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Glossary of Terms

For a full list of terms, please visit our Glossary Page.


An Abridged Jewelry History

Antique Jewelry Care


Diamond Treatments and Synthetics

Rarity and Value

4 C’s

Lab Reports









Estate jewelry is a broad term referring to all jewelry that has been previously owned, or belonged to a private “estate.” Estate jewelry can refer to pieces with long histories as well as to pieces that were purchased just a year ago. However, usually when a piece of jewelry is described as estate, it falls within the range of being 40 years old or less. For our purposes, Gleem uses the term in its broadest sense to refer to any piece of jewelry on the site that is not signed by a designer or stamped by a brand.


Vintage Jewelry typically refers to jewelry that is between 40 and 100 years old and is both characteristic of a style popularized during a particular decade or period and exceptional in its rendering of this style. Often, the implication with the word “vintage” is that the piece is costume jewelry, meaning not composed of previous gemstones and/or metals.


Antique Jewelry typically refers to jewelry that is more than 100 years old. The implication is usually that the item is of value, either for its age and condition alone, or for the rarity of finding an surviving specimen.


The word itself stems from the French word ‘joule’ which is most often used figuratively to mean a treasure or object of beauty. The root originates from the latin ‘jocale’ or a plaything. So, come on now, let’s play.

A brief history can best be outlined by eras...

Late Georgian (1746-1837)

The Georgian period was named after the English kings: George III and IV, and William IV and took place during a time of various social and political upheaval. The American Revolution, The French Revolution, and the Napoleon Wars were all fought during this time. When Napoleon gained power in France in 1804, trends in French fashion and jewelry began to relax. The tight bodices and full gowns of the 18th century were replaced with a dainty and loosely draped high wasted, low cut style of dress (think Grecian goddess). The jewelry from Early to Late Georgian periods also changed from very heavy and elaborate to much more delicate and iconic with the use of florals, bows, and scrolls. This fluid, romantic tendency develops further during the Victorian era.

Among many of the styles reincarnated in this period, memento mori jewelry was brought back from the Renaissance. Loved ones requested hair and incorporated the hair in their jewelry or into jewelry itself, whether by placing the hair into a locket or weaving the hair into an ornament. Cameos, coral, micro mosaics, pietra dura, and the finely detailed canetille work also regained popularity in the late Georgian period.

Late Georgian period jewelry is exceedingly rare because as the years went on, more people began resetting their jewels into more modern styles. Diamonds were rare and associated with royalty. They were usually rose or table cut and set in silver. The rest of the piece was cast in 18K+ gold in order to prevent tarnish on the skin. The diamonds were usually foil backed as well in order to enhance the brilliance of the diamond under candle light. This foiling is often compromised and is subject to much wear. War made diamonds very scarce by the end of Napoleon’s reign, so many settings were roughly cast in order to make the diamonds appear larger.

Jewelry of this time period is hand wrought and displays the utmost in quality. The artisans of this period were highly trained goldsmiths and true masters of their craft.

Victorian (1837-1901)

This style spans a period of about 60 years, the amount of time that Queen Victoria spent as the ruler of England. It is typically broken down into three periods, Early, Mid-Victorian and Late Victorian, and coincide with the life of the Queen.


Early Victorian (1837 – 1860)

Often named the “Romantic Era“ because of its close ties to sentiment and nature. During the early part of her reign, Victoria was a newlywed and popular jewelry was sentimental, including lockets and objects made of human hair. Engagement rings of this period were not made of diamonds, but rather of a colored gemstone, sometimes representing the birthstone of the bride. Throughout the Early Era, most every motif had a meaning. Florals, leaves, grapes, snakes are among the imagery used. Snakes symbolized wisdom and fidelity in love. Varying species of flowers each meant something different. Even the gems set within the jewelry had a specific meaning or purpose. The mythological understanding that gems possess certain powers was very well alive in the minds of the Victorians. Coral denoted healing powers, seed pearls symbolized tears, etc…

A lot of the jewelry in this age was hand wrought, but more machine manufactured jewelry infiltrated the market as the years went on. Quality marks were scarce since there was no distinct standard for stamping gold.
In the 1830s and 1840s, women wore attire that covered most of their bodies. Likewise, earrings and necklaces were scarce and rarely worn. Large brooches were trending and used to adorn necklines. In the 1850s, hair was up-swept and parted down the center, and earrings made a comeback.

Some of the most popular stones used during this period were: diamonds, coral, seed pearls, garnets, pink topaz, and turquoise. Metal was usually yellow/rose gold and silver.


