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.

Appraisal

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.

Summer Jewelry Care: Steer Clear of Old Wives’ Tales

By Kristie Nicolosi, The Kingswood Company

Summer days are full of fun with days at the pool, barbecues with friends, and travel to beautiful beach locations. But all this fun can lead to your jewelry losing its sparkle as it becomes dulled by the oils in your sunblock, butter dripping off that cob of corn, or caked with sand from building a prize-winning sandcastle.

So, when you want to return your jewelry to full sparkle, you may be tempted to use one of your mother’s or grandmother’s tricks of the trade. But these “old wives’ tales” range from ineffective to dangerous. Here are the top eight jewelry cleaning tales to avoid.

CleaningSupplies

#1 – Toothbrush and Toothpaste

They are great for your pearly whites, but not your pearls or any other type of jewelry. The abrasives in toothpaste will scratch the surface of metals and softer gemstones, while a toothbrush’s long handle places to much pressure on the piece you are cleaning.

#2 – Ammonia, Windex®, and Mr. Clean®

Ammonia, Windex, denatured alcohol, acetone and other harsh cleaning agents can dull or pit the surface of softer gemstones. While ammonia or a cleaning agent like Mr. Clean can be safe on harder gemstones in small concentrations, it is difficult to determine the correct ratio, making them a risky choice.

#3 – Hydrogen Peroxide

While many of us know hydrogen peroxide to be an effective disinfectant, it is not really designed to be a cleaner. In some cases, it can actually react with sterling silver and through a chemical reaction, harm the finish. Professional products are a much better bet.

#4 – Bleach

Bleach is not safe for cleaning jewelry, as it damages metal alloys in gold, irreparably damaging the piece. In fact, this is why it is not a good idea to wear your jewelry while swimming or in a hot tub because both bleach and chlorine are often used to clean them.

#5 – Vinegar and Lemon Juice

The old wives are big fans of vinegar and lemon juice, and they are great cleaning agents for many things. Just not for jewelry. Both are too acidic and abrasive, which is damaging to metals and softer gemstones.

#6 – Coca-Cola®

Yes, some (Do it Yourself) DIY sites suggest using Coca-Cola for cleaning jewelry, but like vinegar, the acids in Coke can damage metals and softer stones. But to cool off on a hot summer day? There’s nothing like it.

#7 – Baking Soda

Baking soda, also known as bicarbonate of soda, is another popular DIY cleaning agent. However, it is too alkaline for cleaning jewelry safely. Just leave it in your fridge to soak up unpleasant odors.

#8 – Boiling Water

Although steam is an excellent way to clean jewelry (most jewelers use a steamer), placing your jewelry in a pot of boiling water is not a good idea. Your piece will come into contact with a hot metal surface, which can weaken or misshape the metal.

While the old wives’ tales are not the way to go, you can clean your jewelry at home. Visit your jeweler for professional jewelry care products formulated especially for cleaning jewelry. Be sure to ask what formulation is best for the jewelry you need to clean. For example, you will want a gentle jewelry cleaning formulation for pearl and other delicate gemstones.

KingswoodRing

About the Author

Kristie Nicolosi is the President and CEO of The Kingswood Company, the industry’s leading manufacturer of private-label jewelry care products. Since Nicolosi’s acquisition of the business in 2005, The Kingswood Company has earned a reputation for its advanced jewelry cleaning formulas, innovative and customer-centric design skills, and never-ending commitment to customer service. The Kingswood Company have been members of the American Gem Society for more than 25 years.

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.

AquaGems

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.

r2912aqua-e1519852947322.jpg

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.

yael-designs-lyra-ae4

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.

EricaCourtney2

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?

Tips from Jewelers Mutual: How to Ship Jewelry, According to Loss Prevention Experts

Delivery man delivering package to customer close up at hand and box

Until the day transporters—like those used in Star Trek—become a reality, sending our valuable items over a great distance still requires shipping. How can this be done safely, discretely, and with peace of mind?

We’ve found the best advice comes from the loss prevention experts at Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company. They’ve provided eight steps to take in order to ensure your items arrive securely and intact. Click here to read their article,  How to Ship Jewelry, According to Loss Prevention Experts.

