Tuel Jewelers 
319 East Main Street 
Charlottesville , VA 22902-5233 
Fax: 434-295-4258 
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What You Should Know about Fine Jewelery


No other gemstone lights the imagination and captures the heart more so than the diamond. Born of fire deep within the earth, diamond has for centuries been the world's most treasured natural element. Representing wealth, status, romance and love, the diamond is truly a precious thing.

Selecting the right diamond is no easy task. Even though extremely rare, there are thousands of diamonds to choose from - in every shape, color, quality and price range. So how do you make the right decision? It's simple - do a little homework and find a professional jeweler that you can trust.

Too many people today buy a diamond based on numbers and letters - grades and classifications. And while the process of diamond grading has advanced considerably in the last 50 years, it will never be able to evaluate beauty. Beauty is a matter of personal taste and determining beauty is a personal decision.

Choosing the right diamond, either for yourself or as a gift for a loved one, should be fun. It should also be a special and rewarding experience. As you look at more and more diamonds you'll discover what your tastes and preferences are. You'll also discover that the only way to find the perfect diamond to meet your needs is to talk to a knowledgeable jeweler that can offer sound advice and guidance.

It's All About Romance 
(with a little history and lore to keep it interesting!)c Some people say it all started back in 1477 when the young Archduke of Austria gave his beautiful bride-to-be, Mary of Burgundy, a large diamond set in a simple ring. As he placed this ring on the fourth finger of her left hand and said, "Will you marry me?", a tradition was born. And no nobler tradition exists today than that of giving nature's most beautiful gift to someone you cherish as a representation of the love you share.

There is no better gemstone to represent our deepest and most personal emotions than the diamond. Not only is it the hardest natural substance. It is also the purest - pure carbon - crystallized under amazing amounts of heat and pressure deep within the earth's mantle.

The ancient Greeks believed diamonds to be crystallized dewdrops and splinters from the stars given to mortals as gifts from the gods of Olympus. They referred to the diamond as "adamas" or unconquerable - suggesting the eternity of love it so rightfully represents.

Did you know that diamonds are more than just pretty?

The diamond is one of earth's most rare gifts. Statistics show that an average of a million carats of diamonds must be mined to find a one-carat stone. That means a one-carat diamond is really one-in-a-million! About 250 tons of earth must be excavated to find that same one-carat stone. You really are moving mountains for your loved one when you give the gift of a diamond!

The beauty of the diamond, even in its unpolished state, has long been cherished by civilizations around the world. African Shamans, holy men within a tribe, treasured the diamond for its beauty and power. It was an ancient and eternal symbol of a perfected man whose divine spirit shines forth through the protection it offers.

Diamond has long been heralded as the philosopher's stone. It is said that he (or she) who possesses the philosopher's stone can find supreme and unalterable wisdom, knowing Truth, the greatest of all treasures. To the mystic the diamond represents perfect love - a love that transmutes all that is lifeless to immortal.

The diamond has long been a symbol of man in search of his divine spirit. As the rough diamond is born from the ground dull and lifeless, so the spiritual man begins his journey in the world with his true luminosity hidden. In the hands of a skilled lapidary, the diamond is transformed into a crystal of light and fire. Such is the spirit of man revealing its inherent beauty as it is ground and polished by the life he lives.

Because it was believed that diamonds endowed the wearer with gifts from the gods, they were often mounted into the swords and breastplates of Kings. Thought to provide personal strength, invincibility, courage and magical powers over enemies, warriors stayed clear of anyone wearing diamonds in battle. It's no wonder the King always came out of battles alive. But was it the fact that warriors avoided them or was it because diamonds are indeed magical?

And you thought diamonds were just pretty!

Quality + Beauty = Value

You may have heard or read somewhere that the value of a diamond is determined by it quality or grade. The fact of the matter is, that while quality is very important to a diamond's value, it's real value can't be determined without considering how it looks to you - the buyer - and whether or not you find its beauty appealing. No matter how high the grade, if you don't fall in love with the diamond you're buying, it's not a good value.

With that said, let's review the quality factors that go into grading a diamond. These factors are collectively known as the four Cs - cut, clarity, color and carat weight.

Diamonds have been graded using the four Cs for about fifty years. The Gemological Institute of America pioneered the system back in the 1950s. The system has steadily gained acceptance worldwide. In fact, every major diamond grading laboratory in the world uses the GIA diamond grading nomenclature or something very similar on the reports they issue.

Cut - It's all about beauty

When most people hear the word "cut" they think of shape. Most diamonds are round, but diamonds are also cut into almost any shape imaginable. When diamond graders thinks of shape, they consider both the shape of the stone and the way each individual facet or flat polished surface is placed on the diamond. Most experts agree that it is the arrangement and positioning of the diamond's facets that has the most affect on the diamond's beauty.

Let's Talk Shape

There are many popular diamond shapes. Some are traditional, dating back to the early 1900s. Others are much more recent in their development.

The shapes you see here are no longer commonly cut. These early faceting styles date from about 1840 to 1920.

Let's Talk Angles and Proportions

The shape of a diamond is important, but even more critical is the way the facets are arranged on the stone and the angles and proportions they create. A diamond owes its beauty to the way it handles light. A well-cut diamond is the most brilliant and sparkling of all gemstones. A poorly cut gemstone, no matter how high its other quality factors, will seem lifeless and unappealing to the eye. That's just another reason to spend some time looking at diamonds before you decide to make a purchase.

A traditional round brilliant cut diamond has either 57 or 58 facets or flat polished surfaces. Sometimes the diamond cutter won't cut a tiny flat facet on the point of the stone. If this is the case, you'll have a diamond with 57 facets. With the tiny facet (called a culet) you get 58 facets. Don't worry if your diamond doesn't have a culet. It doesn't make a difference when it comes to the value or looks or your stone.

Round brilliant cut diamonds have the facet arrangement you see here. The stone is divided into three basic parts or areas - the crown (above the girdle), the pavilion (below the girdle) and the girdle itself.

Each facet on a diamond has a special name. The big facet on the crown is called the table. Surrounding the table are eight star facets. The kite-shaped facets are called bezels. Just above the girdle are sixteen upper girdle facets.

On the pavilion are sixteen lower girdle facets and eight pavilion mains. You may or may not have a culet at the point.

There are certain angles, percentages and proportions that must be considered and evaluated to determine the quality of a diamond's cut. The most important factors experts look at are table size, crown angle (measured in degrees), girdle thickness, pavilion depth (as a percentage of the total depth) and total depth.

What's the best cut?

What's the prettiest color or the most attractive flower? There's just no correct answer to a question that has so many variables and is so subjective. There are definitely factors that determine a well-cut stone and factors that would indicate a poorly cut stone, but trying to say there is one best cut is like saying there is one best political party. You might think so, but there are lots of people who will disagree.

Changing and evolving since about 1920, a cutting style referred to as the "Ideal" cut is popular in many jewelry stores today. Though marketed as "ideal", recent studies by major international diamond grading laboratories have discovered that there are many cutting variations outside the "ideal" parameters that yield equally brilliant and dispersive diamonds.

This is not to say that and "Ideal" cut diamond is not beautiful. On the contrary, it is one of the most beautiful cutting styles in existence. But it is not the one, single best cutting style for round diamonds. Recent research into a diamond's optics has confirmed what many diamond cutters have been saying for decades - that there are many combinations of angles and proportions that create a beautiful diamond. Smart diamond buyers today turn to professional jewelers to help them make sense of all the different cut variables - angles, proportions, percentages and dimensions. And finally, the smartest buyers of all use their eyes to find a diamond that radiates the beauty and brilliance they find attractive.

All that glitters…

There are four aspects of a polished diamond that directly relate to the stone's optical and physical properties. These factors are greatly impacted by the way the diamond is cut.

They are luster, brilliance, dispersion, and scintillation.

Luster can be described as the quality and amount of light that is reflected off the surface of a diamond. Luster is directly related to the hardness of the stone and the quality of its polish. A well polished diamond is the most lustrous material on earth because diamond is also the hardest material known to man.

Brilliance refers to the amount of white light that is returned to the eye from both internal and external surfaces. The amount of brilliance you see coming from inside a diamond is determined by the quality of the stone's polish the number and size of any inclusions inside the gem. External brilliance is controlled solely by the quality of a stone's polish. It that regard brilliance and luster are closely related.

