Friday, January 15, 2016

The Esperanza - All American Diamond

I read a fascinating story about the discovery of another diamond in Arkansas this past summer. But it was only recently that I learned the whole story, written by Bryan Boyne, GG, who has graciously given me permission to post it here. There is also link to a video I think you will also enjoy.

Wow, this is the dream of a lifetime! I don't know of anyone who doesn't dream of finding a treasure, and what could be more thrilling than finding one of nature's own creations, and especially in the Crater of Diamonds Park in Arkansas; there can certainly be no question of "origin" here, and its name is so appropriate as well. I've written about Crater Park in several of my books, but it is especially thrilling to find they are still being found, and even more thrilling to see such wonderful collaboration between the person who found it and others whose experience and insights are so critical to making sure this gem receives the attention it deserves: the American Gem Society (AGS), a local jeweler (Stanley Jewelers), an amazing cutter, and an exceptionally gifted Arkansas jewelry designer to craft the piece....and to build a mini-factory in the state in which it was found to handle the cutting and setting was sheer "brilliance" (to be expected, of course, with such a fabulous diamond)! I can hardly wait for the unveiling of the finished jewel!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Want to learn more about Rose Gold? Read my recent contributions in The Knot to broaden your knowledge about this reemerging trend in jewelry.

A Rose by Any Other Name
Rose gold is back in a big way—this ultra-romantic accessory is the perfect pick for your wedding, and also for years to come.

By Yelena Moroz Alpert
Photograph by Devon Jarvis
@morozy @theknot

An Imperial History
Long before rose gold shined on today’s Hollywood stars, jewelers of 19th-century Europe and Russia were creating intricate 14-karat pieces that filled the jewelry boxes of aristocrats and royalty. “In Victorian England, rose gold was referred to as ‘lover’s gold,’ making it a popular choice for engagement rings,” says Jamie Cadwell Gage of In fact, Queen Victoria herself was a collector of the pink metal.… 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

How Do “Antique” & “Period” Jewelry Differ From Each Other?

In most countries, including the USA, any piece of jewelry sold as "antique" must be at least 100 years old.  All too often the terms "antique" and "period" are used interchangeably and this is incorrect and confusing.  So let’s clarify the terms.

"Period" refers to various time periods in which a particular style evolves and is popular for a certain span of time; it applies to many areas including art, architecture and jewelry. Some "period" jewelry can be antique, and there is always some degree of overlap in each "period.". Some "period" jewelry is also "antique," but most jewelry from collectible periods cannot be called "antique."
Currently the most popular and collectible jewelry "periods" include the "Victorian" period (1830s to 1900), La Belle Epoque (from 1870s till approx 1915), Art Nouveau (approx 1895-1915), Edwardian (approx 1900-1915), Art Deco (1915-into the 1930s), and Retro (1940s-early 1950s). All "Victorian" jewelry is "antique," and most of the Belle Epoque, Art Nouveau and Edwardian jewelry can also be described as "antique," but this is usually not the case with jewelry from the Art Deco and Retro periods. 

While there is an overlap in the time frame for each period, each is characterized by certain design elements that have influenced the look of that period; we see it reflected in art, furniture, architecture, and so on. Certain design elements that have come to define the look of that particular "age" are also seen in jewelry. Here we see it in the very lines of the jewelry itself, as well as the use of certain gemstones, styles of cutting, and size and color of stones used. All of these elements help connoisseurs and collectors recognize a piece as being from a particular "period."   

Authentic "period" pieces are highly sought after and are more costly than contemporary jewelry. This is not only because of the workmanship seen in such pieces but also because of their rarity; keep in mind most jewelry, over time, is often dramatically altered, or the stones removed and reused in a more contemporary piece, so true examples of the period are much rarer than those that are altered or reproduced along the style of a certain period.

