It looks like gold, but is it? Jewelry can be made to look like something it is not. A plain base metal, for example, can be made to look like real gold or silver through various manufacturing techniques. How can you tell that you’re getting the real thing?
Gold filled jewelry is sometimes referred to as “rolled gold” and refers to a very thin, solid layer of gold that is bonded to a base metal such as brass or even silver. It is often difficult, if not impossible, to tell the difference by appearance alone. These pieces are often marked with the letters “GF” or “1/20 12K GF” and “1/20 14K GF”. But as always, buyer beware. Despite the fact that the Federal Trade Commission has strict regulations regarding these stamps, people can use them deceptively.
Gold plating is slightly different. Instead of a layer of gold or silver being applied to the base metal, the base metal is dipped in a bath and uses electricity or chemicals to draw the gold onto it. This can be used to decorate jewelry and other decorative objects. To the naked eye, it’s extremely difficult to tell the difference between the two. Silver is often used for gold plating for jewelry since the silver provides a better surface for the gold to adhere to.
Most experts agree that the only true test to make sure what you are getting is real gold is the scratch test. The piece in question can be scratched on a stone and tested with acid to see how quickly the scratch mark fades. This is not something consumers can do on their own, so it’s important to know and trust the business you are buying from. Reputable Massachusetts pawn shops may make use this technique. One thing a consumer can do to test an item on their own is use a magnet. Gold and silver are non-magnetic so they will not be drawn to the magnet. This is not fool proof, however, since other metals may not be magnetic and certain parts of an item such as a clasp may be the only part that is a different alloy.
So what’s it worth? The answer is that the metal generally has no intrinsic value, meaning it has no value to Massachusetts pawn shops or gold buyers. On the other hand, it can be a great way to have beautiful jewelry at a bargain price.
When it comes to buying diamonds, Boston jewelers want customers to always remember the 4 C’s: Cut, Color, Carat and Clarity. The importance you place on each of these factors in selecting a diamond can often be a matter of personal taste, but it’s important to understand each of these since this is how a value is determined.
A diamond coming out of the earth can look like a piece of beach glass. To turn it into a beautiful gemstone it needs to be precisely cut with facets and polished surfaces that allow light to enter and reflect back out, creating brilliance and what is often referred to as “fire”. This is why diamonds are often set high with openings around the base to allow light in from all angles. This process also allows a skilled diamond cutter to remove imperfections, increasing the value of the stone.
The ideal diamond is actually colorless. While most appear colorless or white, they may actually have subtle yellow or brown tones that can be detected when comparing diamonds side by side. Truly colorless stones are very rare and very valuable. The different color tones can be caused by temperature, pressure and other factors. Sometimes these variations are “man-made”, such as irradiating diamonds by applying heat to change the color of the stone. These stones are often referred to as Champagne, Chocolate or Canary Diamonds. For the purposes of our conversation here, we’ll focus more on the traditional, more desirable, colorless stones. The Gemological Institute of America (http://www.gia.edu/) or GIA, is the foremost authority for diamonds. They offer a color chart used by Boston jewelers that grades diamonds on an alphabetical scale that starts at D-E-F (Colorless) , G-H-I-J (Near Colorless) K-L-M (Faint Yellow) N-Z (Light Yellow) to Z+ (Fancy or Remarkable color, usually blue, pink and yellow). In many cases the true way to judge a diamond’s color is by comparison with other graded stones.
This identifies imperfections in the stone, however slight. These range from “F” or “Flawless” (a clear stone, free of all flaws, even under magnification) to VVS#1, VVS#2 (Very Very Slight Inclusion) which indicates tiny inclusions or imperfections that are very difficult to find, even under magnification. The scale goes to VS#1 or #2 (Very Slight) minor inclusions that are difficult to find and SI#1 or #2 (Slight Inclusions)inclusions that can be seen under magnification. I#1, #2 and #3 indicates diamonds that have inclusions and/or blemishes that are obvious and easy to see even without magnification. Inclusions can be any sort of blemish or imperfection in the stone and come in all shapes and sizes. These are all factors used in determining the value of a diamond.
Most people believe, erroneously, that carat weight (CT) describes the size of the stone. Carat actually indicates the weight, of the stone, not the size. The heavier the diamond, the greater the carat weight, But when it comes to diamonds, size matters, too. The bigger the stone, the higher the value of the diamond. It does not go up proportionately but rather exponentially. For example, a one carat diamond can cost significantly more than a one half carat stone. Any diamond that is less than one carat in size may also be described in “Points”. Using this system, 100 “Points” equals one carat and 50 “Points” would be one-half carat.
The 4 C’s are the way you can make an informed decision about what kind of diamond is right for you. Any reputable Boston jeweler can help you use the 4 C’s. Whatever cut, color, clarity or carat weight you choose, one thing is always true: Diamonds are forever.