Dispersion is sometimes called "fire". Dispersion is the display of spectral or rainbow colors seen coming from the inside of a diamond. The amount of fire produced in a diamond is directly related to how well the stone is proportioned. A well-cut diamond will offer a pleasing balance between dispersion and brilliance.

Scintillation is just a big work for "sparkle". A diamond will show scintillation or sparkle only when movement is involved. The diamond, the light source or the viewer must be in motion for scintillation to happen. A well-cut diamond in motion is absolutely the most dazzling gemstone in the world.

A diamonds beauty is largely measured by how well the cutting process maximizes the stone's inherent physical and optical properties. There is no way a high color or clarity grade can offset the visual results caused by poor cutting. But a well cut diamond with less than average clarity and color can be a dazzling spectacle of light and fire.

Remember - Cut really is all about beauty!

Clarity - from the inside out

First things first. No matter what you've heard, read or been told by your best friend in the whole wide world - clarity is NOT a measurement of a diamond's beauty. NO. It's not. Only in very uncommon situations is there any kind of correlation between a diamond's clarity grade and the way it looks to the unaided eye.

With that said, what exactly is a clarity grade? It's a measurement of a diamond's purity and rarity. That's it!

The clarity grade of a diamond is determined by a skilled grader under optimum laboratory conditions using ten-power (10X) magnification. The grader is looking for any characteristics inside the diamond (called inclusions) or any characteristics on the surface (called blemishes). Once the grader has found all these characteristics they are evaluated based on their size, type, position, color and number. Once the grader has finished this process a final clarity grade is assigned. There are eleven clarity grades in the GIA system ranging from Flawless (Fl) to Imperfect 3 (I3).

F1(Flawless at 10X)

IF(Internally Flawless at 10X)

VVS1 - VVS2(Very, very slightly included at 10X)

VS1 - VS2(Very slightly included at 10X)

SI1 - SI2(Slightly Included at 10X)

I1 - I2 - I3(Imperfect)

In a very small percentage of diamonds in the SI range some characteristics may be visible to the unaided eye. Diamonds falling in the Imperfect grades will more commonly have eye-visible inclusions, but an Imperfect grade DOES NOT necessarily mean that the stone will be unattractive to the eye. This is just another reason why is it so important to look at a diamond carefully before you buy it. It's also another reason why you should never buy a diamond based solely on its grades.

Clarity is a range

Many consumers become too fixated on the clarity grade of a stone without considering the bigger picture. Think of a clarity grade as your age. Let's say you're 34 years old (and don't look a day over 29). You could be very close to your 34th birthday (maybe it was yesterday) or you could be really close to your 35th birthday (it could be tomorrow), but when people ask your age you just tell them that you are 34. It works the same way with clarity grades. A VS2 diamond could be high or low in the VS range. In fact, if the diamond at either end of the range was sent to another lab (or even back to the same lab at a later date) it might very well get a different grade. Diamond grading documents don't tell you where in the range a stone falls. It could be right on the edge in either direction or smack in the center of the range. You'll never know. This is a very good reason not to get too hung up on a diamond's clarity grade when making a decision. Always consider beauty first and foremost when selecting a diamond.

Remember - A high clarity grade may mean rarer (and more expensive), but it doesn't mean more beautiful!

Color - a range of choices

When most people think of diamonds they think of a colorless stone. Although most diamonds appear colorless to the unaided eye in a face-up position, the majority has a body color that can be seen by an experienced grader in the proper environment. By far, the most common body color of a diamond is yellow. Diamonds with a tint of brown are also relatively common.

Generally speaking, the more colorless the diamond the more valuable. In that regard, the color grade of a diamond is a measurement of rarity. Rarity is directly linked to value. Just as with clarity, a color grade cannot determine the beauty of a diamond. Color preference and perception is a very personal and subjective thing. Look at the stone and decide for yourself if you like its color before you make decisions based on a letter of the alphabet.

Do you know you A, B, Cs?

If you are color grading a diamond you don't need to. That's because the Gemological Institute of America (and most other international laboratories) use a color grading scale ranging from "D" to "Z". "D" is the top of the scale and represents a completely colorless diamond while "Z" is at the bottom. This "D" to "Z" scale is only used on diamonds that have body colors of yellow, brown and gray. Other colors (and yellows and browns past the "Z" grade) are considered "fancy" colors and a different system is used.

For most yellow and brown diamonds their value generally decreases as their grade moves down the scale toward "Z". But once a diamond passes the "Z" grade it becomes more valuable and more expensive. Likewise, as diamonds move up the scale toward "D" their value increases.

GIA Color Grade Description
D, E, F colorless
G, H, I, J near colorless
K, L, M faint yellow or brown
N to Z very light to light yellow or brown
Things you need to know about color grades

Just like with clarity grading, a color grade only puts you into a range. For example, a "G" color diamond may in fact be very very close to being an "H" if it is low in the range or very close to a "F" if high in a range. Let your eye determine if the color of a diamond is pleasing. Don't let the grade influence your opinion of a diamond's beauty.

Differences between color grades are extremely subtle and can only be determined accurately by comparing stones to known sample stones called "Master Stones". There is actually one set of master stones owned by GIA. Before a diamond can be used as a master stone it must be compared to GIA's masters and perfectly match the color of one of the masters.

Diamonds are graded in a facedown position. This eliminates many of the brilliant reflections within the stone and helps the grade to see the stone's true body color. When a diamond is turned face-up it almost always looks whiter or more colorless than it really is. Size is also a factor. Smaller stones, even in lower color grades, will tend to look more colorless while larger stones will appear more tinted.

Carat Weight - bigger is better?

Just like all gemstones, the weight of a diamond is measured in carats. A carat is a metric unit of measurement that is exactly 1/5 of a gram (0.20). That means there are 5 carats to a gram. A carat is divided into 100 points (like pennies in a dollar).

While some people think bigger is better, no one can argue the fact that bigger means more expensive if all other factors are equal.

The carat weight of a diamond can also be related to a stone's rarity. It is much harder to find a rough diamond that will yield a one-carat stone than it is to find two rough diamonds that will each produce a 0.50-carat diamond. Because of this, a one-carat diamond is substantially more expensive per carat then a half-carat stone. As the diamond increases in size the per carat prices increases exponentially instead of proportionally.



The beauty and magic of pearls have been a source of fascination and desire since their discovery in ancient times. Viewed as magic charms, symbols of purity and love, or sources of wisdom and power, pearls are one of the oldest known gems and have been revered by countless civilizations.

Legend has it that Cleopatra dissolved a large pearl in a glass of wine and drank it to impress Marc Antony with her wealth and power - a ploy that worked all too well. Knights in the Middle Ages wore pearls onto the battlefield to protect themselves from harm. Queen Elizabeth I so loved the white gems that she had them sewn on all her clothing and wore ropes of them around her neck. In addition to its fascinating beauty, the pearl occupies a unique spot in the world of precious gemstones. Instead of being found in a core of rock, a pearl is made over time by a living creature, an oyster.

Prized by man, the pearl begins its life as an irritant to the oyster. To protect itself, the oyster coats an intruding object or grain of sand with nacre, a crystalline substance that builds up over time, resulting in a shimmering, iridescent creation. The culturing process developed by man mimics nature. Pearl farmers implant a fine bead into the oyster where it cannot be expelled. The oyster does the rest and creates its lustrous masterpiece.

Types of Pearls

Akoya - This is the most familiar type of pearl sold in necklaces. Akoyas from Japan and China are grown in pearl oysters and are known for their shimmering beauty and warm colors which range from rose, cream and gold to silvery white and blue/gray.

South Sea - Large (10mm and up) cultured pearls grown in tropical and semi-tropical oysters in the South Seas and around the coast of Australia. Their color ranges from silvery white to gold; they are quite costly due to their size and rarity.

Tahitian Black - Large (10mm and up) cultured pearls grown in black-lipped oysters in French Polynesia. Colors range from silvery gray and green to deep purple and black. Their large sizes and unique colors command premium prices.

