FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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What is the birthstone for my birthday?

Here is a list showing the months and their corresponding birthstones:

  • January: Garnet
  • February: Amethyst
  • March: Aquamarine
  • April: Diamond
  • May: Emerald
  • June: Alexandrite and Pearl
  • July: Ruby
  • August: Peridot and Spinel
  • September: Sapphire
  • October: Opal and Tourmaline
  • November: Citrine and Topaz
  • December: Tanzanite, Zircon and Turquoise

(from the American Gem Society)

Are there stones for anniversaries, too?

Yes. Here is a list of anniversaries with their corresponding gemstones:

  •  1st: Gold Jewelry or Peridot
  • 2nd: Garnet 
  • 3rd: Pearl or Jade
  • 4th: Blue Topaz or Blue Zircon
  • 5th: Sapphire or Pink Tourmaline
  • 6th: Amethyst or Turquoise
  • 7th: Onyx or Yellow Sapphire or Golden Beryl
  • 8th: Tourmaline or Tanzanite
  • 9th: Lapis Lazuli or Amethyst or Green Spinel
  • 10th: Diamond Jewelry or Blue Sapphire
  • 11th: Turquoise or Citrine or Yellow Zircon
  • 12th: Jade or Opal
  • 13th: Citrine or Moonstone
  • 14th: Opal or Agate
  • 15th: Ruby or Rhodolite or Alexandrite
  • 16th: Peridot or Red Spinel
  • 17th: Watches 
  • 18th: Cat’s Eye Chrysoberyl or Aquamarine
  • 19th: Aquamarine or Almandite
  • 20th: Emerald or Yellow Diamond
  • 21st: Iolite
  • 22nd: Spinel 
  • 23rd: Imperial Topaz 
  • 24th: Tanzanite 
  • 25th: Silver Jubilee or Tsavorite or Green Garnet
  • 30th: Pearl Jubilee 
  • 35th: Emerald 
  • 40th: Ruby 
  • 45th: Sapphire or Cat’s Eye
  • 50th: Golden Jubilee or Imperial/Golden Topaz
  • 55th: Alexandrite 
  • 60th: Diamond Jubilee or Star Ruby
  • 65th: Blue Spinel
  • 70th: Sapphire Jubilee or Smoky Quartz
  • 75th: Diamond Jubilee
  • 80th: Ruby Jubilee

(from About.com, Inc.)

What’s the difference between Carat and Karat?

Simply put, a Karat is the unit of measurement used to indicate the purity of gold (since gold is in fact a mixture of gold and other metals). Pure gold is 24-Karat (24K), 18-Karat gold is 75% pure, etc. Carat is a term used to measure the weight of a diamond or colored gemstone, e.g. 1.0 Carat, 2.0 Carat, etc.

Why is 18K gold more valuable than 14K?

18 Karat gold is more pure, meaning it contains a higher percentage of gold . Pure gold is 24-Karat (24K), 18-Karat gold is 75% pure, etc.

What is white gold? What makes it white?

Because pure gold is too soft to resist prolonged handling, it is usually mixed with other metals to increase its hardness for use in jewelry. Most gold used in jewelry is alloyed, or mixed, with silver, copper and small amounts of zinc to produce various shades of yellow gold, or with nickel, copper and zinc to produce white gold. The color of these gold alloys goes from yellow to white as the proportion of nickel in them increases.

What should I look for when it comes to quality?

Regardless of the manufacturing method that was used to produce the jewelry, there are several characteristics that finely crafted jewelry has in common. All parts of the piece should have a smooth, even finish, with no bumps, pits, holes or scratches. If it’s polished, the shine must be like a mirror on every surface. If the surface has a brushed or matte finish, it too should be smooth and uniform.
If the jewelry is made of several pieces, each part should join seamlessly. There should be no visible solder marks and no discoloration around soldered joints on settings or prongs. Any stones must be set securely in the mounting.
When it comes to colored gems, look for saturated, even color, as well as good clarity. In most stones, there should not be any pits, cracks, scratches or other major blemishes that detract from the beauty or appearance of the stone. While the color of a stone is largely a matter of personal taste, certain stones are more valuable if their colors are within specific ranges, such as rubies, emeralds, sapphires, etc.
A gemstone’s cut does not affect its value to the same extent that it does with a diamond. However, its cut does affect the depth of the color seen, the size of the gem and the liveliness of the stone. A stone with good color will only be enhanced by a good cut, while a poorly cut colored gemstone can turn out looking dead and lifeless. In gemstones, the deeper the cut, the deeper the color.
As with diamonds, weight in colored gems is measured in Carats. One carats is 200 milligrams. Bear in mind that size and weight are not the same things, since some gemstone materials are denser and therefore heavier than other stones of the same size. Since stones of different species occur in different sizes, their rarity at certain sizes can affect their value. In other words, a stone that occurs naturally in weights of 10 carats or more may actually be less valuable than one that rarely occurs that large.
Unlike the diamond industry, the use of certificates or grading reports for colored gems is relatively new and lacks a worldwide standard. Consequently, very few stones are actually accompanied by such reports. They are very useful, however, in determining if a particular stone is natural or created and if they have been treated or enhanced in any way. Ultimately, the best way to determine a stone’s quality is to have a trained, experienced and trustworthy jeweler look at them.

What do I need to know when it comes to buying pearls?

Although there is no official quality grading system for pearls, there are several characteristics that affect their value, which you should consider before making a purchase:
Luster: The surface shine that gives pearls their unique glow is known as its luster. The sharper the reflection of light on a pearl’s surface, the more luster it has.

