July 21, 2010

Too Good to be True?

Posted in Appraisal, Assurance, Diamonds, Gemstones, Jewelry Myths, Quality, Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 9:41 pm by garwoodsgal

As you browse the internet, you come across a vendor on eBay selling a perfect diamond ring with the perfect cut, clarity and color. But is it too good to be true? When it comes to buying jewelry and gemstones, we all want to find the best quality for the best price. But often times, in the search for a great deal, we become lured by the numerous online sites such as eBay and Craigslist, selling “flawless” gemstones and beautiful jewelry for unbelievable prices. While it becomes tempting to grab onto such great deals, it’s important to understand the dangers of making these purchases from unknown online vendors.  

Gas bubbles in a synthetic ruby


Gas bubbles in a synthetic sapphire

In an article from Gem Market News, one man discovered how a “too good to be true” purchase turned out to be just that. Kamal Youssef found on eBay various sapphires at a great price from a vendor in Thailand. Although the listing on the site claimed the stones were “Natural Sapphires from Africa,” Youssef soon discovered they were not natural. A closer photograph of one of the sapphires showed gas bubbles, thus being a sign of a synthetic.  

It is important to remember that when you buy online, there are no guarantees. The description can be severely exaggerated because people can post anything they want, such as in Youssef’s case. There are no regulations requiring online sellers to accurately represent their goods, whereas the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) requires retail jewelers to abide by strict guidelines.   

What’s more, there is no guarantee of who or where the jewelry comes from. For instance, an online dealer may have a great eBay rating and then get negative feedback. To avoid the backlash, the dealer can just create a new account and sell through that name until the negative responses build up again, and so on. 

Remember that they saying “You get what you pay for,” is almost always true. To ensure that you are getting real, quality stones and jewelry, it’s best to purchase from certified and knowledgable jewelers. Look for jewelers who are members of organizations such as the American Gem Society and their local chamber of commerce or have affiliations with groups like the Gemological Institute of America or the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers.   

Another telling sign of a quality jeweler is the age of the business. If a store has been around for 50 or 60 years, it’s more than likely a reputable place. Word of mouth can make a store thrive or dive, so you can bet a store won’t stay afloat if they use deceptive or dishonest practices. Sooner or later they will get caught! 

In the end, if you purchase jewelry from a well-established bricks-and-mortar store (also known as your neighborhood jeweler), you’ll be happier and content knowing  you have beautiful, authentic pieces of jewelry. Even better, you’ll have actual people to take your jewelry to when you want it cleaned for a special party or if you need repair work done. 

Some photos from www.ruby-sapphire.com.

May 13, 2010

Job Applicants

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 8:03 pm by garwoodsgal

Since we are the “Jewelry Expert” Blog, we typically write about jewelry — of course! But we are hiring for a new full-time sales associate and just can’t help sharing some of the amusing things that people include on their resumes and cover letters. Hope you get a kick out of them like we did. 🙂

  • “My objectives are to provide quality service to costumers and clients.” — They sound like fun people.
  • i worked for my father…who deals in precious and semi precious jems and minerals…” — Wonder what those look like.
  • “Objective: To gain employment in the Food Service Industry for an upscale restaurant as a Professional Server or as part of the wait staff, tending bar and/or other front of the house positions or duties.” — We are not a restaurant!
  • “Note this is mostley my restuarant expirience, which was mostly P/T…however I was employed by Fed Fed Ex ground for 5 years.”
  • “Objective: To obtain an internship in the field of Anthropology to gain knowledge and experience.” — I know we deal with a lot of old people, does that make this an anthropological position?
  • i have some experience in customer service but would always b willing to train practice and learn as much as possible” — Really, is it that hard to put an “e” after the “b”? And how about using some periods — there were four sentences and not one used capitolization or punctuation.
  • Education: School X – Twelve Credits, School Y – Seven CreditsDo people care how many credits you completed at each school? If so, seven doesn’t seem like very many…
  • Two applicants are registered physical therapists, one is a veterinary technician, two have Master’s degrees in social work and one is a civil engineer — Why do you want this job?!?! I think they’re just applying anywhere they can!
  • About 1/3 of the applicants didn’t send a cover letter (though we asked for one) and four out of 30 have sent no resume, just a few sentences about themselves.

