As we turn our calendars to September, we start thinking of things like heading back to school, sipping on a pumpkin spice latte, and planning our fall fashions. For those celebrating a birthday in September, they’re thinking of their birthstone: sapphire!
Although sapphire typically refers to the rich blue gemstone variety of the mineral corundum, this royal gem actually occurs in a rainbow of hues. Sapphires come in every color except red, which would then be classified as ruby.
Trace elements like iron, titanium, chromium, copper, and magnesium give naturally colorless corundum a tint of blue, yellow, purple, orange or green, respectively. Sapphires in any color but blue are called “fancies.”
Pink sapphires, in particular, tow a fine line between ruby and sapphire. In the U.S., these gems must meet a minimum color saturation to be considered rubies. Pinkish orange sapphires called padparadscha (from the Sri Lankan word for “lotus flower”) can actually draw higher prices than some blue sapphires.
Due to the remarkable hardness of sapphires—which measure 9 on the Mohs scale, second only to diamond—they aren’t just valuable in jewelry, but also in industrial applications including scientific instruments, high-durability windows, watches, and electronics.
Sapphires make stunning gifts for anyone born in September or celebrating a 5th or 45th wedding anniversary, so be sure to visit an AGS jeweler. They will help you find that perfect gift, whether you’re seeking the classic blue or another shade from the sapphire rainbow.
Need some inspiration? View this collection of designs featuring the sapphire!
Blue sapphire and diamond necklace, by Nash James Enterprises.
Cloud 9 pink sapphire and diamond drop earrings, by Gumuchian.
Yellow sapphire flanked by two trillion cut diamonds, by AG Gems.
Moments of Magic alternating blue sapphire and diamond bracelet, by Fana.
Versailles earrings featuring blue sapphires and diamonds, by Erica Courtney.
Color-change sapphire ring, by Atlantic Diamond Company.
Sapphire and diamond necklace, by Shula New York.
Padparadscha sapphire and diamond ring, by Omi Privé.
Purple sapphire and diamond ring, by Dilamani.
Multi-gemstone ring featuring blue, pink, yellow, and white sapphires, ruby, tsavorite, and diamonds, by Beverley K.
If you’re looking for a style that takes traditional in a different direction, check out the east-west setting. It’s the lastest jewelry trend that places the gemstone horizontally vs. the classic vertical setting. Whether the cut is oval, pear, marquise, or emerald, the east-west setting will be noticed!
We’re spotlighting a few designs from our AGS members that feature this eye-catching setting. Click on the images to get a closer look.
Engagement ring featuring an east-west emerald diamond with pavé halo, by A.Jaffe.
Tanzanite and diamond engagement ring, by Bevelery K.
East-west marquise diamond bypass engagement ring with halo, by Uneek Fine Jewelry.
Emerald cut amethyst with diamond halo, by Dilamani.
Necklace featuring an east-west oval sapphire with diamond halo, by Gabriel & Co.
East-west bracelet with oval diamonds, by Norman Silverman.
Diamond Metropolitan bar necklace, by KC Designs.
Bracelet with solitaire pear-shaped London Blue topaz, by Tacori.
Single emerald cut diamond on a ball chain necklace, by Brevani.
Platinum “Eloise” ring with rose cut diamonds, by Erica Courtney.
Looking to see some east-west set jewelry in person, visit an American Gem Society credentialed jeweler near you: www.ags.org/findajeweler.
Spring is here and we’re ready for some jewelry trends to help us celebrate this much-welcome change of season! Now that the weather is warming up, what’s hot? We’ve gathered some season-sensational (We just made that up!) designs from our AGS members.
Quite possibly the most quintessential symbols of spring are flowers, butterflies, and bees. Naturally, their likenesses are found in a variety of fine jewelry designs.
One-of-a-kind, Queen Bee Pendant, by Lord Jewelry.
Butterfly Open Frame band, by Fine Jewels of NYC.
Paraiba tourmaline and diamond flower ring, by Simon G. Jewelry.
Next on the list is chains. Big chains. Little chains. This trend is an ode to the Eighties and they’re everywhere!
Diamond Chain Link hoop earrings, by KC Designs.
Chain Band with diamonds, by Erica Courtney.
Gold and diamond chain cuff, from Sloane Street by Gadbois Jewelry.
It’s been said that pearls never go out of style, but these aren’t your grandmother’s pearls! Modern designs have re-imagined the classic jewelry wardrobe staple.
