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How To Tell if Gold Is Real? 

How to tell if gold is real | Gem Gossip How to tell if gold is real | Gem Gossip How to tell if gold is real | Gem Gossip

Fake gold comes in many forms. Sometimes it's easy to spot and other times, fake gold deceives even the best of us. There are even times when jewelry has all the proper gold hallmarks, but it turns out to be a cheap (and illegal) form of costume jewelry.

Whether you’re sorting through your grandmother's old jewelry or you found a ring on the street, you might be wondering what that jewelry is worth. The first step to doing that is figuring out whether the jewelry is made from real gold or any other precious metal.

Before you run to the jewelers, there are some things you can do at home to tell if gold is real. You’ll need a few things to get started: a magnifying glass, a magnet, and a little bit of patience.

Step 1: Look for Hallmarks

The first thing you should do when accessing a piece of jewelry is look for hallmarks. All modern fine jewelry is required to have hallmarks that indicate the gold content. There are various types of hallmarks depending on the age and country of origin.

If there are no hallmarks anywhere, don’t immediately discount the item. Most solid gold antique jewelry doesn’t have gold markings because it wasn’t always a requirement.

If there is a hallmark like 14K, don’t immediately assume the item is pure gold. For instance, 14KGF is a hallmark that indicates the item is gold filled and not solid gold. Also, some scammers have intentionally marked heavy items like gold plated chains with purity markings in order to try to sell for a higher cost. Always know who you’re buying from!

Step 2: Examine for Wear & Discoloration

The next thing you should do is take a jeweler’s loupe or magnifying glass to the item in question. You’re going to be looking for areas of discoloration or wear. Gold should age very evenly and you shouldn’t see any areas of extreme darkness unless it's a joint where a different metal solder may have been used. Of course you will see some darkness in 10k gold pieces in antique jewelry due to the higher copper content, but this patina will be mostly even throughout.

Antique gold filled items have a relatively thick layer of solid gold on the outside. These pieces can be hard to test because for acid tests, you literally have to cut deep into the item to see if there is a base metal beneath it. If you do an acid test on or just below the surface, the item will read as pure gold.

There are ways, though, to immediately tell if an item is gold filled. If there is wear and tear on the item, search for a base metal. With a loupe, examine portions where gold would naturally rub off (like the edges) to see if there are dark areas of base metal peaking through. This will be an indication that the item is gold filled or gold plated.

Step 3: Eliminate Imposters with a Magnet

This step works well if you’re sifting through a lot of miscellaneous gold pieces. Take a strong magnet and run it across the pile. Anything that is attracted to the magnet can immediately be eliminated as not pure gold. Solid gold is not magnetic, regardless of the color or purity.

Remember, if the jewelry is not attracted to the magnet, this doesn’t mean that the item is real gold. There are other imposter metals that are also not magnetic. This test just helps rule out items.

Step 4: Try the Float Test

Gold is a very dense metal and in theory, it should never float. If you drop your jewelry into a cup of water and it floats, more often than not, the item is costume jewelry. However, a solid gold piece that is hollow and very thin may float, so don’t use this test as your only method.

Step 5: Seek out a Professional

Unless you’re in the jewelry business, we don’t recommend using the nitric acid to test for gold on your own. They sell many home testing kits online, but there is significant room for error here.

In order for this test to be effective, you need to scratch your jewelry. A professional can do much more to accurately tell you what an item is made out of before having to damage the piece. If an acid test is required, they’ll be able to inflict the least amount of damage to the item as possible.

There’s no sense scratching your jewelry only to need a professional to verify what you did anyway.

As always, good luck and happy hunting!

This post was contributed by:

 

 

 

Ageless Heirlooms Lauren Thomann | I: @agelessheirlooms | W: www.agelessheirlooms.com

James D. Julia Auction Features 60 Jewelry Items in Upcoming Sale


Hey Gem Gossip readers!  As many of you know, writing about upcoming auctions is one of my favorite topics--I've written nearly 100 blog posts on this topic throughout the past almost nine years of having this blog!  I live it, breathe it, and am constantly talking about jewelry auctions. I love discovering new auction houses and I'm excited to be writing about James D. Julia Auction house today since I never have featured them before. They have an upcoming sale on June 16th, 2017 that is called "June Rare Lamps, Glass & Fine Jewelry Auction" which is of interest, particularly the 60 lots of fine jewelry items which is at the very beginning of the sale.

