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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Just a few words to add to your vocabulary

I am the worst at figuring out this whole video blog thing. Couldn't figure it out guys, I'm sorry. But I've been making a mental list of all the words that we use most often in the jewelry industry that most people ask the definition of shortly after we say them. Here they are:
Solitaire: I had it in my mind that this one was pretty self explanatory, but evidently not! Solitaire means single stone. Most people affiliate it with the classic Tiffany style engagement ring. If you don't know what that is, Google it ;) it can be any kind of band, any kind of stone. No rules there. And it doesn't only apply to rings! Pendants can be solitaire too, but as soon as you add more than 1 stone, it loses the title.
Rhodium Plating: maybe your jeweler offers this service, maybe they don't. Rhodium plating is for restoring white gold to its former bright white finish. White gold by itself is more of a dingy white and can appear slightly yellow after the plate has worn off. The wearing process is accelerated by exposure to chemicals like Bleach or Chlorine and everyday wear...
So we plate them to get them looking good as new again. Rhodium is a member of the platinum family, it's a liquid that is used to electroplated that yellow dingy look away.
Retipping: I've also heard it called re-pronging.... I like Retipping better. The prongs are what holds stones into place. They get worn down over time and as they wear away, it becomes increasingly easy to snag your jewelry on things, and when the prongs snag, they like to pull away from the stone they're supposed to be holding in place. This is one of the ways stones fall out and get lost. To avoid this catastrophe, we add metal back onto the prong and build them up and get them back to where they need to be.
Solder - Also mistakenly referred to as "welding" . Not to be picky, but its not the same. I won't get into the difference right now, lets just get everyone using the right terms instead. When you solder something, you fuse it together. Wedding rings get soldered together to keep them from rubbing against each other and doing damage. When your necklace breaks, we solder it back together. Solder solder solder. It's used A LOT in the shop for all kinds of jobs.
These are just a few of the words I thought up over the week. No one should ever get angry or impatient with you if you accidentally use the wrong term, but knowing the right ones will definitely help you communicate and lessen the chance of a frustrating miscommunication :) 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New video blog soon!

Hello readers! :) new video blog coming on the topic of confusing industry lingo. Hopefully I'll have it posted tonight....just as soon as I figure out how to post it! Thanks for your patience. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

video blog 1

Sorry guys! This is the only way I can think to get my video on here! I'll figure it out eventually. Follow the link to youtube and keep in mind this is my first try!
You can also find the video on my Google +

Friday, June 20, 2014

This guy VS that other Guy

There's no shortage of options when it comes to choosing a jewelry retailer. Everybody has heard of Tiffany's, and we've all seen the countless ads that run on TV for other stores, especially around the holiday season. As consumers, your options are almost limitless.
I love options, I like feeling that when I'm in the market for something, I don't have to settle. If I look around enough, I'm bound to find the perfect whatever it is I'm looking for. However, this many options CAN be a bad thing. 
Here's a hypothetical situation I want you to consider: You buy a piece of jewelry from Sammy Joe Jewelry in your local mall. You love it, you show it off to all your friends and wear it almost daily from that point on. Some time later you're at the mall again, this time at Little Bobby Blue ' s Jewelry store and they offer to clean it for you. The clerk turns up their nose and says that Sammy Joe jipped you and it wasn't worth nearly what you paid. Suddenly this piece you loved five minutes ago looks more and more like tin foil with rhinestones. Stop right there. Breathe. 
This hypothetical situation isn't a far stretch, and unfortunately, customers can find themselves playing the part of a rope in a vicious game of tug of war between competitor jewelers. So? This happens in practically every other market known to man, what's the big deal? I'll tell you. 
Competition between jewelry stores isn't like Ford vs Chevy or any other rivalry out there. You won't find a Chevy on a Ford dealer's lot or vise versa. You Could however find a 1 carat diamond solitaire engagement ring at almost any jewelry store in the country. I can't think of any way to sugar coat this next statement, so here it is plain and simple: you cannot expect honesty and integrity at every jewelry store. It doesn't matter how big they are or how long they've been established in your community. As a customer, if you think there is something wrong with your jewelry and you want a second opinion, I urge you to seek an impartial judge. NOT THE COMPETITION. If you think something is wrong, seek out a licensed appraiser or independent tradesperson.
I don't want to discourage you, there are retailers out there that base their business on integrity and honesty and that kind of business will grow exponentially with word of mouth. You'll know them by their reputation.
But try not to pit one retailer against another. That's a recipe for some smack talk and not the deal negotiating you were probably hoping for.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Black Gold Jewelry! calm down people..... nothing new here.

