Tag Archives: gemstones

Huge New Development in the Jewelry Industry

Hello, Jewelers, Gemologists and Enthusiasts!

danna g hallmarkBecause of my career in vocation and training development and my knowledge and love for gemstones and jewelry, I have been commissioned by associates and contributors of the insurance industry and professional gem labs, as well as professional appraisers, jewelers and gemologists to create advanced training materials on a vocational education scale for mid-market, independent participants in the jewelry trade.

This is a Very Large and Important Project

book and diamond

It is not to be taken lightly!

This is the first time our industry will be truly actualized into academia and incorporated into its vocational systems. Our intention is to add Professional Jewelry Appraiser to the labor department’s list of vocations.

Our objective is to aid this industry niche in sorting out and working within the new, developing regulations and insurance industry expectations, as well as teach upcoming developments such as new mine finds and technical advancements.

But, in offering this training, it is not our intention to cause anyone to go through additional learning curves in order to become familiar with unnecessary computer applications, programs and other gizmos that they will not need after their training is completed.

This Project will be made easier with your help.

In that light, I want to ask the help of those who might be interested in this development to respond to this simple survey by either commenting here or by emailing me at danna@yourjewelryguide.com. Simply tell me which of the following computer skills you have. This will indicate to me how the training should be developed for the niche market I mentioned above.

  1. Word Processing doc or docx (or indicate other)
  2. Reading pdf files
  3. Receiving and sending email with attachments
  4. Using Skype, Telegram, or Zoom for:
    1. Texts
    2. Conversations
    3. Screen share

Camera not necessary for #4.

Whether you are personally interested in advanced training or not, your participation in this survey will help us immensely in our endeavor to modernize and update the industry.

Thank you for your help.

Keep updated on this project at Hallmark Professional Consulting

Your Jewelry Guide: Abusing Fine Jewelry

Abusing Fine Jewelry

Do you unknowingly abuse your fine jewelry? The answer may surprise you.

Diamonds Are NOT Necessarily “Forever”

diamondTake a diamond ring for instance – your engagement ring.  “Diamonds Are Forever” (like your love); or that, at least, is what we have been easily taught to think because it is comforting to think. Diamonds are listed at the top of “hardness” on the Moh’s scale of the earth’s rocks and minerals. That means that nothing can harm them – or does it?

Look here. Belief in the “hardness” factor that gives you such freedom to wear your ring anywhere, anytime, doesn’t mean it is indestructible. Sure, a diamond is listed as the hardest substance on earth on the Moh’s scale. But that hardness factor simply means that a diamond can scratch any other substance on earth, but no substance (except another diamond) can scratch a diamond. Now, that’s a little different than being indestructible.

That DeBeers advertising slogan / 007 movie theme song “Diamonds Are Forever” is not necessarily so. A diamond can be scratched (by another diamond coming into contact with it). A diamond can be chipped; and that is probably going on with your diamond ring even as we speak. A diamond can shatter from even a small encounter with another object if that contact occurs in just the right place to impact a growth pattern or other characteristic of that particular stone.

Kinda takes the fun out of it, doesn’t it? Your diamonds and diamond jewelry must be cared for and maintained. Let’s explore the ways you can abuse your diamond ring

Abuse #1 Lack of Maintenance

As you wear your diamond ring, year after year, the simple act of having it on your finger subjects it to much activity that can become abuse if it isn’t counteracted by maintenance. The best thing you can do is take your rings off and look at them closely. Mountings can be continually damaged by even sedentary repetitive tasks such as keyboarding or data input. That clackity-clack you hear as you type, or play a music instrument such as piano or guitar is doing minute damage to your gold settings and, possibly to your stones as well.

It is very important that you self-check the jewelry you tend to wear a lot every once in a while and, for pieces that are very valuable or have extreme sentimental value to you, you should have them checked for you (and cleaned) by a jeweler or goldsmith you can trust.

