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,.. opened a can of worms

Written by Sterling VanDerwerker">Sterling VanDerwerker On March 19, 2020.
Ideal Cut Diamond image from AGS labs

Since i opened a proverbial can of worms yesterday,.. this is what an “Ideal Cut Diamond” is according to American Gem Society Laboratory standards:

all of the following content is directly from the AGS resources, as a Certified Gemologist Appraiser, AGS I am happy to refer you to the “customer” side of the site:

“The AGS 0–10 grading scale is easy to understand: the highest possible grade is zero, and the lowest is 10. Easy, huh?
So, a diamond with a color grade of 3 has less color than a diamond with a color grade of 5. Diamonds having less color are rarer; therefore, they may cost more. When writing the grades of a diamond using the AGS Scale, diamond Cut grade is first, then diamond Color, Clarity, then Carat Weight—in that order. If a diamond possessing the finest diamond Cut grade is also colorless, free of inclusions and blemishes, and weighs one carat, it would be written as: 0/0/0–1.000 carat. “

“Keep in mind that a well-cut diamond will have more life and sparkle than one with a lesser cut quality. Not only will an AGS Ideal cut diamond have more sparkle, but it can even appear to have a better face-up color or clarity! And, if you compare a well-cut small diamond side by side with a slightly larger diamond of lesser cut quality, the smaller diamond may look larger to the naked eye. Overall, it’s important to have your diamonds graded by a credentialed expert or a reputable diamond grading laboratory such as American Gem Society Laboratories. You need a certified appraiser that truly understands the Ideal diamond cut. “

The Science of Scintillation™ Scintillation Metrics and Maps
Scintillation is sparkle. Scintillation is the play of white and colored flashes of light seen when the diamond is viewed in motion. Viewable with the naked eye, scintillation is the life of the diamond. The two dynamic aspects of sparkle are called flash scintillation and fire scintillation.

The diamond’s SPARKLE (flashes of white light)
The Diamond’s FIRE (refracted white light yields spectral color)
Performance Mapping (balanced symmetry)

An example of an AGS IDEAL CUT Certificate

Look for AGS jewelers to find reputable AGS member stores, and remember to ask for an American Gem Society Laboratory graded diamond.

China Syndrome?

Written by Sterling VanDerwerker">Sterling VanDerwerker On March 18, 2020.

“there is a “Slow Train Coming “

Is the American Marketplace finally going to resist the cheap labor of China in favor of dependable hard working innovative american labor? I believe that this Corona Virus 19 quarantine will drive many American Businesses to shun Cheap Chinese Communist Labor ( CCCL ) in favor of Bring Home American Work.

Cheap Chinese Communist Labor ( CCCL ) CVD Synthetic Diamond Farm

I noticed an email broadcast today from one of my long time favorite AGS Ideal Cut diamond vendors headquartered in Arizona. The proprietor (left anonymous due to security concerns,.. after all he or she (H/S) travels to buy diamonds :-O ) hand picks the finest cut diamonds available two to three times each year in the international diamond markets, here at home and abroad. H/S has solid long time friendships in the world diamond market and offers small businesses like Royal Diadem Jewelers, LLC superb quality and fair prices for natural diamonds. They re-posted some very good facts about the Natural Diamond marketplace,… “We support arsenal miners and diggers and the good that diamonds do in their countries. We only offer Natural stones and don’t recommend or sell LGDs.

On the other hand (ironic during toilet paper hoarding 😉 the current state of the diamond market is falling in love with CHEAP CVD & HPHT synthetic Diamonds,.. with gobs of it coming from,…. drumroll please…. CHINA.

HPHT Diamond Press installation in China

Personally,.. the “MADE IN AMERICA” slogan rings TRUE in light of the current day small business challenges exacerbated by Big Business doing business with China. So,. go ahead blame me for directing your attention to the natural diamond marketplace and the people who are working to feed their families from work producing “Natural Diamonds”:

Poor Diggers in Angola

Natural Diamonds, the life blood of poor workers trying to feed their families face increased competition from Chinese synthetics !

