Category Archives: Gem Talk


In this issue I would like to discuss appraisals. This is often a very misunderstood and sometimes misused area of the jewelry industry, however when used correctly can be a very important tool for the consumer as well as the jeweler.

Many are not aware of the fact that jewelry actually increases in value over time, based on historical evidence over the past forty or more years. Should this trend continue, and I see no reason why it will not, it is my advice that your jewelry appraisals should be updated at least every two years. The purpose for this is to keep the replacement value, in the event of loss or damage, at the current market value. By doing this you will be protecting yourself from

inflation and market conditions that can fluctuate month to month at times. Let’s explore for a moment what a good appraisal should contain and it’s purpose:

– It’s purpose should be to identify the item in such a manner as to be able to rebuild the jewelry item , or replace it by listing it’s clarity, color, cut, carat weight and describe in detail the piece including it’s karat weight and quality. In many cases it is advisable to have a picture taken of the jewelry item to capture the details that may not be described completely. There are some fine professional cameras on the market today that take a one to one ratio picture. Ask your jeweler for this option and expect to pay a nominal fee for this service, of approximately $ 5.00. The fee for the appraisal should be based upon the time it takes to complete it and this can vary from store to store, however there should be no charge for items purchased from that store.

– The appraisal should be dated, signed and have a corresponding number associated with it. The original should remain in a safe place and a copy given to your insurance company at the time of scheduling a writer.

Another recommended suggestion is to mark your calendar one year from the date of scheduling to have the jewelry cleaned, inspected and the value updated by your professional jeweler. By doing this you will not only have your jewelry looking new again, but also find any wear or potential problems that can be corrected before they become a major concern, or loss. I would much rather see my clients spending their money on new beautiful jewelry rather than on repairs that may be avoided. If your jewelry hasn’t been inspected or the appraised value updated in the last two years your long overdue for this service, which we will gladly assist you with. It has been my experience too often seeing people be under the misconception that their jewelry is insured and then a loss occurs and they find that they have been underinsured. This results in them getting far less than what they originally had and in some cases merchandise that is totally unacceptable to them in quality or size, yet the limit of liability to the insurance company has been reached.

Remember, we live in a consumer beware society and the more informed you are the less likely you will be caught by any of these traps.

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Diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires, gold, platinum and silver; all of these items are beautiful, intriguing and mystifying to most of us, especially when we’re thinking of buying any of them. Beauty and intrigue is great; it’s the mystery part that can be scary, but not if you’re informed. Most of us have heard about the four C’s regarding diamonds, for example, yet how many of us really understand their meaning and application into the equation of value when purchasing a diamond? Let’s take a few moments to examine the 4 C’s.


A unit of measure to show the weight of gemstones. 1 carat is broken down to 100 smaller parts called points, thus 50 points is a half carat and 75 points is a 3/4 carat, etc…


Refers to the shape of a gemstone as well as the proportions. It is the proportions of a gemstone that gives the radiant beauty that we all look for and admire. This is a vital point that some merchants fail to explain to their customers, yet the cut affects the value of the gemstone by as much as 45% in diamonds. As a rule of thumb remember that if a diamond has a lot of sparkle or radiance, that means only one thing, it is well cut. This says nothing about any other aspect of the diamond and it should not be assumed that it is a fine

quality diamond with regards to clarity or color as you will see as you read on. A well proportioned diamond is one that will allow nearly all the light that enters it from the top to refract from the bottom, called the pavilion, to the top again as a rainbow of colors. A diamond that is too wide and shallow or too deep and narrow will not allow this refraction process to occur properly and the brilliance is reduced greatly also reducing the diamond’s value.


The clarity of a gemstone refers to the presence of imperfections that are visible by a trained professional using 10x magnification or visible without the need of any magnification at all. The ratings are as follows:

IF: Internally Flawless – no imperfections visible with 10x magnification, but external flaws may be present.

FL: Flawless – no imperfections visible with 10x magnification inside or outside.

VVSI-1/VVSI-2: Very Very Slightly Included – inclusions are extremely difficult to see using 10x magnification. VVSI-I is better than VVSI-2 quality.

VSI-1/VSI-2: Very Slightly Included – inclusions are difficult to see using 10x magnification.

SI-1/SI-2/SI-3: Slightly included – inclusions are easily seen with 10x magnification, however SI-1 and SI-2 are genuinely eye clean. SI-3 has inclusions that are visible to the naked eye only after knowing where the

imperfection is located using a 10x magnification first.

I-1/I-2/I-3: Imperfect – eye visible imperfections are easily seen with the naked eye.


