California Wildfires and Louisiana Floods: What can you do to Help?

Unit and concord in multiethnic team, all hands togetherThe Blue Cut wildfires in Southern California and the recent flooding in Louisiana have raised concerns among our American Gem Society (AGS) members, industry peers, family, and friends.

This outflow of concern prompted us to compile a list of organizations that are requesting goods or monetary donations for the affected areas, and we’d like to share this list with you. If you’d like to help, please visit the following websites and feel free to pass this information on to others.

CALIFORNIA

American Red Cross – Desert to the Sea Region: This helpful website answers questions about how you can best help victims of the Blue Cut fire, http://www.redcross.org/local/california/desert-to-the-sea/wildfire-response.

Animal Shelters: The Apple Valley Animal Shelter, Devore Animal Shelter or the San Bernardino County Fairgrounds in Victorville are in need of donations. Please contact them directly to find out what they need the most.

LOUISIANA

American Red Cross: Accepting donations via telephone. Call 1-800-REDCROSS or text LAFLOODS to 90999 to donate $10.

United Way: There are three branches that are accepting donations in Louisiana.

Baton Rouge Area Foundation: The Baton Rouge Area Foundation is doing great work for those affected by the floods in Louisiana. The Foundation has dispatched staff members across the Baton Rouge region to determine where needs are the greatest. If you would like to donate to the fund, please visit their website at www.braf.org.

Companion Animal Alliance: Baton Rouge’s city animal shelter. They need foster homes to house pets temporarily, large bath towels, paper towels, water and food for volunteers and staff. Donations can be made online to assist with these needs by going to the organization’s website, www.CAABR.org.

Denham Springs Animal Shelter: This shelter was devastated by the floods. They are accepting donations via a GoFundMe account, which PetCo is matching dollar-for-dollar up to $50,000.

232-HELP: Accepting donations to help purchase emergency medications, medical equipment, appliances and transportation for flood victims in 10 parishes across Acadiana. Donations can be made online.

NOLA Pay it Forward: The Greater New Orleans Foundation is collecting donations to aid neighboring parishes in early relief and rebuilding efforts. Learn more here, https://www.gnof.org/nolapayitforward/.

Visit Nola.com to see more organizations that are accepting donations.

 

Tips from Jewelers Mutual: How Much Does it Cost to Resize a Ring?

couple-admiring-ring-1100 (1)To resize or not to resize, that is the question. If you do decide to resize, how much should it cost? It all depends on the process; the metals needed, the thickness of the band, and whether or not stones will be added.

Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company defines the factors to consider when planning to take your ring size up or down a notch. Learn more by reading their blog, How Much Does it Cost to Resize a Ring?

The Six Steps Towards a Secure AGS Laboratories Diamond Grading Report

Platinum2016SAMPLEBeing a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to the mission of consumer protection, AGS Laboratories takes the security of their diamond grading reports very seriously.

If you have an AGS Laboratories diamond grading report, take a close look at it. Have you ever noticed any of the security features? Some are apparent and some are hidden. We feel you should know about the six security steps AGS Laboratories has taken to ensure the authenticity and security of your diamond grading report.

#1 – Paper

Just like U.S. currency, the paper used to create your diamond grading report is tracked and signed in and out. When documents need to be printed, the paper is taken from its secure location, counted, and then signed out. Once printed, it’s counted again. The amount of paper that was originally signed out must match the amount that was printed.

If a document is misprinted, it will be securely discarded. This action must be added to the report, that way the destroyed document isn’t recorded as missing.

#2 – Hologram

hologramEach document contains a special hologram unique to AGS Laboratories. Like the paper, these holograms are counted, signed in and signed out. It also contains its own security feature: if you try to peel it off, it becomes illegible and cannot be reapplied.

 

#3 – Barcode

Each document has its own unique barcode, which is just one more way the security of your document is reinforced.

barcode

#4 – QR Code

QR-codeAt the top of each document appears a Quick Response (QR) code, which can be scanned with any QR app found on a smartphone or tablet. The QR code ties in with the AGS number and barcode found on each document. If the algorithm within the QR code verifies that both numbers match in our database, it will connect to the report verification page on the AGS.org and agslab.com websites.

AGS Laboratories is the first to have both a barcode and a QR code on laboratory documents.

