Gemologist Corner by FACETS.

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Gem &  Mineral Gallery, LLC.

Mailing Address:
PO Box 714
Newport, OR 97365

Established 1987

The following is brought to you by the Jewelers of America.

What you should know about fine jewelry:

  • Gold
  • Diamonds
  • Gemstones
  • Sterling Silver
  • Care & Cleaning

  • Gemologist Corner...

    New Owner, Kay can assist you in updating or redesigning your treasures. Click hereInformation on fine jewelry which we hope you will find helpful: Oregon State Gemstone: Sunstone    |   Birthstones  |   Moissanite    |   Titanium  |   Larimar     |     Summer Jewelry Care   |   Vacation Shopping    |   Regarding the loss of stones due to prong failure  |   Why does Gold discolor fingers?   |   What is the difference between gold filled and plated?

    Summer jewelry care

    It's summertime. Hot, lazy days hanging out by the pool or spa with something cool to drink. And of course, making a fashion statement with as much jewelry as possible shown off against a beautiful tan.

    Unfortunately, if that's a description of you, then you are looking at some possible massive jewelry repairs and lost stones. The reason - stress corrosion.

    Chlorine is extremely detrimental to karat metals and should be avoided. Special care should be taken with detergents, cleaners, and other industrial or household formulas. Consider that levels of chlorine and other chemicals can be increased by evaporation of fluids, leaving concentrated deposits. In particular, this makes spas and swimming pools undesirable for gold jewelry.

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    Your're wearing us out

    Don't be alarmed by the title, - we're not talking about your questions or request for other products, we're talking about natural prong wear on your rings. Prongs do simply wear out. Gold by its very nature, is soft, malleable and ductile.

    When a person wears a ring that has the stone mounted in a prong setting, they will bump it, scrape it, nick it and snag it, throughout its normal life. Through these actions, the prong tips become thinner and gold hardens to some extent. As the metal work hardens, it will become more "springy" or have a great amount of rebound which will lift the prong tip off the stone. The stone becomes loose which further aggravates things. The stone will move in the seat which helps abrade the metal away. It will vibrate which will help to hasten work hardening. The side to side movement helps lift the prong tips from its surface. That works to make the stone looser.

    Natural prong wear cannot be prevented (unless the piece is never worn), but it can be monitered. Platinum provides better wear characteristics than gold. Platinum is much more resistant to abrasion than gold, which is the major contributor to natural prong wear. In addition, it is a dead soft metal with virtually no rebound, which makes the prong tips stay tight on the stone. It is also less sensitive to vibration than gold.

    Prongs should be checked about every three months or at the first sign that the stone is loose. The old addage of a stitch-in-time, really holds true for jewelry maintenance. No one likes the surprise of looking down at their ring to discover that the diamond is missing. We invite you to stop by, have your jewelry cleaned and checked, service is what FACETS is about!

    Editors Note: This article originally appeared in the October 1993 issue of Finding Facts.

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    A Word of Caution on Vacation Purchases

    With vacation time upon us - we continue to see a stream of misrepresented gems coming out of the "tourist traps" of the world; Cairo, Athens, South America and ports along the way where the ships stop in Mexico, Bancock, and certain ports in Africa. The most common misrepresentations are Silver Sapphire for Diamonds, especially as accent gems; quartz for Topaz (note: there is no such thing as smoky topaz); Iolite for Sapphire; glass for Aquamarine; pseudo-synthetic spinel or pseudo-synthetic sapphire for a wide range of gems including Alexandrite, Emerald, Sapphire, Ruby, Aquamarine etc. You are lucky if you get the value you are paying for the mounting since many are not the gold or silver content as represented.

    The problem is not only with the little shops, but can be found with "name" firms recommended by staff of airlines or cruise ships. Such staff often gets commission for steering customers into such shops.

    In general we do not feel you can make a "good buy" in a country of gem origin. Your Grandparents could, in a day when communication and speed of travel was more relaxed, now every gem of merit can find its highest price immediately on the world market. What the tourist buys is either something that has already been rejected by the professional agents of other firms or even misrepresentations.

    Stop to think about it, why should anyone give you the tourist whom they never expect to see again, a "good buy" on something that can be sold immediately to a broker for the larger dealers. The truth is such misrepresentations are not "good buys", but you cannot tell it.

