Thursday, March 30, 2006

Why So Cheap??? (Why does yours cost more?)

Many times I am asked why my jewelry is more expensive than xyz jewelers. Sometimes the quality is so bad that it can be seen on the pictures of the website, others it needs a closer examination. Here is a case study of a ring that was sent to us after purchase from one of the "cheaper sites" Our client was not happy and wanted to know if she was being too picky, she also needed to have the stone tightened as it was loose.

Personally, I thought she was being not too picky at all, and I wanted to take this opportunity to share a few of the problems with you. As you can see here, the channel work is sloppy. I have circled some of the problem areas, and you can easily see that the entire ring is poorly polished. Although some of these defects are not easily seen with the eye, the cumulative affect is less than it should be.

The next problem that you might want to be looking for is poor setting of the stones in your ring. Proper technique is to cut a seat into the ring that will vit the outline of the stone and provide a snug and secure "chair" for the stone with the gold lowered nicely over the stone so that it does not catch in your silks, or your hair!

It is easy to see in this photo that the prong is not properly lowered, so the prong will be catching your silks, your knits and your hair or the hair of anyone who's head you might rub. (This blog does not promote or necessarily condone hair rubbing, but recognizes the right's of those who wish to rub...)

You can see, out of focus, additional problems with the channel that are not circled in this photo. This is unfortunately fairly typical of much of the work that is done cheaply overseas where price, not quality is the first concern. It must be fairly noted though that some of the craftsmen in Asia are outstanding when they are allowed the time to do the work correctly. This is not their work, but rather emblematic of the houses that produce mass merchandise volumes at very low prices.

The prong on this side is even worse. Although the top of the seat was properly finished, the bottom was just sort of scouped out so that it does not come into contact with the stone until quite low. This will result in the stone being constantly loose as there is no way to snugly secure the stone so that it will not constantly come loose the first time it is worn.

We will go into more potential problems in another post, but when you are looking for super quality you will normally pay a little more than the mass merchandice houses, but the resulting look is well worth it.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Please write to us with any questions you would like to see answered in our blog at We want this to be fun for you, and are always willing to look at your questions to see if they would make a good article for our blog.

We are new at this, but are enjoying the heck out of it, we hope you are too!


What to look for when buying color

Let's go for a little education today. This will be a short tutorial on what to look for in buying a colored gem. I will be talking mostly about the importance of cutting in the colored gems today. A more complete tutorial can be seen at Pricescope. The article there is one that I wrote about four or five years ago and is in a great deal more detail.

What we are looking for when we buy colored gems to wear in jewelry is beauty. The color itself can provide much of the beauty, but cutting will definitely add, or detract from that beauty. As you can easily see in this amethyst, the color is okay, but the cutting makes absolutely no use of the color. It is basically a lifeless lump of purple quartz, suitable for life in a fish tank, but not really for use in nice jewelry.

Here is a great example of what can be done with good use of cutting.

This "okay" light green beryl (the gem family that both aquamarine and emerald are found in) is transformed from merely pretty to extraordinary by the recutting artistry of Richard Homer. I think it is interesting to note that the cutting affects not only the sparkle and pizzas of the stone, but the eyes perceived color. Because the stone is now well cut the light is traveling through the stone and absorbing more light. This results in a prettier and more saturated color, even in the lighter stones. Here is a sapphire that we chose NOT to recut with the unique concave faceting that Richard Specializes in because it is already so saturate that to further saturate the stone might tip it over from its already incredible color to a stone that now appears too dark.

This 5 carat plus sapphire is already magnificent and although we did repolish away about a carat of it when we bought it, we went with the traditional flat faceting that would enhance the look of the gem, without the complete remake that might actually have lowered the value of the gem if it became too dark appearing. (The stone is not quite as dark as shown, sapphires do NOT like to share their beauty through photographs. It took a professional photographer to get this close to its actual beauty, a price well worth spending to be able to have this gem always in my photo gallery after it is sold.)

