Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon is known for his While You Watch consultations and appraisals.
Now, clients don’t even have to leave home to schedule a professional consultation.
The Jewelry Judge offers personal online visits by pre-arrangement. Send him photos of jewelry by email ahead of time and connect within twenty-four hours via Zoom, Skype or Facetime, depending upon your computer or preferred mobile device. He will respond with details about how to ‘log in’ to meet with him.
What Do You Need to Know?
Thinking about selling– find out what you should expect to receive if selling jewelry!
Replacement value insurance appraisal – learn how much it would take to replace your engagement ring.
Sorting through estate pieces – did you inherit a shoe box full of jewelry and need to know what’s worth keeping?
Setting up your e-Bay store – Want to know what’s a fair price to ask for your items?
Confirming an online purchase – It looks smaller in the box than on your screen; did you receive what you paid for?
“At our gem lab, we have always done appraisals in full view of our clients,” Mr. Gordon affirms. “Of course, we miss the person- to-person office visits, but we’re happy to be able to continue to help with virtual online consultations.”
Most items with a GIA or AGS laboratory grading report (even if the report is twenty years old) are eligible for online valuations. For others, you may only need a verbal consultation. Call 713 961-1432 to find out if we can help.
In difficult economic times, people sell hard assets such as jewelry and luxury valuables to provide money for other priorities, such as college tuition or travel.
To assure that our clients know the value of any items they consider selling, we offer a ‘Fair Market Valuation.’ Knowing how much a jewel is worth before taking it to an estate buyer or consigning it to auction will help assure the best price is obtained.
Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon does not buy or sell. This allows him to maintain objectivity. He does, however, refer clients to trusted buyers or reputable auction galleries depending upon the specific items to be liquidated.
This ring sold at auction for over $28,000. Its original owner thought it might bring $15-18,000. A Jewelry Judge valuation and referral helped bring a much higher price.
When making a hard decision, we recommend knowing the hard facts about hard assets. Difficult decisions become easier with a Jewelry Judge Consultation. Make your decisions based upon hard facts – Call 713 961-1432. Book Appointment On-Line
With the current price of gold upwards of $1600 per troy ounce, gold jewelry sellers are back.
Houston’s Jewelry Judgedoes not buy or sell jewelry, but he often consults to inform individuals wishing to sell their gold on what price they can expect. “People often forget,” he remarks, “that anyone buying gold will most likely be reselling it.”
This means that, for example, a handful of 14k gold chains weighing exactly 1 troy ounce will bring less than 30% of the daily spot price for gold. 18k and 22k gold may bring somewhat more, because of the higher percentage of gold in the mix. Know the value of your gold before you sell to avoid disappointment – consult with The Jewelry Judge.
What about gold jewelry with colored gemstones in it? Mr. Gordon shakes his head, “Many gold buyers lump all jewelry items together and weigh it as though it were gold. This could mean that a valuable gemstone could be quite under priced. That’s where it helps to consult with Houston’s Jewelry Judge. Sometimes, there’s something really valuable in a tangled mess.” We can identify what’s worth salvaging, re-designing, or letting it go to scrap. And if there is a need to sell, we help direct our clients to reputable buyers.”
Learn how the Jewelry Judge provides consumer protection as part of the jewelry appraisal process. Here is a recent appraisal where a major discrepancy was resolved!
We at The Jewelry Judge gem lab take pride in uncovering fraud and misrepresentation when we advocate for our clients in disputes. Devious intent is not always the case when there is a significant discrepancy between what was paid for and what was received.
Here’s a case in point – the mismatched sapphire.
Our client brought us a beautiful loose sapphire with a GIA certificate and a receipt describing the gemstone as weighing 1.93 carat oval blue unheated sapphire.
When we weighed and measured it, our results showed 1.43 carat weight. The discrepancy in carat weight could mean a difference of $1,000.
No one panicked!
We simply called the retailer where the gemstone had been purchased two days earlier. He remembered the customer well – she had compared four sapphires of different sizes and colors. Each was brought out of inventory and carefully unwrapped from its small packet. Each was examined with a loupe and tweezers. A decision was made to purchase the 1.93 ctw gemstone and the three remaining sapphires were wrapped up and returned to stock.
