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.
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.
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.
“Being a mother is about learning about strengths you didn’t know you had and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.” – Linda Wooten, author.
When I was 9 years old, I asked my Mom on Mother’s Day why there isn’t a Children’s Day. Without hesitation, she responded in a kind but firm voice, “Honey, EVERY DAY is Children’s Day.” I knew that tone and I also detected that wasn’t the best question to ask at that moment.
Now that I’m a mom, I get it! In fact, I believe mothers truly need more than one day a year to call their own. How about once a month? The list of gratitude towards our mothers can be infinite, from the little things, like kissing a “boo-boo,” to jumping in with all her heart and soul to help us through a rough situation.
Nowadays, we realize that Mother’s Day isn’t just about mothers. The holiday extends to celebrate all the incredible women who have made significant contributions in our lives, helping us become who we are today. She can be a stepmom, mother-in-law, grandmother, daughter, daughter-in-law, aunt, sister, cousin, friend, teacher, or mentor.
If you are looking for a gift that is beyond special and significant for a fabulous female in your life, consider fine jewelry. They’re not only gifts that will make her smile (possibly with a glistening tear in her eye) once she opens it, but each day she wears it. She will treasure it for years to come and it will ultimately become a cherished heirloom.
The credentialed members of the American Gem Society (AGS) have got you covered for Mother’s Day. Here are a few ideas to get you started. If there is a design you like or have an idea of your own, contact an AGS jeweler near you!
Always on trend, hoop earrings in 14 Honey Gold™ with Nude Diamonds™, by Le Vian.
Three-stone, freeform family ring in 14k white gold, by Stuller. This design can be done with up to six stones!
Open wire bangle with diamond “X” and “O,” by Dilamani.
In this digital age, a classic locket is appreciated! Diamond and 14k gold locket, by Gabriel & Co.
Sterling silver “Secret Heart” bracelet by Ed Levin Jewelry.
Personalize the text for the Typset stack by Jade Trau.
Caprice triangle earrings with white round cultured pearls and diamonds, by Mastoloni.
Diamonds set in floating fluted bezel pendant, by NEI Group.
Not all gemstones are minerals with a crystalline structure. In fact, some were formed through biological processes of living organisms, such as plants and animals. These natural beauties are referred to as organic gemstones and include several varieties that are important to the gem trade. We’re talking about pearls, coral, amber, ammolite, and shell, just to name a few.
Pearls are pretty much perfect for any occasion. It doesn’t matter if you’re dressed in silks and satins or khakis and jeans, they go with everything! There are several types to choose from, like freshwater or saltwater, natural or cultured, with such varieties as Akoya, Keshi, South Sea, and Tahitian.
White Keshi freshwater pearl earrings with diamonds by Mastoloni.
Tahitian drop earrings with cognac diamonds by ASBA USA.
There are hundreds of species of coral throughout the world, but only a few are used for fine jewelry. Corallium japonicum and Corallium rubrum are two varieties of red coral commonly used to produce jewelry, and Antipatharia, a species of black coral prized for its lustrous, black appearance after polishing.
Carved salmon coral flower with a sprinkling of diamonds, from Gleim the Jeweler’s Estate collection.
Coral and freshwater pearl “Pearl-On-Poppy” necklace by Sharon Wei.
Amber had its moment in the spotlight when it appeared as a source for “Dino DNA” in the movie, Jurassic Park. This fossilized resin of ancient tree sap dates back 25 to 50 million years, with some of the oldest known material dating back 290 to 350 million years ago. Amber comes in over 300 different shades, with the most common colors being honey, green, cherry, cognac, citrine, and butterscotch.
Cabochon amber earrings from Long’s Jewelers Estate collection.
Amber beads from Goldstein Diamonds Estate collection.
Ammolite is an iridescent gemstone material that comes from the fossilized shell of extinct squid-like creatures called ammonites. They only come from one place: Alberta, Canada. Although they have been forming for millions of years, ammolite first appeared in jewelry in the 1960s and was recognized in 1981 as an organic gemstone.
Ammolite, emerald, and diamond pendant by Lika Behar Collection.
Another view of ammolite pendant.
Ammolite estate ring at Bay Street Jewelers.
Shell has been used for decorative purposes for centuries and was most likely the by-product of the search for food. It’s been used for everything from buttons to knife handles, from cameos to necklaces. In jewelry design, the two most familiar types of shell are abalone and mother-of-pearl.
Interesting facts: Abalone is composed of mother-of-pearl. Mother-of-pearl is called nacre, which makes the outer layer of pearls.
“White Orchid” ring featuring checker-cut clear quartz over white mother-of-pearl, from Doves by Doron Paloma.