In short, what you should look for when buying a faceted colored gem, whether it be ruby, sapphire, emerald, aquamarine, amethyst or any other colored gem is how well did the cutter maximize the beauty of the gem. Did some native cutter slap a few facets on to make the edges sparkle and leave the center dull and open, or did a master play with the angles and facets to make the stone really sing and dance in the hearts of the viewers?

I will leave you with this traditionally faceted blue topaz, a very inexpensive stone according to most, that was tweaked with a little magic to result in this exquisite snowflake that is created by frosting the facet edges of the crown (top) of the gem. Even with the cost of the custom cutting this was a relatively inexpensive topaz and with the custom hand made mounting made a wonderful gift for a lucky lady a Christmas or two ago.

That's it for today, enjoy!


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

There's Lies, and then there's DARN lies

I saw this on a competitor's site a few weeks ago. It made me very cranky then and after having been promised that it would be changed one of my friendly competitors brought it to my attention this morning and I see that it has not.




We will beat any internet competitor's lowest advertised price on any diamond seen on pricescope.

All diamonds seen on pricescope are available to us. You will receive the absolute lowest price from us......guaranteed!!!

Once you know the diamond(s) that you are interested in please fill the following chart. XYZ Diamonds will contact you very shortly. Or, feel free to call 1 555-555-5555 and discuss the details of any diamond(s) that you have seen listed on pricescope. If calling outside of normal business hours (eastern time) please leave all the details concerning the diamond(s) and we will call you back shortly. Thanks.

Please note that XYZ Diamonds will not be responsible for any errors in pricing made by pricescope. All diamonds are subject to availability.

End Quote:

What a crock. Yes, they can get some of the diamonds listed on Pricescope, but there are many diamonds and lines of diamonds that they can not touch, such as the Cut by Infinity diamonds that I carry, or the A Cut Above diamonds by WhiteFlash. Of course, if you are looking for one of those diamonds, well they are subject to availability, of which they have NONE!!!

It saddens me to think that the American public is so easily duped, yet this company have been doing this type of thing for many years, so obviously a large enough portion of the public is this easily duped or the "fine folks" who tell these lies would have long since gone out of business. There business model is to list huge "inventory" lists of diamonds that they do not have and have never seen on their site, and if you want one of "their" diamonds they will have it drop shipped to you. They never see the stone, they never inspect the stone, and they take the word of the vendor that the stone is as specified, when in fact often it is not.

My hope for those of you reading this blog is that you are smart enough to spend a little time getting educated about the finer points of buying a diamond and make your own decision. If that company has the diamond you want and are willing to shave $10 off the price to make the sale, then wonderful. But if you want one of the truly best cut diamonds on the planet, then they will not be able to acquire them and you might actually have to pay 3-5% more for the diamond. The extra price also brings extra service, and of course the extra quality of the best cutting available for the diamond that you are buying.

Not every one will want only the best cut diamonds, but if you do, you will need to look at them with people who actually have them, not people who dropship diamonds they have never seen to people who are not qualified normally to know for sure if the diamond is in fact what it is touted to be.

As you might guess, this is one of my pet peeves. Sigh, I think I will get over it, but I will leave you with this little example of why you might want to pay a little more and be happier with your purchase.

A client called me from here in Boise. He had been searching on the internet and found three diamonds, all H&A that he wanted to look at. He agreed to pay me a slightly higher price for each stone, plus the cost of postage and insurance to bring them in and return the unbought stones. I believe the total was about $300 more for the stone he bought on a stone of more than $10,000 so less than 5% and shipping and insurance on the unbought diamonds, another $100 each round trip. Let's call them diamond A, B and C in the order in which he thought he wanted to buy them. I called the diamond owners of the diamonds, not the sites they were listed on. I specifically questioned each dealer about the stones and stressed are the diamonds Hearts and Arrows quality cutting.

"Oh, yes, they are AGS 0 cuts."

"But are they H&A?"

Oh, yes, they are AGS 0 cuts.

