Emeralds and Diamonds: the perfect pair

By Donna Jolly, RJ

When you roam the hallways of the American Gem Society, it’s not unusual to see members of the team staring at images of gorgeous jewelry on their desktop. We work in this industry because we are fans of shiny, pretty things! As jewelry lovers, we can be a little fickle, month to month, as to what our favorite gemstone is.

Yes, we love diamonds. Quite a lot.

Turns out, we love May’s birthstone quite a lot, too: the emerald.

Pair an emerald and a diamond together, and we pretty much have a hard time finding the words to describe how over-the-top in love we are with that striking combination.

But let’s try. And in the process, we’ll show you some of our favorite pieces of emerald and diamond jewelry.

First, a little history on the emerald. This beautiful gemstone was mined in Egypt as early as 330 BC, but some estimate that the oldest emeralds are 2.97 billion years old. Cleopatra had a thing for emeralds. She even claimed ownership of all emerald mines in Egypt during her reign. If the queen could be around today, she would no doubt attempt to expand her reach of this green gift from the earth.

Emeralds, like diamonds, are analyzed according to the 4Cs: color, cut, clarity and carat weight. Rare emeralds are a deep green-blue, while lighter colored gems are more common—and a good choice for those looking for a more affordable alternative.

Now for the good stuff: take a look at this stunning pendant below from JB Star. Marquis shaped emeralds and diamonds surround a square-cut center diamond for a green and white starburst.

Pear Shaped emeralds and Marquite diamonds

Yael Designs is known for creating crazy beautiful colorful jewelry. Here, they show us some marquis magic, blending yellow and white diamonds with emeralds.

Emerald and and diamonds

Supreme Jewelry created this gorgeous pair of diamond chandelier earrings featuring tear-drop shaped emeralds. There is quite a lot to love here. Especially the intricate yet delicate design. Try to imagine this design with another gem in it other than emerald. Would it have the same level of vibrancy?

Emerald and Diamond Chandelier Earrings

Jewelry can represent different things: symbols of love and success, a cause for celebration, a little something extra to make you feel good. If you are in search of fine jewelry, whether it’s an emerald, diamond or another gemstone, shop with a jeweler you trust. It’s step number one in the jewelry-buying process. Find a professional, trusted American Gem Society jeweler here.  To learn more about emeralds and diamonds, click here.

Looking at Diamonds in a Different Light

Diamonds have been celebrated for centuries as a symbol of love and status and have been revered throughout the centuries. No wonder there are literally volumes of references to diamonds in fiction and historical tomes.

Though April is in our rearview mirror, we just can’t quite let go of our favorite gem, and in thinking about our obsession, three thoughts struck us that show how special diamonds really are:

Diamonds are the result of both nature and man. They come from the earth, but diamond cutters, who are skilled artisans, turn diamond rough into beautiful works of art.

Case in point: this masterpiece from Forevermark.

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Diamonds and plants both need light. Plants need light to live. In a way, so do diamonds. The way light travels through a diamond creates sparkle. A well-cut diamond will have more sparkle than one that is poorly cut. Gemologists often refer to this sparkle as “life.”

A well-cut diamond shimmers with life; that because of the light being returned to the eye! Did you know that cut affects the value of a diamond by as much as 50%? A well-cut diamond will appear larger than one of similar size that is not as finely cut.

This well-cut beauty from Carizza also doubles as a show-stopper!

emerald cut

Diamonds can be a symbol of love, status and even purity . . . they are also a symbol of strength: A diamond forms under tremendous heat and pressure, just like human character! It takes billions of years to form a diamond, and while humans don’t have that luxury of forever, we grow and learn from life’s challenges. It’s no wonder that people celebrate their special moments with diamonds. Diamonds are also the most durable of gems, and measure 10 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness.

Star Gems demonstrates that while a diamond may be tough, the right design can be soft and downright feminine.

marquis

Ask your American Gem Society jeweler to help you find the perfect diamond. Remember, something as rare and precious as a diamond deserves a report from a well-respected diamond grading laboratory. Ask for one from AGS Laboratories, a nonprofit diamond lab created with the AGS mission of consumer protection and the highest standards of grading. Search for an American Gem Society jeweler near you by clicking here.

