Corundum of Many Colors: Sapphire

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!

Four Holiday Shopping Tips

Trying on ring at jewelry store

Tips on Buying Jewelry This Holiday Season

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.

Click here to learn more about the importance of shopping with a credentialed AGS jeweler.

To find an AGS member jeweler near you, visit americangemsociety.org/findajeweler.

“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.

To find an AGS-credentialed appraiser near you, visit americangemsociety.org/findanappraiser.

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!

What’s That Bracelet (REALLY) Worth?

By David Craig Rotenberg, ECGA (AGS), GG (GIA), CSM (NAJA), CAPP (ISA)

 

Gold Jewelry  With Gems , Chains Close Up Macro Shot Isolated OnJewelry 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

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.

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Settlement Appraisals

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.

The Process

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.

 

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:

DRotenbergDavid 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.

American Gem Society Members Sparkle in Nashville

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.

Click on each photo to get a closer look.

 

If there’s a design you like and want to know more, contact an AGS-credentialed jeweler near you.

Celebrate the Woman Who Means Everything

By Robin Skibicki

“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!

Aquamarine: the Cure for the Madness of March

Historically speaking, March is an unusual month. It’s a time of transition, from winter blues to the summertime blue of swimming pools. It’s a windy month, too, and the weather can be fickle as one day is cold and the next is warm. It’s supposed to be the first month of spring, but sometimes it feels like the final month of winter.

Even literature has a conflicted relationship with the month. Shakespeare warned Caesar to “Beware the ides of March” in his eponymous play, “Julius Caesar.”

Despite the ups and downs of March, there is one bright, shining and beautiful factor. Aquamarine.

It’s a word which evokes the sea.

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Beautiful aquamarine gems. Courtesy of Suna Bros.

Aquamarine is most often light in tone and ranges from greenish blue to blue-green; the color usually is more intense in larger stones, and darker blue stones are very valuable. This gemstone is mined mainly in Brazil but also is found in Nigeria, Madagascar, Zambia, Pakistan, and Mozambique.

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Aquamarine and diamond ring from Suna Bros.

Like emeralds, this gemstone is a variety of a mineral called beryl. Large stones have been found all over the world, including one stone found in Brazil that weighed over 240 pounds. Aquamarine grows in large, six-sided crystals that can be up to a foot long, making it a great gem to be cut and polished in larger carats for statement pieces.

Not only is aquamarine one of the March birthstones, it’s also used to celebrate 19th wedding anniversaries. It’s a beautiful stone with little or no yellow in it, so it looks great in many settings with different colored metals and gemstones.

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Opal pendant surrounded by aquamarine and diamonds. From Yael Designs.

First, visit an AGS jeweler, who will be happy to help you pick out the perfect piece. Next, look at the stone’s cut. Since aquamarine can be very lightly colored (and sometimes appear almost colorless), the cut is very important to the overall appearance of the stone and how saturated, or even, the color appears.

Of course, choose the color that most appeals to you, however, it’s generally accepted that lighter colored aquamarines are less valuable than the stronger, deeper hues of blue or blue-green.

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Aquamarine and diamonds in a gold setting.
From Erica Courtney Jewelry

Next, take a look at the stone’s clarity. Most cut gems do not have inclusions that are visible to the eye, and some rarer or more expensive aquamarines are available without visible inclusions, as well.

Since aquamarine crystals can grow to be quite large, larger cut gemstones are possible to purchase as a part of beautiful statement pieces. While you may not be looking to buy in that range, even smaller aquamarines make for lovely solitaires or companion jewels in larger pieces.

Ready to see aquamarine up-close and in person? Find an AGS Jewler here. Just don’t forget to bring your jacket. . . or not. It’s March, after all. Who knows what the weather will be like?

How to Rock Stackable Rings Like A Pro

By Uneek Fine Jewelry

Stackable rings are a trend that has definitely been re-emerging in the last year and we are loving it! Whether you’re having a dinner date, a night out with the girls, or a business meeting, there is a stackable ring style that is appropriate for you. Here are our tips on stacking rings like a pro for any event:

Keep It Simple

An important key to remember is to be simple. Using small bands to accent instead of chunky pieces. These simple touches will not only stand out but also create symmetry to your look. To ensure the complete chic stack, be sure they keep it symmetrical and not to clutter all your rings on one finger…share the love!

Mix & Match

You’ve always heard not to wear gold and silver jewelry but we are here to tell you that…they are all wrong! Mixing metals can create a cohesive glow that also looks great with your summer tan or favorite fall-colored clothing. More importantly, who doesn’t love a fashionista who is willing to take some risks from time to time?

Playing With Shapes

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different designs and shapes. Bold diamond bands paired with fun geometric designs complete a playful, yet sophisticated look. For the ethereal look, pair diamond bands with our dainty laurel bands [pictured below].

Stay True to You

Some of us are a little more conservative while some of us like to explore styles and fashions more often. No matter the case, it is important to stay true to your personality. Maybe one to two rings are all you need but perhaps another day you’re feeling that bohemian vibe where you want to pile on every finger. Don’t worry, the rings are here to support whichever look you’re feeling.

Are you ready to rock your own stacking style? Contact a certified AGS jeweler near you.

About Uneek Fine Jewelry

Established in 1996, Uneek Fine Jewelry has emerged as an unparalleled standard in fine diamond jewelry. The reasons will be evident once you see and experience the extraordinary detail, intricate workmanship and breathtaking designs in their extensive bridal, color and fashion collections.