    If you are with a person that knows gems and has proper equipment for analysis then you might make a "good buy". Be especially wary in cultures where the person selling has a different integrity concept than we do in this country. (This goes for those from other cultures that sell in this country as well.)

    During the past several years, I have looked at several overseas purchases. Occasionally a "good buy" happens and in all other cases the person could have made the purchase here in the United States at less cost.. sometimes much less cost. When you travel outside the U.S. be careful in your purchases, do not think that someone is doing you a favor, especially if they never plan to see you again.

    Editors Note: This article originally appeared in the Summer 1993 issue of Keeping in Touch.

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    Why Does Gold Discolor Fingers?

    You may think that faulty manufacturing- or underkarating might be the problem when a ring "turns," blackening or discoloring the skin and clothing, or the jewelry itself. However, that is not the case.

    The most common reason is metallic abrasion, caused by makeup on skin or clothing. Cosmetics often contain compounds harder than the jewelry itself, which wear or rub off very tiny particles. Very finely divided metal always appears black rather than metallic, so it looks like a jet-black dust. When this dust comes into contact with absorbent surfaces such as skin or clothing, it sticks, forming a black smudge.

    To prevent this, you should try switching cosmetics. If this is not possible, remove rings and other jewelry while applying them, and clean skin areas in contact with jewelry with soap and water.

    Another cause is actual corrosion of the metals. Gold itself does not corrode, but its primary alloys of silver or copper will do so, forming very dark chemical compounds-under moist or wet conditions.

    When you perspire, fats and fatty acids released can cause corrosion of 14-karat gold, especially when exposed to warmth and air. This problem can be worse in seacoast and semitropical areas, where chlorides combine with perspiration to form a corrosive element that discolors skin. Smog fumes gradually attack jewelry and are evident as a tarnish that rubs off on the skin.

    We suggest that you remove jewelry often and use an absorbent powder, free of abrasives, on skin that comes into contact with jewelry.

    Even the design of jewelry can be an influence. Wide shanks have more surface area to contact abrasives or corrosives. Concave surfaces inside a shank form collection points that trap moisture and contaminants, also causing a type of dermatitis.

    Remove all rings before using soaps, cleaning compounds or detergents, and clean their rings frequently. As well as solving the problem, you'll be amazed at how much better your rings look!

    Even the design of jewelry in addition to these corrective actions, recommend that customers switch to 18-karat gold or platinum. The lower alloy content of 18-karat gold-25%, versus almost 42%-significantly reduces the problem, and the use of platinum should eliminate it completely.

    Editors Note: This article originally appeared in the September 1993 issue of Finding Facts.

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    What is the difference in the content of gold jewelry?

    The term gold filled - refers to the manufacturing process in which an ingot of base metal, usually copper, is bonded with thinner ingots of gold. A "sandwich" is formed by mechanically bonding a layer of gold on both sides of the copper ingot. This "sandwich" is then cold worked by rolling or drawing until a much thinner gauge metal is achieved. Products are then formed or die-struck from this layered material. The object is then gold plated to hide the edges, as they would otherwise reveal the sandwiched construction. Although gold-filled product is readily available today, this process was most popular in the early 1900's. Hallmarking will appear as 1/20th 14k gold filled, indicating that by weight, 1/20th of the metal content of the product is 14k gold.

    What does plated mean? When a product is referred to as gold, rhodium, or nickel-plated, this indicates that it has been electroplated with a thin layer of that particular metal. The terms gold electroplate, or gold plated, indicates an electrolytically applied coating of gold over a base metal. The plated coating must not be less than 10k in fineness, to a minimum overall equivalent of seven millionths of an inch of fine gold. A coating that is any thinner must be marked gold flashed or gold washed; if the coating is equivalent to 100 millionths of an inch of fine gold it may be marked Heavy Gold Electroplate or HEP. If the jewelry is worn over clothing you will enjoy many years of enjoyment from this jewelry. However, since only a micro thin layer of the metal is deposited on the base object, electroplating is inexpensive, and in most cases tends to wear off easily, if you eat alot of acidic foods like tomatoes, or citrus, your body possibly will wear away the plating if worn against the skin.

    Editors Note: Portions of this article originally appeared in Finding Facts.

    Designed By:
    Myers Design Labs
    Newport, Oregon


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    Gem & Mineral Gallery, LLC
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