Engagement Season

It’s getting to be that time of year where everyone spends a lot of time with family and friends, going from party to party and opening lots of wonderful presents. It’s also that fateful time of year when people want to get engaged. I’m not sure what it is, but something about the holidays brings out the bling.

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Not that I’m complaining, of course! My very best friends got engaged on Thanksgiving, and my husband proposed to me a week before Christmas.

So lets talk about colored stone engagement rings, shall we?

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  1. Pick something hardy to try to withstand a lifetime. I usually recommend only spinel and sapphire if you’re going to deviate from hardness of a diamond. Spinel is about an 8 on the Mohs Scale, and sapphires are about a 9. Chrysoberyl (and Alexandrite) is also pretty hard at 8.5, but tends to be a less popular choice.
  2. Stick with something classic or something that you know you will love in twenty years as much as you love it now.
  3. Think about what kind of wedding band you want! So many people walk into stores and think about the engagement ring, but never think about what the pair it with. Easier to plan a whole set sometimes, especially if you’re going with something besides a relatively simple solitaire.
  4. Take good care of your engagement ring. Truly, no engagement ring should be worn 24/7, even diamonds. Hardness does not equal being indestructible.  Don’t wear it while doing anything that could cause any harm to the stone – gardening, washing dishes, lifting heavy items. I like to buy a fancy box and put it in there, safe from potential harm while I’m doing those kinds of things.
  5. Color. What color do you want? What is her/your favorite color? What colors do you wear a lot? What stone does the color the best? Is that type of stone at least a 7 on the Mohs Scale? Does that type of stone have other qualities you like (dispersion) or dislike (facet abrasion)? 1
  6. Does the stone need a protective setting to try to prevent nicks and chips? Typically people will bezel or halo a stone that’s on the softer side that may need help in the protection department, but this still leaves the table and crown facets open to getting hit. No setting is going to completely protect your center stone, which is why you have to be careful with it!
  7. Is it in the budget? Rubies, sapphires and emeralds are all going to be very classic choices and typically have the best colors, but spinel does red very well (and has a much cleaner crystal!), spinel also does blue very well, and tsavorites can have eye popping green color as well (plus they often have cleaner crystal as well. Spinels and garnets have the bonus to rarely being treated, as well as often being less expensive than their classic counterparts. Fine rubies, emeralds and sapphires can cost more than diamonds. Colored stones are not always going to be less expensive than diamonds!
  8. Treatment levels. Often, when someone is looking for an engagement ring colored stone, they would like the stone to have as little treatment as possible. As with most colored stone purchases, so long as all treatments are disclosed, and you’re paying a fair price for what you’re getting, you’re good to go.
  9. Size. Is the size practical for her lifestyle? Is she very active and play lots of sports? Does she like big jewelry? Or does she like small? Has she ever admired a relative’s jewelry item? What does the rest of her jewelry look like?
  10. Style. This is probably the topic that I’m most invested in (obviously!) but there are so many different styles out there that the choices are absolutely limitless. Classic, trendy, Art Deco, Mid Century, modern, quirky, just to name a few.

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Hoping that everyone has a wonderful holiday/engagement season!

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!

Viva Las Vegas! JCK 2015 Part 1!

I don’t even know where to start because I did so much while I was in Las Vegas, so I guess I’ll just go in chronological order and give an abbreviated look into three of the most intense days of my life.

Thursday

So, I’m lucky enough to live relatively close to Las Vegas. As a result, I decided to drive across the Mojave (which is not a decision to be taken lightly!) and save a bit on airfare. Well, just as I had pulled off the freeway to stop at an ATM, and was stopped at a stoplight, I picked up my phone to check the map, and a cop pulled me over for using my phone while driving. Apparently I need to start using paper maps rather than my phone as a map. That did not start my trip off well. In addition to that rough start, my lovely bling friend who was rooming with me, her flight was not only delayed, but she was moved to another flight, that would have her arrive ten hours after she had originally been scheduled.

Not a good start to what was supposed to be a fun weekend.

So, at that point, alone and grouchy, I checked in, got some free drink vouchers (bless the woman at the check in counter!) I unpacked everything, and decided to check my messages, where my delayed roommate had mentioned a potential dinner date with Roger Dery. Seeing as how I hadn’t eaten anything all day, I figured I should probably put something in my stomach. So I text Roger and arranged to meet him at a restaurant a block from his hotel.

Dinner with Roger Dery

Let me start out by saying that Roger is wonderful. I’m not just saying that because I know he’ll read this either! I don’t want to talk too much about dinner because we talked about a lot of gemstone stuff, my plans for the future, his history with gemstones, posting on Pricescope (we both typically refrain unless we think very carefully about what we’re going to say before we say it), the increase in interest in gray spinel, mining, etc. You get the picture, I basically got as much information out of him as I possibly could over a couple of hours.

Gemstone showing with Roger

After we finished dinner, Roger invited me to view the gemstones he had with him, and of course I jumped at the opportunity! Who wouldn’t?! Here are some of the pictures I took of some of his gems.

Chrysoberyl
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Orange sapphire. Just a tiny bit more brown than a fine orange garnet. This picture does not do it justice.
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A large blue sapphire
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My favorite stone of the night, a 2.03ct blue sapphire
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Iolite cabochon. A wonderful violet color. 
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One of many kiwi garnets.
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Another kiwi garnet.
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A fine spessartite, as usual, this picture does it no justice. 
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The amazing crown on a red garnet.
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A gorgeous burnt orange garnet that has a tinge of pink to it; another favorite of the night.
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Admiring the chrysoberyl.
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I took pictures of every single gem he brought with him, but some of them came out terribly, so I won’t post those! Roger gave me some helpful hints about the business and made some great suggestions as to next steps I should take. Not long afterward I finished looking at the gems, Jason Brim, Ryan Quantz and some other gemstone afflicted came by to go through Roger’s gems, and talk about gems. We also talked at length about Sharing the Rough, which I was able to see at the Newport Beach Film Festival. But more on the film later!

Back to the Bling Room

At this point, it was midnight and my roommate had finally made it to our hotel, so I decided it was time to head back….and look at more bling.

Colombian emerald cut by Lisa Elser.
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6+ct violet sapphire from Gene Flanigan at Precision Gems.
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Electric blue zircon from Roger Dery, customized Gabriel & Co setting.
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A red flame spinel in a custom Bez Ambar setting with Blaze diamonds
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A special transitional diamond from Love Affair Diamonds. This diamond comes with a story! 
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Violet sapphire from Natural Sapphire Company, setting from Jeff Davies.
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Shoulder views of Gabriel & Co setting and Julia B Jewelry setting with a Prima Gems red Mahenge spinel. 
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I finally passed out around 3am, already feeling a bit overwhelmed. This is what a colored stone lover’s nightstand looks like when we have a bling weekend.

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Part 2 with the lowdown on Friday’s insanity coming tomorrow!

Hint: it involved a lot of time with Prima Gems, and a limo ride. Not related to each other!