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EDUCATION

  • Diamonds
  • Colored Stones
  • Pearls
  • Precious Metals
  • Famous Diamonds
  • Associations and Laboratories

 

Diamonds have been a source of fascination for centuries. The word "diamond" comes from the Greek word “Adamas”, meaning "Unconquerable". Diamond is a transparent gem made of carbon, which is one of the Earth's most common elements. Even though the diamond is the hardest of all gemstones known to man, it is the simplest in composition: it is common carbon.

The ancient Greeks believed that diamonds were splinters of stars fallen to earth. It was even said by some that they were the tears of the Gods or perhaps crystallized lightning or hardened dew drops. The truth is, however, that the exact origin of diamonds is still something of a mystery, even to scientists and geologists.

In ancient times only kings wore diamonds as a symbol of strength, courage and invincibility. Over the centuries, the diamond acquired its unique status as the ultimate gift of love. It was said that Cupid’s arrows were tipped with diamonds that have magic that nothing else can ever-quite equal. But it wasn’t until 1477, when Archduke Maximillian of Austria gave a diamond ring to Mary of Burgundy, that the tradition of diamond engagement rings began. Even the reason a woman wears it on the third finger of her left hand dates back to the early Egyptian belief that the vena amoris (vein of love) ran directly from the heart to the top of the third finger, left hand.

The hardness and durability of the diamond have always stood for an eternally incorruptible principle that protects its wearer from evil. In addition, the fact that white light is composed of all colors convinced the ancients that the diamond, the gem of light akin to the sun, was a combination of all the other precious stones.

The diamond has played a part in almost every religion. In the Talmud, a gem supposed to have been the diamond was worn by the high priest and served to show the guilt or innocence of one accused of any crime. If the accused were guilty, the stone was supposed to turn dim; if innocent, it shone more brilliantly than ever.

The Hindus classified diamonds and rubies according to four castes. The Brahman diamond meant power, riches, friends and good luck; the Kshatriya diamond was reputed to prevent the onset of old age; the Vaisya stone was supposed to bring success; and the Sudra was supposed to bring all manner of good fortune. Soldiers believed that a diamond carried into battle would keep them safe from harm and even render them invisible.

The far-reaching magic of the diamond included indomitable power against poison, fears, nightmares, sorcery, quarrels, lunacy and possession by devils. Diamonds brought power, riches, success, friends, everlasting youth and the promise of serenity and contentment.

Like the emerald, the diamond was reputed to be a reliable test for fidelity. A stone placed on the breast of a sleeping lover was expected to make him tell all. Another device was to rest a diamond on a wife's head without her knowledge while she slept. If she was faithful, she would turn to her husband in her sleep; if not, she would move away.

An old English ballad tells of the romance of a beautiful princess who gave her suitor a ring set with seven diamonds as a memento on his departure for a sea journey. Some distance from home, he observed that the diamonds had turned pale. He saw this as a sign that the princess had found a new love. He hurried back just in time to prevent her marriage to another. Need we add...they lived happily ever after.

The first recorded history of the diamond dates back some 3,000 years to India, where it is likely that diamonds were first valued for their ability to reflect light. In those early days, this stone was used in two ways, firstly for decorative purposes, and secondly as a talisman to ward off evil or provide protection in battle.

During the Middle Ages more attention was paid to the worth of diamonds, rather than the mystical powers surrounding them. Due to the improved public awareness of the value of diamonds, mine owners perpetuated myths that diamonds were poisonous. This was to prevent the mineworkers from swallowing the diamonds in an attempt to smuggle them out of the mines.

The popularity of diamonds surged during the middle ages, with the discovery of many large and famous stones in India, such as the Koh-I-Noor and the Blue Hope. But when the Indian diamond supply dwindled, smaller finds occurred in Borneo and Brazil, but these were not sufficient to meet the ever-increasing demand for diamonds. The mid-nineteenth century discovery of diamonds near the Orange River in South Africa sparked the world's biggest diamond rush, and helped to satiate the world's increasing appetite for diamonds.

On October 2nd 1979, geologists found the Argyle pipe near Lake Argyle: the richest diamond deposit in the world. Since then, Argyle has become the world's largest volume producer of diamonds, and alone is responsible for producing over a third of the world's diamonds every year. Currently, most diamonds are mined in the following countries: South Africa, Zaire, Russia, Canada, Australia, Botswana, Angola, Namibia, Brazil, Ghana, and China. The major cutting centers of the diamond world are in Antwerp, Bombay, Tel Aviv, and New York.

A gemstone is a mineral or rock, which can be used in jewellery after cutting or faceting and polishing. Gemstones are an important commodity in today's marketplace. They have been sought after for thousands of years for their beauty, metaphysical properties, and commercial uses. In earlier times there were no such things as synthetic gemstones but today they are quite common.

Gemstones are diverse in their beauty and many gems are available in a stunning variety of colors. Most gemstones have little beauty in the rough state. They may look like ordinary rocks or pebbles. After a skilled cutting and polishing of a gem, full color and luster can be seen.

On the basis of its formation, gemstones are classified into five categories:

Natural Gemstones
These have been formed in natural environment with no interference by human. They form in a variety of ways in many different environments from many different chemical compounds. By the time they appear in our jewelry they've been cut or polished, but they've not been treated or altered in other ways.

Genuine Gemstones
Genuine Gemstones are nothing but natural gemstones which are treated in some way to enhance its appearance. A large percentage of natural gemstones are treated to enhance their appearance for jewelry manufacturing.