It is easy for a sales professional to inadvertently wrap a gemstone in the wrong packet, especially when to the naked eye, gemstones can appear to be quite similar. The retailer quickly examined the remaining three packets in his inventory and confirmed that the 1.93 ctw gemstone was in the 1.4 wrapper and our client had her preferred stone within a half hour.
Errors can and do occur. But this happy ending was brought about by:
• Our client’s quick action – it was only two days after the purchase that she brought the loose stone to us for confirmation and insurance valuation.
• Our immediate call to the principal who was personally known to The Jewelry Judge (while the client sat with us).
• This retailer was happy that we brought the discrepancy to his attention, and his inventory confirmed our findings.
Both the retailer and our client thanked us for weighing and testing the beautiful oval sapphire. Yes, a mistake had been made – unintended human error is possible. Our call to the retailer gave him an opportunity to quickly correct the error and protect his reputation.
Have you been procrastinating about getting your jewelry appraised or updating and old appraisal?
Values may be inflated by the retailer on new jewelry, and if it is an older piece values change from year to year with gemstone and precious metal market prices.
Why and When should you get your jewelry appraised?
Insurance companies often INCREASE Premiums on insured jewelry every year.
If your past appraisal is 3 or more years old, you may be paying more on your premium than necessary based on the current condition and value.
If you are changing insurance companies, they need detailed information.
If you are remounting a stone or modifying an item, thus significantly altering its identity and changing its value.
If there is volatility in the marketplace which causes severe changes of gemstones and precious metal prices.
If you need an appraisal for another use such as a divorce, estate settlement or liquidation.
If you are gifting or bequeathing the item.
If you are placing the item into a trust.
The Jewelry Judge frequently mentions the term indemnity. “It’s the main purpose for an insurance replacement appraisal,” he says. “And yet we seldom hear other appraisers use the word.”
What’s indemnity, it is making a consumer whole again in case of loss. “I’ll look at the piece and describe it, to ensure there are no errors or insufficient information that would make it impossible to replace the item with one that is identical or nearly alike, as well as set a proper premium for it,” Ben says. “We ensure the appraisal is complete and adequate, so the customer can be made whole, in the event an insurance claim is made.”
An independent jewelry appraisal “While You Watch” brings:
confidence that the buyer received what they paid for!
confidence in knowing your jewelry never leaves your sight!
confidence in a Master Graduate Gemologist/Appraiser.
Have you just received your Grandmother’s pendant as a gift or inheritance?
Are you troubled by the emotional significance of this keepsake, but probably won’t wear it as it’s not to your taste?
Here are 4 Things you can do…
Sell it outright to an interested party
Donate it to a charity
Send it to an auction sale
Re-design it and enjoy the memories
In each of the above actions, there is a critical piece of information that can help with the decision. It is the value of the item. Emotional value is determined by the recipient, but monetary value is information that requires expertise and knowledge.
Call 713 492 – 1432 or click consultation to reserve 15 minutes of free consultation time to determine your best action.
Why a Free 15 Minute Consultation?
A free consultation points you in the right direction.
For those who which to sell estate jewelry or any fine jewelry or watches, you’ll learn what market price you might expect and even locate a potential buyer for your item. If considering a donation, learn what paperwork you’ll need to document its value. For those selling at auction, find out which auction houses to consider and what to expect. And for those who wish to create a new design or refresh the look of a vintage piece, Mr. Gordon can advise on resources. Grandmothers would approve!
No matter what the trend, or the season, The Jewelry Judge can consult on your purchase before you buy.
Many retailers will hold a credit card while an item is ‘out on approval’ for a few hours while an independent appraiser authenticates and validates the item. Others will accept a return – be sure to check individual store policies to avoid any surprises and beware of ‘final sale’ items.
The Jewelry Judge offers same day turn-around and walk-in appointments (some wait-time may be necessary). Call us at 713 961-1432 to verify authenticity and consult before committing to large dollar purchases. Book On-Line Today!
