The Gold Rush 2020

Houston Jewelry Appraiser Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon - Prospecting for Gold 2020We love prospecting for gold!

Gold prospecting is the act of searching for gold in old jewelry and shoe boxes. What’s in your Closet?

Bring in your old jewelry boxes and have the Jewelry Judge sort and value the jewelry and gold.

This is traditionally an estate activity, either by someone dividing up jewelry among children or the heirs who inherited a mix of jewelry after the loss of a family member.

We will separate the fine jewelry and precious metals from costume, identify quality, identify the designer/manufacturer, provide documentation and value the items in your treasure chest. We will also refer you to trusted buyers, consignors or auction houses which are appropriate for your items of value.

During the current economic down turn, selling precious metals and fine jewelry or watches is once again not only popular, but in some cases a necessity.  We experienced this in 2015 when gold was at $1,400 an ounce, today it is selling at $1,700 an ounce.

We can help you turn gold into cash!

Gold Jewelry
See the Jewelry Judge

Already Using Lots of Screen Time?

Schedule a Live Online Visit with The Jewelry Judge!

Ring1Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon is known for his While You Watch consultations and appraisals.

Now, clients don’t even have to leave home to schedule a professional consultation.

The Jewelry Judge offers personal online visits by pre-arrangement. Send him photos of jewelry by email ahead of time and connect within twenty-four hours via Zoom, Skype or Facetime, depending upon your computer or preferred mobile device. He will respond with details about how to ‘log in’ to meet with him.

What Do You Need to Know?

  • Thinking about selling– find out what you should expect to receive if selling jewelry!
  • Replacement value insurance appraisal – learn how much it would take to replace your engagement ring.
  • Sorting through estate pieces – did you inherit a shoe box full of jewelry and need to know what’s worth keeping?
  • Setting up your e-Bay store – Want to know what’s a fair price to ask for your items?
  • Confirming an online purchase – It looks smaller in the box than on your screen; did you receive what you paid for?

Houston Jewelry Appraiser Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon - Online Appraisal“At our gem lab, we have always done appraisals in full view of our clients,” Mr. Gordon affirms. “Of course, we miss the person- to-person office visits, but we’re happy to be able to continue to help with virtual online consultations.”

Most items with a GIA or AGS laboratory grading report (even if the report is twenty years old) are eligible for online valuations. For others, you may only need a verbal consultation. Call 713 961-1432 to find out if we can help.

 

 

Hard Facts – Hard Assets – Hard Decisions

AquamarineringIn difficult economic times, people sell hard assets such as jewelry and luxury valuables to provide money for other priorities, such as college tuition or travel.

To assure that our clients know the value of any items they consider selling, we offer a ‘Fair Market Valuation.’  Knowing how much a jewel is worth before taking it to an estate buyer or consigning it to auction will help assure the best price is obtained.

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon does not buy or sell.  This allows him to maintain objectivity.  He does, however, refer clients to trusted buyers or reputable auction galleries depending upon the specific items to be liquidated.

This ring sold at auction for over $28,000.  Its original owner thought it might bring  $15-18,000.  A Jewelry Judge valuation and referral helped bring a much higher price.

aquamarinering3When making a hard decision, we recommend knowing the hard facts about hard assets. Difficult decisions become easier with a Jewelry Judge Consultation.  Make your decisions based upon hard facts – Call 713 961-1432Book Appointment On-Line

Already Using Lots of Screen Time?

Schedule a Live Online Visit with The Jewelry Judge!

Ring1Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon is known for his While You Watch consultations and appraisals.

Now, clients don’t even have to leave home to schedule a professional consultation.

The Jewelry Judge offers personal online visits by pre-arrangement. Send him photos of jewelry by email ahead of time and connect within twenty-four hours via Zoom, Skype or Facetime depending upon your computer or preferred mobile device. He will respond with details about how to ‘log in’ to meet with him.

What Do You Need to Know?

  • Thinking about selling– find out what you should expect to receive if selling jewelry
  • Replacement value insurance appraisal – learn how much it would take to replace your engagement ring
  • Sorting through estate pieces – did you inherit a shoe box full of jewelry and need to know what’s worth keeping?
  • Setting up your e-Bay store – Want to know what’s a fair price to ask for your items
  • Confirming an online purchase – It looks smaller in the box than on your screen; did you receive what you paid for?

“At our gem lab, we have always done appraisals in full view of our clients,” Mr. Gordon affirms. “Of course, we miss the person- to-person office visits, but we’re happy to be able to continue to help with virtual online consultations.”

Most items with a GIA laboratory grading report (even if the report is twenty years old) are eligible for online valuations. For others, you may only need a verbal consultation. Call 713 961-1432 to find out if we can help. Book Appointment On-Line

A Chance to Brag Just a Little… and to Add our Thanks

Houston Jewelry Appraiser 67 Years 2019As a small business the Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon is always wondering how to reach new clients to keep our business growing.  In our 67 years’ experience, we find that there is nothing better than ‘word of mouth’ but possibly equally powerful are online reviews.

 

A Busy Week for Us.

Our appointments ran a little longer than usual with several walk-ins and individuals who brought in trays and boxes to be separated and categorized. We did our best to accommodate all without rushing anyone. We’d like to share the Five Star comments below. We cannot think of a better way to describe who we are and what we do.  We especially thank those who took the time to give us valuable feedback.

Houston Jewelry Appraiser Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon - Online Appraisal

March 10, 2020 – Gail B

Experienced and Professional Jewelry Appraisal

“I made my appointment with Mr Gordon online. I was completely impressed with the professional service I experienced with my jewelry appraisal. I had 3 items to appraise for insurance purposes. I don’t recommend bringing more than 3 items if you are in a hurry. Mr Gordon will expertly examine each and every piece and explain the process in detail if you require details. He does not rush! While my appointment took 2 hrs I respected the care and courtesy he devoted to my treasures. Special thanks to Linda”

 

2020 BBB Winner_Interim2March 11, 2020 – Paulete GW

Excellent service

“Mr and Mrs Gordon are nothing short of real jewels! They are professional experts and valuable assets to more than just the jewelry world but to the community!”

 

laserinscription- GIAMarch 13, 2020 – D.N.

Professional, Class Act

He went over each specification and let us look at the GIA inscription on the the diamond.

Very confident in his skills. He’s been doing this for 67 years!”

 

To read more comments about how we work and what our clients think of our services, click the Review Tab at our appointment booking link on our website.

Online Consultations for Crown of Light Appraisals via Facebook or Skype

Did you splurge on a Crown of Light jewelry purchase while on your last vacation?  Now that you have returned home, it’s time to consider protecting your purchase.

COL Pic

Protect your Purchase with a Written Insurance Appraisal

The Jewelry Judge does not sell insurance, but he does specialize in providing the documents required by insurers to verify the value of a Crown of Light purchase.  He can also guide you on what type(s) of insurance to consider (and what types to avoid).

CrownofLight-greybackgroundMost US retailers are not familiar with the special design of the patented Crown of Light diamond cut.  Instead of the 58 facets of the traditional round brilliant cut diamond, Crown of Light round diamonds have 90 facets. There are other differences as well that are identified during a Jewelry Judge Crown of Light valuation.

Privacy, Convenience and Time Savings Too!

Mr. Gordon will consult in the privacy of your home or office via FaceTime or Skype.    Have the serial number and the written GIA diamond grading report for your purchase ready when you call 713 961-1432 to set up your online appointment.  Or email bgordon@jewelryjudge.net for details on Crown of Light consultations.

How Can We Consult Online?

Houston Jewelry Appraiser - On-Linel Appraisal - Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon

COLcouture-3We verify that you are in possession of the Crown of Light jewelry while speaking with you online.  Before our ‘virtual’ appointment, you provide us the information on your purchase receipt. At the conclusion of the appointment, Master Graduate Gemologist Ben Gordon will provide a written digital appraisal report via email (pdf files and photos).

You can easily forward these to your insurer and print as many copies as you need for your own records.

A virtual online consultation represents a savings. When you print your written report at home, you save time and travel inconvenience.  Learn more about Insurance Appraisals for Crown of Light Diamonds by calling The Jewelry Judge at 713 961-1432 or emailing bgordon@jewelryjudge.net.

Where to Sell Gold Jewelry in Houston?

Gold JewelryWith the current price of gold upwards of $1600 per troy ounce, gold jewelry sellers are back.

Houston’s Jewelry Judge does not buy or sell jewelry, but he often consults to inform individuals wishing to sell their gold on what price they can expect. “People often forget,” he remarks, “that anyone buying gold will most likely be reselling it.”

This means that, for example, a handful of 14k gold chains weighing exactly 1 troy ounce will bring less than 30% of the daily spot price for gold.  18k and 22k gold may bring somewhat more, because of the higher percentage of gold in the mix. Know the value of your gold before you sell to avoid disappointment – consult with The Jewelry Judge.

