September 7, 2011

7 Ways to Stretch Your Engagement Ring Budget

Posted in bride, diamonds, engagement, gemstones, gold, jeweler, jewelry, jewelry design, jewelry repair, rings, rose diamonds, wedding tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 7:08 pm by rosediamonds

In Case you’ve been living under a rock, the US is in the midst of a recession.  Depending on what media outlet you tune into, you probably have different ideas about the economic downturn’s severity.  I reason that anytime is a good time to explore ways to “make economies.”  That sounds much better than cheapening it to “saving money”, right?

 

According to a recent article published by National Jeweler ( http://www.nationaljeweler.com/nj/fashion/jewelry-fashion-reports/article_detail?id=27143 ), grooms are spending less on engagement rings than last year, with the average coming in under $5200–which is nothing to scoff at.  One of the most common pleas from the newly engaged is that they want their ring to be “different.”  Easier than it sounds.  Here’s a few ideas of how to accomplish both while keeping your budget on track.

 

Idea 1:  Get nostalgic.  Use Uncle Fred’s old wedding band.  Re-Set Grandma Thompson’s old engagement ring center stone in a “now setting.”  Go old school with a vintage setting from an estate/pawnshop/craigslist/ebay.  (Be careful as this one might entail more repair work than you realized)

 

Idea 2: Color Substitute.  If it’s good enough for Kate Middleton/Princess Di/Jessica Simpson etc…Colored stones are generally much less expensive than a diamond of the same size.  Notable exceptions to this rule are FINE quality sapphires, rubies, alexandrite, & tanzanites.  A pop of color definitely makes a ring unique.  Black diamonds (and recently black spinel/sapphires) are much less expensive than their colorless counterparts.

 

Idea3: Mix metals.  Hugely popular in Europe, metal mixing allows you to “repurpose” the yellow gold you’ve been avoiding.  While white gold and platinum remain king here in the states for bridal, try pairing tiny bands of yellow or rose gold with a white gold solitaire or a fabulous yellow gold ring guard/wrap, etc.

 

Idea 4: Plate it on top.  A good jeweler can electroplate the top half of your ring white, yellow, black, or rose.  Plating can wear off with exposure to chemicals (even household ones) and wear and tear.  The good news?  It’s easy and fairly inexpensive to touch up.  Avoid coating the bottom part of your ring.  After exposure to your natural perspiration, it will wear off more quickly there.

 

Idea 5: Resurface.  Add a hammered, satin, florentine, brushed, etc. finish to a plain old band to make it unique.

 

Idea 6: Put a ring on it.  Make small center stones look bigger by adding an illusion plate or a halo/booster ring of diamonds.  They now come in every diamond shape and can update an older setting or pump up a small center.

 

Idea 7: Don’t forget your trade in.  Now is a good time to browse through your sock drawer for the anklet your eighth grade boyfriend gave you, the remaining diamond stud earring you got for your 16th, and old birthstone rings.  The high price of gold has turned this discarded fodder into a hot commodity that can be used to offset the perfect (sigh) ring.  It’s also important to purge past relationship reminders BEFORE the wedding.

 

Note: Couples often forget that wedding rings tend to grow with the relationship.  I often recommend that a couple choose a versatile (ie. changeable) style that is easily upgraded at future anniversaries.  You may have noticed I did not mention the wildly popular trend of alternative metals.  This is a personal choice (I’m not unaware of the trend), but I look disfavorably on rings that cannot be sized.

 

Also mentioned in this article was an increase in the “mangagement ring.”  More on that next time:)

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April 18, 2011

Luxury: Still Alive & Well

Posted in diamonds, Gifts, jewelry, rose diamonds tagged , , at 3:10 pm by rosediamonds

Some days, it feels like every news channel is harping on the lagging economy and the housing crisis.  The skyrocketing price of gold is not helping matters.  I recognize that it is important to be serious, and I sincerely sympathize with those who have been unfairly affected by the sagging economy.  Sometimes, a bit of “fluff” makes us all feel better.

Enter The House of Borgezie.   I became aware of this company from a facebook friend who posted a picture of the most luxurious shoe I’ve ever seen: The Eternal Borgezie Diamond Stiletto.  Girl’s best friend: The Eternal Diamond stiletto is made using 2,200 brilliant cut diamonds, totalling 30 carats and solid gold. Price $150,000 and yes there is a waiting list.  If you visit the link, make sure you check out the creation page for some “shop pics” of how they make these very excellent shoes.

To me, luxury isn’t necessarily blinged out shoes, but enjoying the “pretty things” in life.

