June 7, 2012

Tanzanite: Fun Facts

Posted in birthstones, gemologist, gemstones, gift ideas, jewelry, jewelry care tagged , , , , , , at 5:02 pm by rosediamonds

No history or lore was needed for tanzanite to become one of the most popular gemstones in the world.   Discovered in 1967, this gem was once marketed as a sapphire alternative.  Its color spectrum ranges from bluish violet to purple.  Due to the political unrest by the leaders of Tanzania, the gem’s supply fluctuates and has caused historically large price jumps.

  • Member of the zoisite family
  • Marketed originally by Tiffany & Co in 1968
  • Mined in one place only: Tanzania
  • In 2002, tanzanite became an alternate December birthstone
  • Most tanzanite comes out of the ground a creme soda brown and routinely heated to get the trademark blueish violet.
  • Exhibits trichroism (can exhibit three different colors depending on the orientation of the crystal to the viewer)
  • Has been a popular “push present” for parents of new babies which probably led to its recent link with fertility
  • Hardness 6-7
  • Can cleave in 2 diections (ie. prone to chipping)
  • Toughness: fair to poor (also referring to chipping)
  • Care includes NO ultrasonics, NOsteamers, NO rough handling, and NO abrupt temperature changes

April 6, 2012

How to Use a Jeweler’s Loupe

Posted in birthstones, gemologist, gemstones, jeweler, jewelry, jewelry care, rings, rose diamonds tagged , , , , , , , at 5:37 pm by rosediamonds

Loupes, Loops, and Lupes – How to Use a Jeweler’s Loupe.


I have been meaning to write on this subject for a while, and I found this great blog post–Her other blog posts are good too:)


I think one of my GIA instructors told me that he used the handling of the loupe to gauge one’s experience with diamonds when working with clients and people in the industry.  Practice makes perfect!  Try to keep both eyes open to reduce eye strain.


If you are interested in attending the Intro to Jewelery & Gemology Course, please sign up below.  I am working on a late Spring schedule.  It is a half day seminar that includes snacks, a loupe, and some gem tweezers for you to take home.  I recommend you bring some of your personal jewelry to experiment with…and yes, we go over how to use a loupe:)

December 27, 2011

Dividing the jewelry of an estate between heirs: tips from a jeweler

Posted in appraisal, birthstones, brooches, diamonds, estate jewelry, gemstones, gold, jeweler, jewelry, rose diamonds, silver tagged , , , , , , , , , at 5:26 pm by rosediamonds

We are about to enter the season of New Year’s resolutions.  The fair and equitable division of jewelry from an estate is an issue that has come up time and time again.  I have compiled a list of tips and suggestions that have worked best for our clients over the years.

Here’s the situation: a loved one passes away to leave a collection of jewelry that does not divide equally.  For example, it could be

  • a vintage (not gold) brooch
  • a small sapphire ring
  • a huge amethyst ring
  • a diamond solitaire pendant
  • a multiple stone diamond engagement ring

How do the heirs divide this up equally when the values are very unequal?

How Things are Valued

We explain that there are different values:

Sentimental value-does not make a piece worth more $ but if the brooch was worn every year at Christmas dinner by a favorite aunt, it becomes more valuable to the heirs because of the memory it envokes.

Insurance value-this is retail replacement value or in the case of a vintage or custom pieces, it is a value for replacement with a comparable item.  If lost or stolen, an insurance company will pay out this amount to have the piece replaced.  This amount should be recalculated every few years as the prices of gold and gemstones fluctuate with the world market.  For example, a pair of gold earrings that you bought for $30 five years ago would now cost $90+.

Scrap value-this is the amount a jewelry store or pawn shop will pay you for the items to be broken down into parts.  The metal smelted and refined while the stones will be used for repairs or sold to a dealer.  (We use old gemstones in our mini gem museum or gemology classes)

How to Divide Things

( I am just making up the names to these rules btw).  How well these rules go will depend on your family’s personalities.  You know what I’m talking about.