The names of certain designers or great jewelry houses are also often associated with the finest examples of each "period" and these can add dramatically to the value/cost of authentic pieces. For example, in the Victorian period, pieces made by the Italian master, Castellani, add dramatically to desirability and value; his works were truly masterpieces. And the firm of Cartier probably stands out beyond all other jewelry houses for its Art Deco wonders, including some of the most amazing clocks – the Mystery Clocks – ever produced. And there are other great makers, designers, and jewelry houses that stand out during each period.

Reproductions, however, and authentic settings in which stones have been replaced with inferior or synthetic stones are often encountered in the marketplace. So much greater care must be taken to find a highly qualified gemologist or gemologist-appraiser to confirm any antique or period jewel is what it appears to be.

You can find more information on specific design elements that can be seen in each period, along with the great masters and jewelry houses associated with each, and the types of fraud and misrepresentation you need to guard against in my books Jewelry & Gems: The Buying Guide (6th & 7th editions only) and Jewelry & Gems At Auction  ( 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Regarding The Recent Diamond Segment on ABC News The Lookout!

For those of you who saw the recent segment on ABC News (if not, see links below) on "clarity enhanced" diamonds -- that is, diamonds that have visible cracks that are made invisible by filling them with lead-glass -- I'd like to make a few important consumer observations.

In our investigation, it was quite apparent that had ABC's reporter, Dan Harris, not been with me, the situation could have had a very unhappy ending. Had he been like every other young man looking for a better price by going to 47th street (and who, when asked about budget, often throw out a "much lower" number in the hope of getting an even better "deal"), he'd probably never have known what he had really bought, and if he did, probably not until it was too late. Whether deliberate, or the result of ignorance, the buyer, in this case Dan, was exploited and did not get what he thought he was getting.
The only way that most consumers ever really know what they have purchased in diamond wholesale districts around the world is to take them to an independent, qualified appraiser for confirmation of the facts. In these situations, what they learn may be very upsetting ... and it may get even worse.

It is rare that consumers can get a refund -- unless they've asked the right questions and gotten the answers to those questions, in writing, on the sales receipt. As shown in the ABC report, however, few people ask the right questions, or get honest answers, but there is always something in the paperwork that mentions clarity enhancement (CE). I know of two cases in which the buyers found out, after the purchase, and when the seller wouldn't refund what was paid, took the time and money to take the sellers to court ... and in both cases, the consumers lost! The reason was that the seller could show that the sales receipt indicated the stone was clarity enhanced. In both cases the sellers insisted the evidence (the sales receipts and fictitious lab reports) showed that the buyer knew what he/she was purchasing from the start; that all of the facts had been disclosed at the time of the purchase. Also, both vendors insisted the buyer had been led by the appraiser to regret having purchased a clarity enhanced diamond and that the problem was the appraisers!  Since the documentation -- the seller's receipt and lab report both indicated "CE", and since, unlike Dan, the buyer had nothing to prove what really happened, the court ruled against the innocent consumer adding that the "unscrupulous" seller was being very generous to offer to let them exchange their diamonds for something else!

Here's what breaks my heart, especially in times when people are feeling economic pressure and money is tight. Special moments are special, and people want to mark or celebrate the moment, whether it's with an engagement ring or other beautiful diamond gift. Then, to be exploited by the unscrupulous, really mars the moment...often forever. And here is where everyone loses. 

A few other points should also be made about going to 47th Street and the total experience (since so much ended on the cutting room floor).

While we found that there were people deliberately deceiving, we also became very aware of just how extensive general lack of knowledge remains among sales people "on the street" (and I might add, in EVERY "wholesale" district -- not just 47th street). In addition to the two vendors shown on-air, there were many others we COULD have shown who were equally guilty. 

The big difference between now and the segment from a few years ago is that there were also many others who did, in fact, mention "CE" the moment they heard what Dan's budget was These people actually volunteered information, explaining there are "two types of diamonds: natural and CE". This was a major improvement over the way it was a few years ago. When we asked what a CE diamond was, we were also told they "sell for less because something is done to make them look better than they do when they come out of the ground." This was also good: they acknowledged there was a reason for the lower price. 