Synthetic Gemstones
A synthetic gemstone shares a natural stone's physical, chemical and optical qualities, but it is created in a laboratory. Now-a-days, synthetic versions of nearly all popular gemstones are available. Some modern synthetic gemstones look more natural and are more difficult to identify, but an experienced jeweler or gemologist can usually detect them. Jewelry that includes quality synthetic gems can be just as beautiful as jewelry made with natural stones.

Imitation or Simulated Gemstones
Imitation gemstones can be anything that resembles a natural gemstone but does not have the same physical characteristics or chemical composition. These items are usually much less expensive than the natural forms. Imitation stones are often made of glass or plastic and most can be detected easily by a jeweler.

Treated Gemstones
A number of techniques are used to improve the color and appearance of natural and synthetic gemstones. Gemstone's beauty is enhanced, to increase the desirability and demand of the gemstone. Probably the oldest method is that of heat treatment for gemstones to improve or change the color. As a result of recent advances in technology, there are now many different techniques, which use modern equipment such as lasers, and computer-controlled heating and irradiating procedures. Lasers are used to drill holes into stones to reach inclusions. These are then evaporated or removed using chemicals before the crack is filled. Some treatments are permanent such as drilling while others maybe temporary. For example, stains and fillings may leak, some heated, and irradiated stones may fade or revert to their original color.

Gemstones are categorized similarly to diamonds as far as pertaining to cut, clarity, and size.  The color, however, is broken down into three parts:

Hue
The most valuable gemstones are those that exhibit a pure color and only "slight" hues of other colors in addition to their primary color, For example, sapphires range in hue from "slightly purplish-blue" to "slightly greenish-blue," pink sapphires always range from "pink" to "slightly purplish-pink," and rubies range from "slightly orangish-red" to "slightly purplish-red".

Tone
Tone represents the depth of color, ranging from colorless to black. Gemstone tone is described as "light," "medium-light," "medium," "medium-dark," and "dark

Saturation
Saturation, or color purity, refers to the degree to which the gem is free from brown or gray hues. The most desirable gemstones, which show little gray or brown, are often described as having "vivid" or "strong" color saturation.




The other characteristics of colored stones are:

Size
Similar to diamonds, a gemstone’s weight is also measured in carats where one carat equals 200 milligrams. However, in case of gemstone, this may not give an accurate idea of its size, because different types of stones have different densities Two gemstones of the same carat weight may be different in sizes. For example, a 1 carat Sapphire or Ruby will be smaller than a 1 carat Emerald, though they have the same carat weight, because Sapphires and Rubies are denser than Emeralds. At the same time, a 1 carat Diamond will be larger than a 1 carat Ruby as a Diamond is less dense than a Ruby. Gemstones can also be measured in dimensions (diameter, length, and width).
Cut
A good cut is something that may give a gemstone its beauty and brilliance. A gemstone's cut refers to its proportions and symmetry. The stone should be symmetrical in all dimensions so that it will appear balanced, and so that its facets will reflect light evenly, which will provide good brilliance to stone. A well- cut faceted gemstone reflects light back evenly across its surface area when held face up. If the stone is too deep and narrow, surface area will be dark and if it is too shallow and wide, parts of the stone will be washed out and lifeless.

While cutting, color of a gemstone should also be taken into account for optical efficiency. If a stone's color is highly saturated, a shallow cut will allow it to pass more light, while a deeper cut may increase the vividness of a less saturated gem. There is no generally accepted grading system for gemstone cut.

Clarity
Clarity is a term used to describe the absence or presence of flaws inside or on the surface of a gemstone. A flawless gemstone is rare and usually expensively priced. Most gemstones have inclusions, or tiny mineral flaws, that can be seen under magnification or by the careful eye. A gemstone may have inclusions, cracks, spots, clouds, or any other blemish or imperfection.

Clarity is a key factor in determining quality and the value of a gemstone. Inclusions not only distract the eye, but interfere with the behavior of light in the gem, and have a significant affect on brilliancy or sparkle. Generally most minerals contain inclusions and spots but if they do not affect the durability of colored gems then these inclusions or spots will not devalue much for the gems except diamond.

For diamonds, Clarity Grade Scale from F (flawless) to I3 (included 3) is used whereas for other colored gemstones a different grading scale is used. Colored stones have different habits of clarity, so that they are classified into three ‘Types’, which are defined as under:

Type I
Type I colored stones include stones with very little or no inclusions. This category can include Aquamarine, Blue Topaz, Zircon, Morganite, Tanzanite, etc.

Clarity in the Type I group is classified as VVS (minute to detectable), VS (minor), SI1 (noticeable), SI2 (obvious) or I (included)

Type II
Type II colored stones include stones that often have a few inclusions. This category can include Corundum, Garnets, Iolite, Peridot, Quartz (Amethyst, Citrine, Ametrine), Ruby, Sapphire, Spinel, etc.

Clarity in the Type II group is classified as VVS (minor), VS (noticeable), SI1 (obvious), SI2 (prominent), or I (prominent, affecting appearance).

Type III
Type III colored stones includes stones that usually always have inclusions. This category can include Emeralds, Tourmaline, etc.

Clarity in the Type III group is classified as VVS (noticeable), VS (Obvious), SI1 (prominent), SI2 (more prominent), or I1 (affecting appearance or durability).

Enhancements
Gemstone Enhancement is a treatment process other than cutting and polishing that improves the appearance (color / clarity), durability or availability of a gemstone. This treatment covers heating, oiling, irradiation, waxing, dying, bleaching etc.

There are many ways to enhance the appearance and durability of gemstones. Some of these treatments or enhancements, are permanent where as others are temporary. Gemstone enhancement has become such a common as well as accepted practice that experts believe the vast majority of stones are treated in some way. It's important to remember that most gemstone enhancements greatly improve the appearance - and hence the value - of a stone.

