Category Archives: Appraisal Types

Different appraisals for different purposes/Why do you need an appraisal

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

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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!

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

 

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

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February Birthstone – Amethyst

Amethyst Rough and cutAmethyst is not only the February Birthstone, it is also used to celebrate the 6th and 17th wedding anniversary. Amethyst is the perfect color to provide warmth and strength during this winter month.

Amethyst is the purple variety of quartz. While amethyst is most commonly recognized as a purple color, the gemstone color range is a light pinkish violet to a deep purple.

Sometimes, they will have layers of color variations, so the way the gemstone is cut is important to the way the color shows through the top of the finished gemstone.

Amethyst stripes

Amethyst Ring3Amethyst jewelry has been found and dated as early as 2000 BC, and has been associated with many myths, legends, religions, and numerous cultures. Some historical accounts say that Saint Valentine had an amethyst ring carved with an image of Cupid. And for those familiar with Old Testament history, amethyst was one of the twelve gemstones that represented the twelve tribes of Israel.

 

mohs scale

Is it OK to have an Amethyst Engagement Ring?

Amethyst is appropriate for everyday wear, but its Mohs hardness of 7 means it will show wear over the years and may require re-polishing. Today, consumers make unconventional engagement ring choices, choosing birthstones or other colored gemstones rather than diamond. It’s a personal choice.

 

When looking to purchase Amethyst:

  1. Visit and consult the Jewelry Judge, who is trained and certified to ensure that the consumer gets the best information to make a great purchase.
  2. Check the color of the stone. Amethyst often has “stripes” or layers of color from how and when it was formed, so the cut and polish of the stone is important to show the overall color evenly. Avoid brownish or rust colored tints to the stone and be careful the color is not too deep or it can appear black in some lights.
  3. Look for clarity in an amethyst. Most gemologists will favor a richly colored stone with some minor inclusions (not eye-visible), since the color of this gem is so highly prized. In lighter colored amethysts, visible inclusions will greatly reduce the value of the gemstone.

During early history, amethyst was held to be one of the most precious gemstones, and it was the exclusive choice of clergy as a symbol for the deity of Christ. Today, availability of abundant supplies of amethyst allowed the commercialization and marketing to the general public.  Amethyst’s abundance means the price difference between large and small sizes is minimal, so it is a great gemstone for a statement piece. Larger rings, earrings or pendants can make a great addition to any jewelry collection. Smaller amethysts can be deeply and richly colored, making these pieces pop and get noticed.

Does Where an Amethyst is Mined increase it’s value?
Jewelers and dealers often tell consumers origin matters, because an amethyst from Siberia or Zambia might have a better color than amethyst from Brazil. Origin alone does not add or detract value to amethyst or any gemstone. The Jewelry Judge bases Value on the 4Cs of Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat size, which like diamonds helps determine the quality. Color is the most important value factor regardless of the country of origin for Amethyst and most gemstones.

What’s AAA Quality Amethyst?
Individual companies and dealers often create their own quality descriptions, like AAA, AA, A to denote the range of quality for their goods. No Standard quality grading scale has been accepted by the industry for amethyst or any colored gemstone. The Jewelry Judge uses the 4Cs for Diamonds to guide value for amethyst and all colored gemstones.

What are Enhancements or Treatments?

Gemstone treatments or enhancements refer to the way some gemstones are treated to improve their appearance or durability, or even change their color. Many gemstones are treated in some way (such as heat) to improve their color. The effects of some treatments may lessen or change over time and some treated gemstones may require special care.
Enhancements do affect the value of a gemstone, when measured against a comparable untreated gemstone.

Treatments and/or enhancements should always be disclosed by the seller, along with any special care that might be required. You can shop better by taking the time to learn how to buy jewelry. It can seem like a lot, but with a short consultation with the Jewelry Judge, you’ll be shopping like a professional in no time.

Here are a few basics to get your shopping jump-started:16-SimsBlue

What are natural gemstones?
Natural gemstones come from the earth and are mined worldwide. Some natural gemstones can be enhanced, which means sometimes they are treated in some way (such as heat) to improve their color.

What are imitation gemstones?
Imitation or simulated stones look like natural gemstones in appearance only. This includes tinted glass, cubic zirconia, moissanite or other material that resembles natural stones when treated. Laboratory-created and imitation stones should be clearly identified by the seller, but too often are not.

What are laboratory-created gemstones?
These stones, which can also be referred to as laboratory-grown, manufacturer-created, man-made, or synthetic, have essentially the same chemical, physical, and optical properties as natural gemstones (but not the value). Laboratory-created gemstones do not have the rarity or value of natural-colored gemstones. Although they are similar in many ways to natural gemstones, a professional gemologist like the Jewelry Judge will be able to recognize their difference with proper testing.

Here are four sure fire tips to assure a great purchase:

  1. Compare before you decide. We frequently help couples decide between two or three center diamonds . Often they appear quite differently under the microscope which is almost never on the sales counter in a jewelry store. Local jewelers will often hold a credit card for 24hrs while our clients bring in diamonds for our evaluation. This is called a pre-sale consultation and could save thousands of dollars.
  2. Trust but verify It’s not unusual for us to have a client bring in a $20,000 or $50,000 diamond that was purchased on the Internet. We authenticate and match the stone to the laboratory report that came with the purchase to assure everything is ‘kosher.’ Get a Jewelry Judge Double Check!
  3. Insure before the honeymoon We do not sell insurance, but can show our clients how to obtain no obligation complementary insurance quotes.
  4. Condition Check – Our laboratory instruments can detect small chips or fissures in a diamond that might have occurred during the stone setting process. It’s fairly common to find a chipped corner hidden under a prong that was squeezed to tightly. Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon Double Check

What Do You Charge for an Appraisal?