Unfortunately, the scene broke down when we asked WHAT was done, and whether or not the diamond might change to something less pretty over time. These people really didn't know what the CE process actually was (some made it up and some said they didn't know because it was a very high tech process). And even wore, none indicated the appearance was not "permanent" and might change. But In these cases I think it was more a case of ignorance among the seller than any intent to deceive. Nonetheless, going into the heart of the "diamond wholesale" district to buy a diamond all-too-often results in buyers being denied ALL the information they NEED to make an INFORMED decision about what to buy.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Lead-Glass Filled "Ruby" -- A Study in Misrepresentation and Deception!

Lead-Glass Filled Ruby: 
A Case Study in Misrepresentation and Deception

I find it very disturbing that there are still many people in the gem and jewelry field who do not yet understand how lead-glass “rubies” – now identified by leading gem testing laboratories such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and American Gemological Laboratories (AGL) as artificial products--differ from rubies that are sold, legitimately, as “treated” rubies. Some jewelers and gemologists are even objecting to what the laboratories are calling them and continue to sell them and identify them as "treated rubies." Tragically, because of confusion about what they really are, and how they differ from treated products, these imitators are now flooding the market here and abroad, and selling at greatly inflated prices.

I felt so strongly about the unprecedented issues these lead-glass imitators present, that I added extensive information about them in the latest edition of my book Jewelry & Gems: The Buying Guide (Seventh Edition) and an entire new chapter to the Fifth Edition of Gem Identification Made Easy (which just rolled off press a month ago). Since we are now in a "social media” era, however, let me attempt here to clarify the differences, and why selling lead-glass products as genuine “treated” ruby is misleading and deceptive. It is long for a "blog" but I hope you'll read it through to the end.

As many know, heat treatment of ruby and sapphire has become the norm over the past half century, and this type of treatment is “assumed” when buying most rubies and sapphires today. In more recent years, we’ve also see more extreme levels of heating which require borax coatings, in which the borax can melt and leave “residue” in fissures. We've also seen the introduction of glass-fillings into fractures to reduce their visibility. A few years ago, however, we began to see a new ruby product at gem shows, offered for a few dollars per carat. Most were represented as being “treated by heat only.” It wasn’t long before gemologists discovered this was not the case.

Many gemologists and appraisers began receiving calls from bench jewelers who were finding out – the hard way – that these new “rubies” were not behaving like any ruby they’d ever handled! We began to realize that routine jewelry techniques caused extensive damage that was irreparable! Unlucky bench jewelers who “destroyed” one of these new “ruby” products while doing “routine” jewelry work, suffered damage to their reputations, loss of customers, and were held financially responsible by retailers and/or consumers. This type of reaction at the bench, and the consequences faced by bench jewelers, was unheard of…until the lead-glass “rubies” entered the market. 

Gemologists had to ask, what’s different about these? Why don’t they respond as ruby should respond? So beginning several years ago gemologists from the Accredited Gemologists Association (AGA), myself among them, began to purchase stones from various vendors, at various shows, and we undertook research on the stones themselves, as well as how they were being represented and priced.

Gemological examination of the stones revealed unprecedented quantities of glass – a lead-glass in particular – combined with an undeterminable quantity of corundum (the mineral known as ruby only when it occurs in a red color with good transparency, or “sapphire” when it is blue or any other color in which nature creates it); we discovered the "rubies" were actually a “blend” of two materials that are altogether different in terms of physical properties. 

The first difference noted was that the glass used in these products was not a “silica” glass – the type of glass used in traditionally “glass filled” rubies – but a formulation of lead glass. The reasons that the producers of this new product would use lead-glass became clear very quickly: lead-glass is essential because it makes it impossible to see where the glass and corundum begin and end! The high “refractive index” (RI) obtained by introducing lead into the glass is virtually identical to the RI of corundum, which means it is impossible to distinguish one from the other. Furthermore, one of the most important tests used to identify any gemstone – using a refractometer to determine a stone's RI – will give the same reading for the lead-glass ruby as for a treated or natural ruby, even if the stone is situated on the refractometer so that the part of the stone being tested is actually glass, RI reading will be the same as that of ruby! (For a full explanation of what RI actually is and why it is so important, see below – What Is RI And How Does It Affect Quality Grading). 