What about gold jewelry with colored gemstones in it?  Mr. Gordon shakes his head, “Many gold buyers lump all jewelry items together and weigh it as though it were gold.  This could mean that a valuable gemstone could be quite under priced. That’s where it helps to consult with Houston’s Jewelry Judge.  Sometimes, there’s something really valuable in a tangled mess.”  We can identify what’s worth salvaging, re-designing, or letting it go to scrap.  And if there is a need to sell, we help direct our clients to reputable buyers.”

Houston Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon - Consultation

Breaking the Gold Code: 22K 18K 14K 10K

Houston Jewelry Appraiser Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon - Gold ServiceA gold karat is a unit of measurement that identifies its purity.  100% gold is soft and malleable and would be impractical as jewelry as it would become distorted and wear quickly.  Other metals such as copper, silver, zinc, and nickel are therefore mixed with gold to strengthen it.

What percent is gold and what percent is other metals?

Here is a simple guide to the meaning of 22K, 18K 14K and 10K gold – the most popular gold purity indicators found in fine jewelry.

karat
24 possible karats in gold.

• 24-karat = pure gold with nothing added
• 22-karat is 91.67 % pure gold and 8.33 % other
• 18-karat yellow gold is made from 75% gold and 25% other
• 14-karat gold is 14/24ths (58.3%) gold and 41.7% other
• 10-karat gold is 10/24ths (41.6%) gold and 58.4% other

 

The gold bars at Fort Knox are 24 karat gold, the purest gold possible. There is no such thing as 25 or 26 karat gold, so steer clear of anyone who makes such a claim.  Most gold jewelry sold today is stamped to indicate the karat value, but often a stamp is illegible or worn away.  The Jewelry Judge can test to identify the karat weight of gold as well as platinum and silver.

If in doubt about what you own, why not check it out? – Book an Appointment Today!  Identification of gold content and weight is the first step in valuing any jewelry item.

Weighing and testing services provide you with information you can trust before you sell your gold jewelry.

Gold TestingEveryone should know if their gold jewelry is 14k, 18k, 22k or another purity, as well as, its weight in grams or pennyweights.  While Houston’s Jewelry Judge does not buy or sell jewelry, we can quickly and accurately weigh your gold before you approach a buyer so you will know approximately what you should receive based upon current market value when you sell.  This service is also available for silver and platinum items.

 

 

February’s Birthstone is Amethyst

amethyst cutThe quartz crystal amethyst is a gemstone that comes in every shade of purple, from light lavender to deep violet.

According to healers, amethyst crystals have a spiritual quality and help individuals tap into higher levels of consciousness.

Lavender quartz is thought to awaken the soul, helping people to realize their life purpose and fulfill their ambitions.

Amethyst is found in the United States, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Uruguay, and Siberia.

_DSC1246Gifts of fine jewelry for a friend or loved one’s birthday are very popular because of the personal significance attached.  If someone in your life has a birthday this month, an amethyst ring, pendant, or pair of earrings will make a wonderful gift that they will love to wear proudly.

Trust, but Verify!  Every day is a consumer protection day with a Jewelry Judge Appraisal. READ about the recent Jewelry Judge Appraisal where a major discrepancy was resolved!

Houston Jewelry Appraiser Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon - Consumer Protection

_DSC1860February’s  Birthstone Amethyst is also used to celebrate the 6th and 17th wedding anniversary.  Learn More Here

 

What does this appraiser think about love and jewelry?  

“Well, grins Ben Gordon ”, aka The Jewelry Judge,   “Some might say that the science of appraising takes away from the romance, but for me, every piece of jewelry is a love affair.” says The Jewelry Judge, “Jewelry is not merely adornment.  It is family history, emotional attachments and important memories. ”

15 MinuteWe look forward to hearing from you soon.

An Honest Mistake…

Trust

Learn how the Jewelry Judge provides consumer protection as part of the jewelry appraisal process. Here is a recent appraisal where a major discrepancy was resolved!

We at The Jewelry Judge gem lab take pride in uncovering fraud and misrepresentation when we advocate for our clients in disputes. Devious intent is not always the case when there is a significant discrepancy between what was paid for and what was received.

1AHere’s a case in point – the mismatched sapphire.

Our client brought us a beautiful loose sapphire with a GIA certificate and a receipt describing the gemstone as weighing 1.93 carat oval blue unheated sapphire.

When we weighed and measured it, our results showed 1.43 carat weight. The discrepancy in carat weight could mean a difference of $1,000.

2No one panicked!

We simply called the retailer where the gemstone had been purchased two days earlier. He remembered the customer well – she had compared four sapphires of different sizes and colors. Each was brought out of inventory and carefully unwrapped from its small packet. Each was examined with a loupe and tweezers. A decision was made to purchase the 1.93 ctw gemstone and the three remaining sapphires were wrapped up and returned to stock.

It is easy for a sales professional to inadvertently wrap a gemstone in the wrong packet, especially when to the naked eye, gemstones can appear to be quite similar. The retailer quickly examined the remaining three packets in his inventory and confirmed that the 1.93 ctw gemstone was in the 1.4 wrapper and our client had her preferred stone within a half hour.

Errors can and do occur. But this happy ending was brought about by:
• Our client’s quick action – it was only two days after the purchase that she brought the loose stone to us for confirmation and insurance valuation.
• Our immediate call to the principal who was personally known to The Jewelry Judge (while the client sat with us).
• This retailer was happy that we brought the discrepancy to his attention, and his inventory confirmed our findings.

Both the retailer and our client thanked us for weighing and testing the beautiful oval sapphire. Yes, a mistake had been made – unintended human error is possible. Our call to the retailer gave him an opportunity to quickly correct the error and protect his reputation.
Houston Jewelry Appraiser 67 Years 2019
Conclusion: When in doubt, check it out!

Get a second opinion from:                                 The Jewelry Judge, Ben Gordon!
             Trust but Verify!

Why Get Your Jewelry Appraised?


silver colored ring with clear gemstone and white pearl
Photo by Marta Branco on Pexels.com

Have you been procrastinating about getting your jewelry appraised or updating and old appraisal?

Values may be inflated by the retailer on new jewelry, and if it is an older piece values change from year to year with gemstone and precious metal market prices.

 

 

Why and When should you get your jewelry appraised?

  • Insurance companies often INCREASE Premiums on insured jewelry every year.
  • If your past appraisal is 3 or more years old, you may be paying more on your premium than necessary based on the current condition and value.
  • If you are changing insurance companies, they need detailed information.
  • If you are remounting a stone or modifying an item, thus significantly altering its identity and changing its value.
  • If there is volatility in the marketplace which causes severe changes of gemstones and precious metal prices.
  • If you need an appraisal for another use such as a divorce, estate settlement or liquidation.
  • If you are gifting or bequeathing the item.
  • If you are placing the item into a trust.

JJ-Reminders

16-Worth2018The Jewelry Judge frequently mentions the term indemnity. “It’s the main purpose for an insurance replacement appraisal,” he says. “And yet we seldom hear other appraisers use the word.”

What’s indemnity, it is making a consumer whole again in case of loss. “I’ll look at the piece and describe it, to ensure there are no errors or insufficient information that would make it impossible to replace the item with one that is identical or nearly alike, as well as set a proper premium for it,” Ben says. “We ensure the appraisal is complete and adequate, so the customer can be made whole, in the event an insurance claim is made.”

Houston Jewelry Appraiser 67 Years 2019An independent jewelry appraisal “While You Watch” brings:

  • confidence that the buyer received what they paid for!
  • confidence in knowing your jewelry never leaves your sight!
  • confidence in a Master Graduate Gemologist/Appraiser.

That’s what a Jewelry Judge Appraisal Report delivers to every client. Book an Appointment Today!

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon
5433 Westheimer Rd, Suite 606
Houston, TX 77027
713-961-1432 or www.jewelryjudgebengordon.com

4 Things to Do with Inherited Jewelry

Moms EstateHave you just received your Grandmother’s pendant as a gift or inheritance?

Are you troubled by the emotional significance of this keepsake, but probably won’t wear it as it’s not to your taste?

 

 Here are 4 Things you can do…

  1. Sell it outright to an interested party
  2. Donate it to a charity
  3. Send it to an auction sale
  4. Re-design it and enjoy the memories

In each of the above actions, there is a critical piece of information that can help with the decision.  It is the value of the item.  Emotional value is determined by the recipient, but monetary value is information that requires expertise and knowledge.

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon helps with information to base decisions upon. 

Call 713 492 – 1432 or click consultation to reserve 15 minutes of free consultation time to determine your best action. 

Houston Jewelry Appraiser Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon - 15 Minutes Why a Free 15 Minute Consultation?