James D. Julia Inc. is located in Fairfield, Maine and has been in business for over fifty years. The company began in 1965 by Arthur Julia as a small country auction house which quickly grew over the years. Current owner James D. Julia purchased the company from his father in 1974 after graduating college. Always staying current with the times has been a key to the success of this auction house--state-of-the-art catalogs, photos and descriptions as well as an easy interactive website where bidding can take place from anywhere in the world have allowed an auction house located in Maine compete with world-known names. They are currently ranked as one of the top ten antique auction houses in North America. 

The June 16th auction features 60 lots of jewelry items--pieces from the low 100s on up to six-figure digits--so a pretty large assortment. Diamond rings, lots of emeralds, a high-end Breitling watch, jewelry suites, pearls, gorgeous every day jewelry, and everything in between. One of my favorite lots is the last one in the jewelry section--a group of 40 jewelry books!  I am such a jewelry book nerd and this lot features a bunch of rare, out-of-print titles. It is definitely worth checking out and the people of James D. Julia were kind enough to create an interactive catalog (embedded above) which features all 60 of the jewelry lots! It is also worthy to note, many of the pieces, starting with lot #1019 as noted in the catalog, are from a private Texas Estate collection which is completely unreserved and thus could result in some excellent buying opportunities.

Here are some of my favorites highlighted:

Lot 1005: A stunning all-diamond bypass style ring, set in 14k white gold and an estimated 1.78 carats total. I love the bypass style, with this piece having three diamonds set at a diagonal. If you're thinking of a unique alternative engagement ring, this would be a great choice! Estimate: $2,000-3,000

Lot 1007: The most expensive/highest estimate piece in the sale--this 10.02 carat natural fancy intense yellow diamond ring!  This rare and unique stone is VS-1 in clarity and comes with a diamond certificate from GIA. To accompany the center stone, it is beautifully flanked on each side by bullet shaped diamonds, VVS/VS clarity and FG in color. The ring is done in platinum and 18k white gold. Estimate: $130,000-160,000

Lot 1016: Elegant and charming, this diamond pendant necklace features gorgeous bright white diamonds set into a Art Nouveau treasure. It features a dangling bezel set diamond at the bottom and hangs from a 16" chain. Nothing like a piece of history. Estimate: $1,500-2,500

Lot 1020: A vintage Cartier ring of finest quality--composed of one center emerald cut diamond and two emerald cut emeralds on each side. The ring is done in platinum with 18k yellow gold settings. Center diamond weighs 1.98 carats and the emeralds are Columbian. Can't get much better than that! Estimate: $20,000-30,000

Lot 1023: I like this ring because it has a bypass style but it also has sort of a serpent look to it! The ring is set with a modified-fan cut emerald and lots of diamond accents, 1.75 carats to be exact! This ring is trendy and classic at the same time. I could easily pair with other pieces for a fun look. Estimate: $1,200-1,800

Lot 1035: If you love a good multi-gemstone piece of jewelry, this one is my pick for you! This cuff is done in 18k yellow gold and bezel set with multiple gemstones of all colors!  We've got rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and an unidentified yellow stone...all of various shapes and sizes. A truly well-made and exquisite piece! Estimate: $500-800

Lot 1052: This necklace caught my attention the first time I ever looked at this catalog.  It consists of a multi-serpent pendant that hangs from a gold toggle necklace--the various gemstones are peridot, garnet, amethyst, and citrine. The layers of serpents graduate in size, as do the gemstones. I've never seen a pendant quite like this one before and I've always been drawn to serpent jewelry. Estimate: $600-900

Lot 1060: Remember the lot of jewelry books I talked about above--this is the lot!  It features 40 different jewelry reference books, including several out-of-print titles. 100 Years of Collectible Jewelry, Cameos Old & New, Jewelry in America 1600-1900, and The Art of Fine Jewelry are definitely intriguing me and I feel like I will be bidding on this lot come auction day!

This sponsored blog post was brought to you in collaboration with James D. Julia.

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Q & A with Heather B. Moore Jewelry

Heather B. Moore

Heather B. Moore's story starts with love, laughter and family...and fittingly, just as her jewelry often depicts those words both literally and figuratively, she has brought personalization of jewelry to the highest level. After viewing the video displayed below, you see just how hands-on and multi-faceted her business has become. This interview also touches upon how it all came to be, in the most innocent of ideas and forms. Sometimes we are destined for a certain path and it seems as though Heather was meant to bring memories, quotes and cherished words to life through her jewelry designs. Each piece is heavily sentimental and often instant tear-jerkers. As jewelry enthusiasts, we know how special a personalized piece can be--but how about one that is in the exact handwriting of a loved one? Or an exact doodle from your once 5-year-old son or daughter? I know if and when I start a family, Heather B. Moore's designs will be first on my list for a little keepsake!