#5 – Unifraction Embossing

unifractionOn the reverse side of the document, you will see something that looks like a hologram but is, in fact, a proprietary security mark woven into the paper. Examples of unifraction embossing can be found on some foreign currency.

#6 – Lamination

The lamination on your document keeps it looking like new. It protects against damage from liquids, the transfer of oils from our skin, paper-loving vermin, and the general wear and tear of time. It’s also bonded to the document; if one attempts to peel it off, it will destroy the document, removing ink in the process.

Ensuring Your Protection

So, there you have it: the six security features on your AGS Laboratories diamond grading report. These six features can only be found on full and half page documents. Go ahead and count them. Scan the QR code. Be confident you have an authentic and secure document in your hands.

We know shopping for a diamond or diamond jewelry is a big investment, and at times can be intimidating. Always ask for an AGS Laboratories Diamond Grading Report to help you make an informed purchase. And, be sure to shop with an American Gem Society credentialed jeweler. They will explain your desired diamond’s AGS Laboratories Diamond Grading Report, as well as tell you about the qualities and characteristics that make your diamond unique.

To begin your search for an AGS credentialed jeweler, visit Find a Jeweler. Get social with AGS Laboratories on Facebook (www.facebook.com/agslabs) and Twitter (@AGSLabs).

Out of the Vault: Clarity Rarities

In the 4Cs of diamond grading, clarity is definitely an intriguing characteristic. What exactly is clarity? Diamonds can have internal characteristics known as inclusions or external characteristics known as blemishes. Clarity refers to the degree of these characteristics. As you can imagine, the gemologists at AGS Laboratories sometimes come across diamonds with very unusual clarity characteristics.

Here are two of these clarity wonders.

The first is one the AGS Laboratories’ gemologists have nicknamed, “The Happy Face.” Look at the white spots just to the left of the diamond’s center in what is known as the Table Facet. This photo was taken at 30x magnification with a  microscope.

smiley face _30x

Next up is another favorite of the gemologists at AGS Laboratories. They call it, “Hummingbird.” This image is at 50% magnification. Look at the top right part of the diamond and you’ll see a winged crystal figure.

Hummingbird_50x

In grading diamonds, the gemologists at AGS Laboratories use their expertise to analyze the size, nature, number, location, and relief of the inclusions and blemishes to decide what clarity grade is most appropriate for a diamond. 

Interesting note: blemishes typically have less impact on the clarity of a diamond than inclusions.

To learn more about diamond grading, clarity, and AGS Laboratories, click here. To find a jeweler who carries AGS Laboratories diamond grading reports, click here. AGS Laboratories is the only nonprofit diamond grading lab created with a mission of consumer protection. 

 

Spinel Named Third Birthstone for August

AugustBirthstonesWe have a birthday present for those born in August: the spectacular spinel has been added to your month’s birthstone lineup! August now joins June and December as the only months represented by three gems. The original birthstone for August was Sardonyx, and then peridot was added, becoming August’s primary gem. Without further ado, let’s welcome the spinel!

Spinel

4908The spinel is often assumed to be other gemstones because it tends to resemble either a ruby or sapphire. In fact, some of the most famous rubies in history have turned out to be spinel. But its distinguishing features, like its octahedral crystal structure and single refraction, are what sets it apart from other gems. Spinel also has a lower Mohs hardness than ruby and sapphire.

Significant deposits of spinel have been found in Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. It has also been found in Afghanistan, Australia, Brazil, Madagascar, Nepal, Nigeria, Tadzhikistan, Tanzania and the U.S.

Vivid red is the most desirable color of spinel gemstones, followed by cobalt blue, bright pink and bright orange. The more affordable stones are often those with paler colors, like lavender. You may also find spinel in black, violet blue, greenish blue, grayish, pale pink, mauve, yellow or brown. So many choices!

When shopping for spinel, a good quality stone should have no visible inclusions. The more inclusions, the less valuable the stone. Spinel can be found various cuts, like octagons, trillions, squares, rounds and fancy shapes, like ovals, pears, and cushions.

Below is a collection of designs featuring the spectacular spinel!

 

AG-Gems-PurpleSpinel-ring


AG Gems designed this ring featuring a natural purple spinel flanked by two natural half-moon cut violet spinels, set in 18k white gold, and accented by pink sapphires and diamonds.