Color refers to the actual physical color of the diamond. The best color is no color. A master color set is required to properly color grade diamonds, since subliminal differences can affect the price greatly. Color ratings are broken down into categories, which are further broken down into individual ratings or grades as follows:


Colorless D, E, F

Near Colorless G, H, I, J

Faint YellowK, L, M, N

Very Light Yellow O, P, Q, R

Light Yellow S thru Z

Fancy Colors, Intense yellows and any other color that occurs naturally. Diamonds are

available naturally in nearly all spectral colors.

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If you are like most red-blooded Americans today, you have access to the World Wide Web and you’re able to reach with the long arm of the Internet to speak to and e-mail people all over the globe. Well, along with the Internet and on-line accessibility comes a great wealth of knowledge as well as products you can purchase via auction sites and on-line purchasing. It is a veritable Pandora’s Box out there of limitless items ranging from the inexpensive to the most elaborate, most expensive items you can imagine – with pictures and audio to boot! But please remember, this is a buyer’s beware society. You are not dealing with national laws, this is global law and I don’t know if it is any different than buyer’s beware. Too often we hear of people buying jewelry on television or on auction sites on-line only to find that this “great deal” that they have gotten becomes no deal at all or just an outright scam. Taking that great deal that they have purchased and by bringing it into their jeweler, who tells them, “I am sorry, but this is fake” has broken many hearts. Depending upon the price paid, these words can be devastating.

There is no free lunch out there and we must remember that – no matter who you are buying from. Everyone can make his or her scam seem great. Don’t be taken in by ideas of getting something great for little or nothing. If you have done your homework, you will want to follow at least these steps:

Check out the website on a number of occasions and speak with people who have purchased from them. See what their physical address is and their phone number. Speak to someone to see if it is truly a business that is valid.

Check with the Better Business Bureau to see how long they have been in business and if they have any claims against them.

Correspond with the company in writing first. See if they respond to you on letterhead and find out the legitimacy of the organization.

If you insist on purchasing something, I suggest that you purchase something small and insignificant and have it checked out first. Build your way up to the larger purchase.

Please be careful when buying on-line and giving a credit card number. If it is not a secured line, you could be giving your credit card number and expiration date out, which is all that is needed (along with your name), to millions of people who might be able to intercept that transaction.

Use discretion when dealing with the company you are doing business with. Ask around to see if there is someone in your local area that has purchased with that company. When you correspond with the company, see if they will give you recommendations and letters of reference of people in your area that they are associated with. Investigate it by calling that client and seeing if they have been happy with their purchase and with the company itself.

Remember that price for a product is not always a good value. Value means quality, price, selection, and service. Are they willing to answer your questions and give you the service that you deserve? If you are made to feel uneasy about asking questions or if for any reason you feel that you are not the most important person to them, no matter the size of your purchase, my advice is go on to the next place or deal with someone locally who is accountable to you, the media, and others in your local area. I don’t mean to paint a grim picture, but I have seen many cases in which people have invested a lot of time and money to be let down. If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Many times these auction houses and on-line sites try to appeal to a person’s sense of greed by showing the finest product and delivering the least expensive product. If you want to learn more about a particular gemstone, check out our website and look through the issues of GemTalk at Buying online can be a pleasurable experience when you know what it is that you are

looking at and are aware of whom you are doing business with. And you know the value of the item you are purchasing. There are deals to be made where values can be, at times, exceptional. It is predominately a market and an arena where average products are being sold at average and above average prices. Remember that these are products that are generally available from other retailers of that market. It is truly rare that an item is available by way of the Internet only and by no other means. If you care to see the product before you buy, go to a local retailer who deals with that product. Remember, if you do find a good value and decide to purchase on-line, find out what your return privileges are. Ask the question, if it is not represented in the way that appeals to you, or if you feel led to believe that it was one quality and was a different quality of what you hoped or expected, what happens then? Ask the question before the transaction what the process will be for returns. And always be sure to get everything in writing. Remember that the lure of a great deal can sometimes be a snare. A good book I once read stated that there is safety in the multitude of council. Good advice, if you ask me.

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In this issue of GemTalk, let’s discuss custom designing and manufacturing of jewelry. Many clients who come through our doors ask us if we do custom work, having no idea what it entails to design a piece of jewelry or custom manufacture. They are usually intrigued when they hear about the process. So let’s discuss it a bit today.

There are multiple ways to custom manufacture a jewelry item. A goldsmith may prefer to manufacture a piece using the actual metals. By manipulating its shape, dimension, and thickness they can take ordinary gold wire or gold sheets (gold is very malleable) and manufacture a wonderfully beautiful creation. That is a process that takes a lot of skill and you must be a craftsman or an artisan to be able to do this. With some vision, it can really take shape. It is probably the oldest way of custom creating and it goes back even to the biblical days. When you look at Moses and the building of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, you can see that they would make items out of pure gold. The large items had to be made out of one large, solid piece of gold and be manipulated by their artisans.

