The Briggs Blog

Sparkle & Shine With Holiday Bling

Sparkle & Shine With Holiday Bling

It’s that time of year again! The holidays are upon us, and it’s time to enjoy a full season of festivities, parties, and gift-giving. Why not make things easier on yourself by gifting your loved ones with classic jewelry? You really can’t go wrong with jewelry – and with customizable options from J. Briggs & Co., like choosing which precious metal to use, that Christmas or Hanukkah bauble becomes extra special. Oh, and don’t forget to pick up a little something for yourself while you’re at it.

Gifts for Christmas

When picking out Christmas jewelry as a gift, make sure to choose pieces that are sentimental and can be worn year-round. A cross pendant, for example, is a classic shape that can hold a great deal of meaning when given as a Christmas gift. Plus, it doesn’t hurt if the cross is composed of several pear-shaped diamonds. When selecting a J. Briggs & Co. pendant and customizable chain, pick the platinum chain for Christmas. Might as well go all-out.
Pear diamond cross Take a look: http://www.jbriggsandco.com/product-p/pearcross-pd.htm

For the stylish man in your life (or a younger brother you wish would dress better), custom cufflinks are the perfect Christmas gift or stocking stuffer. If he’s a sports fan, these baseball-inspired cufflinks with precision cut diamonds have just the right balance of bling, masculinity, and that “typical guy” factor.
Ballgame Diamond Cuff LinksTake a look: http://www.jbriggsandco.com/product-p/bball-cl.htm

Gifts for Hanukkah

With eight days to fill with presents, Hanukkah jewelry gifts are a surefire way to shake things up a bit; and deep blue sapphires will definitely stand out from the rest. Add in a hint of ice – aka diamonds – and you’ve got a game winning combination. A beautifully crafted pendant with diamonds and sapphires makes an elegant statement, yet it’s still simple enough for everyday wear.
Sfera Sapphire Diamond Pendant NecklaceTake a look: http://www.jbriggsandco.com/product-p/sfapod-pd.htm

A large cocktail ring is super classy when holding a martini glass, but fashionistas can also create their own unique look with stackable rings. And in this case, we’re not referring to those throwaway stackable rings made of plastic or nickel. This Hanukkah, wrap up a stunning sapphire eternity band (or several) for a memorable gift. Whether they’re worn stacked or solo, a sapphire and diamond band is an exquisite addition to any lady’s jewelry wardrobe.
Stackable Eternity Ring Round Sapphires and DiamondsTake a look: http://www.jbriggsandco.com/product-p/shrdsapdia-rg.htm

For Your Own Stocking

Holiday shopping is exhausting – go ahead and reward yourself with some shiny new Christmas jewelry. Christmas-themed jewelry can be so kitschy, but incorporating a subtle holiday motif into your jewelry collection is charming. Instead of the normal tennis bracelet, treat yourself to a glitzy HopeStar diamond bracelet that mimics the look of snowflakes with eye-catching sparkle. It’s the ultimate accessory for any holiday party or special occasion.
HopeStar Diamond Bracelet Take a look: http://www.jbriggsandco.com/product-p/hstar715-brc.htm

If a barrage of diamonds isn’t your thing (don’t worry, we won’t judge), try a strand of multicolored pearls peppered with diamond HopeStars. Worn with the perfect little black dress, this necklace is a total showstopper. Rather than the cliché red and green combo, a pastel array of South Sea, Tahitian and freshwater pearls add a splash of color that you can wear during Christmas, Hanukkah and beyond. Sure, you could give these pearls away as a gift – but we recommend stashing them away for yourself.
HopeStar Versa Pearl StrandTake a look: http://www.jbriggsandco.com/product-p/hstar41-pls.htm

If you’re looking for something extra special this holiday season, contact us to see if we can create something custom for you.
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Gemstones for Everyday Wear

Gemstones for Everyday Wear
J. Briggs & Co.

The saying “diamonds are forever” has its basis in fact. Among the sturdiest of gemstones, diamonds stand up to punishment better than many other stones. In fact, diamonds rate a score of 10 on the Mohs gemstone hardness scale, the highest rating of any gem. That’s one of the reasons that diamonds are the timeless, popular choice for all types of jewelry, from engagement rings to diamond studs.

