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Our COVID-19 Evolution, Part 3

Well hello! It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to find time to write! Since we reopened in May, a few things have changed as we’ve found new ways of working. Many things are still the same, though: We’re still open by appointment only, we’re still wearing masks, and we’re still being very careful to be safe and healthy!

We’re definitely back in our groove! Back to repairing and restoring all your meaningful jewelry. Back to celebrating your anniversaries and birthdays and all the family holidays we’re used to being a part of. Back to redesigning and working on creative custom pieces (actually, we’re doing a lot of this!). It feels fun again!

So what happens when you’re ready to come visit us? Please call, text or email us first! We’ll schedule a specific time for you to come in. Give us a few days notice-although we can try to get you in the same day, we’re often booked at least a day or two in advance. Let us know the reason for your visit so we can allow enough time to help you appropriately and sanitize before and after. We’re still sanitizing everything in between clients so you can feel comfortable here!

When you arrive for your appointment, come right to the door, but it will be locked so we can limit the number of people in the store. We’ll be watching for you, but feel free to knock. We’ll let you in as soon as we can.

Some updates on our services: We are able to change watch batteries while you wait now. Our repair work is taking about two weeks, though more complicated work could take longer. Unfortunately, not everything in our jewelry world is back to normal yet; manufacturing and special orders are slower and packages are not always arriving as scheduled. But overall, the craziness is settling down. We so appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding!

We do hope you will come visit soon. Your occasions and celebrations are why we love coming to work every day. Reach out to us with any questions you might have!

Hugs (the virtual kind),

Chrysa

Our Current COVID-19 Status #2

Hello Friends!
Great news! We are able to reopen as of Friday May 8th, by appointment only. What does that mean? Frankly, it means many changes to the ways we do things at Continental, all directly related to safety!

 

To keep us all as safe as we can be, we must limit how many people are in the store at any one time. Just like at a doctor’s office, we need you to let us know when you want to come in! So please call, text, or email us to make an appointment. We’ll get you in as soon as we can, but it may not be that day (or even the same week).

 

As we ease back into operation, the doors will be locked. We will ask you to call or text us when you arrive for your appointment so we can let you in. We will make this as contact free as we can. We are awaiting the installation of a new locking system that will be totally contact free, but we are a few weeks away from that.

 

We will be wearing masks and we are asking that you do as well! When you come to the door, we will need you to lower your mask so we can confirm your identity. We may snap your picture with our cell phone. Insurance companies are now asking us to do this for security reasons (or hold your ID, which I’d rather not do). Once inside, we will relock the door. Very different procedures than we’re used to!

 

Now, more changes to protect all of us. Sanitizing is of utmost importance with COVID-19. It is believed that the virus can live on metal surfaces for DAYS. Ugh! So we will be wiping down all surfaces in between appointments. If you bring jewelry in for repair or redesign, we will ask you to put it in our alcohol based solution for about 30 seconds to kill germs, before we touch it. We can then safely handle it!

 

Watches needing batteries or band adjustments pose a special challenge as they cannot (or shouldn’t) be submerged into a liquid. We are awaiting the arrival of a special sterilizing box that has a UVC light, known to kill the germs associated with COVID-19. As a watch needs to sit for 30 minutes or more in order to be sterilized in this environment, we are asking that you leave your watches with us for batteries or adjustments.

 

We will be working with just a few people in the store for a few weeks as we reopen. Our store is small, our backrooms are small, which makes social distancing between employees difficult. We ask for your patience as we navigate this process; it’s quite unfamiliar territory.

 

We will still be providing curbside deliveries and are working out the kinks for contactless paperless receipts. Contact us for more details.

 

There are more changes and enhancements to come, to provide a safe comfortable environment for everyone. I will say I was caught off guard by the Governor’s announcement we could reopen at all, expecting that to be weeks in the future (which would have worked better for all the backordered supplies to have arrived lol). I was also honored and surprised by all the clients who reached out to me, happy to be able to return to us for gifts and jewelry projects they had thought about while at home. We will do our best to accommodate all as soon as we can!

