Monthly Archives: June 2017

Guide to Choosing the Right Gemstones for your Jewelry

When buying gemstones for jewelry, it isn’t always about getting the right color of stone per se, though color certainly is one of the most important deciding factors. Since the gemstones and jewelry you are going to choose to buy and wear are going to reflect your personality and fashion style, here are some points to consider that will help guide you in choosing the right gemstones for your custom jewelry.

Durability and Wearability

Most people misinterpret the meaning of durability when it comes to gemstones for jewelry. Often, durability and wearability are gauged solely by level of hardness. Although hardness can be indicative and often coincides with gem durability and wearability, this is not always the case. Gemstone hardness only measures resistance to scratches – and not resistance to fracturing, crumbling, parting, crazing (drying) or even denting. Some hard gemstones are actually quite fragile, due to perfect cleavage, and can be easily split by a single blow. Such gems include diamond and topaz. Yet, some gem types that are actually softer according to the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, are considered quite durable, like nephrite and jadeite. The overall toughness, durability and wearability of gemstones for jewelry is measured by several factors, including hardness, cleavage, fracture, tenacity and sensitivity.


For those without a budget, natural and untreated gemstones are the best choice. The term “natural” applies to gems that can be found in an untreated, unenhanced state. However, since most people are working with a budget and usually do not hold any strong objections to the concept of enhanced gems, choosing treated or enhanced gemstones can cut costs without sacrificing the look of the finished design. So, if you do not have a strong opinion against treated gemstones, these offer a much larger selection. This is partly because many of the most popular jewelry gemstones available today simply cannot be found untreated, including blue zircon and London blue topaz, both of which obtain their color through routine treatments.


It is important to ask yourself, how your gemstone jewelry will be worn – occasionally, frequently, or daily. White diamonds, which are most commonly worn in engagement and bridal jewelry can be worn in just about every scenario and matched with every type of fashion trend. Though many types of colored stones may not be as versatile as white diamonds, colored gemstone jewelry can be custom-designed to accommodate versatility. When shopping for the right gemstone for your jewelry, versatility may be important if you plan to wear your jewelry often. Choose versatile gemstones if you plan to invest in jewelry that you want to wear often. Selecting several different colored gemstone jewelry styles will ensure that color of your stone will always suit your attire. Some examples of extremely versatile gems include varieties of sapphire, tourmaline, garnet and spinel, as well as pastel colored stones like aquamarine and kunzite.


Some colored stones are simply so rare, that no matter how hard you look, you may not be able to find the size or shape you need. Availability may also affect the way you purchase the gemstone for your jewelry. Common gem types such as amethyst and citrine can usually be found even in small ‘mom and pop’ jewelry stores, while other lesser-known gems will likely need to be sourced from overseas online suppliers.

Many types of gemstones may be limited to certain sizes or weights. In most cases, certain gem types will only be available in small sizes, but there are a handful of gems known to be available only in large sizes as well, such as ametrine. This type of bicolor quartz is rarely found in gems weighing less than 5 carats, since cutting it down any smaller could reduce or even eliminate its attractive colors. Other gems such as alexandrite and demantoid garnet are extremely rare in large sizes. The availability of such gems makes it very hard to source large center stones for jewelry, but for smaller accent stones, alexandrite and demantoid garnet are absolutely ideal.

When it comes to large green centerstones, there are more varied options, which include chrysoberyl, emerald, tourmaline and sapphire. With regard to sapphire, we have often been asked by clients to find them an unheated 20 carat Ceylon sapphire for their custom jewelry design. To put this into perspective, the fact that the Prince William’s wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, wears a Ceylon sapphire of only 12 carats in her royal engagement ring, makes the chances of non-noble folks obtaining a substantially larger sapphire slim to none. The availability of natural gems is decreasing by the day.

There are several other factors to consider when buying gems for jewelry, including the quality of cut, color and clarity of the gemstones themselves. However, we hope this article will at least help steer you in the right direction and get you to consider to some important points before you start shopping for your next jewelry project. When it is time to choose the right gemstones to meet your needs, we hope this article can be of help.

Palladium for expensive jewelry

Many people think of gold as the most precious metal. It may be the most traditional precious metal, but it’s not the most valuable. Platinum is almost twice as expensive as gold, currently selling at today’s rate well over $1,700 per troy ounce, compared to about $900 per ounce for gold. Rhodium, an even rarer metal, was selling at prices as high as $9,000 per ounce in 2008.