Stackable Diamond Rings by J. Briggs

 

But hardness is not the only measure of a gemstone. Toughness is also a factor to consider when deciding whether to wear your gemstone out to a certain occasion or during everyday activities. While hardness refers to a gem’s resistance to scratching, it doesn’t necessarily describe its durability. A gem’s toughness relates to its resistance to cleaving, chipping, or wearing. Some gems simply crack or wear down more easily than others.

In addition to hardness and toughness, it’s important to consider the piece of jewelry in which a gemstone is set. Rings see the most abuse of any jewelry because we use our hands so much and the gems end up being exposed to more bumps and bruises. Other pieces, like earrings and pendants, are less likely to come into contact with other surfaces, keeping the stones within them safer than those in a ring.

When considering gemstones that are most suitable for rings, a Mohs hardness rating of 7 or higher is generally deemed suitable for mounting in a ring setting, but toughness does come into play. For example, while emeralds rate an 8 on the Mohs scale, they are prone to fracturing easily. Certain types of settings can prove protective to vulnerable gems, so choosing the right setting in which to mount your gemstone is a conversation to have with your jeweler when designing a ring.

Gemstones that don’t rate high in hardness and toughness can still be mounted in rings, but should be worn occasionally and with greater care than a ring would normally see in everyday wear. After all, a ring sees very different action during a night out on the town than it does while cooking or cleaning at home.

It’s important to know the specifics of your gemstones. Some, like pearls, can be susceptible to chemicals because they are porous. Others, like peridot and aquamarine, shouldn’t be exposed to acids. Opals are very susceptible to damage being low on both hardness and toughness.  To better understand your gemstones, their wearability, and how to care for them, consult your jeweler (or certified gemologist). If you’re designing a new piece, your jewelry designer can help you take into account the features of the gemstone you are mounting and work with its unique features to design a setting and piece that is the most protective.

Diamonds are both hard and tough (plus they go with just about everything!), making them ideal for wearing on most occasions. And you might not realize that diamonds come in more than one color, but that’s a topic for a future blog! Below is a short list for your reference. If you have questions about the suitability of your gemstones for everyday wear or if you’re looking to set a stone in the an appropriate setting to get the most use from it, contact designer and certified gemologist J.Briggs to set up a consultation.

 

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All That Shines ~ More on Alloys

What do you think of when you hear the word GOLD? A vault of ingots at Fort Knox? Lost treasures from forgotten empires? Or maybe you have the same thing on your mind that I do … fabulous jewelry! I thought we could expand on our last blog about White Gold vs Platinum, and explore metal alloys a little deeper. Did you know that when it comes to gold jewelry, there are more options than the traditional yellow and white  gold familiar to most people?

Gold alloys come in a variety of stunning colors that can really make a piece of jewelry stand out from the crowd. In addition to yellow gold, most people have heard of white gold, but the options don’t stop there. Gold can also be rose, red, or pink, green, blue, purple, and even black.

What is the difference among these various hues? Let’s start with an explanation of “pure,” or 24K gold. Pure gold has no other metals mixed into it. Other gold classes, such as 10K (41.7% gold), 14k (58.5%) or 18K (75%) gold contain a smaller percentage of gold that is combined with other metals such as silver or copper. These types of gold are technically alloys because other metals are mixed into the pure gold. The higher the karat, the richer the gold tone. For people with sensitive skin, sometimes the other metals can cause skin irritation. Higher karat gold (18k & 22k) and Platinum (90-95%) are the most hypoallergenic metal for jewelry- but you already know all about Platinum from our last post!

 

So let’s start with our pure gold and mix in some different types of metal to make things more interesting.

 

White Gold: While some people prefer to have their gemstones set in platinum, white gold is a great alternative for those who prefer a silver hue to their gold jewelry. White gold can be mixed with manganese, nickel, or palladium to achieve its signature color. Standard white gold is a combination of 14K gold and a mix of copper, nickel, and zinc. White gold is often plated in rhodium to increase its shine. It is often necessary to re-plate after a year or two of wear to bring back the bright white color.

