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


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.


  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!


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.

World Class Service for Global Clients

SafeComprehensive Appraisal and Consulting Services for Houston, Galveston, Corpus Christi,Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Fort Worth.

As well as, Global Travelers!

I am committed to providing world class services with personal attention, sensitivity and confidentiality for our clients. By providing services by appointment only, your privacy and security are assured.

jewelry-judge-ben-gordon-photo-for-website.jpgEngagement Ring Appraisals – Purchasing a diamond engagement ring is an important decision. Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon is available to help you protect your new asset, be it a recent purchase or family heirloom. We are also available to consult before you make your purchase, helping you choose wisely.

Safe-Deposit-BoxesEstate Appraisals – Fair Market Appraisals are issued to establish a basis for equitable distribution of assets, estate tax preparation, dissolution of marriage asset assessment and pre-sale valuations for auction and other secondary markets.


Ad Layout-940-400 Slide (Judge)


Is diamond pricing based solely on the 4 C’s of color, clarity, cut and carat weight?

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon - GIA 4CsWhile the concept of the 4 C’s for diamonds was provided by GIA in 1953, and is a great industry standard today, there are additional factors to consider when pricing a diamond or other gemstone.

For example, the enhancement or treatment of a diamond (and gemstones) must be included as a price factor because it can have a significant impact on the price. Diamond treatments such as fracture filling and high heat + high pressure treatment did not exist prior to the 1980’s, but are common today. As are synthetic lab-grown (man-made) diamonds and look-a-likes, both have much less value than natural earth mined diamonds.

Transparency is also another price factor. Transparency is describes how clear, hazy, cloudy or opaque a gemstone is. It’s a separate factor from clarity. Hardly ever mentioned by retail jewelers, transparency has always been a value factor for colored gemstones, and it can be just as important as color in today’s diamonds.  Non-transparent diamonds are becoming more common in today’s color diamond market.

4CsSalespeople like a quick easy way of presenting gemstone pricing to their customers, so they use the 4 C’s.

The Jewelry Judge does not sell or buy gemstones or jewelry.

I provide you information on how gemstones are valued during your appraisal process. To do that, I am committed to providing you with complete, accurate, up-to-date information, in order to answer the question: What’s Your Jewelry Worth?

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon Double CheckThat all being said:

Get a second opinion with a Jewelry Judge Double Check!



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’s Your Engagement Story?



jewelry judge ben gordon with real peopleCelebrate!
You did it! Consider toasting your engagement with a night on the town, a glass of bubbly or a celebration with friends and family.

Tell your engagement story on our Facebook page and receive a FREE Jeweler’s Loupe.

Did He/She Keep it Traditional?
Was it an intimate setting, preferably one with family and friends waiting nearby?
Did He/She drop to one knee and let your heart do the talking.

What was the Location, Location, Location?
Did he/she Propose from an extreme location – atop a mountain, while skydiving, or on the shores of a romantic and faraway beach.

What was his/her inspiration?
Did he/she use modern technology for a Twitter or Video proposal.

Cluster RingEmail or post your story and pictures on the Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon Facebook page and we will send you a Jeweler’s Loupe, so you can admire that engagement ring up close!


Spread the News!
Your partner will most likely handle this for you, but make sure to share the big news with people you know.  Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon will also share it on his Website as well as his Facebook Page.

Thanks for Sharing!
Share your engagement story to your social media and get a chance to WIN ONE of THREE Books:  Gem Care, Consumer Guide to Colored Gemstones or Gemstone Buyer’s Guide-Pocket Edition.

Even when your diamonds come with a grading report that provides an objective analysis of the 4Cs, you need an Independent Jewelry Appraiser to verify you received exactly what you expected. Grading reports from AGS Laboratories and GIA Laboratories are the most trusted in the industry.

So Make an Appointment for a Jewelry Judge Double Check for Peace of Mind.

Houston’s Most Experienced Jewelry Appraiser!

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon Double Check

JJ 65years

Believing 3 Common On-Line Myths Can Cost You When Buying Jewelry

IMG_3225In an age where everything can be purchased with the click of a button, it is easy to get ripped off by unethical On-Line merchants. You really can’t tell the quality of the gemstones or workmanship of the jewelry from On-Line descriptions and images.

If you buy fine jewelry without ever seeing or touching the item, how do you verify you received what you expected and that the on-line description matches the item?

Here is a quick rundown of some common myths, truths and Jewelry Judge recommendations:

1 – MYTH: It Comes with an Appraisal, so I know I am getting a GREAT Deal!

TRUTH: The merchant has a vested interest in selling, which may create a conflict of interest when they provide an In-House Appraisal, is it really an impartial valuation?

RECOMMENDATION: Always have your purchases authenticated by a qualified independent gemologist/appraiser to make sure you got what you paid for and to verify the diamond matches the grading report, the Jewelry Judge can verify the quality and value represented by the on-line merchant.

2 – MYTH: They have a 30-Day Money Back Guarantee, that’s all that matters.

