The Girlfriend's Guide to Jewellery

by Anne Wallner Rss
31: Care and Maintenance

Before you read this, let me remind you that the information in this blog is specific to ‘fine jewellery’ not costume or ‘fashion jewellery’. There are a number of ‘professional’ cleaning products and devices available on the market designed specifically for cleaning jewellery. Not all gems and metals are compatible with all of the products available. If you do choose to use them, be sure to read and follow the directions carefully. If you are unsure how to proceed, stop! You may do irreparable damage. Your jeweller will always be happy to clean a piece for you. You will both be distressed if you choose to ‘do it yourself’ and make a mistake. In my opinion, ultrasonic cleaners should be left to the professionals. Part of owning anything you value is the responsibility of caring for it and maintaining it. Simple maintenance can significantly extend the life and enjoyment of your jewellery. Keeping your jewellery clean is the first step. Nothing complicated;...

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30: Moving Forward

Hi! I’m back after taking some personal time. As much as I love jewellery… wearing it, looking at it, talking about it… some times I can be sidetracked. Most recently I have been completely smitten and preoccupied by our first grandchild! Of course he is the most beautiful child I have ever seen and, instead of spending my spare time with all of you, I have been working on making him a welcome gift! AS it happens, it was a good spot to take a break. We have looked at some basic jewellery language, terms and definitions. You have waded through some pretty dry discussions of the differences among density, size and weight; the difference between carat and karat and the difference between hardness and durability. Now that we are all speaking the same language we can move on to actually talking about jewellery! First we’ll look at the care, cleaning and maintenance of fine jewellery. From there we’ll move on to look at some of the ‘accepted’ short cuts in...

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29: Merry Christmas Greetings!

While we all celebrate in our own special way, some with long practiced traditions, some with a new adventure each year, some in the company of our near and dear, some far from loved ones and those old familiar traditions, it is the intangible spirit of the season that can truly transport us. The Christmas spirit is a lot like a special piece of treasured jewellery. It is not the value or size of the celebration that touches us, not the grand location or the storybook atmosphere of the celebration that is important, it is the warmth that glows and grows from within that is priceless. And just like that treasured piece of jewellery, what brings that special feeling is unique for each one of us. Whatever brings you that special joy we hope it finds you again this year. Best wishes one and all for a very Happy...

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28: here it comes… at last!

Hi everyone! Here I am back again after a l o n g break! Lately, with a mad combination of personal and professional demands, being in touch weekly has proven to be too ambitious for me. My 'new' schedule will be a monthly contribution, which should be doable, if all goes to plan. When last we 'spoke' I started to discuss the setting process. There is of course a wide range of quality possible in both the work and the materials used in the various techniques of gem setting. Skimping on metal, time spent setting or finishing or not taking care in matching the size of the setting used with the size of the stone to be set will all affect the quality and reliability of the finished product. Don't be shy to have a good look at the settings when choosing a piece of jewellery. The choice of setting style used should be in harmony with the design as well as functional in terms of wear Claw Set In this type of setting, the group of claws that hold a stone is called the 'head'. As few...

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27: Lost Wax

This is an ancient casting method that is still widely used to this day. To start, a model is sculpted in wax, finished and polished in every detail. The wax is carved or sculpted by a specialist who will translate your dream into a one of a kind special design. It is a process that may be used to create one single piece or it may be used to create the master copy for a design destined to be reproduced many times. The wax is placed in a casting vial and the vial is then carefully filled with plaster of Paris. Vents may be added from the wax model to the surface of the plaster of Paris to allow gases to escape. The canister then goes into a casting furnace to literally burn out the wax model. This leaves an exact 3-D impression of the wax in the now solid plaster. A carefully weighed amount of molten metal of choice is poured down the vent hole into the cavity left by the melted wax model. After the metal solidifies and cools the plaster is broken away from the rough casting inside...