Green Gold: Also called electrum, green gold is a naturally-occurring alloy containing both gold and silver. Depending on the ratio of gold to silver, the hue can be subtle or deeper.

Red Golds: For gold to take on a pink, rose, or red hue, it is mixed with copper. The greater the amount of copper present in the alloy, the deeper the shade of red.

 

The following colors are less commonly seen than yellow, white, green, and red, but can still be used in jewelry.

Purple Gold: Purple gold is created by combining gold with aluminum. This alloy is too brittle to us in the traditional sense, but can be cut to look like a gemstone.

 

Blue Gold: A combination of gold and the metal indium or gallium gives gold a subtle, bluish tone. Indium or gallium is present in larger amounts than gold in this alloy.

 

Black Gold: Mixing gold with cobalt allows the surface to be oxidized resulting in black gold.

 

Purple, blue, and black golds can also be created using surface treatments to achieve the desired hue.

It’s important to note that not all gold alloys are appropriate for the same types of jewelry. Some are more malleable, some more brittle. Black, purple, and blue gold pose challenges while white, rose, green and yellow gold can certainly be crafted into traditional jewelry. It’s also worth mentioning that the color variations tend to be subtle.

Filigree Band Wide Band Rose Gold

Filigree Wide Band Green Golsd

 

 

 

 

 

Filligree Wide Band White GoldFiligree Wide Band Yellow Gold

 

 

 

 

 

Filigree Two Tone Wide Band

 

 

 

 

 

 

It can be fun to play around with the different colors of gold when designing a piece of jewelry. Using more than one type of gold within a piece can create a visually arresting alternative to standard yellow or white gold. At J. Briggs, we are happy to explore the different gold varieties with you to achieve exactly the effect you desire.

White Gold vs. Platinum

Confused when deciding between white gold and platinum for your precious stones or diamonds? You aren’t alone. We’ve created a “cheat sheet” for helping you make the perfect decision for your jewels.

White Gold…

-is NOT a white metal – started its life as a yellowy, orangey, sometimes greenish gold and was coaxed into whiteness by alloying it with whiter metals.

-will require rhodium plating, then re-plating once a year on average. (Some alloys show more yellow than others.) The final step in finishing white gold jewelry is to “rhodium plate,” it, creating the white color. Ironically, rhodium is in the platinum family.

-can sometimes cause a skin reaction with its alloys, most commonly, due to nickel. A different alloy can be chosen, such as palladium or cobalt.

-will stay shiny for a long time before re-polishing.

-is able to scratch if wearer is hard on it, but overall maintains shine a lot longer than platinum.

Note: 24k gold (100% gold) is too soft to be used for jewelry. 14k/18K are the strongest choices for everyday wear.

Platinum…

-is 30 times more rare and 60% heavier than gold, giving it a luxurious feel to some.

-is strong, but can absolutely scratch when banged.

-will develop a dulled finish after time, due to small dents it takes.

-is hypoallergenic (unlike gold) because it is normally not alloyed with more than 10% other metals.

-will need more frequent polishing than white gold.

-is ideal for hand engraved detailing.

-will cost more than gold due to:

  1. High density – causes the extra weight and less thinning over time than gold
  2. Rarity – not as readily available as gold
  3. Purity – 90-95% pure platinum vs. 58% in 14k gold
  4. Tools – platinum demands separate tools, can be harder to work with and needs a higher temperature gas for soldering work
  5. Experience level the jeweler needs to have

What’s great about both?

-They are valuable and weighty metals – silver is not.

-Neither metal corrodes, rusts or tarnishes, and both are great for making jewelry.

-They are tried and true: 99.99% of all wedding rings are made from gold and platinum.

-Many alternative metals can’t be altered by more than 1-2 sizes and that work needs to be done in a machine shop vs. by a normal jeweler, because soldering can’t be done. Some metals aren’t able to be sized at all. Gold and platinum metals can be sized and worked on as many times as needed, as your fingers will likely change in size over the years.

-Both can withstand everyday wear, however intricate platinum jewelry has proven to endure the test of time much better than gold.

DWISBY-ETRG2-12-2010 with logo

What about prongs, settings & wedding bands?

