Are you planning to make one of your holiday gifts an engagement ring? With all the excitement and holiday hubbub, where do you begin?
Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company has compiled a wonderful list of what to look for, based on latest trends, hottest colors and alternative alloys. But keep in mind, it’s most important to be conscious of what your beloved most desires.
Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company has this potentially valuable tip: Head to Murfreesboro, AR to search for and keep your own diamonds! Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to Crater of Diamonds State Park we go! Before you start packing your bags and pick ax, read about the amazing discoveries these lucky visitors have made at the park. Will you have your own story to tell?
Sunscreen, chlorine, and travel are the quintessential elements of summer that put fine jewelry at risk. But now that the sun is setting on summer, it’s time to give your precious gems and metals some extra attention.
We love summer! The season tempts us to let those gorgeous gemstones sparkle in the sunshine, and it’s especially an attractive way to dress up bare skin. But don’t forget that the harsh chemicals in much-needed sunscreen, and the chlorine in the refreshing pool, are harmful to fine jewelry. While you’re having fun in the sun, you run the risk of ruining your jewelry—or even worse, losing it!
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.
Choosing the diamond that is right for you means that you need to become a Jedi Master with the answers to these two questions:
What area(s) should I spend money on?
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.
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.
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.
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.
May 26 – June 1 is known as “Jewelry Week” this year in Las Vegas, NV. With major trade show events hosted at both Mandalay Bay and the Wynn, you could say that the jewelry industry has taken over the Las Vegas strip. Many of the exhibitors that have flown to Vegas to showcase their jewelry pieces are none other than American Gem Society members, of course!
We are very excited to give you a behind-the-scenes peek into some of the amazing pieces these designers have brought with them!
This first image showcases three stunning pieces from Simon G. Jewelry. Note the incredible sparkle on this bracelet which comes from the well-cut diamonds.
Next we have the NEW Lorelei drop earrings from Hearts On Fire. The design is unique and something new and uncommon to the standard diamond drop earring.
Kara Ross posted this image to her Instagram feed earlier this week. The lovely model is showcasing some designs from the new Kara Ross NY collection.
Gumuchian is proudly displaying pieces from their NEW Stitch collection! This gold pendant is perfect going from day-to-night.
Everything is coming up roses for Suna Bros. They’re showcasing these stunning rings in addition to many more beautiful pieces!
If you’re feeling fun, you’ll likely love these free-form, open-space rings from Supreme Jewelry just as much as we do.
AG Gems always has fantastic colored jewelry pieces for any taste or style. They definitely did not disappoint!
Yael Designs brought a variety of different pieces to showcase this year. The gorgeous rings were a big fan-favorite!
Last and certainly not least, the NEW Flex bracelets from the pearl masters, Mastoloni.
And there you have it! Your inside look into 2015 Jewelry Week here in the sunny Las Vegas! We made sure to link all our AGS members featured in this blog to their respective Facebook pages. Please like them on Facebook and follow their new designs. Please also like the American Gem Society on Facebook and continue following our blog for more behind-the-scenes looks into the world of the AGS and the fine jewelry industry!
When it comes to jewelry, more and more people are looking to the past for their present jewelry inspiration. It’s not just about style and fashion, estate jewelry has benefits to both your wallet AND the environment!
But first, what is “estate” jewelry?
Estate jewelry is, in the simplest of terms, jewelry that has been previously owned by someone else.
Is it the same as “antique” jewelry?
Yes and no, estate jewelry is not considered an antique until it is at least 100 years old, according to JewelleryMonthly.com.
So, why would estate jewelry be something for me?
There are several benefits to acquiring previously owned jewelry. A big reason being that they are back in fashion right now. Vintage has never been more popular, making it easier than ever to find interesting pieces of estate jewelry. People love pieces that hold a story, and the best thing about estate jewelry is that they all have some sort of story, which makes shopping for them that much more fun!
Estate Watch from McTeigue
Another reason to look into owning an estate piece, most of them are now one-of-a-kind. Perhaps you have looked into getting a custom piece of jewelry made and were overwhelmed by how much that can cost. Well, look into estate pieces! They are usually much more cost-effective and the likelihood of anyone else having the same matching piece is slim to none.
Estate Pendant Necklace from McTeigue
The best and most important reasons for choosing a piece of estate jewelry is that they are environmentally-friendly and ethical. Like all new products in our world today, it takes resources to produce and manufacture pieces of fine jewelry. When you buy a piece of estate jewelry, you can rest assured knowing that your purchase has both a beautiful, rich history and you have recycled a piece of jewelry at no cost to our environment.
When you shop with an AGS-credentialed jeweler, you’re already taking the first step towards a jewelry purchase backed with the highest standard of ethics in the industry. When you purchase a piece of estate jewelry from an AGS-credentialed jeweler, you know you are getting a top-quality piece of jewelry from a jeweler who cares about you, your wallet, and ensuring the overall high standards of ethical behavior within the jewelry industry.
Estate Bracelet from McTeigue
As you can see, there are so many benefits to going retro when it comes to your next jewelry purchase. Take into consideration the history, time period, cost-effectiveness, and environmental & ethical impacts when you consider purchasing your first or next piece of fine jewelry. Talk to your jeweler and see what your options are. Or, find the right jeweler for you here. And then go tell your friends to look into estate jewelry as well, so you can share the stories of your beautiful new/old vintage creations!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.