TRUTH: Verify the terms of the 30-day money back guarantee, as the merchant may place limitations on returns, charge a restocking fee or ONLY provide you with an exchange or store credit, not a full refund.

RECOMMENDATION: Never buy from a site that does not have a no-questions-asked return policy. Imagine buying a ring from a site that has no return policy and then finding out that it can’t be sized due to the design. Or buying an antique ring stated to have rose cut diamonds and a natural emerald only to find out it’s a modern reproduction using a diamond look-a-like and the green stone is aventurine quartz not emerald. The Jewelry Judge can identify and verify the quality represented by the on-line merchant.

If there are any problems, it is important you deal with it immediately to qualify for consumer protection against fraudulent transactions.

3 – MYTH: It is a Certified Diamond.

TRUTH: There is no such thing as a certified diamond — it may come with a diamond grading report, which should provide an unbiased assessment of a diamond’s 4Cs, and detailing if a gemstone is synthetic – in other words, man-made or laboratory grown – or has undergone any treatments, all of which dramatically affect the value.

RECOMMENDATION: Be sure an accredited gemological institute, such as GIA or AGS, has graded the diamond. This way, you can compare one diamond’s details to that of another, at the same store or different one. The Jewelry Judge can verify the report matches the diamond you received from the on-line merchant.

GIA Report

Some on-line sellers, as well as, brick & mortar stores may allow your purchase to be shipped directly to the Jewelry Judge Gem Lab prior to your payment so an independent appraisal can be performed before you commit to buying it.

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon Double CheckTrust but Verify, with a Jewelry Judge Double Check!

A Jewelry Judge Double Check verifies all the details of your jewelry purchase to ensure you received what you paid for. Ben Gordon is not affiliated with any retail  establishment or jewelry manufacturer, and Does Not Buy or Sell jewelry.

We represent you, the client, exclusively.

Book Appointment  or Call 713 961 1432. We do our best to accommodate your busy schedule.   Visit our website:  The Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon

Still have a question? Get in touch with us by email and one of our experts would be happy to assist you!

What Should You Do With Mom’s Jewelry?

Estate3 A parents death is a traumatic and difficult experience for those left behind.

Don’t let the estate settlement of your jewelry cause additional complexity or disharmony among your heirs.

We know jewelry is important to some and less important to others.

To some it is memories and a story that connects them to the dearly departed.

To others it represents a financial gift.

Protect Your Inheritance by ensuring you have fair market value appraisal reports for your estate jewelry and include a copy with your will. Designate an heir to receive each piece or have the estate sell the jewelry, since cash is always easier to fairly distribute.

Prevent misunderstandings and ill feelings. If you are in the process of settling an estate that includes jewelry, bring it in for a consultation, so we can help identify what is real and what is costume jewelry. Too often people discard items, thinking them fake when they are actually real. Some costume jewelry has value as collector items.

Don’t let some appraiser come in and cherry-pick the best pieces.

We Do Not Buy or Sell Jewelry!

Come in for a Jewelry Judge Consultation, call (713) 961-1432 or Book an Appointment On-Line Today!

Did You Find A Diamond?

Diamond Simulants
Earth Diamond or Something Else?

There are many Synthetics and Simulants sold on-line.

Our Gem Laboratory regularly receives near-colorless transparent crystals for identification. Often because the jewelry was purchased on-line or at an estate sale or flee market and the seller sold them as, or it was hoped by the buyer that they were diamond.




One such stone finding it’s way into the jewelry market is phenakite. Phenakite is misidentified most often as quartz or diamond. Phenakite is colorless, pale yellow, pink, or brownish and valued at approximately $85 per carat. Colorless Quartz at $2 per carat (because it is so abundant) is more often misrepresented as Phenakite.

Interestingly, phenakite was named in 1833 from the Greek word for “deceiver.”
Needless to say, the value of phenakite is very different from both quartz and diamond.

Faceted and polished phenakite, shows little fire but can be very bright, which is why labs have synthesized this mineral and may use them as diamond imitations in jewelry. The most common diamond imitations are high-leaded glass (i.e., rhinestones),  cubic zirconia (CZ), and lab-grown moissanite. But white sapphire or topaz can also be used as alternatives to diamond. Sellers are required to disclose the gemstones and any treatments used.

Despite the outward similarities to quartz and diamond, phenakite has very different optical and physical properties. One indicator is that phenakite has birefringence and a lower specific gravity, which would rule out both quartz and diamond as a possible identification for this stone.

Simulants are much less expensive than Natural “real” earth mined diamonds. Imitations allow consumers to enjoy the flash and dazzle of diamond-like jewelry and to inexpensively own the latest fashion trend. But no matter how convincing the illusion, all diamond simulants have optical and physical characteristics that can be identified by a trained gemologist.

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon Double CheckGet a Jewelry Judge Double Check!

Come in for a Jewelry Judge Consultation so you know what you have, as well as, verify you received what you paid for!

