Get to Know Ben Gordon...
Starting in the jewelry business in 1953 in New York's Diamond District, my career spans six decades and includes expertise in design, manufacturing, retailing and appraising. Texas Independent Jewelry Appraisers specializes in consulting with professionals such as attorneys, insurance agents and authorities seeking advice on lost or replacement items, legal testimony, estate issues.
Appraisals are done in our Gem Lab located within minutes from the Houston Galleria. We also travel to you as necessary Click on Mobile.
The Jewelry Judge is our licensed brand name. It explains what WE do... WE judge jewelry - evaluate the facts about diamonds, grade them, and render an opinion based on established standards. What's Your Jewelry Worth?
With the wedding and travel preparations, it’s easy to forget the seemingly small detail of replacement protection.
Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon provides appraisal and consultation services, while you watch, either at our Gem Lab or at your home and your jewelry never leaves your sight. We want you to watch and ask questions during the entire process.
All gems and jewelry are photographed, weighed, measured, tested, evaluated and documented with a professional written report. Appraisal reports are thoroughly researched in the appropriate markets. Along with the printed and signed original report they provide PDF copies of the reports and copies of the photographs including micro-photographs of the gems and jewelry detailing identification features and the condition of the gems and/or jewelry, are easy to email to your insurance company.
Coverage can be in place before you arrive at your romantic destination ready to enjoy a worry-free honeymoon. Let us show you how easy it is, Book an Appointment Today!
Here are some valuable tips to help you protect your jewelry.
Dirt buildup may increase the wear of your jewelry. Visit the Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon at least once a year to have your Fine Jewelry professionally cleaned and inspected for worn or cracked prongs, faulty clasps, or other potential problems.
Salt water and jewelry do not mix. Ocean water can damage some gemstones and metals.
Exposure to chemicals can damage and discolor precious metals – like gold, silver and platinum – and may harm colored gemstones. Remove jewelry before going into chlorinated pools or hot tubs, and while using household cleaners.
Remove Jewelry before swimming as fingers often constrict in water, making rings more likely to fall off.
Avoid heavy blows to your diamond. Diamonds can chip if struck at the right angle.
Keep jewelry in unlikely places. Jewelry boxes are an obvious place for thieves to look.
When traveling, keep valuable jewelry at home or store it in the hotel safe.
Don’t place or store your jewelry near vents, grates, sinks or drains.
Pearls are easily damaged by an array of personal products like cosmetics and lotions.
Most burglaries happen in broad daylight. Always keep doors and windows locked during the day.
If you bump or snag your jewelry, have it inspected for potential damage that may be unnoticeable to you.
Always take time to place jewelry in a secure place, not in a pocket, on a counter, or in a public area.
When not wearing your jewelry, place each item in a separate, soft, compact container. If cluttered together, jewelry can become scratched.
One of the best ways to keep valuable jewelry collections secure is to store them in a burglary and fire-resistant safe.
When speaking of diamonds, the “F” word can mean Fracture, Fissure or Feather. These terms all describe naturally occurring characteristics within a diamond that affect its clarity.
Fractures are breaks in diamonds that are not parallel to the cleavage plane. Fractures are usually irregular in shape, making a diamond look chipped.
Fissure or Cleavages are cracks in a diamond that occur in a straight line. If the cracks reach the surface or run deep, the durability of the stone may be reduced with the possibility of the diamond breaking with age.
Feathers are cracks in the stone that resemble the design of feathers. The presence of feathers in a diamond usually does not affect the life of the stone unless and until the feather runs through a major length of the stone or shows major stress points where it can break.
Fractures, fissures and feathers cannot be polished out to enhance a stone, but they CAN be filled with a type of liquid glass containing lead (Pb). This process is somewhat like filling a crack in a car windshield.
The imperfection is still there but it is just less visible to the naked eye. This “fracture filling” is known as “clarity enhancement” or “CE.” It makes a less perfect stone look better to the eye.
Filling these fractures does not strengthen the stone. In fact, if subjected to heat and pressure – such as when the diamond is reset, resized or cleaned – the stone can become damaged and even break. Even a slight tap in an unfortunate spot can ruin a treated diamond.
