• garnets
    Birthstones,  Education,  Gemstones

    Garnet: January’s Birthstone

    Happy birthday, January babies! Your lovely birthstone is garnet. Lets take a look at what makes this precious stone so special.

    An Ancient Adornment

    The name “garnet” comes from the Latin word granatus, which means “pomegranate.” Though this gem is usually found in its deep red variety (hence the name), it actually comes in orange, yellow, purple and even green too!

    Artifacts featuring red garnets have been found across the ancient world. From Egyptian necklaces to Roman signet rings to the favorite adornments of medieval clergy and nobles, it’s easy to see that garnets were a highly valued gem.

    Gorgeous garnet and diamond ring in 14kt white gold – available here!

    This trend continued into more modern eras too, especially among the Victorians. Lovely red garnets were used as embellishments for everything from hair combs to choker-style necklaces. During this time, most garnets were mined in Bohemia, which was famous for these exquisite gems.

    Today, the vast majority are mined in Africa, but believe it or not, Southern California was once know for producing them too! In fact, various deposits are scattered across the globe, all the way from Afghanistan to Brazil.

    Care & Keeping

    Interestingly, not all garnets have the same hardness rating on the Mohs scale. These beauties can range anywhere between 6.5 to 7.5, making them a stone that requires a bit more care. That’s why you’ll often find garnets set in earrings, pendants or fashion rings rather than engagement rings. That way your garnet is not subjected to the various bumps and scrapes of daily wear.

    All that being said, it’s super easy to clean garnets. Warm soapy water and a soft brush will get the job done at home, or you can use an ultrasonic cleaner (so long as you’re sure your garnet is not fractured/fracture filled). However, always be sure to store your garnet jewelry away from other jewelry. Harder stones (like diamonds, rubies, or sapphires) can scratch it, while garnets themselves can scratch softer stones (like pearls or opal).

    January Gift Guide

    Looking for the perfect birthday gift for that special someone? Here’s a small selection of a few of our favorite garnet pieces.

    Sterling Silver Garnet Studs

    These dainty earrings are an affordable birthstone gift for that special someone–just $142!

    Le Vian 1.90ct Rhodelite Garnet & .13ct Diamond Pendant

    You can never go wrong with a designer piece from Le Vian! This gorgeous 14kt gold pendant is only $849!

    Le Vian 0.65ct Purple Garnet & .42ct Diamond Ring

    For a nontraditional choice, how about this purple garnet ring–also by Le Vian! This gorgeous piece is only $1,199!

    Shop the entire collection of garnet jewelry here, stop by one of our stores, or use our Contactless Concierge service! We hope to serve you soon!

  • an oval peridot and a pear shaped peridot
    Birthstones,  Education,  Gemstones

    Peridot – August’s Birthstone

    Ranging from grassy green to yellowish green, peridot is the captivating birthstone of August. For thousands of years, peridot’s unique green hues have been treasured—and often mistaken for other gems! Today, we’ll learn a little bit about where peridot comes from, what makes it special, and how to care for it.

    From the Sky to the Earth

    Peridot is found across the world in places like China, Myanmar, Pakistan, Tanzania, Vietnam, and here the United States. Arizona is the main source in America, but Hawaii is home to the famous “Peridot Beach,” which awes visitors with its luminous green sands.

    Most of these peridot deposits were formed under extreme conditions by the earth itself, but did you know that some came from meteorites? That’s right–some deposits of gem quality peridot actually traveled all the way from outer space!

    peridot cocktail ring

    14kt White Gold Peridot & Diamond Estate Ring

    A stunning pear-shaped natural peridot set in white gold and surrounded by diamonds.

    No matter its origins, peridot has been a favorite gem for thousands of years, but its various green hues have also caused confusion. Lighter peridot has often been confused for green topaz, while its deeper green shades have been mistaken for emerald. In fact, many famous collections of “emeralds” actually turned out to be collections of peridot!

    Like many gemstones, ancient people believed peridot would protect them from evil spirits and nightmares. While we may not believe that today, peridot’s allure has remained unchanged. In addition to being August’s birthstone, peridot is also given to celebrate the 16th wedding anniversary.

    Care & Keeping

    Peridot is around 6.5 to 7.0 on the Mohs scale of hardness, which means it’s a bit softer than other favorites like sapphires or rubies. While you might not want to choose peridot for an everyday ring, it’s an excellent choice for earrings, pendants, and formal wear rings.

    oval cut peridot earrings

    14kt White Gold Peridot Earrings

    Perfect for everyday wear, these oval cut peridot earrings are set in classic white gold.

    Not only will you want to store peridot away from other gems (it could be scratched by tougher stones like diamonds), you’ll also want to take extra care when cleaning. Never use a steamer or ultrasonic cleaner, as these processes can permanently damage your stone! A gentle combination of warm water and mild soap will do the job just fine, but we can always do a thorough cleaning for you at our showrooms or corporate office!

    If you’re in the market for the perfect August birthday gift or simply a peridot lover, why not drop by our showrooms and take a look? Or, if you’d rather shop from the comfort of your own home, take a look at our full collection online here! We hope to serve you soon!

  • two rubies
    Birthstones,  Education,  Gemstones

    Ruby: July’s Birthstone

    If you were born in July, your birthstone is one of the longest-loved gemstones of all: the ruby. Named for its gorgeous red hues—the latin word for red was ruber—this gem has been treasured for thousands of years. Let’s take a look at why it was deemed so special and why it continues to captivate today!

    The King of Precious Stones

    Breath-taking ruby pendant crafted from gold and accented by diamonds – available here!

    All across the world, references to rubies can be found dating back millennia. In ancient India, rubies were known as “the king of precious stones.” In the Bible, rubies were associated with wisdom and beauty. To others, these fiery stones were believed to bring peace and even rebirth its wearer.

    Though these associations may have faded in hearts and minds of people today, the ruby’s allure certainly hasn’t! In fact, rubies can still command the highest per-carat price of ANY colored stone—including colored diamonds!

    The Most Valuable Form of Corundum

    Absolutely stunning two-tone engagement ring featuring a high-quality ruby at its center – available here!

    Did you know that rubies and sapphires are made of the same mineral called corundum? Though their mineral make-up is virtually identical, tiny amounts of trace elements make all the difference! Believe it or not, a little bit of chromium is all it takes to produce those famous red to pinkish hues—turning a would-be sapphire into a ruby!

    So, why are those red hues more valuable than all the others? As usual, it’s all about rarity, and high-quality rubies above one carat are extraordinarily rare. That’s why certain treatments to improve the color and appearance of less rare rubies—say, one that’s light pink or one with an abundance of inclusions—have become commonplace.

    The most common of these treatment is the application of extreme heat. Amazingly, temperatures of up to 3300ยฐF can turn a pale stone into a vibrant one! Similarly, “lead glass filling” can be used to turn a highly fractured ruby into one that appears quite transparent, allowing more light to pass through the stone to show off its gorgeous facets.

    Caring for Your Ruby

    Stunning ruby & diamond wedding set – available at our Brentwood showroom!

    With a hardness rating of 9.0 on the Mohs scale, rubies are exceptionally durable stones that are well-suited to daily wear. However, it’s important to know if your ruby has received any of the the treatments described above so that you can properly care for it.

    For example, if your ruby has undergone the fracture-filling process, you should never use an ultrasonic cleaner, and you’ll want to keep it away from any sort of acid (i.e., lemon juice). That said, soap and warm water is perfectly safe and more than enough to keep your ruby shining. In fact, simply using a damp cloth will work wonders, too! When in doubt about how your stone has been treated, always play it safe!

    Why not stop by our stores and check out our collection of ruby jewelry in person or browse right here online!

    We hope to serve you soon!

  • alexandrite and black pearl
    Birthstones,  Education,  Gemstones

    Pearl & Alexandrite – June’s Birthstones

    June babies are lucky enough to get two very unique birthstones to choose from: pearl & alexandrite! You’ve probably seen a pearl before, but you may not have seen an alexandrite up close and personal. Let’s take a look at these gorgeous stones and see which one you would choose (or, why not choose both?)!


    Unlike most gemstones, pearls actually grow within a living organism! When some type of irritant—like a piece of sand—enters the shell of an oyster, a pearl can begin to form. Layer by layer, the oyster covers this irritant with nacre, which is the iridescent material pearls are famous for. Since this is actually quite rare, pearls are now cultured on farms across the world to encourage this process.

    A creamy white pearl surrounded by diamonds – available here!

    While nacre is stunningly gorgeous, this special material is in need of extra care and protection. Pearls are only a 2.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness (for reference, a diamond is a 10), so they are very vulnerable to bumps and scratches which can permanently damage the nacre. It’s for that very reason that pearls are commonly fashioned into necklaces, bracelets or earrings, because these types of jewelry are less likely to result in wear & tear. Nonetheless, pearls can definitely be fashioned into rings as well—like the beautiful example above—they just need a little extra care!