South Sea cultured pearl and graduated sapphire earrings, by Baggins Pearls.
Golden South Sea pearl pendant with diamonds, by ASBA USA, Inc.
Tricolor white cultured pearl ring with diamonds, by Mastoloni.
The warmer weather has us looking towards the sky and the sea for a much-needed getaway! Both celestial and nautical-themed designs inspire us to seek the outdoors (and beyond) for our next adventure.
Diamond Whirl Shooting Star ring, by Carelle.
North Star diamond pendant, by NEI Group.
Diamond anchor pendant, by Shula New York.
Are you ready to add a bit of bling to your spring wardrobe? Find an American Gem Society jeweler member near you at www.ags.org/findajeweler.
With the holiday shopping season here, the American Gem Society (AGS) has been receiving questions from shoppers seeking jewelry buying tips and secrets. We thought we would answer a few of our most frequently asked questions to help ease the pressure off this hectic season.
“How do I know if I’m getting a good deal?”
Trust your jeweler. Do your research, read reviews of their store, ask friends and shop with a credentialed jeweler. We take great efforts to vet all of our members, to make sure that they continue their gemological education and that they adhere to the AGS standards of ethics and integrity.
“Before I buy gems that have been altered to enhance their appearance, is there anything I need to know?”
Make sure that the piece comes with the proper disclosures and that you understand how to care for the gemstones. Ask your jeweler if the treatments are permanent. For example, fracture-filled diamonds can have their filling damaged by an ultrasonic cleaner or steam cleaning. Some irradiated stones are susceptible to color change with high heats such as that from a jeweler’s torch.
“What advice do you have when shopping for diamonds?”
Ask for a diamond that comes with an independent diamond grading report, specifically, an AGS Laboratories diamond grading report. AGS Laboratories is a nonprofit lab created with a mission of consumer protection.
A diamond grading report from AGS Laboratories offers a simple, straightforward, and intuitive 0-10 scale and provides all the information you need to be comfortable with your diamond-buying decision. Visit americangemsociety.org/agsdiamondgrading to learn more.
“When should I get an appraisal?”
There are different kinds of appraisals for different purposes. The most common reason for an appraisal is to obtain insurance to ensure a replacement of equal quality and value in the event of damage or loss.
For this purpose, either an Insurance Replacement Appraisal or Statement of Replacement Cost should be requested. The Insurance Replacement Appraisal represents the retail replacement cost with a comparable item.
The Statement of Replacement Cost is provided by the actual seller of the item of jewelry and will report the actual selling price based on the normal selling price of that item in that particular store. In general, you want to get your appraisal updated every two years, or if you have a significant life change, like a change of address. Of course, the best reason to get an appraisal is if the piece has significant meaning to you.
If you have more questions, you can reach out to any AGS member jeweler or AGS-credentialed appraiser, and they’ll be happy to assist you. The American Gem Society wishes you a very happy holiday season, full of sparkle and wonderful surprises!
Did you know that brown diamonds show more flashes of colored light than “colorless” diamonds?
If you are in the market for brown diamonds, be sure to ask your jeweler for an AGS Laboratories Colored Diamond Document. It’s a grading report that presents the technical aspects and nuances of colored diamond grading to jewelry buyers with easy-to-understand verbiage and graphics.
Brown diamonds will no longer be described simply as “a brown diamond,” but will be communicated visually, highlighting the nuances within the diamond’s color. For example, a diamond with even distribution of brown throughout and hints of orange, could be described as a deep, rich, brown diamond with moderate orange accents.
Click the image below to view the Colored Diamond Document.
“Brown diamonds are beautiful and are an alternative choice to the more traditional colorless diamonds. They are also trending as an affordable choice for fine jewelry,” said Jason Quick, Laboratory Director at AGS Laboratories. “We recognized a growing need in the market and decided to create a tool that will truly enhance consumers’ buying experience.”
AGS Laboratories encourages jewelry buyers who are shopping for diamonds to always ask for a diamond grading report from an independent third-party laboratory so that they can better understand the quality of the diamond they are buying. To find an American Gem Society retailer, visit americangemsociety.org/findajeweler.
By Alethea Inns, CGA,
Director of Gemology and Education, American Gem Society
Buying jewelry can be intimidating—it’s a bit like buying a home. It’s a big purchase and you need help from qualified professionals—that you trust—to close the deal. And it’s an emotional purchase; it can represent a big life change.