What does “CE” do to pricing and value?
“Clarity enhanced” or “fracture filled” diamonds should carry a lower price. They will still sparkle, but they are certainly less valuable and should be priced accordingly.
If you want to achieve the sparkle of a large diamond with high clarity, but the one you really want is beyond your budget, a fracture filled or ‘CE’ clarity enhanced diamond may be just the thing for you. Be aware though that such a diamond does not have the rarity or the intrinsic beauty of an untreated diamond and your price should reflect this.
A Fraudulent Practice?
Not necessarily. “Fracture filling” only becomes unethical when clarity enhancement is intentionally concealed and not disclosed at the point of sale.
Should the Jeweler Disclose Enhancements?
FTC Guidelines for the Jewelry Industry strongly state that “it is illegal for a Diamond Seller NOT to Disclose that a diamond has been Clarity-Enhanced by fracture-filling.
Customers should ask for a diamond grading report and verify that they understand exactly what they are paying for. Each term used in describing a diamond on the grading report should be discussed at the point of purchase. A knowledgeable and trusted independent jewelry appraiser is needed when making important purchases.
What should I do?
When you are unsure, it’s a good idea to seek the advice of a third party independent jewelry appraiser who is also a gemologist. If you have a concern about a recent diamond purchase, bring it in to the Jewelry Judge as soon as possible.
For the informed consumer, there is no reason to fear the “F” words. We are here to help you enjoy a fantastic and fun experience with your fascinating diamond purchase.
Note:A diamond grading report is not a guarantee of value, merely a description of the unique features of a specific diamond based upon laboratory examination – but that’s the subject of another article!
Summertime is a Good Time to Update Insurance Appraisals
Insurance carriers suggest updating insurance values every three (3) years to assure adequate coverage in the case of loss or theft. With upcoming vacation travel plans, it’s always better to be safe and plan ahead. Why not update your appraisals before you travel so you’ll have peace of mind while away.
Confidence comes with a Jewelry Judge Appraisal Report and includes a complimentary condition check and cleaning.
Routine inspections and cleanings assure that your jewelry stays in good condition. During an inspection, the Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon looks for broken or worn prongs, weak clasps, or other damage before a diamond or gemstone is lost.
If it’s been three to five years since your last appraisal or if you’ve acquired additional Fine Jewelry items, you’ll want to visit us to review the value and update your appraisal report. Call 713 961 1432 for an appointment.
Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon provides appraisal and consultation services of Diamonds, Colored Gemstones, and Fine Jewelry for insurance, estate and division of property.
We evaluate estate jewelry, whether in a jewelry box;
Or, in a suitcase! Our Gem Lab or a location of your choice.
Ben advocates fair pricing and helps his clients understand and protect their valuable assets. His informative public awareness programs for interested groups and professional organizations provide numerous practical consumer tips.
His informative public awareness programs for interested groups and professional organizations provide numerous practical consumer tips. For more information about appraisals, consultation services and speaking engagements, go to our website.
The heart of a home is a mother
Whose love is warm and true,
And home has always been a “sweet home”
With a wonderful mother like you!
We wish all past, present and future Mother’s a special Thank You! We know our mothers, wives and daughters have brought more joy and happiness to us than we can list. They have made us the people we are today.
Passion is the fire in your soul that lifts your spirit! Jewelry is the outward expression of passion, one person’s LOVE for another!
We often ask clients if they love the jewelry they have, then we inquire more deeply by asking for the story behind the jewelry, to learn they are very passionate about the piece and the family history attached to it!
Regardless of your line of work, those that are passionate about what they do are happier, more grounded and positive. They generate positive energy that benefits everyone. So live with passion in everything you do, with everyone you meet, and everything you touch.
Passion will become infectious and that’s a great virus to spread!
“Jewelry is not merely adornment. It is family history, emotional attachments, family history and loving memories. And of course, for us, it’s a passion!”
Norovirus is an epidemic of gastroenteritis, happening all too often on cruise ships. Limit your exposure by:
Washing your hands frequently with soap and water.
Washing fruits and vegetables and ensure seafood is cooked thoroughly.