Many potential customers call or text asking what does an appraisal cost.

A Doctor cannot provide the price to fix a broken arm before seeing the arm and getting X-rays! A doctor needs to see the arm to know how bad the break is, where it is and whether surgery will be required in the hospital or as an out- patient procedure.

Broken Arms

Jewelry Appraisals require getting some details from an initial look at the jewelry to determine the complexity of the job before a price can be set.

We try to explain to them that we need to preview the item to determine the complexity (number of stones to measure and grade, rarity, age and designer, time for research, and other factors), as these will affect the appraisal fee, which will vary according to the item.

Cluster Ring Solitaire

A cluster ring with multiple diamonds of varying sizes and shapes is more complex than a ring with a single gemstone.

 

There is NO FEE to Estimate the Cost of your Appraisal before we start the process. We always estimate your fee and Obtain Your Approval before we start any appraisal work.

If you feel the FEE is unreasonable you are under No Obligation to continue the appraisal work and you have lost nothing but the time of the initial look.

Book an Appointment for a No Obligation Appraisal Estimate today!

 

 

The Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon specializes in the appraisal of estate jewelry!

Estate Jewelry

estatejewelryThe Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon specializes in the appraisal of estate jewelry for buyers and sellers alike.  Estate jewelry comes in many shapes, sizes, and styles. Pieces can be made from diamonds, gold, silver, turquoise, and other rare and precious metals and gemstones.  Name brand pieces are popular, as are rare and well-crafted pieces from bygone times and from around the world.

Selling Estate Jewelry?

Do you have old, rare, valuable, or unique pieces that you would like to sell?  Wedding engagement rings, loose diamonds, and diamond earrings are some popular items today.  We can provide you on the spot verbal consultation of value for these and similar pieces.  Best of all, we can often direct you to local merchants that pay higher prices than most people often obtain on their own.  With 64 years in the jewelry trade and a longstanding appraisal business in estate jewelry, Ben has the expertise required to appropriately identify, price and provide the history of estate jewelry.  Talk to the Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon today about any unwanted estate jewelry you have lying around.

artnouveau Buying Estate Jewelry?

Are you an antique, estate and swap meet fanatic?  Looking for old, rare, valuable, or unique pieces of jewelry?  Once you find that perfect piece to express your feelings of love, talk to the Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon.  Ben has the expertise required to appropriately identify, value and give the history of any piece of estate jewelry.

Safeguard Your Jewelry

jewelry-judge-ben-gordon-group0Most seniors, both men and women, have had a life time to either inherit or receive several pieces of fine jewelry.  After years of accumulating fine jewelry and watches, the majority of a senior’s estate jewelry goes undocumented until it becomes a job for their children.  The burden of cleaning out closets, furniture, nick-knacks and keepsakes to be distributed among children, grandchildren, and favorite charities may also fall to your children.  Don’t leave your fine jewelry to chance!

1houseTransitioning from one home to another is stressful and often little things fall through the gaps in planning.  With jewelry it is often only after a loss that we recognize the importance of the piece.  The history, memory or story, whether a gift or family heirloom, it is wise to document your jewelry with an appraisal.

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon recommends having an appraisal when jewelry is purchased to confirm the value and ensure you have not unknowingly purchased an item that was improperly identified or misrepresented.

jewelry-judge-ben-gordon-jewelry-box

When preparing to move, Ben recommends documenting fine jewelry, watches, diamonds and colored gemstones with an appraisal report.  An appraisal or consultation of fine jewelry, watches, diamonds, and colored gemstones is also important for insurance replacement, estate distribution, liquidation and both pre/post purchase confirmation.

Safety Tips When Moving:

  1. Before you move, make sure all your fine jewelry, watches and gemstones are insured.
  2. Keep it with you, Place it in a safety deposit box or Have a family member lock it away for you until you are settled.
  3. Seniors downsizing to a senior community, appraise and document your jewelry, to include who will inherit each piece for estate-planning purposes.
  4. If moving to a condo, apartment or senior community, check your renter’s insurance policy for what is covered and check other insurance companies, who specialize in insuring jewelry.
  5. Update appraisals every 3-5 years because of continually changing market values.

When it comes to fine jewelry, being under-insured, especially for emotionally meaningful
family pieces, can be devastating when it comes to theft, fire, flooding or other loss.

jj-64yearsJewelry Judge Ben Gordon provides gemstone and jewelry appraisals for insurance, probate and estate purposes, as well as consultation services for pre-purchases, for those wanting more information before buying jewelry on-line or from local stores.  Ben Gordon, Master Graduate Gemologist/Appraiser has been appraising jewelry in the Galleria area since 1975.  Ben brings over sixty-four years (64) experience to his business.

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon is an “independent” appraiser, not affiliated with any retail establishment or jewelry manufacturer, and we do not buy or sell jewelry.  We represent the client, exclusively.  Our “While You Watch” appraising offers customers the opportunity to learn and participate in the appraisal procedure from beginning to end, providing the comfort of knowing that your jewelry never leaves your sight.

Pick Up & Delivery Available!  We provide pickup and delivery of your jewelry for valuation consultation or appraisals with a guaranteed 24 Hour turn around.  Senior discount available, know what you have and what your jewelry is worth, call us today!

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.  For more information about speaking engagements or appraisals, click jewelryjudgebengordon.com or find him on the Houston Better Business Bureau website.

We Do House Calls!

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.