, set & finish the jewelry item to determine the total replacement value of the piece.

The final step of the process is to create a professional typed document of your appraisal. We will supply you with two copies: one for your records and one to provide for your insurance company. Every appraisal is kept on file here, and additional complimentary copies are available upon request. Fontana Jeweler’s insurance appraisals are accepted by all major insurance companies.

Watch & Clock Appraisals

Watch & Clock appraisals note the brand & model of the timepiece, along with the estimated age and any features that would impact the value. For example, we record whether a Rolex watch is made of stainless steel or 18k white gold, whether it features any diamonds or other gems, and if it’s equipped with a quartz movement or an automatic self-winding movement. We’ll calculate the timepiece’s fair new-replacement value, or if it has been discontinued, a new-replacement value for an equivalent model.

Gem Identification & Precious-Metal Testing

Do you have a gem that’s a family heirloom, but you’ve never been sure what it is? Did you find a piece of jewelry on the ground or at a thrift store, and now you want to verify whether it’s a costume piece or a rare treasure? Our GIA Graduate Gemologist is expertly trained in the use of the full range of scientific gemological instrumentation to identify your gem in our on-site lab.

The identification process begins with a microscopic evaluation of color, luster, special phenomena, and clarity characteristics, among other factors. Then we use a refractometer to measure the gem’s unique refractive index, or the degree to which it bends transmitted light.

The third primary test uses the polariscope and sometimes the dichroscope, which determine further important details about light’s behavior as it travels through the gem. As a final test our spectroscope can give us clues about the elements contained in the gem, which, among other benefits, is helpful in separating some types of synthetic gems from their natural counterparts.
In addition to gem identification, our jeweler will determine whether your item is made of a “costume” base metal or a precious metal. A simple set of tests can differentiate between sterling silver and gold, as well as identify the karat purity of the gold.

Estate Assessment & Verbal Estimates of Value

Sorting through an estate is a difficult process, and Fontana Jeweler is here to make it easier with our complimentary verbal estimate services.

When you make an appointment to bring in your jewelry and watches, we’ll help you understand the identity & value of each item so you can divide them fairly. We also offer advice on how to sell any unwanted items to your best advantage.