Subsequent research by AGA members, in association with several of the world’s leading gem-testing laboratories, revealed that the lead-glass becomes an integral part of the blended product and cannot be removed without destroying the "gem.”  This is an important difference between this product and "treated" ruby because the properties of the blended product are no longer the same as the properties of "ruby." The properties are, in fact, very different. This, combined with their inseparability, means the lead-glass “ruby” may look like ruby but it won’t act like ruby!

 In addition, the lead-glass component represents a much higher percentage of the stone than what is found in “treated rubies.” The silica glass used in traditional treatment is used simply to reduce the visibility of the fracture(s), and thus, the amount of silica glass used in the treatment of ruby or sapphire is very minimal. Even more important, silica glass has a much lower RI than lead-glass, so the fractures can be seen when the stone is properly examined; silica glass doesn’t “hide” the fractures (and if there were any question, silica glass can be removed without damage to the stone should there be any need to do so, and in the rare case where the glass comes out of the ruby for any reason, it can be re-filled).

These are critical differences between “treated ruby” and the lead-glass products: 1) It is impossible to see where the glass actually is so you cannot determine how much of the stone is glass versus ruby; 2) the two very different materials become inseparable. Without the lead glass, there is no ”ruby in terms of color and transparency, but with the lead-glass, the physical properties are so altered that the resulting “ruby” lacks the characteristics that make “ruby” a ruby. 

The process by which lead-glass ruby is produced requires the fusion of these two very different materials, but the result is something that is no longer ruby nor glass. Instead, the product is a new type of imitation that combines the properties of two very different materials, each inseparable from the other. In short, they are a new type of “composite,” an imitation created from two or more materials being joined together in some way, to imitate a rarer and more costly gem. Composites can be formed from two or more parts of a genuine stone, or two or more parts of an imitation or synthetic, or from a combination of genuine and artificial. 

This new product is now being sold as “treated ruby,” at inflated prices, and poses a serious threat to consumers that was unknown at the time of the last FTC review over 10 years ago. 

The AGA collected numerous real-life examples of the problems created as a result of selling this product as ruby when the most important physical characteristics associated with ruby—its toughness, hardness, and overall durability, ranking it next to diamond in terms of these characteristics—is not present in this new product; these composites are not only less durable, they are very fragile. For those interested in reading about these specific cases, please go to FTC website to read the attachments to the AGA submission (the first one listed):

