BE AN INFORMED BUYER OF JEWELERY
BE AN INFORMED BUYER OF JEWELERY
If you’re planning to buy jewellery, having at least a basic knowledge of the precious
metals or stones is much recommended. We have put together some essential information
for you. Read on and be a more informed buyer of jewellery.
If you’re planning to buy jewellery, having at least a basic knowledge of the precious metals or stones is much recommended. We have put together some essential information for you. Read on and be a more informed buyer of jewellery.
Gold is the oldest precious metal known to man. The story of gold is as rich as the metal itself. Of all precious metals known to man; only gold combines lustrous beauty and easy workability. Gold was used by pharaohs in ancient Egypt as far back as 3000 BC. It was used for the first time as money in about 560 BC in the Kingdom of Lydia, the modern day Turkey. Greece and Rome both left rich legacies of golden treasures, but after the fall of the Roman Empire, little gold was produced in Europe or Asia for almost a thousand years.
A METAL LIKE NO OTHER!
From ancient times, no other metal has fascinated mankind as gold has; nor has any other metal inspired the creative human minds like an intricate craftsmanship in gold. Gold is so soft and malleable that one gram can be stretched into a wire 3 ½ kilometers long. One ounce or 31.1035 grams can be hammered into a sheet so thin that it can cover a 16 sq meters area. Gold is virtually indestructible as it does not rust, tarnish or corrode. Coins found in sunken galleons are as bright and shiny as the day they were cast.
THE DIFFERENT KARATAGES OF GOLD
Karat is the term used to measure the gold content or purity. 24 karat gold contains 24 parts pure gold, while 22 karat gold contains 22 parts gold and 2 parts of other metals added as alloy. 21 karat gold contains 21 parts gold with three parts of other metals added. 18 karat gold contains 18 parts pure gold with 6 parts of other metals added. In the West the karat is expressed in fineness. For example, 24 k gold is expressed as 1000 parts out of 1000 pure or fineness 1.000. 22 k is expressed as 22 divided by 24, multiplied by 1000, which will give you a fineness of .9166, 21 karat is 21 divided by 24 multiplied by 1000 which is .875 fineness and similarly 18 karat is .750 fineness.
THE DIFFERENT COLORS OF GOLD
24 karat gold has the natural warm color of pure gold and its color cannot be changed without changing the purity to less than 24 k. Other colors of gold can be made by changing the composition of the alloy in the making of the jewellery. Pink gold for example is made by adding more copper in the alloy composition of the gold. Likewise green gold is more of zinc and silver and white gold is more of nickel. A surface color can also be given to gold articles by electro-plating. However this can only be a surface finish and will wear off over a period of time.
Marilyn Monroe called them ‘a girl’s best friend’, while others see them as a sign of eternal love. No matter how you look at it, diamonds are the most precious of gems. The diamond jewellery trade in the Gulf region is ranked fourth in the world today. Dubai is the second largest hub in the world in terms of diamond trade. Diamond trading, which has long been the monopoly of Antwerp, has now found a new competitor in Dubai. The emirate has already tempted a number of companies to relocate to Dubai and is mounting a concerted long-term challenge to make the UAE the epicenter of the global diamond market. Dubai has been attracting a great deal of interest from diamond trading companies in Europe, Asia and the United States.
The word ‘diamond’ comes from the Greek word ‘Adamas’, meaning invincible. This is referring to their hardness, which makes them nearly imperishable. Diamonds are the hardest of all known minerals, 85 times harder than the next closest gem substance, Corundum. Diamonds have long been the standard of beauty and value against which all other gems are measured. The beauty of a diamond lies in its ability to sparkle and disperse light from dozens of minute faces. To get one carat of polished diamond, men have to blast, dig, crush and sort approximately 250 tons of earth.
We are all familiar with diamond engagement rings, but how did this tradition start? Folklore says that it began in 1477 when the powerful Archduke Maximillian of Austria gave a diamond ring to his bride-to-be, Mary of Burgundy. The tradition quickly spread and is responsible for a large portion of diamond sales nowadays.
When choosing a diamond, there are a number of factors to bear in mind. Below is a brief guide to help you get the diamond or diamond jewellery that you’ve always wanted, with confidence. It can be easily remembered as the 11 C’s.