All gemstones can be divided into 3 basic categories:

  1. N – The ‘N’ symbol appears on the chart only for natural stones which are not currently known to be enhanced.
  2. E – The ‘E’ symbol appears on the chart only for those gemstones, which are routinely enhanced. The type of enhancement covered by this symbol is indicated on the following chart.
  3. Third category covers those gemstones which are treated in a non- traditional manner and that enhancement process or code is not covered under ‘N’ & ‘E’ symbols.



Chart for Gemstone Enhancement Information

B - Bleaching: The use of chemicals or other agents to lighten or remove a gemstone's color. Pearls and ivory also may be bleached to lighten their color.

C - Coating: The use of such surface enhancements as lacquering, enameling, inking, foiling, or sputtering of films to improve appearance, provide color or add other special effects.

D - Dyeing: The introduction of coloring matter into a gemstone to give it new color, intensify present color or improve color uniformity.

F - Filling: As a by-product of heat enhancement, the presence of solidified borax or similar colorless substances which are visible under properly illuminated 10X magnification.

G - Gamma/Electron Irradiation: The use of gamma and/or electron bombardment to alter a gemstone's color; may be followed by a heating process.

H - Heating: Heating is one of the most common treatments used to enhance the natural beauty of colored gemstones. It is a permanent process that can dramatically improve the color and/or clarity in a number of stones, including sapphires, rubies, diamonds, aquamarine, amethyst, tanzanite, topaz, tourmaline and other stones.

I - Infilling: The intentional filling of surface breaking cavities or fractures usually with glass, plastic, opticon with hardeners and/or other hardened foreign substances to improve durability, appearance and/or add weight.

 

 

A pearl is a hard, roundish object produced within the soft tissue (specifically the mantle) of a living shelled mollusk. Just like the shell of mollusks, a pearl is composed of calcium carbonate in minute crystalline form, which has been deposited in concentric layers. The ideal pearl is perfectly round and smooth, but many other shapes of pearls (baroque pearls) occur. The finest quality natural pearls have been highly valued as gemstones and objects of beauty for many centuries, and because of this, the word pearl became a metaphor for something very rare, very fine, very admirable and very valuable.  Valuable pearls occur in the wild, but they are very rare. Cultured or farmed pearls make up the majority of those that are currently sold. Pearls from the sea are valued more highly than freshwater pearls. Imitation or fake pearls are also widely sold in inexpensive jewelry, but the quality of the iridescence is usually very poor, and generally speaking, fake pearls are usually quite easy to distinguish from the real thing. Pearls have been harvested, or more recently cultivated, primarily for use in jewelry, but in the past they were also stitched onto lavish clothing, as worn, for example, by royalty. Pearls have also been crushed and used in cosmetics, medicines, or in paint formulations.  In several European languages, the word "pearl" is synonymous with "bead", which can lead to confusion during translation.  

Definition of a Pearl

 Almost any shelled mollusk can, by natural processes, produce some kind of "pearl" when an irritating microscopic object becomes trapped within the mollusk's mantle folds, but the great majority of these "pearls" are not valued as gemstones. Nacreous pearls, the best-known and most commercially- significant pearls, are primarily produced by two groups of molluscan bivalves or clams. A nacreous pearl is made from layers of nacre, by the same living process as is used in the secretion of the mother of pearl which lines the shell.  A "natural pearl" is one that forms without any human intervention at all, in the wild, and is very rare. Many hundreds of pearl oysters or pearl mussels have to be gathered and opened, and thus killed, in order to find even one wild pearl, and for many centuries that was the only way pearls were obtained. This was the main reason why pearls fetched such extraordinary prices in the past. A cultured pearl, on the other hand, is one that has been formed on a pearl farm. In modern times however, almost all the pearls for sale were formed with the aid of human pearl farmers. The great majority of pearls on the market are cultured pearls.  One family of nacreous pearl bivalves, the pearl oysters, lives in the sea while the other, very different group of bivalves live in freshwater; these are the river mussels such as the freshwater pearl mussel. Saltwater pearls can grow in several species of marine pearl oysters in the family Pteriidae. Freshwater pearls grow within certain (but by no means all) species of freshwater mussels in the order Unionida, the families Unionidae and Margaritiferidae. 

Physical Properties

 The unique luster of pearls depends upon the reflection, refraction, and diffraction of light from the translucent layers. The thinner and more numerous the layers in the pearl, the finer the luster. The iridescence that pearls display is caused by the overlapping of successive layers, which breaks up light falling on the surface. In addition, pearls (especially cultured freshwater pearls) can be dyed yellow, green, blue, brown, pink, purple, or black. 

Freshwater and Saltwater Pearls

 Freshwater and saltwater pearls may sometimes look quite similar, but they come from very different sources. Natural freshwater pearls form in various species of freshwater mussels, family Unionidae, which live in lakes, rivers, ponds and other bodies of fresh water. These freshwater pearl mussels occur not only in hotter climates, but also in colder more temperate areas such as Scotland: see the freshwater pearl mussel. However, most freshwater cultured pearls sold today come from China.  Saltwater pearls grow within pearl oysters, family Pteriidae, which live in oceans. Saltwater pearl oysters are usually cultivated in protected lagoons or volcanic atolls. 