Gold becomes less malleable once it is alloyed; this is because alloys are other metals added to the gold to make it harder or stronger. The higher the karat of gold, the more malleable it is. You can take a very small piece of pure gold and hammer it out to become a very thin, large sheet. This sheet can then be manipulated into the form that the artisan desires to make.

But the most common type of custom manufacturing work that is being done today is called the Lost Wax Investment or the Lost Wax Casting. This is where a prototype of the jewelry item that will be manufactured is first carved from a piece of wax; this could be a pendant, a ring, a bracelet, or even earrings. An exact duplicate of this item will first be carved from a piece of wax to scale. This takes the hands of an artist or artisan also; this is so that every detail will be finely matched in this wax prototype. This prototype will be put into a base called a sprue. It has a steel sleeve or collar put over it creating a three-sided cylinder with an opening at the top. The cylinder is then filled with a special plaster-like product called Satin Cast and is allowed to solidify.

Now the sprue that the wax was placed on has a hole that when it is removed, because it is made of rubber, we will have the steel cylinder, the wax prototype inside that hardened plaster, and the hole at the base. This hole allows the wax to dissipate out when it is placed into an oven. Depending upon the size of this cylinder, it can remain in the oven from 5 hours up to 12 hours on a graduating temperature scale. This graduating scale begins at 300F for 1 hour, slowly moving up to 700F for an hour, then up to 1350F-1500F (depending upon the piece) for 2 hours. At this temperature the entire piece becomes glowing whitehot. The wax (obviously) has melted out and completely dissipated, including the gasses and other trace elements that may have been left behind at lower
temperatures. After 2 hours at 1350F to 1500F degrees, you then bring the temperature down to the casting temperature. This is going to be based upon the size of the item. If you have a filigree piece that is very fine and delicate work, you cast at a higher temperature so that your gold stays liquid and molten throughout the entire casting stage. If you have a heavier piece that is thicker in design, you will want to cast at a lower temperature so that the gold does not boil or bubble so that won’t create pits. In the filigree styles, we recommend casting at about 1000F. When doing heavier pieces, we recommend casting at about 850F – 950F. The gold is then put into a crucible that is then heated until it is molten. Gold, depending upon its karat, melts at approximately 1650F. Again, karatage does impact this. It can be at a lower temperature if it is a lower karatage.

Once gold has melted, it creates a mirror-like ball. When you have this mirrorlike ball in your crucible, you know it is free of debris and impurities that will cause problems when casting. And then you can use a vacuum-assist method or a centrifugal method. The centrifugal method is just as it sounds; it is a spring loaded, counter balanced weight that the machine, when it is released, literally spins the gold into cylinder by way of centrifugal, gravitational pull. Vacuum casting is a vacuum assist where the cylinder is placed on top of a vacuum device that draws the air through the porous plaster material. When you pour the molten gold into the hole, which was at the base but is now flipped upside down, the gold is allowed to fill the cavity, which was once filled with wax. In either situation, vacuum casting or centrifugal casting, the void is filled with the gold and you have an exact replica of the wax prototype that went in originally. After a period of waiting (several minutes), the cylinders are then quenched into water where the plaster will be removed and bathed in special solutions. The item is then ready to be cleaned and polished. This is a bit of an oversimplified explanation of casting, but one that is usually very interesting to most of our clients. Once the original prototype has been manufactured in metal, it can then be cleaned and polished and have a rubber mold made. Once a rubber mold has been made, a wax prototype can be made by simply injecting the mold with molten wax, as opposed to having to re-carve a new wax.

I hope you benefit from this information. I would like to invite you to come and visit us here at MSG Jewelers, Inc. to find out more about this interesting subject of custom manufacturing. Have a safe and happy St. Patrick’s Day –
which just so happens to be my 44th birthday this year!

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I’d like to talk to you today about a gemstone you may have never heard of, but once you have seen it, you will want to treasure it and want to see it again and again. That gemstone is Chrome Diopside. Until recently, it was a gemstone that only collectors had heard of and rarely was it seen due to its’ scarcity. Chrome Diopside is a gemstone that typically originates from Russia, Finland, and many times in North America – mainly Canada – and sometimes in Kenya. But as the years have gone on and the stone has become more aloof than prevalent, we have found that Russia has become the primary source for the finer quality Chrome Diopsides. It is a gemstone that can be found in India and usually gives a four star appearance when cut into a cabochon shape (a smooth, non-faceted top). It’s been given its’ name from the Greek word “Diopsis” meaning, “to have a double appearance.” What this means is that it’s like some gemstones that from one angle give one color and from another angle can give off another color. Chrome Diopside is a gemstone that can rival a fine quality Tsavorite and even a fine quality Columbian Emerald in beauty and intensity of shade. Though it is rare, especially in larger sizes, it is typically rather inexpensive in comparison to Tsavorite or Emeralds due to its’ lack of hardness. On the Mohs Scale of 5-6, similar to that of Opal, we find that Chrome Diopside is a gemstone that is typically suited for pendant and earring wear, but as Opal is put into rings and other jewelry items, Chrome Diopside can have the same occurrence in jewelry, but it needs a little tender loving care.