Mid-Victorian (1860 – 1890)

The Mid Victorian Period occurred after Albert’s sudden death, when Victoria went into a deep mourning that lasted 40 years.Black jewelry made of jet, bog oak and similar dark materials were used to form necklaces and cameos, bracelets and brooches.


Late Victorian (1890 – 1901)

The Late Victorian Period shows a bit more variety as gold and colored stones made a comeback. Sets of engraved bangle bracelets were in vogue and jewelry in general became a bit lighter in weight.


Edwardian (1901-1919)

Lighter in weight than Victorian styled jewelry, Edwardian jewelry was very ornate and followed the styles made popular by Princess Alexandria, the wife of Prince Edward. Dog collar choker necklaces made of pearls and other gems were popular, as well as lavaliere necklaces. Jewelry was very ornate and made in both precious metals and gems as well as plated metals and costume jewelry stones. Bangle bracelets were still popular and include figures of lions with stones in their mouths and eyes.


Art Nouveau

This style overlapped the Edwardian period of jewelry. The style, originating in France, is most often characterized by beautiful young women with flowing hair that graced lockets, brooches and rings, sash pins and buckles. Nouveau jewelry has fluid lines made of stylized vines, flowers and foliage.


Arts and Crafts

This movement overlapped with the Art Nouveau style but its fans produced a much simpler form of jewelry using plain and hammered silver and beads of wood and earthy stone. Although the forms of nature were also imitated by the Arts and Crafts, the style was that of hand-made or hand hammered jewelry centered around simplicity of form.


Art Deco (1920-1939)

While many styles resulted from an explosion of costume jewelry, the most typical style of Art Deco jewelry is that of clear rhinestones set in a geometric pattern. These patterns, while geometric in their overall shape, could also be very flowing. Costume jewelry was primarily made of pot metal with pave set rhinestones. White or clear rhinestones were used most frequently in the 1920s giving way to multi-colored rhinestones in the 1930s.Women’s right to vote ushered in a period of empowerment felt by women who cast off their long dresses and indulged in flamboyant styles decorating themselves in long lariat strands of beads, tiaras and layers of bangles going up their arms. Plastic jewelry made of Bakelite and other plastics became popular and figural jewelry saw a boom in popularity.


Retro (1940’s)

This style was born of necessity when World War II made the use of many metals illegal since the government needed them for the manufacture of weapons. Jewelry makers in turn returned to using precious metals and, since gold was coming back into style, costume jewelry sported large flourishes of gold vermeil in the form of bows with a simple large stone. Retro period jewels tend to take on a very Americanized look and feel that balances sheer artistry and mass production.

During this era, war devastated much of Europe, and jewelry designers fled to the US while overseas jewelry firms were shutting their doors. As the European economy plummeted, America was bouncing back from the Great Depression with incredible perseverance. Despite America’s thriving market, the war wasn’t without influence on the decedent jewelry of the period. Rose gold was common due to the amount of platinum needed for the military. Likewise, it was a time for escapism in America and a time for Hollywood. Actresses like Vivien Leigh, Joan Crawford, and Ava Gardner are only a small sum of women from the Golden Age of film, and admit it… there is something so whimsical yet so crisp and geometric about the incredible machine-age heirlooms these ladies wore. The gemstones were extravagant: Rubies, Citrine, Aquamarine, Amethyst to name a few…


Mid-Century, or the Fabulous Fifties (1950s)

The Mid-Century period, otherwise known as the Fabulous Fifties, is designated by the re-use of platinum, white gold, and diamonds post WWII. Pearls were also popular for business and younger women. American efforts to help former wartime enemies to recover gave rise to much jewelry made in Japan, mostly of pearls and beads, and also jewelry from Western Germany, typically glass beads. Charm bracelets of silver, expansion rhinestone bracelets, gold-filled lockets were popular, as well as accessories such as rhinestone studded ladies compacts.



The 1960s ushered in a period of a more conservative flavor. While rhinestone jewelry was still popular for evening wear, pearl jewelry and gold tone jewelry became staples of every woman’s jewelry box. Many beautiful sets of matching necklaces, bracelets and earrings were made by large jewelry manufacturers such as Monet and Trifari, providing daytime wear for millions of American women. The late 1960s were also a time of the Hippie Revolution, when long rope lengths of beads were popular as well as silver, much like the Arts and Crafts style of the early part of the 20th Century.



Special care should be taken when caring for any piece of fine jewelry, some of course needing a little more attention than others.

