Jewelry has always been a part of human culture, as well as the need to keep it clean. When it comes to cleaning gold—whether it’s pure gold or mixed—it’s important to know how to safely clean it so it can continue to shine.
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.
Whether you tuned into this year’s VMA’s or not, you’ve probably read more than your fair share of celebrity gossip. But what about that evening really matters?
The jewelry of course! But don’t worry, we at the American Gem Society take great pride in paying special attention to the jewelry of the rich and famous so you don’t have to.
This year’s Video Music Awards did not disappoint.
Jewelry at the VMA’s is interesting because unlike other award shows, the VMA’s are less glitz and glam and more edgy and fun. This was particularly the case when it came to this year’s jewelry. Lots of new and somewhat surprising trends were seen gracing the red carpet before the event.
One of the most prevalent trends that we noticed was a resurgence in Yellow Gold. At the American Gem Society, we love yellow gold! So of course we are thrilled to see it appearing more and more in today’s fashion. It’s not just on for the red carpet, but for every day wear as well, as seen in the photo below!
Yellow gold pieces from AGS members. Photo courtesy of the AGS Young Titleholders.
Another trend that we saw a lot of on the red carpet were Mix-and-Match Earrings, and also Ear Climbers. Ear climbers are a refreshing take on the every-day stud earring. They literally appear to “climb” up the wearers ear and offer a spectacular eye-catching look.
Ear climbers from AGS members. Photo courtesy of the AGS Young Titleholders.
Another look, whether it be on the red carpet or just an extra touch to the perfect date-night outfit, is jewelry with a minimalist design. Minimalist Jewelry adds a touch of sophistication and elegance to every outfit. It is beautiful on its own or paired with different matching pieces. Check out some of the designs below from AGS members featuring this stunning trend.
Rings by KC Designs.
Stackable minimalist jewelry designs by Gumuchian.
Lastly, a unique trend that we spotted at the VMA’s were cool and edgy Black Diamonds. Be it earrings, rings, or pendants; black diamonds offer a more discrete but equally luxurious look compared to colorless diamonds. They also look amazing when paired with colorless diamonds, as you can see below.
Ring by LeVian.
Earrings by LeVian.
And so we conclude our VMA trend update. Subscribe to the AGS blog for more award show recaps and updated trend posts. If you’re interested in shopping for any of the VMA trends above, please check out our Find A Jeweler tool by clicking: here. Our AGS members are always happy to help you when shopping for your next piece of fine jewelry.
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.
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!
It always makes the staff at the American Gem Society proud to see a member featured in the media. This article in Florida Today especially struck a chord, though. It’s an interview with AGS Member, Genna Jewelers. The owners are Peter & Kateri Genna, who have two locations: one in Vierra and the other in Palm Bay. Peter is a CGA with the American Gem Society. What we loved about their interview, in particular, is that the Genna’s are finding that their clients’ children, many of whom are now grown, are coming to them for jewelry. They have done such a successful job of building trust with their client base that it is only natural that their clients’ kids view them as their jeweler, too.
Many members of the American Gem Society are second, third (and in the case of the Genna’s) fourth generation jewelers. They have built their business on tradition, family and building a strong reputation. Their efforts are paying off and the family jeweler is becoming just that: a business for the entire family. Just like the ice cream shop you visited with your parents when you were a kid, and now take your children. (Except the “Ice” part is more expensive and doesn’t melt.)
The reporter also asked the Genna’s for some business advice, and we had to smile at their answer: “Become the most educated service provider in your field.”
Spoken like a true AGS member! To find your own version of Genna Jewelers in your area, visit Find A Jeweler.
As a jewelry industry professional, I am often asked where to find a jeweler, how to find one that is trustworthy, or where to get professional appraisals. My answer is always the same. Find an American Gem Society credentialed jeweler or appraiser, and you are guaranteed a jewelry industry professional committed to your best interests. AGS credentialed jewelers are pledged to consumer protection, business ethics, and continued education. Jewelry stores that are AGS members are admitted to the Society after going through a series of approvals by an anonymous panel of fellow industry professionals, and their qualifications from education to business practices are examined. Only one out of 20 jewelry stores qualify for this prestigious distinction.