"I understand that, but are they H&A as well as AGS 0 cuts"

"Oh yes."

To make a long story short, diamonds A and B were not Hearts and Arrows quality cutting. Diamond C that he almost did not let me bring in to save the $100 in shipping and insurance costs was the only legitimate H&A cut in the batch, AND it was the least expensive of the three stones by several hundred dollars. So my client, buy spending a little more for service, actually saved money in the long run, and will never have the "experience" of finding out somewhere down the road that he did not get what he thought he was paying for.

By the way, when we sat down, I put all three diamonds before him to let him choose, and he immediately gravitated towards the H&A cut diamond as being the most sparkly of the three. Sometimes you can tell, sometimes you can not. Me personally, I think it is always wise to let your eyes do the walking. If you can not be in a place to let YOUR eyes do the walking, then maybe you want to be talking with someone who has good eyes and is willing to let their eyes do your walking. It is up to you, but please do not be fooled by someone willing to lie and say that they have access to all the diamonds listed on Pricescope, when they are NOT EVEN CLOSE to be able to access all of the diamonds.


Monday, March 27, 2006

When Bad Things Happen - Part Deux

If you did not already read part one, please drop down a notch and read it before reading part 2. It will be hard to appreciate the difference if you do not see both the before and after pictures.

Here is the main concern, the 2ct plus diamond ring that was inherited from our client's mom. Hard to believe that this beautiful ring was repaired from the horribly damaged ring in our last post.

If it strains your credulity this is a good thing, as we simply could not ever have made it look good again, not really good. Using the original ring as a guide we actually made a brand new ring for our client. First we had to repair the minor chips around the edge of her diamond, and this is the result. A worthy effort!

The 5 stone ring was much easier and was in fact quickly repaired to its original beauty. None of the stones were damaged, which made it even easier.

The tanzanite was a total transformation. Since it was going to require extensive repair to the stone we decided on getting a Richard Homer recut. He not only completely repaired the stone, but transformed it from beautiful to FANTASTIC. This picture is a poor representation of what he accomplished, but you will see the idea.

Here is the finished pendant, perhaps a better view of the stone and certainly a major transformation from the original badly bent up pendnat mounting. From looking at that mounting in the before picture, it is hard to imagine it ever actually holding such a beautiful stone as this.

I hope you enjoyed seeing the ability of modern jewelery to repair not only the metal, but the stones in a damaged piece of jewelry. Diamonds, rubies, sapphires or tanzanites are easily recut and repaired if there is a sufficient amount of the original stone left to work with. Contact your local jeweler if you have any problems, or feel to contact us at if you like.


When Bad Things Happen

Imagine that you are a houseguest. Your hostess has left for work and you decide to be a gracious guest and do the dishes. You put the dishes in the sink, run some water to fill the sink then pour the contents of a cup of soapy water into the sink and start rinsing dishes. Once you have the dishes all rinsed and in the dishwasher you pull the plug in the sink and start the disposal, only to stop it almost immediately when you hear a horrible noise.

Omigosh! You reach through the sink into the disposal and pull out two horribly mangled rings and a pendant, sadly recognizing the pendant you gave to your hostess only a month ago as a very nice thank you gift. You also recognize the ring that your hostess has to hold the diamond she inherited from her mother, only the diamond is not in the disposal.

If you are not getting sort of a sick feeling in your stomach, you are not imagining very well, try harder!

Now, imagine your panic. You frantically call the plumber who comes out right away, (you were VERY persuasive!) and takes apart first the trap where you did not find the diamond, then looks with a flash light through the pipe and there, about an inch away from dropping forever into the sewer lies the diamond, several inches away from the opening of the pipe. Discussions are had, a coat hanger is found and bent into a narro crook and carefully, ever so slowly extended into the narrow pipe, knowing that one miscue and the diamond will be lost forever.

Finally the plumber pulls slowly and sighs with relief, the diamond is coming back. It is chipped, omigosh! It looks pretty good, but there is a chip on one side. Now, where is that tanzanite?

