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Just in time for Holiday Gift-Giving: 6 questions for assessing a gemstone’s worth; and 6 characteristics of a trustworthy gemologist

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11.25 Carat Prasiolite Sterling Silver Ring from Gemstones Unlimited

When you want to purchase authentic jewelry, to commemorate a special occasion or relationship, how can you know whether the piece is actually worth the sales price? There are millions of people who will be too busy to read the information I’m sharing today. And guess what certain big-box jewelry-sales companies are banking on for their enormous end-of-year profits? Consumer ignorance.

If you don’t like being swindled, take 15 minutes to read this important article:

Entrepreneur gemologist Craig Nann of Newport, Rhode Island, owns Gemstones Unveiled. Assisted by his wife, he offers custom-designed gemstone jewelry at almost unbelievably fair prices. They also provide clients with an education in the truth about the actual value of gems. I recently spent a number of hours talking with them about the gemstone business.

This is extremely valuable information. Please share with everyone who will be investing in jewelry this holiday season.

When you want to purchase authentic, not costume or simulated jewlery, to commemorate a special occasion or relationship, how can you know whether the piece is actually worth the sales price?

First, read the fine print. Then ask these 6 questions:

  1. Is this stone mined or manufactured?
  2. Has the stone been manipulated?
  3. What is the quality of its color?
  4. Has the color been designed?
  5. What makes this stone unique?
  6. What can you tell me about the inclusions?

If you are given any evasive or non-answers; pass on the purchase. You want mined stones, not manipulated, and if the color is designed you want that disclosed, along with clarification of how/why it adds to the stone’s value. Your jeweler should be able to tell you about the stone’s origin, its story/history, and its cut. You want to know about the inclusions, the intriguingly beautiful geologic fingerprints which assure that your stone is not a mere trinket or bauble.

When you invest your hard-earned money into real jewelry, you or your loved one will pass it on to children and grandchildren as an inheritance and an heirloom. How would you feel if some future jewelry expert/gemologist told your descendants, your ancestor got duped?

People get duped because gemstones are status symbols. Why do they confer status? Because authentic stones have intrinsic valueSince ancient times, all across the planet, they have been prized for their beauty. And today real gemstones are accepted worldwide as assets–they are tangible proof of wealth.

Throughout much of history, it was easy to recognize stone value–if it looked like a gem, it had to be a gem. It was practically impossible to counterfeit a gemstone. Investing your wealth in gems used to be a low-risk, safe bet. But these days, appearances are deceptive.

Today, manufacturers are capable of producing increasingly more convincing fakes. How many people really know the difference between the appearance of a  gemstone necklace worth $20,000 and one that sells at Zales for $1000? And how can you determine whether that “bargain” neckless is actually over-priced? Not knowing can lead to costly, and potentially humiliating, purchasing errors.

Do you know about simulated gems? They’re made of exactly the same compounds found in corresponding mined stones. Therefore it’s perfectly legal to label them emerald or sapphire or garnet because chemically, they are. But here’s the sucker-punch: while simulated stones are awfully pretty; they are not intrinsically valuable. They are incredibly sophisticated simulations of gemstones, in other words–reproductions; copies; forgeries; fakes.

When something is precious, of limited supply, its value increases. The 170-carat Black Prince Ruby, set in the center of Great Britain’s Imperial State Crown is priceless bcause it is a one-of-a-kind mined gemstone. Just as elephant ivory, now that there are few elephants left in the world, is valuable and protected because of its rarity.

But when there are hundreds-of-thousands of exactly the same manufactured thing, those things become commonplace, ordinary, practically worthless on the open market. Confederate currency printed to sell in tourist shops, for example is worth no more than the paper it’s printed on; and beanie babies are worth less than people paid for them; and mass produced jewelry made of glass/plastic/simulated-gems are risky investments, because their value is dependent upon their fluctuating popular appeal (they are NOT rare). So what’s a buyer to do?

If you really want to be certain you won’t be hoodwinked into paying more than an item of jewelry is worth, build a relationship with a trustworthy jeweler/gemologist. Know with whom you are dealing–ask yourself, who is this person/these people? Also ask, what quality of people are these? How much do they really know about gemstones? How much integrity do they have? Do they honestly care about me and my needs?