Black Gold. Sounds epic right? I foresee a huge increase of Gothic themed bling coming to a jewelry store near you very soon. Or, maybe not. Let's talk about why.
There's yellow gold, white gold, pink gold, and even green gold. So what makes the difference? Alloys. Add Nickle and (other things) to yellow gold and you have a dingy white gold metal. Plate it in rhodium and it's pristine white. Add copper (and other things) to yellow and you have pink (or rose) gold. Add silver (and other things) to gold and you get green. Every manufacturer has a different recipe of how to make these different colors, that's why I kept throwing in the disclaimer (and other things) There is no universal ratio. It's kinda like chocolate chip cookies. Every Baker has a recipe, and they all think theirs is the best. 
So what's this black gold? It's a plating. To be fair, Most of the sites I have seen advertising Black Gold made a point of mentioning that fact in fine print somewhere, but there are sites where it isn't specified. Remember when I said that we rhodium plate white gold to make it bright white? It's a similar process with the black gold. Black rhodium is used to alter the color of the metal it is being applied to. Like rhodium for white gold, the plating will wear off over time depending on 1: The quality of the plate 2: How often the piece is worn 3: Elements the wearer exposes the piece to such as bleach, chlorine, ammonia, ect. (Plating will also come off on buffing machines if you take your piece to be polished, or during repair work whenever a torch is involved). It's important to know that not all jewelry repair shops will have black rhodium to re-plate your piece when it comes off.
 In addition to black, there's also blue out there. These plates are used a lot on pieces that have colored diamonds or gemstones to amplify the stone color, or lessen the contrast of the metal setting around the stone. 
Don't let yourself be disappointed by a misunderstanding. Always read the fine print :)  Be prepared for the realities of maintenance involved in owning jewelry. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Stone swapping, and how do you avoid it happening to you?

People don't generally think of their jewelry unless it breaks or gets stolen. To many, their jewelry is almost a part of their person. I've known people who haven't taken their wedding rings off in over 30 years. So where do you go when you need to have your jewelry repaired?
We have frequent patrons at our store, some we can expect to see at least every other week. Obviously we know each other and trust has been established, so there's no hesitation when their bling needs a little TLC.  But what about other people who haven't set foot in a jewelry store? Or are new in town?
As much as I hate to admit it, there are people out there that will swap your stones, or do poor repair work. It's a scary thing, entrusting your jewelry to someone else. So how do you know if they're the right person for the job?
Unfortunately there is no cookie cutter answer that will eliminate risk altogether. My suggestions aren't going to be fool proof, sometimes you're just gonna have to go with your gut.
If you're looking for repair work, don't be afraid to ask the person what their qualifications are. Don't be a jerk about it, just politely ask if they went to school for it or have some sort if certification. Personally, I would be happy to answer that question for someone, if it helps give them confidence in me and feel more at ease, I'll absolutely cater to that.
If you're not new in town, ask your friends or people you trust who they take their jewelry to. Online reviews for jewelry stores aren't as big as reviews for restaurants or other retail establishments, but it couldn't hurt to do a quick Google search on a prospective repair shop....
While some shops may allow you to watch them work on your piece, don't go in with that expectation. Keep in mind that there are a lot of chemicals and sharp pointy objects in the repair shop, and it's a liability having patrons back there. It's not personal, and it's not necessary a sign that something shady is going on, it's just the rules.
Lastly, if you've asked all the questions and STILL feel uneasy about having your jewelry worked on, I suggest you do one of two things:
1: Take your jewelry to an appraiser and have them write out a detailed appraisal of your bling. They'll tell you everything you ever wanted to know about your jewelry and more. AND it's in writing. On paper. From a pro. If you suspect something is amiss after the repair is done, the appraisal will be able to prove or disprove your concern.
2: For diamond jewelry 1/2 carat or larger, I suggest both a laser ID, and a certified grade. The laser ID is a tiny sequence of numbers that will be etched into the girdle line of your diamond. These numbers are Specific to YOUR diamond. It won't be visible with the naked eye, so don't worry about it marring the appearance of your stone. The ID's aren't necessarily cheap, you should anticipate to shell out a few hundred dollars for the service.
The certified grade is also a great thing to have on your side if you worry about stone swapping. I recommend it being done by GIA because they're amazing, they're reputable, and a certification from them is recognized world wide. Your stone will be pulled from its setting and observed in a very specific environment geared for grading. Any inclusions or characteristics will be mapped out and noted, and in the end, you'll know more about your diamond than you knew existed. Keep your jewelry safe :) thanks for reading.