Creation of a Pearl

The difference between natural and cultured pearls focuses on whether the pearl was created spontaneously by nature — without human intervention — or with human aid. Pearls are formed inside the shell of certain mollusks: as a defense mechanism to a potentially threatening irritant such as a parasite inside its shell, the mollusk creates a pearl to seal off the irritation. The mantle of the mollusk deposits layers of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) in the form of the mineral aragonite or a mixture of aragonite and calcite (both crystalline forms of calcium carbonate) held together by an organic horn-like compound called conchiolin. The combination of aragonite and conchiolin is called nacre, which makes up mother-of-pearl. The commonly held belief that a grain of sand acts as the irritant is in fact rarely the case. Typical stimuli include organic material, parasites, or even damage that displaces mantle tissue to another part of the animal's body. These small particles or organisms enter the animal when the shell valves are open for feeding or respiration. In cultured pearls, the irritant is typically a cut piece of the mantle epithelium, together with processed shell beads, the combination of which the animal accepts into its body. 

Natural

Natural pearls are nearly 100% calcium carbonate and conchiolin. It is thought that natural pearls form under a set of accidental conditions when a microscopic intruder or parasite enters a bivalve mollusk, and settles inside the shell. The mollusk, being irritated by the intruder, secretes the calcium carbonate and conchiolin to cover the irritant. This secretion process is repeated many times, thus producing a pearl. Natural pearls come in many shapes, with perfectly round ones being comparatively rare. 

Value of a Natural Pearl

 Quality natural pearls are very rare jewels. The actual value of a natural pearl is determined in the same way as it would be for other "precious" gems. The valuation factors include size, shape, quality of surface, orient and luster. Single natural pearls are often sold as a collector's item, or set as centerpieces in unique jewelry. Very few matched strands of natural pearls exist, and those that do often sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Yachtsman and financier Cartier purchased the landmark Cartier store on Fifth Avenue in New York for $100 cash and a double strand of matched natural pearls valued at $1 million. 

Origin of a Natural Pearl

Previously natural pearls were found in many parts of the world. Present day natural pearling is confined mostly to seas off Bahrain. Australia also has one of the world's last remaining fleets of pearl diving ships. Australian pearl divers dive for south sea pearl oysters to be used in the cultured south sea pearl industry. The catch of pearl oysters is similar to the numbers of oysters taken during the natural pearl days. Hence significant numbers of natural pearls are still found in the Australian Indian Ocean waters from wild oysters. X-Ray examination is required to positively verify natural pearls found today. 

Cultured Pearls

Cultured pearls (nucleated and non-nucleated or tissue nucleated cultured pearls) and imitation pearls can be distinguished from natural pearls by X-ray examination. Nucleated cultured pearls are often 'pre-formed' as they tend to follow the shape of the implanted shell bead nucleus. Once the pre-formed beads are inserted into the oyster, it secretes a few layers of nacre around the outside surface of the implant before it is removed after six months or more. It is the nacre that gives pearls their beautiful luster and color.  When a nucleated cultured pearl is X-rayed, it reveals a different structure to that of a natural pearl. A cultured pearl shows a solid center with no concentric growth rings, whereas a natural pearl shows a series of concentric growth rings.

 Gemological Identification

A well equipped gem testing laboratory (e.g. SSEF, Guebelin, GIA, AGTA) is able to distinguish natural pearls from cultured pearls by using a gemological x-ray in order to examine the center of a pearl. With an x-ray it is possible to see the growth rings of the pearl, where the layers of calcium carbonate are separated by thin layers of conchiolin. The differentiation of natural pearls from tissue-nucleated cultured pearls can be very difficult without the use of this x-ray technique.  Natural and cultured pearls can be distinguished from imitation pearls using a microscope. Another method of testing for imitations is to rub the pearl against the surface of a front tooth. Imitation pearls are completely smooth, but natural and cultured pearls are composed of nacre platelets, which feel slightly gritty.

Different types of Cultured Pearls, including Black Pearls

Black pearls, frequently referred to as Black Tahitian Pearls, are highly valued because of their rarity; the culturing process for them dictates a smaller volume output and can never be mass produced. This is due to bad health and/or non-survival of the process, rejection of the nucleus and their sensitivity to changing climatic and ocean conditions. Before the days of cultured pearls, black pearls were rare and highly valued for the simple reason that white pearl oysters rarely produced naturally black pearls, and black pearl oysters rarely produced any natural pearls at all.  Since the development of pearl culture technology, the black pearl oyster found in Tahiti and many other Pacific Island area has been extensively used for producing cultured pearls. The rarity of the black cultured pearl is now a "comparative" issue. The black cultured pearl is rare when compared to Chinese freshwater cultured pearls, and Japanese and Chinese akoya cultured pearls, and is more valuable than these pearls. However, it is more abundant than the South Sea pearl, which is more valuable than the black cultured pearl. This is simply because the black pearl oyster Pinctada margaritifera is far more abundant than the elusive, rare, and larger south sea pearl oyster - Pinctada maxima, which cannot be found in lagoons, but which must be dived for in a rare number of deep ocean habitats or grown in hatcheries.  Black cultured pearls from the black pearl oyster — Pinctada margaritifera — are not South Sea pearls, although they are often mistakenly described as black South Sea pearls. In the absence of an official definition for the pearl from the black oyster, these pearls are usually referred to as "black Tahitian pearls".  The correct definition of a South Sea pearl — as described by CIBJO and the GIA — is a pearl produced by the Pinctada maxima pearl oyster. South Sea pearls are the color of their host Pinctada maxima oyster — and can be white, silver, pink, gold, cream, and any combination of these basic colors, including overtones of the various colors of the rainbow displayed in the pearl nacre of the oyster shell itself.  