When you are sick, do not prepare food.
Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces.
Wash laundry thoroughly and machine dry.
Pirate Virus is an epidemic of Tourists easily separated from their money.
Limit your exposure to overpaying for jewelry by avoiding:
Inflated List Prices – Nothing says value like a price tag. Pirates inflate “list” prices on the tags, trying to lure you into thinking the jewelry is worth much more than it is. Then if you bargain they will reduce the price and still make a pirate’s profit.
Light Makes White – Bright lights make every diamond look better. Pirate shops may have special light bulbs to make a yellowish diamond glisten white.
Hide the Flaws – Pirates may hide flaws under the prongs of the setting. Under the prong, an I1 clarity may appear like a more valuable VS2. Learn more about the 4Cs.
Grade Bumping – Pirates exaggerate the grade. Pirates will be INACCURATE by one or two color and clarity grades since you do not know which lab definitions they use. Pirates like to provide a range, such as G-H color.
Laser Drilling – Pirate diamonds may have drill holes to hide dark carbon impurities and enhance the diamond clarity when viewed by the naked eye.
Fracture Filling – Pirates use inexpensive fracture filled diamonds, which make the flaws invisible, but the diamond is unstable and likely to break.
Synthetic Diamonds – “Natural” Lab Grown diamonds are everywhere! Especially on pirate ships where synthetics may get mixed-in with natural mined diamonds. Learn more about Synthetics.
CZ, Quartz or Moissanite – Diamond look-a-likes “simulants” can fool you and every pirate knows it. You might come home with a $12 cubic zirconia that cost you $2,000. It is amazing how these look-a-likes get mixed into pirate jewelry.
The 50% Off Sale – Pirates love Huge Sales (don’t you?). Don’t fall for it, pirates mark up everything, then mark them half-price during a sale. Liquidation and “going out of business” sales use the same ploy.
If you want to enjoy the Bounty and avoid over priced Pirate Booty, come in for a Jewelry Judge Consultation before your cruise! We will educate you on trends and scams we are aware of, as well as arm you with the knowledge to make you an informed consumer.
Beware of buying diamonds, gemstones or jewelry while on a cruise. Enjoy your vacation, enjoy the food, company and souvenir T-Shirts, but avoid the pirate jewelry. Put the money you will have saved from not buying the pirate jewelry toward another holiday! Bring us along as your guests!
We often see clients with jewelry purchase nightmares! Luckily the forensic evidence documented by a Jewelry Judge Appraisal Report may go a long way to resolve disputes and avoid going to court! A case in point involves a center stone engagement ring with Cadillac* cut side diamonds shown here.
Following our original appraisal our client’s wife decided to change the design by replacing the side stones with baguettes. Per her request, her jeweler created a new setting with baguettes instead of the Cadillac cuts. Our client came to us with the re-designed ring for a revised and updated appraisal.
The jeweler told them the Cadillac cuts were less desirable than baguettes. But he knew a diamond supplier in New York who would take the side stones ‘off their hands’ in exchange for smaller baguettes and some cash. The jeweler charged $$$$ over and above the trade-in value. He was extremely slow in providing the finished design (a potential red flag for any custom jewelry work!).
The jeweler never described the quality of the replacement side diamonds, so the client was not aware of the fluorescence present in one of the replacement baguettes; nor was she aware that both side baguettes were a lower color grade than her original side diamonds. Furthermore, the original mounting was PT950 platinum and the new mounting was PT900 platinum which is a less costly material.
When the gemologists at The Jewelry Judge examined the new ring design under the microscope, it was discovered that the center diamond had the GIA laser inscription hidden behind a prong and the diamond seating was poorly done. Several scratches were also present on this new mounting. The baguettes tested as a lower quality than the original Cadillac cut side diamonds that had been documented scientifically in our original appraisal report.
Armed with the Jewelry Judge appraisal report of their original ring; detailed photos and our written assessment; together with the newly documented observations and the updated valuation, our client requested the return of the original stones in their original ring design.
The jeweler argued defensively. But in the end, confronted by the written report documentation from The Jewelry Judge, he returned the original ring and refunded the client’s $$$$.