Why it was trapped in the disposal, and it is damaged too.

What in the HECK do you do now???

Out of time for now, must get to work, more later...


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Buying gems in Thailand Part Deux

The gentleman seated is the buyer's agent that I spoke about, this photo will give you an idea of the mob scene that we were subjected to for several hours in the morning, and again in the afternoon after lunch, although we did have seats in the upstairs bourse in the afternoon and there was lots more air to breath, although the din was even louder than it had been in the morning. Buying gems at the weekly market is not for those seeking solitude or quiet!

You may remember that I was excited to purchase a beautiful colored blue zircon that was poorly cut in my last post. I did not get around to telling you why.

One of the main reasons that I wanted to go to Thailand was to buy poorly cut gems that had extra weight in the pavilion (bottom) of the stone. This would allow me to have them recut by Richard Homer into gems of spectacular beauty for a fraction of the price of having to buy the gems already cut.

This would allow me to sell them for less than I would normally have to sell them for, and still make as much or more money than I would selling them at the higher price. In fact I sold several of the gems that I bought to wholesalers for the same price I sell them to my clients for, and they sell them to jewelers who sell them for way more than I do. I look at this as sort of a major win for me, and also a major win for my clients, whether they be wholesalers or end users. Plus I get to travel to one of the most friendly places on earth. I really loved the Thai people, they were warm and hospitable to me and my associates and it was truly a pleasure to be there.

Of course, we were not the only buyers there. We met buyers from all over the world, including Sri Lanka, where some of the gems actually came from. At the bottom of this post there is a picture of an indian buyer that we talked with. Even though I was exstatic at the prices I was paying, he was somewhat put off that we were paying so much. Since we were "paying too much" we had been offered some of the stones that he might have bought had we not been there. Mostly though we were not competing as the stones he wanted were usually different than what I wanted. He bought several parcels of hundreds of carats of mele (very small stones, usually less than .15cts, often as small as .005cts each) for manufacturing lines of jewelry at his factory in India.

Anyway, also at the bottom of this post you will find the blue zircon that I talked about above. It is shown in a composit photo containing both the before and the after. You will notice the substantial color change that is seen from the before to the more saturated and intense color of the after. This is a result of Richard Homer's artistry. You can see many more of his gems at If you want one of his stones you can contact me or deal directly with Richard. If you go directly with Richard, be sure to mention my name as he will give you a 10% discount for doing so.

In fact if you want to visit my colleagues page at you can visit many fine sources of both gems and diamonds.

During the course of the day we bought, just the five us, well over $100,000 worth of gems and we were without doubt the smallest buyers there. I think the buyer's house does VERY well with it's 5% commission.


Buying gems in Thailand

Today we will take a short visit back in time to a trip I took about three years ago to Thailand. It was both business and pleasure, as my wife came with me to celebrate our 30th anniversary, which had been only a month earlier.

The small package shown here on the left is the result of a quite interesting procceedure that was in fact the highlight of the trip for me.

Early in the morning, five buyers including myself piled into a shared van and drove about 3 hours from Bangkok to a small city called Chantiburi. It was a fascinating drive as we drove out of the big city of Bangkok and were quickly into rural areas. We saw lush greens, some fertile farms, and even areas where the houses were built on pilings so that the floors would be out of the water during the rainy season. You would almost have to have traveled yourself to understand the juxtoposition of the very poor next to the land of the prosperous, a shocking contrast that is rarely seen in this country.

On arrival in Chantaburi we were taken to a buyer's office. This was a very fascinating experience for me. The main floor was completely full, so we were taken to a room in the downstairs where the five of us were seated along the back wall. Each of us had a pad of paper, you know the kind, maybe 24 or so inches wide where you can rip off the top sheet when you have gotten it covered in notes. We also had a loupe, a pair of tweezers, a stone scoop and a calculator at each position. The five of us were seated on one side of the table, literally elbow to elbow and on the other side of the table sat the buyer's agent, who spoke English sufficient to our needs.