Mabe Pearls

Cultured mabes are grown intentionally, by using a hemispheric nucleus, rather than a round one; and by implanting it against the oyster's shell, rather than within its tissue. The pearl then develops in a hemispheric form, with a flat back. While in the oyster a mabe pearl is actually considered a blister pearl not a mabe pearl. 

Creating Mabe Pearls

After the blister pearl has developed, it is 'worked' to become a mabe pearl. Blister pearls are ‘worked’ by cutting the pearl out of the shell with a circle- bit drill. The nucleus is then removed and replaced with a resin. The back of the pearl is then capped with a piece of mother-of-pearl to complete the mabe pearl. 

Shapes  Round

 Round pearls are perfectly spherical -- the shape most people think of when they think of a pearl. Because of their relative rarity and "classic" nature, they are highly desirable. Round pearls fall into the spherical category.   

Off-Round

The term off-round is used to describe pearls which are 'roundish' to the eye but have a slightly oval or flattened shape. They can still have excellent qualities in terms of lustre or lack of blemish but being off- round makes them less expensive.   

Teardrop (pendant)

Drop pearls are pear- or teardrop-shaped. The drop can either be "long" or "short," depending on its proportions. These pearls make attractive earrings or pendants. This is also a symmetrical shape.   

Button

Button pearls are flattened to some degree, making them resemble a button or perhaps a disk rather than a perfect sphere. These pearls are often used in earrings, where the flattened side can be attached to the setting. Buttons are also categorized as symmetrical.   

Oval

These pearls are shaped like an oval -- narrower at the ends than they are in the center. Ovals are categorized as a symmetrical shape.   

Circle

Some Pearls for develop with one or more grooves or rings encircling them. These pearls are known as ringed or circled. This adjective can be attached to the primary shape in order to more fully describe the pearl, such as "circled round" or "ringed oval."   

Baroque

This is a pearl which is both non-symmetrical and irregular in shape.   The baroque pearl can be purely abstract in its shape, or it can resemble a cross, stick; or some other shape.   

Semi-baroque

 These pearls are slightly irregular in their shape. For example, a pearl which might otherwise be considered an oval, button, or drop pearl, but which is not symmetrical in nature, would be considered semi-baroque. Semi-baroque pearls fall into the baroque category of shapes.  

Color

The general color of a pearl is also called the body color. Typical pearl colors are white, cream, yellow, pink, silver, or black. A pearl can also have a hint of secondary color, or overtone, which is seen when light reflects off the pearl surface. For example, a pearl strand may appear white, but when examined more closely, a pink overtone may become apparent. 

Luster

 Pearls produce an intense, deep shine called luster. This effect is created when light reflects off the many layers of tiny calcium carbonate crystals that compose the pearl. This substance is called nacre. When selecting a pearl, consider that the larger the pearl, the more nacre it has, so it will also exhibit even more luster. Compare a 5mm Freshwater cultured pearl with a 10mm South Sea cultured pearl and the difference in the amount of nacre is obvious. The difference in luster is as clearly visible as the difference in the pearl sizes

Size

 The size of the pearl greatly depends on the type of pearl. Freshwater pearls range in size from about 3.0–7.0mm, Akoya pearls range from about 6.0–8.5mm, and South Sea and Tahitian pearls can reach sizes as large as 13mm.  

Pearl Surface

 One of the main determiners of a pearl's value is the quality of its surface.   Most pearls have some kind of natural blemishes such as pits, bumps, spots of other colors or dullness and tiny surface cracks.  The fewer of these imperfections a pearl has on its surface, the more valuable the pearl.    Natural pearls normally have more flaws than cultured Japanese Akoya pearls. That's because they' ve been in the oyster longer and have had more time to develop blemishes. Cultured pearls from the South Seas are also more likely to have flaws than Akoyas, which have a thinner nacre coating.                   

 Pearl Care

 When cared for properly, pearls can last a lifetime. The best way to care for pearls is to wear them often as the body’s natural oils keep pearls lustrous. However, it's important to keep them away from household chemicals including perfume, makeup and hairspray. Chemicals found in these common products can dull the luster of your pearls. It is recommended that you put your pearls on last when getting ready and make them the first thing you take off when you come home. Before putting your pearls away, wipe them with a soft cloth and store them separate from other jewelry to avoid scratching their tender surfaces 

 Metal is a solid mineral that usually has a shiny surface and generally a good conductor of heat and electricity, and can be melted or fused, hammered into thin sheets, or drawn into wires.  Many metals are quite hard, with high physical strength.  When polished, metals tend to be good reflectors of light. Common metals include bronze, copper, and iron whereas metals used for making jewelry, such as gold, platinum, and silver are known as 'Precious Metals'.

Alloy is a mixture containing two or more metallic elements or metallic and nonmetallic elements usually fused together or dissolving into each other when molten. For example, brass is an alloy of zinc and copper. Metals easily form alloys with other metals. The presence of even a small amount of another element in a metal severely affects its properties.

History of metals:

Metals are as old as human civilization and their history can be traced back to 6000 BC. Currently there are 86 known metals but before the 19th century only 24 of these metals had been discovered and, of these 24 metals, 12 were discovered in the 18th century. Therefore, from the discovery of the first metals, such as gold and copper, until the end of the 17th century, some 7700 years, and only 12 metals were known. Four of these metals, arsenic, antimony, zinc and bismuth, were discovered in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, while platinum was discovered in the 16th century.

The other seven metals, known as the Metals of Antiquity, were the metals upon which civilization was based. These seven metals were:

  1. Gold, discovered in approx. 6000 BC
  2. Copper, discovered in approx. 4200 BC
  3. Silver, discovered in approx. 4000 BC
  4. Lead, discovered in approx. 3500 BC
  5. Tin, discovered in approx. 1750 BC
  6. Iron, smelted, discovered in approx. 1500 BC
  7. Mercury, discovered in approx. 750 BC

These metals were known to the Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Greeks and the Romans. Out of these seven ancient metals, five can be found in their native states. These five metals are gold, silver, copper, iron (from meteors) and mercury.