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26: Handmade

Having a one of a kind custom designed piece of jewellery made for you is the most personal and most expensive way to create a piece of jewellery. In a sense, it could be regarded as the choice of last resort. If you can’t find anything to your liking or if you have particular stones you want set, the option of having a custom made piece may be your only answer. The process may begin with a rough sketch. From there, as your ideas firm up, a more finished rendering may be next or perhaps next, a wax model. Basically what you are having made will follow a very similar path as making a master for commercial reproduction only in your case there will be no copies made. As your project advances, because is it a custom piece, you must be aware that almost anything is possible. When you ask to change details, add stones or choose larger stones, choose a heavier version of your original idea or upgrade the karat of the piece your designer will rarely say ‘no’. But remember, as you make...

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25: Methods of Manufacture: Labour

First, let me appologize for the lack postings of my blog over the last couple of weeks. Here is the reason....a new Puppy! Meet Odin :) Methods of Manufacture Labour The labour factor in a piece of jewellery can be a major part of the overall cost. Broadly speaking more time and finer hand craftsmanship result in higher production costs. Labour costs have two basic components: skill and time. The greater the level of skill of the hands doing the work, the higher the cost per hour of the labour will be. As labour is sold by the hour, the more time spent making the piece, the more expensive it will be. It is the combination of skilled hands and an artistic spirit to interpret a design with an understanding of the function of the piece that will result in the creation of a sensational piece of jewellery. Remove or skimp on any one of these elements and it will show in the finished piece. All of these elements are present in the making of a one of a kind custom piece. It is the...

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24: Carat

The last C in the group of 'Four C's' is the carat weight. As we have seen there are 100 points in a carat and one carat equals one fifth of a gram. All gemstones are weighed by the carat, not just diamonds. All other grades being equal, the bigger a diamond is, the more expensive it will be. Round diamonds of similar weight will have very similar size when cut in accordance with the defined 'ideal proportions' for round brilliant cut diamonds. Gone are the days when round brilliant cut diamonds were cut to any of a wide range of proportions making 'spread' stones look large for their weight. A spread stone has a diameter too large for its depth giving it a larger surface and consequently a larger look. Worse yet, a spread cut allows a great deal of light to 'leak' out of the stone. This practice was not uncommon in the mid 1900's and created a situation where some carat stones appeared larger than others giving rise to the idea that there were big carat diamonds and small carat...

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23: Clarity

Clarity is the next of the 'Four C's'. It often requires magnification to determine clarity. Diamonds are graded at a 10X or 10 power magnification. The little spots and flaws we see inside a diamond are called inclusions. Some types of inclusions are more noticeable than others. The number, location and nature of the inclusion or inclusions determine the clarity grade of each diamond. The parameters of each clarity grade are very clearly defined. The GIA clarity grading system works under the following definitions. Clarity grading starts at Flawless. There are no tolerances within the Flawless category. It is very simple: if there is ANY inclusion in a diamond it is not Flawless. Next we have IF or Internally Flawless. This means that the diamond is internally flawless but can have some minor external blemishes. Subsequent clarity grade categories are each divided into 1 and 2 subsections. In the VVS 1 and 2 categories the inclusions are minute and appear as a tiny little...

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22: Colour

In order of importance, the next of the 'Four C's' is colour. Just as we can perceive brilliance in a diamond we can also perceive its colour with the naked eye. It is easier to see the presence of colour than it is to 'see' the lack of colour. When we speak of the 'colour' of a diamond we are referring to its natural body colour. The colour grade should not be confused with the display of dispersion or fire from the diamond. The sparkle of a diamond can be visually very distracting. For this reason the body colour of the stone is graded through its pavillion while lying face down on a plain white surface using a method of contrast and comparison using 'master stones' of known colour grades. Most diamonds have some body colour and yellow is the most common. Other more common body colours include brown, green and grey. Rare diamond colours include blue, pink, orange, red and colourless. Any truly colourless diamond or a diamond with a natural intense fancy colour is rare, exotic...

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