Valentine’s Day and Jewelry

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Valentine’s Day is considered the most romantic day of the year in the United States. When people think of Valentine’s Day, thoughts of love, marriage, and proposals come to mind. Each Valentine’s Day we give flowers, chocolate and jewelry to those we love. We do this in honor of St. Valentine. But who is “St. Valentine”?

Some people think that Valentine’s Day is based on the Roman festival of Lupercalia, a fertility celebration held on February 15th. In 496, Pope Gelasius declared the holiday a Christian feast day celebrated on February 14th and called it St. Valentine’s Day.

Different legends identify who St. Valentine is. One story is that St. Valentine was a priest who served during the third century Rome. He married young couples in secrecy due to a ban on marriage by the reigning Emperor Claudius II. When the emperor found out, he had the priest imprisoned and later put to death. The young couples who St. Valentine married visited him in prison and gave him flowers and letters.

Another legend is that Valentine was a prisoner who fell in love with the jailor’s daughter. Before he was put to death, he sent the first ‘Valentine’ to his beloved when he wrote her a letter and signed it “Your Valentine”. Cards are still signed this way today.

We may never know the true origin of the man named St. Valentine, but one thing is for sure. February has been the month to celebrate love as long as we can remember. And often that love is expressed with gifts of fine jewelry.

Diamonds are popular as well as red gemstones, typically rubies.  Ruby is the red variety of corundum. All other varieties, including colorless, are called sapphires. Pearls are also popular. Jewelry purchased for Valentine’s Day is often romantic in design, with hearts topping the list.  Heart designs with diamonds and pearls are common as well as diamonds and rubies.

Diamonds are valued based on the 4C’s – color, cut, clarity, and carat. The most important of these is cut, because cut determines how much light is reflected back to the viewer’s eye. In other words, how much brilliance, scintillation or “bling” the diamond has.

Some people value size (how many carats) over the other C’s. Others value the overall quality of the diamond over its size. Whatever route you choose, it’s critical that the diamond is graded properly to ensure you are paying an appropriate price for it.

Diamonds and rubies are precious gemstones and generally cost more than semi-precious gemstones.  While rubies are quite valuable, they are expensive to purchase. Many people who want a red colored stone at a lower cost purchase a garnet instead, which is a semi-precious gemstone.

Garnets come in a wide variety of gem types and colors, with many cutting options. Garnets are a set of closely related minerals that form a group, resulting in gemstones in almost every color.

Pyrope and almandite are species of the garnet group and range in color from orange- red to slightly purplish red to strongly reddish purple hues. Pyrope can rival ruby’s red. Fine pyropes from Arizona are easily mistaken for good-quality ruby. The best pyrope gemstones are a highly desirable intense pure red, and like ruby, are colored by chromium. Almandite typically has a dark tone with orangy red hue.

Most red garnets, including the popular rhodolite, are mixtures of pyrope and almandite. Rhodolite is the most valuable of the red garnets. Hues range from dark purplish red to to a light reddish purple.  Jewelry designers favor rhodolite in their designs due to its rich purplish red hues, relative freedom from inclusions, and availability in large sizes.

All garnets are not alike in quality or value. Make sure you have your garnet examined by a competent gemologist appraiser who can identify what type of garnet you have and tell you its value.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Birthday September Babies!

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Sapphire is the official birthstone for the month of September and is the gemstone suggested for fifth and 45th wedding anniversaries. Sapphire has been popular since the Middle Ages but gained global appeal in 1981 when Princess Diana was engaged. Her ring was designed using a 12 carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire surrounded by 14 round brilliant cut diamonds set in 18 karat white gold.

Famous for its glorious blue color, sapphire is a variety of the corundum species. Due to its natural trace elements, sapphire comes in a range of colors including yellow, pink, purple, green, orange, white, colorless, and brown. When the trace elements are iron and titanium, the corundum is blue sapphire. Only a few hundredths of a percent of iron and titanium can cause the color, and the more iron the corundum contains, the darker the blue.

Are You Sure Your Jewelry Is Covered?

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Most jewelry appraisals are done for obtaining insurance coverage. If you have jewelry to insure, then you will most likely need an appraisal. Consult with your insurance agent for more information. An insurance appraisal is used to determine the retail replacement value of a jewelry item. Most insurance companies provide a minimum amount of jewelry coverage under a client’s homeowner’s policy. Other insurance companies require a separate personal properties policy for coverage. Check with your insurance agent to see what is covered and how much. For any item valued at $1,500 or more, we recommend that it be insured. Most engagement rings and wedding sets fall into this category. Also, if you have any item that you consider to be priceless that means a lot to you, it is strongly recommended that you insure it. Talk to your insurance agent. You will be pleasantly surprised at how affordable it is to insure your jewelry.

Appraisal versus Valuation – What’s the Difference?

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An appraisal is a detailed, written analysis of a jewelry item, including gemstone identification, grade, measurements, and weight. Additional testing is performed on diamonds ½ carat in size or larger, such as plotting and fluorescence. The appraisal report explains how the gemological testing is done, what equipment is used, definitions of replacement value, the approach to value, and the market selection. The value of the item is listed, which is influenced not only by the quality of the gemstones but also the quality of the item’s craftsmanship. Appraisals are usually done for insurance purposes and sometimes to determine fair market value (FMV).

The fair market value is the price at which the property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or sell and both having reasonable knowledge of relevant facts. The buyer is assumed to be the ultimate consumer or end user of the property. FMV can be retail, auction, wholesale, or scrap, depending upon what is considered to be the most appropriate market that the property is sold in.

A valuation is typically not written and includes identification and analysis of the gemstones and metal in the item, as well as its quality. Most valuations are done to determine fair market value.

Appraisal and Valuation Appointments – Here’s The Scoop

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All appointments are scheduled at your convenience. At your appointment, we will clean, identify, measure, weigh, and grade your jewelry. You will leave with your jewelry. Payment for any services is due at the time of the appointment.

Jewelry is photographed for all appraisals. The appraisal is completed after the appointment. You will receive the appraisal report via email within 7-10 business days, if not sooner. Printed copies are available for an additional fee. Most appraisal appointments are scheduled for one hour. Longer appointments may be needed for multiple or complex items.

Valuation appointments are scheduled based on the type and amount of jewelry you have to be identified and valued. Typically we start with a one hour appointment and you prioritize the order in which items are analyzed. Often clients bring more jewelry to the appointment than expected, which is fine. We always leave time in our schedule to accommodate our clients and with their approval, extend the appointment. Most valuations are done at the appointment. When valuing estate jewelry, sometimes additional research is required, particularly for period items. In this case, the jewelry is photographed for further research.

What Exactly Is Estate Jewelry?

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Estate jewelry, by definition, is any jewelry that is pre-owned (not new). It does not have to be antique, from a specific time period, or a gift. Do you have jewelry you can’t identify? Don’t know what your jewelry is worth? We can help! Many of our clients have jewelry of unknown identification or value. We can identify your jewelry and tell you what it’s worth. Estate jewelry that needs to be valued requires a valuation but not necessarily an appraisal. We do consultations to identify the gemstones and/or diamonds and metal karatage to determine what you have and whether you should keep it, sell it, insure it, or scrap it, as is often the case with outdated gold chains. We determine the fair market value. We can also prepare a written appraisal report for you, if needed.