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!
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.
The American Gem Society (AGS) Suppliers’ Reception and Showcase occurs annually during the American Gem Society’s Conclave, the industry’s premier educational and networking event.
This year’s Conclave was held in Nashville, TN, and the AGS Suppliers’ Reception and Showcase featured 16 AGS members. Below are photos from the highly successful evening, featuring the incredible jewelry and the lovely ladies who modeled them.
You’ve heard about lucky brides getting a 5-carat diamond ring. Just how large is that though? What do five carats look like?
Download the Diamond Carat Size Chart by Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group. It will give you a visual comparison of ideal cut diamonds in the ten most popular shapes. It also lists the actual diameters of each diamond. Click here to download your own copy!
True or False: Valentine’s Day is the most popular day of the year to pop the question.
The answer is “False.” Christmas Day is the most popular day for proposals, followed by Valentine’s Day. An estimated 40% of engagements occur between November and February,* which means at any given point during the year, Cupid is striking his bow and couples are getting engaged.
If you’re looking for some ring inspiration, here are the top five engagement ring trends for 2018, with a few examples from some American Gem Society (AGS) members:
The Classic Solitaire
The classics never go out of style, which is why they are called classics! The sparkling diamond solitaire has experienced a variety of style changes throughout the centuries, but the single diamond in a six-prong setting remains a beloved symbol of engagement.
Jade Trau Six Prong Solitaire.
Classic Six Prong from Designs by Vatché.
Oval Cut Diamonds
An oval cut can give a vintage look to any style and has been gaining popularity because of its elegant, elongated shape.
Oval diamond engagement ring with oval halo by Memoire.
Oval cut diamond with two tapered baguettes by Harry Kotlar.
Cushion-Cut Diamonds Set in a Halo
The cushion cut is a square or rectangular shape with curved corners. Adding a diamond halo gives the illusion of a much larger diamond!
Cushion Crisscut® diamond engagement ring by Christopher Designs.
Cushion cut diamond with triple shank by Joshua J. Fine Jewelry.
Rose Gold Rings
The soft, warm glow of rose gold could give any diamond engagement ring that extra touch of romance.
Rose gold engagement ring designed by Supreme Jewelry
Micopavé diamond band engagement ring set in rose gold, by Ritani.
Leave it to the British monarchy to lead the way in trend-setting engagement rings. The heavily publicized engagement of American actress Meghan Markle to Prince Harry has had the world admiring her three-stone diamond engagement ring.
New Aire three stone radiant diamond engagement ring by Precision Set.
Classic three oval cut diamond engagement ring from Designs by Vatché.
When you purchase diamond jewelry, always ask for an AGS Laboratories Diamond Grading Report. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that your diamond was graded by a nonprofit diamond grading laboratory with a mission of consumer protection. Accept no substitutions and buy your diamond with confidence!
Blog article and photos courtesy of the American Gem Society (AGS) member, Jeffrey Daniels Unique Designs and Gem Platinum.
Pretty in pink at Jeffrey Daniels and Gem Platinum means pink sapphires and pink diamonds, with a nod to pink tourmaline. Choose your shade and dive into the fabulous world of pink gemstones. You will never look back.
Pink sapphires are the hot sibling of the gracious deep blue most people associate with sapphires. Electric and alive, pink sapphires are the perfect stone for cocktail rings and a night out on the town.
Cushion cut pink sapphire with diamond halo.
Oval pink sapphire set in a double row diamond halo.
Oval pink sapphire set with taper baguette and round brilliant diamonds.
Hot pink isn’t just for her, the cabochon pink tourmaline ring shown below brings a bit of fun for him too.
Like the pink sapphire, pink tourmaline is not the color commonly associated with this stone. Pink tourmaline is possibly created through the introduction of radiation to the stone during formation. Magnesium also produces pink and red hues in gemstones. Tourmaline comes in a variety of colors and hues outside the olive green it is commonly associated with.
Cabochon pink tourmaline bezel set in rose gold.
The hot pink stone used in the Jeffrey Daniels design above is one of the best examples of pink tourmaline in both color and clarity. Interestingly, some of the best pink tourmaline comes from the Cryo-Genie Mine in San Diego, CA.
Pink Diamonds: Maybe the Prettiest Stones on the Planet
This pink diamond wedding ring from Gem Platinum is a fabulous way to say “I do!” The rose gold setting adds to the elegance and grace of the stones in this eternally classic band.
Pave fancy pink diamond eternity band in 18kt rose gold.
Pink Diamonds are part of the Fancy Diamond category and they are some of the rarest gemstones available. Fancy pink diamonds are graded according to the depth of their pink color: the deeper the color, the more expensive the stone.
Unlike hot pink sapphires, the pink in diamonds is an elegant pastel shade of pink. Radiation introduced during formation is thought to be the driving force behind the pink color in these diamonds. Known also for their clarity and brilliance, pink diamonds larger than 1 carat are very, very rare.