Our client was happy to be made whole with the return of the original ring – thanks to a Jewelry Judge Appraisal!
Protect your jewelry with a Jewelry Judge Appraisal Report and be sure to come back for periodic updates. This client was certainly happy they did!
Note: The Jewelry Judge does not buy or sell jewelry. We are ‘independent’ appraisers which means we avoid conflicts of interest by not carrying an inventory, not buying and not selling jewelry from or to our clients. We represent our client’s interests exclusively!
*Cadallac cut is described elsewhere in the documentation as ‘shield’ shape also known as ‘step cut trapezoid.’
Is a diamond with a ‘certificate’ more valuable than a diamond without one?
The term ‘certificate’ is no longer valid in the diamond industry, but it is used as a marketing buzz word by jewelers. The preferred term is ‘grading report.’ There is a cost associated in obtaining a grading report, and diamonds without them may be sent to a laboratory at any time to be graded.
There is a major difference in the source of grading reports because different gem grading laboratories may use different grading standards. The industry standard diamond grading reports are provided by GIA (Gemological Institute of America). We do not rely on grading reports from laboratories outside of the US. There are ‘credibility value’ concerns to grading reports, since they may vary depending upon the laboratory that has issued the report.
President Ronald Reagan once said “Trust but Verify”.
Anyone buying a diamond, whether loose or set in jewelry, regardless of the origin of the lab report, needs an ‘Independent Appraiser’ capable of examining the diamond to confirm identity, quality, and value of the diamond. As well as, ensure that the diamond grading report matches the diamond, so that if there are any questions they can be addressed and verified immediately.
Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon is available in his Houston gem lab to consult and appraise jewelry for insurance replacement, estate probate, division of property, and for consultation whenever you are buying or selling.
Is a diamond with a ‘certificate’ more valuable than a diamond without one? The difference in value between two identical diamonds would be the cost of the grading report.
For most diamonds already set in jewelry a Jewelry Judge Appraisal Report may be more economical and more useful to you. We use the same unbiased and scientifically-based assessment of your diamond’s qualities and go a step farther in assigning a value based on current market conditions and the quality of the diamond. In the end, what you really want to know is: What’s my jewelry worth?
Every piece of jewelry we examine has a genealogy, a story to tell. Jewelry talks to us and we listen. No, we don’t hear voices! We provide Genealogy with Gemology!
Our experience and training has taught us to recognize manufacturing techniques, fashion trends and styles. We can also identify patterns of wear that may reveal the personality and lifestyle of the original owner.
Our clients tell us we are psychic! No, we are just passionate about what we do. Appraising is our business, Jewelry is our Passion!
We are a link between the past, present and future of each piece of jewelry we have the pleasure to examine. Material value is, of course, important when appraising for insurance purposes, but we have an understanding of each item that goes beyond its material value to include the emotional story that it reveals.
Each ring, pendant, bracelet or earring holds memories for a future generation like a time capsule waiting to be opened. Even brand new contemporary items hold a story. Jewelry tells the story of Real People, sometimes the story is a mystery to be solved, sometimes, it’s a story of a life time to be remembered, appreciated, and handed down to heirs. Jewelry is not merely adornment, it is family history, emotional attachments and memories. And of course, for us, it’s a passion.
It’s not about the things we have, it’s about the memories we make! Few gifts in life can surpass the feeling of receiving beautiful jewelry. Ensure your gifts last and protect the memories by having them documented and insured. A Jewelry Judge Appraisal Report accurately documents and determines the current market value of jewelry, watches, diamonds, and gemstones. Too often the TRUE value is not realized until after the gift has been lost.
Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon, 5433 Westheimer Road, Suite 606 Houston, TX. 77056
Call for an appointment 713 961 1432 we try to accommodate your busy schedule!
House Calls are not something from the past. You have seen Mobile libraries, mobile dentists, mobile x-rays, even mobile pet & people groomers. Trust the Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon for a mobile independent jewelry appraisal.
Typically with diamonds, colored stones, and fine jewelry, appraising requires a consultation in the appraiser’s office or a gem lab. But today’s gem and jewelry technology is mobile.