There are as many as twenty known regions that Chrome Diopside has been found including Madagascar, Austria, and Italy. However, it’s rarer to find them in these regions. Chrome Diopside became increasingly more difficult to find in the late 1980’s and in the early 1990’s, due to the Russian strike in 1987. As a result of its borderline jewelry status, you see, until a mine or an output of gemstones reaches 15,000 to 20,000 carats of faceted cut stones per year, it is generally considered only an investors stone and not given jewelry grade or jewelry status. You will generally find Chrome Diopside to be cut in 50% oval cabochon stones (smooth, non-faceted tops) and 50% faceted and calibrated – meaning that they are 8 x 6 mm or 10 x 8 mm, etc., the appropriate sizes to put into a standard size jewelry item. But don’t expect to see mass marketing of this specialized gemstone. Better to find faceted stones of 2 to 5 carats are currently selling at under $200 per carat, but they are somewhat difficult to find. Chrome Diopside gemstones of 10 and 15 carats are very difficult and next to impossible to find. Even when you can find larger stones, the color can be too dark. And because it is a very brittle stone, when cutting or faceting the gemstone, sometimes the production level is only at 6% of the rough overall weight. Which means we have a 94% loss at times in the rough. So, with as little as 6% of the gemstone making it into the jewelry marketplace, you can see that it is a fairly rare gemstone. The price would normally be through the roof for a stone of this caliber and rarity. However, because it is a soft stone, suppliers are more willing to allow it to reach the open market at a reasonable price.

Diopside can also be found, besides its green color, in yellow and reddishbrown colors and was generally considered a collector’s gem until recently. You may have seen on QVC or in the Sharper Image, and maybe some specialty stores, Chrome Diopside being advertised. However, it is generally in smaller sizes, typically called “mellee.”

So if you are a person born in the month of May and emerald is your birthstone (and you don’t like the milky colors or the expensive price of the quality goods, and have thought of going to a chrome tourmaline, jade or some other green gemstone) you may not have found a stone as pleasing to your pocketbook and as well as to your eye as Chrome Diopside.

Come over to MSG Jewelers, Inc. and let us show you a beautiful selection of fine quality Chrome Diopside. I believe you will be glad you did.

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Many of us purchase beautiful diamonds at considerable cost and rarely do we learn how to properly care for them. We may have been told that diamonds are the hardest element known to man, giving us a false sense of security regarding proper care. It is true that no other element known to man can scratch a diamond except for another diamond, however this by no means is saying that a diamond cannot be chipped or broken.

Proper care of a diamond is fairly simple and straight forward. It takes a little TLC. Allow me to elaborate here for a moment. As mentioned earlier, diamonds are the hardest element known to man according to the MOHS Scale, which rates the scratchability of an item by other items on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the hardest. Diamonds have a rating of 10 on the MOHS Scale, thus we have the misconception of so many who believe a diamond cannot be broken. Nothing can be further from the truth, as is witnessed by many jewelers when we see the horror on our clients’ faces after telling them their diamond is damaged or broken.

To avoid this from happening to you, follow these simple guidelines:

1. Remove any pronged jewelry when going to sleep at night. The constant abrasion of the sheets and pillow cases for 8 hours or more per night every night of your life against the gold prongs that secure your gemstones will cause those prongs to become thin and fragile, which can result in easy breakage to the prongs or the loss of the gemstone if impacted. You may be thinking that linen is softer than gold and this makes sense on the surface, however a very gradual erosion takes place over a period of time that is definite and costly when left unattended. Should you be in a situation where your prongs are worn or damaged, a simple process called retipping is available which will replace the worn gold on the tips of the prongs

2. Doing manual labor with jewelry on is not recommended. When working in the garden or other areas where your jewelry is susceptible to abrasion, the risk is much greater that damage will occur without your knowledge. In the normal course of your everyday life you tend to work within a certain sphere that is at times interfered without your being aware of it, such as when you look at your watch and find paint scratched on the crystal. For this reason it is recommended that rings be removed prior to doing manual labor type jobs.

