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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

New Necklace

I just finished this new necklace up.  Sorry it's only a phone snap but  I wanted to get a picture of it up as soon as possible.  18k gold, freshwater keshi pearl, purple sapphires.  I'm a little under the gun so that's all I'm putting in this article.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Don't Give Up Hope

Rhodolite garnet, 22k and 18k gold rose bud earrings

So you're really unhappy that you missed out on getting one of those three pairs of earrings in my last post.  But I have a whole lot of other beautiful pieces out right now, like the garnet and 22k rose bud earrings in the picture at the top.  Or I also have a pair of earrings with garnets out now that look like these diamond earrings:   

18k gold and Lazare Diamond earrings
So don't give up hope!  Actually I have more jewels out in my cases now than I have had in quite awhile so stop by and see what's cooking!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Tis the Season, Limited Edition Earrings and Then There Were None

One of the good things about me working so hard at this time of year is that I'm actually on my bench more.  Being on my bench more means I get to do my favorite thing which is actually make some jewelry.  And when I have to spend a lot of time making up custom pieces for my wonderful customers I make sure that I also have time to produce something new for the cases (because if I have to work all the time I like to do something for myself as well).  Last week I made up the three earrings in the pictures posted here over a three day period (they're called "3 days-3 earrings" for some strange reason). 

These are a limited edition set.  They are made of oxidized fine silver and 18k gold with sapphires in two of them and rubies in the third. I will not be making any more earrings in silver and gold at least for a year and they will not be the same as I threw out all the sketches for these immediately after making them.  They are amazingly reasonably priced and one pair has already been sold (although I have them for a few more days if you want to come in and see them all) so if you're interested you'd better get in here soon! 

About twenty minutes after posting this article I sold a second pair so I'm down to only one now. The ones pictured at the top are still available. 

And then there were none.  The last pair sold last night (thanks Diane!).  The rest of you will have to wait to see what I come up with next year!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

New Beautiful Gems Are In and a Small Contest!

gold colored clasp with an oval and pear shaped white stone with strong blue highlights
22k gold blue sheen moonstone and diamond clasp
I used to go out to Tucson in February because they have what is known as the Gem Show there.  In fact it's more like 20 different gem shows and there is some pretty amazing stuff out there.  It's a ten day long event and virtually every gem dealer in the world is either in a booth there or they are out there buying and selling from the other gem dealers.  Some even just set up in their hotel rooms to see customers.  Looking at the massive concentration of wealth has always seemed like it would make a great detective story for someone to write about with a massive heist taking place under the noses of the amazingly heavy contingent of police working at the shows.  I was told many, many years ago by the first gem dealer I ever worked with (who later became a friend despite our 40 year age difference at the time) that one of the reasons the gem show was held in Tucson was because the Mafia had a heavy presence there and so everyone thought it would be safer since they didn't want any incidents happening too close to home.  I never found out if it was a true story but it always sounded good.

The problem with going to Tucson is that there is just too much stuff out there to buy.  So when I would go out there I would inevitably go way over budget in my buying and then when I would get back my then partner would yell at me for spending so much money.  After a few years I gave up feeling it was better to work with all of the wonderful dealers I had hooked up with out there over the years.  And since then it became more important that I stick to dealers I knew because, as I have discussed in numerous other articles here, gem treatments became far more prolific and difficult to detect.  Working with dealers I knew were as concerned about this as I was became more and more important.  Fortunately I had developed a good list of dealers who thought I like do and proved to be great sources for my needs.

