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Diamond Jewelry Cleaning Tips

Your diamonds and jewelry are precious to you, both intrinsically and sentimentally. Caring and maintaining them should be as important as the care and maintenance you put into anything else you value and cherish, like a car or home, yet it’s a lot simpler and inexpensive.

The first step to taking care of your diamonds and jewelry is to be aware when you are wearing them. They can be very fragile, especially with more intricate pieces, and over time they will go through wear and damage, but you can increase their longevity by being mindful of how everyday exposure could harm them. It’s as common as making sure they don’t receive heavy impact from slamming your hand with a diamond ring on, tossing your jewelry on the table, (accidently) tugging at your necklaces and bracelets, or even keeping your jewelry in your pocket or purse with your keys and other larger objects. If you’re doing sports or heavy activity, it’s best to take them off (it’s also a safety precaution!). In all situations, you risk scratching and breaking the diamond and metal. Gold, silver and platinum are very soft and can easily be damaged. Diamonds are much harder to make a dent, but one perfect blow can make a crack, and once there is a crack the diamond is vulnerable to shattering. Other exposures include chemicals from household cleaning or gardening supplies and the chlorine in swimming pools. In most cases, the diamond can withstand these, but gold and silver are prone to stain which will weaken the integrity of the metal. On small chain necklaces, clasps and the prongs that hold the diamond, they can soften and bend in which you risk losing them when they fall out.

Being aware of your diamonds and jewelry isn’t just to protect from damage, but also to reduce the risk of losing them. This is the most heartbreaking thing that could happen, but there are a few tips to keep in mind: 1. Know where you put them (Is it in your jewelry box? If you take it off, is it in a secure place?). 2. Make sure there are no loose parts and that it fits properly. Rings that are too loose on the finger can slip off, and clasps and prongs that aren’t attached and fitted properly could result in your necklace slipping right off your neck or your diamond falling out. 3. Take your jewelry off when you wash your hands, take a shower, or use the swimming pool (Once they fall off, it can go straight down the drain).

The next step is proper storage. If you keep your jewelry in a jewelry box, make sure it’s not over-crowded. The best way to scratch the metal is against other metals, and the best way to damage diamonds are other diamonds. Make sure items aren’t piled up on top of each other (ideally they should have their own compartment or hook). Especially for chain necklaces, where they can be knotted up together, untangling them is the most common way that the chain links will stretch and break right off. In addition, the jewelry box should be padded, or if you don’t have a jewelry box, a cloth pouch.

The last step is the maintenance. Diamonds and jewelry can collect a lot of dirt and oils when they are worn, and keeping that luxurious look is the point of wearing them in the first place. Cleaning both the diamond and metal can be as simple as using warm, soapy (dish soap) water and a soft toothbrush, rinsing, and buffing with a soft cloth. Don’t use sharp or pointy objects to get into the nook and cranny’s, and make sure you completely dry the piece to prevent water stains. There are also a number of different at-home solutions that can be found online which use laundry detergent, aluminum foil, ammonia, or baking soda (you can find a whole list of common and uncommon ideas here). While these methods are proven to work, there are risks of damaging the gemstones that should not be exposed to these solutions. If you are doing it yourself, it’s best to stick to a simple soap and water solution. If you feel that you need cleaning beyond the at-home-do-it-yourself method, seek a professional that most jewelry stores provide. The same goes for repairs, resetting, and replatings (when the plate begins to wear down revealing the base metal).

We hope any of this advice is helpful and that you can keep the beauty of your jewelry for many more years!

sell gold jewelry canada

Stamps, Marks, and Hallmarks

When we go to buy something, we tend to look for the information. Whether we’re buying a new cellphone or computer or an appliance or a car, we want to see the specifications written somewhere so we know who made it, where it was made, and, most importantly, what’s in it.

At Canada Gold, a big part of our job is to identify the items that come through our stores. Of course, testing the item is the sure way to determine what it is (check out our blog post for how we test http://canadagold.ca/testing-gold/), but before we do that, we look for information, and the information comes in the form of stamps, marks, or hallmarks. Understanding what the stamps and marks mean is also a good way for sellers to identify what they have before they go to sell.