A free consultation points you in the right direction.

For those who which to sell estate jewelry or any fine jewelry or watches,  you’ll learn what market price you might expect and even locate a potential buyer for your item.  If considering a donation, learn what paperwork you’ll need to document its value.  For those selling at auction, find out which auction houses to consider and what to expect.  And for those who wish to create a new design or refresh the look of a vintage piece, Mr. Gordon can advise on resources.  Grandmothers would approve!

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon - Virtual Appraisal

Fear Free Consultations for All Seasons

Happy Halloween

No matter what the trend, or the season, The Jewelry Judge can consult on your purchase before you buy.

Houston Jewelry Appraiser Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon - Fear Free

Many retailers will hold a credit card while an item is ‘out on approval’ for a few hours while an independent appraiser authenticates and validates the item.  Others will accept a return – be sure to check individual store policies to avoid any surprises and beware of ‘final sale’ items.

The Jewelry Judge offers same day turn-around and walk-in appointments (some wait-time may be necessary).  Call us at 713 961-1432 to verify authenticity and consult before committing to large dollar purchases. Book On-Line Today!

We look forward to a helping celebrate a happy holiday season with you!

Holiday Trends to Watch For — or Watch Out For!

The holiday season is the most important time of the year for retailers.  It’s a time when new trends emerge and when special (and sometimes low end) merchandise hits the stores.  Here are some trends to watch for  – or in some cases, to watch out for.

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon Mastery Colored Diamonds

Holiday trend 1:  Man-made or lab grown diamonds   

Synthetic diamonds are everywhere now.  Expect to see more of them.  Even DeBeers is branding them and promoting the man-made diamonds available in many colors!

They are promoted as less expensive (as they should be) than earth mined diamonds.  Be sure to know what you’re buying. Some of these are being offered without disclosing that they are man-made.  And branding can make them actually more expensive per carat that earth mined diamonds.

gold beaded necklaces on gold jewelry box
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Holiday Trend 2: Lower end/lesser quality/inexpensive trinkets 

It’s common for retailers to stock up on more inexpensive lines and feature these with a mix of higher quality items.  The low prices lure the customer and may be too tempting to resist.  Stick to your guns if you value quality and avoid being distracted with ‘lower priced’ merchandise.

Trend PandoraHoliday Trend 3:  Pandora beads may make a seasonal comeback

This was a fashion fad that has faded, but during the holidays, you can expect to see these come back in their many variations.

These are fun for teenagers, but not really fine jewelry as there is no resale value.  Costume jewelry is not an investment.

Holiday Trend 4:  David Yurman candy colored enameled rings

Great fun and clients love the designer name.  Priced under $500, these rings make fun stocking stuffers.  Our preference is for vintage Yurman designs – heftier and worth their weight.  Generally, we wouldn’t appraise an item valued at less than $1000.  Keep in mind that high end brands often have a ‘popular’ line which makes the brand accessible to those with modest budgets.

Trend PaveHoliday Trend 5:  Pave Diamonds  

Our clients know how much we love diamonds!  Not only are no two natural diamonds alike, but no two manufacturers’ designs are alike.  There is great variation in the way diamonds are set that can affect the value.

We recommend examining the mountings under magnification to check for smooth and even prongs, level surfaces and of course, tiny nicks.  Pave diamonds should also be well matched for beauty and value.

_DSC0930Holiday Trend 6: Luxury Watches 

A watch is a timeless gift (couldn’t resist the pun)!  We caution our buyers to especially double check when spending thousands of dollars on a luxury fashion item.  Be sure your retailer is reliable especially if purchasing estate or pre-owned watches.  Even reputable jewelers can make mistakes.

We have found numerous ‘hybrid’ watches that are assembled from various after- market components such as a diamond bezel or replacement crystal faces.  These ‘hybrids’ may be attractive, but they will certainly not be as valuable as an all original  luxury watch.

Whatever your selection for holiday shopping, don’t forget to verify your purchase with a Jewelry Judge consultation. Convenient appointments Book On-Line – walk-ins available at www.jewelryjudgebengordon.com or call 713 961-1432.

Happy Shopping!

Complimentary Condition Check

Houston Jewelry Appraiser Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon VerifyOnce we have thoroughly cleaned a jewel, we examine it for any changes from its original condition when new.  For example, we test the prongs of a mounting to assure that they are secure.  We check for sizing changes – a loss of weight could put a lovely engagement ring at risk of slipping off without the wearer knowing it.  It is not unusual for the edge of a gemstone to show wear.  In many cases such small imperfections can be polished out to restore the original beauty without loss of carat weight.

Metal fatigue can cause cracking
Metal fatigue can cause cracking
A chipped diamond
A chipped diamond under magnification

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Metal can become brittle or thin over time, so we also check the shank.  Often chips and nicks can be polished out.

All of these issues can affect the value of your jewelry.  Certainly, they affect your enjoyment of them.  How often do we toss a ring into a drawer because it’s unwearable because of a loose stone or broken prong?

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon - Steam Cleaning a RingLet the Jewelry Judge do a free condition check to examine your jewelry.  Often a simple steam cleaning can bring back former luster.  In many cases, we can avoid loss or further damage at no cost to you.

Consult the Jewelry Judge and take advantage of our FREE Cleaning & Condition Check.  You won’t be disappointed. Book an Appointment Today!

Complimentary Cleaning & Inspection

Every Jewelry Judge Consultation and Appraisal begins with a steam cleaning and condition check.

Which one would you rather wear.png
Which one would you rather wear?

Why?  Just as your doctor would not diagnose or prescribe without an examination, a gemologist needs to identify and authenticate and starting with a sparkling clean jewel is essential for accuracy.

Lotions, perfumes, perspiration and soap scum leave dull film and grit on diamonds or precious gemstones.  This is especially true for rings and wedding sets.  Cosmetics too leave residue that diminishes the beauty and sparkle of bracelets, earrings and pendants.

We do not charge for the time it takes to clean your jewelry when you arrive.  Our view is that every jewel deserves a cleaning and condition check before we perform any other service.  You will be able to watch this process and notice the immediate difference in appearance.

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon - Steam Cleaning a RingCleaning dissolves and removes dirt and grime, but it takes knowledge and skill to clean jewelry properly. Opals, for example, should never be cleaned in hot steam.  And pearls improperly cleaned can be permanently damaged.

Many jewelry appraisers charge extra for the time it takes to clean each piece of jewelry prior to starting the appraisal.

DiaOur practice has always been to provide steam cleaning as a free service to our clients. You benefit from the pleasure of wearing your jewelry with pride.

Consult the Jewelry Judge and take advantage of our FREE Cleaning & Inspection. You won’t be disappointed. Book an Appointment Today!

 

Our experience is broad. Our depth of knowledge runs deep.

Tree

With 66 years in the jewelry industry that includes, design, manufacturing, distribution, marketing, and retailing, Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon is uniquely qualified to consult and appraise all types of fine jewelry.
BenAs a Master Graduate Gemologist and Independent Appraiser, he approaches each task from the prospective of a scientist whose first task is to identify and authenticate.  Only then, when the facts are in, can appropriate values be determined.

Mr. Gordon is a living encyclopedia. He has seen the sputnik designs of the 50s and 60s; the chunky funky 70s and 80s; the bangles, chokers and chains of the 90s; and the millennial modern that is now peppered with man-made diamonds and colored stones.

Houston Jewelry Appraiser - Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon - AGS Certification

Whatever the era or style, The Jewelry Judge can help you care for, collect, appreciate and protect your fine jewelry.

“Social and technological influences effect the trends in jewelry throughout history,” Mr. Gordon comments, “but quality of craftsmanship and design are lasting.”

With deep roots in the community, The Jewelry Judge stands as an advocate for his clients.  ‘Independent’ means he does not represent any other interest but you.  Mr. Gordon consults with both buyers and sellers to assure fair pricing and fully disclosed representation.

15 Minute

Many clients do not know if their jewelry items need an official written appraisal report.  For example, if you are selling an item you won’t need to insure it, but you will need to know where to go to obtain a fair price. Often a short and simple consultation will meet your need.  We offer a FREE fifteen (15) minute consultation to determine the next step(s).  It is important to have a face to face meeting since proper authentication cannot be done from photographs alone.

See what a free 15 minute consultation can do for you.

Book Appointment  On-Line 

or   Call:  713-961-1432

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon
5433 Westheimer Rd. #606
Houston, TX. 77056
Information You Can Trust!

Where to Buy Environmentally Friendly Jewelry

Is there such thing as environmentally friendly jewelry?

Lab grown diamonds have become increasingly popular, but use huge amounts of fossil fuel energy to create the high pressure and heat conditions that produce these factory made diamonds.