Abuse #2 Prong Number

Prices of gemstones are remarkably high, and not likely to trend downward to any extent. If you are privileged to own a very nice diamond, or have an occasion coming up when you may buy, give, or be given a nice diamond, let me talk a bit about mountings and prongs. The choice of the wrong mounting can also be unintentional abuse of fine jewelry. Here’s what I mean:

There are many choices you have when mounting a diamond in a piece of jewelry, but let’s deal with pronged mountings. Here is some unintentional abuse. Look at these illustrations of diamonds in the most popular prong settings – 3-prongs and 4-prongs.

diamond 3 prong

If you mount your valuable diamond in one of these settings, look what you are asking to hold your diamond. See those thin, little slivers of metal? That is what is holding your valuable diamond against the world.

Now, choose one of these settings and imagine that one prong (only one) has broken off or bent from some activity where you caught your hand or your glove on something. In each of these instances the diamond will have nothing holding it in the mounting — only one prong stands between owning your valuable diamond and losing it — one prong. It doesn’t matter what fancy name they give a 3-prong and 4-prong mounting (Martini, Tiffany); placing your valuable stones in such a mounting puts them in jeopardy.

And, remember gold is a relatively soft metal, which is why it is mixed with an alloy – to strengthen it. So. If you choose to have your ring made from 18kt gold (I prefer 14kt for strength), the mounting will be soft. 18kt gold is soft enough that most bracelets, no matter the worth of the stones, are made with 14kt.

It stands to reason that if you do choose to mount your valuable stone in 18kt gold with a 3 or 4 prong setting, checking and maintaining that setting is absolutely essential to keeping that stone for you to enjoy for as many years as you wish.

diamond 6 prongIn my role as Your Jewelry Guide, my suggested mounting for a valuable stone (be it monetary or sentimental value) is a 6-prong style.

Notice that it would take the loss of at least two prongs to open that setting to where the stone could work its way out of the mounting. And, even with the loss or severe bending of two prongs, there would be enough slight pressure from the other four prongs to anchor that stone somewhat where its movements were hampered severely. (Unlike a 4-prong mounting where there is only three prongs to anchor and a 3-prong mounting where the stone would be absolutely free to leave the mounting after loss, or even bending, of only one prong.

Abuse #3 Subjecting Your Jewelry to Chemicals

I borrow this story from Robert James, FGA, GG.

In discussing the interesting and sometimes strange “claims” for damaged and stolen goods, Mr. James spoke of one of the strangest to his knowledge (and he has dealt with some strange ones).

It appears that a person claimed that her diamond rings were stolen, but the thief left her diamonds. After investigation, it turned out that she had placed her diamond rings in a container to soak in chlorine bleach and the action of that powerful chemical dissolved the gold and alloy into a solution, but left the diamonds in the bottom of the container.

Wow! Now there is some unintentional abuse if there ever was unintentional abuse! Robert went on to say that appraisers know when a person has a swimming pool or frequents swimming pools. Their gold jewelry will be corroded as the metal is eaten away by the chemical.

My, oh my, what we don’t do!

Please take care of the beautiful and valuable jewelry you are privileged to own.

The Pearl Addict: You Don’t Know Squat!

The Pearl Addict:

If You Don't Know History, You Don't Know Squat!

Taken from ISG Forum “Do You Know Your Pearls?” 2015

Pearl blog 1 danna g hallmarkI’m a long-time pearl “nut” and own many dozens of strands and loose pearls of different kinds. I’d like to share a story that might be helpful in some way.

Several decades ago I purchased a strand of “Kasumiga” pearls. Lake Kasumigaura (Japan’s largest lake) was a center of freshwater pearl cultivation from the 1960s to 1980s, second only to Lake Biwa (near Kyoto) in number of cultivators and production. Most efforts ended due to environmental conditions during the 1980s, and for a decade there was no production. But since the early 1990s, a small handful of pearl farmers have produced very small quantities of in-body bead nucleated freshwater pearls.

The original pearls were mauve colored, absolutely different from any other pearl on the market at that time. I purchased my strand not long after the major portion of the Kasumi pearl industry died out (along with most of the mollusks). Now, when original Kasumi pearls are mentioned in the industry, it is with hushed tones, mindful of their rarity and value.

