Top 5 Facebook Favorites!

By Amanda L. Colborn

It’s been awhile since the American Gem Society has posted some of our social media favorites, so I thought I’d catch you up on what’s going on with our AGS Facebook page.  The social media favorites are really determined by our followers. These top 5 pieces have garnered the most likes and engagement on Facebook and so that’s how I determined what made this week’s blog.

And let me just say, our followers have exquisite taste!

Here’s a look at what’s been trending on our page this season:

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  1. First up is this breathtaking Fire Opal ring from Yael Designs. This ring was posted prior to the JCK Luxury show in Las Vegas, where it made it’s big (literally, it’s big) debut. It didn’t surprise me in the least that this fantastic ring made the top of the social media favorites list, it’s absolutely stunning!
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  2. Next up, we have a sparkling diamond ring from Simon G. which was posted by Kassab Jewelers. What really makes this ring catch your eye, is how the small halo of pink diamonds really amplifies the look of the center stone. The three-strand setting, each ornamented with white diamonds, adds another element of intricate detail to this exquisite ring
  3. 11265404_452514378245473_8971999350149317307_nSuna Bros. called this their ‘Zircon Zinger,’ and honestly, I can’t get enough of that name. The beautiful blue of this stone is enough already, but then they added diamonds to the setting and band which made it absolute perfection!
  4. 1836824_889521897735743_308284906759892129_oFrom LeVian comes the Blueberry Tanzanite® ring (you all really like your rings, huh?).  Who could blame you? We couldn’t resist sharing this piece with you! The color differentiation of the luxurious Tanzanite and diamonds along with the rose gold setting, really make this ring a special treat.11412343_10152710408366116_7172675216593864120_n
  5. While we’re on the topic of luxurious, our next favorite fits the bill perfectly! This Fancy Yellow Kotlar Cushion from Harry Kotlar is true luxury at it’s finest! The Kotlar Cushion is specifically cut to maximize the diamond’s fire. We recommend you not wear this ring while driving, as it is sure to blind you and other drivers. 🙂

There you have the top 5 trends from our AGS Facebook page. Be sure to like our page for more beautiful pieces from our AGS members. If you like seeing a re-cap of our Facebook and other social media trends in the blog, please comment and let us know!

Finally, there is one other post that our Facebook audience really loved.  It isn’t a jewelry piece so I did not include it in the top 5, but it definitely deserves an honorable mention. And so, to finalize this week’s blog, I leave you with this trending quote. Have a great weekend everyone!

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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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Rah! Rah! Rubies!

By Amanda L. Colborn

There’s no better way to demonstrate your love than by giving a ruby in celebration of a July birthday.

Ruby earrings by Omi Privé

Ruby earrings by Omi Privé

Rubies arouse the senses, stir the imagination, and are said to guarantee health, wisdom, wealth and success in love.

Ruby is a variety of the gems species corundum. It is harder than any natural gemstone except diamond, which means a ruby is durable enough for everyday wear.

Ruby earrings by AG Gems

Ruby earrings by AG Gems

Fine-quality ruby is extremely rare, and the color of the gem is most important to its value. The most prized color is a medium or medium dark vivid red or slightly purplish red. If the gem is too light or has too much purple or orange, it will be called a fancy-color sapphire.

3 Fun Facts About Rubies:

  • Rubies are historically known as the stone of love.
  • Followers of Hinduism believe that wearing a ruby protects them from their enemies.
  • In addition to being the birthstone for July, rubies are also a traditional gift for those celebrating 15th or 40th anniversaries.
Diamond and Rubies waiting to be set at Nanci Knott & Company

Diamond and Rubies waiting to be set at Nanci Knott & Co.

 

From Old to New Again: Jeweler Gives Heirloom Jewelry an Updated Look

By Donna Jolly, RJ

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.

braceletringWhat 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.

earring

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.

To learn more about Stanley Jewelers Gemologist, visit http://stanleyjewelers.com/. To find an AGS credentialed jeweler in your area who can help you customize and heirloom treasure, visit http://www.americangemsociety.org/find-a-jeweler.