3 Reasons to get an Independent Appraisal

Slide 4 All Its Worth-Nov1

  1. Many jewelers are very knowledgeable about the jewelry they sell. But most have trained in jewelry sales – not jewelry science! They may not have the necessary precision gemological instruments, gemological knowledge, nor the latest computer technology required for analysis and appraising fine jewelry.
  2. A retailer has a vested interested in selling, which may create a conflict of interest clouding anyone’s ability to provide an impartial valuation. (Even if it is FREE!)
  3. The majority of insurance companies require an appraisal from an independent appraiser before providing a policy. Accepting an appraisal from a retail jeweler  may result in having a claim denied or a pay out reduced.


Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon is a Master Graduate Gemologist and Independent Jewelry Appraiser with over 65 years in the jewelry industry. As a Graduate Gemologist (GIA), he is trained to identify and grade diamonds, colored gemstones and pearls, as well as being knowledgeable in fine and antique jewelry.

For Integrity and Honesty, Trust the Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon.

JJLogowithGavelJewelry 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 when you are buying or selling.

Book Appointment  or Call 713 961 1432. We do our best to accommodate your busy schedule.   Visit our website:  The Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon

Jewelry Appraisal Checklist!

When getting jewelry appraised, you should ensure that the appraisal comes with key information. Insurance companies need this information to price and issue a policy. Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon Appraisal Reports follow these strict guidelines when appraising jewelry for you.

  1. Identification of all gemstones along with their shape, measurements, and weights.
  2. All diamonds described by the “Four C’s” color, clarity, cut, and carat weight.
  3. All major colored gems described by their color with a recognized description system detailing hue, tone, saturation, clarity and cut.
  4. Pearls should be described by their color, luster, nacre, shape, blemishes, size and matching.
  5. Metals should be described as to their carat content (14K, 18K, etc.) as well as platinum and other metal groups.
  6. The type of construction, craftsmanship, design and makers mark.
  7. A photograph of the item from all sides.
  8. The date, appraiser’s name and signature, addendum information, and qualifications page.
  9. The value and the purpose or function of the appraisal.

If your previous jewelry appraisals are one-paragraph long, on a napkin, have no photo, or appears to be a generic report, it’s time to step up to the professional documents supplied by The Jewelry Judge. It’s your best protection in the event of loss or damage to your jewelry.

Confidence comes with knowing what you have and what it’s worth! Set up an appointment with the Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon for TRUE confidence:

  • 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’s 65 years of professional experience.

That’s what a Jewelry Judge Appraisal Report delivers to every client.




Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon

5433 Westheimer Rd, Suite 606, Houston, TX 77027

Phone:  713-961-1432  –

Diamonds may be forever, but your jewelry appraisal is not!

There’s a time limit for appraisals of all jewelry containing gemstones and precious metals. Values change from year to year.


Why and When should you get an old appraisal updated?

  • If your past appraisal is 3 or more years old, an insurance company needs current information as to condition and value.
  • If you are changing insurance companies.
  • 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.

“An appraisal is a reality check of value at specific date in time,” Ben continues.
“An appraisal must give as complete a description of an item as is needed to indemnify the insured in case of damage, loss or theft. Without accurate identification, it cannot be accurately valued or replaced, should the need arise.”

Ben 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.”

                FOR ALL ITS WORTH

An independent jewelry appraisal solution for confidence:

  • 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 with 65 years of professional experience in the jewelry trade.

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

The On-Line Diamond Buying Secret – Sellers won’t tell you!

In today’s point and click world, when you are buying online you really can’t see the quality of the gemstone or workmanship.


Never buy from a site that does not have a no-questions-asked return policy. Imagine buying a ring from a site that has no return policy and then finding out that it can’t be sized due to the design. Or buying an antique ring stated to have rose cut diamonds and a natural emerald only to find out it’s actually a modern reproduction using a diamond look-a-like and the green stone is aventurine quartz not emerald.

Diamond Simulants
Is IT Real?

Look for a GIA or AGSL Diamond Grading Report (improperly called a certified diamond on-line) with the diamond. GIA and AGSL are the most trusted gem grading labs around.

GIA Report

Look for at least a 30-Day Money Back Guarantee. Verify the terms of the 30-day money back guarantee as it gives you time to make sure your purchase is perfect. If you need to return it for any reason, the seller may provide you with an exchange or full refund.

Always have your purchases authenticated by a qualified independent gemologist/appraiser to make sure you got what you paid for and to verify the diamond matches the grading report detailing the quality represented by the on-line store.

As an “independent” appraiser, we are not affiliated with any retail establishment or jewelry manufacturer, and we do not buy or sell jewelry. We represent you, the client, exclusively.

Some on-line sellers, as well as, brick & mortar stores may allow your purchase to be shipped directly to our gem lab prior to your payment so an independent appraisal can be performed before you commit to buying it.

Confidence comes with knowing what you have and knowing what it’s worth!