Friday, June 6, 2014

"Where are your real gemstones?"

I always feel intimidated whenever I take my car into the shop for work. I don't know anything about cars, and it would be SO easy for someone with bad intentions to tell me I need a new fibulator gasket and I would probably believe it. Likewise, I imagine that people coming into MY workplace not knowing the lingo feel equally intimidated. It's always frustrating when you don't know how to communicate what you want, so I'm gonna try to teach you a few tips.
People that work in the jewelry industry take key words literally. For example, if someone were to come into the store and say that they wanted a silver necklace, we would take them to see our collection of necklaces made out of silver. However, upon doing so we often learn that the customer meant "silver color" meaning white gold or platinum.
Other frequently misused terms are among the labels we have for gemstones or diamonds. Words like ,"Created, Simulated, Natural, or Genuine".
Believe it or not, created and simulated are not the same. Neither are natural or genuine.
Created gemstones are chemically the same as the genuine version, but they are engineered in the controlled environment of a lab. They don't have inclusions, their color is pristine and they're very appealing.
Simulated gemstones (or diamonds) LOOK the same as the genuine version, but are not chemically the same. Often, people hear the word "simulated" and take it to mean "fake" which is not necessarily true. For instance, a diamond stimulant could be a white sapphire or zircon. At the same time, a diamond stimulant could be ( and often is) cubic Zirconia (or CZ) which is in fact manufactured.
A Genuine anything is just like it sounds. Genuine. The real deal. You can expect that it will have been treated in some way to help preserve it from wear and tear or even change its original color, but those are merely Treatments. It was still made by mother nature.
Finally, the term I hear the least is "Natural" and this one makes me feel a little uneasy whenever I hear someone request it, because it's very specific. "Natural" implies that the stone may be faceted, but that's about all that was done to it after coming out of the ground. No color treatments, nothing. It is what it is. Whenever I hear someone for a natural anything, I'm pretty quick to ask a few questions to clarify if "natural " is what they actually mean.

Knowing a little of the lingo is good. It helps everyone understand one another better and cut down on the likelihood of a misunderstanding.
There you are:) a few words that will help you around the jewelry store.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


This post will have no real common theme, I'm just restless and feeling guilty for not keeping up with the blog.
First random thought: amethyst comes in more colors than purple. Surprisingly, that vivid almost royal purple that most people think of is usually engineered. Think of a lighter lavender, even moderately colorless and thats about normal. Amethyst is temperamental about heat and makes no secret of just how much it hates it. Expose it to too Much heat and it will turn white just to spite you. And by white I mean, lose its artificially colorful demeanor and just be transparent. It's like an irrational significant other that takes things to a whole new level and you're just left going,"nononono....ohhhhhh....great." 
How does this apply to you? I can see why you might think it doesn't, being that most of you don't plan on lighting your jewelry on fire, but heat from a torch isn't the only thing that can damage your amethyst. How about blow drying your hair while you wear your amethyst earrings? It's happened. That's why I'm using the example. So! Be careful with those things. 

Random though number two: goldsmiths and silversmiths used to be their own separate entities. Nowadays that system is just impractical, so goldsmiths can do both, and then some. 

Random thought number three: watch smiths and goldsmiths are NOT the same thing. Yes, it's technically jewelry but it's also mechanics and requires it's own separate schooling. 

Random thought number four: Don't ask for estimates over the phone. Would you call a mechanic and say," my car is making a weird noise, what's wrong with it?" No. You would take it into the shop. Likewise, we can't tell you anything with any certainty unless we look at it.