We look forward to a helping celebrate a happy holiday season with you!
The holiday season is the most important time of the year for retailers. It’s a time when new trends emerge and when special (and sometimes low end) merchandise hits the stores. Here are some trends to watch for – or in some cases, to watch out for.
Synthetic diamonds are everywhere now. Expect to see more of them. Even DeBeers is branding them and promoting the man-made diamonds available in many colors!
They are promoted as less expensive (as they should be) than earth mined diamonds. Be sure to know what you’re buying. Some of these are being offered without disclosing that they are man-made. And branding can make them actually more expensive per carat that earth mined diamonds.
It’s common for retailers to stock up on more inexpensive lines and feature these with a mix of higher quality items. The low prices lure the customer and may be too tempting to resist. Stick to your guns if you value quality and avoid being distracted with ‘lower priced’ merchandise.
Holiday Trend 3:Pandora beads may make a seasonal comeback
This was a fashion fad that has faded, but during the holidays, you can expect to see these come back in their many variations.
These are fun for teenagers, but not really fine jewelry as there is no resale value. Costume jewelry is not an investment.
Great fun and clients love the designer name. Priced under $500, these rings make fun stocking stuffers. Our preference is for vintage Yurman designs – heftier and worth their weight. Generally, we wouldn’t appraise an item valued at less than $1000. Keep in mind that high end brands often have a ‘popular’ line which makes the brand accessible to those with modest budgets.
Holiday Trend 5: Pave Diamonds
Our clients know how much we love diamonds! Not only are no two natural diamonds alike, but no two manufacturers’ designs are alike. There is great variation in the way diamonds are set that can affect the value.
We recommend examining the mountings under magnification to check for smooth and even prongs, level surfaces and of course, tiny nicks. Pave diamonds should also be well matched for beauty and value.
Holiday Trend 6: Luxury Watches
A watch is a timeless gift (couldn’t resist the pun)! We caution our buyers to especially double check when spending thousands of dollars on a luxury fashion item. Be sure your retailer is reliable especially if purchasing estate or pre-owned watches. Even reputable jewelers can make mistakes.
We have found numerous ‘hybrid’ watches that are assembled from various after- market components such as a diamond bezel or replacement crystal faces. These ‘hybrids’ may be attractive, but they will certainly not be as valuable as an all original luxury watch.
Whatever your selection for holiday shopping, don’t forget to verify your purchase with a Jewelry Judge consultation. Convenient appointments Book On-Line – walk-ins available at www.jewelryjudgebengordon.com or call 713 961-1432.
Once we have thoroughly cleaned a jewel, we examine it for any changes from its original condition when new. For example, we test the prongs of a mounting to assure that they are secure. We check for sizing changes – a loss of weight could put a lovely engagement ring at risk of slipping off without the wearer knowing it. It is not unusual for the edge of a gemstone to show wear. In many cases such small imperfections can be polished out to restore the original beauty without loss of carat weight.
Metal can become brittle or thin over time, so we also check the shank. Often chips and nicks can be polished out.
All of these issues can affect the value of your jewelry. Certainly, they affect your enjoyment of them. How often do we toss a ring into a drawer because it’s unwearable because of a loose stone or broken prong?
Let the Jewelry Judge do a free condition check to examine your jewelry. Often a simple steam cleaning can bring back former luster. In many cases, we can avoid loss or further damage at no cost to you.
Consult the Jewelry Judge and take advantage of our FREE Cleaning & Condition Check. You won’t be disappointed. Book an Appointment Today!
Why? Just as your doctor would not diagnose or prescribe without an examination, a gemologist needs to identify and authenticate and starting with a sparkling clean jewel is essential for accuracy.
Lotions, perfumes, perspiration and soap scum leave dull film and grit on diamonds or precious gemstones. This is especially true for rings and wedding sets. Cosmetics too leave residue that diminishes the beauty and sparkle of bracelets, earrings and pendants.
We do not charge for the time it takes to clean your jewelry when you arrive. Our view is that every jewel deserves a cleaning and condition check before we perform any other service. You will be able to watch this process and notice the immediate difference in appearance.
