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Friday, May 28, 2010

Synthetic Diamonds From Your Pet's (or spouse's) Ashes

The pictures here are a new custom design I just finished for a customer. She had two green synthetic diamonds made from her most treasured cat's remains. For awhile there have been a couple of companies offering to make either human or pet remains into synthetic diamonds. I'm not sure how much of the ashes would actually really be in the diamonds when they are finished but I believe that the companies are using them in the stones produced. Personally I would rather have my ashes sent into space in the next available rocket but if my wife decided she wanted to carry some of me around with her and I left her enough money to do it she should feel free to have me made into a diamond or two (or if they've figuered it out by then I'd really prefer a purple sapphire).

I know it sounds a little funny but as I've said before what I really do is not make jewelry but memories. And for those of us who have significant others, or as I do, favorite pets, the memories are what is truly important. If you want to honor that memory by making their ashes into something you can wear I think that's just great. And I'm happy to make up those stones into something beautiful you can wear, and enjoy, every day that will keep those memories close.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

More on Custom Work--Let's Not Steal Designs

The other day I got the following email: "I saw on your website that you make custom jewelry, which got me very excited. I found three rings that I really like, but unfortunately two of them are not for sale in the US. So I was hoping you could custom make them for me. I attached three pictures and I was wondering if you could tell me the prices for custom making these rings?"

Unfortunately in a world where everything is so readily available on the Internet, where the lines are blurred on ownership of ideas and artwork, and where anyone seems able to download just about everything for free (and seems to do it whether or not it is the right thing to do) this type of query is far too common. It's particularly prevalent in the jewelry community. For some reason jewelry is not considered art (granted it often isn't) so an anything goes attitude runs rampant both outside the jewelry community, and sometimes within it. So let me make a few things clear.

All jewelry designs acquire copyright protections the moment they are created (assuming they are original). An individual or company does NOT need to actually file any papers on copyright for their protection to be considered legal and intact, although if you plan to vigorously and legally protect your copyright it is better to do so. Copyright protection is different than patent protection. Patents can be obtained for unique new working elements in jewelry (unique clasps or hinged mechanisms) and it is a far more time consuming and expensive process than applying for copyright protection. People who violate copyright laws do so at risk of being sued and if they produce something in quantity that violates copyright they risk losing a lot of money. So when someone comes to me and asks me to copy another jeweler's design directly I can be sued.

More importantly, however (at least for me) is that it is quite simply the WRONG thing to do. Why would you trust a jeweler who is willing to wrongfully copy someone else's designs with: your own stones, to tell you the truth about the metal they are using, or to be honest with you about anything else?

Now understand that there are many jewelry designs out there that are not truly unique, whose history in some cases goes back over 4000 years, or are just truly so basic that just about everyone makes a version of them. In these cases the designs are pretty much in the public domain. But to take another designer's work and directly copy it is just not the right thing to do.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How Silly Can You Get?

I have a small thing for a few crime shows on television. I happen to like all of the Law and Order series a lot and I watch CSI Miami both because my wife likes it and I tend to find it amusing, albeit unbelievable (trust me no one can get a DNA sample analyzed and back in under an hour and no one can find fingerprints that are actually useful on 99% of the things they find them on in the show). But last night's CSI Miami (May 3, 2010) reached some new heights in misinformation that I have to take them to task for.

Guess what it was about: A jewel heist of course. So a bunch of guys go in and rob a jewelry store. Ok that's understandable. It happens more than most people imagine (more money was lost in jewelry thefts in 2008 than in bank robberies in the United States). Of course someone gets shot in the theft, and while I don't want to spoil the plot, it happens, ostensibly because the guy--a customer-- gets up and challenges the bank robbers (a no no for everyone by the way). Okay so far I'd say.

But then the robbers get away but CSI is able to track one of the vehicles used to a location where they find all of the diamonds from the pieces taken in the theft scattered across the ground outside the warehouse that was used! So apparently the criminals went in, stole all of this jewelry, pulled out all of the diamonds and left them behind and just took the gold! Now if that isn't stupid I don't know what is. Admittedly, most criminals really are stupid. But as the program develops what they seem to have decided is that the gold (which they mistakenly said was over $1200/oz---something it hasn't quite hit yet although it is getting close) was more valuable than the diamonds. One of the spurious claims made was that all diamonds are marked now and could be traced because of this. Consequently the criminals didn't want to keep them.

Admittedly many diamonds (and all of the Lazare Diamonds that I sell) are laser inscribed with an identification number, and it has become fashionable to laser inscribe many other stones with their certificate numbers if they have one but the concept that almost all of the diamonds had inscriptions is ludicrous. Additionally, any serious criminal (and these people were made out to be very serious ones pulling heists all over the country in a similar fashion) would know that these inscriptions can be polished out if necessary. They would also know that most of the diamonds don't have any, so to leave somewhere between $100,000 and $1,000,000 (both of these figures were used so I'm not sure which they actually meant) worth of diamonds lying behind on the ground is just idiotic. Also for the quantity of stones left lying behind, if it was only $100,000 worth (the figure used most often), then none of the stones left behind would have been large enough to warrant having a number engraved on the girdle. But please, never let it be said that reality is what they are shooting for on these shows, or that the show producers (or at least their technical advisers) are any smarter than the criminals. I just hope the general public doesn't decide to believe any more of this nonsense than they already do.
This is an addendum on June 2, 2010. Gold has hit and exceeded $1200/oz periodically since this post was originally written, so maybe they were a little prescient.