Mabe - Large, hemispherical cultured pearls grown against the inside shells of oysters rather than in the oysters' bodies. Less expensive than round cultured pearls due to their half-round shape, they are most popular in earrings, rings and brooches.

Freshwater - Pearls cultivated in mussels, not oysters, in freshwater lakes and rivers in China, Japan and the United States. Due to their easy cultivation, freshwaters are fairly inexpensive. Shapes can be freeform, rice shaped, off-round or spherical and colors range from milky white, to peach, pink, and lavender.

Keshi - Also known as seed pearls, these tiny pearls can be as small as a grain of sand and form accidentally in many cultured pearl oysters.

Baroque - Cultured pearls that are irregularly-shaped, yet often lustrous and appealing. Due to their shapes, baroque pearls are often less costly than round, cultured pearls.

How To Buy Cultured Pearls

When purchasing a piece of cultured pearl jewelry, it's best to buy pearls from a knowledgeable, professional jeweler who can explain how to make the most of your purchase and ensure that you are getting the best quality cultured pearls within your budget. But always remember that the better the quality of pearls you select, the more valued they will be over time. Use the following quality factors to evaluate any piece of cultured pearl jewelry.

Lustre - A combination of surface brilliance and a deep glow that seems to emanate from within the heart of a pearl. The lustre of a good quality pearl should be bright, not dull, enabling you to see your own reflection clearly on the surface of a pearl. A pearl that appears too white, dull or chalky indicates poor quality.

Surface - Since cultured pearls are grown by oysters in nature, it is rare to find a pearl whose surface is free from any type of blemish. Blemishes can include disfiguring spots, bumps, pits and cracks on the surface of a pearl. The fewer blemishes on the surface of a pearl, the more valuable it will be.

Shape - It is very rare to find a perfectly round pearl, but generally, the rounder the pearl, the more valuable it is. Cultured pearls also come in oval, pear and baroque shapes.

Color - Cultured pearls come in a wide range of colors from pink to black. While the color of a pearl is often a matter of personal preference, people with fair skin tend to look best in slightly pink or silvery white pearls, while cream and golden pearls look best on those with darker complexions.

Size - Cultured pearls are measured by their diameter in millimeters. They can be smaller than one millimeter, in the case of seed pearls, or as large as 20 millimeters for a big South Sea pearl. With all other quality factors being equal, the larger the pearl, the more valuable it will be since it is difficult for an oyster to grow a pearl larger than five millimeters. The most popular size of pearls sold around the world is about seven millimeters.

Matching - When buying a strand of cultured pearls, matching is very important. All the pearls in a good quality strand should be evenly matched in terms of luster, surface, shape, color and size. Well-matched pearl necklaces command top prices because pearl growers must harvest about 10,000 oysters in order to find enough pearls that match closely enough to make up a simple, 16-inch strand.

Selecting a Cultured Pearl Necklace

Choose your cultured pearl necklace based on your appearance, personality and style. For example, short necklaces are best with long necks; longer lengths tend to slenderize and elongate the body. Fair-skinned women look best in rose-hued pearls, deeper skin tones are more flattered by cream or golden hues. Let your expert jeweler customize a necklace so its proportions and color are exactly matched to yours. Use this guide to necklace lengths and terminology:

Choker - A necklace 14 inches to 15 inches in length that rests on the collarbone.

Princess - An 18-inch necklace strung with either graduated or uniform pearls.

Matinee - A slightly longer necklace, usually 20 to 24 inches in length.

Opera - A 30- to 36-inch necklace, this length should fall to the breastbone and can often be worn long or doubled.

Rope or sautoir - Any necklace longer than opera length. Ropes are often worn knotted or with a shortener for added versatility of style.

Dog collar - A multiple strand pearl necklace that fits closely around the neck.

Bib - A single necklace with multiple strands of pearls of varying lengths that are worn nested together.

Torsade - A necklace in which several strands of pearls (usually freshwater) are twisted together and held with a special clasp.

Graduated - A necklace with pearls of gradually increasing size with the smallest at the back and the largest at the center.

Uniform - A necklace in which all pearls appear to be the same size, although there is usually a slight difference between the center and end pearls.

Your Cultured Pearl Wardrobe

Begin your pearl wardrobe with a matching pearl necklace, earrings and bracelet. The necklace can be lengthened to a rope or sautoir by letting your jeweler match new pearls to the size and color of existing ones or it can be updated with a pendant or jeweled clasp. Add a ring, pin or earrings set with dramatic mabé pearls or South Sea pearls. Or, consider a long cultured pearl strand with several invisible clasps that allow it to be worn in different lengths or combined with a matching bracelet. Go for high drama with a ring or earrings set with one white pearl, one black.

Caring for Your Cultured Pearls

Remember that cultured pearls are precious jewels and should always be treated as such.

Don't toss them in a purse or jewelry box where they can become scratched by metal or stones.

Do treat your pearls gently; keep them in a chamois bag or wrap them in tissue when you put them away.

Don't expose pearls to acid-based hair sprays, cosmetics or perfumes, or clean them with chemicals or abrasives.

Do wash them with mild soap and water when you take them off. This will remove any traces of hair spray or perfume.

Always have pearls strung with a knot between each pearl to avoid abrasion and to prevent loss if the string should break. Be sure to bring your pearl necklace to your jeweler for restringing once a year, as cosmetics and ordinary wear can damage or stretch the nylon threads on which the pearls are strung.

Where to Buy Cultured Pearls

When you are buying cultured pearls or any piece of fine jewelry, you are making an important decision. How do you know where to buy?

To make sure you get jewelry that you will be happy with now and for years to come follow a simple rule: buy from a professional jeweler, someone you can trust. Choose a retailer who has been serving the community for a number of years and has an established reputation.

Ask if the jeweler is a member of the Jewelers of America, the national association for retail jewelers, or look for the "J" mark on the door. Your JA jeweler is knowledgeable and can help you select, and match your cultured pearls and guide you, not only through this purchase, but any fine jewelry purchase.



Reasons to buy a fine watch

It's practical. Watches today not only tell time, but they can tell you the day, date and time in other time zones, remind you of an appointment, wake you up and monitor your heartbeat.

It's fashionable. Watch styles reflect and define the times, from sports chronographs to ultra-thin dress styles. They're an important accessory.

It's prestigious. Some watches carry the grace and tradition of names recognized around the world as signifying the highest elegance in jewelry and timepieces.

It's artistic. Fine watches are designed by artisans and craftspeople who fashion case, bracelet, dial and sometimes gems into not just a functional timepiece, but a work of art.

It's a potential heirloom. Your watch can be an investment in beauty and value. Certain gold and diamond watches, over time, even increase in value. Witness the prices some prestige timepieces fetch at famous auction houses. And, it is a lovely remembrance of a loved one.

It's priced to fit your pocketbook. Whatever your price range, whatever your need, there's a watch for you. If you enjoy changing your watch to fit your activity, fashionable less-expensive yet highly accurate watches are available from your jeweler in a variety of styles and price ranges.

If you can afford the most extravagantly designed, precious metal watch encrusted with gemstones, your jeweler can offer you a wide selection to choose from.

Types of watches MECHANICALS are the traditional "wind-up" watches. They work because of a mainspring inside the watch which the wearer winds by turning the crown on the side of the watch. The spring gradually unwinds and turns tiny interlocking wheels which move the watch hands to measure seconds, minutes and hours.

The AUTOMATIC or SELF-WINDING watches wind themselves as the wearer moves their wrist. The wearer's arm actions cause a weight behind the movement to rotate, winding the mainspring. They can also be wound manually.

QUARTZ watches are powered by batteries, rather than a mechanical spring. The batteries send electronic impulses through a small bar of synthetic quartz crystal which vibrates more than 32,000 times per second. Those vibrations are channeled through a series of gears that result in one impulse per second.

The terms ANALOG and DIGITAL refer to the way timeis displayed on the dial. Analog simply refers to a watch with traditional time-telling "hands." Quartz analogs are watches in which the hands are moved by the electronic impulses passing from the battery through the quartz crystal to a step motor which moves the hands.

Digital watches display the time with digits - numbers -instead of hands. The numerals are created by either light-emitting diodes (LED) or liquid crystal displays (LCD).