  1. Read the will–wills are a pain in the neck to create, so if the loved one went so far to write out a legal document saying the peridot bracelet goes to cousin Ed’s neighbor’s mailman’s cousin–respect it.  This is what they wanted.
  2. The rule of return to owner–If you gave mom the diamond earrings for her birthday, they can be reasonably returned to you.
  3. The rule of favorite ONE item–Let each member pick out their one favorite piece from the collection.  ex. if your sister wore mom’s sapphire ring at her wedding as something blue, she might have a stronger sentimental tie to it than the rest of the family.
  4. The rule of equal parts–Take all jewelry of an estate (you’ll get a better rate if it all goes in one trip) to an appraiser.  Split the items as close to equal as possible or have people “buy out” for favored pieces.  You can also interpret this as dividing up a three stone ring between three kids, diamond earrings between two kids, or everyone getting 2 bracelets etc.

Inevitably, some jewelry will be considered “leftover.”  Costume pieces can be donated to charity, while the remaining precious metal jewelry can be sold (scrap value) and the proceeds equally divided.

Planning In Advance

If the idea of your family squabbling over your jewelry/possessions in general turns your stomach, here’s a few ways to minimalize the chaos.

  1. Invite loved ones over (one at a time) and show the collection.  Say you’ll consider special requests–who knew your son always liked your coin pendant?  This gives you the opportunity to tell the recipient the stories and history behind the jewelry they’ve chosen.  These stories are priceless and many times lost.
  2. Go another step and distribute the pieces before your death so you can see others enjoying them.  TELL people of you mind if the pieces are redesigned.  I know a lot of women that have inherited jewelry in a drawer somewhere at home because they don’t want to offend Mama be redoing her yellow gold abstract retro ring…
  3. Update your will if you are expecting a confrontation, or would like to avoid one.  A written history of the history and stories of the pieces would also be appreciated.  One day your bracelet from your college days when you dated the president could be on antiques roadshow–you never know!  Update often if there are…changes in family status in your family.  This is a very common thing nowadays, and you might not want grandama’s ring bequeathed to “that hussy that ran off with the mailman.”

Try to keep your sense of humor and an envelope of calm around you when dealing with this situation no matter the side you are on.  A good jewelry appraiser should ask you a lot of questions about how you want things evaluated and it might be a good idea to make a family meeting together with the appraiser so everyone can have their say.  Emotions run high in these situations, but inherited jewelry remains one of the most sentimnentally charged items you can have.

November 26, 2011

Shopping Key Words to Watch For

Posted in birthstones, Christmas, diamonds, gemstones, gift ideas, Gifts, gold, jeweler, jewelry, jewelry care, jewelry repair, rose diamonds, silver tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:26 am by rosediamonds

As the holiday shopping season kicks off, I am writing out an “off the cuff” list of words to watch for in jewelry ads this holiday season.  We all (myself included) get excited with the thrill of the hunt, and sometimes forget to use our critical reading skills when scanning the ads for bargains.

Gold Plated, Gold Filled, 14K over Sterling, Silver plated, Goldtone/Silver tone, Silver filled–These all refer to a thin coating over another less expensive metal.  Any plating can wear off.  To reduce wear and tear on it, you can opt to coat it with an clear acrylic and reduce its exposure to moisture and chemicals (including sweat and bleach) .

Simulated Stones=look alike stones.  For example a synthetic spinel or even rhinestones are  often substituted for their more expensive counterparts (like rubies).  Wear and tear and durability may vary from the impersonated stone.

Synthetic stones=the exact same as the natural gemstone except it was grown in a lab instead of in the ground.  These will usually have an ideal color and nicer clarity than natural stones of the same price. Same durability and wear/cleaning as its natural counterpart.

Pay attention to diamond clarity & color.  Sometimes, it is difficult to compare apples to apples with diamond jewelry because small differences in color and clarity can make big differences in prices for similar carat weight items.  This time of year, many jewelers roll out some “promo” diamond pieces that are big on looks and low on price.  These can be very pretty, but they are priced for what they are–commercial quality stones.  Many will be cloudy, brown, or specky, crackly, etc.  Ask to see several of the same item.  They vary from piece to piece within the same store…

Pay attention to the weight of the item–This is usually not listed in advertisements, but when you get to the store, if the items feels flimsy, be careful.  The price of precious metals is very high right now, so many manufacturers are making ultra light weight items to keep prices affordable for jewelers and their clients.  A flimsy piece can eventually lead to more repair expenses down the road.  You can always switch to thicker chains for pendants at home or ask to reset stones in heavier mountings.  Most jewelers can make adjustments to size, length, etc. for you.


Watch costume jewelry for lead–especially for children’s jewelry.  Some risks just aren’t worth it.  A lot of the imported costume jewelry (pretty much all that’s out there) contains traces of lead.  There are new laws in effect to curb the import of these items, but use caution.  Items could have been warehoused in the US since before the laws went into effect.  The law is great but it is understandably hard to enforce.