    Though it’s always a good idea to remove your rings when washing your hands or doing manual work, this is especially important for pearls. In fact, when it comes to cleaning your pearl jewelry, you won’t usually need to use water at all! Instead, wiping gently with an extra soft towel is typically sufficient. To learn more about care, cleaning and buying tips for pearls, check out our article here!


    “Emerald by day, ruby by night” – that’s how the finest alexandrite has been described since its discovery in the 1800s. Why? Because alexandrite’s color actually changes based on the light! This awesome quality makes alexandrite quite rare and one of the more expensive colored gemstones available today, making its lab-created variety an attractive alternative. We have a few pieces of lab-created alexandrite at our Hendersonville showroom, but we can always order its natural variety too!

    Depending on the light, fine alexandrite like this lab-created stone can range from green to purple to red!

    Alexandrite’s color-changing ability isn’t the only thing that makes it desirable, though—this stone is also very durable, coming in at 8.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness. That makes it absolutely perfect for daily wear without having to worry too much about accidental damage. Plus, cleaning your alexandrite jewelry is a breeze—warm, soapy water can usually get the job done, but ultrasonic cleaners are safe too!

    So, which of these beauties would you choose? Lustrous pearls or color-changing alexandrite? We’d love to show you both in person, so why not stop by our showrooms? Alexandrite is in stock at our Hendersonville store, but we have all kinds of pearls at both stores!

    As always, you can shop online too! Check out our alexandrite collection here and our pearl collection here!

    We hope to see you!

  • two emeralds
    Birthstones,  Education

    Emerald – May’s Birthstone

    Emerald has long been treasured for its unique and beautiful green hue. Indeed, the name “emerald” comes from the Greek word smaragdus meaning “green gem”. Today, we’ll take a look at this captivating stone and see why it makes the perfect gift for May babies!

    Ancient & Royal

    A diamond and emerald ring crafted from white gold – available here!

    Did you know Cleopatra had an affinity for emeralds? In fact, she’s only one of many royals throughout history who fell in love with this fascinating gem. From the Inca emperors to the monarchs of Spain, emeralds have been the focal point of royal regalia for centuries.

    Like many gems, emeralds were long believed to endow their wearer with special protection or even magical powers. For example, in Ancient Rome, emeralds were believed to soothe tired eyes and weary souls. Believe it or not, they may have been onto something—modern science has found the color green to aid in stress relief and has even experimented with its use in treatment for migraine headaches!

    Caring for Emerald

    A stunning diamond and emerald pendant set in white gold – available here!

    Part of what makes each and every emerald so unique is their proclivity for inclusions (minerals, fractures or “imperfections” trapped within the stone). It’s exceedingly rare to find an emerald with little to no inclusions, because emeralds are one of the softer precious gems. With a 7.5 rating on the Mohs scale, emeralds are prone to fractures and scratching, giving each stone its very own signature look.

    Because of this quality, most emeralds go through a few treatments before they make their way into a piece of treasured jewelry. For example, fracture filling is very commonly used to improve the apparent clarity of the stone, and paler emeralds are sometimes dyed to bring out that coveted green hue.

    With all that in mind, it’s easy to see why emerald jewelry requires a little extra love. For example, you should never use harsh chemicals, high temperatures or ultrasonic cleaners to care for your emerald treasures. Even wearing a filled emerald while washing the dishes could cause damage, so it’s always best to remove your emerald jewelry before doing cooking or cleaning.

    Nonetheless, emeralds make timeless treasures and are well-worth the effort. If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind gemstone, a natural emerald is hard to beat! If you love that green hue but prefer crystal-clear gems, a lab created emerald would be perfect!

    We’d love to help you find the perfect emerald gift for that special someone (or for you!). Why not pop into our Hendersonville store and see what we have on display? Or, take a look online from the comfort of your own home! And don’t forget—if you don’t see why you like, we can always custom design the piece you’re dreaming of!

  • pear shaped fancy color diamond and princess cut diamond
    Birthstones,  Diamonds,  Education

    Diamond – April’s Birthstone

    The birthstone for April babies is probably the best known gemstone of all time: diamond. Let’s take a look at what makes this timeless stone such a classic–plus a perfect gift!

    A Tough Treasure

    There’s no denying that diamonds are uniquely beautiful. No matter a diamond’s hue–ranging from fancy color to nearly colorless—no other gem sparkles quite like a diamond.

    While that fact alone makes diamonds an obvious choice for jewelry-making, it’s far from all this wonderful stone has to offer! In fact, probably the best known quality of a diamond is its unsurpassed hardness, reigning at the very top of the Mohs scale (a perfect 10). For this reason, diamonds not only make excellent tools in industrial settings, but also extremely durable treasures, able to be enjoyed by generations to come.

    Stunning white gold & diamond ring – available here!

    On a day-to-day basis, a diamond’s hardness brings peace of mind, too. Though you always want to be careful with your jewelry, diamonds simply aren’t as fragile as other gemstones, which makes care and cleaning a breeze. Warm soap and water or ultrasonic cleaners are great, easy choices that will bring out that famous sparkle!

    Get the Look for Less

    Though diamonds come in nearly every color of the rainbow, it’s the classic white variety that is associated with April. If you’re looking for a more affordable option or simply prefer other gemstones, cubic zirconia (CZ), white sapphire, and even moissanite make stunning diamond alternatives!

    Cubic zirconia & silver heart-shaped pendant – available here!

    Cubic zirconia is the most affordable of the bunch, offering its own unique sparkle as well as a hardness grade of 8 on the Mohs scale. White sapphire—particularly the lab-created variety—would be your next most affordable option. Sapphire boasts a hardness grade of 9 on the Mohs scale, making it great for daily wear! Then there’s moissanite, a synthetic stone that’s growing in popularity due to its fiery sparkle and impressive hardness, coming it at 9.5 on the Mohs scale.

    Whichever you choose, a piece of birthstone jewelry is always a great gift–or a great way to treat yourself! Though our store locations are temporarily closed, why not browse our collection online?!

    Check out the links below to browse by gemstone:

    Cubic Zirconia
    White Sapphire

  • close up of abalone shell
    Education,  Gemstones,  Miscellaneous

    Abalone – Treasure from the Sea

    If you’re no stranger to fine jewelry, you’ve probably seen a classic strand of pearls or a beautiful watch with a mother-of-pearl dial, but have you come across a piece featuring abalone?

    You may already know that mother-of-pearl is derived from the nacre of mollusks (the highly iridescent inner layer of the shell). Abalone is actually a specific type of mother-of-pearl, derived solely from the group of sea snails known commonly by the same name.

    The inside of an abalone seashell

    While other mollusks typically produce a milky nacre, abalone snails produce a darker material with more dramatic colors. These snails are found in seas around the world, including off the coast of California! Sadly, many of these snails are facing extinction in the wild, but abalone farming is helping to combat this risk. For this reason, abalone is rarer and typically more valuable than regular mother-of-pearl.

    Check out this gorgeous EFFY abalone ring – available here!

    One of the really cool things about abalone is the way light affects its appearance. Check out the difference in the image above–direct light brings out a bright rainbow of color, while indirect light reveals rich purples and greens.

    This Damascus steel knife features a mesmerizing abalone handle – available here!

    If you’re looking for a truly one-of-a-kind piece, look no further than abalone. Every single abalone shell produces a unique iridescent pattern, making it a perfect decorative element on everything from guitars and knives to jewelry and watches.

    You can view our collection of abalone jewelry and gifts online or come see it in person! We carry unique pieces at both of our retail locations.

    We hope to see you!

  • bloodstone and aquamarine
    Birthstones,  Education,  Gemstones

    Aquamarine & Bloodstone – March’s Birthstones

    When it comes to birthstones, March babies have two distinct choices: aquamarine and bloodstone! Let’s dive into what makes these stones unique.


    When you look into aquamarine, it’s like gazing into crystal clear waters–and that’s precisely how it got its name! With hues ranging from deep green-blue to light aqua, it’s easy to see why “aquamarine” was named for the Latin word for seawater.

    This aquamarine ring by EFFY is a stunning example of that coveted crystal-clear hue – available here!

    For this reason, ancient sailors came to believe that it could keep them safe at sea, and aquamarine’s reputation for protection has followed it all the way into the modern era. Not only is it known as a calming charm, it has also come to symbolize purity of spirit and soul.

    The two largest sources of aquamarine are Brazil and Pakistan, but this lovely stone is also found throughout Africa, Asia and even in parts of the United States!

    Another stunning example of crystal-clear aquamarine – available here!

    When it comes to durability, aquamarine is tough enough for daily wear–coming in at 7.5-8.0 on the Mohs scale–which makes it perfect for gifts meant to last a lifetime and beyond.