My primary stone suppliers are a couple who I actually met before I was going to Tucson as they are located about an hour from here.  They have been friends as well for most of that time peiod.   I actually think I may have first bought from them about 35 or 36 years ago.  Both of our businesses grew over time and they have an astounding quantity of quality gem materials.  Every year around this time I try to get up and actually see them so I can pick up some neat material to put out for the holiday season. (Most of the time I deal with them on the phone as they know exactly what type of material I am looking for and it really isn't necessary to get up to see them---and it isn't safe for them to travel to me with any quantity of stuff so it's easier if I just get up there to look at the entire collection.)

yellow clasp with brown stone with color streaks running throughout
18k and 22k gold clasp with a boulder opal
So I did get up there this past weekend to play around and see all the amazing stuff they have.  I brought back some extraordinary material to put out for the holidays which makes this a great time of year to come in and see me.  And as I often do, I'm going to offer a little bonus to get you in the shop to look.  Anyone who comes in and asks to see the ruby slice can have a $50 credit towards anything bought out of the case (this is only good as long as I have the stones in my possession which is usually just through New Year's).  And if you can pick out the most expensive stone I came back with (without any clues or hints) you can have a $150 credit towards anything bought out of the case.  (I'm highlighting bought out of the case as it can't be used towards custom work or repairs.)

So please come on by and take a look.  I'm always amazed by the stones I get to bring back with me and I think you will be too!  

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

What Gems Not to Wear in Engagement Rings (or No, No, No Emeralds in Engagement Rings Part 2)

yellow gold pendant with a tear drop shaped multicolor opal and green stone
22k and 18k gold boulder opal and tsavorite garnet pendant
I know.  I know.  It's been forever since I've written a new post.  Suffice it to say I've been a wee bit busy and a little distracted. But that doesn't mean I haven't been busy getting ready for the upcoming season.  Actually my cases are really well stocked right now so it's a great time to see some new stuff.  I've got a couple of pictures of new pieces here and I will be posting more shortly (I promise no more long delays between posts for awhile). 

I thought that for today I would review a topic in a much earlier post because it seems to get more comments and questions than any other posting and it seems that I haven't been able to get my point across clearly enough (at least given the questions I keep getting).  It has to do with what stones you can use in every day wear rings (like engagement rings).  You can view the original posting here or you can just read this one.

Simple ring with an emerald cut orange sapphire in a bezel setting
18k gold vibrant orange sapphire ring
Because of the supposed issue (which really is moot at this point but most people aren't aware of that) of conflict diamonds many people today want to stay away from diamonds for their engagement rings.   And frankly I'm not opposed to this as an idea because I love colored stones.  However there is a reason diamonds are such good engagement ring stones (besides the sparkle that is).  They are, quite simply, the most durable gem materials available today.  They aren't just a little more durable.  They are a LOT more durable.  It is just about impossible to scratch diamonds unless you are rubbing another diamond against them.  While diamonds can break (you can break any stone if you try hard enough), and they can chip over a long period of time, they simply do not get scratched and they are somewhat harder to chip then most other material. 

So what do you do if you want to stay away from diamonds (for whatever the reason)?  You go to sapphires or rubies.  Sapphires come in a plethora of colors (except for red because then they are called rubies) so you do actually have a good selection of colored stones to choose.  Sapphire is 9 on the hardness scale of 1-10 and only diamond is harder.  The hardness scale is a relative scale so while sapphire is 9 it is actually much softer then diamond.

All other gem materials are truly not hard enough to be worn on an every day basis.  Some of them are more durable than others but if you are looking for a gemstone that will represent a lifetime of marriage nothing else is going to work. 

Emeralds in particular are problematic.  While their scratch hardness on the Moh's scale is actually pretty high, they are almost always filled with inclusions that make them extremely fragile.  Now if you don't mind replacing them every few years that's fine but they aren't exactly a cheap stone.  And if you're looking for green stones, this is really going to be a problem for engagement rings as green sapphires, while available (and relatively inexpensive) are not the kind of green that emeralds occur in.  They tend towards a light yellowish lime green with blue overtones to them.  Tourmalines are also too soft for every day wear.  They don't break that easily but they do scratch.  I gave my wife a 10.26 ct. tourmaline in her engagement ring and we're down to 9.50 ct. because of how many times I have had to have it repolished and she has only used it as an occasional wear ring after the first couple of years that she had it. 

Chrysoberyls, which include alexandrite, are also fairly high on the Moh's scale but again they are not as durable as sapphires or diamonds.  Anything in the quartz family or softer (this includes things like amethyst, opals, citrine, etc.) are a real problem because there is so much quartz dust in the air that the stones can actually get scratched just from that.  Opals break very easily as well. Pearls are an organic substance and they scratch very easily and are also subject to cleaning chemicals and other substances that you come in contact with on a daily basis.   