Random thought number 5: I'm sleepy, so I'm going to bed. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

metal allergies

It's not uncommon for someone to be allergic to their jewelry. It's also not uncommon for those allergies to develop over time. I've seen people with rashes from their necklaces, swollen earlobes from base metal earrings...
There's a difference between allergic reactions and your skin turning green from cheap costume jewelry. THAT is from whatever plating the manufacturer put on the piece wearing off and exposing whatever is underneath to your skin. The discoloration will go away, and it's not gonna hurt you. 
There's also a lot of people that mistake reactions from dirty jewelry as a reaction to the metal itself. This is probably what I see more often. People come in and complain that they're breaking out in a rash because they're allergic to their ring. So I look at it carefully under a microscope and it's terrifying. God knows what kind of plague some people are growing on their jewelry.  It's awful. 
If you wore the same clothes day in and day out, eventually, you would develop some skin irritation because the clothes would be filthy. Jewelry is no different. You gotta take it off and clean them. If I suspect that bacteria is the enemy in a case and not the actual metal, I advise that the customer to leave their jewelry off until the affliction clears up. After that, once their bling is clean, they can try it again and see what happens. Usually there isn't a problem. 
I'm not trying to downplay allergies, I'm just saying let's not jump to that conclusion first. Some people really are sensitive to metal, and we need to cater to that. 
Gold and silver are alloyed with other metals to change their nature and be more affordable. With gold, there's 10, 12, 14, 18, and 24 karat. (On a side note, Karat is for gold, Carat is for diamonds and gemstones, and carrot is a vegetable... it's all about the spelling) this of course is how we measure the different ratios of gold to alloys in the US. Europeans have a different set of numbers that they use to make the association.
Often, silver and copper are added to gold because Gold in its purest form is Very soft. We need something a little bit more sturdy for what people wear every day, so we mix in the alloys.
Personally, I find that if someone has a legitimate allergy, it's to Nickle, although, it could be other things.
I know it seems like I'm going off on a lot of different topics right now, but they all tie together I promise.
White gold is basically yellow gold mixed with Nickle and some other things depending on the manufacturer. The end result of the mix Is a dingy white metal, so the product is then dipped in rhodium to make it bright white. Rhodium is a member of the platinum family, and Platinum is hypoallergenic. If your white gold ring is giving you a rash and it's not dirty, try having it rhodium plated. The plating will put a barrier between the Nickle and your skin. The plate will wear off depending on how often you wear the piece and what it's exposed to, but it's a good fix for now.
You could also opt for a platinum setting and avoid the process of plating because platinum is naturally white. :)

Monday, May 5, 2014

For the do it yourselfers

I'm sure many of us have seen those little bottles of jewelry cleaner for sale at various retailers. Generally inexpensive and handy to have around if you like to take care of things on your own, or in between visits to the jeweler.
I love these little things, but be very careful that you read the label and use the cleaner as directed. Is it all purpose? Is it for silver only? Or for Pearl jewelry only? These labels aren't slapped on the bottles so that the retailer can sell more of them by claiming they do different things. They honestly are formulated for different jobs. So be sure you check the bottle first. (Also, stones like coral, or opal shouldn't come into contact with these cleaners.) After you're done sloshing your jewelry around in the cleaner, rinse it off thoroughly with water and brush it lightly with a soft bristled toothbrush. Residue of the cleaner may actually tarnish your jewelry all over again. 
Also! I know Pandora is a big thing now. They're sold all over, but I have seen a few of these bracelets and beads ruined because they were cleaned incorrectly. Pandora prefers that their bracelets not be cleaned with silver jewelry cleaner but with baby soap and water. No joke. These aren't cheap bracelets, let's care for them the way we're supposed to. 
Pandora has a lot of people mimicking their line and selling similar pieces. I'm not familiar with all of them, so the safest advise I can give is to specifically ask the retailer you're purchasing from how to care for them. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

They that must not be named are at it again.