 

We have so much more to celebrate! Stay safe. Stay well. We’ll see you soon!
Chrysa

Our COVID-19 Status

Hello friends!

As I write this, we’ve just finished temporarily closing our store, possibly for quite some time.  Our clients’ goods have been moved off site to a safety deposit box to maintain the highest level of security we can provide.  Once we are allowed to reopen, we can access your jewelry.  We’ll let you know as soon as we can reopen safely.  We may initially be open by appointment only, or have limited hours; we’ll keep you posted as to how we can best take care of your needs while being financially responsible.

In the meantime, we are following our state government’s guidelines.  I’m sorry for the inconvenience to all of us.  Please stay safe and healthy!

We’ll stay available by email, text, and Facebook.  We’ll return messages as we can.  You’ll continue to hear from me via emails.  If you enjoy social media, follow us on Facebook, where we can stay in contact daily (no one wants an email from me every day lol).  Also visit our website, where you can shop and learn!  We’re not going anywhere.  We have lots more occasions to celebrate with you!

Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Chrysa Cohen

 

Buying jewelry while traveling

We thought it was a good time to update this post!  One of our favorite (and most supportive clients) just made two purchases while traveling, which have turned into a nightmare.  Thankfully, they are taking it in stride (“It’s not the first time I’ve been taken”).  Rings purchased at even the most reputable stores in tourist areas, recommended by the most elite of cruise lines,  might not be what they seem.  In this case, of the two purchased, one cannot be sized without falling apart and one is not as represented (an assembled gemstone instead of a solid gemstone and it’s glued in place, not set into the metal).  Here’s a repeat of our advice:

We all love to travel.  (Most of us do, anyway!)  Bringing back souvenirs is one way to keep the memories of the trip alive.  Jewelry is a popular one; it’s small and portable!  However, we have a note of caution.  It’s easy to get caught up in the moment.  It may feel like a “once in a lifetime” opportunity.  Don’t spend more than you are willing to lose!  We end up helping clients with their bad travel purchases every year!  Values are misrepresented, rarity is exaggerated (“there are no more tanzanite being mined”), and many times our clients are just plain lied to.  We’ve had clients buy what they thought were brand names at bargain prices at reputable stores only to find out the brand and quality were totally misrepresented.  Colombian emerald has turned out to be chalcedony (They paid $1000. for jewelry worth $100.  Yes, you read that right.)  Getting money back, even from credit cards purchases, can be a time consuming nightmare.

Here’s how to minimize your risk:

*Make sure you have contact information from where you are purchasing.  Name, mailing address, phone, email.  These people count on never seeing you again and that you won’t follow up.

*Get recommendations from other sources besides the cruise and travel companies.  Many times they work together.  Talk to other travelers.

*If you are considering buying a bigger ticket item, do your homework.  We’ve had clients think they bought Hearts On Fire Jewelry at a significant savings from a Hearts On Fire retailer out of the country.  The ring was even stamped Hearts On Fire.  It wasn’t.

Jewelry is a fun way to bring home the memories of your special trip.  Just don’t spend more than you are willing to lose!

Chrysa

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:

/www.facebook.com/chrysacohen/

Memories for Mom- An Art to Jewelry Contest

We are so excited!  We are sponsoring an Art Contest from March 20-April 13 for children in three age categories (up to age 8, 9-13, and 14-16).  Local Art teachers have volunteered to be judges and six lucky winners (two in each age category) will have their sketch (pencil or crayon) made into a sterling pendant!   If you have or know of a child who would like to enter, you can stop in the store to pick up an official form or or here’s a link to print it out (both sides).  We can’t wait to see the entries!
(The above pictures are of a panda six year old Rachel drew and the wax model the sterling pendant will be made from.)