1st C – CARAT WEIGHT
Carat is the weight or size of the stone that you are looking for. The bigger the stone, the more expensive is generally the rule. The diamond is weighed in ‘carats’. A carat is made up of 100 cents or 100 points. One carat is approximately equal to 0.2 grams.
2nd C – CLARITY
Clarity refers to the transparency and purity of the diamond. It comes in different grades (with grade no.1 being the best). These are:
Flawless (FL): No inclusions and no blemishes visible under 10x magnification
Internally Flawless (IF): No inclusions visible under 10x magnification
Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2): Inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification
Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2): Inclusions are observed with effort under 10x magnification, but can be characterized as minor
Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2): Inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification
Included (I1, I2, and I3): Inclusions are obvious under 10 x magnifications which may affect transparency and brilliance.
These gradings represent the inclusions or natural characteristics in the stone. Since diamonds are natural products, no two stones are alike, for that matter no two inclusions are alike. The inclusions could be minute traces of minerals trapped in the diamond during the process of crystallization. The grading of the gemologist is based on a comparative and majority opinion study, but the variations are not more than a few percentage points. The cleaner the diamond or fewer the inclusions, the more valuable the stone (all other factors being constant).
3rd C – COLOR
Diamonds occur in almost all colors, from colorless to shades of yellow, brown, pink, blue, orange, green, grey, red and black. Generally, the colorless diamonds are more expensive than the colored ones. At the same time, the more intense the colors are the higher the price can be. The general rule of thumb is – the rarer the color, the more expensive the stone. The color grading of a stone is denoted by letters of the alphabet starting from D (being the highest rated) through to P and Q. It may also be referred to from ‘exceptional white’ going through to ‘tinted.’ In the UK, it is referred to as ‘finest white’ to ‘dark cape.’ Sometimes we can also find grading from 0+ to 16.
4th C – CUT
This refers to both the shape of the stone as well as the finesse of the polishing itself. The different shapes can be, brilliant or round, heart shape, naiveté or marquise, pear or drop shapes, emerald cut, radiant cut, princess cut, oval shape, single cut or eight cuts, tapers, baguettes, briolette, kite shapes and even more. Newer cuts are constantly being developed and marketed. The prices depend on individual preferences or the importance of the shape for a particular jewellery design. The finesse of the polishing itself depends on how well the polisher has positioned each one of the facets on the stone in order to bring out the best brilliance or light that is being reflected from the stone. Naturally, the more lively the stone the more expensive it is. All or any one of the above factors can have a telling effect on the price of the stone. It is advisable to ask the jeweler to suggest the best possible combination to suit your budget. While making the decision you should ask the jeweler to justify his suggestion using the above points.
While the above 4Cs are the key determinants of the quality and price of the diamond, the following are additional factors to consider when buying demands.
5th C – COMBNIATION JEWELLERY (using smaller diamonds or a combination of stones, having more designer value)
While choosing jewellery from a fashion point of view, consumers should bear in mind that the emphasis is more on the design and intricacy of the manufacturing technology. Hence a lot will depend on the aforementioned aspects as well as the points mentioned below:
> Designer or Brand Value: Designs from celebrated or well known brands carry a premium on the value due to the rarity of the jewellery. They at times take on collector’s value and evaluation will depend on personal preferences.
> Stone Housing : Diamond jewellery is usually made in 18k white or yellow gold. But it can also be made in silver, platinum etc. This will naturally affect the price.
> Retailer Incentives: The kind of guarantee the retailer offers in terms of exchanges, returns, buy-back programs, certification of jewellery, after sales service, etc, can also influence the price.
6th C – CONFIDENCE
Choose a jeweler whom you find to be trustworthy and who has won your confidence, since a lot of aspects are involved other than what can be seen on the surface: the quality of the product, product knowledge, sales personnel, after sales service, and guarantee on the product.
7th C – CERTIFICIATION
As far as possible, if the customer is unable to examine the stone for any reason, then it is advisable to go for ‘certified’ stones from an international gemological institute like:
(1) GIA (Gemological Institute of America)
(2) HRD (Hoge Raad voor Diamant)
(3) IGI (International Gemological Institute)
(4) EGL (European Gemological Institute)
In the case of mounted jewellery, there are quite a few gemological labs who will issue a certificate. At the very least, ask the retailer to provide you with an in-house certificate.