Quartz watches are generally more accurate than mechanical watches, for two reasons. One, mechanical watches have many moving parts. That means more friction and less accuracy as the parts interact. Digitals have no moving parts. Two, the quartz crystal's constant and amazingly frequent vibrations per second enable watches to measure the second with unprecedented accuracy. A quartz watch should function properly for years with a battery life of one to up to five years

SPECIAL FEATURE watches perform a variety of tasks. Besides telling the hours, minutes and seconds, many watches reveal the month, day and year. Some also give the phases of the moon or the time in other countries or time zones.

CHRONOGRAPH watches measure small fractions of a second. Some are used to calculate speeds, distances and altitudes. There are specialized watches for astronauts, pilots, parachutists and skin divers-even timepieces that meet the special needs of blind persons. Also, most fine watches today are specially made to resist water, dust, wind, shock and magnetic fields.

Price & style Watch prices range from around $20 to more than $10,000.

The most expensive watches are those made with precious metals such as gold or platinum and decorated with precious gemstones. They also require the labor of skilled craftspeople. Some of the finest watches are handmade by master watchmakers who have spent a lifetime developing their craft.

Selecting a watch, like selecting any piece of jewelry, should be based on personal taste. Today's watches are not only timekeepers, but are considered important fashion accessories. Men and women make a definite fashion statement by the watch they choose - sporty, dressy, youthful, tailored or sophisticated.

People today are replacing their old-fashioned watch with a complete wardrobe of watches to suit their lifestyles. For sport or leisure, a person may want to wear a chronograph. For business use, a more tailored-looking watch with a leather strap and neutral color dial is sometimes desired. For evening and dress wear, the sky is the limit for decorative and elegant watches. Gold or platinum bracelets with or without precious gemstone accents - for men and women - provide an excellent way to show off your fashion panache. To achieve the expensive luxury look without the expense, watches of gold overlay are also available.

Where to buy your watch No matter what style of watch you choose, there are some guidelines to follow. Buy a watch with a familiar trademark or one whose performance has a good reputation. To avoid being "ripped off," always buy from a reputable jeweler whom you know and trust in the community, who is available today for advice in making your purchase and tomorrow for service and future reliable purchases. Since it is difficult, if not impossible for the untrained person to detect a counterfeit, avoid the transient street peddler or questionable mail-order promotions which advertise huge discounts on so-called designer or "famous name" watches.

Read your warranty. Be sure that the manufacturer is behind the warranty.

Take the time to show you care Wind a mechanical watch in a clockwise direction, preferably about the same time each day. Take it off your wrist so as not to place undue pressure on the stem.

Although many watches are equipped with shock-resistant devices, it's not wise to subject it to overly vigorous treatment.

Replace broken or scratched crystals immediately: even a hairline crack can let dust or moisture into the mechanism, threatening its accuracy.

Unless the degree of water-resistance was clearly specified when you bought your watch, don't risk wearing it into the shower or pool, or on a moist wrist.

No matter how handy you are, don't attempt any "do-it-yourself" watch repairs. Only an expert watchmaker should be trusted to put your watch back into working condition if there is a problem.

It's best to replace a battery in a quartz watch before it runs out. Dead batteries left in the watch can leak or corrode and ruin it. Also, don't attempt to change the battery in a watch yourself. Take it to a specially trained jeweler or manufacturer's authorized watchmaker or watch repair person. (Batteries can run for one to five years, depending on the watch.)

Finally, if you have any questions, ask your jeweler. Your jeweler values you as a customer, and you should trust their judgement.

As time goes by From the beginning of recorded history, it has been important for man to know the age-old question, "What time is it?" Although we know the sun rises and sets on a regular schedule, increments of time in between have come to dictate to us our daily individual lifestyles.

Cavemen used a pointed stick and a circle of stones to make the first crude sundial. Generations followed with equally rudimentary devices which gradually became more intricate: knotted ropes, hour glasses, water clocks, notched candles, candle clocks and clock lamps.

Finally, mechanical clocks driven by wheels and weights made their debut during the Middle Ages. These were made more accurate when Galileo discovered the pendulum principle. Locksmith Peter Henlein then invented the coiled mainspring around 1500 and used it in the first portable clocks.

In 1571, Queen Elizabeth I was presented with the first known wristwatch: unfortunately, like most watches of that day, it kept atrocious time. Eighteenth and Nineteenth century craftsmen made the watch a work of art while improving its efficiency. Today, modern technology has brought the watch to a peak of accuracy and beauty, and has invented some totally new ways to mark the passage of time.


Real Jewelry offers you beauty that lasts. It also represents your personal statement of style. Another wonderful fact is that there is real jewelry to fit every taste and every budget.

There are no firm rules of right or wrong jewelry choices. However, just as you consider your personal features and build when choosing clothing fashions, you might also do so when you're selecting jewelry.

The purpose of this book is not to set down rules, but to offer general guidelines for selecting jewelry that flatters you!

Height and bone structure Remember that the most important rule for buying jewelry is to buy what you like because its beauty will last a lifetime.

The first and most important factor for you to consider is your overall body size and shape. To help you apply the fashion guidelines to your specific type, we have divided height into three separate categories, with discussions of pertinent bone structure. For your purposes, simply refer to the category in which your height is included.

Petite (Under 5'4")

Necklaces - Petite women best wear collar-length or longer necklaces. Styles with "V" shapes and ones that fall below the breast but above the waist elongate the figure.

Bracelets-Bangles flatter petite women . Several narrow ones are more flattering than one wide one because they are more in proportion to the petite's overall size.

Earrings-Concentrate on styles that sweep upward, pulling the viewer's eye up. Full-figured petites look especially well in sharp geometric shapes.

Average (5'4"- 5'7")

Necklaces-The average-height woman can wear necklaces of any length unless she is full-figured. In that case, she should avoid necklaces which rest on the breastline.

Bracelets-Wide bracelets are more in proportion to the average-height woman than very narrow ones.

Earrings - Earring choices are unlimited and should be considered in connection with face shape and, of course, hair styles. Feel free to select exciting geometric shapes such as triangles, squares and ovals.

Tall (Over 5'7")

Necklaces-Almost any length goes well. The thin tall woman may select chokers which cut the line of the neck and de-emphasize height. Necklaces made of stones or pearls of the same size are especially flattering to the tall woman.

Bracelets-The tall woman has a wide range of bracelet choices as long as she stays away from too-delicate pieces. The full-figured tall woman should wear several thin bracelets together to give a more balanced feeling, or a couple of wide bracelets.

Earrings-Long dangling earrings are especially flattering to tall women. Because there is plenty of space between the ear lobe and shoulder, she can wear any shape earrings except tiny buttons which look lost.

Face Shapes Now, let's combine the information pertaining to height and bone structure with the shape of your face. There are four basic shapes: oval, round, heart-shaped and rectangular. Analyze your face shape, and determine the fashions that will best complement it. Remember to select jewelry that is in proportion to the size of your face.


The oval face is considered to be the perfect shape. The proportions at the forehead are not too wide, and the line from the forehead flows into high cheekbones, then narrows slightly to a rounded chin.

Necklaces-Any shape necklace will work with the oval. A choker looks just as good as opera-length pearls or any necklace that comes to a "V."

Earrings-Round shapes, button or hoop earrings look well on the oval face, but triangular shapes are especially flattering. Dangling earrings look well, if they are not too long. Earrings that move up the ear or have wings that sweep up minimize a too-thin face or long nose.


The round face is a circle-the width is equal to the length, with no discernible angles at the cheek or chin. The aim of jewelry is to add length.

Necklaces--To give a dimension of length, look for long necklaces, 28" to 32".

Earrings-Squares, oblongs, rectangles work well as do dangling and angular designs. Elongated styles also go well because they draw attetion down instead of around.


The rectangular face has more length than width and it has distinguishable angles. The width of the face at the forehead is the same as the chin. This face needs jewelry that adds width and camouflages the length of the face.

Necklaces--A high choker reduces the length of the face, particularly if the neck is too long. Also, a 16" or 18" necklace that ends in a "U" flatters this face.


This face is wide at the forehead and cheeks, then narrows sharply to a point at the chin. Think of this face as a triangle. It likes jewelry that adds width to the chin to draw the eye away from the point.