PRECIOUS METALS

A precious metal is a metal with rare metallic chemical element and due to that, high economic value.  Precious metals are less reactive than most elements, have high luster, and have higher melting points than other metals. Historically, precious metals were widely used in making jewelry, ornaments, idols, temples, currencies, and war equipments, but are now regarded mainly as jewelry, investment and industrial commodities. The following three metals are widely traded and considered as precious metals due to their rarity and beauty.

GOLD ~ PLATANIUM ~ SILVER


 

Kohinoor
Origin: India ~1304 AD
Weight: 108.93 carats
Current Location:  England (Royal Crown)

Historical Perspective: Kohinoor means "mountain of light" and it was thought that whoever possessed it would rule the world.  It is regarded as one of the most famous diamonds in history.  The British empire took possession of this gem in 1849 during its conquest of India and it was presented to Queen Victoria in 1850.  Today is remains part of the Royal Crown jewels, but not without controversy as to why it has not been returned to India .The stone is set in the Maltese Cross at the front of the crown made for Queen Elizabeth (the late Queen Mother).

Cullinan I (Greater Star of Africa)
Origin: South Africa 1905
Weight: 530.2 carats
Current Location:  England (Royal Crown)

Historical Perspective: Cullinan I, also referred to as the Greater Star of Africa, is the second largest known cut diamond in existence.  It is actually part of The Cullinan which was a massive 3,106 carats (uncut) diamond discovered in the Premier Mine of South Africa in 1905.  This diamond was ultimately cleaved into 9 large pieces of which the Cullinan I and II are the largest. The stone is set in the Royal Scepter and is part of the British Royal Jewelry Collection

 

Cullinan II (Lesser Star of Africa)
Origin: South Africa 1905
Weight: 317.4 carats
Current Location: England (Royal Crown)

Historical Perspective: Cullinan II, also referred to as the Lesser Star of Africa, is the third largest known cut diamond in existence. It is part of The Cullinan which was a massive 3,106 carats (uncut) diamond discovered in the Premier Mine of South Africa in 1905.  This diamond was ultimately cleaved into 9 large pieces of which the Cullinan I and II are the largest. The stone is set in Queen Elizabeth II's Imperial State Crown of Great Britain

Centenary
Origin: South Africa 1986
Weight: 273.85 carats
Current Location: Unknown

Historical Perspective:  The discovery of this original gem was made in 1986 in the Premier Mine of South Africa.  Also, the discovery site of The Cullinan.  It was unveiled at the 100 year anniversary gala of De Beers in 1988 after having been crafted into its current cut appearance by Gabi Tolkowsky. Regarded as one of the most accomplished diamond cutters in the world, his family had long been in the diamond trade.  It was his great-uncle, Marcel Tolkowsky, diamond expert and mathematician, who authored the publication Diamond Design in 1919 that is still today's basis for round brilliant diamond cuts.

Blue Hope
Origin: India  ~1668 AD
Weight: 45.52 carats
Current Location: Washington D.C. (Smithsonian)

 

Historical Perspective:  Blue Hope Diamond is one of the most notorious diamonds.  It was once owned by Louis XIV and was officially designated "the blue diamond of the crown."  It was stolen during the French revolution and turned up in London in 1830.  Henry Philip Hope, after whom it is currently named, bought the diamond. During possession by the Hope family, it acquired its reputation for bad luck.  His family died in poverty. A similar misfortune occurred to a later owner, Mr. Edward McLean.  The Hope was acquired from the McLean estate by Harry Winston, Inc. and ultimately donated to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

JEWELRY ASSOCIATION AND LABORATORIES

  1. Accredited Gemmologist Association - AGA Founded in 1974 Founded by: Antonio "Tony" Bonanno (as alumnae of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain) Accredited Gemmologist Association was envisioned as a network for sharing gemmological information and skills. Aga is an international organization of all beliefs and cultures and shares a common bond of the love of gemstones. AGA believes in excellence and is dedicated to establishing the highest professional standards of practice. The AGA is an independent, international, non-profit organization of degreed gemmologists dedicated to advanced gemmological education & research, identification & evaluation of gem materials and development of professional standards of analysis, practice & ethics.AGA

G-Force Services

3315 Juanita Street,

San Diego, CA 92105

Phone: (619) 501-5444

www.accreditedgemologists.org

  1. American Gem Society - AGS Founded in 1934 Founded by: A select group of independent jewelers and Robert M. Shipley, founder of the prestigious school of gemology, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) American Gem Society was established with a vision to create an association dedicated to setting and maintaining the highest possible standards of business ethics and professionalism in the jewelry industry. Today, American Gem Society members continue their dedication to ethics, knowledge and consumer protection Only a small percentage of those who apply for membership in the American Gem Society are awarded membership. In order for a firm to become a member of the American Gem Society they must meet the certain criteria. The firm owners, principals or employees must have a high level of gemological knowledge and must demonstrate that they are genuinely interested in high business ethics and the firm exemplifies this belief. The firm must hold a reputation for unquestioned integrity in the business community and must be operated in a way that will enhance the confidence of the public in the jewelry industry. Also the firm must be a retail or supplier jewelry business that has been established for at least two years and has demonstrated financial stability AGS8881 W. Sahara Avenue,

