February 29, 2012

The Best Things in Life are Free: Free Services at Rose Diamonds

Posted in appraisal, diamonds, engagement, engraving, estate jewelry, gemologist, gemstones, Gifts, gold, jeweler, jewelry, jewelry care, jewelry design, jewelry repair, mens wedding bands, pawn, ring sizing, rings, rose diamonds, watch, watches tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 5:33 pm by rosediamonds

Maybe there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but at Rose Diamonds, we have an ever growing list of free services at Rose Diamonds.

Free Services at Rose Diamonds:

  1. Free Jewelry Cleaning–Diamonds always look bigger when they’re clean.  We have people bring in everything from one or two pieces that they are wearing to a whole box full.  Have a special event coming up?  Take advantage of our free service and get your jewelry looking its best…free.
  2. Free Jewelry Polishing–One step above jewelry cleaning is polishing.  This gets out all the nicks and scratches from normal wear and tear.  People often comment that they can never get their jewelry looking as good as we do at home. The secret is–we cheat.  By removing the surface abrasion off your jewelry, we are exposing the brighter surfaces underneath–like exfoliating:)
  3. Free Prong Inspection–I can’t even comment on all the clients we meet who have been married for decades and have never had their rings in for service.  It only takes a minute, but having your prongs checked by a pro on a regular basis (when you bring it in for free cleaning) can alert you to easily repaired/less expensive solutions before you lose a stone.  Think of it as preventative maintenance.
  4. Free Appraisal Consultations–Clients want to know the value of their jewelry for several different reasons.  Just to know, for resale, for liquidation, for insurance, etc.  Some items we group together in an appraisal (gold items without stones) and some require more extensive research.  We sit down with you and sort through your options and help answer insurance related questions you might have.
  5. Free Custom Deign Consultations–We recognize you’re not a jewelry professional (probably) and have no idea how much a dream piece of jewelry might cost.  Bring in your inspiration (costume pieces, catalog, magazine ad, internet pic) and any available trade-in gold & diamonds, and we will map out the design, out of pocket cost, and timeframe free.
  6. Free Tea/Coffee–I sometimes forget to offer this to our guests, but our tea table is out for guests to enjoy.  If I forget, don’t be shy–just ask:)
  7. Free Cookies–if the kids haven’t eaten them all.  Because I have two boys, our cookie supply varies.  Feel free to help yourself to the snacks.
  8. Free Jewelry Box Sort–This is perhaps one of our most valuable services.  Bring in your box of jewelry (this especially helps when you’ve inherited a bunch of mixed jewelry) and we sit down with you and sort out the gold from the silver from the costume jewelry.  Now that it’s sorted, we can restore it,repair it, or size it very quickly.  You also have the option to trade it in towards a project, finished jewelry, or repair work.  We can also buy it or give you a short term loan against it.
  9. Free Diamond Testing–Several a day come in to see if their diamonds are the real deal.  Whether you found it in a parking lot or suspect a fake, we test it in seconds so you know.  Peace of mind is priceless.
  10. Free Ring Size Measurement–Perhaps you’ve ordered something on the internet or maybe you’re thinking of a future purchase, we measure your ring size for you without fuss.  We also explain that different ring styles fit differently, so let us know if it’s going to be a narrow or wide band.
  11. Free Courtesy Call/Text Message— When repairs/appraisals are ready, you’re the first to know.  Our company policy is to call or text you as soon as repairs are completed (in case you’re still in the neighborhood).  You can then pick it up at your leisure.  Most of our repairs and appraisals are completed ahead of schedule.
  12. Free Silver Polishing Cloth with Silver Purchase–Part of keeping your jewelry looking beautiful.  These little polishing cloths work on sterling silver, gold, costume jewelry, etc.  We offer free jewelry cleaning, but this little cloth will help you keep a perfect shine between visits.  It also works great of shiny knickknacks around the house–I use mine to cheat with silver photo frames.
  13. Free Craigslist Mediation–We want our clients to stay safe.  When selling or buying on Craigslist, there is an element of danger (read our post on Craigslist tips).  We recommend you don’t expose your home or workplace to potential sellers/buyers.  We invite you to meet at our shop in a comfortable, professional atmosphere.  We can diamond test, ring size, appraise, engrave your latest purchase/sale right in front of you.
  14. Pocketwatch Look-up–just a geeky hobby of mine: we can usually trace the origins of old pocketwatches.  Curious about one of yours?  Just ask.

I have probably forgotten something, but will try to add it later.   You now officially have no excuse for not coming in.  We look forward to meeting you soon.

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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.

May 26, 2011

5 Things You Forgot to Ask About Your Jewelry Insurance

Posted in appraisal, jeweler, jewelry, rose diamonds tagged , , , at 4:35 pm by rosediamonds

In the wake of the horrific storm season, we are seeing a lot of clients who are reviewing their homeowners coverages–just in case.   The tornado that leveled Joplin, MO is about an hour’s drive from my location here in Springfield, MO.