He asked each of us what we wanted to look at first and then turned to the door at his back and hollered out what each of us were looking for. Instantly fifty or sixty people crammed into the room and started thrusting stones at us, each in its own plastic bag if we were looking for larger stones, or in parcels of small stones if we were looking at smaller stones. I was looking for a nice blue zircon first and almost immediately someone reached a hand over the lady in front of him and dumped a parcel of stones onto my pad.

I turned to the buyers agent and said I had no interest, how did I tell him? He said scoop the stones and put them back into the bag, wave him off. I did. The lady he had shoved aside stood patiently and then thrust her hand into my face with a stone of gorgeous color but hideous native cutting, exactly what I wanted. I turned to the buyers agent and asked how do I ask the price?

He said, just point to the calculator. By the time I had turned back to her to point to the calculator she already had it in her hand and was entering in a number. I knew this from discussions with my companions on the way to Chantiburi to be the price per carat, in baht. I had to divide the number by the conversion rate to get the price in dollars, then divide that in 10 and then convert that back in to baht to show her my offer. I was trembling in my boots like a rookie poker player with a big hand hoping to get paid. (Okay, so I wasn't wearing boots, but you know what I mean.)

She looked at my offer, screamed something at me which I choose to translate as "You Crazy!" and input a new number into the calculator. I did the math again and found she was asking about 15% of her original price, a price well below what I had expected to pay so I offered 12% and a deal was struck.

I turned again to the buyer's agent and he told me to fill in one of the little offer sheets that I had. I did. He took the sheet, wrapped it around the plastic bag that we had put the stone back into and wrapped the whole thing in toilet paper and then wrapped that both length and width wise with scotch tape. I initialed the tape, he gave me one copy of the offer, kept one for himself and gave her the other and she took the stone and scuttled through the mob and back into the outer room. I asked where she was going with my stone and the buyer's agent said to be patient and look at more stones until she came back. I did.

A few minutes later she came back into the room and handed the offer to the buyer's agent. He looked at me and said my offer had been rejected, the owner of the stone was demanding $x for the stone which was about 14% of what I was originally asked. I countered with 13% she went back out of the room and came back a few minutes later with an acceptance of my counter to her counter. At that time she left the stone with the buyer's agent who sent it upstairs to their gemologist who would verify that it was indeed blue zircon and that it was natural blue zircon. This was the case for all stones, they guaranteed the identity of the stone, and that it was natural, not synthetic, but made no guarantee of whether or not any stones had been heat treated or diffusion treated, we had to know enough about buying gems to know this for ourselves. In the event that they were wrong, we actually had full recourse, which is why were there. The buyer's agent receives a 5% commission on all stones bought, paid by the seller.

I did similar transactions two or three times over the next hour when the guy next to me finally turned and said, "Would you knock it off?! You are paying too darn much for your stones and waffling when they come back with a counter offer, you are ruining things for the rest of us!"

He went on to advise me that once I had agreed on a price to let it go if I did not get it for that price. Soon I either got or did not get the stones at the original price, as word quickly spread as to who could be bluffed and who could not.

Enough for now, we will continue this next time


Saturday, March 25, 2006

Welcome to Diamonds and Gems, the Blog for

Welcome to our world. Here you will find the world of diamonds and gems as we know it. Pictures galore and discussions about diamonds and many of the fantastic gems that we use in the creation of jewelry,

It is our hope that you will come back often and visit us often. We will discuss our buying trips to exptic places and the latest information about diamond cutting, gemstone treatments and what ever else strikes our fancy.

You are always welcome to ask questions and leave comments, especially if there are things that you are interested in that we have not yet mentioned. If comments start to get rude or abusive then we will moderate them, but if courtesy prevails then we will let you post. We have left on the requirement for you to enter in a word that you see to prevent commercial spam from being left by machines.

Just for fun, here is a lovely orange diamond that I bought in Antwerp with my wife a few years ago. We got to see the crystal the day before it was cut and listen to the story of how it was bought. She now wears it proudly many times a year.