Abalone doublet ring with checkerboard white quartz by Stuller.
Jewelry trends change over time, influenced by the factors that make up life. Designs wax and wane in popularity, often cycling through many times as resurgences.
There is a strong emphasis in modern jewelry designs of this period reminiscent of the Art Deco movement. Angles, striking and sharp. Colors, bold and dramatic. Shapes, odd and thought-provoking.
Art Deco is steeped in international history, and to learn more about the modern trends, we’ll have to step back in time…
It was the Roaring Twenties.
A time of economic prosperity and technological advancement, a time of jazz and a celebration of life.
The shadow of war has passed, and the world is recovering, and growing.
The place is Paris, the most romantic city in the world.
This is the era that Art Deco was born from.
Pink sapphire diamond pave mosaic ring by Armadani, featuring French cut pink sapphires and round brilliant diamonds.
In 1925, the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts took place in Paris, France, and marked the start of the Art Deco movement. The movement would continue up until the start of the Second World War, but would have a resurgence in popularity in the 1960s and again in the 1980s, thanks to a book published on the subject in 1968, and then to the rise of graphic design in the late 80s.
Where most design movements rose out of political or religious intentions or stresses, Art Deco was simply artistic.
The movement inspired clothing, architecture, art and of course, jewelry.
Unlike its predecessor, Art Nouveau, with its more whimsical, light designs, Art Deco was all about lines, interesting shapes and a modern flair.
These timeless pearl and diamond Fan Earrings by Mastoloni, are part of the Deco Collection.
The inspiration for Art Deco came from advancing technologies and living life to the fullest. The world was speeding up, and this contributed to the modern feel of the movement. During this period, many famous archaeological finds took place, including excavation of King Tut’s tomb. Ancient influences, especially from Aztec and Egyptian cultures, can be seen in many Art Deco pieces, and the contrast between the geometrical shapes and ancient motifs creates a fanciful and unusual style.
Platinum was “discovered” during this period as well, and was used in many Art Deco pieces along with the finest of gems including blue sapphires, bright emeralds, and stunning rubies. Diamonds were also widely seen, set as both facial points and accents. Many opaque stones were popular as well; Carnelian, lapis, turquoise and black onyx.
Gemstones were cut into interesting shapes such as trapezoids and octagons, elongated rectangles and squares, sometimes with rounded corners. The cutting of these stones was often done wasting quite a bit of rough, but that just showed the lavish nature of the era.
Glass and new plastics were also very popular substances to use in jewelry and art, as well as non-precious metals like titanium and aluminum.
The jewelry was large and was made to draw attention. Straight lines, cubes, and chevrons, along with structured curves, all mixed together to create a jumbled, yet beautiful, style.
Necklaces, pendants, bracelets, rings, brooches, and earrings were all made in the style of Art Deco, with an emphasis on being bold.
Art Deco is an expression of functionality, elegance and a passion for life.
Unique Settings of New York presents their custom Art Deco-inspired designs. The ring above is 14K white gold with a 1.00 CT center stone, and 0.30 tcw in side diamonds.
Just like in the past, the current atmosphere in the USA is one of hopeful growth; the economy is recovering slowly from a recent recession. The tinges of the last war are fading from memory. The world is advancing at a fast pace, with emerging technologies and ideas.
The similarities of past and present are surprising, lending a hand to the new geometric shapes emerging from top designers.
A revival of Art Deco is in the air, with the classic looks from the past mingling with a new take on the movement. There’s never been a better time to add a striking and unique piece of wearable art to your collection!
The drama of the Art Deco period comes to life in this beautiful bracelet by Joshua J. Fine Jewelry. It features an Old European cut center diamond, with a splash of green emeralds for accent.
A critical step in protecting and preserving the value of your jewelry is getting an updated appraisal on a regular basis. In fact, if the most recent appraisal of your jewelry took place five or more years ago, it’s time to get a new appraisal.
You may be asking what a jewelry appraisal does for you. The obvious answer is that an appraisal sets a value for your jewelry. And with today’s roller-coaster values for gold, platinum, silver and gemstones, knowing what your jewelry is worth can save you heartache later if your jewelry is lost or stolen.
The appraisal provides basic information most insurance carriers need to offer coverage for your jewelry. The updated value, along with the detailed description provided by an appraisal, will help smooth your settlement process if you were to suffer a loss.
Another appraisal benefit is having an updated assessment of your jewelry’s condition. Over time, prongs, clasps, settings and even stones can become loose or damaged. The review of your jewelry by a professional can help mitigate a possible loss by drawing to your attention any minor damage so an item can be repaired.