  • Don’t press on stones when taking ring on or off.  Pull the ring off from its sides.
  • Don’t submerge opals, pearls, cameos, or emeralds in any type of jewelry cleaner. Use a soft cloth or brush that is damp with a mild cleaner instead (soapy water).
  • Avoid putting antique jewelry in ultra sonic cleaners.
  • Avoid showering or sleeping with your jewelry on.
  • Avoid washing dishes, swimming, or using any type of chemical when wearing your jewelry.
  • Store your heirlooms in a safe place! Store them so they do not rub up against each other. Separate sterling from other jewelry by using felt.
  • Get your gemstone pieces checked by a jeweler once a year or if you feel a stone may be loose.

Diamonds are the hardest of all gems and therefore can be polished to exquisite brilliance and can, under normal care, last a lifetime. When we think of diamonds, we often relate them to the name DeBeers. The DeBeers name has been associated with diamonds since their modern day discovery. The company, based in South Africa with headquarters in London, quickly became the largest distributor of diamonds and soon thereafter was considered a monopoly, controlling more than 80% of the world supply of diamonds. A distribution method was set up whereby “sightholders” were invited to buy boxes of diamond rough. This division of DeBeers is known as the DTC or Diamond Trading Company.

The way the system works is that these sight holders (clients) are invited to buy diamond rough usually ten times per year. They do not get to view the diamond rough prior to purchasing. The boxes are sealed and the buyers do not know what the mix will be like. The DTC has a good idea what sizes and qualities the buyer needs so they do try to offer that selection. However, the price is set and non-negotiable. When the DTC decides to raise prices, the sight holders have to accept the new price. While this system seems unfair, it did work well overall and this method of distribution helped create even greater demand for diamonds worldwide. People knew that diamond prices would continue to rise over time because of this control. The DTC controlled the supply and the price of diamonds. Over time, more large scale mining companies entered the diamond business. The market share of DeBeers began to decline. However, due to rising demand worldwide, DeBeers sales did not suffer. The sight holder method of distribution remained but was restructured. Many of these invited companies were no longer in this group which is now called Supplier of Choice instead of sight holder. DeBeers wanted this restructuring for many reasons including better marketing efforts by all diamond companies and shared responsibility. They also wanted to eliminate their monopoly status that had kept them from certain business practices in the United States. The market share of DeBeers is now below 50%.

Diamond treatments and synthetics

Detecting diamond treatments and synthetic diamonds are a challenge to the entire industry. Some diamonds treatments are more challenging than others to identify. Here are the main diamond treatments and synthetics to know about.


Synthetic diamonds are identical to natural diamonds in their chemical characteristics. Methods to identify these exist and while they can be challenging and sometimes require expensive equipment, they are not thought to be a significant threat. However, very small diamonds that are set into jewelry can be much more difficult to determine their origin. Several diamond imitations, most notably cubic zirconia and synthetic moissanite, also exist. Neither of these poses great challenges in identification for an experienced jeweler or gemologist.

Laser Drilling

When diamonds have black inclusions, they may not be very appealing to the eye. A process for removing these black inclusions developed in the 1960s and had widespread use by the 1970s. First, the laser is focused on an inclusion and a microscopic drill hole is left behind. This allows an acid bath to enter the diamond and remove the black imperfections. Although this is done in an effort to improve the appearance of the diamond, one can debate whether it really does since it leaves a drill hole and white inclusion where there used to be a black inclusion. Most laser drilling is easy to identify. However, some newer methods are more challenging since they do not leave a drill hole. Pricing is erratic. Some will lower the price of the diamond due to the drilling process, while others will not, arguing that the diamond may still have the same clarity grade but with slightly improved appearance. The important thing here is disclosure. In the U.S., it is required to disclose all diamond treatments. As long as consumers know what has been done, it is then up to them to make an informed buying decision.


HTHP is the abbreviation for “High Temperature, High Pressure.” This treatment was perfected in the early 2000s for changing the color of a diamond using nothing more than controlled heating combined with high pressure. These expensive presses are effective on some diamonds and can change the color from a low yellowish or brownish color all the way up to D, E, or F colorless. The same process can also be used to change some diamonds into fancy color diamonds such as intense yellow or other colors. Detecting this treatment is the most challenging in the industry. Sometimes, microscopic signs are left behind that can be proof positive of the treatment. But other times, there are no signs. Sophisticated equipment can act as screeners for these treatments.


Irradiation of a diamond is used strictly to create fancy color diamonds from off-color inexpensive diamonds. The process is controlled and stable. Resulting colors can be a wide range including green, yellow, orange, pink, and even red. Some irradiated diamonds are relatively easy to detect with simple tests and magnification while some require more extensive testing and equipment.