65Book an appointment with the Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon for confidence:

  1. confidence that you received what you paid for!
  2. confidence in knowing your jewelry never leaves your sight!
  3. confidence in a Master Graduate Gemologist/Appraiser with                                            65 years of professional experience in the jewelry trade.

That’s what a Jewelry Judge Consultation or Appraisal Report delivers to every client.

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon, 5433 Westheimer Rd, Suite 606, Houston, TX 77027

713-961-1432  –

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!



Why is a Jewelry Appraisal like a Home Inspection?

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon -3WhiteWhileYouWatch You need to know;

  • What you’re getting before you buy.
  • The features of the house and if any features reveal the need for repair or maintenance, before you make a commitment.
  • Comparable values of similar homes for sale, under contract or sold in the area.
  • if there are any ‘money traps’, was everything properly disclosed to you.
  • Assure you’re getting what you pay for in a house.
  • Know the price you paid is fair.

How much risk are you willing to take by undervaluing, or overvaluing your new home?

Think about what you are willing to pay for a home? $65,000?  $250,000? over a $million?

Now replace words ‘house’ and ‘home’ in the above text with ‘Diamond’, ‘Engagement Ring’ or ‘Estate Jewelry’.

And think about what an appraisal report could be worth to you…to your heirs….

As with a home inspection you expect a written report with accurate measurements, clear photographs, and detailed descriptions prepared by a qualified professional and delivered in a timely manner.


Arrive at your Jewelry Judge appointment with questions and concerns – You will leave with peace of mind.

Chinese Freshwater Cultured Pearl

 2017 Pearl Update – Know What You Have – Get a Jewelry Judge Consultation Today!

Freshwater pearl farming was initially started in Japan in the 1930’s, but today China is the biggest commercial producer of freshwater pearls.  Fine quality Chinese Freshwater pearls are growing in the gem trade.  Chinese freshwater pearls have earned widespread consumer appeal thanks to the many varieties, shapes, colors and styles. Per strand prices in the hundreds and even thousands of dollars are not unusual.


There are mainly two different types of farmed pearls, tissue nucleated and bead nucleated.  Nucleation is the process of growing cultured pearls by inserting a foreign object, the nucleus, into the mollusk.  The mollusk covers the nucleus with nacre until a pearl is formed.  The nucleus can be a bead or a piece of mantle tissue from another mollusk shell.  Beads provide a larger more uniform pearl in less time for the farmers.

edison-pearls The biggest sellers in the freshwater market are Edison pearls, which are bead nucleated, big and round. Fine and extra fine pearls command the highest prices because they are popular with buyers, large sizes ranging from 12mm to 20mm, and for their smooth surface, excellent luster and vivid colors of white, peach, pink, gold, metallic, plum, and aubergine-purple.

Buyers need to be aware of increases of pearl farming labor costs. Small Chinese Freshwater Cultured pearls under 3.5mm reflect a 20% to 40% increase in 2017. Note that these stronger prices reflect the finest quality freshwater pearls.


Over production of freshwater pearls in China has caused large inventories and lower prices for average quality and dyed pearls.


There were plenty of strands in Tucson available in 10mm to 11mm rounds for $25-$45 per strand (unstrung) wholesale.  While average to below average quality, these were still amazingly low prices. Fine and extra fine pearls were far less common and much more expensive.


Emeralds – Know what You Have!

emeraldrings1Emerald has rapidly moved back into 3rd place as a gemstone in jewelry. It is positioned as one of the “big three” gemstones, just behind sapphire (1st) and ruby (2nd) by jewelry designers and buyers.
Increased production has helped generate the new buzz for emeralds, with many beautiful gemstones coming from Zambia and with Muzo in Colombia now back in production, both mining and selling are in full swing.emeralds-rough

Know what you have by getting a Jewelry Judge Appraisal Report or Consultation.

Many Colombian emeralds (and other colored gemstones) may be undervalued, since their rarity and beauty still catch the attention of investors.  But over priced on-line sources are all too common.

Quality Emeralds from Colombia are superior when compared to Brazilian and African gemstones.  The emeralds from Colombia are considered to have the finest color, and are used as the yardstick by which all other emeralds are judged.

Determining if what you have is a Columbian Emerald is done using a Chelsea filter, which is basically a blue filter, which will reveal hidden secrets in the different wavelengths of a stone.  The Chelsea filter was originally devised to separate green glass (or any green tone)
from emeralds. 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).  This is because of the unique light spectrum of emeralds, which has a double peak, one in the red zone and one in the blue zone which alternatively cancel their peaks out and accentuate the light spectrum our eyes detect as “emerald green,” a color unmatched by any other gemstone.  The Chelsea filter takes advantage of this by blocking the blue part of the spectrum and only allowing the red or pink to come through in a Colombian Emerald.  If the stone still looks green with a Chelsea filter, it is something other than a Colombian emerald (tourmaline or green glass, etc.).