During a move in 2010, as a result of actions of well-meaning friends, my entire filing box of jewelry and gem certificates ended up MIA. Yeah. I know…. After I accepted the loss, I began attempting to get my pearls re-authenticated by various means, contacting sellers of luxury items, auction houses, searching the web for clues as to who might do this service for me. After all, you can’t mistake a Kasumiga pearl. How hard could it be?

original kasumiga pearls

Original Kasumiga Pearls

After exhausting all leads (even talking with Antoinette Matlins and getting her ideas as to who might re-authenticate them), I appealed to my jewelry groups on LinkedIn and found a reputable association in Switzerland that holds itself out as the “end all and be all” of pearls testing. GREAT! I shipped my pearls to them to regain official identification.

Well, folks.

After months of waiting to hear back from the gemologists, I received my evaluation. It gave me the following astounding information:
The pearls were real (Oh, really?)
The pearls were natural color (Duh!)
The pearls were freshwater (Double Duh!)

I contacted an official of that establishment about the verdict. He said they now have criteria for Kasumiga pearls and the criteria stated Kasumiga pearls were bead-nucleated – and this strand was not.

What!?! Of course, they’re not bead nucleated. And that’s what sets them apart as authentic and original Kasumigas from the non-hybrid mollusk. It’s the new hybrids that are bead nucleated. My strand is an original and that’s why I need the authentication – to re-identify my strand as authentic, original Kasumiga. Historically, Kasumigas (like all freshwater pearls) were not bead nucleated.

I’ve been following the pearl market for decades and now it is so easy to do on the web. Let’s take Kasumiga pearls for instance. After the die-out in the 90s, a certain pearl seller, Mark Brown (purveyor of PearlfectionTM [man-made “shell” pearls], later affiliated with JTV) told of crossing the few remaining Kasumi mollusks with another type and was introducing GenusisTM Pearls, which at that time looked like wads of chewing gum. However, over the years, the GenusisTM pearls became more and more symmetrical with each harvest.

genusis pearls

Hybrid Genusis Pearls

They are beautiful pearls, and, especially the baroque shapes, exhibiting amazing color, iridescence, and a gold sheen. The metallic gold sheen had never been seen since the Kasumiga era. I nabbed a few of the earlier ones, but later was fortunate enough to get a pair of near perfect 13mm stud earrings that matched my strand of original Kasumigas. It was rumored that the first strand of near-perfect pearls from the GenusisTM hybrid mollusks sold at Tucson that year for a million.

From what I detect, the GenusisTM era looks to be about over. There are fewer and fewer of them on the market and I wonder about the health of the cross-bred mollusk which, I understand from Mr. Brown, were inoculated over and over, each time producing finer pearls from the same mollusk. You can still pick up a GenusisTM strand or a loose pearl here and there on the internet, however fairly nice strands can run in the thousands now.

Where the Japanese go in the pearl business, the Chinese seem to very soon follow. A few years ago EdisonTM pearls entered the market. Many listed as Kasumi-like were also introduced to the market. It appears that the Chinese have the mollusks perfected now and are flooding the market with the iridescent mauve EdisonTM pearls. These seem to be the Kasumiga hybrid, GenusisTM pearl reincarnate.

kasumiga pearls

New Hybrid Edison Pearls

Grab a strand or two NOW if you are going to be an appraiser – or you just want a library to refer to with your own purchases. You can get them on eBay for $20+ for a “strand of a lesser god” (my phrase for funky little pearls). Get them in hand to see the sheen of the nacre. You’ll never be in the dark about Kasumiga, GenusisTM, or EdisonTM pearls again.

It’ll be your job as a Professional Appraiser to surpass the service I received on my pearls from “experts” that do not take the time to KNOW pearls – they just go through the motions to “test” pearls and render verdict on set criteria. To truly know pearls you must know the history of pearls. If you don’t know history, you don’t know squat.

The history of original kasumiga pearls should have told them that the absence of bead nuclei was a good thing, because until recent history, freshwater pearls were not bead nucleated. The GenusisTM and EdisonTM pearls are bead nucleated freshwater pearls. It’s a new phenomenon.