The Benefits of Jewelry Appraisals

By Phillip Bosen, CGA and Director of Business Development at Von Bargen’s Jewelry

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.

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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
  • Color photograph
  • 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.

To find a CGA or ICGA in your area, click here.

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It’s Okay to Get an “F” in Diamond Color

By John Carter, CGA, CEO & President of Jack Lewis Jewelers

Choosing the diamond that is right for you means that you need to become a Jedi Master with the answers to these two questions:

  1. What area(s) should I spend money on?
  2. And more importantly: In what area(s) should I save money without it being obvious that I did so?

Ok. So, there you go. I’ve summed up this whole frustrating process with two questions. Now, go out there and make the right choice!

Not really that simple, I know. If it was, I wouldn’t have a job. Understanding those questions is one thing. Now you need to see practical examples of what this means in person.

Let’s single out color as our starting point. A good thing to remember when we discuss color in a diamond is that we are generally speaking about the absence or presence of yellow. Not to be confused with the occasional yellow flash you may see when you turn a diamond because that is something else. We are talking about the overall body color of that diamond.

Think in terms of shades of yellow like various glasses of lemonade. Some batches will just look more yellow than others. Same here, only remember that in diamond terms, the less color a diamond has, the more expensive it will be.

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That brings us to two terms you should know: colorless and near colorless. The most colorless of all diamonds is D (don’t ask me why they don’t start at A…seems like that would be easier…but I digress) and then the color scale goes down through the letter Z. When we use the term colorless, we mean diamonds that would receive the grade of D-F. Near colorless means the diamond would fall into the color range of G-J.

So the question to ask yourself about colorless and near colorless would be, “How do they determine this? I mean, if F truly has no visible body color, then it should be a D…right?” Well, yes but the real buying tip is found in the determination of the grade. It’s all in how we actually grade the diamonds.

In order to see subtle differences in color from one diamond to another, we actually need to flip the diamond upside down and view it next to other diamonds we know are specific colors. We call these rather important comparison diamonds Master Diamonds or Master Stones.

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The term colorless is used because it means that in the face up position (or when you are looking down at the diamond from the top of it) no color differences can be seen even by a trained grader. Even by a trained grader! It is only from the side that one can see the difference between a D, E, and F.

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So I ask you, why would you spend your money on a D or an E when clearly an F looks awfully similar? Now I’ve sold (and currently own) plenty of D and E color diamonds, but I generally only buy them when the price makes sense in another area like clarity….which is what we’ll discuss in a future blog.

This takes us to the near colorless range…so called because in that same face-up position, there will be subtle differences in color from one diamond to the next.  In other words, to the naked eye, these will still appear to be mostly lacking in color but it starts to become noticeable, even if just a little.

The exercise I like to do with clients in person is to show them one color and how it compares to the others. You do not need to be an expert to see why a D is a D when you compare it to an I color, and by looking at them this way it allows you to ask yourself the very valuable question: Is it worth the extra money?

And that is always the million dollar question and why it is essential to find someone you can trust to show you the differences.  At the very least, know that you cannot be an expert in diamonds just by doing some research online.

Identifying what separates one diamond from another takes real world experience of viewing them in person, and the right jeweler will introduce you to that world and try to explain to you why they know what they do.  Understanding color is as simple as D-Z, and being a savvy consumer is just knowing that sometimes color can be a great place to save a little money.

Graduation Gifts!

By Amanda L Colborn

Time sure does fly, right? Perhaps you’ve been dreading it…or maybe you’re looking forward to this new chapter of your loved ones’ life. Whether you’re ready for it or not, your favorite graduate is going to be walking down that aisle and accepting that diploma or degree that they’ve worked so hard for.

Witnessing this significant step in your loved ones’ life will likely bring some tears to your eyes. But have no fear, you can return the favor when you gift them an amazing piece of jewelry, as a congratulatory token of your love, during this most momentous of times.

This is the time to celebrate all the hours, days, weeks, and years of time they dedicated to achieving such an important goal. And that warrants a really spectacular gift!

But where to start?

