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.
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
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?
Unaltered rutile needles
Altered rutile needles
Blue flash effect
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.
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.
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!
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
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!
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.
In honor of Lady Gaga’s recent engagement (and her heart-stopping diamond ring), we’re celebrating the heart symbol and the heart cut diamond.
Lady Gaga’s engagement ring
Did you know that we can trace the heart symbol all the way back to the Ice Age era? It’s true. Cave paintings have been discovered with this symbol that trace back to the Ice Age. Though we do not know what this symbol meant to the cavemen who drew them, we do know that it was important enough for them to often paint it on the inside of their cave walls.
Cave painting from Cro-Magnon era
The mysterious symbol continued to show up throughout history, among several different groups of people and cultures. For instance, the ancient Romans actually used the symbol on their currency.
Coin from ancient Rome
However, it is important to note that this symbol was not associated with the anatomical heart at all, actually the symbol for the ancient Romans was representative of the silphium plant which was used as a form of birth control in the city-state of Cyrene.
The heart shaped symbol then became a very important aspect in the religion of Christianity. The Sacred Heart, representing Jesus Christ and his love for the people. With the spread of religion and ideas throughout the Middle Ages, eventually the symbol became a familiarity throughout the world. People began regularly associating the heart symbol with all aspects of love, however, no one is still 100% clear on how the symbol took on its universal meaning of love or why it took on the name “heart” even though it is clearly not shaped like the anatomical heart.
With its origin shrouded in mystery, one this for certain. When you present the woman you love with a heart shaped piece of jewelry, it means only one thing. She is the woman you love and you expressed that without even having to say the words. The shape says it all.
Here are several gorgeous examples of heart shaped jewelry that you can surprise your partner with any time of year!
Heart cut diamond engagement ring with halo from Steve Padis Jewelry
The Fulfillment Heart Pendant from Hearts On Fire
2.00 carat heart cut diamond ring from Tiffany Co.
One of the most popular and consistently trending diamond and gemstone shapes is the cushion cut.
Originally referred to as the “old mine cut,” the cushion cut is essentially a square cut with rounded corners, much like a cushion…hence it’s name.
Arguably, one of the top most popular cuts today – the round cut diamond being the first – the cushion cut has been around for approximately 200 years.
Cushion cuts have evolved over time, refinements have been made since the 1920’s to improve the brilliance and light return of the cut causing a big increase in popularity over time and giving you the beautiful cut that you know and love today.
Cushion Cut Yellow Diamond Earrings from Forevermark Diamonds
The cushion cut does have different cut patterns and no two gemstones are the same, so be sure to talk to your American Gem Society jeweler about which one best suits your taste. No matter which cushion cut jewelry piece you pick, you can feel confident knowing that you’re wearing one of the most popular and coveted cuts available!