Cleaning dissolves and removes dirt and grime, but it takes knowledge and skill to clean jewelry properly. Opals, for example, should never be cleaned in hot steam. And pearls improperly cleaned can be permanently damaged.
Many jewelry appraisers charge extra for the time it takes to clean each piece of jewelry prior to starting the appraisal.
Our practice has always been to provide steam cleaning as a free service to our clients. You benefit from the pleasure of wearing your jewelry with pride.
Consult the Jewelry Judge and take advantage of our FREE Cleaning & Inspection. You won’t be disappointed. Book an Appointment Today!
Is there such thing as environmentally friendly jewelry?
Lab grown diamonds have become increasingly popular, but use huge amounts of fossil fuel energy to create the high pressure and heat conditions that produce these factory made diamonds.
So where else can a person go to find jewelry they would be proud to wear and feel good about doing something for the environment? It may be easier than you think!
Think Retail Showrooms
Many retail jewelers have a separate case in their showrooms for consignment ‘Estate Jewelry.’
The term, Estate Jewelry may sound like ‘dowager’ jewels or like Queen Victoria’s mourning jewelry, but there are many gems (no pun here) to be found. Estate Jewelry is simply ‘pre-owned’ jewelry. Like cars, there are pre-owned lemons and pre-owned fine collectors’ specimens.
“Good design is timeless,” says Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon, “especially if it carries a luxury brand such as Cartier or Tiffany. These tend to be the brands that hold their value.”
Auction sales are a good source of high-end estate jewelry. It’s a good idea to set your maximum price to prevent getting carried away in the emotion and excitement of the sale. We recommend that you preview the items before bidding – it’s best if the auction gallery is local and you can see and touch the items.
Consider Pawn Shops
Pawn shops always have quantities of estate jewelry in inventory i.e. pre-owned. The secret is to look for unique pieces, not those piled up in the glass cases, but ask for any items that may be in their vaults. Use words like ‘quality,’ ‘ vintage,’ ‘classic,’ ‘designer,’ when talking with the proprietor and he/she will hopefully bring out interesting trays of available fine jewelry.
But how do you know what you’re getting and is it priced fairly?
“That’s where I come in,” Ben Gordon smiles. “Reputable retailers will often allow a buyer to get a second opinion before completing the sale.”
Reputable retailers will hold a credit card while the jewelry is out for examination. There may also be a return policy that will allow for a piece to be returned within a specified period. Know these policies BEFORE you commit.
So don’t be afraid of Estate Jewelry – there’s an expert consultant available to help you. And you’ll be helping the environment with your purchase.
The Jewelry Judge responds to urgent requests for a consultation to confirm authenticity and value. In less than one hour, he can weigh, measure, and test diamonds and colored stones; identify period and style; provide historic information; and examine for condition issues.
The hottest topic in the jewelry industry is the controversy over Man-Made vs Earth Mined Diamonds. Thanks go out to Value This with Brian and Leon for talking with the Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon on the subject of Lab-Grown synthetic diamonds.
That 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.
A 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.
Double-Check for Peace of Mind
“Many 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!
For the third consecutive year, U.S. consumers are expected to spend more on jewelry than any other Valentine’s Day gift category.
Amethyst is also used to celebrate the 6th and 17th wedding anniversary. Learn More Here
What does this appraiser think about love and jewelry?
“Well, grins Ben Gordon, aka The Jewelry Judge, “Some might say that the science of appraising takes away from the romance, but for me, every piece of jewelry is a love affair.” says The Jewelry Judge, “Jewelry is not merely adornment. It is family history, emotional attachments and important memories. ”
How do I know if I’ve paid too much?
Cost is on everyone’s mind these days. And when purchasing an expensive piece of jewelry, it’s a challenge to comparison shop – especially if purchasing from the Internet – because you cannot see and touch the item before it is delivered. And under the bright lights of a jewelry showroom, EVERY gemstone becomes a seduction! To make it more difficult, sales persons often speak in terms of a jewelry investment!
Paid too much for a diamond?
