Last updateWed, 26 Feb 2020 1pm

The Story Behind the Stone: Inside the Appraisers Lab

Everyone loves to daydream over beautiful jewelry store displays, catching a glimpse of baubles they’d otherwise never see - or even dream of owning. However for top notch jewelry appraisers, viewing beautiful jewels is the norm rather than the exception.

Charles Carmona of Los Angeles is one of a handful of distinguished jewelry appraisers who has pretty much seen it all in his nearly 30 year career. Ever wonder what comes across the desk of such an expert? And having seen so many magnificent creations, does he still favor certain gemstones?


5.33 ct Afghani Tourmaline ZigZag™ by John Dyer & Co. Photo by Lydia Dyer.
A recent chat with appraiser Carmona is sure to shed some light on the subject.

What is the most unexpected – or surprising piece of jewelry that has come across your desk as an appraiser?

CC: The first time I saw an automaton pocket watch with moving figures on the dial as the hour strikes.  (Incidentally the scene depicted on the pocket watch in question was startlingly risqué)

Did you ever have an item test out to be something completely different than what it was purported to be?

CC: Frequently.  Many “diamonds” actually turned out to be other colorless stones.

Renowned jewelry appraiser Charles Carmona.
Similar things happened with dark red stones, which most people assume are garnet. But they’ve turned out to be ruby or even tourmaline in some cases. Also, occasionally a “canary” yellow diamond turns out to be a sapphire.

Is there one thing you would love to appraise in a ‘dream’ situation?

CC: The Crown Jewels would be fun...

What colored gemstone do you personally love? Why?

CC: Tourmaline! It comes in every color and is quite affordable.

Well, now you know.

Graduate Gemologist and Registered Master Valuer Diana Jarrett is also a member of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA). She’s a frequent lecturer at conferences and trade shows. Jarrett serves as Colored Stone Editor for Rapaport Diamond Report; with other works regularly appearing in trade and consumer publications. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit her website: www.dianajarrett.com.