 

JohnHardy-pinkspinel

Sterling Silver Classic Chain Medium Bracelet with pink spinel by John Hardy.

 

 

OMI-SpinelDiamondRing

Omi Privé 18k yellow gold ring featuring a 3.27 carat oval spinel, round spinels, and round diamonds.

 

Peridot

Natural Green Peridot

The signature green color of peridot comes from the composition of the mineral itself—rather than from trace impurities, as with many gems. That is why peridot is one of few stones that only comes in one color, though shades may vary from yellowish-green to olive to brownish green, depending how much iron is present.

Most of the world’s peridot supply comes from the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona. Other sources are China, Myanmar, Pakistan and Africa.

Also known as “the Evening Emerald” because its sparkling green hue looks brilliant any time of day, peridot is said to possess healing properties that protect against nightmares and evil, ensuring peace and happiness. Babies born in August are lucky to be guarded by peridot’s good fortune.

Peridot can be assessed with the same 4Cs criteria as diamonds—using Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat weight to determine value. The finest peridots have a lovely lime green hue without any hints of brown or yellow. Quality gems have no inclusions visible to the naked eye, though dark spots may be evident under a microscope. When you look closely, due to double refraction, you may see two of each facet on a peridot.

Whether you’re shopping for an August birthday or a 16th wedding anniversary, be sure to visit an AGS-certified jeweler. They will help you find the perfect peridot design, like those pictured below!

 

Carelle-PeridotRing

Whirl Peridot and Burnished Diamond Ring by Carelle.

 

 

LikaBehar-peridot

Oxidized Sterling Silver and 24k Gold “Candy” Earring with Oval Peridot Cabochon, by Lika Behar Collection.

 

 

EricaCourtneyCHEVRON-RING-peridot-2

Erica Courtney presents 18k Yellow Gold “Chevron” Ring
Featuring a 9.81ct Peridot, Accented with 1.04ctw diamonds.

 

Sardonyx

sardonyx-rough-stone_GemSelectSardonyx combines alternating layers of sard and onyx—two types of the layered mineral chalcedony—to create a reddish zebra-striped stone with white bands.

Sard ranges in color from yellowish red to reddish brown, depending how much iron oxide is present. Sard is easily confused with carnelian, another type of chalcedony that is slightly softer and lighter in color.

Sardonyx, like onyx, shows layers of parallel bands—instead of the chaotic, curved bands that compose agate, another type of chalcedony.

The finest examples of sardonyx, which display sharp contrasts between layers, are found in India. Other sources include Brazil, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Madagascar, Uruguay, and the United States.

Used as a stone of strength and protection since ancient times, sardonyx is associated with courage, happiness, and clear communication. Some believe that placing sardonyx at each corner of a house will grant protection against evil.

Sardonyx makes a great gift for people born in August who want something a little different than the traditional peridot birthstone. Readily available and relatively inexpensive, sardonyx makes an affordable addition to anyone’s collection.

The qualify factors of sardonyx are not as clearly defined as other gems like diamonds, so ask an AGS-certified jeweler for help selecting good stones. Generally, the 4Cs still apply.

Sardonyx is widely available and moderately priced in sizes up to 10 carats. The most common cut is cabochon, though it is popularly carved into cameos, intaglios, inlays and broaches to emphasize the contrast between layers.

Artificial and imitation sardonyx has been produced from common chalcedony and plain agate as far back as Roman times, according to writings from first-century naturalist, Pliny. Some gems are also stained with iron oxide pigment or treated with nitric acid to enhance color. These enhancements make stones less valuable than natural sardonyx, so watch for possible imitations when buying these gems.

Want to know more about birthstones? Click here to see all birthstones by month on the American Gem Society website.

Jeweler Spotlight: Denise Chislett, CGA, Underwood Jewelers, Florida

DeniseChislett-sml

Denise Chislett, CGA, Underwood Jewelers

The American Gem Society had a chance to speak with Denise Chislett, CGA, from Underwood Jewelers, which is located in these four Florida locations: San Marco, Ponte Verde Beach, Avondale, and in the Mall of the Avenues.