First off, if you are considering gifting an amazing piece of jewelry to your graduate, please do so from an AGS-credentialed jeweler. You can find a local AGS-credentialed jeweler here.  Find a jeweler near you and give them a call, they’ll be happy to help you find that perfect piece!

Another option is to look online.  For example; AGS members, Tiffany & Co. and Hearts on Fire, both have sections of their website completely dedicated to Graduation Gifts for both Him and Her.

Whichever avenue you choose, try to think outside the box! Consider who you are shopping for, what they like, what they care about, and what their future goals are. Then tailor your gift to their personality specifically.

Diamond stud earrings for her from Ritani

Diamond stud earrings for her from Ritani

Men's cufflinks from John Hardy

Men’s cufflinks from John Hardy

And then stand back.

There will be waterworks. But don’t worry, they will definitely be the good kind!

 

 

Shedding Light on a Diamond’s Quality

By Donna Jolly, RJ

Rolls Royce. Hermes. Cartier. Luxury brands that evoke the best of the best, right? When thinking of gemstones, diamonds, like these brands, are on the high-end of the luxury food chain. They are a girl’s best friends. They are the ultimate symbol of status. . . and of love. They are Forever.

With something so precious and coveted, it stands to reason then that when you purchase a diamond, it has been thoroughly analyzed before it hits the store so that you understand its level of quality. There are several diamond grading labs that can do this, but before you buy a diamond with one of those lab’s report, it’s important you learn about the lab. In 1996, the American Gem Society created AGS Laboratories because no other labs were founded on the premise of consumer  protection. None. They were all created to service the trade.

From its inception, AGS Laboratories has taken its mission seriously. It’s devoted much of its resources to not just grading diamonds, but researching them to really understand how this beautiful gem can be its most beautiful. Because of this research, AGS Laboratories uses a scientifically vetted cut-grading system, based on optical physics and proprietary “ray-tracing” software. This three-dimensional analysis traces how light performs in a diamond. That methodology is the cornerstone of the Lab’s Platinum Diamond Quality® Document. No other report is more thorough or reviews as much detail on a diamond’s light performance.

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The report covers all the 4Cs with great emphasis on Cut—the C that contributes most to a diamond’s brightness. Each document has a “Light Performance” map unique to each diamond, showing you where the diamond has its most brightness versus light “leakage.” The less light that leaks out of a diamond, of course, the brighter it will be.

So what exactly is light performance and why is it important? The diamond’s cut—the layout of its facets—determines the light returned to the surface (what most refer to as Sparkle). The better and more exacting a diamond is cut, the more light is returned from the top of the diamond (known as its crown). If a diamond has a cut that is too shallow, light will leak out of the bottom. It the cut is too deep, light escapes out of the sides.

AGS Labs performance-based cut grade is available for Round Brilliant, Princess, Oval, Emerald and Cushion-shaped diamonds.

 Ask your Jeweler to show you a diamond with an AGS Laboratories Platinum Diamond Quality® Document. Better yet, ask them to show you the diamond underneath an ASET, a tool created by AGS Laboratories to illustrate light within the diamond. You’ll never look at this rare gem in the same way again!

Happy Birthday April! It’s your time to shine!

By Amanda L Colborn

At the American Gem Society and especially in AGS Laboratories, we look forward to April all year long!  With the diamond being April’s birthstone, it’s yet another opportunity to celebrate our favorite things: bright, shiny diamonds!

Don’t get us wrong, all other months and their birthstones are just as special! However, being part of an organization that offers you the highest quality diamond grading reports…we do have a special soft spot for diamonds.

A gorgeous 7 carat, cushion cut from Alson Jewelers.

A gorgeous 7 carat, cushion cut from Alson Jewelers.

History of the Diamond as the April Birthstone

Diamonds are a thing of beauty and the ultimate gift for a loved one. Thought to be one of the hardest substances on the globe, diamonds date back billions of years. The diamond is the traditional birthstone of April and holds significant meaning for those born in that month, thought to provide the wearer with better relationships and an increase in inner strength. Wearing diamonds is purported to bring other benefits such as balance, clarity and abundance.  It’s also symbolic of eternal love, and those fortunate to call April the month of their birth will enjoy the following history behind this rare gem.