Las Vegas, NV 89117

Phone: (702) 255-6500|(866) 805-6500

www.ags.org

  1. American Gem Trade Association - AGTA Founded in 1981 Founded by: Leon Ritzler, Roland Naftule and Ray Zajicek American Gem Trade Association represents the interests of the natural colored gemstone, pearl and cultured pearl industries in the United States and Canada. Additionally, the AGTA promotes, maintains and perpetuates the highest ethical standards and inter-industry communication among the Members of AGTA and within the colored gemstone industry. AGTA also protects the natural colored gemstone, pearl and cultured pearl industries, related industries and ultimately, the consumer from fraud, abuse, misrepresentation and deceptive advertising related to colored gemstones. AGTA provides awareness, knowledge and educates natural colored gemstone industries, related industries and the consumer about natural colored gemstones, pearls and cultured pearls. The Association also hosts the annual trade show, AGTA GemFair Tucson and the AGTA Spectrum Awards design competition.

AGTA

3030 LBJ Freeway, Suite 840,

Dallas, TX 75234

Phone: (214) 742-4367|(800) 972-1162 | Fax: (214) 742-7334

www.agta.org

  1. American Geological Institute - AGI Founded in 1948 American Geological Institute is a nonprofit federation of 44 scientific and professional associations that represent more than 120,000 geologists, geophysicists, and other earth scientists. AGI provides information services, serves as a voice of shared interests for its member societies and the geoscience community, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education and strives to increase public understanding of the vital role the geosciences play in society's use of resources and interaction with the environment.4220 King Street,

Alexandria, VA 22302-1502

Phone: (703) 379-2480 | Fax: (703) 379-7563

www.agiweb.org

AGI

  1. Gemological Institute of America - GIA Founded in: 1931 Founded by: Wichita jeweler Robert M. Shipley Gemological Institute of America is the world's largest and most respected nonprofit institute of gemological research and learning. GIA discovers (through GIA Research), imparts (through GIA Education), and applies (through the GIA Gem Laboratory and GIA Gem Instruments) gemological knowledge to ensure the public trust in gems and jewelry. GIA provides training in gemology, jewelry manufacturing arts, and business, awarding certificates of completion/diplomas to those who complete a course of training in residence or home study, or via classes held in various cities. In addition, GIA GEM Instruments & Books carries one of the largest selections of jewelry and lapidary-related instruments and books. GIA is the creator of the famous 4Cs of diamond value (color, clarity, cut, and carat weight). It is also the corporate birthplace of the International Diamond Grading System. Today, GIA's D-Z color-grading scale and GIA's Flawless-13 clarity-grading scale are recognized by virtually every professional jeweler and sawy diamond buyer in the world. The Institute is also known for having developed and patented the first modern jeweler's loupe

GIA

The Robert Mouawad Campus,

5345 Armada Drive,

Carlsbad, CA 92008

Phone: (760) 603-4000|(800) 421-7250 | Fax: (760) 603-4080

www.gia.edu

  1. Jewelers Board of Trade - JBT Founded in 1885 Jewelers Board of Trade is dedicated to the welfare of its members and the jewelry industry overall, providing industry specific credit information, collections and marketing services. It also provides collection services and wholesale and retail jewelry mailing list/label information to its members. JBT is active in numerous trade shows and industry events and offers educational programs on relevant industry topics.

JBT

P.O.Box 6928,

Providence, RI 02940

Phone: (401) 467-0055 | Fax: (401) 467-1199

www.jewelersboard.com

  1. Jewelers of America - JA Founded in 1906 Founded by: American Retail Jewelers Association and National Retail Jewelers Association formed together the American National Retail Jewelers Association (ANRJA) Jewelers of America is among the oldest associations of retail jewelers in the United States. JA is the national trade association for retail jewelers and offers assistance to all its members in improving their business skills and profitability. JA provides access to meaningful educational programs and services, provides leadership in public and industry affairs and encourages its members with common interests to act in their and the industry's best interest.

JA

52 Vanderbilt Ave, 19th Floor,

New York, NY 10017

Phone: (646) 658-0246|(800) 223-0673 | Fax: (646) 658-0256

www.jewelers.org

  1. Jewelers' Security Alliance - JSA Founded in: 1883 Jewelers' Security Alliance is a non-profit crime-prevention association with 21,000 members that has been providing crime information and assistance to the jewelry industry and law enforcement since 1883.JSA gives information and alerts to jewelers and consumers about crimes in the jewelry industry. JSA provides electronic and print bulletins, a jewelry security manual, consulting advice, a Web site, and training seminars on how to reduce losses from burglary, robbery, and theft. JSA also works closely with the FBI and local law enforcement agencies, sharing its data and analysis in order to further the war on jewelry crime.

JSA

6 East 45th Street,

New York, NY 10017

Phone: (800) 537-0067 | Fax: (212) 808-9168

www.jewelerssecurity.org

  1. Jewelers Vigilance Committee - JVC Founded in: 1912 Founded by: The Good and Welfare Committee of the National Jewelers Board of Trade Jewelers Vigilance Committee provides education and self-regulation to the jewelry industry. JVC promotes fair competition by maintaining the highest ethical principles by governing the jewelry industry, keeps trade informed of laws and regulations and monitors industry advertisements. The committee also fights unfair trade practices and helps prosecute violators of jewelry industry laws.