January 13, 2011

Diamonds 102-Faceting

Posted in diamonds, jewelry, rose diamonds tagged , , at 4:58 pm by rosediamonds

Diamonds are old.  That much has been covered by the previous article. When diamonds are described as vintage, it usually refers to the cutting style.  Cutting styles have evolved over the years as illustrated to the right.

 

Diamond jewelry began with people wearing stones in their rough (unfaceted form).  Not all diamond crystals develop into a perfect tetrahedral shape (the two pyramid look).  The angles of the stone were cut (by hand with another diamond).  Diamond faceting at its earliest could take over one year!

 

It became more in vogue to add more and more facets over time.  Technology has developed, and diamond proportions have become increasingly symmetrical and uniform over time.  Cutters have experimented with all different varieties of angles and cuts.  The diamond cutter’s job is to MAXIMIZE the weight of the finished stone.  This is how they are paid, and diamonds are sold–by the weight.  

 

The most common “vintage diamonds” are old mine cuts and old european cuts.  The modern brilliant cut has 57-58 facets.  A man named Tolkowsky developed a set of ideal proportions that maximizes a diamond crystal’s brilliance, and fire.

December 30, 2010

Diamonds 101

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

“I have never hated a man enough to give his diamonds back.”

–Zsa Zsa Gabor

Diamonds are seemingly abundant if you look at the rows upon rows of diamond jewelry in showcases across the country.  It seems like everyone has at least one diamond in their possession, but if we examine the origins of the stones, I think they will earn back the respect they deserve.

Diamonds themselves cannot be dated due to the radioactive elements that decay too quickly, but inclusions within diamonds CAN be dated.

Occasionally, clients ask me whether a diamond is “used” or whether it is a “vintage diamond.”  The youngest diamond is 628 million years old and the oldest are 3.3 billion years old.  In this sense, they are all vintage.  All diamonds are old.  Perhaps a more accurate description is when the diamond was faceted/manufactured.  Faceting styles and lapidary technology has come a long way since its humble beginnings.  Diamond faceting trends will be covered in my next article…

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.

April 19, 2010

April’s Birthstone: Diamond

Posted in birthstones, diamonds, rose diamonds tagged , , , at 7:55 pm by rosediamonds

Diamond Fun Facts:

Youngest Diamond is 623 million years old

Oldest Diamond is  over 3.3 billion years old.

Diamond is the only gemstone made up of a single element, carbon.

It takes at least a cubic ton of rock to produce one diamond

Diamonds in their rough form look very different from their polished counterparts and a faceted in steps to maximize their brilliance, fire, and weight retention.

March 16, 2010

Saturday April 10, 1010–Introduction to Jewelry & Gemology

Posted in birthstones, diamonds, gemologist, gemstones, rose diamonds tagged , , , , at 8:47 pm by rosediamonds

In response to my client’s wishes, and an unfulfilled wish to teach at GIA, I am holding a day long seminar at the shop that will be a consumer’s introduction to Jewelry & Gemology.

It is scheduled Saturday, April 10th from 10AM to 3PM, and will cover the following:

  • Basic Jewelry Terms
  • Precious Metals Marks and Karats
  • Overview of Jewelry Origins
  • Overview of Historic Jewelry Periods
  • Basic Gemological Tools (what they do and how they are used)
  • Diamond Origins, Manufacture and Distribution
  • Determining Diamond Value based on the 4Cs
  • Ruby Origins, Manufacture and Distribution
  • Sapphire Origins, Manufacture and Distribution
  • Emerald Origins, Manufacture and Distribution
  • Natural vs Synthetic
  • Gemstone Treatments and Disclosure
  • Diamond Imitators
  • Popular Gemstones (Pearls, Tanzanite, birthstones)
  • Basic Jewelry & Gemology Care
  • Free Exploratory Period

I am inviting attendees to bring their own jewelry to explore

At no time during the day will you be asked to purchase anything.  This seminar is meant to expand your knowledge of jewelry, diamonds, and gemstones.

Included in the $40 admission are supplies, including a loupe and gem tweezers you get to take home.  Please pre-register by calling 417-823-3778 or e-mailing jenchoi3@aol.com

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.

December 12, 2009

Client Question Answered: Prongs

Posted in birthstones, bride, diamonds, gemologist, gemstones, gold, jeweler, jewelry, jewelry design, jewelry repair, rings, rose diamonds, silver tagged , , , , , , , , , at 7:46 pm by rosediamonds

Q: Why do I need my prongs checked every six months?