Woman Diggers in Africa
Women Diamond Polishers in Botswana

Diamonds = Survival

Diamonds give back to poor communities:
Diamond Empowerment Fund School, Botswana

This is not a sob story. These are hard working people who love to work and have an opportunity to do so when most of their peers CANNOT WORK! Their countries have their own problems, yes, but not significant when considering the relationship we have with China. I’m not asking for a boycott, sullying the name of synthetics or that type of nonsense… but I am asking that customers consider the origin and the business model of the Genesis (yes biblical references made here often) of the materials used to make a lovely piece of jewelry locally.

Our store is a dinosaur when it comes to “old fashioned Christian ethics”, but our business practices are accomplished in real world, real time market places with real consumers. We participate in world class education and world class technology in the design and manufacturing of our jewelry to meet the customers needs.

So what is the issue? Glad you are still reading… Its all about American consumption and American production. Lets think a little more as a business person who supports American businesses, American Production of Materials and finished goods and the American consumer who we serve.

Yes! SERVE. After all,… “you’re gonna have to serve somebody,.. it might be the devil, it might be the Lord, but you gonna have to serve somebody”. And I bet Bob Dylan would agree:

You might be a rock ’n’ roll addict prancing on the stage
You might have drugs at your command, women in a cage
You may be a businessman or some high-degree thief
They may call you Doctor or they may call you Chief

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

Bring the labor back home.

Sterling VanDerwerker CGA (American Gem Society) GG (GIA)

Lapis Lazuli: BIG BLUE!

Written by Sterling VanDerwerker">Sterling VanDerwerker On March 17, 2020.

One of the oldest gemstones known is the BIG BLUE Lapis. It has a broad and long history in jewelry and remains a staple, rich, inviting gemstone. Reasonably priced and fashioned, carved and set in any metal. Lapis is a wonderful choice for a fashion staple in any person’s jewelry box.

fine lapis… from the GIA education resources

“The fascination of deep blue matrix speckled with golden colored pyrite flecks of lapis lazuli goes back several millennia, almost to the beginning of all civilizations. So much so, that the majority of Ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian jewelry contained lapis lazuli and it was sourced all the way from Middle Asia, today’s Afghanistan. The trade is well known between these geographies, yet why and how will always remain as unanswered questions because it all started before any written reference could be created. Pigments and dyes were important commodities as everything was derived from natural sources until the industrial revolution. Most dyes were plantbased while pigments were mostly from minerals such as hematite, malachite and, of course, lapis lazuli. Until the production of synthetic dyes, deep blue pigment, aka, ultramarine, from lapis was worth as gold. Today, lapis lazuli is mostly regarded as a gem material and utilized at almost all level of jewelry market from high end to inexpensive beads. Large boulders are popular display pieces and its tough but not so hard structure makes it an attractive carving material. Lapis lazuli is mostly known to be from Afghanistan but also found in Russia, Chile, Myanmar, Tajikistan and Colorado, USA. As mentioned above, Afghan material is the oldest known. Russian lapis has been used in Faberge eggs historically and still in production. Chilean lapis is also known to be used in indigenous artefacts of the region and was part of the ancient trade.” (From Gemworld International this month )

Lapis lazuli is a rock, which means it’s an aggregate of several minerals. This ancient gem contains three minerals in varying amounts: lazurite, calcite, and pyrite. Sometimes, it also contains one or more of the following: diopside, amphibole, feldspar, and mica.

“Afghanistan is the world’s major source of lapis lazuli as well as the major source of the gem’s best color.” – Dr. Edward J. Gubelin

Get Ready for More Sun!!

Written by Brian Wilson On March 17, 2020.