Clarity Enhanced

Clarity Enhancement is a process involving the use of a lead-based glass that through heating and pressure, is imparted into the diamond, effectively hiding the feathery type of inclusions. The film-like layer of glass is so fine and minute that it does not add significant weight (if any at all) to the diamond. The process is very effective in masking these inclusions. The correct term for this treatment is clarity enhanced, though many in the trade prefer to use the term “fracture-filled.” Diamonds do not have fractures that are being filled; they are cleavages (feathers), and geologically speaking, there is a difference. As long as the treatment is properly disclosed, it again is up to educated consumers to decide if this product is for them.

It also is important to note that the treatment may not be stable. Care should be taken with these diamonds. They should not be placed in an ultrasonic cleaner. If repairs are to be done by a jeweler, the jeweler should be informed about the treatment as the high heat generated by a jeweler’s torch would damage the filler. It can be retreated if this should happen.

Rarity and Value

Even though new diamond exploration, including in Canada, has greatly added to the supply, the diamonds produced are continually bought up. Periodically, the industry will experience shortages of certain sizes, shapes, or qualities. As diamonds get larger, they are rarer and therefore more valuable. Two diamonds of say one half carat each of a particular color and clarity will cost considerably less than one diamond of one carat even though they both have the same total weight. The diamond grading scale is also factor in rarity and value. Diamonds of very high color and clarity are much more rare than diamonds of lower color and clarity. Therefore, the price can be astoundingly different for two diamonds that are the same size but have differences in quality grades.

4 C’s

The price of diamonds is ultimately determined based on the 4 C’s “color, clarity, cut, and carat weight”. Most people today have heard of the famous 4 C’s made popular by DeBeers for consumers and the trade to judge quality, and hence, value when buying or selling. They are Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat weight. The system was developed in the early 1950s by the Gemological Institute of America. It became a worldwide standard for grading and valuing diamonds. Some independent laboratories created their own grading systems such as the American Gem Society, which is a sister organization to the GIA founded by the same person. Although the AGS scale differs from the GIA scale, the terms can be related back to the GIA scale, reasonably close.


Color is graded on a scale that starts at D as the highest color grade. Many have asked over the years why the scale did not start at a higher color grade such as A, B, or C. The thought process behind this was to avoid confusion with other random grading systems that companies back then might have used to grade gems. D was an arbitrary grade with which to start the system. D, E, and F are all considered colorless grades. They are the highest of white and only slight differences may appear with difficulty separating the grades under normal viewing. G, H, I, and J are all considered near colorless. These grades will normally still face up white to the untrained eye. K, L, and M, are considered faint yellow, though the tint may be also be brown. N through R are considered very light yellow (or brown). S through Z are light yellow (or light brown).

Some lower color yellow diamonds may be referred to as “cape” or “canary.” Some brown diamonds may be referred to as “champagne” color. However, these fancy names for the lower colors of brown and yellow diamonds are marketing terms and are not used by major labs. As the diamond gets lower in color grade, it becomes less rare and hence less valuable. However, if the diamond has color below Z it is considered fancy color and then the prices will start to go back up. While a diamond may be many fancy colors, yellow is the most common. When the color becomes intense or vivid, the price of some yellow diamonds may be higher than the price of a D color diamond. Usually, the other colors of diamonds are rare and can be very expensive. Mostly, these colors are sought after by collectors. Red is the rarest of all colors and there are only a few truly red diamonds that have ever been mined. One million dollars per carat is not unheard of for a rare natural color red diamond.


The clarity grade of a diamond is determined by using magnification. The standard is ten power magnification, by use of a microscope and also by viewing with an instrument called a jeweler’s loupe. These hand held instruments are not easy to use without lessons and practice. So, as a consumer, do not expect to purchase one of these and see the inclusions. They are however, helpful for viewing laser inscriptions that might be present on the diamond for identification.

Diamond grading is a subjective process. However, trained professionals should be very close in their observations and conclusions. The higher the clarity grade, the rarer the diamond is and of course the more expensive it is. The highest clarity grade is FL or IF. These stand for Flawless and Internally Flawless. These diamonds have no imperfections seen under 10x magnification.

The next two grades grouped together are VVS1 and VVS2. These diamonds are defined as Very Very Slightly Included. The imperfections in these are so tiny that even a trained grader might have difficulty locating the inclusions. They are usually a minor pinpoint or a few pinpoints as seen under magnification.

Next are the VS1 and VS2 clarity grades. These diamonds are defined as Very Slightly Included. Small pinpoints and feathers might be found in these grades but they are still small relative to the size of the diamond.