I worked in the insurance/finance industry for years before I became a gemologist, and I was licensed for both personal and commercial lines in FL.  I sat down yesterday with my neighbor, Craig Golmen, a Shelter Insurance Agent, to discuss the general population’s level of understanding of their homeowners policies.  Some major things overlooked were:

  1. Renters not having any coverage.  We discussed how replacing your wardrobe, condiments in the fridge, basic household electronics, kitchen gadgets, etc. can really add up if you have the misfortune of losing everything in a natural disaster.  He says renter’s coverage is around $10 per month.
  2. Some insurance policies have a limit per item on jewelry replacement.  For example, this means that even though you are covered up to $2500, there may be a $1000 per item limit.  This would make Swiss watches, engagement rings, etc suddenly NOT covered.
  3. Insurance companies vary on the payout method in the event of a loss.  Check whether  your company replaces the jewelry at a jeweler of your choice, whether they assign a jeweler to you for replacement, or whether they just mail you a check for the stated appraisal amount.  Some will only reimburse you after you shell out for a new item.
  4. Some insurers replace the item for a “like item.”   This means that a discontinued Seiko watch would be replaced with a similar model and a plain gold wedding  band would be replaced with the same one even if the value had fluctuated since it was purchased.  (very likely since the gold price has skyrocketed)  If your insurance company is a stickler for the appraisal amounts, get your jewelry reappraised every 5-10 years–or when there is a big swing in prices.
  5. Most homeowners policies only cover a small amount of jewelry.  Craig mentioned that people don’t realize they need a separate policy/amendment to cover larger items (like their engagement ring, Rolex, etc).  New purchases have to be added to your policy for it to be covered (duh).  It’s a phone call people forget to make in the wake of their excitement over their new anniversary bands.
Because each insurance company is different, my final word of advice is just to give your agent a call to “cover your bases.”  It’s not the kind of shock you need following a disaster that you weren’t covered and could have easily been.
PS. Craig says a lot of people with basements should make sure they have the “back-up of drain” amendment checked.  If your sump pump stops working, you can get stuck with a $13,000 bill.
Hope that helps open up the conversation with your insurance company.

May 10, 2011

Jewelry Appraisals: Qualified or Layman?

Posted in appraisal, jewelry, rose diamonds tagged , , at 12:00 pm by rosediamonds

Following the latest string of tornadoes, we have been preparing more appraisals than normal.  Many consumers do not realize there is no federal or independent body setting qualifications for who may be a jeweler or a jewelry appraiser.  Anyone can hang out a shingle as a jeweler or an appraiser.

In fact, most jewelry retailers are not even Graduate Gemologists. A JCRS study of appraisals received by insurance companies found that only 21% of them were prepared by graduate gemologists.

What does this mean to you, the consumer?  Many times,  jewelers have no formal training about diamonds, gemstones, precious metals, jewelry repairs, etc.  Most jewelry stores across the country send jewelry repairs out to independent contractors (off site).  Jewelry appraisals are prepared by these same merchants who often inflate the values to make their products seem like more of a bargain.  Inflated appraisals may make clients feel better about their purchases, but they also end up paying more for their insurance as the premium is calculated on the appraised amount listed.  Jewelers can purchase a pad of 50 official looking appraisal forms for $10.

A GG degree insures that the jeweler has a basic knowledge of gems and jewelry evaluation and that he is able to perform the relevant lab testing.

Some retailers without a GG degree have learned their business on the job and a very good at what they do, but others are not even familiar with basic jewelry terminology or grading systems.  Most jewelry retailers do not have a gem lab, with instruments to properly examine a stone and determine its quality.  They must either rely on the word of their suppliers or simply guess.

This lack of knowledge shows up in many insurance “appraisals,” written on fancy letterhead but with no content.  If you’ve gotten an appraisal that reads, “One gold and diamond ring, value $2,000,” it’s not surprising — jewelers write thousands of appraisals like that every year.  But such a description is useless for adjudicating a loss claim according to the insurance claims adjusters.   Another reason to have an educated appraisal: in the case of loss or lawsuit, a graduate gemologist is better equipped to handle litigation support and is a more reliable expert witness in court case.

While researching this article, I read up more on the different certifications offered by various appraisal associations, and there are several organizations out there with some requiring only an admission fee (cheaters!) and others requiring extensive testing.  Some have different levels of “membership”  a for a healthy fee.

Due to my background in the insurance industry, I feel I have seen both sides of the story.  On one hand, I am a GIA Graduate Gemologist and have studied jewelry periods, jewelry design & manufacturing, and valuation extensively.  I am looking into further delving into the appraisal associations as well (not the cheater kind though).  As someone in the insurance industry, I can tell you most claims adjusters are not GIA gemologists either, and rely heavily on the appraisal $ value instead of the detailed description.  Insurance companies have trained jewelry experts on staff, but they are not called in on minor claims.  I can also tell you that more and more insurance companies are requiring appraisals to be performed to a graduate gemologist to reduce the “one ring value $5000” appraisals from coming in.