GOLD KARAT

Karat is the unit to measure the gold purity. How the karat system works is explained in another blog post (http://canadagold.ca/gold-karat/), but the chart below explains the percentage of gold for each different karat.

gold karat

Even though we test each item’s gold purity, a karat stamp helps us determine what we are testing for. If we see a 14k stamp on an item, we want to make sure it tests as 14k. Some items, usually old or hand-crafted jewelry, don’t have stamps. This doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t real. It only means we have to be extra particular with our tests to make sure it’s real and how much gold is in it.

GOLD-PLATED or GOLD-FILLED

Gold-plated, gold-filled, and sometimes called, rolled-gold, is considered “fake” gold. Most of the time this is indicated on the item next to the karat stamp. Unfortunately this is not always the case. Stamps you would normally see are:

  • G.P. (gold-plated)
  • GEP (gold electro-plate)
  • G.F. (gold-filled)
  • R.G.P. (rolled gold-plate)

STERLING SILVER

Instead of a karat system to measure purity, silver has one, standardized purity called “Sterling” and then there is everything else. The reason I say this is because sterling silver is the only silver purity standard under the Code of Federal Regulations; everything else, whether it’s a purity higher or lower, cannot be considered (marked) as sterling silver. Sterling silver is 92.5% silver and 7.5% other alloys such as copper, nickel, or zinc. Items that are authentically sterling silver are stamped with:

  • STERLING
  • STER
  • 925

STERLING HALLMARKS

In addition to the three stamps above, hallmarks are used to indicate that an item is made with “standard silver” or sterling silver. Hallmarks are traditionally a British certifying system and are found on flatware and silverware, and each hallmark indicates: 1. Silver Standard Mark (indicating the silver content) 2. City Mark (the city it was manufactured in) 3. Duty Mark (the tax on the item that has been paid to the crown) 4. Date Letter (the year it was certified for silver content) 5. Maker’s Mark (who manufactured it) and 6. Import Marks (indicating it was in a foreign country).

sterling hallmarks

 

The one we’re interested in is the “Silver Standard Mark” reperesnted as the walking lion facing left, like the one above fourth from the left. It is called a lion passant and it was introduced in 1544 as a British sterling standard hallmark. In this post, we will not go through the other types of hallmarks, but stay tuned for an upcoming post on British Hallmarks.

SILVERPLATE HALLMARKS & STAMPS

There are also hallmarks to indicate whether flatware/silverware is plated, much like the plated stamps used for gold. Most flatware and silverware is not solid sterling; therefore, unless it is stamped with STERLING, STER or 925 or has the British lion passant, it is more than likely plated.

Commonly on plated flatware you will see the word “PLATE”, “PLATED”, “INLAID” or “SOLDERED” and then there are marks to identify the electro-plating used: “EPNS” (Electro Plated Nickel Silver), “EPBM” (Electro Plated Britannia Metal) “EP” (Electro Plated), “BP” (Britannia Plated), “EPCA” (Electro Plated Copper Alloy), “EPGS” (Electro Plated German Silver), “EP ON COPPER” (Electro Plated on Copper), “ESM” (Electro Plated Silver Mounts), “EPWM” (Electro Plated White Metal), “MP” (Magneto Plate).

There are also hallmarks to indicate the grade of silverplate. British electroplaters used a letter code for their plated wares. The best quality is”A1” or “AI“, lower level is”A”, next level is”B“, followed by level “C“, and the lowest level “D“. Normally, these are accompanied by other British hallmarks . Locating the silverplate grade hallmarks will eliminate the mystery of whether your flatware is plated or not.

EPNS

EVERYTHING ELSE (OTHER SILVERS & NON-SILVERS)

There are a lot of different “silvers” out there that aren’t sterling silver. Some of them are silver, just not sterling quality, while others are labeled as silver when they contain little or no silver at all.

Silver jewelry in Mexico is usually stamped with “MEX925”. Although the “925” suggests sterling quality, the items are not certified sterling; therefore, some pieces might be sterling silver and others could be less.

Other non-sterling silvers are stamped “800” which is 80% silver. Others are stamped “950” which is 95% silver. 950 silver would be considered sterling silver, but it is actually closer to an older silver standard called “Britannia Standard” silver which is 958 or 95.8% fine silver.

800

mex925

Then there are silvers that are labeled with the word silver, but are not actually silver. The most common examples of this are “German Silver” or “Alpacca” which are made with copper, nickel, and zinc (no silver whatsoever!).