With the popularity of white metals in jewelry during the last ten years, platinum became the metal of choice for high end jewelry, particularly wedding bands. Colored gemstones such as ruby, sapphire, tanzanite, spinel and tourmaline, look stunning when set in white metal. But in recent years, platinum has risen dramatically in price. In January 2007, platinum was trading at around $1,100 per ounce. By January 2008, it had risen above $1,500 per ounce and went as high as $2,200 in March 2008 before falling to around $1,700.

The high price of platinum has led jewelers to recommend another member of the platinum group to their customers; palladium. Palladium is not as dense as platinum and has a lower melting point. But like platinum, it is tarnish resistant, electrically stable and resistant to corrosion, as well as intense heat.

Palladium has been used as a precious metal in jewelry since 1939, as an alternative to platinum or white gold. This is due to its natural white color, which eliminates the need for rhodium plating. It is slightly whiter, substantially lighter but about 12% harder than platinum. It is also considerably cheaper, selling at around $380 per ounce.

One of the unique properties of palladium is its ability to absorb hydrogen. When at room temperature and exposed to atmospheric pressure, palladium can absorb up to 900 times its own volume of hydrogen. Over half of the supply of palladium and its sister metal, platinum, goes into catalytic converters for automobiles, which convert up to 90% of harmful gases from auto exhausts (hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide) into less harmful substances (nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water vapor).

Palladium bullion has been assigned ISO currency codes of XPD and 964. It is one of only four metals to have such codes, the others being gold, silver and platinum. Palladium was discovered by William Hyde Wollaston in 1803. In 2005, Russia was the top producer of palladium, with at least a 50% world share, followed by South Africa, the USA and Canada.

Maori Jade Jewelry that step

 The Maori are people of east Polynesian descent who have lived in New Zealand for centuries and developed their own unique culture. The Maori settled in New Zealand long before the arrival of Europeans, who brought great change and upheaval to the Maori people.

The Maori people made use of materials they call pounamu and tangiwai for weapons and decorations. Pounamu typically refers to nephrite jade, which is classified according to its appearance. For example, translucent to opaque, pearly-white or grayish-green pounamu is termed inanga pounamu. The name is derived from a freshwater fish that has a similar appearance. The most highly desired and rarest is kahurangi pounamu, which has a high level of translucency and a vivid green color. Tangiwai usually refers to bowenite, which is a compact variety of serpentine. In English, both pounamu and tangiwai are given the general term “greenstone”.

Some of the earliest known Maori decorations were reels, which were likely worn as necklaces and made from bone or stone. Also worn were whale teeth or carved replicas shaped like whale teeth, V-shaped pendants and discs decorated with designs such as fish. These were typically made from whale bone, shark teeth, whale teeth or shells.

The discovery of New Zealand nephrite and serpentine came later for the Maori people; around one thousand years ago. These materials were used to make tools, weapons and decorations. It is said that the Maoris valued pounamu due to its attractive appearance, strength and durability. In fact, in 1870 when gold was to be mined in Coromandel, a prominent Maori called Te Otatu made the following remark, “Let the gold be worked by the white men. It was not a thing known to our ancestors. My only treasure is the pounamu“. The greenstone was so treasured that its sources caused conflict between Maori tribes.

There are a variety of Maori motifs used for carved greenstone pendants. Fish hooks or hei matau are one design, which are said to bring luck, prosperity and promote safe water travel. Whales and dolphins are also important symbols, said to offer protection. Additionally, dolphins represent friendship. Koru resemble the spiral or curl of an unfurling fern frond and are thought to symbolize growth and new life. Circles and single twists are thought to symbolize eternity, whereas double or triple twists generally mean the joining together of people. A teardrop shape, known as roimata is believed to represent comfort. Also used as pendants are koropepe; an eel-like fish, and various mythical creatures.

An important Maori jewelry item is a pendant known as hei tiki or simply tiki (see top image). Tiki is the name assigned to all human figures and hei is the word for an object that hangs from the neck. These are carvings in the form of a human that are worn by women and men. They are often passed down through generations. The significance of tiki is not clear. Various theories state that the tiki could be the first man, known as Tiki, or perhaps be a human embryo, symbol of fertility or an amulet to promote safe childbirth. It is believed by some that a hei tiki can help a woman to conceive. Tiki can be female or sexless and the earliest ones were made from bone, wood or ivory. Later, tiki were made from mostly nephrite jade.

Maori people also wore a variety of ear ornaments. Some of these were long, straight polished greenstone pendants or pendants which were bent at the end. Others were drop-shaped. Also worn were rings, hooks, teeth or feathers.

