August’s Trio of Distinctive Gemstones

It’s been a year since spinel was added to August’s birthstone line up. Those celebrating a birthday during the eighth calendar month now have three gemstone choices: peridot, sardonyx, and spinel.

Spinel

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Blue spinel by Gem 2000.

For those who are still unfamiliar with spinel, it is often assumed to be other gemstones, like ruby or sapphire.  Cobalt blue, like the one above, is one of the most desired colors. But it can be found in a variety of colors, such as the much coveted red, as well as black, violet blue, greenish blue, grayish, pale pink, mauve, yellow or brown. Spinel can also be found in various cuts, like octagons, trillions, squares, rounds and fancy shapes, like ovals, pears, and cushions.

No matter what the shape, spinel is spectacular! Take a look at these designs by our AGS members. Click on the images for a closer view.

 

Peridot

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Peridot by Gem 2000.

The verdant peridot is the gemstone most commonly associated with August. Peridot’s recognizable green hue could sometimes vary from yellowish-green to olive to brownish green, contingent on how much iron is present. Yet the finest peridot is a brilliant green without any hints of brown or yellow.

Our AGS members will help you find the perfect peridot for you! Click on the images for a closer view.

 

Sardonyx

Sardonyx

Since as far back as Roman times, sardonyx has been highly valued as a stone representing strength, courage, happiness, and clear communication.

The unique reddish, zebra-striped banding of sardonyx stands out beautifully when the stone is smoothed, so it is often cut in cabochon and worn as beads or featured in an eye-catching pendant or ring.

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

If you’d like to add spinel, peridot, or sardonyx to your jewelry wardrobe, contact a credentialed AGS jeweler near you!

Tips from Jewelers Mutual: Ring Appraisal—What You Need to Know for Insurance

Jeweler looking at the ring through microscope in a workshop.

When it comes to receiving a ring—whether you are newly engaged, celebrating a birthday, toasting an anniversary, or treasuring an heirloom—you’re probably not thinking about insurance.

When you procure something so precious, for peace of mind, you should consider protecting it. An important step to insuring your ring is to have it appraised.

In the following article, Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company covers the most common misconceptions of ring appraisal, tips for getting a good appraisal, and why they are so important. Click here to read more.

The “Other” Famous Jewelry in Movies

By Donna Jolly, RJ

Ask someone which movies stand out as films with memorable jewelry, and chances are, there are a few titles that are likely to be mentioned: “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Gentlemen Prefer Blonds,” “Titanic” (the most recent version) or “Pretty Woman.”

While we love those movies and have featured the jewelry from some of them in our own content, we’d like to offer up three alternatives with great jewelry in movies that are either classic or are on their way to classic status.

Gone with the Wind

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Remember this brooch? Frankly, my dear, you should. It is from the final, unforgettable scene where Rhett calls it quits with Scarlett. Even in moments of distress (especially in those moments), Scarlett O’Hara is in full no-surrender mode with this look-at-me brooch. The brooch has been replicated over the decades for Gone with the Wind diehards. This iconic piece actually comes from costume designer Walter Plunkett’s mother’s personal collection. Art imitates life—and in this case, literally borrowed from life.

Gone with the Wind is one of the most classic movies of all time, and knowing that something personal and beloved from Plunkett’s own life is actually a piece of the movie is even more special.

Girl with a Pearl Earring

ACK65796.jpg DAS MADCHEN MIT DEM PERLENOHRRING / Girl with a Pearl Earring UK/Luxembourg 2003 / Peter Webber Griet (SCARLETT JOHANSSON) und Vermeer (COLIN FIRTH) ||rights=ED

The earring in the movie was a creation of Dien van Strallen, the film’s costume designer. There is something about a big dollop of a pearl, though, that is as timeless as it is beautiful. Also, we love Vermeer and his moody strokes of color and shadow.

The great artist and his painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring, inspired this beautiful movie. There is a mystery surrounding the model in the painting. In the movie, she is fictionally portrayed as the family’s maid’s assistant (played wonderfully by Scarlett Johansson).

Several authors, however, have suggested she might be Vermeer’s eldest daughter, Maria. It’s a notion that is not popular with Vermeer scholars. Whoever she was, between the actual painting and the movie, we love a mystery, we love a good story, and we do love some large pearls.

Glengarry Glen Ross

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Adapted by David Mamet from his 1984 Pulitzer and Tony-award winning play, this 1992 movie takes a real behind-the-scenes view of high-pressure sales. It also shows off the character’s (Blake) watch of choice.

Possibly the most famous moment in the movie is when Blake utters every salesperson’s mantra: Always Be Closing. Played by Alec Baldwin, Blake wore the ultimate status symbol for your wrist, an 18k Day-Date Rolex.