As a consumer, you will regularly encounter marketplace gemstones that have been treated to change their appearance.  Because these treatments are not always apparent to the unpracticed eye, and are sometimes difficult to distinguish even by experts, it is necessary and legally required for anyone selling a gemstone (including consumer to consumer trade) to disclose all treatment procedures it may have received.

emerald1Inclusions are a part of the natural beauty of an emerald.  Emerald is harder than quartz or tourmaline and resists most scratching and wear.  It is less hard than diamond and Sapphire, and like all gemstones, it may be damaged if dropped or bumped hard.  Also, small microscopic fissures are common to emerald due to their crystal nature and current mining methods.  After cutting and polishing, emerald fissures that reach the surface (if any) are 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.  The Emerald color is unaltered by this treatment and remains natural.

Emeralds set in jewelry have lasted for centuries, and with the proper care, your emeralds will do the same.  Since the great majority of natural emeralds are fracture filled, it is dangerous to clean them ultrasonically or with steam.  Ultrasonic vibrations can weaken already-fractured stones, and hot steam can cause oil or unhardened resin to come out of the fractures.

Clean by using warm, soapy water coupled with a soft toothbrush and gentle scrubbing. This is the safest way to clean emeralds.

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.

Engagement Ring Shopping in 2017?

jewelry judge ben gordon with real peopleConsider Confidence

Regardless of where you purchase your engagement ring and diamond from in 2017. The cut, clarity, color and carat weight (the 4Cs) are definite contributing factors to the value of the diamond, but there are three more Cs to consider before & after shopping for an engagement ring.

Confidence – that’s what a Jewelry Judge Appraisal will deliver

  1. Confidence that the buyer is getting what they pay for.
  2. Confidence in knowing they can conveniently and easily have a written appraisal for insurance purposes or consultation for peace of mind.
  3. Confidence in a Master Graduate Gemologist/Appraiser’s professional experience.

See the Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon on Houston’s Channel 2 November 14, 2016 Consumer News Report 


The Curse of Turbulent Love

la-peregrina-pearl The Curse of Turbulent Love – La Peregrina Pearl

Photo Credit:  Ana Herda

Elizabeth Taylor loved her gemstones and jewelry!  One of her favorites was La Peregrina Pearl, a 50.6-carat pearl, one of the largest natural pearls in the world, measuring approximately 0.7 inch by 1 inch in size.

La Peregrina means “the pilgrim” or “the wanderer” in Spanish.  The pearl was discovered
in the Gulf of Panama during the 16th century. King Philip II of Spain gave the pearl to
Queen Mary I of England before their marriage in 1554, but the King abandoned her and she died in 1558 without providing an heir. Queen Mary I was nicknamed “Bloody Mary” after her death because of the hundreds of Protestants she ordered to be executed during her five-year reign.

Following the Queen Mary’s death, King Philip II took La Peregrina Pearl back. the King then proposed to the dead queen’s younger half-sister, Elizabeth I.  The pearl was worn by Spanish royalty until the 19th century, when Napoleon Bonaparte invaded and seized the Spanish crown, and the pearl.

La Peregrina Pearl was passed down to members of the Bonaparte family, but was ultimately sold to Lord James Hamilton in 1873.  It was then sold at a Sotheby’s auction in 1969 to Richard Burton, who gave it to his wife, Elizabeth Taylor, as a Valentine’s Day present.  The couple married and divorced twice, with their second marriage lasting only nine months.  Elizabeth Taylor held on to the pearl and married seven more times.

After Taylor’s death in 2011, La Peregrina Pearl was bought for 11.8 million by an anonymous buyer at a Christie’s auction.

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon provides appraisal and consultation services, 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.

Confidence comes with a Jewelry Judge Appraisal Report.

Call to make an appointment 713-961-1432
Book Appointment On-Line

Curse of the Koh-i-Noor Diamond

2-kohinoor-diamondGentlemen Beware of the Koh-i-Noor Diamond

Like the Hope Diamond, the 105.6-carat Koh-i-Noor diamond is believed to have been extracted from the Kollur mine in Golconda, India.  Koh-i-Noor in Persian means “mountain of light.”

Mentioned in the memoirs of Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire in India.  Babur wrote that the Koh-i-Noor diamond was stolen from the Rajah of Malwa in 1306, and that it was originally 739 carats in uncut form.

Throughout history, the gem traded hands among various Hindu, Mongolian, Persian, Afghan and Sikh rulers, who fought bitter and bloody battles to own it.  According to legend, a Hindu description of the Koh-i-Noor warns that “he who owns this diamond will own the world, but will also know all its misfortunes.  Only God or woman can wear it with impunity.”

The diamond was obtained by the British in 1849 and given to Queen Victoria in 1850.  To heed its legend, the diamond has since only been worn by women, including Queen Alexandra of Denmark, Queen Mary of Teck and the late Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, wife of King George VI.

Currently, it is set as one of the jewels within a British monarchy crown that is kept at
the Tower of London Jewel House.  The fight to possess the Koh-i-Noor continues as India
has repeatedly tried unsuccessfully to lobby for return of the diamond.  According to British Prime Minister David Cameron, the British government owns the gem fair and square.