The CGA title after Denise’s name means she is an American Gem Society (AGS) Certified Gemologist Appraiser: the most highly regarded title among peers in the jewelry industry. In order to earn this title, the associate requires advanced training and experience in determining the value of diamonds and gemstones.

Denise Chislett is also the chair—and one of the founding members—of the AGS Young Titleholders (YTs) Committee. The YTs is a fun and energetic group of individuals who celebrate their hard-earned AGS titles, and they represent the next generation of leaders in the jewelry industry and the American Gem Society.

Denise shares with us her favorite jewelry styles, trends and pet peeves, and the importance of shopping with an AGS-credentialed jeweler.

Describe your jewelry style:
I only wear yellow gold; it looks better on my skin. One of my favorites is a men’s Rolex in yellow gold. It makes me even happier that yellow gold is in style right now. For earrings, I always wear studs—everywhere. To the beach or even to the pool.

Do you have any diamond obsessions?
Oval diamonds: they are my favorite cut diamonds. I love the shape and how it elongates your finger. Oval cuts are coming into trend, too!

Speaking of trends, what other trends should we pay attention to?
There is a trend toward solitaire rings or a single, beautifully cut diamond with a couple of side stones.

Although we only have another month or so left of summer, what is your favorite go-to jewelry for the season?
I tend to wear lighter colored stones like turquoise or lapis. In general, I wear more shades of blue! It doesn’t differentiate that much from other seasons since I live in Florida!

Favorite underappreciated gemstone:
The opal. This year at JCK [the industry’s largest jewelry and gemstone event] it was all about opals. I predict it is going to be a huge trend.

Do you have any jewelry pet peeves?
I don’t like matching jewelry. If I’m wearing Roberto Coin earrings, I probably will wear a necklace by someone else that is in yellow gold.

We are always telling our readers to buy jewelry from a credentialed, American Gem Society jeweler. As one such jeweler, what advice do you have for jewelry buyers looking for a personal jeweler?
When you visit an AGS-certified store, you are going to get a passionate professional who is not only highly educated on jewelry and gemology, but you are going to get someone with a good reputation that you can trust to give you great service and good advice. So many AGS-certified jewelers have been in business for decades, and some for more than a century, and continuously uphold their great reputations as ethical jewelers.

What do you do in your store that makes you different from other jewelers?
There are so many ways that you can differentiate yourself. We show our customers how to evaluate a diamond’s light performance with the American Gem Society’s ASET® (Angular Spectra Evaluation Tool). We also discuss with our customers the scientific difference with AGS Laboratories Diamond Grading Reports. Our customers truly appreciate that we can explain the various complexities of diamonds and jewelry with them.

Below are a few shots of Denise’s favorite jewelry:

IMG_0097

Top Left: 18kt yellow and white gold Barocco diamond chandelier earrings by Roberto Coin
Top Right: 18kt yellow gold moonstone ring by Erica Courtney
Bottom Left: 18kt yellow gold Rolex President; 18kt yellow gold bangles by Forevermark; green tourmaline bracelet by Erica Courtney
Bottom Right: 18kt yellow gold bezel set diamond pendant by Underwood Jewelers

Band Together with Jewelers Mutual

shutterstock_304744727-ringJewelers Mutual Insurance Company wants you to help decide how to spend a record-breaking $2 million it will donate to three important causes this summer: health, home and hunger. As part of its “Band Together” campaign, Jewelers Mutual is inviting you, the jewelry industry, and the public to help by voting online for your nonprofit of choice.

From now until July 31, 2016, you may cast a vote daily at JewelersMutual.com/BandTogether for either Habitat for Humanity®, Feeding America® and Food Banks Canada, or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®. At the end of the campaign, each nonprofit will receive a portion of the $2 million donation based on the number of votes it receives.

For everyone who casts votes, the campaign offers an extra incentive beyond the chance to help your favorite nonprofit. Every individual who answers the call to “Band Together” online will be eligible to win a set of three stacking bands from Stacked New York. Over the duration of the campaign, Jewelers Mutual is giving away three of their exquisite sets. Winning participants will be randomly selected at the end of each week of voting.

The charitable cause that receives the most votes by the end of July will receive the $1 million grand prize from Jewelers Mutual. The runner-up will get $700,000 and $300,000 will go to the third-place winner.

“Band Together” with Jewelers Mutual to make the world a better place by voting today!

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