3. Doctors and nurses should take note that gloves are a cause of many lost diamonds due to the wear that occurs to the prongs from wearing and removing surgical type gloves. Gloves of any type are damaging to prongs, but surgical type gloves are especially bad because of their snug fit and constant donning and removing. It is highly recommended that in this situation a ring without gemstones be worn as a replacement. For example, in the case of a diamond wedding ring you can wear a plain band.

4. When putting a ring on or taking it off, rather than using the gemstones as a point of leverage to hold on to, secure the ring from the sides of the shank and remove or push on the ring. This will greatly enhance the longevity of the prongs as well as extend the time between cleanings, since the oil from your fingers will not be touching the stone, which collects the grime in the air and causes the stone to lose its brilliance until it is cleaned again. Touching the gemstone generally dulls the stone by changing the refraction of light due to the oil that is deposited on it from your hands. This is totally eliminated when the ring is cleaned, or by not touching the stone in the first place. Constant touching of the prong area will also cause the prongs to wear down.

5. Swimming with rings on is also not recommended due to the fact that when in the water your hands will shrink in size and the ring can slip off, never to be seen again. The chlorine in commercial pools can have an adverse effect on the gold, causing it to tarnish or react in some other detrimental way.

6. Knowledge of correct cleaning techniques is important; many times damage is done during the cleaning process by those who are unfamiliar with proper cleaning procedures. When cleaning your diamond jewelry it is recommended that you use a nonabrasive cleaner such as toothpaste or a commercial product that is available through retail outlets. When cleaning, always stop up the sink area being used and if a brush is needed use a soft bristle brush allowing the tips of the bristles to do the work. Do not scrub the jewelry with the brush. This could cause the bristles to lodge under prongs and loosen the diamonds or remove them completely. When jewelry is extremely dirty we recommend allowing our professionals to do the job thoroughly and safely with the proper equipment available at our store. Print out this article and bring it in to receive free cleaning and inspection of your fine jewelry items at MSG Jewelers.

We hope that this article has shed some light on the care that is necessary to keep your diamonds in good condition and when it is appropriate not to wear them at all. Please feel free to call MSG Jewelers with any questions you may have.

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In this article we will discuss the cost of diamonds and how a price is arrived at, based upon quality.

Let’s review for just a moment. Previously, we spoke about the 5 C’s – Carat weight, Cut, Color, Clarity, and Care.

Carat: 100 points = a carat.

Cut: refers to the shape as well as the proportions of the diamond. Color: the degree of white or yellow in a diamond. 

Clarity: refers to the type and number of inclusions in a diamond. 

Care: The normal maintenance necessary to correctly clean and preserve diamonds.

With the above information in mind, we may now proceed to the 6th “C” – the Cost. It is our opinion that, when purchasing a diamond, the price is only one factor to be examined and does not reflect the actual cost of the diamond by itself; by this we mean that in order to receive a good value, you must consider some additional factors such as quality, selection, and service. These four must be present in order to truly receive a good value.

First of all, let’s look at cost and how we apply a value to a diamond. The diamond industry is an ever-changing marketplace that is based upon supply and demand. The DeBeers family controls the world market of jewelry grade diamonds. From the mines where they are dug to the jewelry stores that sell them, and everywhere in between, the DeBeers family has an involved hand. The rough (uncut raw mined) diamond is sold to sight holders (diamond cutters who are invited to purchase) who then examine the stone to find the optimum weight and/or cut that can be achieved from the rough stone. They then cut the stone into a faceted diamond and sell it to a wholesaler, or possibly a retail jeweler. It is possible for this diamond to be sold several times before it reaches a retail store.

The retailer buys these polished diamonds based upon the current market value, usually from New York dealers who have outlets in Israel, Belgium, Russia, or India. If there are many calls for a certain size, shape, or quality diamond, the price from the dealers will go up as the supply goes down. The trend over the last several decades has proven that diamonds do appreciate in value. Most retailers also subscribe to trade publications which give them a basis to go on for pricing. Ultimately the price for a diamond may not vary greatly in actual cost from one dealer to another; it is the margin that a retailer is making that can make the real difference, when all things being considered are equal. This is why it is so important to consider the other factors besides just price.

Quality is so important when purchasing a diamond. Most people buy diamonds and know little to nothing about the diamond they are buying. The 4 “C’s” are important to understand, but you must also be able to apply them to your purchase. Your salesperson should be knowledgeable about all aspects of diamonds and be willing to point each characteristic of the 4 C’s out to you. Once you have identified each of the 4 C’s as your salesperson has described it and proven it to you, you will then truly know the quality of the diamond you are considering. If the quality is not proven, then one leg of this value is possibly broken and that is all that is needed to destroy the good value you may think you are receiving.