This is experience talking. I recently bought my first house. It was scary. How was I supposed to spend so much money on something that was so unknown? I had the comps, knew the area, knew the specs of the house and all the data and statistics. But that wasn’t enough. How did I know if there weren’t issues that I couldn’t see? What if the foundation was cracked, or there was mold behind the walls? What if there was a weird smell no one knew the cause of?
That’s why I brought in the experts. I had an amazing real estate agent who knew the area and even researched the owners. I had an appraiser that was ethical who refused to raise the appraised value of the house beyond what he thought was fair. I had an inspector who I trusted to come in and point out every little issue that could be a problem later on.
These professionals were people that I trusted. I knew they had their professional credentials and licenses. They were experts in their fields and most importantly, upheld standards of practice.
These jewelers are AGS titleholders, which means they are professionals who have pre-requisite gemological or jewelry industry education, verified by the AGS, and then tested by the AGS in their proficiency to grade diamonds. Not only that, they are required to write a Recertification Exam every year to ensure they are up-to-date on the most recent developments in the jewelry industry. If they do not take the annual exam, they cannot maintain their title.
More than being knowledgeable, AGS titleholders are also required to sign an ethics agreement every year and are required to uphold the AGS standards for protecting you, the customer, every day, and in every interaction.
Why shop with an AGS jeweler?
For the same reason you see a certified professional accountant (CPA) to do your taxes, or a doctor that not only has a medical degree, but has their board certification, or the reason you rely on experts with any major purchase, investment, or life event.
An AGS jeweler is there to protect you, their customer. They are there to give you the information you need to make an informed buying decision. Yes, they are there to sell you jewelry, but more than that, they are there to share their passion for jewelry and help you celebrate the moments and reason you walked into their store in the first place.
Ask your jeweler, “Are you an AGS jeweler?” If not, find one that is.
As a credentialed gemologist, Alethea has some favorite gemstones, although it’s not easy to narrow the list down to just a few. Click below to get a closer look at these beautiful gems!
Cushion cut pink spinel and diamond ring, by Omi Privé.
The 18k gold “Eva” ring features Paraíba tourmaline, demantoid garnet, and diamonds, by Erica Courtney.
This ring, by Le Vian, features Chocolate Diamonds® and Vanilla Diamonds®.
Russian demantoid and diamond ring, by Michael Schofield & Co.
We often share beautiful images of American Gem Society members’ jewelry. Today, we wanted to take that a step further and give you a sneak peek into their passion for jewelry, the symbolism it represents, and the way it makes them feel. In some cases, we just wanted to give you a glimpse of their humor, with jewelry as their much-adored punchline.
To achieve all that, we asked these five members to give us a quote about jewelry, along with an image of one of their favorite pieces. Enjoy!
Opal brooch from Paula Crevoshay.
Pink tourmaline pendant from Sharon Wei Designs.
Moonstone, sapphire, and diamond ring from Omi Privé.
Custom-designed ring from Michaels Jewelers.
Diamond engagement ring by Tacori.
To find some jewelry inspiration of your own, visit your local American Gem Society (AGS) jeweler. Ask your AGS jeweler if they have a personal saying or a favorite quote about jewelry! You can ask them to show you one of the above pieces or something that inspires you and your imagination. Visit ags.org/findajeweler.
Spinel is an oxide mineral that crystallizes in the cubic structure and has quite the mixed-up history.
As of 2016, it is also the newest birthstone to be added to the birthstone list! August babies now have a choice between vivid peridot and alluring spinel.
The word “spinel” comes from the Latin word Spinella, which means “little thorn” or “arrow-shaped.” Spinel gems come in a wide range of colors and saturations, though perhaps the most famous (and mistakenly infamous) is the red variety.
In ancient cultures, red spinel was always grouped together with rubies, and sometimes garnets, since the rough (and even polished and cut) crystals look so similar. In the modern age, the gems can be separated, but much of spinel’s history is tied up in the lore of rubies.
The oldest known spinel dates back to 100 B.C. and was found in Kabul, Afghanistan, inside a Buddhist temple. Red and blue spinels were also being used in crafting by the Romans.
The most famous spinel is also the most famous example of mistaken identity in all of gemological history. A “ruby” known as the Black Prince’s Ruby is our culprit. It is a red gem set in the Imperial State Crown of the British crown jewels. The gemstone is uncut, but polished, and weighs approximately 170 carats. The gem has never been removed from its original setting, so the weight is only estimated.
This amazing gemstone, however, is no ruby. It is, in fact, a spinel.
