Posts made in July 2018

Great Reminders on Summer Jewelry Care

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Summer Jewelry Care

Summer is hard on our jewelry. The pool chemicals and salt water are not friendly. Packing lightly means your jewelry is thrown together in a Ziploc bag. Did you manage to fit everything in the car, with bikes on the back and maybe canoes on top? You didn’t bruise or cut your hands because your rings took all the abuse. Even just a day at the beach, managing chairs, coolers and umbrellas (or a beach cart if you’re a NJ beachgoer) can cause prongs to break or chains to snap. What can you do?
First, take a minute to think about which pieces might hold up best. Costume jewelry is inexpensive but if it’s sentimentally important, leave it home. Repairing it can be tricky and the summer elements of water and chemicals (pool, lotions, sunscreens, perfumes, sweat containing all of them) are likely to damage it. Be aware that the metals used in costume jewelry might react with those same summer chemicals and stain your skin. If you consider your costume jewelry disposable and replaceable, then wear and enjoy it.
Gold, silver and platinum will hold up to more wear and tear. Sunscreen won’t necessarily harm precious metals but it will dull them. Best to get a travel jewelry case so they don’t clank against each other. Occasionally we see discoloration on gold or silver where parts are soldered together after exposure to pool chemicals. This is due to the alloys added to precious metals in the solder. This can be polished off (the sooner, the better).
Although diamonds are the hardest substance known to man, they are not indestructible. A knock or blow can chip them (internal characteristics and the property known as cleavage can make them susceptible). The best way to prevent chipping is to be aware of any heavy work you are doing and to be careful.
Colored gemstones and pearls are more easily damaged than diamonds. Even though pearls grow in the ocean, they are a more fragile gem material. The shell they grow in provides protection from the sea. That beautiful lustrous nacre coating can wear off when exposed to sand and salt or fresh water. Keep them away from other chemicals as well.
On an entirely different note, guys seem to lose more wedding bands while swimming in the ocean than anywhere else. If the water is cold, fingers can shrink. If it feels a little loose while out of the water, take it off. But remember to put it back on!
After a day of picnics or beach time, rinse your fine jewelry off in warm water and dry it gently. When you get home stop in and we’ll professionally clean it for you. It only takes a few minutes and we’ll go over everything to check for security.
If you have summer jewelry care questions we haven’t answered, let us know!

Tales from Africa Part 1


Greetings from Chrysa!

What an amazing trip to East Africa! My daughter Rachel and I were honored and humbled to be a part of this special group of travelers. Fourteen of us came from all parts of the US jewelry industry. A few have brick and mortar stores like we do, a few are designers, one sources for her family’s international catalog business and one is a manufacturer. We all came with the common goal of learning more about gemstones and where they come from. Our hosts, Roger and Ginger Dery and their daughter Rachel introduced us to so many wonderful people!

Have you seen the movie “Black Panther”? The correlation between the fictional (and bright blue) heart shape herb grown underground in the story and the real gemstones found underground in East Africa is unmistakable. Tanzania is home to Tanzanite (the only area in the world where it’s found), Spinel, Tourmaline, and many varieties of Garnet. Kenya boasts select varieties of Garnet such as Tsavorite Garnet found near Tsavo Park, and Tourmaline, with Chrome Tourmaline found in Southern Kenya.

Traveling to the mines was eye opening. There were long stretches of countryside so different from our own. But meeting the mine owners and miners was even more so. The patience and perseverance of those involved in mining is astounding. They can mine for years and not find significant gems, usually using hammer and chisel. It’s hard, hot and dangerous work. They look for indicator minerals to let them know they are on the right path. It’s a miracle of Mother Nature when they find beautiful gemstones, one that motivates them to continue to search for more!

We visited two Kenyan Kiwi Garnet mines. The Baraka Mine, formerly called Moma’s Mine, is the oldest operating female-owned mine in East Africa. It is currently being run by Moma’s daughter, Gladwell, and her husband, Christopher. “The baby stones lead you to the mama,” Gladwell told us. They are following a new vein and are excited because they believe it will hold a big deposit. We viewed the area they have blasted and are now clearing out. According to Roger, the mine looks completely different from when they last visited four years ago, including new housing for mine workers. 

The second mine we visited is called the Precious Women Mine, led by Esther Okeno, the widow of Roger’s dear friend and mentor who passed away two years ago. Now as the sole source of income for her family of three, she’s had many difficult changes in her life. She and several other women work in this mine every day. They have found graphite, mica and feldspar, minerals indicating they may soon find garnet! We were inspired by their tenacity, joy, and determination. They have made remarkable progress, but they need a compressor to run a jackhammer to more quickly get through the rock, and we are hoping to help them with this. 

We met with the mines’ designated representatives in both Tanzania and Kenya to purchase rough gemstones. It was nerve-wracking at first, since I’d never analyzed rough gemstones for purchase before this trip. With Roger’s careful guidance, we all learned what to look for! Once we receive the rough gems home (they are purchased, documented, and imported into the United States legally, and this can take time), we have the wonderful anticipation of waiting for Roger to cut them to bring out their amazing color and beauty! 

Want to learn more about the journey of a gemstone and Chrysa’s amazing trip to Africa?  Follow her on Facebook: