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!
Salt and pepper diamonds are making an entrance this season.
Traditionally diamonds have been valued for their 4Cs, of which a key characteristic is clarity – or lack of inclusions, sometimes described as flaws.
Salt and pepper diamonds are for an unconventional bride or jewelry collector. Their inclusions are described as features and they bring a unique character to the diamond.
“What we see here, is the focus on the design, rather than the gemstone,” Mr. Gordon observes. “It’s not about quality, but more about price and style.” Beauty is where we find it. Taste is personal.
Of course, they’re still true diamonds. In fact, one way to authenticate an earth mined diamond is to look for internal characteristics. With this new trend, these characteristics are considered desirable.
“Well, grins Ben Gordon, aka The Jewelry Judge, “I’ve made my bread and butter for over 65 years valuing diamonds. In some ways, they make my job easier. The good news is, so far at least, they are not fakes masquerading as real diamonds.”
“It’s my job to stay up to date with the industry,” says The Jewelry Judge, “I don’t form a personal opinion; I apply objective testing and my knowledge to identify, evaluate, and value jewelry, gemstones and watches, to provide information that can be trusted as fact.”
“Some might say that the science of appraising takes away from the romance, but for me, I can never satisfy my curiosity to peer inside a diamond. For me, diamonds of any kind are a feast!”
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. ”
Jewelry industry pros say that Cut is the most important of the famous 4 C’s (Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat). A diamond’s cut is what determines how your precious stone will perform ‘Hearts and Arrows’ imaging of a diamond reveals symmetry of cut and shows how the light bounces within the stone.
No two diamonds will perform alike; each facet reflects light and bounces it around internally to varying degrees.
Most newly engaged couples learn about their diamonds from the retailer who sold it to them. But the details of the sale merely touch the surface so to speak. ‘Hearts and Arrows’ imaging reveals what happens to light inside the diamond.
“The term ‘Performance,’ Mr. Gordon adds, refers specifically to how a stone reflects light. Not everyone is interested in the ‘internals’ or science of their diamond” Mr. Gordon comments, “but for those who are, a ‘Hearts and Arrows” performance report will show the quality of a diamond’s Cut.”
Will My Diamond be Affected by Testing?
It’s important to know that the instruments used in his diamond grading lab are non-invasive. Hearts and Arrows performance testing is for loose diamonds only. Light is projected onto a loose diamond and it creates an image that shows where the light is reflected and where it ‘escapes.’
“Quite a lot of information can be discovered even when a stone is in its mounting. Mr. Gordon explains. We encourage buyers to have a loose stone analysed, prior to mounting or placing it in its setting to obtain the most detail.”
Online reviewers often describe their visits to The Jewelry Judge as an ‘awesome experience,’ ‘learning experience,’ ‘memorable experience.’ Experiences happen daily in the gem lab.
Recently a gentleman in his seventies came into our gem lab.
He brought a few pieces of jewelry he had given his wife over the years.
He informed us, “This is part of our estate even though it sits in our safe deposit box at the bank, I need to start an inventory and get values for our kids.”
When we asked why, he responded,
“Why put them through the trouble when we pass on? They’ll be busy enough with memorial details and visiting relatives.”
What a thoughtful act of love and kindness. While he and his wife are in good health and look forward to many years, they are planning ahead.
We finished the estate appraisals in an afternoon.
Within a week we heard from him again. He brought in the remaining contents of the safe deposit box. He now has a full inventory with details and thanked us for the peace of mind.
The cost of an estate appraisal can be based upon the number of items OR the amount of time depending upon the preference of the owner.
This head of the family is taking one burden off the shoulders of his heirs.
That’s what we call ‘paying it forward.’ We appreciate clients like this. His heirs will thank him too.
When buying jewelry (whether online, which has become too convenient, or in-store) always proceed with caution and make sure your purchase is properly described and arrives in your hands with the proper documentation and treatment declarations.
Regardless of where you are purchasing jewelry, you will want to consider these 6 things before you click that “purchase” button:
Always Research the seller
Do your due diligence on the seller first. Read other buyers’ comments or reviews, to see whether the seller has a reputation for being ethical, fair, and easy to work with. Verify association with national organizations like the American Gem Society (this is a must)! The American Gem Society is the country’s preeminent jewelry trade organization dedicated to consumer protection. Which means, if you’re looking to buy jewelry, you just clicked on the right website.
The same applies to local jewelry stores, with the addition that an independent jeweler is preferred to a big box retailer chain. See if the local jeweler has or can get the same or similar piece and match the price of the online retailer. Handling disputes after the sale will always be easier dealing with a local jeweler.