The Black Prince was the son of Edward III, and reportedly received the gem from Don Pedro the Cruel, King of Castille as a reward. Legend has it that the spinel was one of the gems worn by Henry V on his helmet and that it deflected a fatal blow, saving his life during the Battle of Agincourt.
Whether true or not, the gem was thought to be ruby for many years, until technology and the knowledge of gems improved enough to separate gems on more than mere color.
This royal stone is not the only spinel in disguise. Empress Catherine II of Russia had a crown that bore an estimated 400-carat spinel. Likewise, Queen Victoria had a very dark red spinel called the Timur Ruby.
It doesn’t help matters when spinel and ruby often form together in the earth! In 1783, mineralogist Jean Baptiste Louis Rome de Lisle finally separated spinel from ruby, realizing that the two minerals were completely different.
Further confusion arises with spinel’s true nature even now.
Many pieces of inexpensive birthstone jewelry have an imitation of the true birthstone: something that looks like—but isn’t—the real thing. The majority of these are made with synthetic spinel, grown in a laboratory rather than the ground, but boasting the same chemical make-up.
The natural gem is lovely, but many only know of its synthetic counterparts.
Each color of spinel is thought to provide different benefits to the wearer, from protection to enhancing creativity and kindness, to better cognitive abilities. Colorless spinel is rare, and no current mines exist that produce it.
The most common colors seen in jewelry are red and blue, with the hues ranging from highly saturated to perfectly pastel.
Other popular colors are yellows, purples, and pinks, although the gem comes in every color. Black spinel is found in many pieces, and once again, is often confused for other black gems like hematite, black diamond, and black onyx.
Black spinel and white sapphire pendant, by Dilamani.
Spinel is mined in many locations, including Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Myanmar (formerly Bruma) Brazil, Sweden, Pakistan, and Russia, among others. It can even be found in the USA.
Additionally, small crystals have been found on meteorites, a trait spinel shares with the other August birthstone, peridot.
For a gemstone many have never heard of, it might be the most famous of all. It is the hidden star of the show, silently shining on as the world ignores it or mistakes it for another stone altogether.
Pink spinel and diamond drop earrings, by JB Star.
But spinel is worth a first, and second, glance. With spectacular colors, excellent durability and an amusing history, it’s the perfect addition to anyone’s gem and jewelry collection.
Spinel truly deserves the title: The Coolest Gem You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of!
Isabelle Corvin is an AGS Certified Gemologist (CG) who is the Staff Gemologist at Panowicz Jewelers. Since she was 14-years-old, she knew she wanted to be a gemologist. Ms. Corvin also writes for Panowicz Jewelers’ blog.
By David Craig Rotenberg, ECGA (AGS), GG (GIA), CSM (NAJA), CAPP (ISA)
Jewelry appraisals are important documents that are required for insurance valuations, the settling of an estate, determining the value for tax deductions for charitable contributions, for casualty loss evaluations, or perhaps the division of property in a divorce.
The appraisal is simply a means of factually communicating what a piece of jewelry is worth. It’s the item’s value assessed by quantitative and qualitative aspects as determined by a skilled professional appraiser. This individual should not only understand the science of valuation, but should be able to properly communicate the background on exactly how he or she arrived at that assessment.
Insurance appraisals are used by insurance companies to determine exactly what cost is required to replace an exact piece of jewelry in the current climate in the event of theft or loss. The appraiser provides a full evaluation of the item, including a detailed description of quality and special nuances of the item. While each insurance company may operate differently, most won’t simply accept purchase receipts since the determined “value” is the key when writing a policy or reimbursing a claim.
It is especially important to have an experienced appraiser when appraising for tax purposes. When someone dies, jewelry must be categorized to determine fair market value in regards to inheritance tax as applied by the IRS. Fair market value is a different determination than replacement value, which you obtain for insurance purposes. In terms of a divorce, an appraisal might be required to help determine equitable distribution of property. Jewelry is part of the “estate” and needs to be categorized for tax purposes.
After you contact a jewelry appraiser, they will sit down with you and review the items you want to be appraised. The condition of an item is extremely important; a broken watch from the 1960s, for instance, might be valued like a typical flea market item while a vintage Rolex in great condition from the same time period would be appraised at what it would bring on the second-hand market. Diamond rings normally have laboratory reports evaluating their quality. New jewelry that is being appraised for insurance purposes should be accompanied by receipts from the store where purchased so the appraiser can refer back to the original jeweler if there are questions.