As an AGS member, each store has a number of Titleholders – individuals that have extensive gemological, jewelry, and appraisal education verified by the American Gem Society. AGS titles are the only professional credentials in the jewelry industry, because they are the only ones that are the result of an assessment process, require professional experience, indicate adherence to a set of standards, have ongoing requirements in order to maintain them, and are awarded by a third-party, standard-setting organization. Often the educational requirements for an AGS Title include the Graduate Gemologist diploma (GG) from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), but Titleholders are also required to prove their commitment to the “AGS Way” through additional tests and an annual recertification exam.
There is a number of AGS Titles to look for when you seek out your jeweler or appraiser. Registered Jewelers (RJs) and Certified Gemologists (CGs) have a background in gemology and business ethics, while Certified Gemologist Appraisers (CGAs) and Independent Certified Gemologist Appraisers (ICGAs) have more extensive education and experience with appraisals. No matter the AGS Title your jeweler or appraiser holds, they belong to an elite group of jewelry industry professionals committed to you, and backed by the American Gem Society.
To find an AGS credentialed jeweler or appraiser in your area, visit:
Every now and then, we see a piece of jewelry that makes us just stop and go, “Oh wow!” It happens a lot to our team at the American Gem Society, but this ring (below) from Omi Privé sent the decibel levels up a notch and “Oh wow, sounded more like “OH WOW!!!”
This gorgeous 4.50 carat black opal is set in 18K yellow gold and surrounded by a halo of accent stones including diamonds, green tsavorite garnets, and pear-shape sapphires. The opal has an impressive array of color, with intense blues and greens. The gold setting works well with the hues in the opal and makes the colors pop even more. Not surprisingly, Omi Privé designed this piece specifically for this opal.
Omi Privé, who is a member of the American Gem Society, sent us this photo, which shows the ring next to the designer’s artistic rendering of the design. It’s an interesting photo, because it gives us a glimpse into how a designer thinks when he or she sets out to create a new piece of jewelry. It’s a mixture of art and engineering!
The name opal derives from the Greek Opallos, meaning “to see a change (of color).” Opals range in color from milky white to black with flashes of yellow, orange, green, red, and blue. This stone from Omi Privé shows off vivid blues and intense green, and it”s also a classic example of just how beautiful opals can be.
This January birthstone has a deep history and comes in many colors.
Although birthstones have now been established and represent the 12 months of the year, this wasn’t always the case. Birthstones were first associated with Aaron’s (Exodus) breastplate, and believed to be for the 12 zodiac signs. In modern times, most people only associate with their own birthstone, throughout history it was believed to be lucky to wear the birthstone for each month. Currently, the accepted zodiac and monthly birthstones are different, and some months are even lucky to have options!
We start the year off with Garnet, usually a deep red color. Did you know though, that Garnet comes in many shades and colors? My personal favorite are Green Garnets. The color options don’t stop there, they can also be anywhere from purplish to orange. Garnets received their name from the pomegranate fruit, dating back to ancient Greece.
All birthstones are believed to have different meanings and healing properties. Garnets are said to act as a deterrent of depression and thought to bring patience.
January babies, if the typical deep red isn’t your color, don’t worry. Step out of the box and pick a garnet of a different color!
Crowded parking lots, trunks jammed with shopping bags, gift wrapping spread all over your kitchen table, and a long to-do list. The holidays are definitely here, and gift buying is on practically everyone’s mind. If you need some inspiration for jewelry this season, we have you covered.
We asked a jewelry buyer at one of the largest AGS retailers in the country to give us some insider tips on what is a hot seller in their store. Laura Barringer has been at Ben Bridge for 33 years, and has been a buyer for 27 years. Here are some of Laura’s top picks from Ben Bridge.
This diamond knot pendant embodies traditional “knot” styling, yet offers one of the new multi stone centers presenting a big look for a fraction of the price of a single diamond center. “Cluster” can no longer describe this beautiful dimensional arrangement of diamonds.
“Halo” jewelry is a hot trend, and Ben Bridge gives this popular style an edgy take with this faceted, treated black diamond. The rose cut faceting was inspired during the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods for those who may want something uniquely vintage in design.
Colored diamonds continue to be popular. We like Ben Bridge’s layered look in three of their most popular diamond colors. Note how black rhodium behind natural brown diamonds or treated black diamonds can enhance the look of even the smallest stone.
An updated twist on the most popular classic earring style: this hoop is oval in shape and “doubled.” The narrow oval shape hangs better on most ears and even though this is a substantial earring the post placement makes for a nice finished look when worn.
This “renewed” version of a cluster is a nice alternative to a simple diamond stud. These earrings have the appearance of a 1 carat diamond when, in fact, they are only 1/3ctwt.