Perhaps the most common clarity grades found are SI1 and SI2. That is because nature almost always creates inclusions in diamonds, so we accept them. In the SI category, these grades will usually have inclusions that are easy to see under magnification but not usually visible to the naked eye.

The final clarity grade range includes I1, I2, and I3. The first of these diamonds (I1) has inclusions that may be larger in nature, may be dark, and may be eye visible among other possible attributes. Some I1 diamonds can still be very attractive depending on their individual attributes. I2 is a category where inclusions start to be very noticeable, detracting from overall beauty and potentially even affecting durability. The I3 category is reserved for diamonds that lack beauty and durability. Inclusions are so prominent in these diamonds that many of these will have little or no brilliance because light cannot pass through the diamond and reflect properly.

Note that SI3 is sometimes encountered on some laboratory grading reports or from jewelers selling diamonds. It is important to understand that this grade does not exist in the GIA grading system and is not endorsed by most major grading labs. While it may be represented as “low SI2″ or a “bridge between SI2 and I1″ or some other terminology, it is clearly a selling term. These diamonds are all I1 clarity at best and while some may attempt to allow only the “high-end” of I1 to get this grade, other diamonds may be anywhere in the I1 range.


The cut of the diamond is often confused with the shape which is actually a completely separate value factor. Cut is all about proportions. When evaluating a diamond for cut, each one of the facets is observed and measured for proper angles, length, and symmetry. A discussion of cut can become very technical. Those that want to study more information about the proportions and angles can do research through available books and online information. Here is some basic cut grade information that applies to diamonds to help understand why proportions are important to the overall look and value of the diamond. Understand that this information is the technical side of diamonds. What is important is how the diamond looks to you. Just because a proportion might not be ideally cut, the diamond may still look good to you and may be priced lower because of this. All information that follows pertains to round diamonds. Fancy shapes have completely different parameters to judge the diamonds.


The table is the flat surface on the top of the diamond. The table is measured in millimeters and then divided by the average diameter of the diamond to get a table percent. 60% is the standard by which we compare as this is a very good table size. As the table gets larger, the light will not be reflected as well. Diamonds with tables above 65% are considered to be very large. Table sizes below 60% are considered to be more in the “ideal” range, down to about 53%. Below that, the table may be considered too small.


The depth of the diamond can be calculated by dividing the total depth from the top to the bottom of the diamond by the average diameter. Again, 60% is the standard for judging. If the diamond is too deep, it may appear dark. If the diamond is too shallow, it may lose brilliance as light leaks out. Normally, for a round diamond 57.5% to 63% is the preferred range.


This is the edge that runs around the entire diamond where the top and bottom of the diamond meet. If the edge of the diamond is too thin, it might damage easily and get small chips and abrasions. If the girdle is too thick, it may alter the overall beauty and it also adds unnecessary weight. The possible sizes of girdle thickness are Extremely Thin, Very Thin, Thin, Medium, Slightly Thick, Thick, Very Thick, and Extremely Thick. The normal range of acceptance for a girdle is Thin to Thick.


The culet is the point at the bottom of the diamond. The diamond should either have no culet (sometimes described as pointed), or be very small or small and possibly medium in size. A large or very large culet adds unnecessary weight and also affects the cutting angles of the pavilion (bottom) of the diamond.

Polish and Symmetry

These two features are considered the finish of the diamond. They reflect the skill and care taken by the cutter of the diamond. While they are microscopic in nature and rarely visible to the eye, they can affect the overall brilliance and beauty of the diamond. The grades for these are Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor. Most diamonds today are cut with Good or better finish features. Prior to 2006, cut grades were not used by the GIA grading laboratory. Some other labs did use cut grades based on their own research and standards. For example, the AGS laboratory used a cut grade system that started at 0 as the “ideal” cut and went down from there (1, 2, 3). In 2006, the GIA introduced new cut grade standards but only for a standard round brilliant diamond. The cut grades are Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor.