I torture myself somewhat by watching a certain television show that features the sale of jewelry. I say torture because in my opinion,  this show that will remain nameless makes my job more difficult than it needs to be. However, what they sell will inevitably make its way to my bench over time and I need to be ready for it when it does, so I watch.
A while back, they were selling buffing machines to the general public, and I about lost my mind. For those that don't know, a buffer is a machine that polishes jewelry. If you don't know what you're doing, you shouldn't own one. There in lies the problem. MOST people don't know what they're doing.
On the off chance that any of you find yourself using a buffer, keep these tips in mind:
1: don't polish chains or bracelets on the buffer. Unless you have the appropriate tools to attach the chains or bracelets to, don't even attempt it. It's a good way to lose a finger.
2: if you aren't used to burning your fingers daily, I recommend putting your rings on a wooden mandrel (one at a time) and buffing that way. Don't press the mandrel into the polishing wheels with force. Every time your ring is buffed, a small amount of metal is worn away. Buffing removes small surface scratches which is why your rings look newer when they are buffed.  Press it somewhat lightly to the wheel and be careful to avoid protruding stones that sit up higher.
3: now that I think about it, stay away from any stones altogether. I can't see what you're polishing and just to be safe, don't do it. Polish around them.
4: don't buff with billowing sleeves or loose clothes of any kind. Pull your hair back and tuck any long chains into your shirt to avoid getting caught in the spinning wheels. I'm not kidding guys, these things move fast, and if they get caught....words cannot express the panic that will ensue.
5: professional shops will have air filters on their machines because they are likely larger buffers than these small ones that the show was selling, but we have filters because they blow polishing compound all over. They will throw out a fine black dust like substance that will get on the walls and whatever else you have around it and it's not necessarily easy to clean up. So, just be aware of that.
6: it's not necessary to buff your jewelry regularly. If you're wanting to just keep up with your bling and make sure it's in good shape, a simple cleaning will do in between visits to the jeweler. Again, don't use toothpaste. Try regular Mr. clean in warm water with a soft bristled toothbrush.
7: the likelihood of this being an issue is remote at best, but I like to cover my bases. Don't polish platinum pieces with the same polishing wheel that you use for gold or silver. Like I said earlier, every buffing removes metal. Where do you think it goes? On the wheels. Platinum is a hypoallergenic metal, and when you press it to the polishing wheel, it will get tiny microscopic amounts of the other metals from previous polishes impregnated in it. So have a separate wheel for Plat.  Pieces.
8: while I'm on the Platinum subject, you should also know that while it is 60% more dense than gold, it's also Very malleable. Platinum dings up easily and those dings are murder to get out. Don't polish these on the buffer with the expectation that they'll look new like your gold when done. If you want it to look new, you're gonna have to give up your do it yourself ways and bring it to a pro to have it refurbished.

I have an issue with the nameless television program selling these machines because they did so without specifying the dangers and general rules of the buffer. Being a goldsmith isn't easy. You work with chemicals, fire, hot metal, sharp objects.... it takes time, patience, skill, and not everyone can do it.
I watch the program frequently and more often than not, opinions are advertised as fact and that is a dangerous game to play. I just want everyone to be careful and be informed consumers. Thanks for reading:)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The new ideas have come to a slow roll lately. Hopefully, I'll be adding videos to this blog rather than just written rants. There's only so much I can explain through text, so keep an eye out for that in the future.
Featured above is a picture of a piece I made earlier last week for a benefit. This design is based off of a similar pendant my boss saw in a magazine and wanted me to put my own spin on.
Repairs are the bread and butter of my job, but when I get a chance to create, it's like magic. I can't help but think how awesome would it be if I could do this all day every day?
The best part of creating isn't the designing phase, or the actual process of creating. For me, it's seeing a dream realized. I've always had a vivid imagination, but when I see my ideas as a tangible object, it's awesome. In that moment I'm convinced that we can do anything.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

How much are you supposed to spend on engagement rings?

This will be one of my shorter blogs. It's just something that a friend brought up today and I thought I should share.
How much do you spend on an engagement ring? A lot of people may disagree with what I'm about to say, and I should say that this is my opinion, but I say that it depends on a number of things. Some say it should be 1 month of your income, some say 2 months, I'm sure we've all heard one answer or another.
You should first look at where you are financially. If things are tight and you already have various debts accumulated, Then don't put yourself deeper into debt. Put a little money aside each paycheck and buy something reasonable. You can always upgrade to something bigger in the future when you can afford it(If that's important to her).
If you don't have a lot of debt, and you don't mind financing it, then okay, go for it.
What bothers me is the overwhelming number of people that think that they need a big rock right from the start. I'm sorry, but no. The ring doesn't make the marriage. It doesn't mean your significant other loves you any less if it's not as big as you want. I blame the media for part of this problem. All the reality TV stars get engaged and have 3 carat or more rings so why shouldn't you? First of all, they can afford. I don't even want to speculate at how much they make per episode because it will probably depress me, but it's probably enough to get the big bling. Second: never shame your significant other into getting something that they can't afford because you are unwilling to be realistic. A marriage is more than a wedding day, and it's more than a new accessory to wear. If your answer is determined by the ring, you are not ready for marriage.
I could go on but I know this rant isn't gonna get any less snarky and I think I made my point well enough.
Goodnight everybody ;)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Diamonds... part one of God knows how many