In addition, the lead-glass component has other adverse effects on the ability of anyone selling this product to be in compliance with current FTC guidelines related to: a) identity of the stone; b) carat weight; c) quality; d) disclosure related to care requirements; and e) value. 
The lead-glass products now in the market are being misrepresented specifically as to their “type,” “kind,” “quality,” “weight,” “durability,” and “value” as specified by the FTC guides:
  • Kind: The lead-glass products are being misrepresented as “treated ruby” when the altered material no longer has the properties of ruby. This lead-glass product is neither ruby nor glass, but a new type of imitation that combines properties of both glass and corundum, each of which is inseparable from the other.
    • They have been clearly identified by the two most highly respected gem-testing laboratories in the USA—the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and American Gemological Laboratories (AGL) as products that are not genuine ruby, treated or otherwise. GIA identifies them as “manufactured products,” and AGL identifies them as “composite ruby.
    •  Both labs include comments pertaining to presence of significant amounts of lead-glass, and the need for unusual care. The AGL laboratory states: “the product has been heavily treated using a high refractive index lead-glass to fill fractures and cavities, vastly improving the apparent clarity and adding weight. The glass may be damaged by a variety of solvents.
    • There are devastating consequences resulting from using traditional techniques on these lead-glass “rubies” at the bench—extreme and irreparable damage—not ever associated with any other ruby that has been subjected to any type of treatment, including the use of silica glass to reduce the visibility of fractures, but which is unique to the lead-glass product. Lead-glass products may look like ruby, but they are products that lacks the durability of ruby, a very important characteristic long associated with ruby.
  • Quality:  Because of the composition of the product, and the extensive amounts of lead-glass, no one can know the true quality of the product because it is impossible to do accurate color and clarity grading—the two most critical factors involved in determining the quality and value of any gemstone. Lead-glass products cannot be accurately graded for 3 primary reasons:
    •  The high refractive index (RI) of the lead-glass conceals the fissures/fractures, making it impossible to determine how many there are, how deeply they penetrate into the stone, and thus, how great a risk they pose with regard to breakage in the course of normal wear. (See below for an explanation of what the RI is and how it affects quality and clarity grading).
    • The filler cannot be removed.  Another important distinction between lead-glass fillers and other fillers used routinely to treat ruby/sapphire to improve appearance—and which can rightly be sold as “treated ruby”—is seen in whether or not the filler can be removed for any reason. Other fillers, including common silica glass, oil, or epoxy resins, can be removed in cases where this might be necessary to determine whether or not a coloring agent has been added to the filler, or to ascertain how much filler—how heavily filled—the stone is (as with epoxy resins used in emerald).  In the case of the lead-glass filler used in these stones, the lead-glass used to create the product cannot be removed from the stone without destroying the stone’s structural cohesiveness; attempts to remove the lead-glass result in the destruction of the stone (it crumbles or falls apart). 
    • The lead-glass filler is not colorless. The lead-glass is usually tinted. When analyzed, the lead-glass used has been tinted in order to improve the color seen in the finished product, so one cannot know what the actual color is. 
  • Weight: Ruby weight is indeterminable with these products. Lead-glass weighs much more than ruby, but since the lead-glass cannot be removed, and its high RI makes it impossible to ascertain exactly how much glass versus ruby is in a particular stone without expensive, sophisticated instrumentation, it is not possible to accurately determine the weight of the ruby component. Therefore you cannot calculate the actual ruby weight, which the FTC guides already mandate. The only thing certain about the ruby weight is that it is less than the weight indicated for the entire stone, and in many cases, much less.
            This has been noted by respected laboratories around the world, and is indicated on the AGL reports on lead-glass products. One can only estimate the percentage of ruby versus glass in the stone based on the presence of characteristics found only in glass (bubbles, blue-flash, surface crazing), or only in ruby, but a precise weight cannot be known.
  • Durability: Lead-glass products lack the durability of ruby:
    o  Lead-glass is much softer than ruby (and other glasses used in treatments) and wears more quickly than ruby.
    Lead-glass is much more vulnerable to scratching, chipping and breaking with normal wear.
    Lead-glass is vulnerable to acid-etching by many substances, including lemon juice.
    o  Lead-glass composites are quickly and irreparably damaged by techniques that have been routinely used for centuries on ruby or treated ruby; these techniques include the use of heat, chemicals and acids that are routine in making or repairing jewelry containing such products.
    o  The “joins”—the planes—between the lead-glass and ruby weaken the overall structure of the product, making them more susceptible to damage from an accidental knock or blow. 
  • Value: Lead-glass rubies are being sold to consumers for hundreds to thousands of dollars per carat, when the cost should be 5-10 times less than what they are paying.  Within the trade, lead-glass rubies under 5 carats each originally entered the market at prices between  $1.00-5.00 per carat. Today, trade acceptance of these as “just another type of treated ruby” has resulted in sharply higher prices for the same sizes/qualities, now costing $10.00-20.00 per carat. Jewelry containing these stones is being sold by some vendors to the trade at highly inflated prices, which are then even more highly inflated when sold to consumers.
    o   Retailers purchasing jewelry pieces containing these stones are told they are rubies and are themselves paying very inflated prices for the pieces they buy, and then passing on their mistake to their customers at even higher prices. While they are easy to distinguish from rubies or treated rubies, most jewelry retailers have not taken the time to learn what the distinguishing characteristics are, and describe and price what they sell based on what they are being told by vendors, who often are doing the same thing with regard to their own sources.
    o   The unscrupulous are misrepresenting them knowingly, and selling them at huge profits.
    It is for the foregoing reasons that I have been – and remain – strongly committed to making the public and trade alike that these are not “genuine rubies” in any way and should not be sold as ruby or “treated ruby.”