Tell us your favorite jewelry in a movie, and we’ll try to feature it in an upcoming blog.

To the American Gem Society, all of our readers are stars! Find your star-worthy jewelry at ags.org/findajeweler.

Silver Shines On

By Robin Skibicki

The popularity of silver jewelry never seems to ebb, as designers are finding new and artistic ways to style the affordable and malleable metal. Whether silver is mixed with other metals or set with diamonds and gemstones, it’s a go-to look that complements a wide range of colors and styles.

For centuries, silver has been prized for its incredible luster and workability. In this industry, we naturally think of it as a versatile metal used to design beautiful jewelry. But it’s also applied towards technology and industry, used in the home, and often considered for investment purposes.

Pure silver is highly tarnish-resistant but is too soft to use for jewelry design. Other metals like copper, nickel, or zinc, are added to harden silver. For example, sterling silver is 92.5% silver and 7.5% another metal. Silver products sometimes may be marked “925” which means that 925 parts per thousand are pure silver.

Some jewelry may be described as silverplate: a layer of silver is bonded to a base metal. According to the law, quality-marked silver also must bear the name or a U.S. registered trademark of the company or person that will stand behind the mark.

If you’re looking for an inexpensive metal for your fine jewelry, silver is a good choice. Since silver is soft and scratches easily, it’s best used for jewelry that is not worn daily.

The versatile beauty of silver is showcased in these designs by our credentialed AGS members.

Michael Schofield & Co.

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A twin fish motif artfully decorates a sterling silver cuff.

 

Breuning

Breuning

Petals of silver and silver coated with yellow gold feature a sapphire center.

 

MK Diamonds & Jewelry

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Sterling silver earrings featuring pear-cut blue topaz and blue sapphires set in black rhodium sterling silver.

 

Parlé

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Sterling silver Australian boulder opal and sapphire pendant.

 

Ed Levin Jewelry

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Sterling silver Secret Heart Bracelet “swings open” to reveal a secret heart.

If you’re in the market for silver jewelry—perhaps you like one of the designs pictured above—or have some silver jewelry that needs some TLC, visit a credentialed AGS jeweler near you.

Top Jewelry Trends from the Las Vegas Shows

By Jennifer Heebner, Guest Writer

The only thing hotter than the temperature in the Las Vegas desert were the new styles that debuted at the recently held jewelry shows! JCK LUXURY, JCK Las Vegas, and the Couture jewelry show were held at overlapping times between June 2–8 in Sin City, where some of the most significant jewelry in North America debuted to the trade. By fall, shoppers will be finding these pieces in stores. What can you expect to see? Here’s a peek at three looks you’re bound to love.

Convertible Jewelry

Convertible styles—pieces that transform to wear in multiple ways—were the most widely seen looks at the shows. Think two bracelets that unite to form a necklace, or a long necklace that can be worn as a lariat or belt.

For sure, versatility was on the brain at New York City–based design house Gumuchian, which added several convertible styles to its inventory. “We added more delicate motifs that lend themselves to everyday wear and to layering,” explains Jodi Goldsmith, the brand’s public relations and marketing director. Gumuchian’s newest offerings, made in 18k gold, can be worn six different ways.

New Carousel necklace N388DY ways to wear_

All the different ways to wear Gumchian’s convertible Carousel necklace.

Hexagon Silhouettes

Geometry has also been trending for several seasons, and diamond jewelry maker KC Designs, based in New York City, is as smitten with the angular effects as anybody. The brand introduced myriad hexagon shapes to its existing Mosaic jewelry collection of round brilliant and baguette-cut diamonds.

Tiffany Sabo, marketing and sales manager, says the pieces were well received because of the simplicity of the shapes, which are easy to “dress up or down.” Plus, fans like “the openness of the designs,” she says of styles that feature graphic and airy hexagon silhouettes.

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Hexagon-shape open ring from KC Designs.

Single and Mismatched Earrings

These were another standout among many designers, who offered them in both diamond and gemstone variations. The look speaks to the lover of fearless individuality who craves customization. The style? Earrings in pairs or multiples that aren’t identical and offer a brazen, uninhibited, and playful effect that celebrates character and self-expression.

Erica Courtney

Mismatched earrings from Erica Courtney.

Have you been inspired by these three trends? Visit a credentialed American Gem Society Jeweler near you and they’ll help you find the look you love!

Cut to the Chase (Part 2)

Jewelry Tweezer And Diamonds

By John Carter, CGA, Jack Lewis Jewelers

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.

ags-scale

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.

aset-pic-1

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.

April is the Month of Brilliance

JeffreyDaniels

Jeffrey Daniels Unique Designs

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!

 

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!