Selection is a self-explanatory aspect to deal with here, however let’s speak briefly on it. In order for you to know what is available in this expansive, changing market of jewelry, it is imperative that you know the options

available, so as not to find out too late that there is something you like better available elsewhere. We recommend shopping around, or working with a jeweler who will present all the options in which you may be interested. Without this benefit, you may soon regret your purchase, or wonder if you bought the right piece.

It is our opinion that the final factor to be presented here is the most important of all, and that is SERVICE. We define service as the time, attention, knowledge, and concern for the client – before, during, and after the sale – that the client needs or believes to be necessary and is of eminent importance. Service is what separates the winners from the losers. It shows you care and are interested in more than just a one-time deal. If service is lacking at any time in any transaction, simply remember how hard you worked for that money and spend it with someone who is considerate of that fact.

Let’s take a moment and consider a scenario where one of these factors is missing from the equation, to see if a good really does equal quality, selection, price, and service:

You’re shopping at your favorite mall and see a sale sign at a jeweler, so you go in and the salesperson greets you, and tells you about their specials. As you browse around, you see a ring you like, and purchase it after finding out the quality and price. The selection is to your liking, so you feel comfortable with your decision, but you don’t know this store or the person with whom you are dealing. You’re buying impulsively because there is a very special event coming up next week and you’d love to show off your new purchase. The ring needs to be sized to fit you and you mention to the salesperson that you MUST have it back no later than Friday at 2:00 PM. Well, Friday comes, and 2:00 PM comes and goes, and your ring is not ready. You wait patiently yet anxiously for your beautiful ring to show off at the big event tonight. Unfortunately, your ring is misplaced in the repair shop file and it doesn’t arrive to you in time for your big event. You’re upset, but you want that ring. You are told that your ring will be ready first thing Monday morning, so you jump in your car and arrive at the store as it opens, only to be let down again with another excuse. Your patience is wearing thin, but you agree to pick it up tomorrow. Tuesday comes and you call to hear that it’s done. You run to the store to pick up your beautiful ring and the size is wrong, or maybe this time it’s fine, but when you wear the ring a few times the diamonds come loose or fall out, even though you took all the right precautions. The ring is found to be faulty, so you march back to the store to get some satisfaction, only to find that the nice salesperson is not so anxious to wait on you now, and leaves you hanging for awhile. You like the ring, so you try to endure. Finally, your endurance pays off and you speak to him, and he, somewhat reluctantly, takes your ring in for repair, but only after trying to sell you on something else first.

This scenario can go on and on, and some of you may say it can’t happen, but many of you have experienced it first hand. The point is, had you bought this ring at a store where you received the service you deserve, you probably would have had a much more pleasant experience, even if the unlikely circumstances we spoke of here really had happened. We all have had times when we wished we had bought somewhere else, and probably would have paid more to receive the value we expected in the first place.

Please remember the value equation: Value = Quality, Selection, Price, and Service.

If one of these factors is missing from your next purchase, keep on looking until you find the right place. In the long ran, you’ll be glad you did. Should you have any questions regarding this article or any jewelry needs, please feel free to call Mike George at MSG Jewelers at (314) 353-9488.

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In this article we will be discussing emeralds, the birthstone for those born in the month of May. Emeralds are minerals that come from the mineral known as beryl (pronounced barrel). It has a color range from light green to dark green and at times bluish green depending on how much chromium is in the stone. It is this chromium that gives the emerald its rich green color and its value.

There are many legends about emeralds – in the Babylonian days it stood for fertility; in 18th century Europe it was thought to soothe eye fatigue and when placed under the tongue was thought to give the bearer the ability to see in the future. It was worn for strength and memory enhancement as well as to ward off evil spirits. Emeralds also were used to reveal the truth about love.

Emeralds are also used as the 20th and 45th wedding anniversary gifts. Known as a soft stone, it has a 7.5 – 8 hardness rating on the MOHS scale, but has a toughness rating of “poor” which means that it cannot withstand impact very well. Remember that hardness refers to scratchability of one element to another. In caring for your emerald jewelry it is important to note that sudden temperature changes, harsh chemicals, and ultrasonics can damage them. It is the opinion of this author to allow a professional jeweler to clean your emerald items when they are in need to minimize your risk. Additional factors to consider are the enhancements done to improve the appearance of emeralds. In most cases, and up to 95% of the time, emeralds are enhanced by oiling them with a colorless oil such as mineral oil. This process evens out the color of a heavily fractured or included stone, however caution should be taken when purchasing an oiled emerald due to the fact that the oiling process is not a permanent process and may bleed out of the stone eventually revealing the fractures or inclusions it was initially enhanced to cover up.