The carat weight of the diamond is determined by weighing the diamond on an accurate electronic balance scale. One carat equals .2 gram, so one gram would equal five carats. In the trade, these scales can be very expensive to obtain the accuracy down to the thousandth of a carat. The final representation is usually to two decimal places, though some labs will show the third decimal place. So, a one-half carat diamond would be represented as .50 carat, a one-carat diamond would be represented as 1.00, etc. An accurate weight is very important because the pricing is based on this weight, and there are significant differences in price sometimes over just one one-hundredth of a carat. A diamond that weighs .99 carat is lower priced than a diamond that weighs 1.00 carat In the international gem trade, the standards for weight representation are different than some local laws and standards. This can make things confusing. In the international trade, you can only round up to the nearest one-hundredth of a carat if the thousandths place is 9. If it is 8 or below, it must be truncated. So, a diamond that weighs .998 carat is bought and sold in the trade as .99 carat. If it is .999, then the diamond can be rounded to 1.00 carat. The confusion occurs if a store wants to sell the diamond based on local laws that might disagree with this method. In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission Guidelines state that normal mathematical rounding applies, so a diamond that weighs .995 can legally be sold as a 1.00 carat diamond. But since most one carat diamonds have grading reports from a recognized trade laboratory and most jewelers follow the trade rules, this diamond would be sold as .99 carat.

Diamonds are more expensive per carat as each new carat weight category is reached. The international diamond trade generally uses the following carat weight categories.

¼ carat .23 to .29
1/3 carat .30 to .36
3/8 carat .37 to .43
Light ½ carat .44 to .49
½ carat .50 to .69
¾ carat .70 to .89
9/10 carat .90 to .99
1 carat 1.00 to 1.19
1 ¼ carat 1.20 to 1.49
1 ½ carat 1.50 to 1.99
2 carat 2.00 to 2.99

Note that there might be slight premiums in some of the above categories as diamonds get closer to the next category.

Lab Reports

Today, most major diamonds are sold with a report from one of dozens of “independent” laboratories. These laboratories offer opinions of the quality grades of the diamond and possibly other information such as cut grading and light performance. It is important to note that not all laboratories are created equal. Some labs are known in the trade to be more “lenient” in their grading of the diamonds where others may be more strict. Consumers often wonder how this can be since diamond grading is considered a worldwide standard. Although it is true that a standard exists, the system is still subjective. Some labs rely on this subjectivity as a fallback position to allow them to be more lenient. Other factors that affect the quality of the lab are the number of graders that are required to look at each diamond (some labs may require only one while others may require a minimum of two), the experience of the lab, the quality control procedures, etc. Therefore, when comparing diamonds and diamond prices, the 4Cs are not the only factors to consider for a valid comparison. The laboratory should also be considered. We are not saying to accept one over another but to be aware of the differences that may exist.

GIA – The Gemological Institute of America is widely regarded as the most reliable international authority on the appraisal of diamonds. While many retailers selling newly manufactured diamond jewelry will include a GIA certificate with purchase, there are legitimate reasons why a certificate may not be available. First and foremost, GIA will only examine lose stones, meaning that stones are either graded before being set in jewelry or they must be removed from their setting at the time of grading. In certain cases, it may not be possible to remove a stone from its setting without damaging the condition of the setting or the stone itself, particularly in cases involving vintage or antique jewelry.


What a GIA certificate does NOT do:

A GIA certificate does not provide an appraisal value for either the stone or the piece of jewelry. It is simply a graded evaluation of a single stone. For this reason, it maintains its integrity over time, even as market values of stones and other materials may fluctuate. The GIA certificate is therefore viable for a longer period of time than an appraisal, which tell you market value. However, it is not viable for an indefinite period of time as grading technology and techniques have gradually evolved and improved over time. It is therefore recommended that any GIA certificate of reference be from within the last 10-20 years.



Ruby is generally considered the most valuable of the colored gemstones when priced per carat for exceptional quality gems. It is considered one of the “big three” in the industry ruby, emerald, sapphire. Color: Rubies vary in color from orangy red, red slightly purplish red, strongly purplish red, to red. Clarity: Type II May be eye clean with minor inclusions visible under magnification. Cut: Some native cuts may be found (gems cut at the mine location without high regard to skill in cutting). However, well-cut stones are available. Carat weight: Stones weighing more than 5 carats in finer qualities are very rare. In commercial grades, stones are available from in all sizes up to 10 carats. Reference Data: Refractive Index: 1.762-1.770, Specific Gravity: 4.00 Common Treatments: Most rubies are heat treated to improve color. Some may also be heated in the presence of flux which can leave residue within the ruby, known as flux healing. Another method of filling fissures uses lead glass and leaves this residue inside the gemstone.


Emerald is one of the most valuable gems, prized throughout history. It is considered one of the “big three” in the industry – ruby, emerald, sapphire. Color: Very strongly bluish green, bluish green, very slightly bluish green, green and slightly yellowish green. Clarity: Type III usually has eye visible inclusions. Cut: Some native cuts may be found (gems cut at the mine location without high regard to skill in cutting). However, well-cut stones are available. Carat weight: Stones weighing more than 8 carats are rare in finer quality. In commercial qualities, stones are available in all sizes up to 20 carats or even larger may be encountered. Reference Data: Refractive Index: 1.577-1.583, Specific Gravity: 2.72 Common Treatments: Nearly all emeralds are oiled with a variety of oils, some with resins added. Filling of emeralds may also take place. These treatments help to hide the natural fissures within emeralds which is a common feature of their growth in nature.