So here's what I tell people:  If you don't mind replacing the stone every few years (or if you are one of the more careful people out there every 5-10 years) go ahead and get whatever you want. But if you are looking for a meaningful stone that will be still be with you at your 50th anniversary party stick to the diamonds, rubies and sapphires.  All of the other ones will be problematic. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

It's Tax Free Day Sale Time Again!

18k gold, tourmalines and diamonds
Apparently the governor is scheduled to sign the tax free weekend bill today or tomorrow for Massachusetts so our annual sale is on!  This sale is open to anyone in our database, however you must have been a previous customer to take advantage of it.  We are offering a scaled discount that goes up as the cost of the goods go up.  Additionally most of our strung product is offered at a special price regardless of the cost.  The sale only applies to goods out of our cases but the tax free element of it applies to anything $2500 or less (individually---you can order two bands that total more than $2500 but are each still under that amount and they will be tax free) that is paid for in full on Saturday August 15, including custom work.  For those of you who won't be around next Saturday you are welcome to come in early, pick something out and leave us a credit card number to run through on Saturday and then you can pick it up anytime.  I'm sure some of you have been dreaming about something I come on by!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

On Posting on My Blog

Boulder opal and green garnet earrings

I had a discussion recently with a customer about her ability to post comments on my blog.   For those of you who don't have a Google account, in the area where it says "Post As" click on the entry "name/URL".  You don't have to put in a URL but you can just use your name.  That assumes you want to leave your name.  If not just do it anonymously. 

I know I haven't written anything in awhile but please be watching for next week's announcement (which may actually happen later this week depending on how quickly our state legislators and governor can get their act together. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Pearls Before Swine (Put Your Pearls on Before You Eat Your Bacon)

Untreated Natural Color Akoya Pearls
I mentioned in my last posting that I would be writing about pearls in this post and that's exactly what I'm going to do.  I've written about pearls before but I've been writing this blog for so long now I don't expect anyone just finding me to go all the way back to the beginning to find the articles.  So I'm going to start from the beginning on pearls and if you've read about this before, just look at the pretty pictures.

But first a few quick notes.

 1) We will only be closed for the day of July 4.  Usually I close for some time around the beginning of July but we will not be doing that this year.

 2) Cambridge is working at eliminating parking spaces from the streets as quickly as it can so I again want to remind you that we do have a parking space available most of the time.  But you have to call ahead and ask me if it's available and where it is. Please feel free to do so.

 3) I routinely get customers in who swear to me that they read my blog all the time.  But none of you seem to want to make a comment ever.  This drives me nuts because I don't know if you're reading the blog if you never tell me on the blog itself. I have to wait until you come in the store and say "Oh, that last thing you wrote was really interesting".  I read other blogs and all kinds of people make comments.  What is up with that folks???? So anyone who posts a comment on this article can get a $25 credit against any case purchase in the future. I don't care what the comment says or is about. If you want to tell me my haircut looks stupid that's fine. I don't even care if you just want to tell me the latest joke you've heard. They are all good for that credit.  It gets lonely here sometimes....

So pearls....Pearls have been around for a long time as a jewel.  Well all gem materials have been around for a long time (they may just not have been found yet), but pearls have been known about and used as ornamentation for a lot longer than most (some believe they may be the oldest gem materials used). Originally pearls were natural, organic substances.  They would grow in oysters (or freshwaters would grow in mussels in rivers) in the ocean.  It is thought that some form of irritant would kick off the process of nacre forming around it and ultimately a pearl would form.  Finding truly round pearls was extremely rare as the process is a natural process and couldn't be controlled in any way.

The pearling industry was huge for quite a few years.  It was, in a typical human fashion, so large that the major pearling areas were fished out over a number of years.  By the late 1800's most of the world's largest pearl beds had been overfished to the point of extinction.  In 1919 oil was discovered in the Persian Gulf and the final remaining natural pearl beds of any size were ruined from the resulting pollution (as well as the over harvesting). 