Circular bezel set natural pink diamond bracelet in 18kt gold.
Bezel set pink diamonds surrounded by petals of pear cut white diamonds.
Natural fancy pink radiant diamond set in a floral petal design ring in platinum and 18kt gold.
Since its establishment, AGS member, Gem Platinum, has provided only the finest quality, service and value in its jewelry collection. They continue to be in the forefront of fine traditional jewelry design and craftsmanship incorporating only the finest natural diamonds and gemstones.
Truly unique gemstones require a truly unique setting for their beauty to be revealed. Jeffrey Daniels Unique Designs has created an extraordinary synergy of these concepts by combining his passion for the unusual with an uncompromising eye for detail and design. This collection of one-of-a-kind jewels are the result as no two pieces will ever be alike.
This Saturday, November 25, 2017, is Small Business Saturday. During one of the busiest shopping periods of the year, Saturday is a great day to get out and discover, celebrate, and support the local businesses in your neighborhood.
Membership with the AGS is earned by select jewelers who possess proven gemological knowledge, a commitment to their community, and the highest ethical standards. It is your assurance of the reliability and capability of this jeweler.
Visit our website at ags.org/findajeweler to search for an AGS jeweler near you! Shop small and have a happy holiday!
Today, we are lucky to have the ability to insure both our meaningful and much-needed valuables. Who would have thought that one day, we would insure our phones!
This same rule-of-thumb (or rule-of-ring-finger, in this case) should be applied to an engagement ring. From the day it’s purchased, to that special moment it’s placed on your beloved’s finger, anything could happen.
We’ve all seen those nightmarish videos of an engagement ring dropping into the ocean, falling off a bridge, or being left behind in lost luggage. But who is supposed to handle the insurance, the bride or groom?
Buying finished jewelry is so different than buying loose diamonds, mainly because our diamond buying is a year-long process. We are constantly searching for diamonds, whether it be something specific that a client has asked to see or just something that we need to meet our day-to-day inventory needs.
Because of this never-ending search for perfect diamonds, our ability to spot the good ones remains pretty sharp. I’ve always said that a really well-cut diamond has a sort of “it factor,” meaning after you’ve seen enough of them, you just know the special ones with a glance. When it takes your breath away—right away—that’s the one.
When I closed Part I of this blog, I promised you that we would discuss exactly what goes into making a diamond an AGS Ideal® cut. How do you tell the difference? And is it worth the extra money? I stressed out so much about living up to my promise that I reached out to my good friends at American Gem Society Laboratories to make sure I kept it all straight. So here we go:
What exactly is “cut” as it relates to diamonds? The American Gem Society (AGS) and AGS Laboratories say, “The cut of a diamond refers to how well the facets of a diamond interact with light, the proportions of the diamond, and the overall finish of the diamond.” (Source: americangemsociety.org/diamond-cut)
Facets, light interaction, proportions, and finish may seem like small things, but their influence on the beauty of a diamond is enormous. AGS makes it really easy to understand with their 0 to 10 grading system, with zero (0) being the highest cut grade (ideal) a diamond can receive and 10 being the lowest. However, this apparent simplicity is deceptive because it requires very careful analysis of all things that make up that diamond.
It used to be that diamonds were “cut graded” primarily by their proportions, but AGS revolutionized diamond grading in 2005 when they released their long-awaited Light Performance Cut Grading System.
This method uses patented software technology to measure the attributes that are most important to the beauty of your diamond: Brightness, Fire (spectral color), and Contrast. The combined impact of these factors is what breathes life into your diamond and makes it sparkle! In other words, they are the secret ingredients of the “it factor” that I mentioned above.
The AGS Grading Scale, based on a 0 to 10 scale, makes grades easier to understand; 0 means the cut grade is the best it can be.
Because every facet is considered, every cutting mistake and design flaw can impact the final Cut Grade. Consequently, the AGS Performance Cut Grade system is the most technologically advanced and scientifically rigorous system in the world and represents the highest standards in cut grading.
These ranges make it easier to understand, but I’ve seen more than my share of clients get caught up in these numbers, and they forget to ask themselves one thing: how does the diamond actually look? Is it bright and sparkly with a lot of life? Yes? Then don’t let one number encourage you to cast a pretty diamond onto the scrap pile.
What’s really cool from a gemologist’s point of view is that the same technology used to compute the Cut Grade also produces a color-coded image of the diamond which allows you to understand its light performance.
The above is called an ASET image. ASET stands for Angular Spectrum Evaluation Tool. (There will be a test later, haha.) For customers like you, this is a crucial piece of technology because it demonstrates the way light interacts with your diamond. It’s much easier to see and understand a diamond’s beauty through this image than to listen to a scientific explanation, right? We can show you your diamond’s ASET image right at Jack Lewis, and you can even snap a picture of it to carry around with you or share on social media.