So where else can a person go to find jewelry they would be proud to wear and feel good about doing something for the environment?  It may be easier than you think!

Think Retail Showrooms

Many retail jewelers have a separate case in their showrooms for consignment ‘Estate Jewelry.’

The term, Estate Jewelry may sound like ‘dowager’ jewels or like Queen Victoria’s mourning jewelry, but there are many gems (no pun here) to be found.  Estate Jewelry is simply ‘pre-owned’ jewelry. Like cars, there are pre-owned lemons and pre-owned fine collectors’ specimens.

“Good design is timeless,” says Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon, “especially if it           carries a luxury brand such as Cartier or Tiffany.  These tend to be the brands          that hold their value.”

Houston Jewelry Appraiser - Heritage Auctions - NAJA Auctions

Auction sales are a good source of high-end estate jewelry.  It’s a good idea to set your maximum price to prevent getting carried away in the emotion and excitement of the sale.  We recommend that you preview the items before bidding – it’s best if the auction gallery is local and you can see and touch the items.

Consider Pawn Shops

Pawn shops always have quantities of estate jewelry in inventory i.e. pre-owned.  The secret is to look for unique pieces, not those piled up in the glass cases, but ask for any items that may be in their vaults.  Use words like ‘quality,’ ‘ vintage,’ ‘classic,’ ‘designer,’ when talking with the proprietor and he/she will hopefully bring out interesting trays of available fine jewelry.

On Line Purchases

And of course, the Internet has numerous sites where estate jewelry can be found.  Be sure to read the return policy before purchasing.

Trust but Verify: Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon Double Check

But how do you know what you’re getting and is it priced fairly?

“That’s where I come in,” Ben Gordon smiles. “Reputable retailers will often allow a buyer to get a second opinion before completing the sale.”

Reputable retailers will hold a credit card while the jewelry is out for examination.  There may also be a return policy that will allow for a piece to be returned within a specified period.  Know these policies BEFORE you commit.

So don’t be afraid of Estate Jewelry – there’s an expert consultant available to help you.  And you’ll be helping the environment with your purchase.

Houston Jewelry Appraiser Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon Verify

The Jewelry Judge responds to urgent requests for a consultation to confirm authenticity and value.  In less than one hour, he can weigh, measure, and test diamonds and colored stones; identify period and style;  provide historic information; and examine for condition issues.

Value This Lab Grown Diamonds

Brian and Leon - Value This

The hottest topic in the jewelry industry is the controversy over Man-Made vs Earth Mined Diamonds. Thanks go out to Value This with Brian and Leon for talking with the Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon on the subject of Lab-Grown synthetic diamonds. 

Visit Value This Radio – Brian and Leon, will blow your mind with their witty and thorough knowledge of everything that you can put a price tag on. Find Value This with Brian and Leon on Facebook.

Watch this VIDEO and Listen to the discussion… Information You Can Trust! 

Want to learn more about purchasing Lab Grown Diamonds?

Here are a few things to READ for more information…

Professional Opinion:

“Lab-grown diamonds provide affordable jewelry and it may be just perfect for your budget right now. But with no resale market for pre-owned lab-grown diamonds once you buy it, wear it and enjoy it.”

When comparing precious gemstones for purchase it’s always recommended to get an unbiased and independent opinion.  Many jewelers will hold a credit card in exchange for a 24 hour examination period of gemstones or jewelry.  The Jewelry Judge specializes in consulting before an important purchase is made.  Come see the Jewelry Judge before you commit to a purchase.

Book Appointment  On-Line  or  Call 713-961-1432

No Such Thing as a ‘Certified Diamond’

BenThat may sound harsh, especially with jewelry stores everywhere offering certified diamonds.  So, what’s up with that?

“We are not the compliance police,” asserts Mr. Gordon, “ but the term ‘Certified, or Certificated’ is old school marketing.” The term, ‘Certificate’ carried too many different meanings and the jewelry industry itself issued guidelines to help standardize the terminology for describing diamonds and gemstones.  “Technically, any retailer can create a Certificate, but only gem labs create Grading Reports,” The Jewelry Judge explains.

GIA CertA big part of the Jewelry Judge mission is education, so clarity (no pun here) is important to Mr. Gordon.  Diamonds with Grading Reports have undergone scientific analysis by qualified professionals who analyse, report and grade the qualities of each gemstone.  There will be a description for each of the four C’s, i.e., Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat weight.  There will also be additional language to describe fluorescence, color enhancement, fracture filling or heat treatments.

Store receipts and typical Certificates have little to no meaning because they do not go far enough to completely describe a diamond.  “Don’t mix up the terms,” the Judge warns.

Diamonds with a laboratory Grading Report may be priced slightly higher than non-graded diamonds because of the extra step of having the gemological laboratory test them.  A jeweler may pass this cost along to the buyer.

How do I Get a Laboratory Grading Report?

“Each appraisal we create comes with a grading report,” Mr. Gordon explains. A laboratory grading report is for analysis and identification only.  “Our testing is similar to the testing that is done at the gem labs, but our purpose is to arrive at a valuation.  We take the report one step further by adding current market value.” A diamond Grading Report’s details should never change, (unless the stone is damaged or altered), but appraisal values will certainly change with market conditions.

“If your diamond did not come with a Grading Report, don’t worry,” assures Ben.  For a service fee, important stones can be sent to a reputable lab to obtain a Grading Report.  The GIA, Gemological Institute of America and AGS (American Gem Society) are two reputable gem labs based in the US.  There are other laboratories around the world, but they have not earned the level of trust of  the US based gem labs.

Diamond Plot
Diamond Plotting Diagram
(courtesy of GIA)

Double-Check for Peace of Mind

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon Double CheckMany of the consultations we do are to confirm laboratory Grading Reports,” Mr. Gordon explains.  “And sometimes we find that the grading report that comes with a diamond, does not match.”  It’s always best to ‘trust but verify’ especially with new purchases.  In some cases, an honest mistake has been made, in others, there may be a suspicion of fraud. 

The Jewelry Judge can identify discrepancies and offer suggestions for resolution.  “We have saved or recovered thousands of dollars for our clients, by helping them to document a claim,” Mr. Gordon added.

Click here to schedule a visit with The Jewelry Judge. Verify a laboratory grading report, retrieve a lost one, or learn current values of your precious jewelry or loose diamonds.   The peace of mind you’ll gain, as well as “Information You Can Trust” is worth an hour of your time.  Consult the most experienced Houston Jewelry Appraiser!

Houston Jewelry Appraiser - If you love

When are diamonds like food?

Diamond Salt+PepperWhen they are SALT + PEPPER Diamonds!

Just as there are many types of diets, vegan, vegetarian, Paleo, Mediterranean, etc. – there are many types and quality of diamonds for every taste and budget.

We’ve become familiar with jewelry that features black diamonds, champagne diamonds, chocolate diamonds, Fat Free diamonds (a registered trademark).

Most of these names are marketing terms for darker colored diamonds emphasizing their color.

There is a new emerging trend in diamonds which are being marketed for their inclusions! Click the link to see the latest designs.

Something for Every Taste

4CsSalt and pepper diamonds are making an entrance this season.

Traditionally diamonds have been valued for their 4Cs, of which a key characteristic is clarity – or lack of inclusions, sometimes described as flaws.

Salt and pepper diamonds are for an unconventional bride or jewelry collector. Their inclusions are described as features and they bring a unique character to the diamond.

“What we see here, is the focus on the design, rather than the gemstone,” Mr. Gordon observes. “It’s not about quality, but more about price and style.” Beauty is where we find it. Taste is personal.

Of course, they’re still true diamonds. In fact, one way to authenticate an earth mined diamond is to look for internal characteristics. With this new trend, these characteristics are considered desirable.

Food for Thought…

What does this Houston Appraiser think about salt and pepper diamonds?

“Well, grins Ben Gordon, aka The Jewelry Judge, “I’ve made my bread and butter for over 65 years valuing diamonds. In some ways, they make my job easier. The good news is, so far at least, they are not fakes masquerading as real diamonds.”

who_you_gonna_call_jewelry_purchase

“It’s my job to stay up to date with the industry,” says The Jewelry Judge, “I don’t form a personal opinion; I apply objective testing and my knowledge to identify, evaluate, and value jewelry, gemstones and watches, to provide information that can be trusted as fact.”

“Some might say that the science of appraising takes away from the romance, but for me, I can never satisfy my curiosity to peer inside a diamond. For me, diamonds of any kind are a feast!”

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon Marilyn LOVE

All you may need is LOVE! – But Jewelry Never Hurts!

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon Love is in the airVerifyFor the third consecutive year, U.S. consumers are expected to spend more on jewelry than any other Valentine’s Day gift category.

amethyst cutFebruary’s  Birthstone
Amethyst is also used to celebrate the 6th and 17th wedding anniversary.  Learn More Here

johnson 50 necklace2What does this appraiser think about love and jewelry?  