Master Graduate Gemologist/Appraiser, Ben Gordon and his team of GIA (Gemological Institute of America) graduate gemologists make house calls, office visits, and consultations in the Greater Houston area wherever feasible.
“These days, especially for parents or family members with limited mobility, we are frequently asked if we can go to the client’s location. Some clients are unable to travel across town with a suitcase full of jewelry that has been accumulated over a lifetime, so we travel to them,” Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon remarks. “We go where we are needed.”
“It’s not as easy as it sounds,” he adds. “We need to bring specialized equipment along, but we are willing to help our clients who require this additional service.”
Before determining the value of a jewelry piece, a condition check is done to be sure there are no loose stones or bent or broken prongs. Precious stones and diamonds are examined for chips or cracks. Then the jewelry is steam cleaned. All of this before the weighing and measuring begins. Metals are also tested to determine the karat weight of the gold, i.e. 14k, 18k or 22k. An onsite visit may take from two to four hours or more depending upon the number of jewelry items to be appraised.
Ms. Mary Carlson, Graduate Gemologist and member of the professional team at The Jewelry Judge, travels with the mobile laboratory that includes a jeweler’s microscope equipped with special lighting and a refractometer used to test light bending in gemstones. “The mobile lab is heavy, but quite compact. I am comfortable lifting weights. In fact, weight lifting is part of my fitness routine!” she adds.
Who uses mobile appraisal services from Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon? Baby Boomer seeking estate planning evaluations, residents of assisted living facilities, time pressed executives unable to get away from the office, trust and loan officers who must periodically value collateral, and families and individuals who do not wish to transport valuables from a bank vault.
Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon is not affiliated with any retail jewelry store. “Being an independent appraiser is important to me and our clients,” Mr. Gordon explains. “It means we do not buy or sell for our own account and therefore can be completely impartial in our valuations.”
Home visits for doctors may be pretty rare these days. But mobile jewelry appraising is seeing an increase in demand. Just one more specialized concierge service from the Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon.
1.Learn about the four Cs — the color of the diamond, the clarity of the diamond, the quality of the cut of the diamond, and the carat weight of the diamond. These will have the greatest impact on value and price of the diamond. Know the 5th C – Confidence comes with a Jewelry Judge Appraisal Report!
2. Check store reputations — always purchase from a jeweler who has been in business for a number of years. If you are not familiar with the jeweler or online site, check their reputation and rating with the Better Business Bureau and the American Gem Society before you buy.
3. Buy a certified diamond — it comes with a diamond grading report that has been issued by an independent, unbiased gemological institute (GIA or AGS preferred). This way, you have the opportunity to compare one diamond’s details to that of another, at the same store or different one.
4. Grading report — always purchase diamond jewelry accompanied by a grading report. The grading report provides an unbiased assessment of a jewel’s four Cs. It informs you if a stone is synthetic – in other words, man-made or laboratory grown – or has undergone any treatments, which may dramatically affect the value. Be sure an accredited gemological institute, such as GIA or AGS, has graded the diamond jewelry.
5. READ the store’s return policy — most reputable retailers have at least a 30-day, money-back guarantee, although there may be some cases where the jewelry is not returnable, such as if it has been custom-made for a particular client or engraved with unique initials.
6. Use a credit card — pay with a credit card and keep the receipt for your records, as it’s a legal document that protects the consumer should anything happen to the diamond. It may be required when making a return, always READ the store’s return policy for better protection. If there are any problems, make sure you deal with it as soon as possible to qualify for consumer protection against fraudulent transactions.
7. Bring it to the Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon — for verification many jewelry stores and on-line merchants will send the jewelry to our gem lab in advance of your purchase so we can authenticate the diamond grading report prior to your purchase. If not, bring it in for verification as soon as possible!
Download this PDF Document and share it with your friends and family.
Do you want a Natural diamond, a Synthetic diamond, or a Simulant?
Whether you are looking for BLING, an investment, expressing your love, saving money or saving the environment, your choice of gemstone is a personal thing. As long as you know what you are getting, you can enjoy your purchase. There is nothing worse than being misinformed during your engagement ring hunt!