Surface Blemishes: Like gemstones, pearls have imperfections. These blemishes or marks on the pearl’s surface should be minimal.

Shape: Pearls that are perfectly round are extremely rare, so they are naturally the most valuable. While most pearls appear to be round, only about 1% are actually perfect spheres. If you want to know if a strand consists of perfectly round pearls, just roll it on a flat surface, like a counter or tabletop. If it rolls smoothly and evenly, the pearls are round.

Color: Although pearls can come in a wide range of shades, the major color classifications are white, pink, silver, cream, gold and black. Finer quality pearls have an overtone, which usually appears toward the outside edge of the pearl. This can be rose, green or blue. Regardless of the color or shading, you should look for pearls with a deep, rich color that seems to come from within the gem.
Size: All other factors being equal, the size of a pearl is the most important factor in determining its value. However, a larger pearl is not necessarily more valuable if it lacks nacre thickness. A pearl that does not have many layers of nacre will crack and discolor over time, diminishing its value. Only an expert can determine the true thickness of a pearl’s nacre. Pearls are available in a wide range of diameters (measured in millimeters), from 6.5mm up to 15mm or more in the case of Australian or Tahitian pearls.

Orient: The many layers of nacre on a pearl produce rainbow-like colors that appear to move on the pearl’s surface. This motion effect is very rare and only appears in a small percentage of round pearls.

Uniformity: It is critical that the pearls in any strand or piece of jewelry be evenly matched in terms of their size, shape, color, luster, etc. Visible variations of these qualities not only affect the piece’s beauty, but its value.

Why do similar pieces of jewelry have such different prices?

There are a few factors that can affect the value of gold jewelry. Since gold is sold by weight, heavier pieces can be more costly than lighter ones. Designer jewelry also generally costs more, especially if it is a one-of-a-kind piece. These pieces are usually hand made and not largely produced, and special finishes such as matte or brushed, may also affect the cost of the piece.

How to take care of my jewelry and gemstones?

We realize that it’s virtually impossible to shield your jewelry from the daily hustle and bustle of life. After all, you’re supposed to enjoy wearing your jewelry, not worry about it. However, by following the tips bellow, you can keep your jewelry beautiful simply by limiting its exposure to certain conditions.

Caring for Your Jewelry

These simple guidelines, along with some common sense, should help keep your jewelry looking great for years:

  • Never wear your jewelry while doing rough work, even though most jewelry is durable, a hard blow can chip a stone.
  • If you notice a loose gemstone in your jewelry, bring it to a qualified jeweler. It’s a good idea to have a jeweler check the setting of your diamonds and gemstones jewelry at least once a year. Our Jewelry and Gemstone Repair division specializes in such services. Occasionally check your jewelry for loose stones. Shake or tap it lightly with your forefinger while holding it next to your ear.
  • Remove your jewelry before bathing and grooming. Think of your jewelry as the final touch and put it on right before you get on with your day. Hairspray, gel, body lotion, moisturizer, perfume, mousse, make-up, shaving cream, soap, etc, may contain chemicals that can leave a residue on jewelry, creating a dull film that is very difficult to remove, they could also change the colors of your gemstones and oxidize the metals.
  • To be safe, always remove your jewelry before working with chlorine bleach. Chlorine is detrimental to gold and may be harmful to your gemstone.
  • Keep it dry. Using water to clean and rinse some of your jewelry is permissible; however, make sure it’s dried thoroughly when you’re done. Certain jewelry, such as pearl and gemstone jewelry, should never be soaked in water or worn when bathing. The stones in such jewelry may be glued into the settings and the moisture will cause the glue to loosen, causing the stones to fall out and get lost.
  • When you’re not wearing your jewelry, be sure to store it in a fabric-lined case or in a box with dividers or separate compartments. Jewelry pieces can scratch each other.
  • Avoid wearing jewelry while participating in contact sports or doing housework, gardening, repairs, etc.
  • When you set jewelry near to a sink, make sure the drains are plugged.
  • Don’t remove rings by pulling on any of their gemstones.

Everything you own will last longer if you take care of it. Clothing has written instructions like, “no bleach”, “dry clean only”, etc. Cars, stereos and electronics come with manuals. With gemstones you must look for brochures, books or ask salespeople for instruction on how to take care of your investment.

Many gems are very delicate and susceptible to thermal shock or temperature changes. These include emerald, garnet, kunzite, opal, peridot, quartz, tanzanite, topaz and tourmaline. You should not for example, lay in the sum and then jump in a pool while wearing these gems, nor should you go from a hot tube to a cold shower. If you do, the sudden temperature change could cause the stones to crack or shatter.

With some stones, including amethyst, emerald, kunzite, malachite, opal, red tourmaline and turquoise, you should avoid any heat in general. Don’t leave these gemstones in a sunny window still or wear them to the beach. It could make some of these gems fade and it could dry out and discolor. It could also cause small cracks in some malachite, opal and turquoise.

Ammonia and acid solutions, as well as everyday products such as perfumes and lotions can harm some gemstones. Pitting can occur while swimming or while soaking in a hot tube with chlorine.

The safest way to clean a gemstone is to wash it in lukewarm water using a mild liquid soap or detergent that contains no ammonia. Then dry it with a soft, lint-free cloth. If the dirt can’t be washed off with a cloth, try using a toothpick or toothbrush to remove it. If that doesn’t work, have a specialized professional to clean it.

Some stones are susceptible to knocks and bumps than others. If these gems are knocked lightly just right at a specific angle against a wall or furniture, they can sometimes crack. Kunzite, tanzanite, iolite and topaz all fit in to this category.

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