Now and again, unusual stamps and marks come up that even we at Canada Gold have never seen before. Nonetheless, they share the same basic principle: information. For us and our sellers, what we look for first are the stamps and marks that indicate content (gold, silver, real or fake). Have a look through your items and if you come across anything you don’t recognize, leave us a comment and we will be more than welcome to do a little bit of investigating.

Making Synthetic Diamonds – High Pressure, High Temperature

Most coloured diamonds are made synthetically because the variables necessary to form a naturally coloured diamond are extremely rare, thus why they are the most expensive kind of diamonds.

The most common way diamonds are made synthetically is HPTC – High Pressure High Temperature

Because the video (1:51) has no dialogue, here is what’s happening:

1. Pure carbon and catalyst metals, pressed into a graphite, are put into a small cylinder, and then placed in a growth chamber
2. The growth chamber is placed into a BARS apparatus consisting of a steel outer anvil and a tungsten carbide inner anvil.
3. For 3-5 days, the growth chamber will undergo extreme temperatures and pressures (1400 °C and ~880,000 pounds per square inch).
4. Once the ideal conditions are reached, the graphite dissolves into a molten metal solution, and the carbon atoms slowly build upon a crystal structure.
5. Once the capsule finishes cooling, cracking open the growth chamber reveals a rough diamond ready to be cleaned and cut.

Different types of metals added to the growth chamber will change its color. Eg. Boron will result in a blue diamond.

Grading Diamonds: What You Need to Know

A famous Marilyn Monroe  quote says “diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” Then there are some who will say that women are complicated. So does that mean diamonds are complicated too?

Most of the value in diamond jewelry is the diamond itself, and evaluating diamonds is not very straightforward because slight differences (differences too small to see with the naked eye) can differentiate the price from one diamond and another quite significantly. In other words, perhaps diamonds are as complicated as girls, and Marilyn Munroe has been on to something all this time. There is a good reason why the diamond industry has certified gemologists in labs to grade diamonds.

Unfortunately for the average person, a gemologist is not always available (but you can book an appointment with our Vancouver gemologist today by calling 604-876-4653). If you’re planning on investing in jewelry with diamonds in it, like an engagement ring, read this simple guide to help you better understand what you need to know about buying diamonds.

Starting with the 4 C’s—Carat, Cut, Clarity, and Colour—we will help give you a better understanding of the anatomy of diamonds and how they are graded.

4 cs

 

Carat

Carat is the most common thing we think about when the topic of diamonds comes up. Carat is a unit of weight used to measure diamonds. The word comes from the Greek word “carob” which is a plant seed that was used to weigh against gemstones because of their relatively uniform weight. The carat system was eventually standardized where one carat is fixed at 0.2 grams.

Although carat measures the diamond’s weight, it can generally determine the diamond’s size. Here is a chart of “round” diamonds showing their carat and their relative size in millimeters.

diamondsizes-minichart

As you go up in carat, the price increases exponentially because diamonds over one carat are far rarer. A two carat diamond is worth more per carat than a one carat diamond of equal grade.

What carat is right for you (or your special someone)? If you’re considering an engagement ring, according to www.adiamondbuyingguide.com, in 2013 the average size of the center diamond was 1.1 carats. If you would like to get a better comparison of different diamond sizes, check out this Diamond Size Chart.

Cut

Often we think of “cut” as the shape or style of the diamond. In fact, shape is entirely different (and will be explained later). Cut actually refers to the “reflective qualities” and is what is graded when a diamond is certified. The quality of the cut determines how much light is reflected when it enters the diamond. The reflected light is commonly known as the diamond’s brilliance. The pictures below show the common features of a cut diamond and how light enters different cut variants.

diamondanatomy

diamondcut-cuts

Cut grades go from Ideal, Excellent, Very Good, Good, and then Fair & Poor, where ideal cuts maximize the amount of light reflected, and fair & poor cuts only reflects a small proportion of the light that enters them.

Clarity

Grades of clarity assess the overall flaws (blemishes and inclusions) of the diamond. All natural diamonds contain some sort of flaws, hence why flawless diamonds are incredibly rare, and thus incredibly expensive. Blemishes are flaws you can see on the surface, like chips and scratches, and inclusions are flaws found inside the diamond, like bubbles, cracks, and mineral flecks.