It was extraordinarily convenient then that at about this same time period a couple of Japanese entrepreneurs (Mikimoto was one of them) had worked out a way to grow a cultured pearl in an oyster.  While experiments resulting in pearl like entities had been ongoing for a number of years, the Japanese managed to perfect the result.  They discovered they could put a round bead nucleus (made of shell from American fresh water fisheries as it happens) into an akoya oyster and in a few years, a growth of nacre had formed around it creating a round (well sometimes) pearl.  One of the keys to this development was figuring out how to get the bead nucleus into the oyster without killing it or stressing it out too much and then keeping them alive for the requisite growth period. 
Untreated Cultured Blue Grey Akoya Pearls

Originally, all of the cultured pearls available were grown in Japan.  The Japanese waters were cool which slowed growth down somewhat.  Additionally the type of oyster they could use was relatively small and pearls over the size of 9 mm were virtually unheard of.  As long as the pearls were kept in the oysters for a long enough period, the nacre that was created in the somewhat cooler waters, usually produced a far better luster than seen elsewhere.  Over time, some pearl farmers tried to speed up the growth process and wouldn't let the pearls remain in the oysters long enough which led to thinner nacre and lower luster, albeit cheaper, pearls.

In the 1970's and 1980's over development and pollution, along with a number of other economic factors (including China's entry into the cultured pearl market and the developing South Sea cultured pearl industry) reduced the number of Japanese pearl farmers drastically and the number of Japanese akoya pearls being sold.  As it happens the Japanese took their knowledge and sold it to China as the industry there ramped up.  While the Chinese produced akoya pearls, they were almost always lower quality (and produced in huge quantities which dragged the prices down of all the goods).

The Japanese also produced some of the best known freshwater pearls for a period of time.  The term "Biwa" pearl came into existence because of how many freshwater pearls were produced in Lake Biwa in Japan.  While natural freshwater pearls had been around in the past (New Jersey produced large numbers in the early 1800's and Tennessee was a large source), the same issues confronting natural salt water pearls, over fishing and industrialization and the resulting pollution, eliminated most of them.  Freshwater pearls are produced by inserting a piece of mantle tissue into a mussel and allowing a growth to form around that. The resulting pearls were usually a free form shape, which for jewelers like me, were much more interesting.  However Japan was faced with pollution in its lakes as well (which we believe led to some fascinating highly metallic looking pearls for awhile) and ultimately the freshwater pearl industry there pretty much stopped as well.
Bead Nucleated Freshwater "Edison" Pearls

In the meanwhile, the Chinese were moving at a rapid speed in the freshwater pearl market as well.  They produced so many low quality pearls that the prices on all of them plummeted as the market was flooded with a large amount of junk.  So then they turned to trying to produce a true round pearl to replace the Japanese akoya pearl industry that had was pretty much disappearing.  They were quite successful at this, but the resulting pearls have just never been as nice as the Japanese akoyas were.  The luster was never the same and if you held a strand of the Chinese freshwater rounds next to the Japanese akoyas, you would immediately see the difference.

However, both Japanese and Americans have been working with the Chinese in the last couple of decades and new products are coming out all the time.  The latest thing has been bead nucleated fresh water pearls in which round bead nuclei are inserted into the mussel and a pearl forms around it.

3 Strand of Untreated Akoya Cultured Pearls
Truly, to fully talk about the pearl industry I would need to write a small book and a single blog article doesn't lend itself to that.  This is meant to provide you with an overview and, as usual, I have a reason for presenting it to you now.  I recently saw one of my sources who I don't get to see very often as she was here exhibiting at a jeweler's conference, and she had some stunning strands of pearls which you can see pictured here.  At the top is a strand of multicolored akoya pearls, completely and totally untreated (no sun bleaching, no anything).  Also there is a strand of blue grey untreated akoya pearls.  The larger strand of multicolor pearls are called Edison pearls (that's the name of the company).  They are untreated (natural color) bead nucleated freshwater pearls.  All of these strands are stunning.  And the akoya strands are the first of any quality I have seen a number of years.  So while I don't normally sell round pearls I found these hard to resist.  The blue grey pearls are baroque as are the Edisons.  The Edisons have the size of South Sea pearls but are somehow completely different looking.  Please come by and take a look.  Even if you don't buy them, you aren't going to see a lot of material like this anywhere else these days.