Additionally, The ASET shows the “optical symmetry” of your diamond. For example, in the image above, the eight symmetrical arrows prove that the diamond was cut with a high degree of craftsmanship and artistry.
The simple fact remains that while what we do isn’t the most complicated job on the planet, it really does take a scientific approach and an educated eye to do all of the above. A life spent in the diamond business can teach the right grader, gemologist, or diamond buyer the skills they need to be able to make proper decisions and assign the right grades which determines the right price.
The average consumer looking to find just the right diamond for the love of their life does not have the time to become an expert during their brief shopping experience. They can Google, research, and look at hundreds of diamonds, but they will still need to seek out a properly credentialed and trustworthy diamond professional to help them find what’s right for them. That’s the real dilemma when you’re looking for a jeweler isn’t it….trust?
I once had a client at the diamond counter who told me that Jack Lewis Jewelers was the 15th jewelry store he had visited! He was so confused and so frustrated with the process that he was almost in tears. I can understand why. One jewelry store will tell you one thing, and then another will explain it another way, and on top of it, they are all trying to sell you whatever is in front of them. Just about all of them mean well and are honest, but it can be a lot to process.
I asked if I could give him some advice and he reluctantly said, “Sure.” I said, “Just stop. Stop looking. Pick the place that makes the most sense with as little sales talk as possible. Then trust that person to walk you through the process with an education along the way.” I went on to say that I hoped that was me, but if not, he needed to find the person he could most relate to and trust.
I could tell when I gave him that advice that I had lifted a great weight off of his shoulders. The process can be overwhelming and the diamond grading scale can be a large part of why. I understand that retailers don’t always do a good job of explaining the process, so it is really important to find one who takes the time to do just that. I’ve found it’s the best way to establish a relationship with my clients—and dare I say it—a friendship. I’m happy to say that client did choose me! This occurred over 10 years ago and over the course of a few years, he even sent me several of his friends.
You can see we’ve taken this from an explanation about Cut Grade to the importance of establishing a relationship with someone you can trust. My journey to this destination was no accident. So let’s cut to the chase: at some point, buying a diamond becomes a leap of faith, and Cut is the most complicated part of the buying process as well as being the most essential characteristic in determining beauty. I believe it’s an understatement to say that it pays off to have an expert help you with that part. And at Jack Lewis, we’re ready to walk you through it.
I want to thank my friends at the American Gem Society (AGS) and AGS Laboratories for helping me with this blog. In particular, Jason Quick, who is the Laboratory Director and a mad genius who understands diamonds in ways I can only imagine. Jason and the team at AGS are on the forefront in the jewelry industry because consumer protection is at the very heart of everything they do.
Like the young man in my story, I hope you also choose Jack Lewis Jewelers, but we realize we can’t sell everyone a diamond. If you’ve ever wondered how you can find a jeweler you can trust, start with us if you can…but if not, AGS has you covered. Visit Find a Jeweler at www.americangemsociety.org/find-a-jeweler, type in your zip code and visit a great store. Every retail member of the American Gem Society adheres to a strict code of ethics that help them remain dedicated to the education of their clients.
The birthstone for April is a gem that’s near and dear to us. It’s the keystone of the American Gem Society logo, and they offer grading reports for this precious gem based on science and accuracy. We’re talking about diamonds.
Diamonds have been admired for centuries, and some historians estimate they were traded as early as four BC. One of the reasons it is so admired and valued is because of the process by which a diamond is formed well below the earth’s crust, then forced upward until it is uncovered. These natural forces are what make each and every diamond unique.
Part of the diamond grading process includes testing the diamond for clarity. This is when the lab determines the relative visibility of the inclusions in a diamond and their impact on the overall visual appearance. Inclusions are the internal or external flaws of the diamond which are a result of the tremendous heat and pressure a diamond is subjected to in its journey to the surface.
The gemologists in the AGS Laboratories have come across some very unusual and rare inclusions, which they call “Clarity Rarities.” Click here to see an example of their most recent find!
Diamonds come in several colors, including yellow, red, pink, blue, and green, and range in intensity from faint to vivid. Generally speaking, the more saturated the color, the higher the value.
AGS Laboratories only grades white diamonds and are the leaders in cut grade. Because of their proprietary light performance cut grade, diamond cutters understand how to cut a more beautiful diamond—which means you have more beautiful, sparkling options when shopping for diamonds!
This is why we love diamonds so much. Their beauty is endless and they never cease to amaze us. But enough talk about diamonds, let’s enjoy these gorgeous designs by some of our AGS members!
Hearts On Fire
Uneek Fine Jewelry
If you’re celebrating a birthday in April, a 60th anniversary (congratulations!), or love diamonds as much as we do, be sure to contact an AGS-certified jeweler near you. They’ll help you find the diamond of your dreams! And don’t forget to ask for an AGS Laboratories Diamond Grading Report. Accept no substitutes, and buy your diamond with confidence!