David Rotenberg in his workshop.
David Rotenberg gives an item a closer inspection.
Finding a Qualified Jewelry Appraiser
You can contact the American Gem Society (AGS) for a list of certified appraisers in your area. Certification by the AGS indicates that the individual is not only a certified appraiser, but also an expert gemologist. The AGS is one of the oldest nonprofits dedicated to consumer protection in the industry. A certification will usually be displayed in the appraiser’s workspace—this certificate required a lot of time and effort and the appraiser will want to show it off!
Other reputable organizations include the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA) and the American Society of Appraisers (ASA). Some people ask if it’s necessary to obtain two appraisals; in most cases, this shouldn’t be necessary, especially if you’re confident you’ve gone to a qualified appraiser.
Over the Years
Before the 1980s, there wasn’t a lot of formal appraisal education and a jeweler might simply assess an item for what they might sell it for in their own showcase. The average jeweler didn’t have a lot of resources—an item might be sold based on what someone told them it was worth.
With the founding of the International Society of Appraisers (ISA) in 1979, appraisal education became more of a studied science. As gemology education blossomed, jewelers were able to conduct research, compile pricing information and attend continuing education as they used their new-found gemological skills for buying and appraisal purposes. Transparency is critical—an appraiser must be able to thoroughly explain how they arrived at a value.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
David Craig Rotenberg is an AGS-certified gemologist appraiser and one of a handful of CAPP (Certified Appraiser of Personal Property) appraisers in gemstones, contemporary jewelry and antique and period jewelry. He is a member of the Jeweler’s Vigilance Committee Appraisal Bar, has studied with the American Arbitration Association, and is past president of the AGS’s Jewelers Education Foundation, founder and past president of the Delaware Valley Keystone Guild and founder and past president of the Delaware Valley chapter of the International Society of Appraisers. Recognized by the Technical Advisory Service for Attorneys (TASA) for his expertise, he is part of the Jeweler’s Vigilance Committee’s appraisal organization and has conducted jewelry appraisals for the U.S. Treasury Department. Most recently, he completed a global leadership program at Harvard University School of Business.
In addition to offering his appraisal services to customers at David Craig Jewelers in Langhorne, PA, David has appraised multi-million dollar inventories for the federal government and many banks. He has conducted evaluations for a large variety of complex estate and bankruptcy matters and fraud investigations. He also operates an AGS-accredited gem lab at David Craig Jewelers.
“Summer, summer, summertime / Time to sit back and unwind.” – DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Summertime
As thoughts of summer vacation drift through our heads, so does the ultimate question: “What am I going to pack?!” Whether you’re traveling overseas, across states—or even planning a staycation—it’s good to have a plan.
Although we’d love to help you pick out your various outfits and toiletries—they aren’t our area of expertise. But we CAN give you some great ideas on what jewelry to bring with you.
It’s often a challenge deciding which items of jewelry to take, depending on the outfits you pick. But it’s important to note that it’s best to leave the most valuable and delicate pieces at home. Before you pack, we have this recommended read from Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group: The Pocket Guide to Traveling with Jewelry.
Yet, no outfit is complete without the punctuation of fine jewelry. Here are five pieces from a few of our AGS members that would make great travel companions! Click on the images below to get a closer look.
“Caprice” multiway diamond eclipse earrings, by Mastoloni.
When you can bring one pair of earrings and wear them three different ways, you’re covered! Wear as a dangle, as a diamond and pearl stud, or wear the pearl by itself.
Wide diamond band from Gabriel & Co. “Lusso” collection.
A diamond band with alternating 14k yellow and white gold gives the illusion of wearing multiple rings. Easy peasy!
Two-piece convertible diamond heart pendant, by Lisa Bridge, Ben Bridge Jeweler. This romantic pendant is convertible and can be worn three ways: with both diamond pavé and heart pieces together, or either the center circle or heart frame separately.
Rainbow sapphire butterfly brooch, by Dilamani.
A brooch you say? You bet! Dress up any top, scarf, hat—or even a hairstyle—with a brooch. A brooch can also be turned into a pendant with the addition of a chain. So many style options!
Custom reversible classic chain bracelet, by John Hardy.
Here’s another “gem” we found: one bracelet with two looks! John Hardy gives you the opportunity to customize your own chain bracelet with any gemstone look. Below is the combo we designed. The 18k bonded gold side sparkles with diamond pavé. The sterling silver side has a pop of color with amethyst. Which look would you create for yourself?