    Aquamarine is also super easy to clean–just a bit of mild dish soap and warm water will usually do the trick, but ultrasonic cleaners are typically safe too.


    Bloodstone, also known as heliotrope, is the lesser known birthstone of March, but it has a long and fascinating history of its own. A type of chalcedony, bloodstone is typically dark green with red inclusions of iron, giving it the appearance of being speckled with blood.

    Believe it or not, ancient Christians believed this stone held religious significance, as the blood red spots were seen to represent the blood of Christ.

    Outside of Christianity, bloodstone was thought to give the wearer strength and youthfulness and is still sometimes used as a lucky charm for modern athletes.

    Though bloodstones have been found all across the earth, almost all that is sold today comes from India. Often times it can be found as pebbles in riverbeds!

    Unlike aquamarine, bloodstone is quite soft–with a rating of 6.5-7 on the Mohs scale–but this makes it perfect for carving or other unique uses. It can also be cleaned with warm water and bit of mild soap, but extra care should be taken to ensure bloodstone is not exposed to extreme temperatures or scratched.

    Though we don’t have bloodstone jewelry on display, we can always order or custom-design a bloodstone piece just for you!

    Stop by either of our store locations to see our aquamarine collection or to find the perfect bloodstone piece! We hope to serve you soon!

  • close up of diamond ring
    Diamonds,  Education

    The 4C’s: Carat Weight

    Carat weight might be the most obvious and straight-forward feature of diamond grading. The metric carat is simply the special unit of weight for diamonds and gemstones, and 1 carat equates to 0.200 gram or 0.007 ounce. Diamond grades are as precise as possible when it comes to carat weight, so let’s take a look at what this process entails and how to understand specific weights.

    Carats & Points

    Diamonds are often so tiny and light-weight that even the metric carat has to be subdivided to produce a precise measurement. That’s why you’ll usually see carat weight expressed as a decimal, like 0.25ct or 1.55ct, but you may also come across something called points. One point (pt) is equal to 0.1 carat (ct).

    100 points = 1 carat

    Points and decimals allow these tiny gems to be weighed super accurately, but you might also see carat weight expressed as a fraction, like 9/10ct or 3/8ct. However, it’s important to note that fractions are often less precise measurements. Typically, the fraction is actually referring to a range of weights rather than a specific measurement, so a diamond marked 9/10ct might actually weigh 0.90-0.95ct. If you come across a fraction weight, think of it as approximate rather than exact.

    You can use the interactive tool below to see how carat weights compare!

    How Diamonds are Weighed

    Electronic scales are the most accurate tools for measuring gem weight. The best are so precise that they can weigh a diamond all the way down to .001ct (or 1/10 point)! Once an unset diamond is placed on the scale, its weight is read digitally in an instant. From there, the diamond’s weight might be recorded exactly as it is, or it may be rounded up or down to the nearest point (or 1/100ct).

    For example, let’s say the scale reads 1.004ct. A diamond grader might record the weight as is, or they might take that number and round it down, labeling the diamond as 1.00ct. Similarly, a diamond which weighs 0.995ct might actually be rounded up, labeling it 1.00ct as well.

    Rounding the weight might seem counterproductive or even imprecise, but even when rounded, diamond weights are accurate to 35 millionths of an ounce! Rest assured that rounding such tiny amounts up or down does not significantly impact a diamond’s final value.

    How Weight Affects Value

    For diamonds, pricing isn’t as straightforward as other things sold by weight. For example, let’s say the price of gold is $1000 per ounce. No matter how many ounces of gold you want to buy, you can just multiply your amount by the per ounce price. So, if you wanted a three ounce bar of gold, you could expect to pay $3000. This is not the case for diamonds!

    When it comes to diamonds, value is all about rarity. So, let’s say you’re looking at a 0.50ct diamond priced at $1,500. Based on that price, you might assume that a 1.00ct diamond of comparable quality would cost you $3000. However, a 1.00ct diamond will actually cost up to 4 times more than a 0.50ct diamond!

    Why? Because a 1.00ct diamond is much more rare than a 0.50ct diamond, and sizes over 1.00ct only get rarer!

    Putting It All Together

    close up of round cut diamond

    When you’re on the hunt for a diamond, you’ll come across many different stones of the same carat weight and cut style, yet they’ll likely be priced differently. Let’s say you’re looking at two round brilliant 1.00ct diamonds, one priced at $3000 and the other $2000. If you’ve made it this far in our blog series, you’ll have a good idea why! Put simply, the higher priced diamond is more rare.

    Now, based on that, you might assume that all comparable diamonds of the same weight will cost about the same—but they don’t! Believe it or not, a princess cut diamond with the same grade and weight as a round brilliant diamond will actually cost up to 25% less! That’s because all factors of the 4C’s come together to produce a diamond’s final value, and a princess cut simply costs less to produce. On the flip-side, that means you can get a larger princess cut diamond for the same price as a smaller round brilliant!

    When it comes to diamond color, you might find that a 1.00ct natural blue diamond is much more expensive than a 1.00ct white diamond—even if the blue diamond is graded lower in cut and clarity! Why? Because it’s rare enough to find a naturally blue diamond at all—let alone one that weighs 1.00ct after being cut! By the same token, you might find a 1.00ct color-enhanced blue diamond that’s actually less expensive than a 1.00ct white diamond of the same clarity.

    As you can see, each of the 4C’s can raise or lower a diamond’s value in unique ways, and now you know why! If you missed our other posts on clarity, color, and cut, check them out for more details on how each factor affects value.

    If you still have questions, we’d love to help you further! Why not send us a message or pop into one of our stores?

    You can also browse our extensive collection of diamonds and diamond jewelry right here on our website!

    We hope to serve you soon!

  • close up of diamond ring
    Diamonds,  Education

    The 4C’s: Clarity

    Today, we’re going to dive into another part of the 4C’s: clarity. In this context, clarity is defined as “a diamond’s freedom from blemishes and inclusions.” The more free the stone is, the higher the final value will be. Let’s take a look at what these clarity characteristics are and how they’re judged.


    Put simply, blemishes are irregularities on a diamond’s surface. Sometimes, blemishes are a perfectly natural part of a diamond’s formation within the earth. For example, irregularities in the diamond’s crystal structure can cause a grainy texture to occur.

    Most blemishes, however, are the result of human contact with the stone. Nicks and pits can be formed when a diamond is struck against something, while scratches and abrasions can occur when two diamonds rub up against each other. Similarly, a poor polishing or cutting job can accidentally leave blemishes too.

    Believe it or not, some blemishes are actually added on purpose—in order to enhance the appearance of the stone! For example, a diamond cutter might add extra facets, which can actually remove more obvious blemishes. Nonetheless, extra facets are technically considered to be blemishes, too, since they’re surface irregularities.


    Inclusions are irregularities inside the diamond. More often than not, inclusions occur as a natural diamond is formed within the earth, but human contact can sometimes create them too.

    As far as natural inclusions go, the diamond’s crystal structure or trapped impurities are the most likely causes. Inside the earth, a forming diamond is subjected to unbelievable pressure and comes into contact with all sorts of other elements. An irregular crystal structure can make a diamond look cloudy, grainy or even colored. Likewise, little bits of carbon or other elements can become trapped inside, causing dark or colored spots to appear.

    On the other hand, accidental blows or a poor cutting job are usually responsible for human-created inclusions. These mishaps can cause bruises, chips, and fractures. However, just like extra facets, a purposeful inclusion can sometimes mask or eliminate other inclusions. An example of this technique is laser drilling, which can dramatically lessen the appearance of dark spots within the diamond. Nonetheless, the drilling process leaves a tiny channel behind, which counts as an inclusion of its own.

    Evaluating Clarity

    A jeweler’s loupe, like the one pictured above, is often used to evaluate diamonds

    A skilled diamond grader uses both the naked eye and powerful magnification to observe and note clarity characteristics. If an inclusion or blemish can be seen with the naked eye, it will have the greatest affect on value. Nonetheless, even microscopic irregularities can impact appearance and durability, so diamonds are inspected under 10x magnification.

    During this process, there are five main factors a grader is considering:

    1. Size: the larger the characteristic, the more visible it will be.
    2. Number: the more numerous, the more obvious.
    3. Nature: is it an inclusion or a blemish? Inclusions are usually considered more important than blemishes.
    4. Position: where is the characteristic located? For example, a diamond’s reflective properties can make one inclusion look like many, while an inclusion on the edge might not be very noticeable at all.
    5. Color: most characteristics are white or clear, but some can be colored or dark. This is known as relief.

    Even though the diamond is examined at all angles, whatever is visible face-up will be the most important. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the grader isn’t thinking about aesthetics alone. Diamonds may be the toughest material on earth, but they can still suffer damage. When fractures and cavities are graded—especially if they’re large—the future durability of the diamond is considered.