The FTC is currently revising its guides for the jewelry trade, and I believe it is essential that the FTC understand how these lead-glass filled ruby products differ from other products in the market that are accurately described as “treated ruby” (or sapphire, or other gemstone name), and how selling them as “ruby” or “treated ruby” violates current FTC guides. I encourage anyone who agrees with me to send a letter to the FTC asking that the guides for the jewelry trade be revised to make it a misleading and deceptive trade practice to sell lead-glass filled rubies and sapphires as genuine ruby, treated or otherwise, as anything other that a composite product or other terminology that makes it clear they are not ruby or sapphire.  

It should be noted that you must also be very cautious about buying any blue, green, pink and yellow sapphire since this same type of product is now imitating these other colors of corundum and have different physical characteristics, a much lower value, and the need for special care to avoid breakage or severe and irreparable damage. 

FootnoteWhat Is “RI” and How Does It Affect Quality Grading?

The refractive index of a stone relates to how light moves through, and between, different media—in this case, ruby and glass. The greater the difference between the RI of each substance, the more easily one can see important internal characteristics; the closer the RI, the more difficult it is to see them. If the RI is essentially the same for both substances, one cannot distinguish where one ends and the other begins. This is why other types of glasses sometimes seen in ruby (usually silica glass) are different from these lead-glass products and can be sold as "treated ruby;" they have lower RIs so one can actually see where the fracture is and properly grade the stone. 
 The RI of lead-glass is almost a perfect match to that of ruby. This means that as light moves through the stone, one cannot see where one substance ends and the other begins. This is why, in lead-glass products, one can’t see the fractures, and thus can’t evaluate the stone’s clarity. It is virtually impossible to determine how deep or wide—how dangerous—any fractures or fissures might be. Even a single fracture can be extremely dangerous and severely affect the clarity rating, depending on where it is located and how far it penetrates into the stone, and thus its longevity and value.

Below one can see how the quantity of lead present affects the RI—the more lead, the higher the RI. It is clear that the percentage of lead present in the glass used on these rubies is very high:

RI's For Various Glasses:
Glass, Fused silica:            RI = 1.459
Glass, Pyrex                       RI = 1.474

Glass, Flint, 29% lead        RI = 1.569

Glass, Flint, 55% lead        RI = 1.669

Glass, Flint, 71% lead        RI = 1.805

The RI of corundum (ruby/sapphire) is 1.76-1.77. From this chart you can see that in order to have the same RI, the lead content in the glass must be in the range of 68-69%. The amount of lead in the glass also accounts for it weighing so much more than ruby, or other glasses used in “treated” material.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Estate Jewelry: Art and Deception!

I love "estate" jewelry--old jewelry that was previously owned--but there seems to be a misconception that all older jewelry offers better workmanship and finer gems than what is made today. I recently saw something about this on one of the social media sites, and realized I needed to provide some facts to set the record straight and to add some clarity to your understanding of "estate jewelry."

Where jewelry and gems are concerned, just because something is "old" does not mean it offers a better product or better value. While this might be the case, all-too-often it is not. Where old jewelry is concerned, the more attentive one needs to be to making sure the gem(s) in the "jewel" are really what they appear to be!