Sapphire is the most popular gemstone in the United States. It is considered one of the “big three” in the industry – ruby, emerald, sapphire. Color: Sapphires can be found in a variety of colors in each of the seven primary hues. However, blue is the most common, most desired, and most expensive. Clarity: Type II—May be eye clean with minor inclusions visible under magnification. Cut: Some native cuts may be found (gems cut at the mine location without high regard to skill in cutting). However, well-cut stones are available. Carat weight: Stones weighing more than 20 carats is rare in finer qualities. In lower grades very large sizes are available. Reference Data: Refractive Index: 1.762-1.770, Specific Gravity: 4.00 Treatment: Heat is very commonly used to improve the color of sapphires.


Tanzanite is a very popular variety of zoisite. It gained popularity in the 1970s when Tiffany & Co. brought it to market. Color: Purple, bluish purple, violet, bluish violet, violetish blue and blue. Tanzanite is highly trichroic meaning it exhibits different colors when viewed in different directions. How it is cut by the cutter will also affect what color results in the finished gem. Clarity: Type I—Usually eye clean with high clarity under magnification. Cut: Well cut stones are expected. Carat weight: Stones weighing up to 20 carats are available in finer qualities and up to 50 carats are available but rare. Reference Data: Refractive Index: 1.691-1.70, Specific Gravity: 3.35 Treatment: All tanzanite are heated to obtain the color.


January: Garnet
February: Amethyst
March: Aquamarine
April: Diamond
May: Emerald
June: Alexandrite
July: Ruby
August: Peridot
September: Sapphire
October: Opal
November: Topaz
December: Zircon (now tanzanite on some lists)


There are several different types of appraisals, and to understand the difference requires answering first:

Why an item is being appraised?

Replacement Value – The amount it would cost to buy a replacement piece in the current retail market. The replacement value is typically used for Insurance purposes.

Liquidation Value – The amount an item would fetch when selling to a secondary market dealer or broker, which is often based purely on component material value.

Fair Market Value (FMV)—What a willing buyer would accept and a willing seller would pay for an item when neither is under any compulsion to buy or sell and both possess reasonable knowledge of the facts. The seller in this case can be either an end consumer or a manufacturer, so context matters. The FMV is typically used for Estate or Charitable Taxes.

Marketable Cash Value (MCV)—The remaining proceeds of sale of an item after deduction of any fees and commissions incurred in connection with that sale. Recommended for matrimonial valuations, i.e. when negotiating division of assets at the time of a divorce. Market (Cash) Value—Similar to FMV but the lack of compulsion is removed and the items have to be sold in a given time frame. In short, market (cash) value is a cash sale in a given time frame with reasonable exposure in an open market where both parties are informed or advised of all of the facts.

What does an appraiser do?

First the appraiser will gauge the measurement and weight of your diamond and grade it based on the four C’s:

Then the appraiser will weigh the piece of jewelry to determine the metal value.

Gemstone and metal prices fluctuate over time, so the appraiser will reference market data to establish the total current material value.

A good appraiser will also look closely for markings and other indicators that point to a designer or manufacturer, time of original fabrication, evidence of repairs, etc.

An expert appraiser will go one step further, understanding the art within the context of current buyer trends and preferences. Typically an appraisal is only good for a limited amount of time, after which the market will have changed enough to render the valuations obsolete.

Be wary of any appraisal done by the jeweler or store selling you the jewelry itself as they may inflate values to make it seem like a better deal, which could in turn lead you to overpay for not only the piece itself, but also insurance and/or taxes. Gleem’s appraiser operates independently and is not an employee of the company. She receives no benefit based on the value assigned to a piece or the sale price of that item.

Cleaning a Diamond Ring

Hand lotions, hair styling products and everyday grime all leave enough of a film on your diamond ring to keep it from looking its best. And if you wait too long between cleanings, those materials can accumulate into a thick layer of gunk on the back of your diamond, blocking light and making the diamond appear dull and lifeless. Diamonds are the hardest substance known, but that doesn’t mean we can bring them back to life with any old cleanser. Coatings and other materials used to enhance diamonds can sometimes be removed by harsh chemicals or vigorous scrubbing, so take care when it’s time to make your diamond ring sparkle.