 

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We are currently developing an exciting new series based on personal empowerment called the Sculptural Series. Its foundation stems from personalized themes people were requesting for their designs, which usually fell into four common categories: strength, growth, wisdom, and healing. With that as our guide, we started the Sculptural Series to capture moments that feel personal while complementing our other designs.

While we are only launching with a limited selection, this is just the beginning. The world is full of wonderful symbols that have meaningful messages, and Heather B. Moore jewelry is excited to add more sculptural jewelry to the collection in the future.

Heather B Moore | Gem Gossip

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I only took one jewelry class in college. At the time my focus was cast glass, Venetian glass blowing, and steel work. My sister Wendy was an anthropology major and had moved to Kathmandu, Nepal where she lived with a jeweler’s family. That's where I started getting interested in what she was doing! After college, I was working for an artist welding large-scale art installations across the country for Judy Pfaff. On the weekends, my sister Wendy used to ask me to make jewelry for fashion shows and low-budget movies in Los Angeles.

I started off doing chain work and handmade chain, which we still do today. I also integrated glass beads and stones within the chain, and while we still integrate stones into our chain, we moved away from glass beads to focus on precious stones.

In 2004, I started offering personalization on a number of pieces and everything grew from there. Our personalized collection was created on the foundation that timeless designs start with a blank canvas for our customers, then we collaborate to create the perfect piece. We have the capacity to create the steel stamps of people's handwriting and children's drawings as well as a wide variety of fonts and layouts.

I started collecting tools when I was 13. I grew up in the steel industry of Cleveland and loved going to my dad’s factories, so craftsmanship was something that I related to.

The first steel tooling stamps that I purchased were from a garage sale at an old machinist’s house. I carried those stamps around with me for 15 years before knew what to do with them! In 1991, I pulled out those stamps and decided to integrate quotes from my friends and family. I stamped them out onto the silver plaques and then framed it with a handmade cast glass frame.

In 1997, my sister Wendy was in a skiing accident and passed away. Before she passed I stamped a quote she gave me into a piece of metal: “I said to my sister and she said to me, come let's play laughter together.” I remember loving the quote so much that I took the plaque with her quote off the wall, and I put it in my wallet. To this day I look at it and it makes me smile.

After moving back to Cleveland and receiving the Rising Star Award from the JCK trade show, I had an interview with Real Simple Magazine about why a designer from NYC would move to Cleveland.

During the interview the writer asked a series of silly questions like, "what kind of hair care products do I use?" and, "what is in your purse?" At first I was a little confused, but I pulled out my wallet and got the plaque of my sister’s quote, and they loved it. They photographed it and used it as the focal point of the article.

At the time, I was designing for bigger companies like Banana Republic and I was getting tired of doing trendy jewelry that was "in" one season and "out" the next. I thought it was interesting that they loved the little plaque so much, and that made me think about the unique stamps that I had in the basement, and I knew I wanted to make something for myself. So, I stamped my kids names on some silver discs, framed them in gold, and I created my first personalized necklace.

I fell in love with it because my kids would sit on my lap and flip through the charms and look for their names. That is when it hit me: personalization has more value than the material that it’s on, because personalization is forever. Telling your story is not a trend; it’s a keepsake, an heirloom, and one-of-a-kind… just like the person wearing it.

That is when I knew I was on the right track. I was putting something into the marketplace that I had actually created in 1992... it's like it all became a full circle.

It's amazing to think I was so young, but I’m also very proud to say that now we create our own stamps in our steel shop. It's fun to have the opportunity to create special tooling for each individual customer.

Heather B Moore | Gem Gossip Heather B. Moore | Gem Gossip

Left: the plaque Heather made, with her sister's special quote Right: a necklace Heather wears almost everyday--it features her new Buddha charm


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I think my proudest moment was winning the Town & Country International Gold Award at the Couture Jewelry Show in Las Vegas.

This is a show where all designers get together and showcase their pieces to stores across the country. Town & Country magazine had sponsored the event, so it was super fancy that year. Most people were in black tie… but I didn’t know that! I showed up late to the party in flip-flops, jeans, a t-shirt and messy hair!