I’m sure I’ll think of a dozen other thinks to watch out for.   Hope you had a great holiday and we will see you tomorrow at our new second location:

Rose Diamonds 2

1374 E. Republic Rd.

Springfield MO 65804


June 7, 2011

Personalized Jewelry Making a Comeback?

Posted in birthstones, engraving, jeweler, jewelry, jewelry design, Nameplates, rose diamonds tagged , , , , , at 4:10 pm by rosediamonds

Name jewelry, Name plate jewelry, Nameplates, Monograms, Personalized Jewelry, Initial Jewelry.  Is this trend making a comeback?There is a saying by Dale Carnegie that “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
Following a strong trend in the seventies, Name jewelry became very popular again the the nineties and early 2000 due in part to Sarah Jessica Parker’s character, Carrie, wearing one on Sex & the City.  Who can forget Serena Williams wearing her enormous name earrings at the US Open?  The trend on the east coast has diminished since its peak, but celebrity watchers may have noticed the trend recirculating.


My shops in Miami & Fort Lauderdale made thousands of nameplates over the years.  We have made them incorporating hearts, flowers, footballs, cartoon characters, etc.


The latest trend (spotted on Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Ritchie, Mariah Carey, Katie Holmes, & Heidi Klum) is to wear something with someone else’s name or initial.  I have noticed that the trend tends to be towards mothers and their children, but it is also an opportunity to dedicate it to someone special in your life.


Some personalized jewelry pointers:

  • Ladies traditionally wear their first name initial if they are single (since it will change with marriage)
  • Monograms traditionally are first name, last name, middle name
  • Couple’s monograms are mans first name, man’s last name, women’s first name
  • Married ladies monograms can also be first name, married last name, maiden name
  • There are alternative birthstones for months June, & October–look up both if one doesn’t suit you.
  • Nameplate lingo: single plate is  the standard flat plate & double plate is two identical nameplates separated by bars/beads for a 3D look
  • Consider pass-ability: if you have a son and engrave with a last name, it can be passed to future male members of the family without changing it
  • Use initials if you don’t want everyone at the grocery store calling you by name
My favorites?  Mariah Carey’s husband gave her two diamond & pink sapphire name necklace with her twin’s names (cost:$12,000) & Katie Holmes’ “S” for Suri disc.

April 4, 2011

Gemological Testing: CSI for Unknown Gemstones

Posted in appraisal, birthstones, gemologist, gemstones, rose diamonds tagged , , , , at 4:41 pm by rosediamonds

I posted a (rather drawn out) series of pics and explanations on the company facebook page of how we test unknown gemstones at Rose Diamonds.

March 21, 2011

Overlooked Gemstones

Posted in birthstones, gemologist, gemstones, jeweler, jewelry design, rose diamonds tagged , , , , , at 8:15 pm by rosediamonds

With the economy still in recovery mode, people are looking for big, glamorous jewelry that has an individual flair to it.  To keep things budget friendly, I’m posting some center gemstone ideas for commonly overlooked gemstones.  I love that all these stones come in large sizes with little price tags compared to the “big three” (ruby sapphire and emerald).

First up is tourmilated quartz.  It’s regular quartz crystal that has tourmaline needles inside it.  Some pieces have a lot and some only have a few slivers.  The best part is that no two are alike.  I think this makes for very unique jewelry even in the most simple settings.




Below that one is rutilated quartz.  Instead of the black to dark green needles, it has gold needles in it.  Quite a conversation starter…







Moonstone exhibits adularesence–a phenomena where the bluish glow floats over the stone when it’s moved.




Blue chalcedony has a very “wedgewood” blue that looks fabulous in traditional and contemporary settings.




Iolite is a fantastic budget replacement for those who love tanzanite.




Bloodstone is overlooked in this day and age.  Perfect for men’s rings it is a very dark green with red spatters.

Custom design is more than creating fantastic settings.  It can be fun to explore new gemstones and create new conversation pieces.

November 2, 2010

November Birthstone: Topaz/Citrine

Posted in birthstones, gemstones, jewelry, rose diamonds tagged , , , at 3:37 pm by rosediamonds

November’s birthstone is Topaz.  Usually, Citrine is substituted for topaz to save cost.