This oiling process is very well accepted as an enhancement in the jewelry industry even though it is not a permanent process. Sunlight as well as the above mentioned care precautions are the main reason for problems with this enhancement process. When properly cared for, most emeralds will not display any problems due to oiling.

Emeralds are predominantly found in Colombia-South America, Zambia, Brazil, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Russia, and Australia, with the finest quality emeralds coming from Colombia’s Mute Mine. This mine has produced the finest quality emeralds the world has known for the last 400 years. Many men have staked their claim and worked day after day in the hopes of striking it rich in the Black Soot Fields of South America only to find that their efforts have earned them a meager income at best. Less than two years ago due to torrential rains, a mud slide occurred that was drastically close to this mine. Had the huge mud slide found its way to the Mute Mine we would have seen the price of fine Colombian emeralds soar overnight. The potential damage that could have occurred would have been devastating to the mine itself as well as the industry in general. We in the business thank God that He spared us from this terrible calamity and loss of such beauty.

When purchasing fine quality emerald jewelry look for well cut stones that are not too deep or too shallow. Inclusions are normally eye visible in emeralds and it is not unusual to purchase them this way, noting that eye clean gems are much more expensive. There is s three type inclusion in emeralds that proves its authenticity. The three phase inclusion consists of liquid, gas, and solid type inclusions. If one of these inclusion types is not found in a stone you are considering it is quite possible it is a created emerald or simulated stone of lesser value and should be investigated further by a professional to determine its true value and whether or not it meets your purchasing requirements. Remember the difference between synthetic and simulated is that synthetic is identical chemically to the natural, and simulated is man made of totally unrelated materials that only look like the natural. It is best to stay away from gemstones that are heavily included, opaque, heavily fractured, or pale in color. These characteristics greatly effect the overall value of the emerald and should be carefully considered before buying.

This green species of beryl is generally cut in round, oval, and emerald shapes and only occasionally seen in pear or marquise cuts due to the difficulty of cutting these shapes.

The price of emeralds varies greatly based upon place of origin, clarity, and intensity of color. Colombian stones of a carat or more can easily sell for several thousand dollars and gem quality can exceed ten thousand dollars per carat.

If you are considering a fine quality emerald and find the price to be more than your budget will allow, consider investing in a Chatham created emerald rather than lowering the quality standards you have set. A Chatham emerald is chemically identical to the natural emeralds mined in the ground. Through many years of research, the Chatham Company has been able to create beautiful Colombian color emeralds. The size and clarity are still the product of nature during the growing process, but a fine quality Chatham emeralds will cost significantly less and look as good as any natural stone as well as carry a lifetime replacement guarantee. The logical comparison for the lab created gemstones we are speaking of here would be pearls. Cultured pearls differ from natural pears in that man intervenes in the production of cultured pearls, and the natural pearl is made through an accident that occurs naturally. The result is a pearl that has a nucleus of nacre (the pearl’s natural covering) and the cultured pearl has a nucleus of glass or porcelain inlaid by man to speed up the process. Either way you have a beautiful gemstone that takes a professional, and at times special equipment to determine whether it is natural or lab created.

For more information on this, or for questions regarding any of your jewelry concerns call us at (314) 353-9488.

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In this article, I would like to talk to you about Garnets – the gemstone for those born in the month of January, but also a very diverse stone. Most people have seen Garnet in its most popular color, which is an orangey-brown. It is called a Mozambique Garnet for that is where it is predominantly mined. However, Garnets do come in just about every other color of the rainbow, except for blue. There are Pyrope Garnets that are an amazing red color almost giving the appearance of being a ruby. You may also be familiar with the Rhodolite Garnet that has more of a lavender shade or a deep, intense purpleviolety shade. The term Rhodolite comes from the Greek word “Rhodo” meaning rose, and “Lithos” meaning stone. Thus we have Rhodolite. And Rhododendron is the actual term we have from the color of the Garnet when it was found in North Carolina. The Rhodolite Garnet typically hails from Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, and India. The Pyrope Garnet is found in the United States in Utah and Arizona. And you may not have heard of the Tsavorite Garnet. It is a stone that was introduced into jewelry back in the mid to later 1970’s from Tiffany and Company. The Tsavorite Garnet comes from Tanzania and Kenya. It is a very rare gemstone and is not typically found very frequently in 3-carat sizes or larger of fine gem quality. An interesting tidbit about Garnets is that the Asiatic tribes believed that a gemstone that had a blood red color would inflict a wound that would be very deadly, even more so than a lead bullet. So, they used to use the Garnet in place of bullets when they were in battle expecting that they would be even more deadly to their adversaries.