Necklaces-A choker necklace is a favorite style because it softens and diminishes the sharp angle of the chin.

Earrings-Look for earrings that are wider at the bottom than the top. Dangling earrings that form a triangle are especially flattering.

Hands One final area to take into account when buying jewelry is the hand. This is a body area that attracts a great deal of attention because people "talk" with their hands or otherwise bring attention to them. It is important to select your ring with the same attention as other jewelry, striving to have a ring that flatters your hand.

The length of the fingers is the determining factor when purchasing rings. Women with long fingers, like tall women, can handle almost any style. In all cases, rings, like all jewelry, must be selected in proportion to the size of the hand. For example, if the long-fingered hand is also overly thin, oval or round settings are best because they soften the look. Also, wider bands are more flattering than thin ones.

The hands with short fingers look best with settings that remain within the knuckle. The setting or stone that extends past the knuckle only accentuates the hand's shortness and makes it look less elegant. Oval or marquise shape stones elongate the hand and make good choices for short fingers. Round solitaire settings are also good because of their simplicity. If you want a large ring, opt for a dome shape of a high setting that won't overpower the short hand.

Finally, when buying a ring, it is most important to keep comfort in mind. The hand is a working, functioning body area, as opposed to the earlobe which doesn't put forth any effort. Don't forsake comfort for looks. Measure the length of your knuckle and buy what allows you to move your finger freely.

Summing up Whatever your body proportions or height, there are real jewelry styles to fit your "look." Your local jeweler has a wide variety of fashions for you to compare, try on and select what flatters you . Rely on your jeweler for advice, information and service before and after your purchase.


Because of its beauty and value, platinum jewelry has always been given as a special expression of love for engagements, weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays. One of the rarest precious metals, platinum is found in only a few locations around the world.

Platinum has a rich and noble history. It was first used by the ancient Egyptians about three thousand years ago. Eight hundred years later, the Incas worked with platinum. The first platinum jewelry in Europe appeared around the year 1780, at the court of Louis XVI of France.

Many of the world's most famous diamonds, including the Hope Diamond, are set in platinum. Carl Fabergé, the famed 19th-century Russian jeweler, prized working in platinum, as did Louis Cartier of Paris and many other great jewelers throughout history.

Why Platinum?

Platinum is among the finest, purest and rarest precious metals. It has an understated elegance that appeals to both men and women.

One of the strongest and most enduring of metals, it is also one of the heaviest. A piece of jewelry containing 90 percent pure platinum weighs 60 percent more than a 14-karat gold piece of similar size. Platinum is ideal for jewelry that's worn everyday because it shows little wear. It's also hypoallergenic and resists tarnish.

Platinum jewelry is pure. In the United States platinum jewelry generally contains anywhere from 85 to 95 percent pure platinum. By comparison, 18-karat gold is 75 percent pure gold and 14-karat gold is only 58 percent pure gold.

If a piece of platinum jewelry is marked "Platinum" then it contains at least 95 percent pure platinum. Jewelry with 85 to 95 percent pure platinum is marked "950 Plat." or "950 Pt.," "850 Plat." or "850 Pt.," etc. Both the two- and four-letter abbreviation for platinum is used.

Jewelry containing at least 50 percent pure platinum and at least 95 percent platinum group metals (platinum, palladium, iridium, osmium, rhodium and ruthenium) is marked with the platinum content followed by the content of the other metal. For example: "600 Plat. 350 Irid." or "600 Pt. 350 Ir."

Jewelry containing less than 50 percent pure platinum content cannot be marked with the word "platinum" or any abbreviation thereof.

A professional jeweler can explain these platinum markings to you and assist you in selecting platinum jewelry that will bring pleasure to you and the recipient for years to come.

Platinum is rare. To produce a single ounce of finished platinum, a total of 10 tons of ore must be mined. In comparison, only three tons of ore are required to produce one ounce of gold. This rarity gives platinum its cachet.

Platinum is lustrous. Platinum's rich, white luster complements diamonds and other precious gems while its neutral color enhances a stone's brilliance and depth.

Platinum is fashionable. Platinum jewelry appeals to many people today because of its subtle beauty and understated elegance. Many platinum jewelry designs are accented with 18-karat gold, creating a sophisticated, versatile and fashionable look.

Whether you choose a ring, pin, bracelet, earrings, necklace or bridal jewelry, you can find new and sophisticated platinum designs. Some are all platinum for a sophisticated look, but many feature 18-karat gold accents.

As platinum's pure white luster, strength and durability are recognized and admired, bridal couples worldwide are rediscovering platinum as the metal of choice for engagement, wedding and anniversary jewelry.

A diamond and its setting should last forever. Because platinum is superior to other metals in strength and durability, it offers a diamond the greatest protection. The breathtaking radiance of a diamond fused with the timeless elegance of platinum creates a rare and enduring symbol of love.

Common Questions about Platinum Jewelry

Why is platinum's purity important to me?

Platinum, one of the world's strongest metals, is hypoallergenic, tarnish-resistant, and extremely durable.

Is platinum the same as white gold?

No, it is quite different. During World War II, the U.S. government prohibited platinum use in non-military applications, including jewelry. Because of strong consumer preference for platinum's pure white luster, white gold was substituted in platinum's absence. To create white gold, yellow gold is alloyed with other metals to achieve a white look. However, platinum is white to begin with and maintains its white luster permanently. Its purity, strength, rarity, durability and naturally rich, white color make it the best choice.

How should I care and clean my platinum jewelry?

Platinum jewelry should be cleaned the same way you clean other fine jewelry. Use a good prepackaged jewelry cleaner available at your local jeweler or have it professionally cleaned by your local jeweler. As with all precious jewelry, handle with care, not allowing pieces to touch or scratch each other.

Will platinum scratch?

Signs of wear, including scratches, will inevitably appear in all precious metals, even in platinum. However, due to platinum's durability and strength there is usually little metal loss when the piece is scratched. If your platinum jewelry does develop visible scratches, you should have the piece repolished by a professional jeweler.

Is platinum fashionable?

Will it coordinate with my gold jewelry? Platinum's white color beautifully contrasts with yellow gold and adds versatility to your existing wardrobe.

Where to Buy Platinum Jewelry?

Platinum jewelry can be worn over a lifetime and passed on to future generations, so where you buy it is important. 

But how do you know where to buy?

The answer is simple: buy from a professional jeweler, someone you can trust. Choose a retailer who has been serving the community for a number of years and has an established reputation.

Ask if the jeweler is a member of Jewelers of America, the national association for retail jewelers. Or look for the "J" mark on the door. JA jewelers are knowledgeable and provide a wide selection of fine jewelry that will make selecting your platinum piece a pleasure. Your JA jeweler will not only help you with this purchase, but can help you with all your future jewelry needs. Your professional jeweler will not only help you with your purchases, but with repairs, custom design or simply answer all you questions about jewelry


Just about everyone knows what his or her birthstone is.

Why is that?

Because people still enjoy the folklore associated with the tradition of the birthstone. They like believing that wearing a birthstone brings them good luck and protects them.

Early civilization as far back as the Assyrians (1400 BC) invested rare and beautiful gemstones with magical properties. Some minerals were thought to contain a force or possess certain values and powers. For instance, amethyst was said to prevent intoxication.

Tradition associates a gem with each sign of the zodiac based on a color system. Color was thought to unleash the power attributed to the stone.

In time, birthstones became associated with calendar months rather than the zodiac. And people began to select birthstones in colors other than the original.

The Roman, Arabic, Jewish, Polish, Russian and Italian lists were all different.

The following list of birthstones, which is the one commonly used today, was adopted in 1912 by the American National Association of Jewelers, which later evolved into the Jewelers of America.

Month Color Stone
January Dark Red Garnet
February Purple Amethyst
March Pale Blue Aquamarine
April White (Clear) Diamond
May Bright Green Emerald
June Cream Pearl Moonstone
July Red Ruby
August Pale Green Peridot
September Deep Blue Sapphire
October Variegated Opal or Tourmaline
November Yellow Topaz or Citrine
December Sky Blue Turquoise or Blue Topaz

The following information includes the fascinating facts and folklore attributed to each birthstone.