    GIA Clarity Scale

    After all the clarity characteristics are observed and documented, the actual grade is assigned. The more effect they have on durability and appearance, the lower the final grade will be. There are eleven possible grades, ranging from Flawless (FL) to Included (I1). Check out the interactive tool below to see examples of each!

    The Bottom Line

    It’s always important to remember that diamond grades are highly technical and not an “objective” standard of beauty. When a diamond is graded Flawless and earns a hefty price tag, it’s ultimately about rarity.

    Believe it or not, only about 2% of gem quality diamonds earn the official Flawless grade. In fact, most diamonds found in stores today are between VS and SI, yet most people would think they’re Flawless!

    As you’ve learned today, inclusions and blemishes can be quite natural and completely invisible to the naked eye. Yet, even when they’re intentional, accidental or quite prominent, they aren’t necessarily undesirable. It all comes down to personal preferences.

    For some, a Flawless diamond created in the lab or by mother nature might be the pinnacle of beauty. For others, a diamond with a unique pattern of dots or lines will feel one-of-a-kind and truly special—indeed, it is one-of-a-kind, as no two diamonds are alike!

    If you missed our other posts about the 4C’s, be sure to read how cut and color are graded too! If you have any questions about the 4C’s or diamonds in general, we’d love to help you further. Why not contact us or pop into one of our stores? You can also browse our extensive collection of diamonds right here on our website!

    We hope to serve you soon!

  • Fancy yellow diamond ring
    Diamonds,  Education

    The 4C’s: Color

    When you hear the word “diamond,” what’s the first image that comes to mind? If you’re like most people, you might imagine a dazzling colorless gemstone—but did you know that truly colorless diamonds are extremely rare? Not only do most diamonds have a tint, but they can be vividly colored too! Today we’ll take at the look at how a diamond’s color is graded as part of the 4C’s.

    The Normal Range

    GIA diamond color scale
    Most diamonds fall within the colorless to yellow, brown or gray range – GIA.edu

    While diamonds can be any color of the rainbow and more, most fall within a certain spectrum. The vast majority of diamonds available today range from colorless to light yellow, brown or gray. You can think of this spectrum as the “normal range.”

    Trace elements—like nitrogen or boron—that enter the diamond as it forms are mostly responsible for this range of color, but the stone’s crystal structure can also play a role. When intense pressure distorts a diamond’s crystal structure, hues like brown, pink, red and purple can appear. It’s only when a diamond’s chemical and crystal composition are close to perfect that colorlessness results. Otherwise, at least a faint tint will be detectable.

    The GIA color scale for normal range diamonds goes from D (colorless) to Z (light)
    The GIA normal range color scale

    The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has developed the most popular grading system in the US, so we’re going to use their scale.

    For diamonds in the normal color range, an alphabetical spectrum from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow, brown or gray) is used. However, these letters don’t actually refer to specific colors. Instead, they simply mean that the diamond falls within a precise range of color. Therefore, two diamonds which are both graded H can actually look a bit different from each other.

    Nonetheless, these grades are very technical. In fact, it’s typically only the experts who can tell a D diamond from an H diamond when it’s mounted in jewelry. Indeed, even diamonds graded K, L or M will usually appear quite colorless if they’re under 0.5ct.

    When it comes to this scale, you can typically expect a diamond’s value to correlate with how colorless it is. The closer a diamond gets to a D grade, the more valuable it will be. However, when a diamond is graded below a Z, that’s no longer true. In fact, these special diamonds are valued for their color—not their lack of it! Let’s take a look at them next.

    Fancy Color

    Examples of rough and cut fancy color diamonds in blue, yellow, aqua and pink
    Check out these blue, yellow, aqua and pink fancy color diamonds! – GIA.edu

    If a diamond doesn’t fall within the normal range, it’s considered fancy color. This includes black, blue, red, green, vivid yellow and much more. These diamonds are very rare in nature and are valued accordingly. Believe it or not, the entire world only produces a few thousand carats of fancy colors each year! When it comes to grading them, three qualities are considered: hue, tone, and saturation.

    Hue is simply the diamond’s color category. These categories can be a single color (like red or blue) or some combination (like reddish-orange or bluish-green). Tone refers to the color’s lightness or darkness, while saturation (sometimes called intensity) is the color’s strength and purity. You can see the interplay between these qualities in the chart below.

    The GIA fancy color grading scale
    The GIA fancy color grading scale

    The GIA fancy color scale ranges from faint to fancy deep, but you can’t look to the very top or very bottom of this chart to determine value. Instead, the most valuable grades are found near the middle, with fancy vivid being the most valuable of all. Why? As always, it’s about rarity. Fancy color diamonds with super high saturation and a light to medium tone are extremely hard to find, and their price will always reflect this.

    Examples of different yellow diamond grades, ranging from fancy light to fancy vivid – GIA.edu

    However, it’s important to note that what these grades actually look like is completely dependent on the stone’s hue. Say you’re comparing two fancy vivid diamonds: one yellow and one blue. You may notice that the blue diamond appears paler and less saturated than the yellow one—yet they have the same grade! Why? Again, it’s all about rarity.

    Believe it or not, each hue has it’s own spectrum of possible saturations and tones, so the grading scale is reinterpreted to reflect these differences. It simply wouldn’t make sense to grade blue diamonds by comparing them to how saturated or intense yellow diamonds can be. Instead, they are graded against other blue diamonds—which happen to be much harder to find than yellow ones!

    At first, this may seem a bit complicated, but it actually helps to keep things simple! No matter the hue, fancy vivid is like a D rating on the normal range scale—it’s the most valuable simply because it’s the most rare.

    If you ever start to get confused, just remember: grading isn’t about ranking how beautiful a given diamond is—a diamond of any hue, tone or saturation can be absolutely breathtaking. It’s all about rarity.

    Color Enhancements

    Thanks to modern technology, the color of a diamond can sometimes be changed! We won’t get into how this scientific marvel is achieved in this post—you can read our article about diamond treatments here—but these treatments do affect value, and I bet you can guess why. That’s right—we’re talking about rarity!

    Though these treatments can make a diamond colorless, black, or practically any color of the rainbow, they will be considered less valuable than their natural counterparts—sometimes the difference in value can be well over 50%! As always, it’s because naturally colored and colorless diamonds are more rare. Nonetheless, these treatments can sometimes increase the value of a diamond well beyond what it would fetch had it not been treated.

    If a diamond has undergone any treatments, it will be disclosed on the diamond’s grading report. This makes it easy to understand why two diamonds that look almost identical are valued so differently! Let’s dive into how that report is created.

    The Grading Process

    So, we’ve seen what the possible grades are, but how are they actually determined? After all, there are so many possible tints and colors, plus so many different conditions under which to view them. That’s why super precise methods have been developed by GIA and other labs around the globe. Even though these methods differ somewhat for the normal range vs. fancy color, they share most of the same steps.

    Chiefly, diamonds of any color are graded relative to other diamonds of known color. These are called master stones, because they’re considered the standard for each hue. Master stones make it much easier to determine exactly where a given diamond ranks on the possible color scale.

    An example of GIA master stones

    Next, the lighting conditions are perfectly controlled. Graders typically work in a rather dark room with a special light source that’s optimized for color perception. Then, both the master stones and the diamond to be graded are turned upside down. Why? Because this minimizes reflections, which can alter the way the color appears.

    However, fancy color diamonds are not turned upside down when graded. That’s because the way a diamond is cut can influence the way its color appears too! Therefore, it’s actually more accurate to grade fancy colors face up.

    Today, special instruments have been developed to aid in the process of grading, but they’re not 100% accurate. Believe it or not, nothing can quite beat the precision and accuracy of the well-trained human eye—at least for now!

    The Bottom Line

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    For diamond color, that saying has never been more true. Whether you’d like a rare pink diamond or a colorless classic, it’s all about what you find most alluring. The price, however, is a carefully considered valuation, and now you know how and why!

    If you missed our last 4C’s post about cut, why not check it out now and find out how that quality is graded too? Next time, we’ll explain how a diamond’s clarity is graded, so be sure to stay tuned!

    In the meantime, why not stop by one of our stores and see our collection of loose diamonds and diamond jewelry up close and personal—even under our microscope! Or, you can view our extensive diamond collection online here and our diamond jewelry here!

    We hope to see you soon!

  • close up of round and baguette diamonds
    Diamonds,  Education

    The 4C’s: Cut

    Whether you’re on the hunt for the perfect diamond engagement ring or trying to evaluate antique diamond jewelry, there’s a lot to consider before making your decision. So many different factors go into grading and valuing diamonds, and it can all seem a bit overwhelming at first glance—but don’t worry! We’re here to make it easy.