After talking extensively to Craig Nann and his wife, I have discovered that there are 6 characteristics of trustworthy jewelers/gemologists:

  1. They know gemstones–the characteristics of particular stones, their quality and cut;
  2. They are trained to recognize fakes/simulations;
  3. They freely share the truth about gems and the gemstone industry;
  4. They disclose everything about the jewelry you’re looking at;
  5. They work to find you what you want while respecting your preferences, your personality and your budget;
  6. They think it’s despicable that anyone would try to deceive you into spending more on an item than it’s actually worth.

Beware: Unless you are yourself an expert on gems, do not buy real jewelry from a mere facilitator/order-taker. These may be nice, honest people, but they are helpless to protect you from fraud because they lack that all-important gemologist knowledge. They will simply connect you to the choices in the display case or the catalogue, tell you the list price, and sell a piece to you. They possess little, if any knowledge of the actual piece in which you are investing. They can not apprise you of your piece’s unique characteristics, or tell you about the gemstone’s origin and rarity. They are not qualified to appraise your stone’s intrinsic value. They can only tell you what the company they represent told them.

Therefore I recommend you do your holiday jewelry shopping with Craig Naan. He keeps his overhead and therefore his prices low by selling online and at Arts & Crafts shows. Contact him by phoning 401.495.GEMS (4367), or visit the Gemstones Unveiled Website (click here) or find them and their gemstone jewelry in Southern New England at these upcoming shows:

 

 

 

 

How do you feel about quality of a purchase? How do you know the value of what you’re getting? And how do you measure the integrity of the person you’re dealing with?  
Gemstones Unveiled
Sizing a Ring.
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14 thoughts on “Just in time for Holiday Gift-Giving: 6 questions for assessing a gemstone’s worth; and 6 characteristics of a trustworthy gemologist”

  1. Amazing information, Tracy. I don’t know how you found out all this information, but I do know you explain it very well. This couldn’t have come at a better time. We’re having some of my aunt’s jewelry evaluated and appraised, to be divided among her great-great-nieces. Now I feel semi-armed!
    Thanks, Tracy.

    1. I’m so glad it’s helpful, Marylin. I’ve been interested in jewelry for quite some time, and my husband is fairly knowledgable about antiques and gemstones, but the bulk of the information came from my interview with Craig at Gemstone’s Unveiled. I’m so impressed!

  2. Wonderful information, Tracy! I have to admit that when it comes to gemstones I’m a complete novice and really know very little. At least now I can come into a place armed with the rights questions and have some basic knowledge. Better yet, maybe I should just pass this post along to Matt sometime before Christmas! Oh subtlety… 😉

    1. I do think that in this age, we buyers really have to take the time to inform ourselves–it’s always been true that the buyer has to beware. The difference today is that we think we’re more protected, but actually, we are only somewhat more protected than when there were no consumer-protection laws. There’s always a way to phrase things, so that the unsuspecting can be hoodwinked into plunking down their cash for goods that aren’t quite worth the asking-price. Some people call it “salesmanship.”

      Definitely pass the post on to Matt and tell him to look at the incredible prices at Gemstones Unveiled. REAL gems for less than what many places charge for costume and simulated stuff.

  3. I’m so bookmarking this post, you know, in case I run into someone who feels the need to purchase a piece of jewelry for me! I agree with you completely, as I used to work for a small jewelry store for extra work. The couple was beyond knowledgeable and open, honest and forthcoming with any existing and potential customers. If they didn’t have the quality someone was looking for, they told them so and sent them to a jeweler in town who would. Fingers crossed I never receive any manufactured gem! 🙂

    1. In my dream job dream, I travel the world sleuthing out great buys on amazing gemstones to sell at my a private little jewelry store on Main Street.

      (Are there any jewelry stores left, on any Main Streets, anywhere? In my world, they’ve all closed down).

  4. This is sound advice, Tracy. My father was a highly respected antique jeweller who ran his successful business in London’s west end. I am pleased to say that he became well known for his honesty and integrity within the trade and his customer base was world-wide. Sadly, the business died with him but I am hopeful that those who were taught by him and then moved on will carry that same honesty and feel for their craft as he did.

    1. It’s sad when so much knowledge passes away with our loved ones. But his integrity lives on– and I’m sure that someone who learned from him is carrying on the honesty, too.

      If I could do everything I want, in one of my incarnations I’d be dealing in antique jewelry. In London. I’m sure I would have admired your dad.

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