JVC

25 West 45th Street, Suite 1406,

New York, NY 10036

Phone: (212) 997-2002 | Fax: (212) 997-9148

www.jvclegal.org

  1. European Gemological Laboratory USA - EGL USA EGL USA is one of the largest and oldest independent gemological institutions focusing on gemstone certification and research. Originally part of an international network founded in Europe in 1974, EGL USA opened its first U.S. lab in the heart of New York's international diamond and jewelry district in 1977. In 1986 EGL USA became independently owned. Today the EGL USA Group has laboratories in New York City, Los Angeles, Vancouver, and Toronto. EGL USA is not affiliated with any other EGL labs outside North America. In 1999 EGL USA initiated a Research Department to respond to the changing needs of the jewelry industry. It is one of only a few labs worldwide doing advanced research in gemology. Certificates & Grading Reports
  • Diamond Report
  • Full Page Documents
  • Mini-size Documents
  • Colored Gem/Pearl Reports
  • Full Page Documents
  • Mini-size Documents
  • Laser Inscription
  • Jewelry Webguard™ Certificate

EGL USA - New York

6 West 48th Street,

New York, NY 10036

Phone: (212) 730-7380 | Fax: (212) 842-5180

www.eglusa.com

EGL USA - Los Angeles

550 South Hill, Suite 840,

Los Angeles, CA 90013

Phone: (877) 893-8593 | Fax: (213) 534-2224

www.eglusa.com

  1. Gemological Institute of America - GIA GIA is considered the world's most trusted name in diamond grading and gemstone identification. Since 1931, GIA has been dedicated to ensuring the public trust in gems and jewelry by upholding the highest standards of integrity, academics, science, and professionalism. It is the corporate birthplace of the International Diamond Grading System™ and the creator of the famous 4Cs of diamond value - color, clarity, cut, and carat weight TM GIA's D-to-Z color-grading scale and Flawless-to-13 clarity-grading scale are recognized by gem and jewelry professionals everywhere. And, by extension, the GIA Diamond Grading Report, Diamond Dossier®, and Gemological Identification Report are considered the world's premier gemological credentials. With laboratories in New York, California, Bangkok, an additional research facility in Antwerp, 14 campuses, and more than 1,100 employees worldwide, the Institute's diamond graders, researchers, and educators are regarded, collectively, as the world's foremost authority in gemology. And together, they carry on GIA's proud tradition of research, discovery, and education.

Certificates & Grading Reports

  • GIA Diamond Grading Report with Cut Grade
  • GIA Diamond Grading Report
  • GIA Diamond Dossier with Cut Grade
  • GIA Diamond Dossier
  • GIA Gem Identification Report

GIA - New York

Laboratory Headquarters

580 Fifth Avenue, Suite 200,

New York, NY 10036

Phone: (212) 221-5858 | Fax: (212) 575-3095

Email Id: labservice@gia.edu

www.gia.edu/gemtradelab/31494/section_main_page.cfm

GIA - Carlsbad

The Robert Mouawad Campus

5345 Armada Drive,

Carlsbad, CA 92008

Phone: (760) 603-4500 | Fax: (760) 603-1814

Email Id: labservice@gia.edu

www.gia.edu/gemtradelab/31494/section_main_page.cfm

  1. International Gemological Institute - IGI Gl is the largest independent gem certification and appraisal institute with operations worldwide. Over the past three decades, IGI's commitment to quality services, extensive experience, expertise and its longstanding reputation for reliability and integrity have made IGI the standard of excellence in gemology and fine jewelry evaluation worldwide. IGI, the oldest institute of its kind in Antwerp, was founded in 1975 and along with its sister laboratories, is one of the leading gemological institutions worldwide. Il is also the only international certification lab wholly owned and controlled by one central governing body, which ensures consistency in Il reports across the globe. In adhering to the one internationally accepted system for diamond grading, IGI offers its clients peace of mind. For over 30 years, IGI has provided the fine jewelry community and consumers with a broad range of y services including independent diamond grading reports, colored stone reports, identification and appraisal reports, diamond authentication and attestation of origin, laser inscription services, and diamond and colored stone courses offered through IGI's School of Gemology. Today, IGI issues more than one million reports per year, which is notable considering that 10 years ago only diamond dealers were using gemological reports. Consumers are now more demanding and quality conscious about the products they buy and as such, the majority of quality gem and jewelry items are sold with gemological reports.

Certificates & Grading Reports

  • Identification Report
  • Appraisal Report
  • Certificate of Authenticity
  • Jewelry Summation
  • Attestation of Origin

IGI - New York

589 Fifth Avenue,

New York, NY 10017

Phone: (212) 753-7100 | Fax: (212) 753-7759

www.igi-usa.com

IGI - Los Angeles

550 South Hill Street,

Los Angeles, CA 90013

Phone: (213) 955-0008 | Fax: (213) 955-8060

www.igi-usa.com

  1. The American Gem Society Laboratories - AGSLAB The AGS Laboratories is the world's premier diamond grading laboratory for diamond cut, the premier laboratory to offer a diamond cut grade for fancy shapes such as princess cut and emerald cut, and the foremost diamond grading laboratory created to protect the consumer. AGS Laboratories diamond grading reports offer an easy-to-read grading scale that provides a simple basis for comparison to other diamond reports. The AGS Laboratories Diamond Reports provide you with all the information you need to make the best possible buying decision. The AGS Laboratories have provided high-quality diamond grading services since 1996. AGS Laboratories has maintained its reputation as an industry leader through its innovative approaches to diamond grading and consistent adherence to the American Gem Society's standards and ethics of consumer protection.

Certificates & Grading Reports

  • Diamond Quality Analysis
  • Diamond Quality Document
  • Diamond Quality Report
  • Diamond Consultation™
  • Laser Inscription

Phone: (702) 233-6120 | Fax: (702) 233-6125

www.agslab.com

449 Broadway       Bayonne, NJ 07002

(201) 436-5533

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