As Spring approaches, and then Summer, get ready for more time in the sun. That bright yellow ball in the sky might make you think of other shiny, yellow items like yellow gemstones. See below for an article published by GIA.

Yellow Gemstones: Can You Identify Them?

Sunshine, lemons and a variety of flowers share the color yellow and often evoke feelings of happiness, warmth and optimism. A variety of gemstones also come in shades of yellow, from diamonds to citrine to garnets.

This 54.29 ct Fancy Intense yellow cushion cut diamond is accented with 67 cts of white diamonds and is set in 18K white gold. Courtesy of Chatila. Photo by Robert Weldon/GIA

Yellow diamonds are enduring in quality and value and popular set in jewelry. Yet a treasure trove of other yellow gemstones exists at reasonable price points. They can be found in light-toned shades to rich, warm hues.

The most plentiful yellow gemstones in the marketplace are citrine, sapphiretopaztourmaline, and transparent opal. Other varieties include yellow andradite garnet, spessartine and Mali garnets, beryl, sphene, zircon, spodumene and transparent varieties of labradorite and orthoclase feldspar. Less abundant or collectible yellow gems include chrysoberyl, sphalerite, apatite and prehnite.


Many yellow gemstones can resemble one another in color. Can you see the subtle differences in the yellow gemstone pairs? They appear similar, but are different species.


A rectangular shaped gem and an octago shaped gem.

Yellow is the most abundant color of natural fancy diamonds, yet they still represent a very small percentage of all diamonds. The first major source of yellow diamonds was found in the late 1860s in Cape Province, South Africa, so in the jewelry trade, these yellow diamonds came to be known as “cape” yellow diamonds.

“Cape” diamonds, according to the “GIA Diamond Dictionary,” are a Type Ia diamond with a distinct yellow body color that exhibits absorption that falls in a specific and defined pattern. (There is often a strong band at about 415.5 mm and a fairly strong one at 478.0 nm, with four weaker lines between the two.) Such diamonds may also fluoresce blue, yellow, or orange.

The cut fancy yellow “cape” diamond, front, is a gift of Safdico USA, Inc. The “cape” yellow diamond hexoctahedron rough, back, is a gift of the Sir Oppenheimer Student Collection. Composite photo by Orasa and Robert Weldon/GIA

What is the cause of the yellow color in diamonds?

“In general, the presence of nitrogen atoms gives rise to two kinds of absorption in the blue region of the visible spectrum; the remainder of the spectrum is transmitted, leading to an observed yellow color,” according to GIA’s diamond color expert John King.

Canary is a historic term for a Type IIb fancy color intense yellow diamonds that is used to distinguish them from diamonds with a “cape” spectrum. Diamonds referred to in the trade as “canary yellow” are highly valued for their saturated yellow color.

The color of this 9.05 ct Fancy Vivid yellow diamond is evenly distributed throughout the face up appearance of the stone. Courtesy of B. Najjar. photo by Robert Weldon/GIA


There’s an inexplicable allure about diamonds that fascinates the gem lover. As early as 1676, accounts by the French traveler and gem dealer, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, mentioned seeing a 137.27 ct yellow diamond that he referred to variously as the Florentine, the Austrian Yellow and the Grand Duke of Tuscany. Since then, many notable color diamonds have been given the elite distinction of famous diamonds, particularly as the appeal of color became widespread.

The Tiffany Yellow Diamond was acquired by Tiffany & Co. in 1878 and has been on display for more than 70 years in its flagship store in New York. Under the direction of Dr. George Frederick Kunz, it was cut from a 297.42 ct rough stone to its present cushion cut of 128.54 ct, one of the largest known fancy yellow diamonds in the world. GIA graded it in 1984.

Schlumberger’s rosette necklace with ribbon clip features the famous Tiffany Yellow Diamond. Photo courtesy of Tiffany & Co.

The Allnatt, a yellow diamond thought to have originated from the De Beers mine in South Africa, is named for its former owner, Major Alfred Ernest Allnatt, a British soldier and noted philanthropist who purchased the diamond in the early 1950s.