First, let’s discuss topaz.  Contrary to common perception, not all topaz is yellow.  Pure topaz is actually colorless.  Topaz comes in pink, orange, green, yellow, red, purple, white, & many shades of blue.   Many topaz colors are the result of surface diffusion treatments (ie. mystic topaz).

The most valuable topaz is imperial topaz (sometimes called precious topaz) and is vivid reddish orange.  Topaz is an 8 on the Mohs Hardness scale, and should not be cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner or exposed to steam cleaning.  Warm soapy water is best.


Citrine is a member of the quartz family (amethyst’s cousin).  With a Mohs hardness of 7, it is still very durable.  Citrine should not be steam cleaned, but ultrasonics are usually okay. Yellow synthetic sapphire is the typical November “birthstone” used in the jewelry industry.

October 27, 2010

October Birthstone: Opal

Posted in birthstones, gemstones, jewelry, rose diamonds tagged , , , at 3:50 pm by rosediamonds

October went by really fast!  I have been chained to the bench working on some larger projects, so I am going to make this brief.

Opals are the traditional brithstone for October and come in white, gray, blue, and black.  Their play of color (gemologist lingo for the sparkly bits) can range from green blue to red orange.  FYI: Red orange play of color is more expensive; I prefer blue green however.

Pink Tourmaline is the alternative birthstone for October.  It is mined in South America (Brazil) and usually has a bit of a brownish tinge to it.  Most of the “birthstone jewelry” features pink synthetic spinel.  If natural means a lot to you, ask for it by name!

Opals can be deceiving as well.  There are two types of assembled opals, doublets and triplets.  They can rev up the play of color, make the stone appear heavier/thicker/more expensive, and can protect delicate slivers of opal from damage.

There are a couple opal simulants.  Plastic, glass, and a ceramic simulant are out there, and usually look fake.  Another alternative to traditional opals are fire opals.  They look nothing like their opaque cousins and are mined in Mexico, among other places.

For more info about fire opals, (pictured below) check out this interesting article from The Online Jeweler Magazine.  They have the same hardness and toughness of regular opals.  The vivid reds and oranges are surprisingly still opals.

Opals need a little Tender loving care.  Store opals away from diamond and gemstone jewelry.  They are a much softer stone and can easily be damaged.  Opals like water and moist places.  When kept in dry spots for too long, they can craze.  They end up looking like crackle glass.  (see right). Do not listed to people telling you to oil an opal.  It can etch the stone and make it look dull.  

September 7, 2010

September’s Birthstone Fast Facts: Sapphire

Posted in birthstones, gemologist, gemstones, rose diamonds tagged , , , at 9:41 pm by rosediamonds

November’s birthstone, sapphire, is a member of the corundum family (same as ruby) and has hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale.

Sapphires are mined in Australia, Cambodia, East Africa, India, Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka , Thailand, & the US.

It is said that sapphires represent faith and steadfast commitment.

Many people do not realize that sapphires come in all shades of the rainbow.  Fancy colored sapphires come in pink, orange, purple, green,  white, and black.  Blue sapphires range in color from light to medium (sometimes referred to as Ceylon) to midnight black/blue.

Ideal sapphire color is transparent vibrant “cornflower blue” with a slight “velvety” look.  It is caused by rutile silk inclusions inside the stones that reflect light. (as pictured above)

Sapphires can exhibit asterism (star sapphires).  The stars are also caused by inclusions.  Stars can be natural or surface diffused.  When shopping, look for “defined” or crisp rays on the star.

Sapphires are imitated by blue spinel (natural), synthetic blue spinel, blue cz, blue glass, and blue plastic.

Synthetic sapphires are chemically the same as natural sapphires, but are grown in a laboratory and usually are relatively inclusion free.

Most sapphires are assumed to be heat treated, whether at the mining source or later at the manufacturer (cutting center)

The most expensive sapphire is not blue: padparadscha means lotus flower in Sinhalese (the language of Sri Lanka) and can out-price diamonds of the same size.  The ideal padparadscha color is vivid pinkish orange. (pictured below)

Sapphire care: ultrasonic and stream cleaning ok.  Try not to store with diamonds (even sapphires can get scratched by harder gemstones)

Most sapphires in the marketplace are “commercial” grade.  For some stunning sapphires, ask your jeweler for fine sapphires.  Some even come with gem reports like diamonds.

More questions about sapphires?  Post a comment below, and I’ll respond.

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