A green species of Garnet that is very rare is the Demantoid Garnet. Generally found in only very small sizes, the Demantoid is a beautiful shade of forest green. It has a horsetail like inclusion, which makes it identifiable over Tsavorite or other green gemstones such a Tourmaline. Garnet was given its name from the Latin word “granitas” meaning “like seeds.” And this is derived when it is mined as it grows in a cluster-like rough, which appears to be like pomegranate seeds. If you are one who enjoys the Victorian Era, you will have notice that Garnets were used very extensively and have been made popular as a gemstone during that time. But you will find that Garnets were used as a gemstone and in jewelry long before the time of Christ. In fact, in earlier civilizations, they called Garnet or any other red gemstone “carbuncle.” It is a type of gemstone that the ancients thought would cure fever and would keep you in good health. It was supposed to protect the wearer while traveling and produce a calming influence and remove danger when you were wearing it.

Although Garnet is a fairly hard gemstone, it can be abraded fairly easily and should be treated with care. Ultrasonic and steam cleaners are not generally recommended for Garnets. In fact, we recommend for home cleaning that you use toothpaste and warm water. It will clean off any oil or debris that may be attached to the gemstone and by rinsing in warm water will bring the back the Garnet’s beauty and luster.

For the football enthusiast out there who will be watching the Superbowl in January, you may want to consider getting a Garnet for your loved one before the big game. This will insure you great snacks, plenty of comfort and rest while watching the game, and few to no interruptions. Take my word for it, this is advice that works!

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Gold is a universally accepted commodity that was once used to back our economy. It is a precious metal that is formed deep within the earth and brought to the surface through volcanic eruptions or minded predominately in Africa, but also found in Russia and the USA as well as other nations.


Gold in its purest form is 24 karat. This is very soft and generally not recommended for use in jewelry. A process called alloying is used to strengthen gold. By blending other metals to gold such as copper, silver, nickel, and titanium, to mention a few, the hardness level will increase significantly. 21 karat Gold is 21 parts pure gold and 3 parts alloy; 18 karat gold is 18 parts pure gold and 6 parts alloy, while 10 karat gold is 41.67% gold and 58.334h alloy. To find the amount of pure gold in any karat of gold, simply divide the karat in question by 24 (pure gold) then multiply by 100 to receive the percentage of gold content.


The color of gold can be manipulated from yellow to white, green, blue, or pink simply by adding more of one alloy than another. For example, to achieve green gold, more silver is added to pure gold than copper. To make gold pink, copper is the only alloy needed. The color of gold generally does not affect its character except in white gold. Due to the alloys being used to make white gold, it has been found that the final product can be brittle and difficult to work with if exact standards for blending are not adhered to.


The cost of gold changes daily based upon the supply and demand of world markets as defined by the Second London Fix, which is a global stock market that the jewelry industry uses as its price standard for raw gold as well as finished jewelry items. Gold can be purchased in many forms, for example coins may be purchased and each coin type may have a different gold content. Maple leafs from Canada are 24 kt gold while American liberty coins are only 21 kt gold. The sale of these coins directly affects the economy of the country from which they originate. Gold is most often purchased in the form of rings, chains, earrings, and bracelets. Most of these jewelry items are manufactured in the US, however there are many other nations we import from such as Italian chains and rings from Hong Kong, Greece, and Thailand to name a few.


The care of gold is very important to keep its beauty and luster, yet it is fairly easy to maintain. As mentioned earlier, gold is a very soft metal and therefore will scratch rather easily. It is recommended that fine gold jewelry be worn with care at appropriate times only and not to sporting events you are playing in since the likelihood is much higher that damage or loss may occur during these times. Swimming is another event where many have lost and not recovered rings. Due to the fact that your fingers will shrink while immersed in water, the ring that normally fits just right now slips off without your knowing it. Gold is a somewhat highly reactive type of metal that will change colors or react on your skin due to chemical reactions, but don’t be dismayed, most of these reactions can be easily dealt with. Polishing the jewelry is generally all that is necessary to remove the reaction, which may have been caused by air-borne vapors or immersion into detergents or the like.

For home care it is recommended that those of you who have more than a few jewelry items to clean, purchase an electrosonic jewelry cleaner which mimics the ultrasonics we use professionally. These machines will vibrate the dirt away from the gems and pull it to the bottom of the tank. Care should be taken when using these units not to leave your jewelry items in them for more than 2 to 3 minutes to avoid loosening the stones. Another way to keep your jewelry clean is to purchase jars of cleaner to soak rings in, however one of the most effective jewelry cleaners is toothpaste. That’s right – toothpaste! It is a non-abrasive cleanser that when used correctly, will make your jewelry sparkle. The key is to make sure the toothpaste is liquefied before using a wet, soft bristle brush to clean in small areas. Rinse with warm water over a stopped up sink and pat dry with a clean lint-free towel.

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