Before I begin this newest blog, we need to acknowledge that there is a lot of information out there regarding this topic, from the internet and elsewhere. I want you to feel that what I say here and now isn't just my opinion. I am both a certified Goldsmith and certified in diamonds from the Diamond Council of America. You can look them up if you wish, they are reputable educators.
   I don't write this blog to benefit myself or my employers. I write it for you, the reader. In doing what I do, I have come to realize that jewelry (for the most part) is like Latin. People all over the world are aware of it, they know what it is, but few people actually Know it. I know this blog isn't going to change the world, I have no unrealistic hopes of that. But I DO hope to change the way that we think about jewelry. I hope to share what I know and in doing so, empower you. That being said, here we go..
  Diamonds: I won't bore you with how they got to the surface of the earth, that takes too long, and I don't think anyone else is really that interested. If you are, let me know and I'll address it at another time. Lets start with one of the things that people say that bother me the most; and that is referring to an inclusion as a "Carbon spot". Gem quality diamonds ( that's pretty much exactly what it sounds like guys, a diamond that's nice enough to avoid being turned into a drill bit and made instead into jewelry for you and me) are in fact about 99.95% carbon. Those dark spots can be any number of things that found their way into the diamond while it was forming and just stuck around. 
Although they're primarily made up of Carbon, diamonds can contain other trace elements which can alter the appearance of color in the stone.  Nitrogen is the most common trace element, which is what makes diamonds yellow. Boron makes blue, and radiation within the earth makes green. On a side note, did you know that the first TREATED green diamonds were made in 1904? they were turned green by covering the diamonds in radium salt, then blasted with alpha particles. This was, in fact a very bad idea. The stones, though successfully turned green, were also highly radioactive, and have stayed that way to this day. 
Diamonds are the toughest of all the gemstones. The name, "Diamond" comes from the Greek word, "Adamas" meaning unconquerable. Cultures from all over the world have their legends about the ancient stone. Some believing that they gave the wearer strength, others believing that diamonds were splinters of stars. Its all fun to think about. At least it is for me. 
All these mythologies mingled with fact could easily lead us to believe that diamonds are unbreakable, but that would be wrong. They might be tough but they're not rage proof. Before cutters had the luxury of lasers, they likely used a process called Cleaving to break the crystal down. Cleaving is using force to split the diamond on a weak crystal direction called Cleavage planes. If you apply just the right amount of force to these planes, CRACK. That being said, if you happen to knock your wedding ring on the coffee table and suddenly your precious diamond is now in 2 pieces, don't go off half cocked to whoever sold it to you. Just because it broke doesn't mean it was fake. I don't care what they say in the movies, I don't care what your best friend that watches a lot of Jewelry TV says, diamonds ARE breakable. If you're concerned that its fake, have it tested. Most jewelry stores have a tester and would be able to tell you. 
Recently, I was asked why diamonds are so expensive, Emerald cuts in particular. I'll start with the latter. Emerald cuts are faceted differently than rounds, ovals, or marquis. They are "Step" cut rather than "Brilliant" cut. This form of faceting is used to showcase a stone's clarity. Brilliant faceting can hide inclusions so they are less noticeable, whereas inclusions in a step cut stone would be more evident. Higher clarity means its more rare which makes it more expensive. Now, on to part two of that question. 
It takes 5 tons of ore and 25 tons of rock to produce 1 carat of gem quality diamonds. That gives you an idea of how rare these stones are. Adding insult to injury, about HALF of that weight is lost to the cutting process. Based on the Gemological Institute of America (or GIA)'s grading system, there are 11 clarity grades for gem quality diamonds. In order from lowest to highest: 3 categories of Included ( I3, I2, I1), Two categories of Slightly Included ( SI2, SI1) 1 category of Very Slightly Included(VS), two categories of Very Very slightly Included (VVS2, VVS1), One Category of Internally Flawless (IF) and One category of Flawless(FL). Imagine how many tons of ore and rock it takes to get 1 carat of even SI2 or SI1 quality diamonds. These things are rare! Not only rare, but they are insanely difficult to get to! Diamonds aren't like the newest smartphone, a flat screen TV, or any other item of fashion. Styles come and go, smartphones are updated time after time as we progress with the development of technology. But Diamonds really are Forever. If you take care of them, they'll last. They're heirlooms and symbols of the greatest of all emotions; Love. 
I feel like I've rambled on forever here ( probably because I had to stop every 3 minutes and rewrite sentences.... and I'm sure I still had some mistakes in spelling here and there) but I haven't even scratched the surface of this topic. This is, in fact, the first of several diamond themed blogs to come, but I hope that this at least whet your appetite. If you're as big a geek as I am about these things, you can never learn enough.
As always, I'm open to inquiries, and please comment to tell me what you think.  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