You have to “know” pearls – the history. Remember, even in the Akoya family, there were at one time wild Akoya mollusks, in cultured Akoyas there are on the market: original Miki Motos still to be found, other Japanese Akoyas, and now Chinese Akoyas. They are all slightly different. Can you tell them apart? Grab some and start getting acquainted. eBay is a wonderful place to play.

To start with, look here.
Japanese Akoya pearls have a rose tone to the nacre. See it?

Whereas the Chinese Akoya pearls have a silver cast to the nacre.

However, a typical appraiser doesn’t even take into consideration the origin of the Akoya pearl he or she is working with. It is my opinion that Akoya pearls alone should be identified and evaluated in at least six categories according to the origin and type:
1. Wild Akoyas
2. Miki Moto vintage
3. New Miki Moto
4. Japanese Akoyas before the die-off
5. New crop Japanese Akoyas
6. Chinese Akoyas

You’ve seen how the value of the original Kasumiga pearls goes unrecognized by the criteria of a well-respected group in Switzerland that puts itself out as pearl experts. This stems from lack of knowledge of the history of that particular pearl. You see how the ear-marks of the new hybrids are being used without considering the age of the pearl strand. You now can see how the broad category of Akoya could (and I think, should) be broken down to finer categories, like the six above.

And there are worlds of pearls out there to separate into other categories for appropriate evaluation. If appraisers don’t take into consideration the actual value of pearls according to rarity and vintage, but blindly follow set, new criteria for “pearls” which tends to lump all freshwater pearls into one category, almost priceless strands such as my original Kasumigas will continue, not only losing their niche in history, but might be off-handedly relegated to the $400 per strand category – losing maybe forever their authentic value on the market.

The world awaits a good pearl expert.

So. Who Cares Anyway? What Does It Matter?

Taken from ISG Forum “Do You Know Your Pearls?” 2015

Question: I knew the Chinese were selling their own version of Akoya pearls, but now I have to wonder if the triple-strand I had made by a reputable New York company are truly Japanese or the Chinese pearls. Not being a pearl expert (nor a true connoisseur), I’m not even really sure what, if any, difference it makes. Can you elaborate?

Reply: Thanks for visiting my post. It’s all in the way you look at it, but, for me, it always makes a difference. But, ya see, I’m an addict, so….

It always makes a difference. The question here is “to whom”. Of course, a large percentage of the population couldn’t care less if they are wearing plastic “pop beads” or South Sea Pearls — they really can’t. Even if they knew the difference, they simply don’t care. And that’s okay.

But with proper Professional training and guidance you have the distinct possibility to become one of the elite appraisers in the world — literally! It has been my experience that no one knows anything about anything — broad statement, I know, but it typically holds true. If someone presents a strand of pearls to evaluate for whatever purpose, and the appraiser can inform them that they are akoya (salt water), they go up a notch in value from freshwater, of course. If that appraiser can ascertain the origin of the strand by the age of the pearls, the history, talking to the owner, seeing the original container or receipt, the age of the clasp, etc., and can determine it is something more than “just” akoyas (let’s say Japanese rather than Chinese), that strand should go up another notch in value.

With proper equipment and training you should be able to discern many things about what you are studying.

If the appraiser collected an akoya pearl (maybe earrings) that was sold before the big Japanese die-off in the last decade and label them as the older Japanese akoya, and then grab some other “akoyas” on eBay to see if they truly were saltwater and have that translucence an akoya has, he might have another specimen. As he builds up his on arsenal of specimens, he becomes more and more apt to be the appraiser of choice.

In the case of my Kasumiga strand that I mentioned in an earlier post, if the evaluator had the ability or the permission to use his own knowledge and determination, he would have immediately understood that, because they were NOT bead nucleated (they were of the old school where they used mantle tissue) he would have had to declare them original Kasumiga pearls. As it stands now, I have a strand of rare pearls that could cost easily in the 6-figure range that have been knocked down into the 3-figure range at best.

As a Professional Jewelry Appraiser you will be able to do better than that.
That is what difference you can make.