The unique history of the Maori people is integral to the history of New Zealand and pounamu is an important part of Maori culture. To this day, there is a prominent Maori population in New Zealand, who continue to practice and preserve their traditions, including the carving of their treasured pounamu or greenstone.

The Secrets of Worldwide Jewelry Retailer

In every industry, there will always be some insider secrets, and the gem and jewelry industry is no exception. Of course, ethical jewelers and jewelry retailers will tell the truth when asked about their products (if they know the answer), but it’s up to you, the consumer, to ask the right questions to ensure you’re getting what you expect and what you’ve paid for. Like the chef’s special sauce, some things are best kept a secret.

Fluctuating prices

Most jewelers update their prices daily to reflect the current market prices for gold and jewelry, including diamonds and precious metals. This means the price you found yesterday in their store may very well change by the time you actually go the cashier. This is fair when it comes to diamonds, since they are usually custom ordered at the time of sale, but when it comes to gold and precious metals, daily fluctations in market prices shouldn’t affect retail prices for consumers instantaneously, especially when the item is already in stock.

Most jewelry retailers won’t reveal that market prices for gold, silver and other precious metals take up to 8 months before they impact the selling price for consumers. And most won’t tell you whether prices will be lower tomorrow based on market trends. The jewelry on display in-store was most likely purchased months or even years ago – at a locked price. Despite this, many retailers will still update prices based on the gram weight of precious metal in their items. This is why a $1,000 ring today may cost you $1,100 tomorrow.

Diamonds and Gemstones

Diamond and other gemstone suppliers are required to disclose any gem treatments or enhancements made to their gems before selling them to jewelers and resellers. The open disclosure policy has become an industry standard, so much so, that suppliers who do not disclose treatments or enhancements prior to offering them for sale are frowned upon and branded as unethical or cheaters.

However, this is not the case for the jewelry retailer. On the retailer’s end, most jewelry is often sold without disclosing any of these details to the consumer. In fact, do you ever recall a retailer asking you if you would be interested in purchasing an “irradiated Swiss blue topaz pendant” – or perhaps an “18K beryllium-heated sapphire ring”? Indeed, many of the gems shown in stores today have been treated to improve color, clarity and sometimes even size, but most retailers won’t tell you this unless you ask them. It may be in the small print if you read carefully. Even routine gem treatments such as oiling (emerald) or heating (ruby and sapphire) are usually handled with a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. However, in the end most consumers don’t mind as long as the jewelry item can be appraised for the price they’ve paid, or sometimes more.

Virtual Inventory

Most consumers have no idea that the diamonds offered for sale are not actually available for immediate sale. In fact, that very same stone you’ve been contemplating is likely featured on hundreds of other jewelers’ websites, and depending on individual mark-ups, it can be listed at different prices too. Why? Because it would be far too costly for jewelry retailers to keep thousands of diamonds in stock. And if they did have thousands of diamonds in stock, even big chain stores would take several years to rid them from their inventory and earn a profit. This is why jewelers and retail stores use a shared virtual inventory.

Diamond suppliers upload availability information to a centralized feed, removing and adding items as they’re bought and sold. The database is accessible to thousands of jewelry trade members from all over the world. This virtual stock system is good for both jewelers and suppliers. It is important to always check and compare prices before buying jewelry, because that same gem is likely priced lower somewhere else. Most consumers have the assumption that the best prices are found at big name stores because they sell in volume, but in many cases, smaller, independent jewelry stores will offer better prices than chain stores. Also, most jewelers will happily haggle over prices and offer discounts, but only if you ask them.

In-store Warranties

Thinking about purchasing that extended warranty? Well, think twice. Almost every jewelry store will offer in-house warranties for their items, but at an added cost, sometimes amounting to several hundred dollars. Having an extended warranty often gives consumers a false feeling of full protection. In-house warranties are usually not worth the added costs. They may cover labor defects, but then again, you shouldn’t need a warranty for that. Most in-house warranties do not cover full loss, and chances are you won’t notice something wrong with your ring until it’s too late. Rather than purchasing a warranty, it is far better to cover your jewelry with homeowner or renter’s insurance because these policies often provide full coverage, so even if your jewelry is lost, damaged or stolen, you’re fully protected.

These are many other secrets of the trade, so the list certainly does not stop here. Always ask questions before buying, and buy from reputable sources. If you are buying anything expensive, ask your jeweler to put the details in writing along with the sales receipt. Important details include metal purity, metal weight, gemstone carat weight, and the diamond or gemstone grades if available. After buying expensive jewelry from one jeweler, you can always take the item to another jeweler from a different shop to provide you with an apprasial. The appraisal of value should be made by an independent accredited gemologist.