 

Our One Price Philosophy

Ever been to a store where everything is “on sale”? 20% 40% 70% off? Off what? How did they pick the price to discount from? Can a store really afford to offer a discount off a fair price and still pay their rent and employees?? It seems suspicious, doesn’t it? At Continental Jewelers, we don’t inflate prices in order to offer a discount. Ever. We price our beautiful jewelry competitively. We don’t use a false high price to negotiate with our clients. We believe in being fair and honest, and telling you a phony price just to give you a discount isn’t honest.
How do you know Continental’s prices are the same as everyone else’s discounted prices?
Because we shop around before we price! We comparison shop at stores and online. We know what things should sell for, quality for quality. This is important. We are often asked to verify purchases made elsewhere. Time and time again, the quality isn’t the same as what was represented to the purchaser. And the price paid is usually correct for the lower quality. No bargain was had. Not understanding quality can hamper comparison shopping.
But you like hearing you got a discount!
Doesn’t everyone? But do you like feeling that someone else might get a better deal? You’ll never know. And how do you know you are paying a fair price and not more than you should?
We’ve built our business on our One Price Philosophy. We’re proud to be fair and honest with our prices. You can relax when you shop with us knowing you won’t have to work to get a fabulous value for our beautiful jewelry!

Jewelry, Insurance, and Appraisals.  Oh, my!  Part 3

The Importance of Clarity and Integrity

We’ve been talking about the process of sorting through your jewelry box to evaluate the need for insurance and insurance documentation.  We’ve looked at what might fall under the “unscheduled” jewelry section of your insurance and what jewelry might need to be

listed separately.  You’ve determined what pieces you want to insure.   Now what?  Time to consider getting insurance documentation, which most people refer to as an appraisal, although that term isn’t really specific enough.    What should your insurance documentation contain?  Here are the specifics:

  • Current retail prices in the regional market
  • Cut, color, clarity and carat weight of diamonds and other gemstones
  • Type and number of diamonds and other gemstones used
  • Weight of the precious metal used in the mounting
  • Type and number of gemstones
  • Origin of the materials used
  • Craftsmanship of the piece
  • Manufacturer’s marks including brand name, serial numbers, and model numbers for pieces like watches

And pictures, with a measuring device shown so the perspective and size can be judged.  Why is all this info necessary and important?  Because with most insurance policies, the final determined value is only used for two things- for the insurance company to figure your premium payment and to cap their liability.  It does not necessarily mean you will get something of that value in the event of a loss.  The insurance company relies on the description of the item in order to replace it.  Without thorough information, details will be interpreted by the replacement agent, and not necessarily in the customer’s favor.  It is well worth the cost of a professional appraisal complete with specific details so that you can get replacement with an item of like kind and quality.  Hopefully now you’ve a better understanding of how insuring your jewelry works.  Let us know your questions!

Please note:  We are not insurance agents nor do we profess to understand all the policy choices available.  The info is based on our experience.  Check with your insurance agent to get the specifics on your policy.  And if you would like help sorting, give us a call.  We’d be happy to sort through your jewelry and give you some direction (there’s no cost for this service).

 

Jewelry, Insurance, and Appraisals.  Oh, my!  Part 2

Deciding What to Insure

Hopefully you read our previous blog post!  If so, you’ve gone through your jewelry and estimated all the fun costume and sterling pieces.  You checked with your insurance carrier and decided how to handle those pieces in the event of a total loss.  Mind you we’re not talking about losing a half pair of costume earrings at the Flower Show.  We’re talking about your plan to handle a total catastrophic loss (fire, theft, etc.)

