TGP Updates

It has been far too long since I managed to get a post up! In the last few weeks, I’ve had a family emergency, found myself terribly sick and even had a birthday.

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Bright Yellow Sapphire

In more jewelry related news, I managed to get some new gems up on etsy, got a few custom projects underway, and am anxiously waiting for a few items in production.

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Pastel Green Aquamarine

I’m really sad that I haven’t been able to get more jewelry into production so far this year, but things have been distracting me, and I am hoping that as soon as I get moved into the new studio, things will take a turn for the better. I have a bunch of custom projects in the works, including a step cut halo, some cluster type rings, another halo, and some others including a fancy colored diamond ring.

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Medium Gray Spinel Pair

Speaking of the studio, I have a new drafting table, and I’m so excited to be able to draw without getting instant neck strain! I also have a big south facing window with incredible natural light (except during those pesky storms that make it over the Cascades from Seattle) that has been working quite well for photographing stones and jewelry. I didn’t realize when I started planning this new space just how many functions I need it for – drawing, photography, computer, writing, storage, shipping, etc. And all of those tasks need different lighting (say, for instance, color shifting stones!) and suddenly office planning is incredibly complicated.

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Lavender Spinel

Now, as for decorating the studio, I already have one print up from Angie Crabtree – the Elle modern asscher, and my wonderful husband surprised me with a new print for my birthday – the Dominique antique pear! This complicates things though – I had just figured out my wall configuration with the decor, so I will have to redo it once it is framed.

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Barry Bridgestock Tourmaline

I hope that you have taken the opportunity to take a minute to check out my Repertoire page – I have many of the items I have designed up there, both stock items as well as custom items. I am going to be writing another Inside The Industry blog coming up soon – I just need to be able to spend some time writing, instead of spending it on random non-jewelry related items. And I will be sharing a couple new items to go with the Vivant necklace as well – they should be coming out of production very shortly!

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Peter Torraca Tourmaline

In other updates, I have stones at AGL for certification/testing, and I will have a new small padparadscha sapphire as well as a gorgeous blue sapphire here soon as well!

Elle signature

Miscellaneous Updates

Just a quick update this week, New Years is coming up soon (where did this year go?), and getting my new office/studio together is taking up way more time than I planned on.

  • My wonderful Angie Crabtree “Elle” print was finally framed, and it’s waiting for it’s new spot to be hung in my new office. I went simple on this one, and hopefully, since she is working on some antique diamond cuts, I can give “Elle” a companion sooner rather than later!
  • I haven’t been able to sketch and design as much as I normally do, snow shoveling has taken way too much of my time, as well as driving in the snow. It turns out that driving slow is key for avoiding wrecks! Right now I have three (plus) projects going on – two ring projects that I have very clear ideas on, and another more fluid project that I got a whole parcel of stones for, and have too many ideas on, so that will need to be worked on, hopefully in the coming week or so.
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  • Not much going on with stock settings, I decided against rolling out the Dignité for now, and will probably reconsider in the future. I am working on a three stone idea that has been formulating in my head that lends itself well to pairing with the Vivant necklace.
  • Instead of the Dignité being released, I posted the Intrepide – a wonderful interesting halo that’s just a slight tweak on a simple halo, that really comes with big impact!  This setting is available for any size and shape of stone, please contact us for details.
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  • I have a Voeu ring that just came out of production, and is available to view in person at David Klass Jewelry in Los Angeles. This one was made with a peachy-brown imperial garnet with both yellow gold and rose gold. This setting really lends itself well to smaller stones, giving them a good dose of presence, even for a smaller stone.
  • I got a few new jewelry tools for the holidays, so I’m excited to use those, both for pictures and just in general.
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  • I am considering sending several sapphires to AGL for certification, but the negative side of doing that (for the customer) is that the prices will inevitably go up.
  • Speaking of pricing, I think I might do a sale on my items on etsy for January. I will decide in the next week or so.
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A bit short today, I have been completely overloaded, but will hopefully get back into the groove again soon!

AGL Lab Testing

I have had a lot of questions about untreated gems in my brief stint on etsy. One thing I would really like to discuss is getting gems tested. I prefer to get gems tested by AGL, and I am going to talk about an experience with getting a gem evaluated by them.

I want to start out by saying that I’m willing to get any gem tested, so long as the customer pays for shipping and testing. I typically do not get stones tested myself, because most stones don’t merit it, whether through the stones resiliency against treatment, or the the lab test cost ratio to the cost of the gem. It doesn’t make sense to get an AGL Gem Brief that costs $60 (plus shipping both ways) for a $100 gem, especially in the event that it’s a stone that isn’t routinely treated or has a characteristic that isn’t likely to be desirable to the general public (for example, a golden brown topaz). If the untreated designation brings a sale value that is higher than the cost of the testing, then it makes financial sense to do it. Or if the stone is a high enough price, and the stone variety is routinely treated.

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I first contacted AGL about the violet sapphire late in 2014. I wanted to know about the procedures for getting a Gem Brief and then how to upgrade to a Prestige report. Maria emailed me back that I had to indicate it on the submission sheet.

Early in April I filled out the submission form and mailed it off to AGL. After roughly two weeks, I emailed Maria because I hadn’t heard anything from them (it’s a bit weird to mail an item to a location and not get any confirmation that it was received!) and wanted to make sure that it arrived at the destination. I have a deep distrust of USPS after an incident years ago involving Registered and a missing spinel that eventually turned up. Maria emailed me back that the stone had not only been received, but that it was done, untreated, and went through my shipping options. Instead of shipping Registered, she decided it would be a shorter wait to send it via armored vehicle overnight.