care and maintenance

It's good practice to bring your jewelry in to see a goldsmith about every 6 months; more if you know you're mean to your bling. Reason being that unless you have a 10 power microscope at home and an ultrasonic machine, you don't really know their condition. When people bring their things to me to look at and I discover that they have loose stones, They always ask, "Why?". The answer is never simple because it could be any number of things, so I rattle off a few of these questions to see if any of them ring true.
Do you sleep in them?
Do you wear them while doing housework?
Do you wear them while gardening?
Do you wear them in the shower or swimming pool?
Do you wear them while working out?
How often do you wear them, and for how long?
These questions will usually spark a deeper conversation once any of them hit home.
I'm not sure when this misconception popped up, buy I want to meet the person that started it. Jewelry (rings in particular) are not made to be worn all day every day. I think that wedding rings are the ones most damaged by this rumor.
Jewelry (if it isn't costume) is made from precious metals, the definition of which is a metal that falls under the gold, silver, or platinum group. You might not think so, but all of those metals are soft. They wear, bend, and break if not properly taken care of. That coupled with the fact that some of the jewelry being produced today isn't being constructed with a longevity as a priority. That statement falls under," Know what you're buying" category as well as "Care and maintenance", and I'll go deeper into that at another time.
Jewelry is made to be an adornment, not an organ necessary to your survival. Your wedding ring is a symbol, it is not your marriage itself. Taking it off doesn't mean there's trouble in paradise and it doesn't mean you don't love each other any more. It holds strong emotional influence, I know. But let's not go overboard with the sentiment. You can't confuse the strength of the metal with the strength of the memory of when you got it.
I said earlier that jewelry isn't made to be worn all day every day. I ask you, where did that idea come from? Did the salesperson say thay it could? "Well nobody ever told me that it would break!" That may be true. But there is a certain amount of common sense and responsibility we assume people have when they spend thousands of dollars on something they intend to wear. If you think about it, jewelry isn't so different from say, a Chanel blouse, or a Dior purse. The names give them prestige in our mind. We associate them with words like Quality and High end. But are you going to wear that Chanel blouse all day and all night, even while sleeping? Are you going to keep that Dior purse on the floor of your car when driving, or throw it in the closet at the end of the day? The answer is no, because even though they are well made pieces from giants of the Fashion industry, we know that they are not indestructable. They weren't cheap, and we want them to last.
Why is jewelry so different?
Sheets act like sandpaper over time to prongs on your ring, and sleeping in necklaces is an easy way to stretch the chain to the point of no repair.
Chlorine eats at gold and will dinge the rhodium that makes white gold white. It especially will do damage to silver if you happen to be wearing it when you take a dip. Thay being said, hot springs are a definite no no as well.
Why on earth would you wear rings while mixing raw meat for hamburger patties? Take them off!
Toothpaste is for cleaning your teeth, nothing else. The people at Crest didn't formulate their paste to clean jewelry and later discover that it happened to help with fighting gingivitis as well. Toothpaste is abrasive and scratches precious metals. While it may look cleaner after you use it, you are in fact doing damage. Take it to a professional. We have specially formulated cleaners for this job, and while they may not leave a minty aroma, they are in fact better suited for the job.
Housework calls for moving things around, scrubbing, washing, and general cleaning. That's a lot of potential to knock your rings around and expose them to various chemicals that likely don't associate well with precious metals.
It's important that you as the owner do everything you can to ensure your jewelry stands the test of time. We as goldsmiths are there to assist you in that endeavor. We are not solely responsible. There you have it, the basic Dos and don'ts of jewelry.
If you have a question and I didn't touch on it on any of my posts thus far, please comment. I Am more than happy to reply.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