When I thought about designing something for the Gold category, I wanted something no one had yet documented. One topic that came up was that we had never documented someone's letter, and I had the perfect one. It was a whimsical thank you note from my sister Wendy. She had sent it just days after Christmas and she spoke of the importance of family and new traditions. This was the first year I didn't spend Christmas with my family because I was with my husband’s family in Canada, so it really hit home for me. It was the last letter I ever got from her. She passed away shortly after Christmas.

We stamped this whole letter on a big yellow gold cuff, with a rose gold frame on the outside and a green gold frame on the inside, then we covered the frame in diamonds.

We arrived late to the awards show party and had already begun to announce the winners, so we quickly grabbed a glass of wine and snuck into some seats just as the announcer said, “And the Gold Award goes to a designer from the city of the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame...”

...I thought to myself, "Oh my gosh, there's another designer here from Cleveland," but then they called my name!

 

Heather B Moore | Gem Gossip

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In a broad sense, my hopes, dreams, and goals are to make sure I can continue to create beautiful pieces for people and documenting their stories. I love that we have the opportunity to work with customers hand-in-hand.

And with the sculptural collection, there are so many amazing symbols that empower people. I just love the direction we are going with that!

Heather B Moore | Gem Gossip Heather B Moore | Gem Gossip Heather B Moore | Gem Gossip Heather B Moore | Gem Gossip

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I have so many pieces I love and adore! We have a wide variety of designs within the collection, and I truly love all of them. I have many iterations with my children's names (Henry, Leo, Oliver and Coral). They are my proudest creation!

I have a yellow gold bangle with their names on it, a leather bracelet with with their names on it, and a necklace where they each have their own charm! I actually named the frames after them. The Henry frame is a braid like the Nantucket braided bracelets. The Leo frame has a granulation frame for him because he really loves the arts. Then there’s the Oliver frame. He's really an organized child so I did a spiral frame for him. Coral’s got a bubbly personality, so her frame kind of looks like bubbles!

I like to wear my cuff bracelet that has my sister’s letter with jeans and a t-shirt, but I also wore it to the Beastie Boys black tie Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame induction.

My sister Halley and I both have a charm with Wendy's phone number on it. She never had business cards, which we always thought was hilarious! We made it in green gold because her birthday was on Saint Patrick's Day.

My new favorite necklace has a bunch of charms on it, and it's a story about my boyfriend Jason and me. We went to high school together so I have one charm that says "You were worth the wait," and another charm that says "Home is when I'm with you." And I have a little single initial J charm for his name... and a diamond, of course!

I have a 4mm square cuff bracelet that grounds me--it says "When you look at life through the right lens, everything comes into focus." Life certainly does throw you some curveballs sometimes... so that helps me through those challenges. The fact that I'm a photographer kind of makes it perfect! My dad gave me my first camera when I was 14 and then shipped me off to Africa with 13 rolls of film. I have been an avid photographer ever since.

I will end with this one:

I have this fantastic ring that has been dubbed "the hockey ring." It's my good luck ring for my boys’ games. If it's not on my finger it's in my wallet waiting for the next game. I did not put any personalization on it with words... and it's really quite thick. We call it The Pope Ring at the studio! So when I'm photographing the hockey games (because all three boys are in hockey) if something happens like a goal or a good defensive play, I can bang on the glass with my ring, and I wont hurt my hand! Because of all the banging, overtime it has collected quite a few, great dents! It is essentially personalized from all the dents!

Heather B Moore | Gem Gossip Heather B Moore | Gem Gossip

This sponsored blog post was brought to you in collaboration with Heather B. Moore.

 

Heather B. Moore Jewelry

 

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One to Follow: @newtwiststore

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I've been noticing more and more jewelry stores across the US starting to focus solely on social media, a category of business that once was not thought of as being serious, let alone needing a full-time, specialized department for it. But now more than ever, with brick & mortar stores closing regularly, it is those stores that are developing their Instagram pages, revamping websites, setting up e-commerce shops, as well as holding down their brick & mortar stores, that are rising above the rest and doing better than ever!  

NewTw!st has done just that and more! Their website has been recently redesigned, giving it a user-friendly experience with lots of dynamic photos of product, and they've taken on their Instagram account full-force by having the most colorful, stop-in-your-tracks photographs. NewTw!st carries some unique designer jewelry and I love how the photos capture the personality of each piece in the way that it deserves. Playful earrings spread out in an almost delicious way, ring stacks that are well thought out, jewelry groupings that are color-coded and pleasing to the eye...their expertise in merchandising reaches far beyond an in-store jewelry display. 