 

“Well, grins Ben Gordon, aka The Jewelry Judge,   “Some might say that the science of appraising takes away from the romance, but for me, every piece of jewelry is a love affair.” says The Jewelry Judge, “Jewelry is not merely adornment. It is family history, emotional attachments and important memories. ”

LoveYoursIf you love jewelry, you’ll love to have us appraise your jewelry!

Show your Heart(s) this Valentine’s Day

DiaJewelry industry pros say that Cut is the most important of the famous 4 C’s (Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat). A diamond’s cut is what determines how your precious stone will perform ‘Hearts and Arrows’ imaging of a diamond reveals symmetry of cut and shows how the light bounces within the stone.

No two diamonds will perform alike; each facet reflects light and bounces it around internally to varying degrees.

light performanceMost newly engaged couples learn about their diamonds from the retailer who sold it to them. But the details of the sale merely touch the surface so to speak. ‘Hearts and Arrows’ imaging reveals what happens to light inside the diamond.

BenAs a Master Graduate Gemologist and Appraiser, Ben Gordon, has specialized laboratory photographic equipment that lets newly engaged couples peek into their diamonds by creating an image that captures light.

“The term ‘Performance,’ Mr. Gordon adds, refers specifically to how a stone reflects light. Not everyone is interested in the ‘internals’ or science of their diamond” Mr. Gordon comments, “but for those who are, a ‘Hearts and Arrows” performance report will show the quality of a diamond’s Cut.”

 

Will My Diamond be Affected by Testing?
It’s important to know that the instruments used in his diamond grading lab are non-invasive. Hearts and Arrows performance testing is for loose diamonds only. Light is projected onto a loose diamond and it creates an image that shows where the light is reflected and where it ‘escapes.’

Sepecs

“Quite a lot of information can be discovered even when a stone is in its mounting. Mr. Gordon explains. We encourage buyers to have a loose stone analysed, prior to mounting or placing it in its setting to obtain the most detail.”

Online reviewers often describe their visits to The Jewelry Judge as an ‘awesome experience,’ ‘learning experience,’ ‘memorable experience.’ Experiences happen daily in the gem lab.

Click to Book a convenient time to visit the gem lab or call 713.961.1432.

Show your betrothed how the diamond you chose performs,
Get ready to fall in love with your engagement diamond all over again this Valentine’s Day with Hearts and Arrows imaging.

’Hearts and Arrows’ imaging shows in red and blue, how light behaves when a diamond is analyzed. The more hearts and arrows formed means a more reflective diamond.

who_you_gonna_call_jewelry_purchase

 

Estate Valuations: Relieving a Burden

Houston Jewelry Appraiser - If you lovePaying it Forward

Recently a gentleman in his seventies came into our gem lab.
He brought a few pieces of jewelry he had given his wife over the years.
He informed us, “This is part of our estate even though it sits in our safe deposit box at the bank, I need to start an inventory and get values for our kids.”

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon - Houston Jewelry Appraisal - While You Watch

When we asked why, he responded,
“Why put them through the trouble when we pass on? They’ll be busy enough with memorial details and visiting relatives.”

What a thoughtful act of love and kindness. While he and his wife are in good health and look forward to many years, they are planning ahead.

We finished the estate appraisals in an afternoon.

Within a week we heard from him again. He brought in the remaining contents of the safe deposit box. He now has a full inventory with details and thanked us for the peace of mind.

Safe-Deposit-BoxesThe cost of an estate appraisal can be based upon the number of items OR the amount of time depending upon the preference of the owner.

This head of the family is taking one burden off the shoulders of his heirs.

That’s what we call ‘paying it forward.’ We appreciate clients like this. His heirs will thank him too.

Houston Jewelry Appraiser Feb 3- 5 Star Review Google

 

6 Things to Do Before Buying Jewelry Anywhere!

Holiday2018

When buying jewelry (whether online, which has become too convenient, or in-store) always proceed with caution and make sure your purchase is properly described and arrives in your hands with the proper documentation and treatment declarations.

Regardless of where you are purchasing jewelry, you will want to consider these 6 things before you click that “purchase” button:

  1. Always Research the seller
    AGS-LogoDo your due diligence on the seller first. Read other buyers’ comments or reviews, to see whether the seller has a reputation for being ethical, fair, and easy to work with.  Verify association with national organizations like the American Gem Society (this is a must)!  The American Gem Society is the country’s preeminent jewelry trade organization dedicated to consumer protection.  Which means, if you’re looking to buy jewelry, you just clicked on the right website.
  2. Look Local
    The same applies to local jewelry stores, with the addition that an independent jeweler is preferred to a big box retailer chain.  See if the local jeweler has or can get the same or similar piece and match the price of the online retailer.  Handling disputes after the sale will always be easier dealing with a local jeweler.
  3. Read the sales fine print
    Review the seller’s privacy policy to see whether they share your email or contact information with third-party organizations.  Carefully read their sales exchange and return policy to ensure that if you’re not happy with what you received, or something comes to you damaged, you will have some recourse.  Do they accept a Return for refund, Exchange or Store Credit?
  4. Request lots of extra pictures
    Detailed PictureWatchesAsk the seller for detailed pictures and descriptions to ensure the quality of the jewelry you’re purchasing.  Especially for high-end watches!  If the seller claims the piece is signed or the metal is a certain quality, request a photo of the signature or metal purity stamp on the piece.  NOTE:  You can also ask that the piece be sent to the Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon for review before the purchase is charged.Detailed Picture
  5. Make sure it’s packaged properly
    The most common cause of damage to jewelry are Scratches!   So make sure that your piece is packaged carefully and tightly, so it cannot be easily tossed around in transit.  Request that the seller pack each individual item in a soft cloth pouch that can be sealed or tied shut so the piece can’t come loose during shipping.   Additionally, twisting and bending of semi-rigid chains or other jewelry pieces may cause permanent damage.  Pay extra if needed to ensure that your item is shipped in a box that is large enough.
  6. Verify your insurance coverage
    When you are purchasing expensive diamonds, gemstones, and jewelry with precious metals, there is no guarantee that your existing homeowners policy will provide sufficient protection if the piece is lost, damaged, or stolen.  Before buying a piece, contact your agent to verify the coverage amounts you have in place.  Consider speaking with an insurance company specializing in jewelry, we can recommend a few.  Consider adding automatic coverage for newly acquired jewelry to ensure that your purchase is protected from the moment you click “buy.”

For information you can trust, consult the Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon today.

Virtual Appraisal - Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon3

With our NEW Service “Virtual Jewelry Appraisal” you can you can get a value for your jewelry without having to leave your home. Call us and we will setup a Skype or Face-Time session for a consultation. Information you can trust to place a value on your valuables. Book Appointment  On-Line  or  Call 713-961-1432

Friend us on Facebook , and keep up to date on all the events and posts!

Here is where to keep your jewelry safe!

If you wish to keep your precious and fine jewelry away from burglars, fire or natural disaster, here are four things to consider. Determine where to store them, whether in a bank safety deposit box or an in-home safe.

  1. How valuable is your jewelry?
    Safe-Deposit-BoxesIf jewelry items have family memories, are irreplaceable or are very valuable, such as expensive jewelry or family heirlooms, you want to keep them in a bank safe/safety-deposit box.
    If they are not as valuable, has no sentimental value or can be easily replaced, an in-home safe is probably good enough.
  2. How often do you wear these items?
    SafeIf you only wear your fine jewelry, on special occasions, a bank safe works well.
    If you wear them nearly every day or at least once a week, then a good in-home safe is a better choice.
  3. Planning a trip or vacation?
    If you have plans to be away from home for 30 days or more, be sure to put all of your valuables in a bank safe-deposit box.
    For shorter periods an in-home safe is fine.
  4. How secure does your in-home safe need to be?
    An in-home safe should be tool and torch resistant (TL-30/TR-30) with a rating of 30 minutes or more. It should also be too heavy for a burglar to carry or be bolted securely to the floor of your home.

If you need advice about where to store your fine jewelry, contact the Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon today.

Virtual Appraisal - Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon3

With our NEW Service “Virtual Jewelry Appraisal” you can you can get a value for your jewelry without having to leave your home. Call us and we will setup a Skype or Face-Time session for a consultation. Information you can trust to place a value on your valuables. Book Appointment  On-Line  or  Call 713-961-1432

Friend us on Facebook , and keep up to date on all the events and posts!

October can be a Scary Month – So can Buying Jewelry!

Spiderpin

We VERIFY when you buy, sell or inherit jewelry!

Trust but always VERIFY every jewelry purchase!

