Treasured Gift Ideas…for Babies

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

These days’ shoppers for baby gifts are parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles. All are searching for special gifts that the baby will have as a keepsake. Many times this is a shopping challenge with the number of relatives wishing to shop for something meaningful.

Girls are easiest to buy for with baby rings with or without gemstones the classic choice. Orienta® cultured pearl necklaces are the #1 legacy present with additional pearls able to be purchased individually or by the inch. Available with gold or silver chains, prices start under $30. Cross pendants hand engraved or high polished in either gold or silver are also a favorite. Bangle bracelets, mini sterling silver bracelets with a heart charm are much appreciated especially when engraved with a personal message. Starting a diamond Add-A-Link bracelet is one of the newer options for the baby girl. A loose gemstone of her birth month would be a creative choice.

“Baby’s First Dollar” – the American Eagle is the current most popular item for baby boys. First minted by the United States Treasury in 1986, it is guaranteed to contain one troy ounce .999 silver. The silver eagle has been produced at three mints: the Philadelphia Mint, the San Francisco Mint, and the West Point Mint. Pricing is based on the daily silver price fluctuating with the precious metals market.

Engravable identification bracelets or dog tags in sterling silver as well as classic gold band rings are a popular choice, too.  Novelty banks are available in dozens of designs: football, soccer ball, motorcycle, fire truck, frog, elephant, bear, owl, whale and many more.

We have a variety of gifts for every budget.  Some are suitable for all babies such as birth record frames, rattles, and traditional baby cups. The cups are priced depending on the quality of the metal from sterling silver, silver plate or stainless steel. Personalizing with engraving adds to the remembrances.

These loving tokens to welcome the little one will be cherished for a lifetime!

CHAIN ISSUES

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

It is an everyday occurrence. The door opens at 9AM and a customer brings in a chain to us either broken, or stretched and not safe to wear. Sometimes it can be repaired. Many times replacing is the only option.

Most have a sentimental pendant dangling from the center that they have not have not had off their person for years. Even though I have never recommended sleeping or showering in any jewelry, it is a common practice by many. Our backlog of repairs is evidence of this!

A few manufacturers will warrant chains by either repairing or replacing. Some customers are unaware that everyday wear and tear can stretch a chain sometimes one to even three inches from its original length!! White and yellow karat gold chains are typically soldered links. But sliding back and forth hundreds of times each day can cause wear on the soldered links. Silver chains are even more susceptible to stretching and eventually breaking.

No style of chain is exempt from wear, although some styles do wear better. Lightweight chains have a tendency to be more prone to a short life, while heavier ones do last longer. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link!

The weight of the pendant is partially to blame. A tug by a child can be another reason for the increase in length. “Fidgeting” with the pendant can also lengthen a chain. Gold is malleable. A quick pull can break some chains but over time each link elongates and will simply weaken the entire chain. Then the chain breaks and the pendant can be lost. It is recommended that prongs on rings be checked every six months yet few people have their chains and pendant bails checked. Note: The bail is the top portion of the pendant where the chain travels through it. It, too, can be repaired if wearing thin!

Stop in today and have your chains cleaned and inspected for weakness. Chain bracelets are also included in this check-up. This is another complimentary service provided by Eichhorn Jewelry. If your chain is in need of repair we can estimate the cost or provide a replacement chain with a trade-in allowance for your worn or damaged chain.

NEW YEAR 2016 RESOLUTIONS

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

After 50+ years in the jewelry business, I thought it was time to help create some New Year resolutions for our customers. Every year we hear many customers tell us on the street, at an event or even in a phone call that they have been ‘thinking’ about remounting a diamond, restoring a favorite heirloom, or purchasing the one carat diamond of their dreams. Some do follow through and stop in at Eichhorn Jewelry. But more often than not we just hear the ‘considering’ stories. We are all procrastinators at some level. But when one of my customers last year finally made the decision to buy the two carat diamond she wanted for more than ten years she announced, “Eileen, I wish you would have made me buy it when I first started looking.” In her case, she would have saved a bundle. Others have found jewelry or watch repairs that they thought would be expensive are very reasonable once given an estimate.

My father always said, “It’s later than you think.” Truer words were never spoken. Why not today? Make today special and act on your dreams. You may have old gold or diamonds to trade-in to help offset the cost? Clean out your drawers. Jewelry that you are not wearing may be more valuable than you ever imagined. This is the year to get it done! This is the year you have been waiting for! This is the year to check off your list the jewelry project(s) you have put off. Treat yourself in the New Year!