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon provides appraisal and consultation services, 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.

Confidence comes with a Jewelry Judge Appraisal Report.

Call to make an appointment 713-961-1432
Book Appointment On-Line

The Curse of The Delhi Purple Sapphire

delhi-purple-sapphire Photo Credit: Natural History Museum

The Delhi Purple sapphire is another cursed imposter, because it is not a sapphire, it is an amethyst, which is a type of quartz. This mysterious gemstone is rumored to have been stolen by a British solider from the Temple of Indra, the Hindu god of war and weather, in Kanpur, India during the Indian Mutiny of 1857. It was brought to England by Colonel W. Ferris, whose family then suffered many financial and health disasters.

The gemstone was given to Edward Heron-Allen, a scientist and writer, in 1890, who claimed to have started having bad luck immediately after receiving it. He gave the amethyst away to friends, who were also struck with misfortune and quickly returned the gift back to him.

Heron-Allen warned that the Delhi Purple sapphire is “accursed and is stained with the blood, and the dishonor of everyone who has ever owned it.” Wary of its alleged powers, he kept it locked away in seven boxes, each surrounded with good luck charms.

After his death, Heron-Allen’s daughter donated the amethyst to London’s Natural History Museum in 1943. Along with the stone, she gave them a letter that her father wrote cautioning future owners against directly handling it.

The mysterious Delhi Purple sapphire is now permanently on display as part of the London Natural History Museum’s Vault Collection of precious gemstones.

jj-64years Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon provides appraisal and consultation services, 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.

Confidence comes with a Jewelry Judge Appraisal Report.

Call to make an appointment 713-961-1432
Book Appointment On-Line

The Black Prince’s Ruby

black-princes-ruby Photo Credit:

The Black Prince’s Ruby is also known as The Blood-Red “Great Impostor”, because it isn’t actually a ruby at all, but a large spinel.  Spinel is the great impostor and a curse of gemstone history since many famous rubies in crown jewels around the world are actually spinels.

Spinel is a hard, glassy mineral that crystallizes into various colors, but the most commercially important are red and pink.  Spinels are worth significantly less than rubies, but are generally highly sought after by gem connoisseurs. Well-formed spinel crystals are in high demand among collectors.

The gemstone is believed to have been mined from Badakshan, which is present-day Tajikistan. It was first recorded during the 14th century, when it was plundered from the Moorish Kingdom of Granada by Don Pedro the Cruel, who was the ruler of Seville, Spain.

The “ruby” was then owned by Edward of Woodstock, who was called “the Black Prince,” because of his success on the battlefield during the Hundred Years’ War. In 1415, King Henry V attained the Black Prince’s ruby and had it set in his battle helmet alongside real rubies. The king wore the helmet when he defeated the French forces at the Battle of Agincourt.

The gemstone was passed along to British royalty, including Henry VIII and his daughter, Elizabeth I, until King Charles I was beheaded for treason in 1649 and the gemstone was sold. Charles II bought the gemstone back from an unknown party, but nearly lost it when the infamous Irish colonel Thomas Blood attempted to steal the crown jewels of England from the Tower of London in 1671.

The Black Prince’s ruby is currently set dead-center at the front of the Imperial State Crown of England.


Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon provides appraisal and consultation services, 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.

Confidence comes with a Jewelry Judge Appraisal Report.

Call to make an appointment 713-961-1432
Book Appointment On-Line

The Curse of The Eye of Brahma Diamond

black-orlovPhoto Credit: Natural History Museum |

The Eye of Brahma Diamond also known as the Black Orlov is a 67.50 carat cushion cut diamond, mined in India during the early 1800s. According to folklore the original 195 carat diamond was stolen from a sacred shrine in Southern India, removed from the eye of a statue of Brahma, the Hindu god of creation, wisdom and magic.

The diamond was later named the Black Orlov when it was acquired by the Russian Princess Nadezhda Orlov.  Legend has it, that Princess Nadia, along with two of the Black Orlov’s other owners, committed suicide by jumping off of buildings, after coming into possesion of it. But these stories have not been substantiated.

In 1947, Charles F. Winson bought the diamond and cut it to its current size of 67.50 carats. It was set in a necklace made up of 124 diamonds, as the center piece of the pendant surrounded by 108 diamonds.  It has since been purchased and resold by a number of times by private owners, and has been displayed at various museums around the world.

jj-64years Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon provides appraisal and consultation services, 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.

Confidence comes with a Jewelry Judge Appraisal Report.

Call to make an appointment 713-961-1432
Book Appointment On-Line

The Curse of Debt imparted by the Hope Diamond


Photo Credits: Chip Clark – Smithsonian Institution

At 45.52 carats, the grayish/blue Hope Diamond is 1 inch in length and 0.8 inch in width. The story of the Hope Diamond begins when it was unearthed in the Kollur mine at Golconda, India.  This diamond was acquired by French jeweler and gem merchant, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier while he was in India.