    You may have heard of something called “The 4C’s,” which is a short-hand way of describing the four major qualities used to assess a diamond’s value: cut, color, clarity and carat-weight. In fact, you may have read our overview of this process here! But if you’re still wondering exactly how to make sense of it all, we’ll be giving you an in-depth look at each quality over the next few weeks right here on our blog.

    Today we’re going to go over Cut, which is probably the most complicated—and sometimes underrated—of all the diamond grading qualities.

    Cut Style vs. Cut Quality

    When you hear the term “cut” in relation to diamonds, it can refer to two different things. First, there’s the shape and faceting style, which is typically categorized as either “round brilliant cut” or “fancy cut.” Second, there’s the cut quality—the diamond’s proportions, symmetry and polish—which is what “cut” refers to in the 4C’s. However, that doesn’t mean that cut style has no effect on value.

    There’s a vast variety of cut styles available today, allowing more individuality than ever in jewelry making. You’re probably familiar with the classic round brilliant cut and popular fancy cuts like the emerald or princess cut, but if you dabble in antique or custom jewelry you’re likely to come across styles you won’t find in your average jewelry store! Antique styles like the rose cut or mine cut are rare today, while modern diamond cutters have been producing completely new styles that resemble flowers, butterflies, and more!

    white gold diamond ring featuring princess, round brilliant and baguette diamonds
    This ring features a princess cut diamond at the center accented by a halo of round diamonds plus four baguette diamonds on the shank – available here!

    Though you should always choose the diamond cut style that suits your personal preference, it’s good to keep in mind that the relative popularity of certain shapes and how labor-intensive cutting can be has an effect on value. The round brilliant cut has been the most popular shape for over a century, and lots of time and energy has been put into making sure it is cut to exacting standards. Therefore, it’s no surprise that its price reflects its special status. For example, a round brilliant cut diamond with the exact same 4C’s grade as a marquise cut diamond will actually cost more. Likewise, especially rare and unique cuts will also fetch more on the market.

    All that being said, the actual cut quality—no matter the shape chosen—has the most impact on overall value, so let’s take a look at how it’s graded.

    Cut Quality

    Diamonds graded excellent, good and poor
    From left to right, these diamond cuts were graded Excellent, Good, and Poor – GIA.edu

    The cut quality of a diamond really stands out in the 4C’s because it has the greatest single influence over the brilliance of the stone—plus, with the exception of lab-grown diamonds, it’s the only quality we have much control over! A skilled gem cutter can make all the difference in the world when it comes to bringing out a diamond’s signature beauty.

    As specified above, cut quality is determined by proportions, symmetry, and polish. Today, diamond cutters use precision instruments so that ideal proportions and angles can be achieved which maximize the brilliance (reflection), dispersion (fire) and scintillation (sparkle) of the diamond. Basically, all those facets (flat, polished surfaces) gather light from all directions and then reflect it back to us, producing that dazzling effect only a well-cut diamond can produce! Let’s dive a little deeper into just how that dazzle is measured.


    Brilliance is the total intensity or amount of light that is reflected from both the diamond’s surface and interior. The awesome thing about transparent gemstones is that light isn’t just reflecting off the surface—like it does on pearls or jade—it’s also being reflected from inside the stone!


    Dispersion is what happens when white light is split into a rainbow effect, like what you see when light enters a prism. When it comes to diamonds, this stunning display of color is known as “fire.”


    Scintillation sounds complicated, but it’s really just that dazzling sparkle you see when you move a diamond around! The sparkling can vary based on the pattern of light and dark areas in the diamond.

    Those are the basic optical effects a diamond grader is looking for, but the grading process actually gets much more technical as it proceeds. Taking a look at the anatomy of a cut diamond will help show us just how precise it gets and why these technical details not only maximize the beauty of the diamond, but also play an important role in its durability.

    Features of Cut

    Profile of a Round Brilliant Diamond – GIA.edu

    Almost all cut diamonds have two main parts: the crown (the upper part) and the pavilion (the lower part). The angles and depths of these two parts are measured against ideal percentages which have been found to produce the most dazzling effects. Where the crown and pavilion meet is called the girdle, which is the widest part of the diamond. The width of the girdle is important because it acts as the setting edge when the diamond is secured in a piece of jewelry, but a balance must be struck.

    If the girdle is too thick, the diamond will appear smaller than its carat-weight would seem to indicate and may actually be difficult to set into jewelry. However, if the girdle is too thin, the diamond will be at an increased risk of chipping which is a major risk to the longevity of the stone. Therefore, a width somewhere in the middle is usually preferred, with round brilliant cuts leaning more towards a thinner girdle and fancy cuts leaning more towards a thicker girdle.

    Similarly, the culet facet—which is a cut at the base of the diamond—shouldn’t be too small or too big. Too small (or nonexistent) and it won’t protect the base of the diamond from chipping. Too large, however, and it will appear to be a big black spot in the middle of the diamond!

    Overall, the main thing a diamond grader is looking for here is symmetry and proportion in accordance with the ideals for each shape. Is the table slightly off-set or precisely centered? Is the girdle wavy or perfectly straight? Are the crown angles exactly the same around the entire diamond or do they vary? Is the pavilion angle too steep or too shallow? The more symmetrical, proportional and ideal these measurements are, the higher the diamond will be graded. Let’s take a look at what those grades actually are.

    Cut Grades

    Diamond grading examples – GIA.edu

    The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has developed the strictest diamond grading scale, and it’s their standards we’re going to go by here. Diamond cuts are graded on a scale of Excellent to Poor, taking into account all the factors detailed above. The profile diagrams next to each diamond in our example will help us compare and contrast each stone and easily see why their grades vary so much.

    For example, when comparing the Excellent diamond against the Good diamond, you may notice that the Good example has a shallower crown and pavilion, which contribute to its poorer optical performance (note how much darker the Good example appears when compared to the Excellent example). You may also notice that the pattern of dark and light areas in the Good example are not as symmetrical as in the Excellent example.

    All of these issues are especially pronounced in the Poor example—we can see that not only are the proportions quite different from the others, but that the girdle is extremely thick as well. The result? A rather dark diamond that will appear smaller than its carat-weight would suggest and will never sparkle quite like the others. These are the tell-tale signs of a poor-quality cut.

    The other quality a diamond grader would be looking at is the polish of the diamond’s facets. Basically, the facets should be smooth and lustrous, or else the diamond’s reflections won’t be crisp and can even contribute to trapping oil and dirt—major hindrances to achieving that coveted sparkle! Indeed, a poor polish job will make an otherwise lovely diamond look quite dull.

    All of these factors are studied under microscopes, carefully measured, and then precisely calculated before assigning the diamond its final cut grade. As you might expect, the higher the cut grade, the higher the value of the diamond will soar. However, it’s not just because Excellent and Very Good diamonds are more dazzling; it’s also because they necessitate sacrificing more of the original raw diamond. Every facet has a cost, and a quality cut ensures that these sacrifices are not in vain.

    Check out the interactive tool below to see even more detailed examples of all the cut grades!

    Bottom Line

    Cut quality doesn’t always receive the love it deserves when it comes to producing dazzling diamonds, but now you know how important it really is! The standards of diamond cutting are no accident—they’re our human contribution to these gorgeous gifts from nature. Combining all we’ve learned about mathematical angles, proportions, and the interplay of light, we can shape these stunning objects of fascination and desire, revealing more and more of their unrivaled beauty as the field of diamond cutting continues to advance.

    Next up, we’ll tackle the grading process for Color, so make sure to check back soon! In the meantime, why not stop by one of our stores and see our collection of loose diamonds and diamond jewelry up close and personal—even under our microscope! Or, you can view our extensive diamond collection online here and our diamond jewelry here!

  • fancy yellow diamond ring
    Diamonds,  Education

    Treated Diamonds

    When it comes to gemstones like emeralds and rubies, chemical and physical treatments are very common, but did you know that diamonds are sometimes treated too? If you’ve ever dabbled in the world of diamonds, you may have come across treated diamonds and wondered what was done to them. Today we’ll dive into exactly what these treatments are and how they can alter or improve a diamond’s clarity and color.

    Clarity Treatments

    There are two main types of clarity treatments commonly used today: laser drilling and fracture filling.

    Laser Drilling

    Almost all natural diamonds have dark spots and imperfections—known as inclusions—which can impact the stone’s overall appearance. The goal of laser drilling is to minimize these inclusions and maximize clarity. Using a super high-powered laser, a tiny channel is burned into the diamond to reach the targeted inclusion. Then, a very strong acid is injected into the channel to bleach the inclusion. Generally, the channel is completely invisible to the naked eye, and the appearance of the diamond is dramatically improved!

    Fracture Filling

    Diamonds are known for their amazing strength and durability, but did you know they can break? Usually these fractures occur while the diamond is formed within the earth, leaving cracks both inside and on the surface of the stone. These cracks are another type of inclusion that can affect clarity, and that’s where the fracture filling process can save the day!