I'm hoping to get a chance to visit NewTw!st in person--located in Eugene, Oregon up in the Pacific Northwest. Hopefully soon enough!  In the meantime, you'll be like me and totally enjoy following on Instagram

 

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How to Clean Antique Jewelry: The Important Do's & Don'ts

How to Clean Jewelry | Gem Gossip How to Clean Jewelry | Gem Gossip How to Clean Jewelry | Gem Gossip How to Clean Jewelry | Gem Gossip

For anyone that’s unfamiliar, antique jewelry is any piece of jewelry that is more than 100 years old. That’s a lot of years for dirt to collect under gemstones, metal to patina, and for grime to take away from the inherent beauty of the heirloom. It’s tempting to pick up a polishing cloth and buff away years of unwanted residue. But wait! Before you do that...

There is a right way and a wrong way to clean antique jewelry. We’ve compiled some basic do’s and don'ts you must know before you potentially ruin your investment.

*Remember, this is a general guide for fine antique jewelry. Some antique jewelry like cameos or hair jewelry require special care beyond what is listed here.

 

D O N ' T


1. Polish away patina on old rose or yellow gold jewelry

Patina is something that takes years to form. Some reproduction jewelry will actually try to fake this patina in order to make an item appear older than it is. For Georgian and Victorian jewelry, it’s important not to go overboard with polishing. You don’t want the yellow gold to be so light and shine like the day it was made.

Be careful if you’re having your rings resized by someone not familiar with antique jewelry. The tendency is to take rings to a high polish once the sizing is done. Advise them only to lightly polish the portion where the gold has been added or taken away on the bottom of the ring shank.

2. Use ultrasonic machines 

There are times when it is okay to put antique jewelry into an ultrasonic machine for a very quick clean, and I mean quick. But to err on the side of caution, avoid using them altogether. If you have a platinum and diamond engagement ring from the 1920’s, an ultrasonic machine might be okay if the stones are tight and the prongs are in good shape. Most of the time though, the subtle but intense vibrations from these machines can do more harm than good.

3. Submerge jewelry for a long period

Liquid can be detrimental to some antique jewelry, especially jewelry with cameos, opals, seed pearls, or any other soft stone. For fragile jewelry, it’s best not to completely saturate the piece with liquid at all.  Instead, lightly clean with a damp brush or cloth.

4. Clean with harsh chemicals like ammonia

The internet will often tell you how wonderful ammonia is for making your diamonds shine. This might work (in moderation) for new jewelry, but antique jewelry deserves a much gentler approach. Avoid harsh detergents, ammonia, and please never use household cleaners containing bleach!

 

D O


1. Make a gentle cleaning solution

Sometimes the best way to clean your antique jewelry is by making your own DIY cleaning solution. Most jewelry cleaners you find in the store will cost you a lot more money and may not even be as effective. They may even contain harsh chemicals.

To make your own solution, mix lukewarm water with a small amount of mild soap like Dove until it is sudsy. The key here is in the cleaning technique, not necessarily in the solution.

2. Use a soft toothbrush and lint free cloth

Once you make your solution, it’s time to clean your antique jewelry. You’ll either submerge the item for a few minutes to loosen grime, or if your item contains soft stones, you lightly dampen your toothbrush. Before you begin, make sure no stones are loose.

Then, gently brush your jewelry, paying attention to areas like underneath the stone and underneath the prongs. Use slow circular motions using only light pressure. If the piece is extremely dirty, don’t be tempted to use more pressure; instead, implement more patience. Submerge your jewelry into the solution again (if your jewelry can handle it) then gently repeat, repeat, repeat.

3. Make sure to rinse and dry thoroughly

You don’t want to give fragile jewelry a bath, but you want to be sure you remove any soap residue that might build up and defeat the whole purpose of cleaning your jewelry. Run the jewelry under lukewarm water and pat dry.  For rings, take a polishing cloth and very lightly buff the shank, avoiding any area near stones or engravings. Let jewelry completely dry before putting it away.

4. Have the right expectations

Antique jewelry is never meant to look new. If this is your intention when cleaning jewelry, think again. Sure, you want to remove dirt, grime, bacteria, and all that other gross stuff. But you don’t want to take away years of character and patina. Is there a scratch in the gold? Leave it, don’t have it buffed away.  Is the gold too dark for your liking? Consider a more modern replica like those from Arik Kastan instead.

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How do you clean your antique jewelry? Any tips I missed? Let us know in the comments.

This post was contributed by:

 

 

Ageless Heirlooms Lauren Thomann | I: @agelessheirlooms | W: www.agelessheirlooms.com