How do I know if I’ve paid too much?
Cost is on everyone’s mind these days. And when purchasing an expensive piece of jewelry, it’s a challenge to comparison shop – especially if purchasing from the Internet – because you cannot see and touch the item before it is delivered. And under the bright lights of a jewelry showroom, EVERY gemstone becomes a seduction! To make it more difficult, sales persons often speak in terms of a jewelry investment!

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon Double Check DogPaid too much for a diamond?
Let’s face it, most of us do not buy jewelry as an investment. We buy it as adornment, symbols of love and affection, to celebrate an event, and to establish status. Whatever the reason, it’s not likely to be for investment purposes. (Investments can/do loose value too!)
To verify that a price is fair in today’s market, it’s important to obtain an independent valuation. The retailer who sells jewelry has a stake in the sale. If the retailer’s buying from an estate, there is a stake in this too.

An independent appraiser works only for you. His stake is his reputation. It’s important to assure fair pricing when buying OR selling jewelry, to obtain an objective opinion. For peace of mind, a independent opinion will assure that you do not over- pay for a diamond or for the insurance to protect it.

Snoopy Saturday2Book an Appointment Today!

Paying too much for insurance?
Over the years, paying too much for insurance can really add up. Assume you’ve been insuring two diamond rings for $10,000 each for a total of $20,000.

Replacement value of the rings by an independent jewelry appraiser may value them at $14,500. The insurance company doesn’t care that you have over insured by $5,500. In fact your insurance company probably raises your premium automatically each year by 5 – 10 percent assuming the replacement value will increase too. But actually, precious metals have only kept pace with inflation over the last 10 years which has been around 2 percent. And diamonds while they have held their value, only the most rare, largest and highest quality stones have significantly appreciated.

Meanwhile, your insurance premium might be higher each year. If you held that policy for only ten years, you would have likely over paid by $1000. The cost of a nice pair of earrings!

While the Jewelry Judge does not sell insurance, he does consult on insurance needs along with accurate and independent appraisals. Verify the value of your jewelry periodically to assure you are paying a fair price for protection. Book an Appointment Today!

Consumer Protection and Continuing Education

American Gem Society

Consumer Protection Since 1934

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LOCAL HOUSTON PROFESSIONAL CONTINUES COMMITMENT TO CONSUMER PROTECTION WITH JEWELRY INDUSTRY RE-CERTIFICATION

BBBAward2018-LindaandBenOct. 6, 2018 – Houston, TX –  Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon of Texas Independent Jewelry Appraisers has successfully completed the annual American Gem Society (AGS) re-certification exam. This mandatory exam was developed to maintain professional credentials, which demonstrates their ongoing commitment to the Society’s mission of consumer protection through continued education and upholding the highest ethical standards.

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon earned this designation following the completion of a course of study and examination. Every year Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon is required to pass an exam encompassing the latest industry developments, including topics on gemology, business, technology, legal regulations, and more.

“The foundation that the American Gem Society stands upon is comprised of our educational programs and credentials,” said John Carter, CGA, president of the American Gem Society Board of Directors. “It’s the way that we differentiate our members from the rest of the trade and completing the process is no small task.

Only one in twenty retail jewelers have chosen to meet the exacting standards required for membership. When purchasing fine jewelry, shop with confidence by visiting a credentialed American Gem Society jeweler. You can find an American Gem Society jeweler at ags.org/findajeweler. For more information regarding the American Gem Society, please call 866.805.6500 or visit the AGS website at www.americangemsociety.org.

The American Gem Society was founded in 1934 by Robert M. Shipley, as a nonprofit trade association dedicated to promoting a high standard of ethics, continuous education, and consumer protection within the jewelry industry.

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Jewelry Judge Speaks to Meyerland Residents on Helpful Estate Planning Tips

jewelry-judge-ben-gordon-group0Ben Gordon, also known as Houston’s Jewelry Judge, was the featured speaker at ‘Lunch with Friends,” at The Village of Meyerland this week. During his talk, “What’s in Your Jewelry Box?” his audience asked questions pertinent to their estate planning concerns.

Many audience members were frequent travelers and wanted to know about safe jewelry shopping when cruising. Others were considering selling the jewelry they have acquired over the years. Some mentioned that their children and grandchildren were not interested in inheriting their jewelry. When grandchildren are graduating with tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars in debt and parents have mortgaged the house to pay for tuition, this is not surprising.

Ben+Suitcase
The most frequently expressed concern was “How to avoid family conflict among heirs?” Mr. Gordon demonstrated how bickering could be avoided by having values of expensive jewelry items readily at hand to settle disputes. “Either you plan now or your heirs will need to settle disputes later,” Mr. Gordon affirmed. He encourages acting now, so heirs are not encumbered in the future.

One thing all the Seniors have in common is ‘vulnerability;’ knowing who to trust or where to turn when valuing or selling an expensive item. Mr. Gordon observed that he often provides a ‘second opinion,’ to reassure that an offer to buy is fair. “It’s always a good idea to Trust but Verify,” he advises.  “In their younger years, he commented, our clients were interested in protecting their fine jewelry from loss or theft. They came to us for insurance appraisals. Now, Baby Boomers, come for valuations for estate planning or, in some cases, even selling jewelry to meet current expenses.”
As a Master Graduate Gemologist and independent appraiser, Mr. Gordon does not buy or sell. This enables him to remain objective, basing his fine jewelry and watch valuations on facts. If a client wants to sell an item, he has a network of reliable sources to contact. This speaking engagement is part of The Jewelry Judge’s commitment to consumer education and public awareness.

Slide12

We’re Saving Trees!

No Animals Injured! And Now We’re Saving Trees Too!  

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon - Steam Cleaning a Ring“Our appraisals are non-invasive.  We clean, measure, weigh, test and photograph – all without injuring any sentient being, client or gemstone!”

Few clients realize that the feature gemstone in a ring or pendant can be measured without removing it from its mounting.

“That’s where the skill comes in,” explains Master Graduate Gemologist and Appraiser, Ben Gordon.  “Accurate measurements require excellent equipment and detailed calculations.  Our clients are relieved to learn that like a doctor, our first mission is to “Do no harm.”

Yes, better living through technology!  Our appraisal reports are sent as digital files that include photographs.  We save paper and our clients receive the information they need to protect their fine jewelry.

Mr. Gordon is known as The Jewelry Judge. His gem lab is located in Uptown/Galleria.

Insurance companies recommend updating a jewelry appraisal every three to five years.  The Jewelry Judge keeps digital archives that help with this process.

“In fact, Mr. Gordon reports, most insurance premiums increase steadily year after year – sometimes faster than the appreciated value of the item insured.”

Tango - Rescue Dog
Tango, a rescue from CAP, Houston

This makes it important to keep the appraisals updated to avoid paying too much for protection.  And if indeed, the value of an item has increased, then adequate coverage is assured.  An appraisal appointment may take as little as thirty minutes.

Protecting animals and saving trees may not be a reason to obtain a jewelry appraisal, but it’s nice to know that this appraiser is environmentally conscious and kind, too.

 

Man-Made vs Earth Mined Diamonds – 7 Considerations

The hottest topic in the jewelry industry is the controversy over Man-Made vs Earth Mined Diamonds.  Here are a few things to think about…

  1. Lab-grown diamonds are a technology product produced in a factory.

Pickup Diamonds

  1. Lab-grown diamonds will get bigger and cheaper as production technology improves, so the smart consumer should make sure that the jeweler they purchase a synthetic diamond from has a good buy back or upgrade policy.
  2. Lab-grown diamonds currently have no established resale market. This means they will not hold their value.
  3. Natural mined diamonds have a resale market for pre-owned diamonds, whether auctions, dealers, or wholesale buyers.
  4. As technology improves, you will find that the Lab-grown diamond price decrease, making any Lab-grown diamond you already own worth less than when you purchased it. The natural mined diamond value will be affected as well. The price of diamonds (without grading reports) will suffer due to the fact that they can’t be positively identified without lab testing of the mounted diamond. Without a grading report to assure that the diamond was identified as a natural earth mined diamond, a shadow of doubt will impact any value.
  5. The natural diamond market will also be affected by the influx of synthetic diamonds too small to be cost effective to grade or unmount and identify. The natural mined diamond value will be affected as well. The price of diamonds (without grading reports) will suffer due to the fact that they can’t be positively identified without lab testing of the mounted diamond. Without a grading report to assure that the diamond was identified as a natural earth mined diamond, a shadow of doubt will impact any value.
  6. The future of the natural earth mined diamond market will be in larger size diamonds, fancy colored and grading report certified diamonds.

JJLogowithGavel Professional Opinion:

“Lab-grown diamonds provide affordable fashion jewelry that may not be forever, but may be just perfect for your budget right now. With no resale market for pre-owned lab-grown diamonds once you buy it, wear it and enjoy it.”