Here are a few things you need to know:
Diamond Simulants — mimic the look of diamonds and include cubic zirconia, moissanite, quartz, and glass, just to name a few. Simulant Retail Value approximately $200 per carat or less.
Synthetic Diamonds — laboratory-created, lab-grown, or man-made diamonds have the same physical and chemical properties as mined diamonds. Synthetic Retail Value is approximately 20 to 50 percent less than mined diamonds, but varies greatly between manufacturers and the size/color of the synthetic diamond. Synthetic Diamond Grading Reports are being issued by gemological laboratories. These reports provide no guarantee and no recourse.
You won’t be able to tell the difference between a natural mined diamonds a simulant or a synthetic lab-grown diamond. With Gem Lab Equipment, Our Experienced Graduate Gemologists Know the Difference.
3. Natural Diamonds – refers to diamonds made through geologic processes, taking hundreds of millions of years to form. Only 30 percent of diamonds that are gem quality, bright and beautiful, end up in jewelry, the rest are only good for industrial uses.
The four Cs made up of the color, the clarity, the quality of the cut, and the carat weight of the diamond have the greatest impact on the value and price. Know the 5th C– Confidence comes with a Jewelry Judge Appraisal Report!
Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon, 5433 Westheimer Road, Suite 606, Houston, TX. 77056
Call for an appointment 713 961 1432 we accommodate your busy schedule!
Ever wondered who came up with the brilliant (no pun, of course) slogan, “A Diamond is Forever?” Would you believe, it’s only been around since 1948? De Beers was experiencing a post Depression era slump in sales. Since then, the slogan is identified with emotion and longevity, love and immortality – representing a major change in advertising concepts that promote the feelings about a product, not the product itself. If you enjoy the psychology of sales and, of course, the glitter of diamonds, read the full article appearing in The Washington Post …. .
Clients come to us after a cruise vacation to obtain insurance appraisals on the jewelry they purchased. This story almost NEVER has a happy ending! We will continue to document cases like the following…
Our client traded her diamond earrings with .80 ctw stones (SI) for 1.75 ctw diamond earrings (I-2). That’s right I-2/3. Remember I stands for Inclusion. A clarity grade of I-2/3 means the diamond is of industrial quality – not worthy of fine jewelry. But this is not the most painful issue.
In addition to surrendering her pretty earrings, she paid an additional price of $20,000 for the privilege of purchasing the larger, but inferior quality earrings. Yes, size does count, but quality should trump size in most diamond purchases.
Is it a crime if you GIVE your jewelry and money to a Pirate? Maybe it’s not illegal, but is sure is a shame!
How could we appraise low quality stones for their replacement value when the client overpaid by thousands of dollars – maybe even tens of thousands? This is a real dilemma for appraisers and insurance companies as well.
Have fun with the costume jewelry and souvenir purchases and enjoy the vacation. Put the money you save from the diamond purchase toward another holiday! But please beware when buying diamonds while on a cruise!
Verification is what we do in our gem lab on a daily basis. Often the paperwork or certificate from a gem lab does not match the stone that accompanies it.
We ‘call them as we see them.’ This past week we examined a diamond ring with a certificate grade for the stone of SI-1. While we agreed with the color grading, we determined the clarity to be SI2 – 3. This meant that the owner had received a lesser quality stone than he thought he was buying.
With the information we provided, he was able to return the stone to the jewelry retailer in exchange for a better quality stone with a GIA certificate – the more trusted grading laboratory.
This type of discrepancy happens more and more frequently so Buyer Beware – Trust but Verify. Here is a helpful link to a news network broadcast:
Texas Independent Jewelry Appraisers welcomes you to our new specialized site. Appraising jewelry in Houston’s Galleria Area now since 1975, TIJA serves the client who typically seeks expert diamond, gemstone and fine jewelry appraisals for specialized needs.
Principal Ben Gordon is a Master Graduate Gemologist and Appraiser with over sixty years in the jewelry industry.
Mr. Gordon and his qualified staff provide written appraisals and consultations for:
– Fair market purposes
– Replacement value
– Division of property
– Business purposes, i.e. wholesalers and retailers buying or selling
– Legal cases involving identification for the return of property