In 1668 Tavernier sold it to Louis XIV. At that point, the diamond weighed 116 carats and was called the Tavernier Blue.  King Louis XIV later had the diamond re-cut into the 68 carat French Blue and had it set as a hatpin.  The diamond was reset by Louis XV into The Medal of The Order of the Golden Fleece, which was stolen in 1792 along with other Royal jewels during the looting of the French Royal Treasury.  The French Blue was re-cut and showed up in London 30 years later as a 45.52-carat Diamond owned by King George IV of England.  It was sold after the King’s death in 1830 to help settle his enormous debts.  The diamond was then likely sold through private channels and was purchased by Henry Philip Hope, from whom it got its name.  It was passed down to Hope’s family members until it was ultimately sold to help pay off their debts.

The Hope Diamond was then bought by a London dealer, who quickly sold it to Joseph Frankels and Sons of New York City, who retained the diamond until they too had to sell it to cover debts.  In 1909, Pierre Cartier bought the Hope Diamond and sold it to Evalyn
Walsh McLean, an American mining heiress and socialite.

McLean had many misfortunes, her son died in a car accident, her daughter died of a drug overdose, her husband died in a sanitarium and her family was forced to sell their newspaper, the Washington Post, in a bankruptcy auction.  After McLean’s death from pneumonia in 1947, Harry Winston Inc. purchased her entire jewelry collection.

In 1958, Winston donated the iconic Hope Diamond in 1958 to the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., where it resides on display to this day.  The Hope Diamond has been estimated to be worth a quarter of a billion dollars at the time.

hope-diamond-redWhen exposed to ultraviolet light, it phosphoresces RED for several minutes after the light
is turned off.  Over the years, many people have brought in smaller stones thinking they might have been part of the French Blue parent stone, but none has shown the same degree of RED phosphorescence.

The Smithsonian museum states on its website, that it “appears to have maintained the Hope Diamond curse-free”.  Or has it?

As a Federal Government institution the Smithsonian is part of the US Debt which is 19 Trillion Dollars!

Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon provides appraisal and consultation services, 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.

Confidence comes with a Jewelry Judge Appraisal Report.

Call to make an appointment 713-961-1432
Book Appointment On-Line

Searching For Answers?

girls-best-friendJewelry is not merely adornment; it is family history, memories and emotional attachments.     Each ring, pendant, bracelet or earrings, holds memories that help tell the jewelry’s story, the manufacturing techniques, fashion trends and styles all have a reference to a time, place and state of mind.

The Jewelry Judge combines Genealogy with Gemology, because Ben knows that Precious Heirlooms are a voice from the past & possibly into the future…  The jewelry of Real People always has a story worth being remembered, appreciated, and handed down to future heirs.

jewelry-judge-ben-gordon-jewelry-boxCultural Background has a deep impact on the type of jewelry imparted to family members.  It tells the century, cultural influences, family status, country and possibly the religion.  Whether beads, pearls, silver, gold, turquoise or other materials, it shows the available metals and tools used by the society making the jewelry.  The cut of a gemstone often provides insight into the age, as more complex faceting became available relatively recently.

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.  If you are anything like Ben, you enjoy all the surprises, history, memories and stories every piece of jewelry tells.

We are your one-stop shop for identification and valuation of diamonds, colored gemstones, antique, vintage and estate jewelry.  Confidence comes with a Jewelry Judge Appraisal Report.

Our appraisal and consultation services will answer the Question:

What’s Your Jewelry Worth?


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.


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 or find him on the Houston Better Business Bureau website.

Is Jewelry an Investment?

IMG_3225With the price of gold and platinum around $1250 per ounce, it may be tempting to consider investing in jewelry. Let’s discuss this.

To realize a profit on a piece of fine jewelry, it must appreciate (increase) from its original purchase value to a value greater than the retail price paid. But we buy jewelry at retail and when we sell it, it’s on the secondary market typically at a discounted price.

In other words, you cannot expect to pay retail and sell at wholesale to make a profit… . The likelihood of this happening in the short term is slim to none!

But Gold/Platinum prices look Good Now…

jewelry-pileOf course, precious metals and precious stones (diamond, sapphire, ruby) or semi-precious stones (amethyst, aquamarine) or pearls are used in the manufacture of fine jewelry. Over the past decades, they have increased in value. Note the word, ‘decades.’

The reality is that sellers of jewelry typically receive ONLY the value of the metal. Unless there are individual stones of high quality and grade and at least 2 carat weight, the value received will generally NOT include the stones.

When the Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon values an item, he weighs and measures it and grades the stones using scientific instruments. He identifies the style, manufacturer and craftsmanship of the setting. Looks for manufacturing and proof stamps such as 14k, 18k, and designer hallmarks. As well as, researches comparable sales of identical or equivalent items and determines if the item is commonly available or rare.

Studying these specifics allows the Jewelry Judge to arrive at a total replacement value. This is what you would want to receive from an insurer if the item were lost or stolen – but not likely what you would receive if it were sold.