Back January


Garnet is the accepted birthstone for the month of January. It is also the accepted anniversary gemstone for the second year of marriage.

When most people think of garnet, they picture the dark red bohemian garnet that was popular in Victorian times. You may be surprised to learn that garnets are found in every color except blue, including brilliant green tsavorite garnet, raspberry pink rhodolite garnet, and orange malaya garnet. Bright red "anthill" garnets are found in Arizona. The Tsars of Russia favored rare green damantoid garnets.

Garnets offer enough variety in appearance to suit every taste, as well as an outstanding price range to suit every pocketbook.

Legend holds that Noah hung a large garnet in the ark for illumination. It reportedly also gives its wearer guidance in the night, protection from nightmares, and according to the Egyptians, is an antidote for snake bites and food poisoning. It was also thought to have a special affinity with the blood.

Garnets are durable and brilliant and will give years of pleasure.

As with all gemstones, care should be taken to protect it from scratches, sharp blows, and extreme tempera-ture changes.

Garnets are found in the U.S., Africa, Sri Lanka, Brazil and India.

Back February


Amethyst is the recognized birthstone for February and the accepted anniversary gemstone for the sixth year of marriage.

Amethyst is a variety of quartz, and comes in pale lilac to rich, deep purple shades. Ideally, it is a deep medium purple with rose-colored flashes that give amethyst its beauty and fire.

Because of its abundance, it is readily available in all sizes and shapes. It is durable and can be worn every day. Coupled with the folk legend of the Greeks that it will prevent intoxication when worn, it becomes a most desirable gem!

Amethyst was said to have a sobering effect on the wearer-not only those who indulged but on those over-excited by love's passion as well. It has symbolized peace, protection and tranquility. Some say it will prevent baldness and improve the complexion, as well as protect from treason and deceit. Because royalty has always adored the color purple, amethysts abound in the ornaments of ancient Greeks and Egyptians, and in the British Crown Jewels.

As with all gemstones, care should be taken to protect it from scratches and sharp blows.

It is found mainly in Brazil, Uruguay and Zambia.

Back March


Aquamarine is the traditional birthstone for March. It is also the accepted anniversary gem for the 19th year of marriage.

The ideal color of aquamarine is a refreshing pastel sea blue. Stones with a clear blue color without green or gray are generally the most valuable.

If you are looking for a big, durable gemstone, aqua is readily available in larger sizes and is truly dramatic when cut in rectangular or oval shapes. It is a member of the important beryl family, which also includes emerald.

In ancient times, the stone was said to aid seafarers; thus it is an excellent gift suggestion for sailors or one who takes frequent cruises! To dream of aquamarine signifies the making of new friends; to wear aquamarine earrings brings love and affection. It is a universal symbol of youth, hope and health.

As part of the normal finishing process, some aquamarines are heated to remove traces of yellow.

To maintain the brilliance of this beautiful gemstone, it should be immersed in jewelry cleaner or in lukewarm soapy water and cleaned with a small bristle brush.

Do not use a home ultrasonic machine.

As with all gemstones, care should be taken to protect it from scratches and sharp blows.

Aquamarine is found mainly in Brazil, Nigeria, Zambia, Madagascar and Ukraine.

Back April


Diamond is the birthstone for the month of April. Besides being the most popular gemstone for engagement rings, diamond is the accepted anniversary gem for the 10th and 60th years of marriage.

The name "diamond" comes from the Greek word "adamas" meaning unconquerable-suggesting the eternity of love. In fact, diamonds have been the traditional symbol of love since ancient Greece. Discovered about 2,500 years ago in India, the ancients believed they were splinters from the stars, perhaps crystallized lightening or hardened dew drops.

Although diamonds are associated with being a colorless stone, they are occasionally found with a strong, bright color-green, red, pink, blue, canary yellow and amber. These "fancy" colored diamonds are highly-prized.

Occasionally, to improve appearance, diamonds are laser-drilled and, sometimes, a foreign substance is used to fill surface cavities or fractures. Diamonds may also be irradiated and/or heated to induce "fancy" colors.

Even though it is the most durable of gemstones, care should be taken to protect a diamond from sharp blows.

Household chemicals may discolor or damage the mounting. To clean, you may use a jewelry cleaner, lukewarm soapy water and a small bristle brush, soak in a half-and-half solution of cold water and ammonia for 1/2 hour, or use a home ultrasonic machine with its recommended cleaner.

Back May


Emerald is the birthstone for the month of May. It is also the anniversary gemstone for the 20th and 35th years of marriage.

Emerald is one of the most highly-prized of all the gems. The name comes from the Greek "smaragdos" which means green stone. The most prized is pure grass green.

Emeralds are often characterized by a garden of included crystals trapped within, known as the "jardin", because under magnification you will see all sorts of lovely patterns resembling foliage in a garden. A flawless, clear emerald is very rare and is usually found in only small sizes. Small to medium sized stones are often faceted in the "step" or emerald cut. The gem is also lovely when cut into a cabochon or dome shape. Sometimes emeralds are even carved.

According to legend, the wearing of emerald not only cured a wide range of ailments, including low I.Q., poor eyesight and infertility, but also enabled the wearer to predict the future.

As part of the normal fashioning process, most emeralds are immersed in colorless oil or resin so small voids are not as noticeable.

Care should be taken to protect it from scratches, sharp blows, household chemicals, and extreme temperature changes. Do not use a home ultrasonic machine.

Emeralds are found mainly in Colombia, Brazil, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Back June


Pearl is the birthstone for the month of June. It is also the accepted anniversary gemstone for the 3rd and 30th years of marriage.

A pearl is the product of an oyster's defense mechanism. When a foreign irritant is introduced either by man (cultured) or naturally, the oyster immediately surrounds it with layers of a substance called nacre. This forms the exquisite gemstone know as pearl.

Pearls come in a wide range of colors. They should be relatively free from skin blemishes. The more perfectly round the shape the better. The higher the luster, or "orient", the more valuable the specimen. The larger the pearl, the greater the value.

Besides the popular round shape, there are stylish mabe (large hemispherical cultured pearls), fresh water (elongated in interesting shapes and colors), and South Sea (large cultured pearls 10mm and up from Australia's and Indonesia's waters), to name a few.

Pearls have been recognized as the emblem of modesty, chastity and purity. They have come to symbolize a happy marriage.

Avoid household chemicals, cosmetics, hair sprays, and perfumes. Don't use ultrasonic cleaners. Wash with mild soap and water and store in a protective chamois pouch or tissue paper.

Moonstone is sometimes used as an alternative by those born in June since it physically resembles some pearls.

Back July


Ruby is the accepted birthstone for July. It is also the accepted anniversary gemstone for the 15th and 40th year.

Ruby is known as the "Lord of the Gems" because of its rarity and beauty. Derived from the Latin word "ruber", it simply means red. Ruby, like sapphire, is a variety of corundum and only exists as a true red in color. The finest color is a vivid, almost pure spectral red with a very faint undertone of blue, as seen in Burmese rubies which are considered the finest.

The highest quality rubies are said to protect their owners from all kinds of misfortune. A fine ruby assured the owner he would live in harmony with his neighbors. It would protect his stature in life, his home and land. Its protective powers were intensified when set in jewelry, and worn on the left side. Many believed rubies possessed an inner flame which burned eternally.

As part of the customary fashioning process, virtually all rubies are heated to permanently improve their color and appearance.

As with all gemstones, care should be taken to protect it from scratches and sharp blows.

The finest rubies emanate from Burma, having been mined there since ancient times. Other sources include Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Tanzania, Cambodia, Afghanistan and India.

Back August


Peridot is the accepted birthstone for August. It is also the accepted anniversary gemstone for the 16th year of marriage.

Peridot should be a lively lime green, without a brownish or olive cast.

Peridot is the child of volcanic action. Tiny peridot crystals are sometimes combed from the black sands of Hawaii.

Peridots were favored by pirates, considered powerful amulets against all evil, and when set in gold, were said to protect the wearer from the terrors of the night. They had medicinal uses, too. If fashioned into a chalice from which medicines were drunk, they intensified the effects of the drug.

Care should be taken to protect peridot from scratches, sharp blows, household chemicals and extreme temperature changes. Do not use a home ultrasonic machine for cleaning.