    If the break reaches the surface of the diamond, it can simply be filled in with a special glass-like material. The filler mimics the color and transparency of the stone, making the crack seem to disappear. If the break is enclosed within the stone, the laser drilling process is used to reach the fracture so that it can be injected with filling. In both of these scenarios, the appearance of the diamond is improved, but the cracks may still be visible under certain lighting.

    A diamond example before and after fracture filling.
    An example of a diamond before and after the fracture filling process. Note the dramatically reduced appearance of the inclusion near the center – GIA.edu

    It’s important to note that these processes are almost always considered cosmetic. What that means is that the actual clarity grade of the diamond—which is determined before treatment—is not improved by treating inclusions or filling cracks. That’s because the cracks and inclusions still technically exist; it’s only the appearance that has been altered.

    A downside to this treatment is that ultrasonic cleaners and steamers can sometimes damage fracture fillings, so it’s important to clean them with more gentle methods. On the upside, however, a diamond which has received one or both of these treatments might look nearly identical to one that has not—yet will cost a lot less!

    Color Treatments

    The two main types of color treatments are irradiation and high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT).


    Fancy color diamonds—like pink, blue, red, and yellow—are exceedingly rare in nature, so irradiation is used to produce more of them. Believe it or not, this treatment can occur in nuclear reactors or in machines known as linear accelerators. During treatment, the stone is subjected to controlled radiation, which changes the diamond’s color! The amount and type of radiation used is highly regulated, so there’s no need to worry—irradiated diamonds and gemstones are totally safe to wear!

    A variety of irradiated diamonds – GIA.edu

    Sometimes irradiated diamonds go through an additional step of intense heating in order to enhance or further alter their color. The red, orange and pink diamonds above are examples of what can be produced with this additional step!

    High-Pressure, High-Temperature (HPHT)

    Another treatment connected to the energy sector, HPHT was actually developed by General Electric. By subjecting certain diamonds to HPHT, stunning results can be achieved, ranging from a black diamond to a nearly colorless one!

    A brown diamond turned nearly colorless using HPHT – GIA.edu

    Now, changing a brown diamond into a colorless one is really rare and only works about 1-2% of the time, but producing a black one is much more successful. Typically, diamonds with lots of fractures and inclusions are selected for this process. That’s because inclusions are usually just carbon trapped inside the stone, which will convert to graphite during the HPHT process. The effect? A diamond that appears as black as onyx, yet sparkles like only a diamond can!

    So there you have it—the the basics of treated diamonds! Thanks to processes like these, it’s easier than ever to find the perfect diamond for you. Why not take a look at our extensive diamond collection online or pop into one of our stores to see a specific stone up close and personal? We’d love to see you soon!

  • diamond in tweezers
    Diamonds,  Education,  Gemstones

    Natural vs. Synthetic vs. Simulant

    When shopping for diamond or gemstone jewelry, simulants and synthetics are bound to catch your eye. These beautiful gems tend to cost a whole lot less than natural stones, yet they can look exactly the same! You might be wondering exactly what these stones are and how they differ from their natural counterparts. If so, you’re in luck! Today we dive into the differences between natural, synthetic and simulant gemstones so you can make the best choice for you!


    A natural gemstone is just what it sounds like: it’s any gemstone that was formed by nature. Many gems—like diamonds and rubies—are formed by the earth itself, while others—like pearls and abalone—are formed within mollusks and oysters. All of these processes are “natural” because human beings didn’t play a role in them.

    This 18kt white gold ring features five natural rubies surrounded by diamonds – available here!

    These natural processes are usually very slow and only happen under the right conditions. Plus, after the natural gem is formed, intensive mining is usually required to extract it. In the case of natural pearls, underwater diving is necessary to collect oysters—none of which are guaranteed to have pearls within them.

    In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find truly natural pearls on the market today. That’s because finding and harvesting wild oysters is so difficult and labor intensive that it simply isn’t done much anymore. Instead, pearls are “cultured” on farms, which is what you will find in the vast majority of jewelry stores today. Cultured pearls are like natural pearls in every way except for their “seed.” In nature, an irritant just happens to enter the oyster, beginning the pearl-producing process. On a pearl farm, the “seed” is surgically implanted—but there’s still no guarantee a pearl will form!

    All of these factors contribute greatly to the value of natural gemstones and pearls. Their price reflects not only the miracle of their existence, but also the amount of hard work required to bring that gem to you.


    Synthetic gemstones are chemically and physically identical to their natural counterparts, but they aren’t formed naturally. Instead, modern science and technology are put to use to create gemstones in the lab! That’s why synthetic gemstones are sometimes called “lab-created” as well.

    If you’re a lover of flawless gemstones, synthetic or lab-created gems might be for you! That’s because lab conditions can be completely ideal, allowing the gemstone to grow without interference from contaminants or sudden changes in pressure and temperature. The result is a perfect stone—at a fraction of the price!

    This 14kt yellow gold ring features a lab-created emerald at the center surrounded by a halo of diamonds – available here!

    That being said, lots of people love inclusions in their gemstones. They can add a sense of uniqueness, and some natural gemstones—like emeralds—are rarely found without them. Luckily, lab-created gems can be formed with inclusions too. That way, you can get the natural look without the natural price!

    Today, labs can grow almost any gemstone under the sun—including diamonds—so they’re definitely something worth considering. Synthetics can give you greater carat sizes, higher quality and a wider range of colors at a lower price.


    A simulant is not the same as a synthetic, but people often get these terms confused. A simulant simply looks like a particular stone, but it is not chemically identical. For example, a natural emerald and a synthetic emerald are both emeralds. The only difference between them is how they were formed. An emerald simulant, however, is not an emerald. It is simply a green stone that looks similar to an emerald. For this reason, simulants are sometimes called “imitation” stones.

    Cubic zirconia (CZ) is probably the best known simulant today, as it is commonly used to mimic the look of a diamond. However, a CZ is not a diamond. These two glittering gemstones are made of completely different minerals and have many optical differences. In fact, CZ is an entirely synthetic gem in its own right—since it is made exclusively in the lab—but it is not a synthetic diamond.

    This stunning sterling silver engagement ring features dazzling cubic zirconia – available here!

    Over the years, many colorless gems have been used as diamond simulants, because high-quality diamonds can be very expensive. White sapphires, zircon, white topaz, and even glass have all been used as affordable imitation diamonds.

    Today, moissanite is a very popular diamond simulant. Like CZ, moissanite is another purely lab-grown gemstone—at least on earth! Super rare bits of natural moissanite have actually been found in meteorites, but you won’t find those in your local jewelry store.

    The benefits of simulants are similar to the benefits of synthetics—you can get the look you want for less! A main difference to consider, however, is that a simulant’s hardness and durability will likely differ from a natural or synthetic stone. This can be good or bad, depending on what you’re needs are.

    Say, for example, you love the look of opal but are concerned about having to be careful with it. A much more durable opal simulant could be perfect for you! On the other hand, no simulant can compare to a natural or synthetic diamond’s durability. Diamonds rank in at the very top of the Mohs scale of hardness, while CZ scores 8-8.5 and moissanite 9.25.

    The Bottom Line

    When it comes to choosing the gemstone for you, the most important things to keep in mind are cost, durability, and your desired look. For some, absolutely nothing compares to the miracle of a natural gemstone. Knowing that it was formed by the earth or inside a living thing is truly special and unique.

    For others, the scientific marvel of a synthetic gemstone is hard to beat. It’s astonishing that laboratories can replicate the immensely complex processes required to form gemstones—to say nothing of how much faster they can do the job!

    For others still, it’s more about the way the stone looks and holds up day-to-day. Whether you’re simply looking for a specific color or a durable look-alike, simulants can be a great affordable choice.

    At the end of the day, it’s all about what you prefer! If you’d like to learn more or need help deciding, we’d love to be of service! We can even show you natural, synthetic and simulant gemstones side-by-side for easy comparison. Drop by one of our stores or contact us for more information. We hope to see you soon!

  • Education,  Watch & Jewelry Repair,  Watches

    Watch Water Resistance – What does it really mean?

    Watches have come a long way since they were first invented, and one of the most useful improvements is water resistance. After all, water is a vital part of life! However, not all water resistant watches are created equal, and it’s important to understand what your watch can safely handle.

    There Are No “Waterproof” Watches

    It cannot be stressed enough that no watch is truly “waterproof.” Even those made especially for deep sea scuba divers are “water resistant”—and that’s only if they are operated correctly and receive regular maintenance. That’s because no watch stays water resistant forever, and even a drop of water can wreak havoc on the inside of a watch! No matter what type of movement your watch has—mechanical, quartz or purely digital—water is its worst enemy.