Diamond engagement rings by Suna Bros.

Diamond engagement rings by Suna Bros.

Diamond Gemstones

Adopted from the Greek work “adamas,” meaning invincible, diamonds come in a wide range of colors such as black, blue, green, pink, red, purple, orange and yellow. The color is dependent upon the type of impurities that are present in the stone. Yellow stones have minuscule traces of nitrogen while blue ones contain boron.

A stunning pear shape diamond from Philip's Diamond Shop.

A stunning pear shape diamond from Philip’s Diamond Shop.

The History and Beliefs Surrounding the Diamond

As told through the Encarta, Sanskrit texts dating back before 400 B.C. found that people associated significant value and wonderment with crystals. There is also significant research that dates back to the 1330s showing diamond cutting in Venice. The diamond trading business flourished towards the 15th century with the opening of Eastern trade routes. Ancient theories touting the magical powers of diamonds were prevalent: some thought lightning bolts formed diamonds, while other theories asserted that diamonds were the tears of god.

Engagement rings by Ritani.

Engagement rings by Ritani.

The Healing Power of Diamonds

During the Middle Ages, diamonds were thought to hold healing powers and to cure ailments stemming from the pituitary gland and brain. By heating the crystal and taking it to bed, it was thought to draw out the harmful toxins that were crippling the body. It was believed that diamonds could also have an effect on an individual’s balance and clarity and could boost their energy when combined with other crystals like amethyst.

The diamond as the April gemstone has garnered the hearts of many and is the most coveted crystal to date. Deemed as the King of all birthstones, diamonds make the ideal choice for an April birthday gift. She’ll love you for it! Find a trusted diamond jeweler near you.

 

Jewelry Buying Tips from the Pros

By Donna Jolly, RJ
American Gem Society

 

cropped-blogbanner1.pngYou know it’s the holiday season when magazines and blogs run a “shopping tips” article. We thought, though, that you should hear advice from the people actually in the field who have learned a thing or two about best-buying practices: the jewelers. Of course, these are not just any retailers. They are American Gem Society credentialed jewelers.  Every day, they help their customers find the perfect piece of jewelry, whether it’s finding the right style or fitting the right budget—or both. Here is some solid advice straight from a few jewelers:

Catherine Fitzgibbon, CGA, from Coffin & Trout Fine Jewellers:  “Buyer beware when it comes to 80% off sales, just remember 80% off of what?  An overinflated retail price that is not realistic?

Also, your buying experience should be fun and enjoyable. Ask a lot of questions and make sure you are comfortable with the answers.  The staff should be professional, well-educated with superior product knowledge and be able to provide detailed accurate answers to all of your questions.  If the salesperson doesn’t know what they are selling, then how do you know what you are buying?

Lastly, if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.  Go with your gut feeling on this one as it is probably right.”

Jim Summa, CGA, Summa Jewelry:  “If a man is shopping for a gift of jewelry for a woman, we recommend to try and pick up on the style of jewelry she wears before you even walk in a jewelry store. Does she like stud earrings or dangle style? Does she wear yellow, white, rose metals or a combination? Has she dropped any hints lately about what she would like to have or has admired on a friend? It helps to narrow down some choices when there are a lot to pick from. Also ask about wish list items that may be on file at the store. Many salespeople keep notes throughout the year when customers stop in for a routine visit.”

John Carter, CGA, Jack Lewis Jewelers:  “Don’t be afraid to take a chance and get something for your loved one that you’re not positive he/she will love. Go out on a limb and choose something that YOU think they will love.  Probing and asking too many questions can ruin the surprise and the holidays are about the magic of choosing something to express how much that person is appreciated. If you tip them off to what you’re planning it can take away from that moment and how they feel when they see it. Any reputable store should have a generous enough return policy that will allow for a return or exchange after the holidays. I always tell my clients, ‘I’ll take the risk if you do.’  So go out there and get them something that reminds you of them but most importantly, tell them why!”

Louis Smith, CG, Smithworks Fine Jewelry:  “Be sure to always buy from a jewelry professional and not a sales clerk. You will gain knowledge and feel confident in your fine jewelry purchases. Also, if something is less expensive, the first question should be why?”