8th C – CRYSTAL
There are quite a few imitation stones or diamond stimulants available like glass, crystal, white sapphire, cubic zircon, American diamond, Moissanite, etc. Make sure your retailer is giving a full description of the diamond or diamond jewellery that he is selling you. It can be on a commercial invoice attached to a well known gemological institute or an in-house certificate mentioning the weight of the diamonds, number of pieces, appraised clarity and color of the stones, the cut or shape of the diamonds, the purity of metal, and weight consumed in the jewellery.
9th C – CARING FOR YOUR DIAMOND JEWELLERY
It is advisable to keep the jewellery safely under lock and key. If loose diamonds are around it is better to keep them as set pieces of jewellery even on a simple mounting to prevent misplacing them. Diamonds do cut diamonds. So even though they are the hardest substance, they will get scratched by one another. Diamonds are really forever! They never lose their shine, brilliance or purity. They may look duller due to external deposits like dust or finger prints but a cleaning cloth can get all the beauty and shine back. Due to heavy usage the jewellery might accumulate dirt around the metal. You can take care of this by giving it a dip in a jewellery cleaning liquid or even by brushing with an old toothbrush in soapy water. A jeweler would recommend doing this twice a year. Once in a while it is also advisable to have the jewellery polished, preferably at the same outlet where you purchased it, so that the proper care will be taken while cleaning the joints and settings. For expensive jewellery, it is crucial to have good insurance. Insurance companies provide cover during storage, as well as, while being worn. The insurance company might ask for the original invoice, a recent appraisal and certification from an independent and reputed agency. It is also a good idea to keep photographs of the jewellery for your records.
10th C – CHANGE
If the diamonds are set in normal jewellery (i.e. not brand or designer) and the wearer would like to go for a newer design, it is advisable to have the set remodeled. This will help in the changeover, with the least expense to the owner. If the old set is dismantled with reasonable care, the chances of damage to the stones and metal is limited. There have been instances where stones have been slightly damaged. A slight repolishing can be undertaken to minimize the total damage.
11th C – COLLECTOR’S VALUE
Designer or brand jewellery are best kept as they are, because they may appreciate in value due to their collectible value. However, if you attempt to sell the jewellery on the open market, the jeweler will value it according to its material value which might well be much lower than its purchase price or its new collector’s value.
Learn about “Diamond & Jewelry Essentials” – courtesy of International Gemological Institute (IGI)
From ancient times, quality pearls were found in the waters of Arabian Gulf. The ancient pearling industry provided the only real income for the people of UAE. The land was too barren to allow any farming and the people were generally too concerned with finding water, food and other provisions to consider trying to make money. The barter system was their way of trading. A few families would leave the nomadic desert lifestyle and settle on the coast to fish. Some of the fishermen probably found the occasional pearl when wading in the shallows, and kept it until there was an opportunity to barter it. A large population of ancient UAE depended fully on pearl diving to find their daily living and fortune.
Pearl oysters occur naturally on relatively shallow banks (fasht) in the Gulf. However, it is not clear when the people of the Emirates first began to harvest this valuable resource: individual pearls have been found in excavations on archaeological sites that date back to at least 7000 years ago. The Arab writer Al Idrisi mentions that in 1154 Julfar, in Ra’s al-Khaimah, was already a major pearling centre. Other historical accounts indicate that Julfar’s fame had spread far and wide.
To gather enough oysters to make a living, however, required a huge communal effort, as well as people who were able to dive to depths of around 40 meters without equipment, in order to access the offshore oyster beds. Natural pearls are the cultural asset of UAE, and can be the most important testimonial of its cultural heritage with consideration to the people, the craft and their ancient life style.
The trade of natural pearls in Dubai has witnessed a ten-fold monetary growth in recent years, driven by imports through Australia and India. Re-exports to newer markets, including Bahrain, Hong Kong and Switzerland has added to this achievement largely. The cultured pearl trade in Dubai has been driven through imports from Australia, China and Hong Kong, along with re-exports to a variety of diverse markets such as Japan, Lebanon, Switzerland and Hong Kong and Australia etc.
In the year 2011, Dubai hosted the sale of the world’s largest pearl – a drop-shaped natural pearl weighing 59.92 carats (the weight of a Dh1 coin). It was sold for AED 934,842.