Now that I’ve convinced you to get an appraisal, who should you go to and what should it contain? The first choice for your appraisal should be a jeweler you trust. They should have the credentials necessary to do an appraisal, such as a Certified Gemologist Appraiser (CGA) from the American Gem Society, and/or be a member of one of the appraisal societies that dictate ethical appraisal practices. You may already have a grading report from AGS or another lab. These reports are used to verify the quality and authenticity of gemstones or diamonds, but do not establish value.
Your jewelry appraisal should contain:
Your name and address
Type of jewelry
What is the jewelry item made of?
What type of gemstones are used?
How are the stones graded?
How is it designed or fashioned?
Condition of the item being appraised
Current precious metal values
Manufacturer, origin, or designer
Purpose of the appraisal (example: for insurance purposes)
Credentials of the appraiser
Signed and dated by the appraiser
Phillip Bosen is the Director of Business Development at Von Bargen’s Jewelry and the only Certified Gemologist Appraiser in Vermont.
Laura Stanley is like many American Gem Society jewelers: her family has a rich history in the industry. In her case, she is a third generation jeweler. It started with her grandfather, Charles B. Stanley, a watchmaker in downtown North Little Rock, Arkansas. In 1936, he and his wife, Sally, opened a small jewelry store that throughout the years grew, and was passed down to their son, Loyd. Today, his daughter, Laura is a vital force in Stanley Jewelers Gemologist, a family business specializing in fine jewelry and fine service. With such a rich history, it is no wonder that they know a thing or two about heirloom jewelry—and how to give these cherished pieces a beautiful, updated look.
Customizing heirloom jewelry is a growing trend. We asked, Laura, a CGA with the American Gem Society, some questions to learn more about updating these precious family treasures.
Living in an area rich in history, do you see a lot of heirloom jewelry coming in?
I feel like there is interesting and worthy jewelry all around the country. People are very mobile these days. Jewelry and heirlooms move around! I have learned to never underestimate what is tucked away in safety deposit boxes in small town America. I’ve seen everything from worn out 150-year old pot metal jewelry to large, impressive diamonds (over 10 carats).
Are there any rules of etiquette a person should consider before they update a piece of heirloom jewelry? For example, if the person who gave them the jewelry is still alive, should they let them know their plan?
Many people are uncomfortable resetting diamonds or gemstones received from a relative who is still alive, even with their permission. However, there are no rules and you should do what is in your comfort zone and makes you happy. And know that once you take apart your vintage piece, there is no going back.
What is one of the most interesting piece you’ve revamped?
A ring we nick-named “Jaws.” It was a 3-row antique platinum ring, about 1” wide, with two rows of marquise cut diamonds and one row of baguette cut diamonds. We made a wedding band from the baguettes and a bracelet from the marquise cut diamonds. Here’s a picture of the “after” pieces.
What is your top piece of advice for someone who has a piece of heirloom jewelry that they want updated?
Be sure you want to take apart your heirloom, then find an experienced jeweler to help you understand your options and the possibilities of what you have. Also keep your mind open to adding a few diamonds or gemstones to achieve the look you ultimately want. Conversely, be aware that you might not to be able to use every single diamond in grandmother’s brooch or ring. You may have some leftovers.
Does it cost more to update a piece of heirloom jewelry than it would be to buy a new piece of jewelry?
That totally depends upon what you have and what you want. Here’s an example of earrings we made from a beautiful platinum antique diamond watch. A young woman inherited the watch and knew she would never wear it. So for a modest labor fee, we cut these clusters out of the case and she used the leftover platinum and diamonds to help defray costs for the project.
What is more fun for you as the jeweler: creating a new piece of custom jewelry or updating an heirloom piece?
I think they are both thrilling because working with a customer to get exactly what she wants is always fun. It’s one of the best parts of being a professional jeweler!
What are the challenges of working with heirloom jewelry?
Occasionally you have to work around diamonds and gems that have been damaged over the years. Sometimes you can’t tell the extent of the damage until after you take it apart. That’s no fun for anyone, but sometimes it is unavoidable.
Do you find that there is a tug-of-war of emotions for the customer between wanting to keep the heirloom piece in-tact, versus the desire for a new look?
Well, people are funny. Sometimes a client will walk in the door and say, “ I will NEVER wear this. My great aunt was so gaudy! Help me!”
Other times it’s a long process to determine what the right decision is, and if we should even touch it. Sometimes the right answer is to do nothing, expecting that their next generation will want a piece intact.
What other advice do you have for someone looking to update their heirloom jewelry?
Find an AGS jeweler to help. That way, you’ll be in good hands regardless of your needs.