I'll be looking forward to your questions and comments!

Saturday, May 30, 2015


Tanzanite, 18k gold pendant with diamond accent
The summer weather seems to have reached us finally, and somewhat abruptly, and I have switched (most of the time) from my more formal clothing to my Hawaiian shirts for the season.  Apparently the one I wore the other day was blinding because almost everyone commented on it.  However, what some of you may not know because I wear so many vests these days, during the rest of the year I wear suspenders almost every single day.  All of my suspenders are made by a company called Trafalgar and they are all from their limited edition collection.  Needless to say they aren't inexpensive (although this is relative---when almost all of your clothing is custom made for you, they don't really seem like they cost that much) but I love the wonderful designs they do and I wear them all the time.  When you wear something all the time, stuff happens.  Connections get worn and frayed, material tears, parts don't work as well. 

A few years ago though my wife found out that we could send back the suspenders to the company and after a few weeks they would come back to us completely repaired and (almost) like new again.  And there was absolutely no charge!  The only thing we paid for was the shipping to the company (not the return shipping).  What an amazing company!  I mean what other company would offer a service like this???

Oh wait a minute,  I do!!*  Yes I actually fix my jewelry for free, including resizings, repointing of prongs, replacing worn bezels, and anything that just breaks.  Can you say that you know of any other companies that do this? 

 I can't tell you how many times I get young, newly engaged customers in here who have engagement rings they bought elsewhere that don't fit and they tell me that the store they bought them from won't resize them for free or will only do it once.  Is that truly the kind of store you want to buy your fine jewelry from ? 

*(Disclaimer: I won't pay for return shipping---unless the error is mine---as the costs involved for shipping and insuring jewelry is more expensive than suspenders.)

The pendant pictured above is a new piece I just put out with a very, very cool tanzanite.  It is cut in a buff top cut which means that the back of the stone is faceted but the top is cut smooth like a cabochon cut stone.  It is a very blue tanzanite and it looks a lot like you're looking into a pool of water when you look into the stone. 

My next posting is going to be about pearls because I recently saw one of my pearl suppliers who I don't get to see often and I got some amazing new strands in that I should have pictures of soon and that are quite unique.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Tequila and Diamonds, Cheese and Sapphires

Different shaped red and white stone necklace
Rainbow moonstones, garnets and 18k gold
As many of you probably know by now I like tequila.  I recently bought a bottle of my current favorite (Clase Azul Reposado) and my wife and I were sitting down for the cocktail hour with that (well she was having a gin and tonic) and some cheese.  Since I kind of live and breathe jewelry, it's never far from my mind and I began musing on how fine the tequila was and how that related to the diamonds I sell.  I was thinking about how I really only needed one shot of this tequila because it was so fine that every sip made me happy.  How the heck does this relate to the diamonds I sell, you are probably wondering (actually you may be wondering how much tequila I had before this thought came to me!).  It does in fact.  The diamonds I sell, Lazare Diamonds, are all cut to the American Ideal cut and are consistently the most lively and sparkly diamonds you will see out there. You should also know by now that I only sell top color diamonds so they are also always as white as they can be.  And the great thing about these two factors is that you don't need a huge diamond for it to be amazing looking.  My half carat diamonds will always look better than a larger poorly cut, lower color, stone.  So in the case of my diamonds, as with the tequila, less really is more!

Don't get me wrong.  If you want a big diamond, I'm happy to get it for you.  I just sold a stunning 1.70 ct., "F" color, VVS1 clarity (almost flawless!) Lazare Diamond just the other day.  But you
certainly don't need a large one to have an equally spectacular stone.