    Therefore, if a watch is not stamped “Water Resistant” on its case back or dial, it is highly susceptible to water damage and must be protected from all amounts of liquid at all times. That includes daily scenarios like washing your hands or having the watch on the bathroom counter while you take a hot shower!

    Thankfully, the vast majority of watches today are at least somewhat water resistant, but there are many misconceptions surrounding what the ratings actually mean. Today, we hope to clear those up, so let’s dive in!

    It’s All About Pressure

    Watch water resistance is measured in meters (m), feet (ft), atmosphere (atm), and pressure (bar). The last two units of measurement are clues as to what water resistance actually means: pressure is being measured, not a specific depth.

    Now, that might seem confusing. Why say the watch has 30 meter or 100 feet water resistance if it can’t actually withstand those depths? To understand, we need to think about sea level.

    Most of us have heard the phrases “above sea level” or “below sea level,” which are simply referring to elevation in relation to the ocean. Elevation is important because the atmosphere around us changes as we descend below or ascend above the sea.

    Sea Level = 1 ATM or 1 bar

    At sea level, the atmospheric pressure is 1 ATM or 1 bar. As you travel higher, atmospheric pressure decreases, but the opposite is true when descending into water. In fact, the changes underwater are much more dramatic, because water is much more dense than air.

    Let’s say you make it to the very top of Mount Everest, which is 8,848 meters (29,029 feet) above sea level. Way up there, the atmospheric pressure is 0.333 ATM. Yet, descending just 10 meters (33 feet) below water brings the pressure up to 2 ATM!

    For every 10 meters you go underwater, atmospheric pressure increases by 1 ATM or 1 bar.

    So, when a watch is rated with a specific number of feet or meters, it’s not actually referring to depth, but rather the pressure typically experienced at that depth. Why is that distinction important? To find out, we need to look at how watches are assigned their ratings.

    Pressure Testing

    Once a watch is completely assembled, it’s not actually plunged into the sea to measure its water resistance. In fact, most are never tested in water at all! Instead, the watch is subjected to highly controlled air pressure to see how much it can withstand. This is basically a safer simulation of submersion.

    No matter which rating the watch receives, understand that it was determined under factory conditions. The watch was tested brand new, under steady temperatures, and was kept completely still. This is very different from the conditions in a pool or even in your shower.

    The simple motion of your arm moving through the water—to say nothing of the impact from diving or jumping into a pool—multiplies the pressure your watch is subjected to. The same is true of a high-powered shower head or even the kitchen faucet. That’s why you can’t take “30 meter water resistance” literally.

    With that in mind, let’s see what you can safely do at your watch’s water resistance rating.

    Water Resistant

    The case back of a ladies Movado watch that is stamped water resistant.
    This elegant Movado watch is stamped “water resistant” with no specific rating – available here!

    When you come across a watch with the “water resistant” stamp but no rating, you should try to protect it from moisture as much as possible. Unless the manufacturer offers a specific rating elsewhere, there’s no way to know for certain how much it can handle. Nonetheless, it should be able to withstand hand washing or a brief dash through the rain, but it should never be submerged.

    Indeed, to be on the safe side, it would best to remove the watch before doing the dishes or taking a hike in a heavy downpour. You might even consider keeping it out of the bathroom too, as steam can sometimes make its way inside the watch and cause damage.

    In some ways, you can think of these watches as pieces of fine, delicate jewelry—after all, you wouldn’t wear your pearls in the shower or wash the car wearing your opal ring. If there’s no water resistance rating, always play it safe.

    30m – 100ft – 3ATM – 3 bar

    The case back of a ladies Coach watch with 3ATM water resistance
    This pre-owned ladies Coach watch is rated 3ATM – available here!

    These four water resistance ratings are very common, and they all mean the same thing: this watch is “splash resistant.” That means it should be able to withstand splashes of water from washing your hands, walking in the rain or watering your garden, but it should never be submerged in water or worn in the shower.

    50m – 160ft – 5ATM – 5 bar

    The case back of a ladies Citizen watch with 50m water resistance
    This ladies Citizen watch is rated 5 bar – available here!

    These ratings indicate a little more water resistance than the ones above. You might think of these watches as being “super splash resistant,” as they are probably safe to wear in the shower or during a prolonged, fierce downpour. However, they still should not be purposefully submerged in water. Even though the watch would probably survive an accidentally dip into the sink, we recommend being safe rather than sorry.

    100m – 330ft – 10ATM – 10 bar

    The case back of a Tag Heuer Link automatic watch with 100m water resistance
    This pre-owned Tag Heuer Link watch is rated 100m and features a screw-down crown for extra protection – available here!

    If you’re looking for a watch you can submerge in water, start at this rating. Here, you can safely swim or snorkel, plus all the activities listed above without worrying! However, these watches might not be able to handle diving off a diving board and are definitely not safe for serious scuba diving. If you plan on doing either of those things, you’ll need to go at least one step up in water resistance.

    200m – 660ft – 20ATM – 20 bar

    A Citizen diver watch with 200m water resistance
    This men’s diver’s watch by Citizen features 200m water resistance – available here!

    Watches with these ratings are your entry level dive watches or for those who just want some extra peace of mind while swimming. They can better withstand the impact of diving off a diving board and can be worn safely at deeper depths. However, we would still recommend going up another level if you actually plan on doing deep sea scuba diving. Again, always be safe rather than sorry—especially if you love your watch!

    300m – 1000ft – 30ATM – 30 bar

    A Rolex Submariner with 300m water resistance
    Check out this pre-owned Rolex Submariner, featuring 300m water resistance – available here!

    Here, you’re safely within professional scuba diving territory, but many people opt for this rating just to swim or surf! The higher the water resistance rating, the more peace of mind you can have doing the activities you enjoy. In fact, professional dive watches can have water resistance ratings over 2000m! How’s that for peace of mind?

    Vulnerable Points of Entry

    A diagram showing where the crown and buttons/pushers are on a watch.
    You should never operate the crown or buttons in or near water

    There are two main challenges when it comes to making a watch water resistant: there must be a way to set the watch and a way to open it. Both of these necessities provide points of entry for water.

    Crown & Buttons

    The vast majority of timepieces have at least one crown, which is typically used to set the watch, and some feature a few buttons (sometimes called pushers). Never operate the crown or buttons in or near water.

    Pulling out the crown provides a direct path into the heart of your watch, so you should always make sure it’s completely pushed in or screwed down (if applicable). Even though buttons are typically sealed with gaskets, these seals do not last forever and can cause the same problem.

    If you ever notice the crown or buttons becoming loose, you should have your watch serviced as soon as possible. These parts are absolutely critical to maintaining water resistance and are usually the first points of failure.

    Case back

    Another vulnerable part of every timepiece is the case back, which allows for direct access to the inside of the watch. Some case backs simply snap into place while others are screwed in, but all types use a rubber gasket to ensure water resistance. However, like the gaskets used on buttons, these seals don’t last forever and will need to be replaced eventually.

    Under mild conditions, gaskets should last several years, but if you wear your watch in saltwater or subject it to extreme temperatures, they will fail much quicker. To maintain the utmost water resistance, have your gaskets checked every year.


    Lastly, there’s the crystal, which is the clear covering on the face of the watch. Most watches just have one, but some automatics have a “viewing window” on the case back as well. Most crystals are sealed with gaskets as well, but you also have to watch out for cracks, chips and other damage.

    Always have damaged crystals promptly replaced. In addition to letting water inside, a broken crystal can send tiny shards of glass into your watch’s movement, causing costly damage.

    The Importance of High Quality, Regular Maintenance

    A watch getting ready for a battery replacement.
    At Service Jewelry & Repair, we can do everything from watch batteries to full movement services at our national repair center!

    Many people don’t realize that watches need more than just battery changes to stay in tip-top shape. Indeed, if you have a mechanical watch or one with a rechargeable capacitor, you may not realize maintenance is required at all! While all watches should have their movements serviced or at least checked regularly, water resistance is often forgotten until it’s too late.

    Seeing moisture under the crystal or watermarks on the dial are very noticeable signs of trouble, but sometimes you may not notice anything until the watch grinds to a halt. Suspecting a dead battery, you might bring it in for a replacement—only to find out the inside is rusted and a costly repair is needed!

    Don’t let this happen to your favorite watches. While there are no guarantees, having your watch regularly serviced and following our guidelines above (keep that crown pushed down!) can almost always prevent water damage.

    The SJR Difference

    A watchmaker's desk at our national repair center
    We’ve got all the tools of the trade at our national repair center!

    Every time we replace batteries or do movement services, we check the key things we’ve gone over with you today. Are the gaskets still in good shape? How about the crystal? Is the crown secure? Are there any signs of current or previous water damage?