 

 

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!

 

Jewelry designs perfect for Cinco de Mayo!

By Amanda L. Colborn

Are you the kind of person who likes to express your holiday spirit with jewelry? Does the jewelry you wear often reflect the mood and occasion of a party you’re attending?  If you answer yes to either of these, then maybe you’ve been thinking about how you’re going to capture the Cinco de Mayo spirit with your jewelry.

Never fear! The American Gem Society is here to help you accessorize so you can walk into the party not having to wonder, “Is that salsa hotter than my outfit?”

We’ve taken the colors of Cinco de Mayo and paired them with some beautiful jewelry pieces that are ¡Muy Caliente! 

First off, what would a fiesta be without a perfect bowl of pico de gallo?

pico de gallo

And, if you didn’t think we could bring out the gorgeous essence of this dish into a piece of jewelry, well, just check out this stunning opal from Spark Creations.

Ring from Spark Creations

Ring from Spark Creations

Speaking of food, Cinco de Mayo would be nothing without the traditional chilies of Mexico.

hot-peppers

It’s a rainbow of amazing color and flavor, just like these two stunning rings from Yael Designs.

Ring from Yael Designs

Ring from Yael Designs

yael designs 3

Ring from Yael Designs

Now that we have the food portion covered, let’s bring in the drinks! The perfect drink of Cinco de Mayo you ask? A frosty margarita of course!

margarita

Show of your margarita-matched peridot ring from Parlé Jewelry Designs and leave your friends in awe!

Ring from Parlé Jewelry Designs

Ring from Parlé Jewelry Designs

Ok, food and drink? Check!

Now onto that outfit of yours. We’re assuming you already have a sombrero, so you’ll need to pull that from your closet and brush off the dust from last year.

sombrero

Many sombreros have a striped fabric trim, like the one pictured here, which inspires us to reach for our most stackable jewelry items.

Bracelets from Hurdles Jewelry

Bracelets from Hurdle’s Jewelry

Rings from Erica Courtney Jewelry

Rings from Erica Courtney Jewelry

Your headgear is all set, now onto the rest of your outfit. A perfect, traditional Mexican poncho is  essential for the festive and fun look of Cinco de Mayo.

poncho

Though not all ponchos are alike and they vary in all types of color schemes; we wanted to show you an example of how we pulled colors from this poncho and paired it perfectly with a piece of fine jewelry.

Ring from Suna Bros.

Ring from Suna Bros.

And last but certainly not least, it’s time to party! Ready to break that piñata?

pinata

In the spirit of the perfect piñata, we found the perfect pair of Cinco de Mayo earrings to match. Just make sure the kids remember to go after the piñata and not your ears!

Earrings from Yael Designs

Earrings from Yael Designs

Now that we’ve covered all the bases for the perfect Cinco de Mayo celebration, we hope we have inspired you (and your outfit) to find the fun in accessorizing! Have a happy and safe holiday!

Happy birthday May! We’re celebrating with Emeralds!

By Amanda L Colborn

As the birthstone for May, the emerald, a symbol of rebirth, is believed to grant the owner foresight, good fortune, and youth.

Emerald and diamond ring from Omi Privé

Emerald and diamond ring from Omi Privé

According to Almanac.com, “The emerald, was one of Cleopatra’s favorite gems. It has long been associated with fertility, rebirth, and love. Ancient Romans went so far as to dedicate this stone to Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. Today, it is thought that emeralds signify wisdom, growth, and patience.”

Emerald and diamond ring from Suna Bros.

Emerald and diamond ring from Suna Bros.

Emerald, derived from the word smaragdus, meaning “green” in Greek, was mined in Egypt as early as 330 B.C. Today, most of the world’s emeralds are mined in Colombia, Brazil, Afghanistan, and Zambia. The availability of high-quality emerald is limited; consequently, treatments to improve clarity are performed regularly.

Emerald earrings from AG Gems

Emerald earrings from AG Gems

So enjoy your birthday, May babies! And enjoy the rich and beautiful Emerald gemstone all year round!