Now let's get on to the cheese.  I was having some Comte that I had picked up at Whole Foods.  Normally when I need a good cheese I head over to Formaggio's Kitchen, a small cheese shop (the only cheese store in America with a cheese cave underneath it!), and get what I want because they consistently have the best cheese in the area.  And as it happens, I particularly like Comte, so I buy it often.  However when I cut into the Comte from Whole Foods, it immediately became apparent that it was nowhere near the quality of what comes from Formaggio's.  The piece of cheese broke in half (Comte is a fairly dense cheese and I had never had a piece do this before) immediately, the color was off and quite frankly the taste was completely bland and nothing at all like the ones I get from Formaggio's.  I went back and looked at the wrapper and realized I was paying the same price per pound as I would have at Formaggio's!

So how does this relate to jewelry?  First of all the fact that Formaggio's is a small operation allows them to more individually source their product.  They often know their suppliers personally, they are fussy about what they will take, and they actually check each piece of their product when it comes in.  This directly relates to the way that I purchase the colored stones that I buy.  I know my suppliers personally (some I have known for almost 40 years), they know what the quality is I am looking for and won't even bother sending me stuff they know isn't up to my standards and I actually check each stone that comes into my hands personally.  When you buy from a chain operation, or even from a jeweler who simply doesn't make their own work but just buys finished goods from their various suppliers, you will never get this kind of attention to detail.  So you may be able to find sapphires that are larger and priced the same as my smaller ones, but you will not get the quality you can get from someone like me.

I'd continue my analogies into the actual meal we ate, but I'm starting to get hungry with all of this food talk and dinner is still quite far in the future.  But by now, I'm sure you get the idea!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

New and Old

Nothing for months and then two posts in one day.  Shame on me.
Large rectangular diamond in a simple deco like setting
Platinum and emerald cut diamond ring

I had an old piece I custom made for a customer quite a few years ago come in for a cleaning and we got a snap shot of it.  It's not really like anything I normally make so I thought it might be interesting for you to see the full range of designing I can do when I put my mind to it.  I have to say that this was put together working with the customer on the design and I was incredibly concerned that the stone wouldn't stay in the setting however I have never had to even tighten it up a bit (it was bought at least 15 years ago).  I think it helps both that it is in platinum and that the customer has taken good care of it.  This is not a design you should be rock climbing in!

That's the old. Now for the new.

dangling earrings with pear shaped medium blue stones
22k and 18k gold earrings with 5.30 ct. t.w. aquamarines and diamond accents
My relatively new German supplier was coming in to see me recently so I figured it was time to get out some more of the pieces that she had sold me the last time she was in town.  I had gotten a pair of aquamarines at the time that I had actually bought thinking my wife would like me to put in something for her.   However when I showed them to her she had less than a stellar reaction so I just put them aside for awhile.  So I finally made up the earrings above with them.  As soon as Kathy saw the actual earrings, she suddenly was in love with them.  Unfortunately for her (and fortunately for my bank account), they sold within a week of my putting them out in the case (before any occasion came along she could claim them for).  The customer left a deposit on them and I left them in the cases and within another week another customer came in, saw the design and placed an order for them with some large round tanzanites.  I know that sooner or later I'm going to have to make up another pair for Kathy..........................

My customers have a sense of humor too! And on a musical note.....

I always like it when people buy their own gifts.  It saves a lot of angst by their significant other over what to buy.  It also makes a statement that you are strong enough in your relationship that not everything needs an approval by your partner.  One of my favorite customers came in the other day and spotted a ring she fell in love with.  Her birthday was coming up so she figured she would just buy it and then give it to her husband to give to her on the actual day.  When the day came a week later he gave her the box and this is what she found inside of it:
Needless to say this isn't exactly the ring I made up! He did hand over the real one immediately afterwards. 

round disc pendant with engraved musical measure
18k yellow gold pendant with diamonds

I had another customer in recently who came in for an interesting custom job.  He wanted a measure from Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte on a pendant.  I know it had great significance to the couple although honestly I didn't ask what that was.  I thought that simply engraving the measure on the piece wasn't really going to be interesting enough so I suggested a more interesting bail. The tiny diamonds were the customer's idea as well.  Apparently his wife cried when she realized what the measure was from. Got a favorite musical measure?  Let me know and I'll see what I can do for you!    