-Both are often used, and both have considerations you should be aware of when selecting prongs.

-Because it is a malleable metal (due to its purity), platinum tends to be more bendable than white gold. Small platinum prongs may become flatter when hit, but are less likely to break or wear down.

-With a white gold prong, the stronger, stiffer metal alloys will remain firm if directly hit. But if the hit is severe, the metal cracks as opposed to bending. If the hit is hard enough, it completely breaks off. Or a base crack could cause problems down the road.A-BRIGGS-ENG-RS1-CROP12-03_reimaged with logo

How do I choose one over the other?

-The amount of detail in your design should be a factor.

-Work with an experienced jeweler who is knowledgeable in the slight differences between white gold and platinum.

-Is a long lasting, high shine important to you, or is your taste suited to accepting a more matte finish?

-Make sure to disclose your hobbies, recreational activities, lifestyle, etc. to your jeweler.

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Gemstone of the Month: Emeralds

The long-standing fascination with emeralds may simply lie in their intense, radiant green color. Although rare in the gemology word, imperfections and inclusions are often tolerated in this beautiful stone, happily overlooked by many in exchange for the visual pleasure that this May birthstone brings. The bigger issue affecting the significant price and marketability of emeralds is the presence of a rich, dark green color.

Emeralds have a good hardness of 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale and belong to the large gemstone family of the beryls. Pure beryl is colorless. The colors do not occur until traces of another element are added. In the case of the emerald, it is mainly chromium and vanadium, concentrated (unusually) in different parts of the Earth’s crust. The tension created during this process produces some minor flaws in the stone – and some major ones. Only seldom is a large emerald with good color and transparency found, which is the primary reason emeralds are so valuable.

Rubies, sapphires and emeralds form the “big three” of colored stones, generating more economic activity than all other colored stones combined. In the last several years, the value of emeralds imported into the U.S. exceeded the value of rubies and sapphires combined.

Today, many emeralds are enhanced with colorless oils or resins. Although a common industry practice, it is done so with the caution of consequence, as these green treasures react very sensitively. While the hardness of emeralds protect it from scratches, its many fissures can make cutting, setting and cleaning rather difficult. When cutting takes place, the substances used or applied seals the fine pores in the surface of the gem. Removing them gives the stone a “matte” appearance. Emerald rings should also always be taken off before the wearer puts his or her hands in water containing cleansing agent and they cannot be cleaned in an ultrasonic bath.

A hard, but not tough stone, perhaps the lure of the emerald can be summed up by Roman Philosopher Pliny the Elder’s writing that “green gladdened the eye without tiring it.” True enough, the love affair with emeralds continues to evoke emotions in jewelry lovers everywhere.

 

10 Most Popular Cuts of Diamonds

Adopted from the Greek work “adamas,” meaning invincible, diamonds come in a wide range of colors such as black, blue, green, pink, red, purple, orange and yellow.

If you have a hard time remembering what different cuts of diamonds look like or are called, here’s your perfect cheat sheet for the Top 10 Cuts for the birthstones of our April babies:

 

ROUND: The most popular shape — owning nearly 75% of all diamonds sold — round cuts are considered superior to ornate shapes. At the proper reflection of light, their maximum potential brightness outshines the competition.

ALYSSARG-FRONT1b

Diamond Eternity Engagement Ring

PRINCESS: The princess cut diamond is the most popular ornate diamond shape, especially for engagement rings. Like rounds, princess cuts are practical choices because of their flexibility in working in almost any style of ring.

PR-HALO

Cushion Halo Princess Cut Center Diamond           Engagement Ring

 

OVAL: The oval diamond has an elongated shape often creating the illusion of being a larger diamond.

ovalfinal-new

Three Stone Oval Diamond Ring with Trillion Sapphires

MARQUISE: This cut is football-shaped. Because the marquise diamond is long and narrow, it can also create the illusion of greater size. Carat for carat, the marquise diamond has one of the largest surface areas of any diamond shape.