Let’s face it, most of us do not buy jewelry as an investment. We buy it as adornment, symbols of love and affection, to celebrate an event, and to establish status. Whatever the reason, it’s not likely to be for investment purposes. (Investments can/do loose value too!)
To verify that a price is fair in today’s market, it’s important to obtain an independent valuation. The retailer who sells jewelry has a stake in the sale. If the retailer’s buying from an estate, there is a stake in this too.
An independent appraiser works only for you. His stake is his reputation. It’s important to assure fair pricing when buying OR selling jewelry, to obtain an objective opinion. For peace of mind, a independent opinion will assure that you do not over- pay for a diamond or for the insurance to protect it.
Paying too much for insurance?
Over the years, paying too much for insurance can really add up. Assume you’ve been insuring two diamond rings for $10,000 each for a total of $20,000.
Replacement value of the rings by an independent jewelry appraiser may value them at $14,500. The insurance company doesn’t care that you have over insured by $5,500. In fact your insurance company probably raises your premium automatically each year by 5 – 10 percent assuming the replacement value will increase too. But actually, precious metals have only kept pace with inflation over the last 10 years which has been around 2 percent. And diamonds while they have held their value, only the most rare, largest and highest quality stones have significantly appreciated.
Meanwhile, your insurance premium might be higher each year. If you held that policy for only ten years, you would have likely over paid by $1000. The cost of a nice pair of earrings!
While the Jewelry Judge does not sell insurance, he does consult on insurance needs along with accurate and independent appraisals. Verify the value of your jewelry periodically to assure you are paying a fair price for protection. Book an Appointment Today!
LOCAL HOUSTON PROFESSIONAL CONTINUES COMMITMENT TO CONSUMER PROTECTION WITH JEWELRY INDUSTRY RE-CERTIFICATION
Oct. 6, 2018 – Houston, TX – Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon of Texas Independent Jewelry Appraisers has successfully completed the annual American Gem Society (AGS) re-certification exam. This mandatory exam was developed to maintain professional credentials, which demonstrates their ongoing commitment to the Society’s mission of consumer protection through continued education and upholding the highest ethical standards.
“The foundation that the American Gem Society stands upon is comprised of our educational programs and credentials,” said John Carter, CGA, president of the American Gem Society Board of Directors. “It’s the way that we differentiate our members from the rest of the trade and completing the process is no small task.
Only one in twenty retail jewelers have chosen to meet the exacting standards required for membership. When purchasing fine jewelry, shop with confidence by visiting a credentialed American Gem Society jeweler. You can find an American Gem Society jeweler at ags.org/findajeweler. For more information regarding the American Gem Society, please call 866.805.6500 or visit the AGS website at www.americangemsociety.org.
The American Gem Society was founded in 1934 by Robert M. Shipley, as a nonprofit trade association dedicated to promoting a high standard of ethics, continuous education, and consumer protection within the jewelry industry.
No Animals Injured! And Now We’re Saving Trees Too!
“Our appraisals are non-invasive. We clean, measure, weigh, test and photograph – all without injuring any sentient being, client or gemstone!”
Few clients realize that the feature gemstone in a ring or pendant can be measured without removing it from its mounting.
“That’s where the skill comes in,” explains Master Graduate Gemologist and Appraiser, Ben Gordon. “Accurate measurements require excellent equipment and detailed calculations. Our clients are relieved to learn that like a doctor, our first mission is to “Do no harm.”
Yes, better living through technology! Our appraisal reports are sent as digital files that include photographs. We save paper and our clients receive the information they need to protect their fine jewelry.
Insurance companies recommend updating a jewelry appraisal every three to five years. The Jewelry Judge keeps digital archives that help with this process.
“In fact, Mr. Gordon reports, most insurance premiums increase steadily year after year – sometimes faster than the appreciated value of the item insured.”
This makes it important to keep the appraisals updated to avoid paying too much for protection. And if indeed, the value of an item has increased, then adequate coverage is assured. An appraisal appointment may take as little as thirty minutes.
Protecting animals and saving trees may not be a reason to obtain a jewelry appraisal, but it’s nice to know that this appraiser is environmentally conscious and kind, too.