Gemology Corner

GemLab: Gemology Corner

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GemLab: Gemology Corner

Welcome! We are incredibly pleased to introduce a fresh new look to our website, but also, some fun and interesting new features as well. One of the new additions to our website that our readers are noticing (especially if you are reading this) is the “Gemology Corner.” The Gemology Corner is your first-hand look into the slightly crazy, endlessly fascinating, and sometimes frustrating world of the colored stone, diamond, and jewelry industry. In the following months to come, I will attempt to shed some clarity on this sometimes seemingly opaque industry of diamonds, colored stones, and all that surrounds it. I sincerely hope you all enjoy reading in the months to follow, and I welcome any feedback, ideas for future entries, and any insight of your own that you wish to share.

For this first entry, I want to start off by providing all of our readers with an updated and more accurate sense of what an appraisal actually entails and why having your gemstone and jewelry items appraised by an independent and reputable company is more imperative than it ever has been before.

One major necessity for having your jewelry and gemstone items appraised is to simply verify the legitimacy of the gemstones and/or diamonds. Not all that long ago, gemstones and diamonds could be identified and evaluated with a couple of relatively primitive, hand-held pieces of equipment and a good set of eyes. We have only scratched the surface of a technology era where scientific advancements have affected our day to day routines, jobs, social outlets, and many other aspects of our life; and it should be no surprise that the gemstone world is no different. It is almost impossible to measure the integrity of a gemstone by just pure observation anymore. Synthetic (man-made) gemstones are flooding the market, along with simulants (look-alikes), and heavily treated gemstones in order to enhance their appearance, all of which are being passed off everyday as natural, unadulterated material without any disclosure to the buyer. (This, of course, is not only unethical, but also illegal.) All of these require advanced equipment and a much more thorough understanding of the physical and chemical properties in order to identify, separate, and evaluate properly. It’s shocking how often I get a lead glass filled ruby or fracture filled diamond come across my desk that has had no prior identification of the treatment and has been sold for a premium cost as if it were natural unenhanced material. Sure, it may seem to have a similar appearance of untreated material, but the difference in value is staggering. Synthetics have actually been around since the late 1800’s, treatments have been around for a few hundred years, and simulants have been used to imitate more valuable adornments since human beings learned to whittle a piece of wood. My point though is that because technology continues to get better and better everyday, the level of difficulty to just simply check under the microscope for signs of irregularities is rapidly becoming only a slight indication of its covert nature. A reputable lab with access to specialized equipment is the only way to know for sure.

Another essential reason to have your items appraised, which most people may already be familiar with, is for insurance purposes. I’m assuming there are going to be murmurs and thoughts of, “…but I got an appraisal by the jeweler or store that I bought it from.” Sometimes these are just fine, but more times than not, it is simply an inflated interpretation. Getting an appraisal from an independent appraiser is in your best interest because most retail appraisals are typically evaluated using a full retail mark-up of the piece. An example of this would be like paying the MSRP price on a car. Nobody ever pays this price; however, the manufacturer can legally say its worth “x” amount. Having an inflated appraisal simply increases your monthly insurance premiums, and you end up paying more for the insurance than is really needed, which ultimately, is just an additional expense that isn’t necessarily justified. I don’t know about anyone else, but throwing money down the drain isn’t something I really like to do too often. A well written appraisal should be evaluated just enough above the current market price, which takes into account the rate of growth associated with that particular jewelry piece or loose gemstone. Since gemstones, diamonds, gold, and manufacturing prices increase every year, this definitely needs to be communicated in the value, but should only account for a 3-5 year growth period. This brings me to my next point…Have your jewelry appraisal updated. I cannot express enough how frustrating it is when I see someone in a position where they unfortunately have had their item(s) lost or stolen but only have enough on their insurance policy to cover part of the value of the piece(s) because their appraisal is 10-20 years old. Consequently, that person must make do with a downgrade or forced to shell out hundreds or even thousands of dollars because the value it was appraised (and insured) for 20 years ago is nowhere near what it would cost at today’s market value to replace.

These are only two of the most common reasons to get your jewelry items appraised. There are several more which I am more than happy to share if anyone is curious. I hope all of you have a better understanding of the very practical side of having your gems and jewels appraised. Even if you are unsure of how valuable the piece is, it never hurts to have a professional take a quick look at it to tell you if it is worth having it evaluated. Trust me, you could end up paying far more in the long run if you risk not having your items checked out.

As I mentioned earlier, I encourage everyone to comment, ask questions, make suggestions…etc. And by all means, if you have a question you would personally like to ask, my e-mail is listed below as well.

Warm Regards,

Joshua L., G.G.


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