FINAL

Marquise Halo Diamond Ring

PEAR-SHAPED: The pear-shaped diamond is a combination of a round and a marquise shape, with a tapered point on one end. In a perfect world, this type of diamond should have very good symmetry, with the point lining up with the apex of the rounded end, and the shoulders and wings (the upper and lower curves on the right and left side of the diamond) should be uniform.

Bezel Three Stone Diamond Halo Engagement Ring with Pear Side Stones

Bezel Three Stone Diamond Halo Engagement Ring with  Pear Side Stones

CUSHION: The cushion cut diamond combines a square cut with rounded corners, much like a pillow (its namesake!). This classic cut has been around for almost 200 years. Refinements have led to a resurgence in popularity for this lovely cut.

Three Stone Cushion Woven Diamond Engagement Ring & Wedding Band Set

Three Stone Cushion Woven Diamond                     Engagement Ring & Wedding Band Set

EMERALD CUT: The emerald cut is quite unique. Although not designed to sparkle, by interchanging light and dark planes during refinement, a “hall-of-mirrors” effect is achieved — a beautiful illusion that creates extraordinary broad flashes of white light to contrast the dark planes. This “step cut” process varies from the more traditional “brilliant cut” method, which provides more sparkle. Emerald cut diamonds will make inclusions or body color easier to see.

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Emerald Diamond Dome Ring

ASSCHER CUT: First produced in 1902 by the Asscher Brothers of Holland, an asscher cut diamond is similar to the emerald cut, but in a square shape with larger step facets, a higher crown, and a smaller table (the uppermost, flat surface of a diamond). This combination often produces more brilliance (sparkle!) than the emerald cut.

Asscher-PD2

Asscher Diamond Pave Pendant

RADIANT CUT: The radiant cut creates a vibrant and lively diamond with a modified square shape, a nice bridge between a cushion and a princess cut, making it look stunning when set with both rounded or square cornered diamonds.

Radiant Art Deco Halo Diamond Engagement Ring

Radiant Art Deco Halo Diamond Engagement Ring

HEART SHAPED: There’s no mistaking a heart-shaped diamond. Popular in solitaire pendants as well as rings, heart-shaped cuts are best utilized with diamonds more .50 carats in size, since the heart shape is more difficult to recognize in smaller stones, once set in prongs.

Wavey Heart Diamond Wide Band

Wavey Heart Diamond Wide Band

Versatility

Fine jewelry can serve as an elegant compliment to your wardrobe…the “completion” factor of an outfit. And let’s face it, jewelry is an investment, so maximizing the wearability of your pieces is key.

Take your style from casual to chic and errands to evening with versatile creations that can be changed up in different ways.

By choosing pieces that will allow you to create multiple looks, you’ll ensure unworn jewels will be a thing of the past.

Opt for you a long necklace that can be wrapped shorter with a pendant to give a layered, tiered look. Studs worn to the office can be transformed into breathtaking showstoppers by affixing a diamond or pearl drop or earring “jacket” surrounding the stud. Or imagine a stunning three-hoop necklace that can be changed into a set of stackable rings.

Three ring versa (metals)

Versa 3-Ring-Necklace (Silver)

Three Ring Versa Set Ring & Versa Necklace: Three rings become a single ring, convert into a necklace & can be worn several different ways.

 

 

Gemstone of the Month: Aquamarine

Aquamarine, the birthstone of March, comes from the Latin term “aqua,” meaning water and “marina” meaning of the sea. It’s easy to see why, as this popular member of the beryl family has a tranquilizing blue color reminiscent of the ocean.

Beryl is a single mineral that ranges in color from pale green, blue or yellow and consists of silicate beryllium and aluminum. Although not recommended for everyday jewelry such as a diamond engagement ring, it is fairly durable and easy to care for, suitable for use in pendants, earrings and rings.

Aquamarine can vary in different shade intensity, from faint blue to green. The point of where someone will have that “oooh” and “ahhh” moment when they fall in love with a gemstone is personal. The most notable aquamarine is a light blue color, however, a deeper, saturated color of blue-green is rare, but can also be found, and is stunning.

Aquamarine can be treated with heat to help coax out its radiant light blue hue and reduce the prominence of the green and yellow tones. But, many times, the stone is only heated till reaching a favorable color of blue, as heating too high can cause the stone to discolor.