Over the long term though, buying fine jewelry is often considered a way to preserve wealth, generally over decades. In the form of jewelry, wealth can be passed down through generations maintaining monetary, artistic and sentimental value. Fine jewelry means all of these things, but perhaps least of all “the potential for profit.”

Beware the Sales Zealot

When showing a piece of jewelry we have heard enthusiastic sales people say, “This would be an investment piece”. Perhaps what is meant is that it will be worth enjoying for years to come. Perhaps this means it is of a quality that will hold its value; perhaps it means it’s not a fad item, but a classic, for example a brilliant cut solitaire engagement ring. Perhaps it means commitment to the future. But this statement should certainly not be interpreted as “buy today, sell tomorrow at a profit.”

So What Is An Investment Piece?

Yes, a diamond CAN become an investment ….. if a fair price has been paid at the outset and given a l-o-n-g enough time horizon….. and if just the right buyer comes along at the time an owner wishes to sell… and if the size is larger than an olive and if the cut, color and grade are excellent… and if….. and if….

Wear it! Enjoy it!

Our true opinion?… . the Jewelry Judge never recommends buying jewelry solely for investment. Be aware that buying fine jewelry is not the same as investing in gold or platinum. Buy precious metal mutual funds, ETFs or bullion for your portfolio, but buy jewelry to give as a gift or to wear.

If you must think of jewelry as an investment, think of it more as a Certificate of Deposit and not a Growth proposition.

Jewelry should be bought to enjoy now; to be worn and displayed with pride. The pleasure you’ll derive over the years from owning fine jewelry will be priceless!

Should you need to sell jewelry, be sure to ask for a consultation so you know what value to expect and where to go to obtain a fair price.

To value jewelry items for resale, estate, division of property or insurance purposes, contact: The Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon  – Let us show you how easy it is Book an Appointment Today!


Tip for Brides!

Appraise Before the Honeymoon

16-RealPeopleBlueHave your engagement ring or wedding set appraised for insurance purposes BEFORE the honeymoon.

It is not uncommon for bridal jewelry to go missing after a scuba dive session, a romantic evening swim or a thrilling parasailing afternoon.


Read the many stories of lost jewelry at our blog Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon Blog

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!

Bad Things Happen to Good Jewelry!

Real People - Real StoriesHere are some valuable tips to help you protect your jewelry.

  1. 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.
  2. Salt water and jewelry do not mix. Ocean water can damage some gemstones and metals.
  3. 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.
  4. Remove Jewelry before swimming as fingers often constrict in water, making rings more likely to fall off.
  5. Avoid heavy blows to your diamond. Diamonds can chip if struck at the right angle.
  6. Keep jewelry in unlikely places. Jewelry boxes are an obvious place for thieves to look.
  7. When traveling, keep valuable jewelry at home or store it in the hotel safe.
  8. Don’t place or store your jewelry near vents, grates, sinks or drains.
  9. Pearls are easily damaged by an array of personal products like cosmetics and lotions.
  10. Most burglaries happen in broad daylight. Always keep doors and windows locked during the day.
  11. If you bump or snag your jewelry, have it inspected for potential damage that may be unnoticeable to you.
  12. Always take time to place jewelry in a secure place, not in a pocket, on a counter, or in a public area.
  13. When not wearing your jewelry, place each item in a separate, soft, compact container. If cluttered together, jewelry can become scratched.
  14. One of the best ways to keep valuable jewelry collections secure is to store them in a burglary and fire-resistant safe.

Diamonds and the “F” Word

loose-diamondperfectround.jpgWhen 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.

Fracture Filled2
Fracture Filled

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!

Read more at Changing the Natural Essence of the Diamond

Safe and Sparkly

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.

Steam Cleaning
Cleaning and Condition Checks

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.

Have the Jewelry Judge Evaluate Your Estate Jewelry

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.


Happy Mother’s Day!

Wonderful Mother
~ Anonymous

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.

So Thank You ALL and have a great day!

What Does Passion Mean?

jewelry judge ben gordon with real peoplePassion 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!”

Read How Jewelry Talks to us!

Visit Gem Gossip – Danielle Miele’s passion is talking about all things sparkly!

Buying a Diamond Ring?

jewelry-judge-ben-gordon-photo-for-website.jpgBeware Carat Total Weight (CTW). Question any jeweler’s tag that ONLY lists the “CTW” of diamonds in a ring and does not list the center diamond separately and precisely.

You can not compare prices with another ring or store if you do not know the weight and quality of the main diamond.

A large diamond may be worth more than 6 smaller ones with equal total weight.

Solution: Ask for the weight and quality of the center diamond by itself, and ask if it has a GIA or AGS Diamond Grading Report.

Synthetic Diamonds – PDF Document: What Type of Diamond Do You Have?

Buying an Engagement – PDF Document: How to Buy an Engagement Ring!

You may know the 4-Cs, but the 5th-C is Confidence.
Confidence comes with a Jewelry Judge Appraisal Report!

What's Your Jewelry Worth?