The peridot is abundant, and is available in larger sizes. It is found in Burma and the U.S.

The most important source of peridot in the world is the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation near Globe, Arizona, where it is mined by native Americans.

Large sizes are mined in Myanmar (Burma) and peridot is also found in China.

Back September


Sapphire is the September birthstone as well as the accepted anniversary gem for the 5th and 45th years of marriage.

Sapphire, a variety of corundum, comes in all colors except red (the red variety being known as ruby), but is especially popular in deep blue. Fancy colored sapphires-including pink, green, orange, and golden yellow-are magnificent when combined in a necklace or bracelet.

Prince Charles chose a blue sapphire for Princess Diana's engagement ring. The stone's durability, combined with its beauty, makes it the perfect alternative for an engagement ring.

Ancient priests and sorcerers honored sapphire above all gems, for this stone enabled them to interpret oracles and foretell the future. Ancients believed the Ten Commandments were written on a sapphire tablet. Marriage partners put great faith in the stone. If its luster dimmed, one knew his or her spouse had been unfaithful. Sapphire refused to shine when worn by the wicked or impure.

As part of the customary fashioning process, virtually all blue, yellow and golden sapphires are heated to permanently produce or intensify their color.

As with all gemstones, care should be taken to protect it from scratches and sharp blows.

Sapphire is found in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), Kasmir, Australia, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, China and the U.S.

Back October


Opal is the October birthstone as well as the accepted anniversary gemstone for the 14th year of marriage.

The well-known Roman naturalist Pliny described opal as "made up of the glories of the most precious gems... the gentler fire of the ruby, the rich purple of the amethyst, the sea-green of the emerald, glittering together..."

White opal has a white or light body color with flashes of many colors. Black opal has a black, dark blue, dark green or gray body color with vivid flashes of color such as red, pink and bright green.

Opal has symbolized hope, innocence and purity through the ages. In the Middle Ages, young, fair-haired girls wore opals in their hair to protect its lovely blond color. Medieval writers believed opal could render its wearer invisible when the need arose. It was also said to have a beneficial effect on eyesight. It was thought to banish evil spirits and favor children, the theater, amusements, friendships and feelings.

Care should be taken to protect it from scratches, sharp blows, household chemicals, and extreme temperature changes. To maintain the brilliance of opal, it should be wiped clean with a soft cloth. Do not use a home ultrasonic machine or jewelry cleaner.

Opal sources are Australia, Mexico and the U.S.

Sometimes tourmaline is used as a birthstone for October and spans the spectrum from red to violet. It also occurs in color combinations in one stone which accounts for its popularity. It is not as fragile as opal and is sometimes selected by those who prefer faceted stones.

Back November


Topaz is the accepted birthstone for November. Blue topaz is the accepted anniversary gemstone for the 4th year; Imperial topaz for the 23rd year of marriage.

Most people think of topaz as a transparent golden yellow gemstone. However, this gemstone occurs colorless as well as orange-yellow, red, honey-brown (dark sherry), light green, blue and pink.

The name topaz is derived from the Greek word meaning "to shine" and also implies "fire". Orange-red "Imperial" topaz and pink colors are rare and most valuable.

The lore, magic and romance of topaz goes back many thousands of years. It holds the distinction of being the gemstone with the widest range of curative powers. The Greeks felt it gave them strength. In addition, it supposedly cooled tempers, restored sanity, cured asthma, relieved insomnia and even warded off sudden death. Topaz is said to make its wearer invisible in time of emergency. It proved the loyalty of associates by changing color in the presence of poison.

As part of the normal fashioning process, most brownish to sherry brown topaz are heated to produce a permanent pink color. Certain types of topaz are irradiated and heated to produce shades of blue.

Topaz is found mainly in Brazil, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and China.

Citrine is often used an alternative to topaz because it appears in many of the same colors as topaz. Unlike topaz, citrine is readily available and inexpensive even in large sizes.

Back December


Turquoise is the accepted birthstone for December and is the accepted anniversary gemstone for the 11th year of marriage.

Colors in turquoise range from sky blue (most desirable color) to blue green and apple green.

The name means "Turkish stone" because the trade route that brought it to Europe used to come via Turkey. The best qualities are found in northeast Iran (Persian turquoise). However, the United States southwest is now the world leader in production.

The deposits in Sinai were already worked out by 4,000 BC. At that time the stone was used for jewelry, amulets and in the preparation of cosmetics.

During the 16th century turquoise was used as currency by the Southwest Indians. They believed the gemstone could bring spoils to the warrior, animals to the hunter, and happiness and good fortune to all.

Although large quantities of beautiful turquoise which have not been color enhanced are available, today's turquoise is commonly stabilized with plastic to improve its color and durability. Chalky varieties of turquoise are normally impregnated with oil or wax to enhance color. This color change may not be permanent.

Care should be taken to protect it from scratches, sharp blows, hot water, and household chemicals. Do not use a home ultrasonic machine.

Blue topaz has become a popular alternative in recent years for those who prefer faceted stones.

To find out more about your birthstone, or any gemstone, consult your local professional jeweler. He or she will be able to show you the widest variety of colors, cuts and designs to suit every pocketbook. Your jeweler can also tell you how best to care for the gem, and will be available in the future to service your jewelry.



Since the dawn of civilization, men and women have been captivated by silver's spell and splendor. Throughout the ages this mystical white metal has been used to mark historical milestones, celebrations, achievements and special occasions.

No one knows with certainty when the first silver gift was bestowed. But as early as 3,100 B.C., ambassadors from Crete were already bringing silver vases as gifts for Egyptian rulers. The metal's popularity has even influenced our languages and customs. A silver spoon has symbolized great fortune and privilege since the 17th century when the Spanish writer Cervantes cleverly acknowledged that not everyone was born with one in his mouth. The tradition of the "silver anniversary" dates back to Germany where it was customary to present a silver wreath to a woman after 25 years of marriage.

Sterling silver is a favorite medium for today's most creative and innovative designers due to its affordability and malleability - it can be shaped into almost any form imaginable. A special gift of silver is a touching and lasting expression of affection, friendship, celebration, congratulation or thanks.

Defining the Elements

Silver is an element that occurs naturally in the earth and is generally considered too soft in its pure form for practical use in jewelry, giftware or flatware. An alloy such as copper is usually added to make silver workable for jewelry.

Sterling Silver

Sterling silver is 92.5 percent (925 parts) pure silver and 7.5 percent (75 parts) alloy metal. Sterling is the primary material used for silver jewelry, giftware, holloware and flatware.

Coin Silver

Coin silver is 90 percent (900 parts) pure silver and 10 percent (100 parts) alloy metal. As its name implies, coin silver was used to produce U.S. currency during the 19th century. It is no longer a commonly used material.


Pronounced "vermay," vermeil is a French word describing sterling silver that has been electroplated with at least 100 millionths of an inch of karat gold.


Silver knives, forks, spoons and various serving utensils are commonly referred to by this term.


Silver tableware which is larger than flatware and is designed to function as containers and decorative pieces. This category includes bowls, vases, serving dishes, trays and candlesticks.


Decorative and functional objects such as picture frames, desk accessories, key rings and vanity items.

How to Buy Silver Jewerly and Gifts

The silver content and quality of all silver jewelry and gift items must be accurately represented. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has established a set of stamps and markings to represent silver content and you should look for them when making a silver purchase.

Only jewelry that is at least 92.5 percent pure silver can be called or labeled "silver," "solid silver," "sterling silver," or "sterling." If one of these terms is stamped on the silver jewelry you are purchasing then the piece meets the U.S. government standards. Sometimes, a piece will be stamped with "925," ".925," or "92.5." These are also appropriate markings and they assure you that you are buying genuine sterling silver jewelry. Coin silver is labeled as "coin silver," "coin," "900," ".900," or "90," signifying that the piece contains at least 90 percent pure silver.

Any item that is silver plated must be labeled as "silver plated," "silver coated," or "plated with silver." In addition, the silver plating must be of sufficient thickness to ensure durability. Vermeil must have a sterling silver base and a plating of at least 100 millionths of an inch of karat gold. Only items meeting this definition can be labeled "vermeil."