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Neanderthal Jewelry.

Fancy cut orange sapphire in a platinum ring
I'm not sure I've ever posted a link to an article on something on my blog but I'm going to now.  If I ever have a need to feel like I work in an ancient and venerable craft this is what I would look at:

It's pretty amazing to think that even Neanderthals had their local jewelers.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

What Do I Buy When I'm Traveling

half moon shape earrings with mixed metals and green stones
Mokume gane earrings with emeralds
A customer of mine passed away recently.  He was a great musician, at one point a local merchant and a very sweet guy.  He was also, as it happens, my prime example for one particular question I get asked on a regular basis.  It's something I have been meaning to write about anyway so I figure it's as good a time as any and to, in some bizarre way, honor him.

The question I get asked always goes something like this:  I'm about to go overseas.  What gemstones should I buy while I'm over there?

The answer I always give goes something like this:  If it costs $100 or less buy whatever you want.  If it costs more than that, whatever you do, don't buy it. I know this sounds like a broad generalization but let me relate to you what happened to my customer (as well as a few others).

He was traveling to Thailand which has been a large gem cutting capital of the world for a number of years.  He did come in to see me before he went and asked me what he should buy.  I told him the same thing I tell everyone.  Don't try to buy anything. Needless to say that's not how the story ended.   While in Thailand he was (in what appeared to be a random fashion) approached by three different people/couples, none of them from Thailand, who all told him about a government sponsored store that he should go check out because he could get great deals on gemstones there. So he went and they proceeded to sell him $5000 worth of large sapphires, which they swore to him he could bring back to the States and resell for four or five times the amount of money he was paying for them.  When he came back to my store to show me the stones and ask if I had any interest in buying them, I had to give him the bad news that not only weren't they a good enough quality for me to buy but that no one in the States was going to pay him much, if anything, for them because of how bad the quality was. He made some attempts to sell them to other jewelers but was unable to find anyone willing to buy even one of them from him.

I have a friend whose father in law was a trader all of his life and had bought and sold diamonds on and off (along with just about anything else) and had made good money at it.  He took a trip to Brazil and ended up buying a number of colored stones, which I believe, he hoped to turn around and sell up here.  What did he come back with?  Some synthetics and a bunch of extremely poor quality examples of tourmalines and topaz. 

There have been plenty of other customers who have rolled through with gems and jewelry they bought overseas only to return to find out that what they thought they had was not at all what they actually had.

Here are the problems with buying something overseas today.  First of all, in today's gem market there are so many known treatments, synthetics mixed in with natural stones, and new treatments only just reaching the marketplace that it is hard for gemologists and gem dealers to be assured that what they are buying is what it is purported to be.  How could a layman possibly be expected to know when they are being sold a false bill of goods? Secondly, due to a lack of education and gemological knowledge, even honest overseas miners and dealers often are selling gemstones as one thing that is really another and they don't even realize it.  

But most importantly once you leave the country with your purchase in hand, you have absolutely no recourse.  If you buy something from a jeweler down the block from you and it turns out to be fake, you can go right back to his store and confront him.  If you live in Boston and buy something from a store in Thailand, you simply aren't going to be able to do that.

There are a few countries where you could feel fairly safe in buying some of their gem materials.  Australia is a great place to buy opals but don't expect to get any deals there.  Depending on the relationship of the Australian dollar and the American dollar, the opals may be as or more expensive than what you would find here and they also know the exact value of their product.  But you will have a wider selection there than anywhere else in the world.  Germany does a great deal of gem cutting and I would feel fairly safe buying something there in a legitimate jewelry store.  The Scandinavian countries, England, France and some of the other European countries are also a safe bet.  But these countries (except for Australia) are not the countries where the mining is done (or near where it's done) so there aren't going to be any "bargains" for the most part in them. Unfortunately the "bargains" in the other countries may often turn out not to be a bargain at all.