    When it’s time to close it up again, we make sure it’s sealed up tight—but did you know we can do an extra step at our repair shop? There, we can perform a pressure test, much like the one performed when the watch was made! That way, you can be sure your watch is still as water resistant as its rating indicates. If you’re planning to ever submerge your watch or simply want the peace of mind, do not skip this step. Otherwise, there’s no way to truly know if your watch has become vulnerable.

    If you’d like to have a pressure test performed or want your watch completely checked over, you have a few convenient options! First, you can bring your watch into either of our stores, and we’ll send it off to our national repair center. Our friendly sales associates will keep you updated throughout the process, and as soon as it’s ready, you can pick it back up at the store!

    Another option is going directly through our repair center. Here, you can mail your timepiece in or even drop by in person. If you just want a battery change and/or pressure test, we can do it while you wait! Otherwise, we’ll let you know when it’s ready for pick up, or we can ship it back to you.

    We hope this article has cleared up the confusion around water resistance ratings, but if you have any questions, feel free to contact us!

    We hope to serve you soon!

  • aquaprase pendant and ring by le vian
    Designers,  Education,  Gemstones

    Aquaprase – A New Gem?

    Some of our newest Le Vian pieces feature a gorgeous, unique gemstone known as Aquaprase—have you ever heard of it? If not, you’re certainly not alone! In fact, Aquaprase has only been on the market for a few years now, and many people have yet to come across it. This stone has a really cool story behind it, and we think it’s worth sharing!

    It all started in 2013, when an unusual blue-green stone was discovered by a veteran gem explorer named Yianni Melas. He was certain he had found something new, but controversy ensued as he tried to prove it. After all, the earth has been mined for centuries; most people doubted there could possibly be anything left to discover. Some tried to convince him that he had simply found opal, but he didn’t think it really looked like opal. Others were sure it was chrysoprase (a yellow-green variety of chalcedony), but the stone he found was clearly blue-green.

    Raw Aquaprase from Africa – Photo by Yianni Melas

    Initial lab reports said the stone was indeed chrysoprase, but Melas was still not convinced. Certain that the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) could figure it out once and for all, he sent it off to them for analysis. After many months of careful inspection and testing, the GIA verdict came back: it wasn’t chrysoprase afterall—it was a new type of chalcedony! Finally vindicated, Melas dubbed the stone Aquaprase, meaning blue-green in his native Greek.

    Ever since, Melas has been devoted to bringing Aquaprase to the marketplace while also ensuring that it’s mined ethically and responsibly. One of the cool things about Aquaprase is that the stone undergoes very minimal processing before being set into a piece of jewelry. Most popular gemstones—like sapphires, rubies and emeralds—are often heat-treated, oiled, dyed, and/or stabilized before being sold. Not so with Aquaprase! It’s about as natural as a gemstone can be, yet it’s strong, durable, and its captivating color never fades!

    Check out this amazing Le Vian Aquaprase pendant with diamond accents – available here!

    Take a look at more of our Le Vian Aquaprase pieces online here or stop by one of our stores to see this new fascinating gemstone in person! We think you’ll love it as much as we do!

  • Turquoise, Tanzanite and Blue Zircon
    Birthstones,  Education,  Gemstones

    Turquoise, Tanzanite & Zircon: December’s Birthstones

    For December birthdays, there are three amazing gemstones to choose from. Traditionally, the blue variety of tanzanite, turquoise and zircon have been chosen for December, but there are actually many different hues and shades available for each. Let’s take a look at these three stones and see which one is right for you or that special someone!


    This amazing stone—ranging from true blue to grassy green—has been treasured for thousands of years, everywhere from Ancient Egypt to Native America. Carved, polished and worn as adornments, this gem was considered to bring good health and good fortune to those who possessed it.

    Unlike many popular gemstones, turquoise is often totally opaque and can feature black or brown veining (called matrix). Matrix designs show mother nature’s hand at work, giving these pieces of turquoise a one-of-a-kind look.

    EFFY turquoise and yellow gold ring
    Some turquoise, like the polished one in this EFFY ring, feature a consistent blue color with no matrix – available here!

    Turquoise has been mined all over the world—from the hills of Iran to the mountains of China to the American Southwest—and is rated between 5 and 6 on the Mohs scale of hardness. It’s relative softness is precisely what made this stone so perfect for intricate carving, but a little extra care is in order to maintain its beauty.

    Like most fine jewelry, you’d want to remove turquoise before doing housework or gardening, but you want to be careful when you clean the stone too. For example, you should never clean turquoise jewelry with an ultrasonic cleaner or steamer. High heat can damage and discolor the stone, so it’s best to stick with warm soapy water. Luckily, that’s easy to do at home!


    Most gemstones have been objects of fascination for thousands of years—but did you know that tanzanite was discovered in the 20th century? Found in the 1960s, this stunning gem was named after its place of origin: Tanzania, where it continues to be mined exclusively.

    With velvety hues ranging from rich blue to pale violet, tanzanite ranks between 6 and 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness. That means some extra care is needed when handling and cleaning this precious gem. Like turquoise, ultrasonic cleaners and steamers should not be used on tanzanite, as high heat and damage or even crack the stone.

    tanzanite ring made from 14k white gold
    This white gold ring features a deep purple tanzanite set within a protective bezel – available here!

    Earrings and pendants are very popular settings because they can shield tanzanite from abrasion. However, if you’d love to have a tanzanite ring, try to find one with a protective setting—like the bezel-style ring above. These settings will give you extra peace of mind and help keep the stone in stunning condition.


    Zircon has long been associated with good health and was even thought to promote deep sleep. This stone can be found in a rainbow of hues or even be completely colorless. In fact, colorless zircon is so stunning that it’s often been mistaken for a diamond! However, zircon should not be confused with cubic zirconia (a synthetic stone sometimes used as a diamond simulant).

    Unlike cubic zirconia, zircon occurs naturally and can be found in Sri Lanka and Australia. In fact, zircon is earth’s oldest mineral! It ranks between 6.5 and 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness, and like December’s other birthstones, you should handle it with a bit of extra care. If set into earrings or a pendant, zircon should be quite safe for daily wear, but you’d want to take a zircon ring off before working with your hands.

    Check out these imitation blue zircon earrings – available here!

    When it comes to cleaning the stone, you shouldn’t use ultrasonic cleaners or steamers. Not only can high heat damage zircon, but it can also change its color! As always, warm soapy water is an easy, safe way to keep this gem sparkling.

    So, there you have it—December’s three amazing birthstones! Why not browse our collection of jewelry featuring these gems online or in our stores? We hope to see you soon!

  • blue topaz and citrine
    Birthstones,  Education,  Gemstones

    Citrine & Topaz: November’s Birthstones

    Of all the birthstones, November babies have the most variety to choose from! Not only is citrine an option—a warm, yellow to orange colored gem—but all of topaz’s colors as well! Let’s dive into the similarities and differences between these two stunning stones—and maybe help you decide which one is the right choice for you or that special someone!


    Citrine may have gotten its name from the French word citron, which means “lemon,” but history isn’t very clear on this. In fact, citrine’s past is sometimes hard to trace because it was often misidentified as orange or yellow topaz! Indeed, all yellow gemstones were simply assumed to be topaz for a long time, but citrine is actually quite distinct.

    Stunning 14kt white gold ring featuring 5.50ct oval cut citrine with diamond accents – available here!

    Citrine is the yellow to orange variety of quartz, which is mined in places like Bolivia, Spain and Mexico, but much of the citrine that is available for purchase today is not naturally occurring. Instead, amethyst (another variety of quartz) is subjected to heat, which will change its purple hue to a sunny yellow-orange! This helps keep citrine abundant, making it an affordable option even at larger carat sizes. Plus, since this gem ranks in at 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness with good toughness, it’s safe for daily wear!


    For centuries, topaz—specifically the yellow variety—was thought to calm its wearer, dispelling anger and helping to bring about a long life. Indeed, as mentioned above, all yellow gems were once thought to be topaz, and topaz’s other hues were mistaken for other gems too! When modern science came on the scene, gems began to be identified by their chemical makeup, bringing newfound appreciation for this particular stone.

    Gorgeous 10k white gold ring featuring three emerald cut blue topaz – available here!

    Believe it or not, pure topaz is totally colorless, but it can be tinted by any number of impurities—in the lab or in nature—to yield a rainbow of different colors. One of the most popular shades of topaz today is light blue or aqua, which very rarely occurs in nature. Instead, colorless topaz is subjected to irradiation to produce that particular hue, making it available at an affordable price.

    Topaz actually ranks higher on the Mohs scale than citrine—graded as an 8 vs. a 7—but it’s not quite as tough. Some additional care is needed to prevent chipping and cracking of topaz, because intense heat or ultrasonic cleaners can damage the stone and even fade its color. Nonetheless, warm soapy water is safe and easy to use on this beautiful stone.

    Take a look at our stunning line of citrine and topaz jewelry or visit one of our stores to see it in person!