Tips from Jewelers Mutual: Popular Engagement Rings to Make Your Holiday Proposal Perfect

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.

Learn more by reading their blog, Popular Engagement Rings to Make Your Holiday Proposal Perfect.

Behind the Acronym: Jewelers Work Hard to Earn their Credentials

By Donna Jolly, RJ

We often urge you in this blog to locate a credentialed jeweler before you make a fine jewelry purchase. A skilled professional can help you find the right piece of jewelry so that you are not only satisfied with what you’ve bought, but confident that you made the best choice.

If their role is, therefore, crucial in the jewelry buying process, then what does it take for jewelers to stay on top of their game so that they can best help you? What is the level of skill that the initials after their name represent?

Every fall, members of the American Gem Society undergo a proud tradition: recertification of their credentials. In order to maintain their AGS titles, they are required to take an exam that tests their knowledge of gemology. The recertification exam comes with pages of articles and abstracts that AGS members must read before taking the challenging test.

The person in charge of creating the recertification exam is Alethea Inns, CGA, Director of Gemology and Education of the American Gem Society.  Ms. Inns took time out of grading recertification exams to answer three questions that will help you better understand why professional credentials matter when buying jewelry.

Alethea Inns, CGA, Director of Gemology and Education at AGS

Alethea Inns, CGA, Director of Gemology and Education at AGS

What exactly is a credentialed jeweler and why do you think it’s important to shop with one?

Shopping with a credentialed jeweler is like seeing any professional who is certified annually—like a CPA, for example.  It means they have committed to ongoing professional development, including staying up-to-date on developments that affect their customers. AGS credentialed jewelers are called “Titleholders” because they hold titles that differentiate them as committed professionals.

What is the importance of the recertification exam?

AGS requires each of our Titleholders to take an annual recertification exam to ensure they are up-to-date with the latest gemstone treatments, ethical disclosures, Federal Trade Commission guidelines, marketing, and appraisal principles.  This test ensures your jeweler has the most relevant knowledge to keep your best interests in mind when helping you shop for your special occasions.

Can you give us a sample question from the exam?

Which of the following is a key identifier of lead glass-filled ruby?

  1. Unaltered rutile needles
  2. Altered rutile needles
  3. Blue flash effect
  4. Fluorescence

How does a jeweler knowing this help them to better help their customer at the sales counter?

It’s important for jewelers to know what treatments or enhancements any gemstones have been subjected to so they can disclose them appropriately to you.  Treatments and enhancements to gemstones can affect their value, care, and cleaning requirements, and ultimately your purchasing decision.  Glass-filled rubies have become commonplace in the market, and it’s important that AGS jewelers know how to recognize them.  This knowledge is an important way AGS jewelers keep the customer’s best interests in mind.

Shop with a knowledgeable, credentialed jeweler. It’s the number one way you can ensure that you are making an informed decision at the sales counter. Find your local AGS jeweler here: https://www.americangemsociety.org/findajeweler

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.

Your sneak peek into Jewelry Week!

By Amanda L Colborn

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!

SimonGThis first image showcases three stunning pieces from Simon G. Jewelry. Note the incredible sparkle on this bracelet which comes from the well-cut diamonds.

 

HOF_newLoreleiDropEarringsNext 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.

 

KaraRossNYKara 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.

 

EricaCourtneyIf you like diamonds that sparkle, than you’ll love these rings from Erica Courtney Jewelry. WOW!

 

GumuchianGumuchian is proudly displaying pieces from their NEW Stitch collection! This gold pendant is perfect going from day-to-night.

 

sunabrosEverything is coming up roses for Suna Bros. They’re showcasing these stunning rings in addition to many more beautiful pieces!

 

SupremeJewelry_openspacedringsIf you’re feeling fun, you’ll likely love these free-form, open-space rings from Supreme Jewelry just as much as we do.

 

AGGemsAG Gems always has fantastic colored jewelry pieces for any taste or style. They definitely did not disappoint!

 

YaelDesignsYael Designs brought a variety of different pieces to showcase this year. The gorgeous rings were a big fan-favorite!

 

Mastoloni_FlexCuffsLast 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!

 

 

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!

 

 

Go Retro!

By Amanda L. Colborn

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

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

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

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!