April Birthstone: Diamond

By Anna Samsonova, CGA, Ben Bridge Jewelers

“Diamonds ARE a girl’s best friend,” especially if you were born in April!

Since the beginning of time, diamonds have been associated with strength, love and purity. They are symbols of eternal love and great status. Many of us know of famous diamonds and their stories, from the infamous Hope Diamond to the Koh-i-Noor Diamond (both diamonds reputedly hold a curse to those who own or wear them).  Most people think of diamonds as clear gemstones, and they can indeed be quite clear, but diamonds can also be quite colorful. Diamond colors range from blue and green, to red and purple, and even black.  There is a diamond color to match any outfit a person wears.  Learn more about the April birthstone here!

The name diamond comes from the Greek “Adamas,” meaning “invincible” or “unconquerable” and it is one of the oldest substances on earth. Diamonds are the hardest mineral in existence and have many uses industrially, like cutting, polishing and sawing other substances.

No two diamonds are alike, just like fingerprints and snowflakes. What makes your diamond so unique is its different characteristics (also known as the 4Cs: Cut, Color, Clarity, Carat). Learn about all of the 4Cs here!

Clarity refers to the inclusions in a diamond, which is what makes some of them particularly unique and identifiable. The inclusions can form shapes, which your imagination may interpret as anything from a heart to a hummingbird. Diamond facets can act like mirrors in a fun house and can reflect inclusions like a kaleidoscope. My favorite diamond inclusions can even host other stones such as garnets. According to the zodiac, April babies are as unique as the birthstone which represents them!

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Extraordinary Diamond Split Shank and Gallery Engagement Ring
by Precision Set Fine Jewelry Works.

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.

Tips from Jewelers Mutual: A Diamond Hunt Awaits You in Arkansas

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?

Learn more by reading their blog, A Diamond Hunt Awaits You in Arkansas.

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

Tips from Jewelers Mutual: End-of-Summer Jewelry To-Do List

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.

Learn more in this blog by Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company, 5 End-of-Summer Jewelry Care Tips to Keep Your Sparklers Shining.

Tips from Jewelers Mutual: When Not to Wear Your Wedding Ring This Summer

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!

Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company offers the following tips on how to keep your jewelry safe during this active season. Learn more by reading their blog, When Not to Wear Your Wedding Ring This Summer.

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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