So, once again, if you are traveling overseas and it's $100 or less, go for it!   But if you're looking to buy a quality gemstone, stick a little closer to home.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Back in the Saddle Again

View in Big Sur
We got back from California two weeks ago and boy am I sorry I left!  The snow and cold has descended upon us with a fury and I was much happier in the 60-70 degree weather we had while away.  And speaking of snow, now that we have multiple feet on the ground and more on the way, parking in Cambridge has gotten even worse than it usually is.  So I wanted to remind you that we do have one parking space available most of the time we are open.  You just need to call ahead of time and I can tell you where it is and whether or not it is available.

Our trip however was quite wonderful.  We had perfect weather and for the first time in years it was actually green when we got out there thanks to a couple of large rainstorms they had.  Unfortunately California has had so many years of drought that they really need a lot more rain, but it was even more beautiful this year thanks to what they did get.  My younger son is living in California now and my older one came out to San Francisco for a friend's art opening so we had the entire family together for the first time in two years for a few days while we were there.

As always the Big Sur scenery is amazing (the picture above is one I took when I walked up the mountain road behind our inn) and one customer in particular is benefiting from my trip as he had ordered one of my Big Sur rings just before I left and I re-sketched some of my favorite mountains while I was out there and used one of the sketches for his ring. I once again would like to recommend that any of you who are looking to travel in the Big Sur area check out the inn we stay at: Ventana.  If you're more into camping, Ventana has a beautiful campground as well. Besides the wonderful accommodations and surrounding views the staff is always quite wonderful and helpful. 

In the meanwhile, I am back at my bench.  Valentine's Day is coming and I'm starting to work on one of my Valentine's Day pins (an almost annual tradition here).  The pendant below is a custom piece I made up this past Christmas that had a wonderful piece of jadeite in it.  I don't often get requests for jade and the reality is that very small pieces of fine jade can be hugely expensive (perhaps one of the reasons I don't get more requests).  This piece that I found for the customer had a wonderful luminous quality to it that was quite exceptional. 
teardrop shaped green stone and pendant with wire and bead decorations
Jade Pendant in 18k Yellow Gold
If you're new to my blog please make sure you check out my blog directory that you can find a link to on the right of the page here.  I believe my next article is going to be about tourmalines, one of my favorite gemstones. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Happy New Year

18k yellow gold pear shaped pendant with green stone and diamond accents
18k yellow gold pendant with tourmaline and diamonds
I'm in recovery mode right now.  That six week period leading up to Christmas without any days off always wears me out a bit.  And then to only get one day off before you have to go back to work is never any fun.  I always prefer Christmas to fall on a Saturday so I can get a three day weekend.  No such luck this year.  But it was nice that we had a busy season and when I'm working on the weekends I get a chance to do thing I love most and be creative on the bench.  This seemed to be a big year for necklaces.  The ruby beads I posted a picture of here sold almost immediately and all of my gold necklaces that I had out also sold.  One lucky woman also got a beautiful strand of South Sea pearls.  If you weren't lucky enough to get anything this year you needn't worry.  I believe that there are any number of holidays that are good gift giving excuses.  For example in February there is  Chinese New Year and Flag Day.  In March there is Daylight Savings Time ends day and the first day of Spring.  These are all huge gift giving holidays around here.  Of course there is also January 25.  Why you might ask?  Well because it's the only January 25th we're going to have this year!  What better reason do you need?

I am making my annual trip to California this month and I am looking forward to the break and the inspiration that always comes from being in Big Sur.  We will be open some of the time I am away and we have some workmen in and out of here during the period to take care of some things in the workshop, but please call if you aren't sure if we're in or not.

In this article I talked about a customer who had taken twenty years to purchase a ring from me.  They came into my store this past week and we had a wonderful time getting to know one another better.  We couldn't resist getting some pictures of us so I have posted them below.

I'm looking for topics some of my readers might like to hear.  If any of you have any interests in particular stones or topics please send them my way.  I always love to hear from any of you so any comments are appreciated.

If you're a new reader please remember to check out my blog directory on the right side of the page.  It breaks down many (although not all) of my articles by topic.

The pendant above is one I custom made for a customer this Christmas.  It has a magnificent tourmaline in it as well as some of my sparkly diamonds.

I hope everyone had a happy New Year and I will be writing again upon my return from California.