WHAT IS STERLING SILVER?
Pure silver, also called fine silver, is relatively soft, very malleable, and easily damaged so it is commonly combined with other metals to produce a more durable product. The most popular of these alloys is sterling silver, which consists of 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent copper. Although any metal can make up the 7.5 percent non-silver portion of sterling, centuries of experimentation have shown copper to be its best companion, improving the metal's hardness and durability without affecting its beautiful color. The small amount of copper added to sterling has very little effect on the metal's value. Instead, the price of the silver item is affected by the labor involved in making the item, the skill of the craftsperson, and the intricacy of the design.
CAREING YOUR STERLING SILVER
With proper care, your fine quality silver will last a lifetime. To minimize scratches and other damage, store your silver jewelry either in a cloth pouch or in a separate compartment in your jewelry box. Avoid exposing your silver to household chemicals when cleaning with bleach or ammonia, or when swimming in chlorinated water, as these chemicals can damage silver.
WHAT IS PEARL?
A pearl is a living gem, and each pearl is a miracle of nature.
Pearls, natural or cultured, are formed when a mollusk produces layers of nacre around some type of irritant inside its shell. In natural pearls, the irritant may be another organism from the water. In cultured pearls, a mother-of-pearl bead or a piece of tissue is inserted (by man) into the mollusk to start the process.
Natural pearls are extremely rare. Historically, many were found in the Persian Gulf; unfortunately, today, most have already been harvested. You may be able to purchase small, natural pearls, but they will be costly.
Cultured pearls are grown in pearl farms. The mollusks are raised until they are old enough to accept the mother-of-pearl bead nucleus. Through a delicate surgical procedure, the technician implants the bead and then the mollusks are returned to the water and cared for while the pearl forms.
Not all produce a pearl; and not all the pearls are high quality. Over 10,000 pearls may be sorted before a 16” single strand of beautifully matched pearls is assembled.
Pearls can be found in saltwater and in freshwater. There are also different types of mollusks that produce very different looking pearls.
Saltwater pearls include the akoya cultured pearls grown in Japanese and Chinese waters. They range in size from 2mm (tiny) to 10mm (rare) and are usually white or cream in color and round in shape.
Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines produce the South Sea pearl – the largest of all the pearls. They range in size from 9mm to 20mm and can be naturally white, cream, or golden in color.
Tahitian pearls are interestingly not exclusively from Tahiti – they’re grown in several of the islands of French Polynesia, including Tahiti. Their typical sizes range from 8mm to 16mm. These naturally colored pearls are collectively called black pearls, but their colors include gray, blue, green, and purple.
These pearls are grown in freshwater lakes, rivers, and ponds, predominately in China. Although many are white and resemble the akoya cultured pearls in shape and size, they can also be produced in various shapes and in an array of pastel colors.
Many freshwater pearls don’t have a bead nucleus — only a piece of tissue — resulting in a pearl with thicker nacre than the akoya.
Imitation pearls are usually a coated glass bead. Most have a high luster, but not the depth of luster seen on high quality cultured pearls.
can easily separate an imitation from a cultured or natural pearl. It can be a challenge, though, to determine if the pearl is cultured or natural. And, many pearls undergo treatments to either enhance their luster or alter their color.
Gold one of the world's most precious metal. Because of the softness of pure (24k) gold, it is usually alloyed with base metals for use in jewelry, altering its hardness and ductility, melting point, color and other properties. Alloys with lower karat rating, typically 22k, 18k, 14k or 10k, contain higher percentages of copper or other base metals or silver or palladium in the alloy.
Gold Purity Chart
24 karat = 100% gold or Pure gold
22 karat = 91.7 % gold
18 karat = 75.0 % gold
14 karat = 58.3 % gold
12 karat = 50.0 % gold
10 karat = 41.7 % gold
CARING YOUR GOLD
Always separate your gold jewelry in a compartmentalized jewelry box or keep them individually wrapped. This protects against scratching.
Remove all jewelry before showering or cleaning. Soap can cause a film to form on karat gold jewelry, making it appear dull and dingy. By preventing the formation of this film, you immediately reduce the occasions your pieces will need to be cleaned.
The Diamonds Quality Pyramid is a framework to help you compare diamonds. While all diamonds are precious, those closest to the top of the pyramid -- possessing the best combination of cut, clarity, carat weight and color -- are the earth's rarest, most valuable and most beautiful to the eye.
CARAT - The Larger a Diamond, the More Rare
Larger diamonds are found relatively infrequently in nature, which places them at the rarest level of the Diamond Quality Pyramid. What also makes a bigger diamond so desirable is that it shows off a stone's fine color and cut, and therefore its brilliance, to its best advantage.
A diamond's size is measured in carat weight, and each carat is equal to 100 points. A .75 carat diamond is the same as a 75-point diamond or a 3/4 carat stone.
While larger diamonds are highly prized, diamonds of equal size may vary widely in value and brilliance, depending on their qualities of clarity, cut, and color.
CLARITY - The Purer a Diamond, the More Brilliant
The greater a diamond's clarity, the more brilliant, valuable and rare it is -- and the higher it is on the Diamond Quality Pyramid.
Virtually all natural diamonds contain identifying characteristics, yet many are invisible to the naked eye. Under the scrutiny of a jeweler's 10x-magnifying loupe or microscope, natural phenomena -- called inclusions -- may be seen. These are nature's birthmarks, and they may look like tiny crystals, clouds, or feathers.
Diamonds categorized as internally flawless reveal no such inclusions. Flawless stones are at the peak of the Diamond Quality Pyramid and are treasured for their rarity and beauty. Diamonds with very, very small inclusions are graded as VVS1 or VVS2. The larger the inclusion, the lower the grade and the less rare the diamond. Inclusions that can be seen with the naked eye are graded I1 or I3.
The number, color, type, size and position of surface and internal birthmarks affect a diamond's value. Major inclusions can interfere with the path of light that travels through a diamond, diminishing its brilliance and sparkle and therefore its value.
COLOR - The More Pure the Color in a Diamond, the More Rare
Diamonds are graded by color, starting at D and continuing through the alphabet. Truly colorless stones, graded D, treasured for their rarity and value, are highest on the Diamond Quality Pyramid.
While many diamonds appear colorless, they may have subtle yellow or brown tones and these color grades include P and Q. Although still beautiful, they will be less rare and therefore less valuable. To appreciate the simple beauty of each individual stone, you should compare diamonds side by side with a jeweler.
"Fancy" diamonds -- in well-defined colors that include red, pink, blue, green and canary yellow -- are highly prized and particularly rare.
CUT - The Better Cut a Diamond, the More Brilliant
A well cut or faceted diamond, regardless of its shape, scintillates with fire and light -- offering the greatest brilliance and value.
While nature determines a diamond's clarity, carat weight and color, the hand of a master craftsman is necessary to release its fire, sparkle and beauty. When a diamond is cut to good proportions, light will reflect from one mirror-like facet to another and disperse through the top of the stone, resulting in a display of brilliance and fire.
Diamonds that are cut too deep or too shallow lose light that spills through the side or bottom. As a result, poorly cut stones will be less brilliant and beautiful -- and certainly less valuable -- than well cut diamonds higher on the Diamond Quality Pyramid.
For centuries, men and women have found that the sparkle and brilliance of a quality diamond expresses their deepest emotions and symbolizes their enduring love. Yet with many beautiful diamonds to choose from -- and no two alike -- how do you pick the right diamond while spending wisely? The Diamond Quality Pyramid and the 4Cs, along with the guidance of a trusted jeweler, will lead you to the answer.