Read the sales fine print
Request lots of extra pictures
Ask the seller for detailed pictures and descriptions to ensure the quality of the jewelry you’re purchasing. Especially for high-end watches! If the seller claims the piece is signed or the metal is a certain quality, request a photo of the signature or metal purity stamp on the piece. NOTE: You can also ask that the piece be sent to the Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon for review before the purchase is charged.
Make sure it’s packaged properly
The most common cause of damage to jewelry are Scratches! So make sure that your piece is packaged carefully and tightly, so it cannot be easily tossed around in transit. Request that the seller pack each individual item in a soft cloth pouch that can be sealed or tied shut so the piece can’t come loose during shipping. Additionally, twisting and bending of semi-rigid chains or other jewelry pieces may cause permanent damage. Pay extra if needed to ensure that your item is shipped in a box that is large enough.
Verify your insurance coverage
When you are purchasing expensive diamonds, gemstones, and jewelry with precious metals, there is no guarantee that your existing homeowners policy will provide sufficient protection if the piece is lost, damaged, or stolen. Before buying a piece, contact your agent to verify the coverage amounts you have in place. Consider speaking with an insurance company specializing in jewelry, we can recommend a few. Consider adding automatic coverage for newly acquired jewelry to ensure that your purchase is protected from the moment you click “buy.”
With our NEW Service “Virtual Jewelry Appraisal” you can you can get a value for your jewelry without having to leave your home. Call us and we will setup a Skype or Face-Time session for a consultation. Information you can trust to place a value on your valuables. Book Appointment On-Line or Call 713-961-1432
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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.
Lab-grown diamonds will get bigger and cheaper as production technology improves, so the smart consumer should make sure that the jeweler they purchase a synthetic diamond from has a good buy back or upgrade policy.
Lab-grown diamonds currently have no established resale market. This means they will not hold their value.
Natural mined diamonds have a resale market for pre-owned diamonds, whether auctions, dealers, or wholesale buyers.
As technology improves, you will find that the Lab-grown diamond price decrease, making any Lab-grown diamond you already own worth less than when you purchased it. The natural mined diamond value will be affected as well. The price of diamonds (without grading reports) will suffer due to the fact that they can’t be positively identified without lab testing of the mounted diamond. Without a grading report to assure that the diamond was identified as a natural earth mined diamond, a shadow of doubt will impact any value.
The natural diamond market will also be affected by the influx of synthetic diamonds too small to be cost effective to grade or unmount and identify. The natural mined diamond value will be affected as well. The price of diamonds (without grading reports) will suffer due to the fact that they can’t be positively identified without lab testing of the mounted diamond. Without a grading report to assure that the diamond was identified as a natural earth mined diamond, a shadow of doubt will impact any value.
The future of the natural earth mined diamond market will be in larger size diamonds, fancy colored and grading report certified diamonds.
“Lab-grown diamonds provide affordable fashion jewelry that may not be forever, but may be just perfect for your budget right now. With no resale market for pre-owned lab-grown diamonds once you buy it, wear it and enjoy it.”
Lab-grown (Synthetic) diamonds are here to stay and will only become more widespread in the retail jewelry market. These lab-grown diamonds are virtually indistinguishable from natural diamond and will fool pretty much every conventional diamond testing method.
A lab-grown diamond is not an imitation or fake. A Lab-grown diamond is made of the same material as a natural earth diamond, with the same physical properties and crystal structure. It has the same hardness, the same refractive index, and many of the same visible features. A Lab-grown diamond is a diamond produced inside of a factory instead of deep in the earth over millions of years ago.
Specialized Knowledge and Testing Technology
Lab-grown diamonds are beautiful, the colorless, high clarity material being made is identical to the best quality natural diamonds and is currently about half the cost.. While the lab growth process may occasionally leave some microscopic indications that the diamond is man-made, , often without specialized knowledge, gemologists are challenged to identify it as a synthetic without removing the diamond or sending it to GIA or AGS for a grading report. The Jewelry Judge stays current with the technology and identification procedures.
“As an appraiser I do not debate the merits of lab-grown versus natural earth mined diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds are here to stay, and the mass production of factory lab-grown diamonds is changing the jewelry industry.”
When comparing precious gemstones for purchase it’s always recommended to get an unbiased and independent opinion. Many jewelers will hold a credit card in exchange for a 24 hour examination period of gemstones or jewelry. The Jewelry Judge specializes in consulting before an important purchase is made. Come see the Jewelry Judge before you commit to a purchase.
Examination: We 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.
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.
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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