A: First off.  Prong: describes the metal posts that hold diamonds in the jewelry.  Jewelers recommend prong checks every six months as a standard similar to oil changes in cars.

In reality, the reasons for this are twofold.  First, it brings in clients every six months who are reminded of jewelry and may make new purchases.  Secondly, it is a preventative measure.

Diamonds are the hardest gemstones, and gold is a relatively soft metal.  If a diamond becomes loose in the setting, it can actually cut through the metal that’s holding it and “break free.”  A prong missing on a four prong setting can be a recipe for disaster should the wearer knock the stone out at an unlucky angle.

Over time, prongs get worn down by routine wear and tear (knocks on the filing cabinet etc.).  A proper jeweler should honestly recommend when re-tipping should happen.  Rebuilding prongs that have broken off completely are harder (more expensive) to repair than simply adding gold to worn down prongs.

If you have repaired the prongs before, I would typically suggest replacing the whole head.  The cost is slightly more than the re-tipping, but logic follows that if one prong had a weakness, perhaps the rest are soon to follow.

As with with all prong work, we recommend clients remember that the repair costs on repairing prongs are hugely smaller than replacing diamonds after they’ve fallen out.

This can be an excellent time to explore fancier prong options as well (check out new styles that have filigree, diamonds on the sides, hearts on top, tulip settings, double prongs, etc).  You may even want to switch from yellow prongs to white (they tend to disappear against the diamonds).

I’ll use this as a time to remind you again to keep all jewelry out of chlorine bleach.  It pits the prongs and makes them brittle/more prone to breakage.  Lost diamonds are more than lost dollars, they are lost memories.

December 9, 2009

Holiday Gift Ideas (on the cheap)

Posted in birthstones, Christmas, diamonds, earrings, gift ideas, Gifts, gold, jeweler, jewelry, jewelry design, jewelry repair, pearls, rings, rose diamonds, silver, watch tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:38 pm by rosediamonds

Due to soaring gold costs and the shrinking economy, I thought I’d go into some inexpensive gift ideas for the holidays.  You may have overlooked these ideas:

  • Engraved anything.  Shop at Target, the clearance isle at Marshalls, etc.  You can add fancy monograms to Zippo lighters, fancy pens, mirrored compacts, pill cases, business card cases, vases, sterling book marks, champagne bottles, wine glasses, etc.  It looks fancy, but isn’t real expensive.  I suggest personalizing with the first initial for ladies and the last initial for men.
  • Silver anything.  White metals are on more popular than ever, so if your budget won’t stretch to accommodate white gold or (gasp) platinum, go silver.  Look for quality and beware of silver plated items.  Top fashion looks come out in silver first, so a cocktail “statement” ring and oval cz hoops in silver allow you to get the look for less (before the trend dies)
  • Re-cycle your old jewelry.  This can be anything from re-furbishing old pieces (polishing, checking stones, replacing missing stones, and sizing) to re-styling.  Our shop has thousands of molds to choose from, and by trading in your old gold and using your stones, it can save you a bundle.  (Ex. turn your ex-relationship bracelet into a star of david charm for your niece)
  • Got kids on your shopping list? Simple ID bracelets.  Bring back the tradition of baby rings and id bracelets.  They’re usually inexpensive and are keepsakes.
  • Teachers on your shopping list?  Try engraved pens or holiday ornaments.  Earrings always fit, so they are an easy gift idea.
  • Teens on your shopping list?  Try engraved dog tags.  There are sterling and stainless options.  (Stainless is less expensive).  You can engrave their name, team number, picture of a sport/hobby etc.  You can even add a private inscription to the back.
  • Fancy jewelry cases.  A place for everything and everything in its place.  An easy gift for a jewelry fanatic without the 14K price tags.
  • Watch cases and watch winders.  Anyone with an automatic watch will like not having to reset it each day with a watch winder.
  • Birthstones.  If diamonds are out of your reach this year, consider adding birthstones to a piece you already have or combining birthstones to symbolize unity in a new piece.  Most birthstones are synthetic, but there are natural options out there as well.
  • Charms.  Charm bracelets are like having a father who plays golf.  You always have a go to theme for holidays.  Start a charm bracelet, and then you’re set for the next few years for gifts.  Charms come in silver and gold.  Fancy and simple.
  • Pearls.  There are lots of ways to wear pearls that are beyond the “boring” strand.  Consider station necklaces and funky mixes with chains.  Just keep them away from hair spray,perfume, and bleach.

Hope some of these ideas help you stay on budget this holiday season.

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