The following clarity grades are under 10x magnification (inclusions in grades F through VS are NOT visible to the naked eye):

diamond-colour-clarity-complete-guide

 

Colour

We think of diamonds as being clear like glass or appearing white because of the light they capture. When gemologists grade diamonds on colour, they are actually looking for either the presence or absence of colour—the less colour apparent to the eye, the higher its value. Naturally coloured diamonds are an exception to this rule, because they are unique and extremely rare. Diamonds are graded from D (colourless) all the way to Z (Light Yellow):

the-diamond-color-complete-guide

 The more colourless the diamond, the more it will emphasize its brilliance made by the diamond’s cut.

The 5th “C”: Certificates

Certificates are a grading report of your diamond’s 4 C’s conducted by a qualified gemologist using special equipment. This is to ensure that what you’re paying for is what you’re getting. Because the 4 C’s are often impossible to recognize to the untrained eye, it’s important to make sure a professional has gone over your diamonds. Most certified diamonds are done by GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or AGS (American Gem Society) and will look like this:

Sample-GIA-Laboratory-Report-Bryan-Boyne

Diamonds are an expensive investment. The smallest detail could drastically change its value compared to what you paid for it, and you wouldn’t even know. If you’re buying diamonds or diamond jewelry, make sure it comes with a certificate!

 Shape (Style)

Earlier we spoke of cut diamonds referring to the reflective qualities, not its shape or style. The diamond shape doesn’t reflect its value as much as the 4 C’s, but it is still something to consider when purchasing your diamond jewelry. Depending on your taste, there are many different cut shapes to choose from:

shapes

(Note that a one carat heart diamond will weigh the same as a one carat round diamond, but it does not mean that they will be the exact same size)

Now that you know the basics of diamonds, you can go out and research what diamond is best for you. BlueNile.com is a perfect place to start to check out diamond prices based on the four C’s you just learned about. Or, if you wish to speak to us directly about your diamonds, call 604-876-4653 and book an appointment with our very own gemologist – Rachel Cohen. Here she is at the JCK Jewelry Show in Las Vegas June 2014.

Rachel w GIA

Sentimental Gold - Should I Keep it, or Sell It?

Sentimental Gold – Should I Keep it, or Sell It?

Just about everyone has possessions with personal or sentimental value beyond what the market might say they’re worth. When you really think about it, that’s basically how we assign value to everything; I place greater value on a cup of coffee than having a spare couple of bucks in my pocket, so I buy a coffee. The coffee shop would rather have my change than the capacity to produce one extra cup of coffee, the beauty of the free market ensues!

Many people end up with old gold jewelry that has been inherited in some way or another, and most of it will be forgotten in a drawer somewhere. A good way to decide whether these items are worth holding on to or not is to separate them into three piles:

First Pile: These are sentimental items that have been handed down through your family for generations, or perhaps they have some very significant meaning behind them. These are items that you would never part with at any price. Keep them aside and make sure they end up somewhere safe.

Second Pile: These are items that you know have value, but you’re not quite sure how much they’re worth. They might have some sentimental value, but are likely worth a fair bit of money as well, and depending on how much you can get for them, you might consider selling them. It’s worthwhile having them evaluated so that you know what they’re worth, but don’t take the decision to sell lightly, once they’re gone, they’re gone for good.

Third Pile: This is the stuff you know that you want to get rid of. It’s that ugly old damaged jewelry that’s been sitting around collecting dust. You know that it won’t be worn and it’s just taking up space. These are the items that you just might be surprised by how much they’re really worth. Old ugly gold jewelry is often of high quality and heavy, containing a great deal of gold content. If you were to sell it to a gold buyer you’d be receiving payment based on that gold value, not the way it looks.

That’s it! Bring the second and third piles into a Canada Gold Buyer location to have them evaluated, ask for the two piles to be priced out separately so that you can decide whether it’s worthwhile selling one or both. There will be no obligation to sell and the quote you receive will be based on the best market price from the past three days.

Gold Rush Alaska – Season 3

What do you think about the developments this season? Will the million-dollar season come to fruition or will the Gold Rush crew even be able to pay their bills?

There were many ups and downs through the first two seasons as we reported last year (see the link below). And with ratings at an all time high, season three is brining lots of opinions from fans and followers everywhere.

Do you have a favorite episode, character or crazy plot twist? Let us know so we can keep the conversation going.

#vancouvergold

Gold Rush Alaska | Reviewing the hit plus season 3 predictions
Gold Rush Alaska is one of the most popular shows for men on Television. Season 1 and 2 review + season 3 predictions. See what makes this reality show one of Discoveries highest rated.

Canada Gold reports on Gold Rush Season 3