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So shortly after that conversation, the sapphire was back in my hands. With it’s fancy AGL Prestige Report. I have joked about this since then, but I’m only half joking when I say that I want to get an AGL Prestige Report on all of my gems. There is a cool digital diagram where the stone was mapped out and has all of it’s measurements and facets displayed, descriptions of the treatment, the color, the rarity, etc. It almost made me wish that I had a gem that was important enough to get a JewelFolio, but being that pricing starts at $3,000, I don’t see that happening soon.

AGL Pricelist
AGL Prestige Report
AGL GemBrief

So let me say again, I have no problems sending a stone off to a lab to have them test it. But sometimes it really just don’t make sense! I suggest that sapphires, rubies, and emeralds have some sort of testing, but honestly, most garnets, spinels, topaz, chrysoberyl, and others probably don’t merit it, just due to the price proportions!

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This sapphire has since sold, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it ends up getting set by it’s new owner!

Gem Blast: Violet Sapphire

I’ve recently taken possession of a Violet sapphire that perfectly skirts the line between purple and blue. I just had it certified by American Gemological Laboratories. I had never done that before, and it was a pretty great experience, especially when AGL testing found out that it was completely untreated.

3.90ctw 9.6 x 7.69 x 6.39

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I have a colleague who has been seeking out the perfect violet (or blurple, as she calls it) sapphire for the last several years, and this one ticks almost all of her boxes.

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Through her search, I’ve been deeply involved, and recruited several other searchers.

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In the end, this stone was discovered after she found her ideal stone, so she briefly considered using it for a necklace, but decided that she needed to share the wealth instead.

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In our searching, we discovered that these stones are typically color shifting to some extent. This one transitions from blue to purple, but is violet in most mixed lighting situations.

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The color on my laptop screen is less saturated than on my phone, where it looks more like the stone in real life.

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Once I get it back from AGL, I plan on taking a lot more photos of it. It’s a challenging stone to capture.

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You can see that it has some cut flaws, showing a slight darker bowtie in the above image and a small partial window in the two shots below.

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Showing a slight windowing effect that is more visible in picture than in real life. I wouldn’t dream of touching the cut on this, I wouldn’t want to alter the color in any way.

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This stone has been listed for sale on LoupeTroop.

Gemstones: What to look for

So, buying gemstones is a tricky business. I’ve been doing it for many years, but I’m still far from being an expert at it.

Now, having said that, I do have some guidelines that I try to follow when I am after something. There are just too many variables for an easy how-to kind of guide the way diamonds have. There isn’t a lot of set pricing for various colored gemstones, so you have to do a lot of research to know if you’re getting a good deal or at least a fair deal.

Color
Color dictates everything. Red, especially pure red stones will be the most expensive stones you can buy. Pure blues, greens, yellows, and beautiful pinks won’t be far behind. Oranges are also very difficult to find, and are typically best found in garnets, but occasionally a great orange sapphire will come around.

Cut
This is something that’s different for everyone. I can overlook cut flaws for great color, some people are not as lenient as I am.

Clarity
This is something else that’s different for everyone. I don’t mind some inclusions, especially if they are cool looking (bubbles in spinels! Horsetail inclusions in demantoids!) but some people want completely clean and flaw-free. With most colored stones, this just isn’t possible. Not only that, but inclusions can help indicate the treatment level of a stone.

Size/Carat/Dimensions
Always buy by dimensions! Sapphires, for instance, are very dense and heavy, which means that 1ct will face up smaller than stones that are less dense.

Price
What is your budget for the project? How much does the gem in the size and color you desire typically cost? How savvy of a negotiator are you? You aren’t going to find a well cut, ideal blue with violet secondary in the 5ct range for $1k, unless it’s a fakey.

Treatment
Gemstones are constantly being treating in new and interesting ways that would lend to better color and clarity, not to mention making fakes. So the labs out there are having to stay on top if new treatments and innovative ways to, lets face it, scam people (ugh, the jewelry industry has such a bad rap when it comes to this topic!). The gems that are worth the most come out of the ground as you see them. There are different levels of heating, and other type of treatment – so many that I won’t got into all of them here. The GIA and AGL websites have tons of information on treatments.

Helpful hints:
1. If you’re buying a sapphire, ruby or emerald of a larger size, get a lab report.
2. Ask questions and ask for more pictures. If the seller doesn’t know the answers to the questions, and doesn’t seem to care about getting you the information you need, I’d reconsider doing business with them.
3. Familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of buying the gemstone variety you’re looking at. Blue topaz is almost always irradiated. Emeralds are almost always oil treated. Sapphires are almost always heated. Garnets and spinels typically aren’t treated (although lately there are rumors of heat treatment for color and clarity enhancement.) Look for comparables. I always go to reputable seller’s sites and compare compare compare. I try to find at least 3 other stones of similar size, shape, color.  If you’re after something really rare, this is harder than it sounds.
4. Ask outsiders for help! If you don’t know, ask someone else! Develop relationships with jewelers and utilize their knowledge. Ask for my help!
5. Understand that if someone acts like an expert on everything, they probably aren’t. Most jewelers are not well versed in gemstones because they aren’t as popular as diamonds.
6. Google is your friend. Seriously, I google stuff all of the time!
7. Don’t buy from the TV stations.
8. Buy what you like.
9. Manage your expectations!

Two unheated 5ctish Aquas. Blue is precision cut, green is not. Both are glorious in their own ways!

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