 

When comparing precious gemstones for purchase it’s always recommended to get an unbiased and independent opinion.  Many jewelers will hold a credit card in exchange for a 24 hour examination period of gemstones or jewelry.  The Jewelry Judge specializes in consulting before an important purchase is made.  Come see the Jewelry Judge before you commit to a purchase.

Book Appointment  On-Line  or  Call 713-961-1432

Here To Stay: Man-Made, Lab-Grown, Synthetic Diamonds

DiamondsLab-grown (Synthetic) diamonds are here to stay and will only become more widespread in the retail jewelry market.  These lab-grown diamonds are virtually indistinguishable from natural diamond and will fool pretty much every conventional diamond testing method.

A lab-grown diamond is not an imitation or fake. A Lab-grown diamond is made of the same material as a natural earth diamond, with the same physical properties and crystal structure. It  has the same hardness, the same refractive index, and many of the same visible features.  A Lab-grown diamond is a diamond produced inside of a factory instead of deep in the earth over millions of years ago.

Specialized Knowledge and Testing Technology

Lab-grown diamonds are beautiful, the colorless, high clarity material being made is identical to the best quality natural diamonds and is currently about half the cost.. While the lab growth process may occasionally leave some microscopic indications that the diamond is man-made, , often without specialized knowledge, gemologists are challenged to identify it as a synthetic without removing the diamond or sending it to GIA or AGS for a grading report.   The Jewelry Judge stays current with the technology and identification procedures.

JJLogowithGavel

“As an appraiser I do not debate the merits of lab-grown versus natural earth mined diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds are here to stay, and the mass production of factory lab-grown diamonds is changing the jewelry industry.”

 

When comparing precious gemstones for purchase it’s always recommended to get an unbiased and independent opinion. Many jewelers will hold a credit card in exchange for a 24 hour examination period of gemstones or jewelry. The Jewelry Judge specializes in consulting before an important purchase is made. Come see the Jewelry Judge before you commit to a purchase.

Book Appointment On-Line or Call 713-961-1432

Helpful Estate Planning Tips

Jewelry CollectionJewelry Judge Ben Gordon

Master Graduate Gemologist/Appraiser

Judges-Web-banner2

You are invited to a FREE informative and entertaining program

What’s in Your Jewelry Box? – Helpful Estate Planning Tips

11:00 am – 12:30 pm

Tuesday, September 25, 2018 at The Village of Meyerland, 4141 North Braeswood at Beechnut. (3rd floor multipurpose room)

If you enjoy The Antiques Roadshow, you won’t want to miss this!

Lunch will be provided (choice of pasta, salad or sandwich with beverage and desert)

Seating is Limited – so reserve your space now

RSVP to Linda Gordon at 713 961-1432

JJ logo

Less Than Natural?

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon See the Judge x

As a consumer, you will regularly encounter gems that are synthetic man-made or have been treated.

  1. Lab-Grown Synthetic Diamond, Ruby, Sapphire and every other gemstone are commonly created in a lab and sold in the jewelry market place. Were they described as such by the retailer or on-line merchant? Were they sold as natural?

The increased use of synthetic diamonds, sometimes referred to as lab-grown or man-made diamonds, in jewelry and their marketing make accurate identification and disclosure even more important. Non-disclosure of synthetic gems causes consumers to over pay for them, believing that they are of higher value than they are. 

2.  Gemstone Treatments to enhance their color and/or clarity are common in the jewelry market place. Are they disclosed or sold as Natural, Untreated gemstones.

Non-disclosure of treatments causes the consumer to believe that a particular gemstone is of higher quality naturally and more valuable than it actually is. It is legally required for anyone selling a gem (including consumer to consumer trade) to disclose the treatment procedure it may have received.

3. Gemstone Coatings have been perfected to create any color in gemstone look-a-likes.

4. Even Nano Glass-Ceramic materials are sold and used in jewelry, since they appear similar to natural gemstones and are available in hundreds of colors to match any gemstone.

JJLogowithGavelWhen comparing precious gemstones for purchase it’s always recommended to get an unbiased and independent opinion. Many jewelers will hold a credit card in exchange for a 24 hour examination period of gemstones or jewelry. The Jewelry Judge specializes in consulting before an important purchase is made. Come see the Jewelry Judge before you commit to a purchase.

The Jewelry Judge has extensive training and experience to identify not only the gemstone, but also any treatments or coatings that may be present. Trust the Jewelry Judge to detect colorless synthetic diamonds, treatments, as well as detecting colored diamond treatments and synthetics.

Colorimeter

Book Appointment On-Line

Trust But Verify every fine jewelry purchase!

Better than a Box of Chocolates!

Here’s a story with a wonderful happy ending!  Our client brought in a box of costume jewelry and miscellaneous chains.  During our consultation and while she participated, we separated anything that was of some value from the costume pieces – mostly for sale as scrap gold.  There were a few items with sentimental value as these were from a family member who had recently passed away; and a tangle of miscellaneous pieces.

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon - Box of Jewelry

We cleaned several items to reveal any stamping or branding marks and found a generously sized blue stone ring in the pile of jewelry. Here’s the prize we found.

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon - Aquamarine RingAfter testing the center stone for authenticity and researching this ring, we discovered that the center stone weighed over 22 carats, and the ring was stamped Buccellati.  It was a stunner!

We delivered a full appraisal report to our client and referred her to a reputable New York auction house, Fortuna.  With our appraisal report, our client was able to set her reserve price.

The opening bid was $4,000 and the final knock-down price was $28,000 – well exceeding our client’s expectation.

Our clients benefit from the strategic partnerships we have established.  It’s our job to research value and potential ‘salability’ and we were very pleased that the owner of the aquamarine sparkler was happy with the price she received.

What started as a simple sorting and identifying task turned out to be a surprise treat for us all.  That’s better than an entire box of chocolates!

What’s in your jewelry box?  Call for a consultation to find out!

Jewelry Care: Do Not Use These Old Wives’ Tales

JJ 65years

With 65 Years in the jewelry industry, I have been around longer than some of these wives’ tales!

CleaningSupplies#1 – Toothbrush and Toothpaste

They are great for your pearly whites, but not your pearls or any other type of jewelry. The abrasives in toothpaste will scratch metals and softer gemstones and buildup in crevices.

#2 – Ammonia, Windex®, and Mr. Clean®

Ammonia, Windex, denatured alcohol, acetone and other harsh cleaners can dull or pit the surface of softer gemstones.  While these cleaning agents may be safe on harder gemstones in small concentrations, most of us do not use the correct ratio, making them a bad choice.

#3 – Hydrogen Peroxide

While many of us know hydrogen peroxide to be an effective disinfectant, it is not really designed to be a cleaner. In some cases, it may have a chemical reaction with sterling silver and other metals, harming the finish. Professional products from your jeweler are your best bet.

#4 – Bleach

Bleach is not safe for cleaning jewelry, as it damages metal alloys in gold.
This is also why it is not recommended that you wear your jewelry while swimming or in a hot tub because both bleach and chlorine are often used to clean them.

#5 – Vinegar and Lemon Juice

Old wives are big fans of vinegar and lemon juice, and they are great cleaning agents for many things. Just not for jewelry. Both are way too acidic and abrasive, which is damaging to metals and softer gemstones.

Cleaning and condition check

The Jewelry Judge cleans every piece of jewelry brought in for a consultation or appraisal, so that the condition of the gemstones and mounting can be properly evaluated.

Make an appointment today!

If you would like the Jewelry Judge to speak at an upcoming club or organization meeting, he does so for FREE to educate and protect the jewelry consumer!

Make an appointment today!

What is an Estate Settlement?

Estate SettlementThe process of estate settlement is designed to accomplish 3 things:
• determine what assets were owned by the deceased and place a value on the assets,
• transfer the assets to the correct people or institutions, and
• pay any taxes that may be due.

 

 What’s at Stake? – Dissent after Death
These tasks are the responsibilities of the estate Executor or Administrator who is often a family member in the ‘hot seat.’ Often, they must be accomplished during a period of high emotions when family members are struggling with grief and loss. Sibling and other fierce rivalries can and do arise.

Here are typical situations that Jewelry Consultant Ben Gordon encounters frequently:
Estate Consultation• Two high value rings and one diamond necklace, but four grandchildren. How should they be divided?
• Three siblings – each one wants to inherit Mom’s engagement ring, but she didn’t leave instructions.
• Dad had a collection of tie pins in every color gemstone, but none of the sons wear ties.
• Grandmother had several large pearl necklaces. Impressive, but worth keeping?

Each situation can benefit from a neutral intermediary. Mr. Gordon doesn’t arbitrate family feuds, but he DOES offer independent and objective valuations that can end disputes and bring peace of mind in a time of turmoil.