We also asked Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company for their advice—because insuring your valuable is always a great tip, right?

“Whether you are buying jewelry for a loved one or are the lucky recipient this holiday season, consider how you’re going to protect your jewelry for years to come. Having worldwide comprehensive coverage, such as our Perfect Circle Jewelry Insurance gives you freedom to wear and enjoy your new jewelry now and keep it protected for the future.”

Finally, we have one rock solid piece of advice for shopping for jewelry this holiday season. Shop with a knowledgeable, professional, credentialed jeweler. It will boost your buying confidence and make the shopping experience less stressful. You can find an American Gem Society credentialed jeweler here.

Happy shopping, happy holidays and here’s to a sparkling New Year! We’ll see you in 2015!

 

The American Gem Society Presents $ 10,000 Check to Local Charity

The American Gem Society recently presented a $10,000 check from the Jewelers for Children (JFC) to The Children’s Heart Foundation (CHF) as part of a Local Grant Program. JFC, a non-profit organization founded by the jewelry industry in 1999, is dedicated to helping children in need. The charity launched a Local Grant Program in 2013 and continued again this year.  The goal is to fund ten $10,000 grants for local children’s charities around the country. Organizations in the jewelry industry were asked to nominate their favorite local organization, and the American Gem Society nominated CHF.  Public voting on the Jewelers for Children Facebook page (www.facebook.com/JewelersforChildren) determined the charities to receive the grants.

“We are so excited to be able to help The Children’s Heart Foundation,” says Ruth Batson, CEO of The American Gem Society. “It was very personal to us. One our employees at The American Gem Society has a daughter who has been personally helped by The Children’s Heart Foundation, and we were thrilled to have the opportunity to work with them, and present this grant in hopes that it will help others!”

More than 15,000 people were motivated to visit the Jewelers for Children Facebook page and vote for their favorite local charity. The American Gem Society worked in conjunction with The Children’s Heart Foundation to encourage people to vote.  Their efforts paid off.

Left to Right: Karl Klein, his daughter Phoebe Rose, Kelley Mazur from the Children’s Heart Foundation and Ruth Batson, CEO of the American Gem Society and AGS Laboratories

Left to Right: Karl Klein, his daughter Phoebe Rose, Kelley Mazur from the Children’s Heart Foundation and Ruth Batson, CEO of the American Gem Society and AGS Laboratories

 

How do you sparkle?

By Amanda L. Colborn

How do you sparkle?

You’re likely familiar with the 4 C’s of Diamonds: Cut, Clarity, Color and Carat – however, there is another very important aspect of diamonds to keep top of mind: Sparkle!

Sparkle, or Scintillation as it is also known, is the play of white and colored flashes of light seen when the diamond is viewed in motion.  Viewable with the naked eye, sparkle is the life of the diamond.

Sparkle does have two different aspects, flash scintillation and fire scintillation.

Flash

flash

Flash scintillation is the dynamic pattern of white sparkles observed across a diamond’s crown. Because flash can be seen across a broader range of light environments, it is more common to see white sparkles in a diamond than colored flashes of fire.

Fire

fire

Fire scintillation is the dynamic pattern of colored sparkles observed across a diamond’s crown. Because of the refraction caused by a diamond’s faceting, normal white light can be split into many spectral colors as it leaves the diamond.

Light and Movement

Without light, diamonds can’t sparkle.  As light is a key ingredient, diamonds with the highest potential for sparkle find light in broad ranges of commonly encountered illumination environments and redirect the light to the observer’s eye through the diamond.

The other key attribute is movement, which sets the scintillation performance apart from its light performance.  A motionless diamond in broad diffuse lighting cannot demonstrate the beautiful display of scintillation. It is movement that causes the flickering of sparkle across a diamond, whether it is the diamond, the observer, or the light source that moves.

But, how do you sparkle?!

Cut is key to sparkle.  A diamond with superior sparkle has flashes of light and color across the top of the diamond.  A poorly cut stone can have “dead” areas where no flash or fire is seen.

For a fun and unique take on sparkle, check out AGS Laboratories’ very own Executive Director, Peter Yantzer, talk about how he sees sparkle.