For those lucky enough to be born in March, the birthstone aquamarine even has special meaning and protective qualities behind it. Many believe that the beryl mineral that is found inside the gemstone gives whoever is wearing it protection against enemies. It has been said that whoever possesses this ocean blue gemstone will be “unconquerable and strong.” Aquamarine is also known to sharpen and speed up intellect.

Myth and matter alike have made aquamarine a captivating gemstone indeed – and one of our favorites with which to create stunning fine jewelry!

Diamonds & Gold Never Get Old

Everyone approaches the world of jewelry in their own way. With so many wonderful options, it is the perfect medium to express your personal style, commemorate a life event, send a message or simply accessorize. But let’s face it; things change. Trends go in and out, families get larger or smaller, relationships fizzle, new ones ignite…what to do with the jewelry? I assure you, it does no one any good to leave it in a box unseen for years. And check this out: diamonds are between one and three BILLION years old! They do not expire. Let’s talk options.

The opportunities for re-designing older jewelry and giving it new life are endless. Taking a stone from a necklace and turning it into a ring, for example, can be an affordable option. Removing stones from several dated jewelry pieces and combining them into one modernized, custom pendant that fits your look and lifestyle, is another way to give your gems a new home. And as an added bonus, the metal from the old jewelry can be traded in as credit toward the new piece. Having a box of unworn jewelry is like having a box of cash just sitting there!

In other instances, you may receive gorgeous heirloom jewelry that has been passed down from generation to generation, yet you want to change a few aspects of it to make it your own and think, “How can I make this my own without losing Grandma along the way?” Preserving the integrity of the piece while customizing it to the current wearer takes a jewelry artist who can envision the bridge between the two.

Here are some tips on transforming your estate jewelry into works of art:

1. Don’t sell it! Make it your own…and work it. Selling your jewelry only yields 30-40% of its value, on average. Instead, turn it into something you’ll be excited to show off. This is especially true for diamonds, where the return can be even lower.

2. Gift it to your daughter. There is nothing more special than creating a custom design to give to your child. Engraving can add a special touch, as can adding birthstones.

3. When in doubt…remount! Remounting is a great way to preserve your jewelry. It gives you the opportunity to merge estate jewelry with your current pieces to create a new specialty design.

Taking your jewels from ho-hum to heavenly is worth the time and effort it takes. Mother earth has given us the gift of these beautiful treasures, and they are perfect for recycling, & reinventing. Seeking out a professional designer and certified gemologist who concentrates in this genre will ensure you end up with a stunning piece that represents you, the wearer.

 

Before and after remount

Gemstone of the Month: Peridot

The French word “Peridot” is originally derived from “faridat” in Arabic, meaning gem. Ancient peridot can be traced back to Egyptian jewelry in the 2nd millennium B.C. The stones came from a deposit on a small volcanic island in the Red Sea, some 45 miles off the Egyptian coast, which was not rediscovered until about 1900 and has since been exhausted.

Peridot is gem-quality “olivine,” a common mineral in mafic and ultramafic rocks. Formed as a result of volcanic activity deep inside the earth’s surface, gem-quality peridot is a rarity in olivine.

The demand for this beautiful stone was reignited a few years ago when peridot deposits were found in the Kashmir region; and the stones were so incredible in color and transparency.

Although it’s one of the only gemstones found in just one color, the intensity and tint of the olive green hue depends on how much iron is within the crystal structure. Varying from yellow to olive to brownish-green, peridot is most valued as a dark, emerald-resembling gem.

If you were born in August, you may be fortunate enough to receive a peridot as a birthday gift. If received as a ring, wearing this birthstone carefully is important, as it isn’t as tough as it looks. Prone to breaking, peridot are better suited for bigger necklaces; a bonus being that larger stones carry a richer color.

Throughout history, peridot has been thought to possess great mystical powers to ward off anxiety and inspire happiness, strength and loyalty. It is also believed to promote success in relationships and marriage.

Once called the “gem of the sun” in ancient Egypt because of its dazzling appearance in the sun, the curiosity and enchantment that surrounds peridot has made this radiant gemstone timeless.