FYI: We complete jewelry appraisals same day service at Rose Diamonds and offer Appraisal Lite if you have an original appraisal that needs to be updated (with skyrocketing metal and diamond prices).  It is half the usual appraisal fee.

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.

September 14, 2010

Oct 16, 2010 Intro to Jewelry & Gemology Half Day Seminar 1-3PM

Posted in gemologist, gemstones, jeweler, rose diamonds tagged , , , , at 7:32 pm by rosediamonds

Just in time for the winter shopping season, I’m holding another session of the jewelry/gemology course.

We’ve shortened the course to two hours and will touch on the basics of diamond and gemstone origins, manufacture, & distribution.  I will also be sharing consumer tips on how to identify karat marks (and where they are hiding), and the differences between natural stones and their many imposters.

Attendees will learn to use  gem tweezers and will take home their own jewelers loupe.  We will also touch on appraisal basics, birthstones, and how diamonds are graded, (these tiny differences can make big $ differences)

Bring your personal jewelry for our “exploratory” time.  There will be an extensive question and answer session.  Snacks will be provided.  $25 session fee

Pre-register at 417-823-3778 or rsvp on the facebook page (see sidebar for link).

June 19, 2010

Who Do You Listen To?

Posted in appraisal, diamonds, gemologist, jewelry, rose diamonds tagged , , , , , at 7:11 pm by rosediamonds

For the past week, I have been answering diamond and jewelry related questions on Yahoo answers.  My answers are based upon my experience as a retail jeweler, graduate gemologist (GIA), and jewelry appraiser.  What has surprised me has been the content of the other answers on the site, and “around the water cooler” chat.

I have come to terms with the sad fact that I know nothing about cars.  My car is black and starts when I turn the key, takes me where I need to go, and hauls my kids around.  I don’t know what torque or carburetors do.  Therefore, I also realize that I am not a source of valid information on cars.

The moral to this mini-rant is this: when you have a jewelry or diamond related question, consult the advice of a professional in the field.  Unlike lawyers, the advice is free.

January 18, 2010

Jewelry Appraisals Decoded

Posted in appraisal, birthstones, diamonds, engagement, gemologist, gemstones, gold, jeweler, jewelry, rings, rose diamonds tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:19 pm by rosediamonds

Perhaps you received an extravagant new piece of jewelry for Christmas, or you are in the midst of Spring cleaning.  Jewelry appraisals continue to confuse people.

An appraisal is:

A written statement, independently and impartially prepared by a qualified appraiser, setting forth an opinion of defined value of an adequately described property, as of a specific date supported by the presentation and analysis of relevant market information.

An educated, informed objective opinion of value based on a stated purpose and function.

There are two main types of appraisals.  One is for insurance replacement.  Each insurance company differs, but the value stated determines the coverage amount on your jewelry as well as the premium you pay for insurance.

Because the description is used in order to replace the piece, it is very important that the descriptions be extremely detailed and specific as far as quality of manufacturing and gemstones.  The value stated in insurance appraisals is for retail replacement cost for a new version of the piece.

The second type of appraisal is for Fair Market Value (FMV).  Fair Market Value appraisals can be used for a variety of purposes, including liquidation, collateral, divorce settlement, investment, estate/probate, and charitable contributions.  The value stated in a fair market value appraisal is a “liquidation” value if you had to sell it.

The best way to determine which of these fair market appraisals is right for you, is to tell your appraiser what you intend to do with the piece, or the reason why you want to have it appraised.

What happens during the appraisal?

  • Each piece of jewelry will be weighed, measured, and described in detail.
  • Gemstones will be identified, graded, measured, and their weights calculated.  Most appraisals do not require gems be removed from settings, so carat weights and measurements are limited by the mounting.  A notation on the appraisal will appear.
  • Metal content will be determined via a series of acid tests/electronic tests.
  • Diamonds will include a detailed description of their color, clarity and cut.
  • The internal characteristics of the stone will be diagrammed upon request.
  • Enlarged color photographs are available if needed for insurance claims and identification.
  • The definition of Fair Market value or retail replacement value will be included.

Appraisals do not guaranty jeweler buy-back, and there are unsavory dealers in the industry that are not trained to evaluate gemstones and diamonds.  These dealers often over-inflate the value of the jewelry to satiate their client’s sense of value.

I suggest discussing any concerns with your appraiser before you leave your jewelry in their care.  A qualified appraiser will be able to answer any question you might have and customize the appraisal to your needs.

Rush appraisals while you wait are available at an additional fee with an appointment.