WHAT IS A PEARL?
A real pearl is magic created by nature. While you are aware that pearls are found within oysters, do you know how the pearl gets formed within the oyster? The process starts when an irritant, e.g. a tiny food particle, gets lodged in the shell of a mollusc – oyster, mussel, or clam. In order to protect itself from the irritant, the mollusc slowly secretes layer upon layer of a material called “nacre” or “mother of pearl”, that encases the irritant over a period of 5-10 years. The result of this process is a pearl.
TYPES OF PEARLS
Pearls can be natural, cultured, or imitation.
Natural pearls are those that are formed organically in nature without human intervention. The Gulf region used to be the dominant source of natural pearls, until oil drilling in the 20th century largely destroyed that habitat. Today fishing for natural pearls is very rare. They can be found in India, but are quite small and expensive.
Most pearls today, including those used for high-end jewellery, are cultured pearls. There are “pearl farms” in various parts of the world, where molluscs are bred in large numbers. An irritant is surgically introduced into the mollusc and then nature is left to do its work to convert it into a pearl.
Imitation or Synthetic Pearls
These aren’t really pearls and are not produced by molluscs. They are coated glass beads and have no real value.
Perfectly round pearls are generally more valuable than irregular or baroque pearls.
The rarer the color of the pearl, the more valuable it’s likely to be. While white pearls are the most common, pearls can also be black, grey, golden, and pink. Deep pink pearls are the rarest.
Brighter pearls that have a shine and deep glow, and on the surface of which you can see your reflection, are more valuable.
A pearl with a clean surface and no disfigurations or cracks is more valuable than a tarnished, cracked pearl.
Sapphires are colored stones composed of the mineral corundum (Aluminum Oxide). In its pure form, corundum is colorless, but when iron and titanium infiltrate its crystal lattice, it turns blue and becomes a sapphire.
The hues range from very pale blue to deep indigo, with the most valued hue being a deep cornflower blue. While blue is the color that is most associated with sapphires, they come in a surprising range of colors, including violet, purple, pink, yellow, orange, and green.
Sapphires are the birthstones for those born in the month of September. Together with emeralds and rubies, sapphires make up the Big Three of colored jewelry gemstones. Like other precious gemstones, sapphires are graded using the 4C’s – Color, Cut, Clarity and Carat weight.
From ancient times, sapphires have been considered one of the earth’s finest and rarest gemstones. Their continued global demand is a testament to their desirability and durability. With proper care and knowledge, sapphires can last for generations and retain their value.
Emeralds are colored stones composed of the mineral beryl. They range from medium green to dark green. Emeralds are considered the official birthstone for the month of May, which make sense, since green is traditionally associated with the color of life, as well as the color of springtime.
The most sought-after colors in emeralds are bluish green to pure green, with high transparency, vivid color saturation, and a color tone that is not too dark. The extent of trace elements of chromium, vanadium, and iron determine the color of the emerald.
Like other gemstones, emeralds are graded using the 4C’s – Color, Cut, Clarity and Carat weight. Ideally, an emerald should have a high degree of transparency, little to no inclusions, and a pure green hue to be considered rare and of higher value.
Like sapphires, rubies are colored stones of the corundum mineral. Rubies are the most valuable of the Big Three colored jewelry gemstones and often command the highest price per carat among all precious colored gemstones. In its pure form, corundum is colorless, but when chromium infiltrates its crystal structure, it turns red and becomes a ruby.
Rubies are found in metamorphic rock types, such as gneiss and schist, and in alluvial gen gravel deposits. They are most widely found in Australia, Kenya, Madagascar, Myanmar (Burma), Tanzania, Thailand (Siam), Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Vietnam, and India.
Ruby is a relatively hard gemstone and therefore is quite scratch-resistant. It stands at 9.0 on Mohs scale of relative hardness. Because a ruby has excellent toughness, it does not break easily when struck. Therefore, it makes great choice for daily wear, especially in rings.
Like other gemstones, rubies too are graded using the 4C’s – Color, Cut, Clarity and Carat weight. Ideally, a ruby should have a high degree of transparency, little to no inclusions, and a pure vibrant red to slightly purplish red to be considered rare and of higher value.