Gentle & Effective Ways to Clean Diamond Rings
  • 1. Soak your diamond ring in a warm solution of mild liquid detergent and water. Ivory dishwashing liquid is a good choice, but any other mild detergent is fine.
  • 2. Use a soft brush if necessary to remove dirt. “Soft” is the key — don’t use a brush with bristles that are stiff enough to scratch the ring’s metal setting.
  • 3. Swish the ring around in the solution, and then rinse it thoroughly in warm water. Close the drain first, or put the ring in a strainer to keep from losing it!
  • 4. Dry the diamond ring with a lint-free cloth.

If the diamond and setting needs extra help, use a dental Water Pik to flush away small bits of grime. You can also use a wooden toothpick to “very carefully” push dirt away from the diamond and setting.

A more extreme method that a jewelry designer I know recommended mimics a professional cleaning but can be done at home, provided the availability of one special tool – A milk foamer. The high pressured hot steam works miracles on jewelry. Just make sure you hold the jewelry with a pair of jewelry players or thongs of some heat resistant variety to avoid burning your hands!

Cleaning Unfilled Diamonds

Diamonds that have not been fracture filled can be cleaned with a solution of ammonia and water. Use the gentler liquid detergent solution for fracture filled diamonds, because ammonia might eventually either cloud or remove the coating that’s been placed on the gemstone.

Cleaning Rings with Multiple Types of Gemstones

The method you use to clean jewelry should protect its weakest element. If your ring includes other gems, use a cleaning method that is suitable for the less durable stones.

  • 1. Zip lock baggies. They’re practical, if not chic. We recommend putting each piece of jewelry into a zip lock bag because it protects the piece, makes it easy to see and store in my purse or carry on. Double bag earrings so they don’t bang against each other.  Once inside the zip lock bag you can then easily put that piece into your jewelry travel box or roll, again keeping everything protected and organized. Now, if you really want to travel light, you can put your jewelry into small zip locks individually and then put everything into one large zip lock, so it is all together and easy to see. The downside of zip lock baggies is that they are not very luxurious and will occasionally need to be replaced.
  • 2. Original pouches. The original pouches are also good as they protect the jewelry nicely and are compact and good for travel. A well made pouch for earrings will have the center divider so earrings won’t knock into each other. If you would like extra protection, use a small zip lock bag first and then put that inside the original felt pouch. The downside of original pouches is that you cannot see what is inside.
  • 3. Jewelry rolls are a really nice way to travel with jewelry. A good jewelry roll will have a variety of zippered compartments and fold up neatly and securely. These will drop easily into your handbag or carry on. The downside of jewelry rolls is that they will add a little extra weight to your purse or tote.
  • 4. Small jewelry boxes offer good support, organization and protection for your jewelry. They are designed to hold their shape and are usually nicely padded inside. The downside of the jewelry boxes is that they are not very flexible and will add a little extra weight.
  • 5. Large Cosmetic bags. Now, once you have selected your system for how you want to pack your jewelry, we recommend putting your jewelry whether it is in a roll, or box or large zip lock, into a large cosmetic style bag. This way everything is double packed and if by chance you have to rearrange things on the plane or train, you don’t have to let everyone see what you have in your bag. This is especially applicable for anyone flying who might need to get up and use the restroom or stretch.  In fact if you are flying, put all your valuables inside this large cosmetic bag so that if you do need to leave your seat, you simply pull out the cosmetic bag and take it with you.
  • 6. Always carry your jewelry in your purse or large tote that you will have with you at all times. Never put jewelry in luggage that is to be checked.
  • 7. Keep it simple. Bring only what you will wear. Plan your jewelry with each outfit when you pack and stick with the plan.  No reason to tote around and manage extra baubles that you don’t end up wearing.
  • 8. Use the room safe if staying at a hotel. Take a piece count and photo of your jewelry before you put it in the safe. And then when you pack up, check the piece count to make sure you haven’t left something out or in the corner of the safe. I count earrings as one piece. Never leave any jewelry just sitting out on top of a desk or counter in the hotel room or as a guest in someone’s home. Dishonest people are always looking for an opportunity – don’t tempt them!
  • 9. Keep your jewelry stowed. When en-route to your destination, keep your jewelry packed away. Use good judgment in taking jewelry on or off in front of people in hotel lobbies, airports and train stations. Again, don’t tempt thieves.
  • 10. Safety deposit boxes are a great value and offer peace of mind regarding jewelry you aren’t taking on your trip. You can get one at your local bank and they are very affordable