In my experience, the older the piece, the more attentive one must be. Stones in old pieces are often not what they appear to be, nor what the owner believes them to be. When examined for the first time by gemologists from the Gemological Laboratory of Great Britain in London, the famous "Black Prince's Ruby" that adorns the Queen's Imperial State Crown was found to be something quite different from a ruby. It was discovered that the "ruby" was really a red spinal--a lovely, naturally occurring red gemstone, but one having a much lower value than that of ruby! If it can happen to royalty, it can happen to anyone, and I've seen numerous cases of "mistaken identity" based on a stone's color. In some cases where the stone is natural but not what the owner believed it to be, the value is usually lower, but in some rare cases, the stone is actually rarer and more valuable! 

I've also seen many garnet-topped doublets used in old jewelry, imitating stones of every color (this type of imitation is made by fusing a sliver of garnet to the top of an appropriately colored glass bottom, to create what appears to be a much more valuable gemstone). I've also seen "true" doublets in estate jewelry (as well as new jewelry) which are made by fusing together two parts of a genuine stone with a deeper-color bonding agent to create the appearance of a single, larger, much finer-color--and much more valuable--"gem." I've seen many "emerald" doublets made exactly this way: two layers of very pale, very inexpensive emerald held together by a rich, deep green bonding agent to imitate a much larger, much rarer, and much more valuable "gem" emerald! These are called "true doublets."

I've seen jewelry with colored foil between the stone and the metal backing (which is closed so you can't see the stone's underside). This was not uncommon in the 18th century, and in some cases, the period of the jewelry and other workmanship adds so much value that it hardly matters, but you can be sure the original buyers never knew the "pink" topazes in their necklace, for example, were really colorless ... and much less valuable than the pink! Last, but far from least, I've seen many synthetic gems set into old settings that were made long before the synthetic now set within...antique or old settings are often used to dupe the buyer into believing the stone is "real" even though the stone could have been put in the setting yesterday.

Having said all of this to stress the importance of knowing what you really have, there are also many wonderful estate pieces, containing rare gems, and showing intricate workmanship done by master artisans. There is also a distinctiveness in jewelry from by-gone days that makes it stand apart from what is more commonly available today, and the workmanship is often impossible to duplicate today, at any price! Certain "periods" such as the Edwardian period (turn of the 19th-20th century), and Art Deco period (following the Edwardian, from about 1910 - to approx 1930) or the increasingly popular "Retro" period (1940s) are also very collectible and one pays a premium for fine pieces from these periods, and even more if from a particular house, such as Tiffany or Cartier. Each period also reflects certain style characteristics and cutting styles/sizes in the stones used, which have a wonderful allure for many, including me.
For anyone who loves estate jewelry, I recommend reading the sections I've provided on estate jewelry in two of my books (available from in Jewelry & Gems: The Buying Guide (5th and 6th editions) I talk about what to look for, and what to look OUT for when buying estate jewelry, including the different style elements in each period, the major collectible jewelry houses, questions to ask vendors, what to get in writing, and how to check it out; in Gem Identification Made Easy" I devote a chapter to the types of fraud and deception used to imitate "gems" that are often encountered in estate jewelry (such as doublets) and the ways to detect them using simple, portable tools. I also have a book that deals primarily with estate jewelry -- Jewelry & Gems At Auction. While the book was published quite a while ago, the information pertaining to the various collectible periods, the major houses, the style elements of each period, as well as information related to what to look for and to look out for, is as current today as when first published, as is some invaluable information to help you understand the inner workings of the auction houses and how they affect the "pre-sale estimates," reserves, and actual selling prices. You can find out more about each at my publishers website --

In any event, I hope you'll find what I've written here useful and that after reading what I've written you'll understand why you can't take anything "for granted" about the stones in old jewelry. To quote one of my favorite historians--
     "To tell the truth, there is no fraud or deceit in the world which yields greater gain and profit than that of counterfeiting gems."

This was written in the year 77AD, by the Roman historian, Pliny. Throughout history this has never has only become more sophisticated and technologically advanced!