Look for the manufacturer?s trademark or hallmark on silver items. In addition to the quality marks described above, trademarks and hallmarks give you information about your silver purchase. Your professional jeweler can explain all of these markings to you in greater detail. Silver jewelry and gift items are priced based on their precious metal content, design and craftsmanship. A price based solely on weight and metal content does not reflect the work that has gone into the piece. Each piece of silver jewelry is unique and, if cared for properly, can last a lifetime.

When purchasing a piece of silver jewelry or a silver gift item look for quality construction. Inspect the piece carefully. Pay special attention to fasteners or clasps, making sure catches work easily but are secure. Pin backs and earring posts should be strong and firmly attached to the piece with no visible marks. Lay silver chain flat to make sure the links don?t kink or bend. For gift items, make sure that hinges, locks, picture stands and other items are securely attached and function properly. If you?re purchasing silver-plated items, inspect the piece to ensure that the plating is of the appropriate thickness and covers the entire piece.

Silver for Her

Silver has been referred to as the Queen of Metals and throughout history has been widely used for women?s jewelry. Sterling silver is always an appropriate gift to commemorate an important event in a woman?s life or to simply say that you care.

Sterling gifts for women might include artful objects for the home, those related to a hobby or career, or simple fun indulgences. Such novelty items as a make-up brush, silver bracelet or purse mirror make a great gift. Other ideas include an engraved heart-shaped pillbox to tuck into a purse or dangle from a silver chain, or a sterling egg timer for the chef who has every kitchen gadget.

And of course there?s striking silver jewelry. The white-metal look continues to be popular and there are many silver designs to choose from. No matter the woman's style, there are many sterling silver items that will meet her taste.

Silver for Him

For men, silver can be the ultimate symbol of confidence and distinction. Once exclusively reserved for the nobleman, silver is now a perfect gift for all men. Sterling silver cuff links, available in traditional geometric shapes or "theme" styles featuring images taken from sports and hobbies, are a must for almost any man. Silver tie bars, I.D. bracelets, signet rings and belt buckles are all widely available in many styles and make great accessories for the contemporary man's wardrobe.

There are also many novel silver gift choices to commemorate a retirement, a promotion or to simply to say "I love you." Ideas include comb-and-brush sets, engraved key rings, lighters, flasks, pocket knives, desk accessories, travel clocks, even a razor-and-toothbrush set. Silver is a gift no man will forget because a well-chosen sterling accessory is a lasting remembrance of any emotion, event or occasion.

Silver for Children

Silver can make the perfect gift for children of all ages and teach them to make fine jewelry and gifts an important part of their lives. Playful rattles and teething rings can be the perfect first gift for a child. As they grow, you can add a brush and comb set, an engraved drinking cup or toothbrush, or a favorite animal or cartoon character immortalized in silver.

A silver "tooth fairy" box to hold lost baby teeth is another great gift idea. For older children and teens, silver jewelry can hold special sentimental value, creating heirlooms for future loved ones. Of course, silver picture frames are a wonderful way to preserve and display images of the most important moments in a child's life.

Silver for the Wedding

For centuries silver gifts for the bride and groom have created family keepsakes and lifetimes of romantic memories. According to folklore, it is lucky if the wedding gift arriving first is made of silver. Gifts that blend tradition with everyday function and individuality are on many couples' wedding wish lists. Consider giving a silver pitcher to be filled with a bouquet of flowers or a monogrammed silver tray to serve hors d'oeuvres or display perfume bottles.

Sculptural napkin rings or a silver bowl to be filled with candy or potpourri are functional and beautiful gift ideas. Miniature silver replicas of musical instruments, antique period furniture and animals also make affordable and desirable collectibles for future anniversaries. Of course, traditional silver gifts of flatware, serving items and candlesticks are always appropriate and appreciated.

A key ingredient in any wedding is the bridal party. Traditionally, each bridesmaid receives an identical gift, as do the ushers. Honor attendants are usually acknowledged with something a little more special. Again, silver can be the perfect choice. And of course, a sterling silver picture frame is the perfect item to elegantly display a wedding portrait throughout the years.

Caring for your Silver

The beauty of sterling silver jewelry and gifts is part of this metal's ageless appeal. Properly caring for your silver collection is a sure way to keep sterling looking its shining best.

As with any fine jewelry or gift item, each piece of sterling silver should be stored individually, either in its own soft pouch or in a separate compartment in a jewelry or storage box. If you toss your jewelry into a dresser drawer and allow pieces to rub against each other, scratches will result.

Keep your silver in a cool, dry place. Sterling silver, like other precious metals, can oxidize with time. It is a good idea to store silver in a tarnish-proof cloth or in drawers lined with tarnish-resistant strips. If sterling does become tarnished, it is easily restored to its original gleam by using a paste, liquid polish, or a treated polishing cloth intended for use on silver. Or you may simply wash the jewelry or silver object with warm water, rubbing in a little soap or toothpaste, rinsing and then patting dry with a fine soft cloth. Avoid using tissue paper or paper towels as they can scratch silver. Your professional jeweler should be able to provide you with silver-cleaning materials as well as directions for their proper use.

The best way to prevent tarnish is to actually wear your sterling jewelry or use your silver items often. However, don?t wear sterling silver in chlorinated water or when working with household cleaners such as bleach or ammonia. Treat your silver well and it will actually develop a lush patina and will reward you with a lustrous look.

Where to Buy Sterling Silver Jewelry and Gifts

To make sure you get silver jewelry and gifts that you will be happy with now and for years to come follow a simple rule: buy from a professional, someone you can trust. Choose a retailer who has been serving the community and has an established reputation.

Ask if the jeweler is a member of Jewelers of America, the national association for retail jewelers. Or look for the "J" mark on the door. JA jewelers are knowledgeable and provide a wide selection of fine jewelry and gifts which will make selecting your sterling silver items a pleasure. Your professional jeweler will not only help you with your purchases, but will also be there in the future to answer all your questions and help you with repairs, cleaning and custom design.



Jewelry bargains & discounts Jewelry is the gift of lasting beauty, but if you are susceptible to the mail-order and discount promotions, TV commercials, street peddlers, and even some friend offering glittery bargains that sound tempting, your enjoyment and the jewelry may tarnish sooner than you expected. Here are some typical promotions which should make you wary.

40% off ...

60% off The public is being bombarded by all kinds of outlets-even well-known merchants-offering jewelry and related items through ads and promotions claiming so-called discounts which are so exaggerated that you should question whether they are true discounts:

Was the merchandise ever sold at the regular price?

For how long?

Was the "retail"..."former"..."reference" price purposely inflated and then lowered to lure you into thinking you're saving money?

There is nothing wrong with legitimate discounts...but, deceptive pricing offers you no bargain. To avoid being ripped off, shop around... compare quality and service as well as price...and ask questions!

Always look for the karat mark:

14K or 18K When buying gold jewelry, always look for a karat mark such as 14K or 18K, with the manufacturer's trademark. Make sure the mark appears on a part of the chain besides the clasp. Sometimes, if only the clasp is marked 14K, the chain may not be real gold. Anything less than 10K gold cannot be legally marked or sold as real gold.

Genuine & counterfeit watches for low $$$ Be wary of promotions for genuine name-brand or counterfeit watches for as low as $10.00 or, familiar brands that normally sell for $2,000-$5,000 offered at unbelievable prices as low as $50.00. These watches are not genuine, carry no manufacturer's warranty, and have little value. Usually, certain brand names are stamped on the dials of the counterfeits by promoters.

To avoid this scam:

Be wary of extremely low-priced items 

Look for correct spelling of brand-names and karat gold mark 

Ask for a warranty 

Check with your local jeweler 

Mail-order bargains Anyone considering a mail-order bargain should check beforehand with the Better Business Bureau in the postal area of the promoter. Because most promoters are reached only at a post office box number rather than a street address, it is very difficult to contact the firm directly in the event of non-receipt or dissatisfaction. The Better Business Bureau could provide useful information before any monetary commitment is made.

Summing up... Compare quality and service, and ask questions! A Jewelers of America member is a professional jeweler whose reputation is based on his integrity and service in the community and is someone who will be around after you've made your purchase. He is available to answer your questions about real jewelry and can offer you a selection of the newest styles in all price ranges.