The diamond next appeared at Christie’s Geneva auction in May 1996 weighing 102.07 ct with a color grade of Fancy Intense yellow. It was purchased and then recut to 101.29 ct to improve color and clarity, going from Fancy Intense to Fancy Vivid with an improved clarity grade to VS2.

The Allnatt, 101.29 cts, is a famous Fancy Vivid yellow diamond that improved in color and value by being recut. Photo by Shane F. McClure/GIA

The Allnatt is a classic example of early 20th century cutting styles used to retain maximum weight and enhance the color of a well-formed octahedral rough crystal.

George Stepp, a logger from Carthage, Arkansas, found a yellow diamond crystal in the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas in 1972 and sold it to Kahn Jewelers in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where it was left uncut to showcase its natural triangular pillow shape known as a macle crystal. “The Kahn Canary Diamond” weighs 4.25 carats and is internally flawless.

The famous Kahn Canary Diamond is set in an 18K gold and platinum ring, designed and created by Henry Dunay, a prominent New York jeweler. The graceful billowy shape of the diamond was left uncut. Courtesy of the Stanley Kahn Family Collection, Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Photo by Harold & Erica Van Pelt/GIA

More than 33,000 diamonds have been found in the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas since it became a state park and opened to the public in 1977. The park has a “finders, keepers” policy that allows the public to dig for diamonds for a fee.

Jewelry Buying Guide

Written by Kathy Jones On March 12, 2020.

This article is a reprint from AGS, originally published here.

People have been wearing jewelry for over 100,000 years, and even back then, chances are it wasn’t the easiest thing to shop for. There are just so many options when buying jewelry—so many materials, metals, styles and gems to choose from.

Pink Sapphire and diamonds set in palladium made by Royal Diadem Jewelers

You can shop better by taking the time to learn how to buy jewelry. It can seem like a lot, but with a little help from this jewelry buying guide, you’ll be shopping like a professional in no time.

And if you are still stumped buying jewelry, feel free to ask an AGS-certified gemologist for help. They may know a lot about metals and gems, but they also know tons about styles and trends.

Here are a few basics to get your shopping jump-started

What are natural gemstones?

Natural gemstones come from the earth and are mined worldwide. Some natural gemstones can be enhanced, which means sometimes they are treated in some way (such as heat) to improve their color.

What are laboratory-created gemstones?

Laboratory created emerald with sapphires and diamonds, 14K gold and sterling silver shank produced by Royal Diadem Jewelers

These stones, which can also be referred to as laboratory-grown, manufacturer-created, or synthetic, have essentially the same chemical, physical, and optical properties as natural gemstones. Laboratory-created gemstones do not have the rarity or value of natural-colored gemstones. Although they are similar in many ways to natural gemstones, a professional gemologist will be able to recognize their difference with proper testing.

What are imitation gemstones?

Imitation stones look like natural gemstones in appearance only. This includes tinted glass, cubic zirconia or other material that resembles natural stones when treated. Laboratory-created and imitation stones should be clearly identified as such.

What to look for in a gemstone?

Gemstones may be measured by weight, size, or both. The basic unit for weighing gemstones is the carat, which is equal to one-fifth (1/5th) of a gram. Carats are divided into 100 units, called points. For example, a half-carat gemstone would weigh .50 ct. or 50 points.

What is an enhanced or treated gemstone?

Gemstone treatments or enhancements refer to the way some gemstones are treated to improve their appearance or durability, or even change their color.

Many gemstones are treated in some way. The effects of some treatments may lessen or change over time and some treated gemstones may require special care.

Some enhancements also affect the value of a gemstone, when measured against a comparable untreated gemstone. Treatments and/or enhancements should always be disclosed by the seller, along with any special care that might be required.

Know enough about buying jewelry? How about selling your jewelry? Learn more here.

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