The World of Colored Gems

By Gleim the Jeweler

The jeweler allows me to wear the sapphire blue lake on my finger, emerald green leaves around my neck, and take the citrine sunset with me wherever I go. Jewelry has become my daytime link to nature in an office with no windows. And if I have to work late, there’s nothing like diamond stars and a pearl full moon against an onyx night sky.

JR0032-Gossip-Emerald-Cut-900x720

“Gossip” emerald cut three stone rings by Goshwara.

This wonderful quotation, by author Astrid Alauda, perfectly expresses the emotional connection that has been provided by colored gemstones for thousands of years.

Fine colored gemstones have been revered throughout history. Gemstones have been imbued with the power to foretell events, strengthen memory, quicken intelligence, ensure purity, avert lightning, prevent intoxication, ensure happiness and are often equated to the fountain of youth.

What Defines a Colored Gemstone?

Colored gemstones are described as all the various gemstones except for diamonds. Only a select few of the vast number of minerals known qualify as gemstones. In order to become a gemstone, the mineral must be rare and beautiful and be durable enough to be worn as jewelry.

ag-gems_ring3_2-19-14.jpg

Blue sapphire ring by AG Gems.

Precious vs. Semi-Precious Gems?

In the past, the term “precious” was used to describe diamond, emerald, ruby, and sapphire. The term “semi-precious” referred to all other gemstones. Today, most jewelers and gemologists agree that these terms no longer accurately reflect the true value of these gems. In particular, some species of colored gems, such as alexandrite or demantoid garnet, are so rare that they have been known to command prices exceeding those of emerald, ruby, and even diamonds.

PC1116ALTR-AlexandriteDiamondPendant

Alexandrite and diamond pendant by Omi Privé.

Gemstones generally can be grouped into three major clarity categories:

  1. Gems that are flawless or have very minor inclusions (e.g. aquamarines and amethysts)
  2. Gems that are moderately included (e.g. rubies and sapphires)
  3. Gems that tend to be highly included (e.g. emeralds and red tourmalines)

Color is the single most important deciding factor in determining the value of a gemstone, followed by the cut. The cut of a gemstone is designed to bring out the best possible color or colors in the rough uncut material while retaining as much weight as possible. The color in a fine gem is saturated evenly throughout the stone and is of a brilliant deep, rich, and pleasing color—not too dark and not too light.

Idolite earrings

Indicolite earrings by Erica Courtney.

Each variety of colored gemstone has a range of highly prized colors that have evolved over the years. Many of these colors are tied to historical sources such as “Burmese” rubies from Burma, “Kashmir” sapphires from India, and “Persian” turquoise. This is by no means a sure bet. Not all rubies from Burma have the “Burmese” signature color and furthermore, you may find a fine color from a ruby that was mined in Thailand.

RGG0087_resized-1500

Cushion cut Mozambican Ruby ring by Real Gems Inc.

Ultimately the wearer decides what color speaks to them, keeping in mind that this may not be that color defined as being the most valuable. Since we all perceive color differently it’s ultimately a very personal choice.

Today, with the ever-increasing advances in gemstone enhancements and synthetic gemstone production, it is more important than ever to work with a reputable and properly trained jeweler.

About Gleim the Jeweler

We have been serving the Peninsula since 1931 and have been members of the American Gem Society (AGS) since 1954. Our membership with the AGS assures you that we earn and maintain the education necessary to provide you with the most up to date information about gems and their different markets.

We also have American Gem Society Accredited Gem Laboratories, assuring you that we have the proper instruments to identify and grade gems. And, what’s perhaps most important, we love colored gems!

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.

Tips from Jewelers Mutual: When and How to Make a Ring Smaller Without Resizing

Diamond Ring

To resize or not to resize, that is the question. Our bodies do go through occasional changes, whether it’s due to the weather or other circumstances. But should you rush out to get your ring resized?

Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company shares some great advice on temporary solutions in their latest blog, When and How to Make a Ring Smaller Without Resizing.