custom jewelry:) and why do the best ideas always come at the last minute

I get it. Some minds are just at their best when last minute pessure is on. In school, I wrote my best essays the period before they were due. Won contests with them. It was unbelievable. Panic brought on clarity. Valentine's Day is over, so at least That pressure is gone, and hopefully this post will help out for later holidays, like Mothers Day(?)
Where I work, we don't send our jewelry out to be worked on. We have our own shop and we do it all there. The work we do is a mix of things we sell and things that people have been passed down for generations. When people call up to ask about repair work, they always want to know," How long does that take?" And the answer is this: It's not that the job Itself is time consuming, it's that 15 other people have dropped off things for us to do and they all want it done the same day as you.
Disappointing people is never fun, and I do my best to avoid it, But your best bet when considering custom work(unlike a general repair) is to plan ahead. Holidays like Mothers Day and Christmas are HUGE for custom jobs, and a lot of works goes into constructing a one of a kind piece of jewelry.
There are drawings, wax model after wax model, then you move on to casting and finishing, stone setting (if there are any)... The process can take weeks if not months depending on the job. If you want a necklace for your wife for Christmas, you shouldn't start the planning process on December 1st. Overestimate rather than under.
Every shop is different. There is no standard of things to be kept in Stock at all times that applies to goldsmiths around the world. It could be that what you want requires a special part that takes 3 weeks to get, or the stone you want has to be color matched, or cut specifically for your job. While I would love having everything at my fingertips, it simply can't be. Money is lost when things are kept in Stock, but not used, So items that are needed frequently are what's available. I say again, plan ahead!

Lastly, it's best to discuss these kinds of deals in person, rather than over the phone. Set up a consultation with your jeweler where you can go in and talk about your ideas, or ask any questions to get the ball rolling. Don't call them up and expect a quote or 30 minutes of their time over the phone. Remember that other people have gone ahead of you and are expecting their jobs to be completed on time, and that won't happen if they're having an impromptu phone conversation.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Why size Does matter, and get your mind out of the gutter.

I'm obsessed with my job. I take it everywhere with me. When I'm out and about, I look people up and down for jewelry and analyze it as best I can from where I'm standing. Two things bother me the most about rings though...
1- seeing someone leave them on to handle raw meat or bread dough
2- when it's obvious that it doesn't fit. Today I'm going to talk about the latter.
For some reason, people think of their rings the same way they think about their jeans. If I can get them on, they fit...... NO! First of all, as soon as you start to feel that things are getting a little too snug about midway, stop. That goes for jeans And rings. You should never force yourself into either. It doesn't fit, and we all know it. Getting a bigger size doesn't make you look fat, walking around in something 2 sizes too small does.
The general rule is that the ring slides on fairly easily, but gives a little resistance when coming off. I say again, a LITTLE resistance. If your finger is turning purple and it hurts, that's too much resistance.
People don't realize how important this is.
If you ever find yourself needing emergency surgery, they need that ring off. And they'll do whatever they need to get it off. The results are never pretty. Stones fall out, shanks are ruined, and repairs can get expensive. You need to take it off daily, for the ring, and for you.
Rings are meant to be worn as adornments, they're not supposed to be attached to you at all times. Wedding rings especially. Taking them off doesn't mean you're getting a divorce, It means you're taking care of it. Trust me, jewelers are not impressed when you brag about how it's never left your finger since you were married 5, 10, 20, or even 50 years ago. We find that gross. And the first thing we're gonna do when we get a hold of it is drop it in some very powerful cleaner, because by now you've probably grown a super bug that will start the zombie outbreak.

Friday, February 21, 2014

A piece I designed and crafted for a raffle

"I'm a Goldsmith..." this statement is almost always followed by blank stares and the inevitable question," What's that?". All my life I wanted to have a job I could be proud of. Something to wow other people and capture their interest. I believe I have that job.... other people just don't understand what I do.
Come to think of it, very little is actually known about the jewelry industry in general! I'm frequently asked questions by acquaintances and friends alike regarding their belongings, and through that I realized that misconceptions are everywhere. The Internet is Full of information on Diamonds and jewelry, but one can Easily be overwhelmed by it all. There is such a thing as too much information. In my opinion, it leads to unrealistic expectations and confusion, but I'll get into that later. For now, this is me starting a blog about what I know and love. Answering questions and hopefully making this industry a little more understandable.