Family Feuds Averted
In the first instance with two rings and a necklace – he can calculate the fair market value to arrive at a dollar total that can be divided equally in four ways. Especially if the grandchildren do not intend to wear grandmother’s jewelry.
In the case of one engagement ring but three siblings; surely Mother didn’t intend to create a family division. Once the value of the ring is determined, an equitable split can be divided. If one sibling gets the ring, then the other siblings can receive different items from the remainder of the estate of equal value.

As for Dad’s tie pins – with a known value, the sons can decide together who receives which tie pin and may elect to redesign the stones into something they or their spouses might wear and enjoy.

And the pearls – perhaps their value will go to a future tuition payment for a grandchild; or, if they turn out to be frankly fake costume jewelry, they can be donated to a charity thrift shop or enjoyed in dress- up play for some little princess!

Harmony Restored
As a graduate gemologist and jewelry consultant, Mr. Gordon can bring each estate situation to a harmonious resolution. All it takes is a consultation. He works by appointment and will consult with multiple family members so that everyone hears the same details. He can also provide itemized inventories and written reports, depending on the amount of detail required by the estate administrator.

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon - Houston Jewelry Appraisal - While You Watch
Settling an estate requires a team effort to coordinate between attorneys, accountants, medical professionals and family members. A jewelry consultant should be one of the professional team members as well – especially if an estate is to be probated.
Consider valuing jewelry before an unexpected death takes place. Updating previously valued items is faster and easier than researching from scratch and may be less costly.

Peace of mind from a trusted jewelry professional – What’s that worth to your heirs?

Jewelry Appraisals in Houston

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon is the most experienced independent jewelry appraiser in the Houston area. With 65 years of jewelry industry experience you are getting the best appraisal for your money.
Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon - Recognized for 6Years-3

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon’s –  3 Step Jewelry Appraisal Process:

  1. Examination: AppraisalsWe precisely examine the property to be included in the appraisal report while testing gemstones, metal properties, obtaining measurements and taking photographs. The information on the items is then recorded in preparation for research and the final appraisal report.
  2. Research: Research time is the time taken to compile test results to identify the gemstones, calculate weights and determine grades. Time is also taken to locate comparable items, determine manufacture dates, investigate retail markets and consult experts, as necessary. Values calculated for appraisals are based on comparable sales analysis for each item.
  3. Report: All appraisal reports are printed and bound. A PDF copy and photographs are emailed to client for backup purposes. Included in the report is a cover letter detailing the process taken and definition of values used; the jewelry, gemstone or watch descriptions with photographs and value conclusions, diamond grading definition page (where needed), references and instruments page along with the appraiser’s qualifications.

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The Jewelry Judge – Identifying Pearls

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon - Pearl IDPearl is the Birthstone for June and the 30th wedding anniversary. The Jewelry Judge shares his knowledge and experience with clients everyday.

How do you tell the difference between a natural pearl and its cultured cousins?

Do you know the difference between freshwater cultured pearls and Japanese Akoya?

Pear Necklace

The most valuable cultured pearls are saltwater pearls that originate from oysters of the Pinctada family and include Akoya, Tahitian and South Sea varieties.  They are prized for their nacre, the iridescent outer layer of the pearl, and satiny luster.

Pinctada fucata is the species of oyster used by Kokichi Mikimoto, the Japanese pearl farmer and entrepreneur credited with creating the first cultured pearl.

OysterCultured pearls are created by taking a spherical bead nucleus, inserting it into the oyster to provide a catalyst around which the nacre grows, forming a pearl. If a bead nucleus is present when looking down the drill hole, this is confirmation of a cultured origin.

Pearl StrandsChina uses mussels in farming the freshwater cultured pearls they produce in large quantities. Freshwater pearls are usually more affordable than saltwater cultured pearls and they are available in a wide range of prices, shapes, sizes and colors. Tissue-nucleated freshwater pearls are mainly baroque with some variations while bead-nucleated pearls are mostly semi-round to round.

There are many pearl look-a-likes (imitations) on the market including plastic, shell-coated beads, mother-of-pearl beads and even glass beads that contain ground fish scales called ‘essence d’orient’.

Identifying Pearls:

  1. Rub the pearl across your front tooth, it should feel gritty, not smooth.
  2. Rub two pearls of a strand together, once again they should feel gritty, not smooth.
  3. Evaluate the drill hole. The pearl’s drilled hole is a smooth cross cut, while the faux bead will have a punched out appearance.
  4. Cultured pearls are not perfect in appearance. Faux beads are perfectly round and smooth without defects.
  5. Over time paint chips may be noted as faux beads age.
  6. Weight of cultured pearls is heavier than faux beads.

 

The sizes of cultured akoyas overlap those of freshwater pearls, but the superior luster and surface quality of akoyas will stand out when compared to freshwater pearls.

Caution:

  1. Be on the lookout for treatments that are used to enhance color. Inexpensive freshwater cultured pearls may be dyed black to imitate Tahitians or dyed gold to simulate South Sea golden pearls.
  2. Inspect the exterior surface of the pearl for concentrations of dye, or peer down the drill hole to determine if dyed after drilling.
  3. Sometimes lighter-colored Tahitians may be dyed or the bead nucleus irradiated so the pearl appears black.

Identifying pearl types and treatments can be a complex task.
See the Judge and he will share his expertise during a consultation.

May Birthstone Emerald

emeralds-roughEmerald is the May Birthstone, as well as, the 20th and 35th Anniversary Gemstone.

When the Spanish came to the Americas, Europeans saw how beautiful emeralds were as Colombian emeralds were brought back to Europe by the conquistadors.

Today Emerald has moved back into its position as one of the “big three” gemstones, with  Sapphire (1st) and ruby (2nd).  New mines and increased production brings many beautiful gemstones from Zambia and Muzo in Colombia is now back in production. Both mining and selling will increase the availability of emerald in the market place.

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon Double CheckKnow what you have by getting a Jewelry Judge Consultation.

It is common knowledge that Colombian emeralds (and other colored gemstones) are undervalued, since their rarity and beauty still catch the attention of investors. But over priced on-line sources are way too common. Like the diamond and other gemstones,  emeralds can be judged according to the 4Cs: color, cut, clarity and carat weight. These gems are highly prized and intensely colored ones can be quite rare, so make sure that you get a Jewelry Judge Appraisal Report or Consultation.

Most gemologists agree that it comes down to color, clarity and transparency when purchasing an emerald. Color should be evenly distributed and not too dark.

Determining if you have a Columbian Emerald is done using a Chelsea filter, which is basically a blue filter, that reveals hidden secrets in the different wavelengths of a gemstone. If the stone under the Chelsea filter looks pink or red, it is a Colombian emerald (Brazilian and African emeralds remain green due to iron content in the gem).

If the stone looks green, it is something other than Colombian emerald (tourmaline or green glass, etc.). This is because emeralds have a double peak spectrum, one in the red zone and one in the blue zone which cancel each other out and produce what our eyes detect as (Emerald Green).  The Chelsea filter takes advantage of this spectrum by blocking the blue part of the spectrum and only allowing the red or pink to come through.

emerald1Inclusions are a natural part of an emerald. Emerald is harder than quartz or tourmaline and resists most scratching and wear. It is not as hard as diamond and sapphire, and may be damaged if dropped or bumped hard. Small microscopic fissures are common to emerald due to the crystal structure.

The normal processing that takes place after cutting and polishing an emerald, includes the treatment of  fissures that reach the surface (if any), which are (Treated) masked with a colorless oil (usually Cedarwood Oil) or resin to reduce the visibility of those fissures. This simple and low-tech process is accepted as normal by the gem industry and is called clarity enhancement which may be minor, moderate or significant.

Emerald color is unaltered by this treatment and remains natural. Oiling does not detract too much from the overall value of the stone when inclusions are present. But it’s all about the color, hue and saturation of the gemstone!

Emerald2

Be Careful: Emeralds set in jewelry may last for centuries with the proper care. Since the many natural emeralds contain filled fractures, it’s risky to clean them in an ultrasound or with steam. Ultrasonic vibrations can weaken already-fractured stones, and hot steam can cause oil or unhardened resin to come out of fractures. Leaving you with an ugly looking gemstone. Because of this we do not recommend Emerald as a “Daily Wear” item such as an engagement ring, but rather as a social or event piece that you can show off on an occasional basis.

Cleaning: Use warm, soapy water coupled with a soft toothbrush and gentle scrubbing for the safest way to clean emeralds.

Trust has been the hallmark of our appraisal business, it is the reason our clients continue to bring their precious jewelry to us.

Mr. Gordon is an advocate for consumer awareness and demonstrates his community commitment by regularly delivering talks to educate and protect the public.

What's Your Jewelry Worth?