Now what about the better pieces?  The higher value jewelry that you’ve bought for yourself, been given as a gift or has been passed on to you from a family member.   If you have receipts for them, even if they are years old, consider that value.  We’ll get to estimating a current value soon.  For those items that you aren’t sure of the value, consider what you know about them.  Who they were from, what they might have been able to pay for them.  I say this because even though this isn’t a foolproof method, for our estimating purposes it will help.  If your first boyfriend gave you a ring with a large colorless stone in it and he was 14 years old and had little money, it probably isn’t a diamond.   However if his family was one of the wealthiest in town, it could be.  As you go through these pieces, consider which you would want to replace in the event of loss, even if you aren’t sure of value.  Now there are more decisions to be made.  Everyone has a “threshold”, a dollar amount that they don’t want to bother insuring if the value is under.  I’ve had clients with a threshold of $75.00 (which might seem low but she wanted everything identified and documented for purposes of family history) to a threshold of $5000, so anything with less than that value they wouldn’t insure.  Two extremes, to be sure.  The purpose of this exercise is to determine what you might want to schedule or list individually on your insurance policy, so if you lose this one piece, you would have paid your insurance company a premium so they will replace it with something of “like kind and quality” based on the description you submitted to them.

Another value to consider aside from monetary value is the sentimental value.  Our emotional connection to our jewelry is what makes it significant and important in our lives.  That connection is changed if something happens to our jewelry like a loss or theft.  You cannot replace the sentiment of a family heirloom.  But you can replace the jewelry and develop a new connection as you wear and enjoy the new piece and hopefully pass it on.  And it takes a little of the sting out of the loss with a replacement with something new and wonderful,  which brings me back to the beginning of this series about appraisals and insurance.  If the documentation given to the insurance company isn’t specific enough or up to date, you won’t be able to replace what you had.  Which is the purpose of having insurance in the first place!

Coming soon…Part 3!

Please note:  We are not insurance agents nor do we profess to understand all the policy choices available.  The info is based on our experience.  Check with your insurance agent to get the specifics on your policy.  And if you would like help sorting, give us a call.  We’d be happy to sort through your jewelry and give you some direction (there’s no cost for this service).

 

Jewelry, Insurance, and Appraisals, Oh, my! Part 1

“Oh, my” is correct.  As much as we all love our jewelry, and love wearing it ALL THE TIME, we do not love insuring it.  Most people groan when I mention insuring their jewelry.  However, since in the past six weeks we’ve had three clients who had losses who were underinsured, I thought the topic should be addressed.

There are several things to consider.  First, how do you insure jewelry?  Most people reach out to their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, or use an insurer like we have for our jewelry in the store.  Most policies will have something called “unscheduled jewelry” which will stipulate a dollar amount that will be covered in the event of a total loss.  This is good, although if you start to add up all your costume jewelry, sterling jewelry and better jewelry, you will be surprised how quickly the total climbs.  To get an idea of how much you may have, put a “pretend” value on each piece.  It’s easier to do for your costume and sterling jewelry.  What would something similar cost in the typical place you would buy it (like costume jewelry in a department store)?    $15?  $25?  $75?  If you know how much it cost, all the better.   Add those first.  I bet you have more there than you thought.

So now you know approximately how much you have in smaller value pieces.  How does that compare to the amount stipulated on your policy?  If that amount is already over your limit, check with your agent or insurance carrier.  Maybe you can raise the limit.  There is a cost to that, but it may be worth it to you.  Or maybe you will decide to self insure, meaning you won’t get enough money to replace all those pieces, because you don’t want to replace them anyway.  You could set aside part of the premium difference in case you have a total loss, so you have a stash to draw from over and above what the insurance company might pay.  Take some pictures of your costume and sterling jewelry so you can substantiate what you have.  Insurance companies like that.

Coming soon:

Jewelry, Insurance and Appraisals, Oh My!  Part 2

Please note:  We are not insurance agents nor do we profess to understand all the policy choices available.  The info is based on our experience.  Check with your insurance agent to get the specifics on your policy.  And if you would like help sorting, give us a call.  We’d be happy to sort through your jewelry and give you some direction (there’s no cost for this service).