Even though we are poking fun, we feel bad that this is the kind of information people are putting out there as the first impression of themselves. Surely they’re all using a computer that at least has spell check. If they aren’t, they should. We hope all our applicants find jobs, but unfortunately they won’t be with us. Good luck to them, and may their resume writing get better.

April 23, 2010

Alternative Metals

Posted in Design, Metal, Quality, Repair tagged , , , , , , at 9:59 pm by garwoodsgal

When Grandpa got his wedding band, he only had the options of gold or platinum. These days rings are made of all kinds of materials. They look cool and give customers a lot of variety, but most alternative metals come with a “but.” 

Probably the biggest consideration is that rings made of these alternative metals aren’t sizable. If you want a ring that you can wear forever and that can become a family heirloom, chances are alternative metals aren’t the right choice. Most people’s fingers change in size throughout their life, so they won’t be able to always wear the same ring.

Gold, white gold and platinum are still the best choices for sizable rings. The value of these rings is also considerably more than the alternative metals. As the gold and platinum markets rise, the value of your heirlooms will also go up.

If you like the modern metals and aren’t deterred by their downsides, there are some fun styles to choose from. Below is a quick review of some of the more common alternative metals. Hopefully it’ll help you narrow down your choices.

Color: Steel Gray
Weight: Heavy
Selling Point: Scratch resistant so finish will last
Disadvantage: Can’t be sized and can shatter
Price: Averages $300*

Color: Slight Gray
Weight: Light
Selling Point: Light weight compared to other ring materials
Disadvantage: Can’t be sized
Price: Averages $150*

Damascus Steel
Color: Steele gray with matte gray wood-grain design
Weight: Medium
Selling Point: Same material as ancient samurai swords
Disadvantage: Can’t be sized
Price: Averages $375

Cobalt Chrome
Color: White
Weight: Relatively light
Selling Point: Scratch resistant and hypoallergenic
Disadvantage: Can’t be sized
Price: Averages $250*

Color: Black and white are most common
Weight: Relatively light
Selling Point: Scratch resistant so finish will last
Disadvantage: Can’t be sized and can shatter
Price: Averages $120*

*Prices based on solid rings with no inlays of gold, silver, etc.

March 29, 2010

The Magic of Birthstones

Posted in Gemstones, Jewelry History, Jewelry Myths, Uncategorized tagged , , , at 10:34 pm by garwoodsgal

As mentioned before, people in ancient times believed that gemstones had magical powers that aided and protected the wearer.

We’ve compiled a list of the “powers” associated with each birthstone. You might just want to start wearing some of them yourself.


  • Garnet was said to ensure safe travels and good health, to prevent skin disease and assure the wearer of love and faithfulness. Garnets were also used as bullets because the stone was said to cause wounds more dangerous than those caused by normal bullets.


  • Amethyst was said to make the wearer gentle and amiable. The name amethyst comes from the Greek word meaning “not to intoxicate,” and it was an ancient belief that people could drink alcohol in abundance but remain sober if they wore amethyst. Those who tried found it to be untrue.


  • Aquamarine was said to enhance the beauty of the wearer. It was also used to treat liver disease and diseases of the eye.


  • Diamond comes from the Greek word meaning “unbreakable.” Even though they are the hardest-known substance, diamonds can chip or break. Because they are “unbreakable” many people believed diamonds could render all poisons harmless.


  • Linked to fertility, emerald was the birthstone of spring and was frequently worn by women to ease childbirth. It was also used to stifle an epileptic fit.


  • Attributed to the Goddess Venus, pearls are a symbol of innocence.
  • Alexandrite was used by people recovering from surgery or a prolonged illness, specifically of the spleen and pancreas.


  • Historically, rubies are associated with royalty and power. They were thought to prevent the loss of blood, strengthen the heart and were even used as an antidote to poison.


  • In the past, peridot was used to cure liver disease, free the mind of envious thoughts and to dispel night terrors.


  • Sapphire is associated with the eye and the sky, so it was thought that sapphires enabled the wearer to read the future. It was also believed that sapphires render black magic harmless and help the wearer discern falsehood and guile.


  • Opal is said to provide great luck and increase self-esteem because it possesses virtues of all the stones whose colors appear within it.
  • Tourmaline has been said to keep the digestive system healthy, to strengthen teeth and bones and to soothe stress.


  • In the Middle Ages, It was believed that topaz healed physical and mental disorders and prevented death.
  • Citrine used to be carried for protection against snake venom and evil thoughts.


  • Tanzanite was worn by new mothers to ensure healthy lives for their children.
  • In ancient times, zircons were used to restore appetite, induce sleep and protect against lightning.
Pictures from www.windsun.com, www.parentwellbeing.com and www.pricescope.com.

March 25, 2010

Origin of Birthstones

Posted in Gemstones, Gifts, Jewelry History tagged , , , at 6:55 pm by garwoodsgal

We all have a birthstone, yet most of us don’t have any idea why.

It is believed that birthstones originated during the time of Moses, because it was at his command that the breast plate of Aaron, a high priest, be made with 12 colors representing the 12 tribes of Israel.

People soon wanted to own the 12 stones of the sacred breast plate and began wearing one gemstone per month. This practice soon changed as people desired individuality. They began wearing only the gemstone associated with their birth month, thus creating “birthstones.”

It was believed that each birthstone represented a magical power such as protecting the wearer in battle, ensuring fertility, aiding in sleep and preventing drunkenness.

If you don’t know what your birthstone is or want to know someone else’s, check out the list below.

  • January: Garnet
  • February: Amethyst
  • March: Aquamarine
  • April: Diamond
  • May: Emerald
  • June: Pearl or Alexandrite
  • July: Ruby
  • August: Peridot
  • September: Sapphire
  • October: Opal or Pink Tourmaline
  • November: Golden Topaz or Citrine
  • December: Tanzanite or Blue Zircon

Our next post will include information about each birthstone — including some of the funny reasons people used gemstones.

March 12, 2010

507-carat Rough Diamond

Posted in Diamonds, Jewelry History tagged , , , , at 11:30 pm by garwoodsgal

We subscribe to many jewlery industry magazines, journals and newsletters. One of my favorites is National Jeweler, because they often have stories about rare and unusual gemstones and jewelry.

In February they wrote about the 507-carat Cullinan rough diamond, which was unearthed last September in South America by Petra Diamonds Ltd., a London-based mining company.

Dubbed the “Cullinan Heritage,” the diamond rough weighs exactly 507.5 carats and looks a bit like a large (oddly-shaped) chicken egg.

Petra sold the diamond to a Hong-Kong jewelry company for $35.3 million, the highest sale price ever recorded for a rough diamond. In a press release to National Jeweler, Petra said it doesn’t yet know what the buyer, Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Company Ltd., plans to do with the rough.

“According to the release, the price achieved for the Cullinan Heritage is a reflection of the incredible rarity of the diamond in terms of size as well as color and clarity,” the NJ article states. The rough sold for a little less than $70,000 per carat.

This diamond is the 19th largest piece of rough ever unearthed. The Cullinan mine has been the source of many other spectacular diamonds, including the largest gem-quality rough diamond in history. It was called the “Cullinan” and weighed an incredible 3,106 carats — imagine what that looks like in your hand! 
To read the full National Jeweler article, visit http://www.nationaljewelernetwork.com/njn/content_display/diamonds/pricing/e3i7f27204a864d83e7eecfcc08d4a6dd83.

Photo from www.idexonline.com portrays Petra CEO Johan Dippenaar holding the Cullinan Heritage.

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