A ring you loved for many years may be able to be restored or restyled. Pearls that have lost their style may be cleaned and restrung with fashionable silver beads or chain extenders to combine sentiment and newness. Most clip earrings can be converted to pierced styles. That brooch you inherited from your great aunt that you would never wear can be converted to a fashionable slide-pendant-enhancer. Even some rings can be transformed into a pendant. Bring in your ideas or leave the options to us. You will be surprised how affordable and FUN some of these projects can be for both of us! We have many before/after photos that will spark your imagination.

Pass it on! There is no time like the present to get started on your jewelry bucket list. We are here, ready and waiting at Eichhorn Jewelry. No job is too large or too small for consideration. No appointment needed but recommended. Call us today. 260-724-2621.

 

Famous History

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

Who would have guessed in in the year 2015 two stone rings would be so popular again! Do you know the history of this love gift? The ring style has a famous past: “Toi et Moi” means “You and Me” in French and refers to a ring that showcases two stones.  These were common engagement rings during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, symbolizing two souls that are intertwined.  The ring that is believed to have started the trend was the gorgeous sapphire and diamond engagement ring Napoleon gave to Josephine in 1776.

ht_napoleon_ring_nt_130322_wmain

The engagement ring the young Napoleon “must have broken his wallet” to buy for his fiancée Josephine shattered expectations on March 24, 2013 at the Osenat auction house in France when it sold for close to $1 million according to Osenat’s expert, Jean-Christophe Chataignier.

The winning bidder, who wanted to stay completely anonymous, paid $949,000, almost 50 times the $20,000 Osenat had expected to bring in. Including the buyer’s 25 percent commission to Osenat, the total price for the ring was $1.17 million.

“In my wildest dreams, I did not think we would outsell the estimate by more than 47 times,” said Osenat’s Emily Villane, who led the auction. “We based the estimates in our catalog on the actual market value of the ring, minus Napoleon and Josephine provenance. It is not our job to tell bidders how much they should pay for the historical premium.”

There was intense interest in the ring, she said. In addition to the 300 people in the Fontainebleau auction house, about 50 more international bidders were hooked up by phone.

Osenat, which is in Fontainebleau, outside Paris, also received more than 40 written bids by email from the U.S. alone, she said.

The auction house set up extra phone lines and hired 10 additional people to be prepared for the sale.

“It was 15 minutes of relentless bidding,” Villane said. “We opened at 10,000 euros, I raised it to 50,000 euros. From then on it was going up by 10,000. When the hammer went down at 730,000 euros there was a huge applause.”

The sale was timed to coincide with the 250th anniversary of Josephine’s birthday.

The golden ring is in an 18th century setting called “toi et moi,” “You and Me,” with opposing tear-shaped jewels — a blue sapphire and a diamond. The carat weight of the two gems is little less than a carat each.

Osenat already had clues that it had a blockbuster on its hands several days before the auction.

Ruby

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

Throughout most of recorded history, ruby has been the world’s most valued gemstone. Even diamond was considered common in comparison to the supreme beauty and value of this glowing red gem. Named from the Latin word for its hue, ruber, ruby is the epitome of the boldest of colors: the gem of desire, passion, courage, and emotion.

In the ancient language of Sanskrit, ruby is called ratnaraj, or “king of precious stones.” In the Bible, only wisdom and virtuous women are “more precious than rubies.”

Early in the eleventh century, Persian sage al-Biruni was only conveying the popular wisdom of the time when he wrote that ruby has “the first place in color, beauty and rank” among all gems.

Nine centuries later, British author Max Bauer, in his 1894 Masterpiece Precious Stones, writes: “A clear, transparent, and faultless ruby of a uniform red color is at the present time the most valuable precious stone known.”

Granted, the value of fine ruby relative to other highly prized gems wasn’t as extreme in Bauer’s day as it had once been. Around 1550, Italian goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini reported that the finest one-carat ruby cost eight times more than a comparable-quality one-carat diamond. By Bauer’s time, the same ruby was only two times as expensive as its diamond equivalent.

Nevertheless, a 2:1 value ratio between fine rubies and diamonds is impressive. Certainly, ruby’s status as the most valuable gem of the age helps to explain why England took the rather drastic step of invading and annexing Upper Burma in 1885 when it learned a French company would begin mining of this gem at the famed Mogok ruby tract—the most celebrated source for ruby ever known and still the most important today.

Although certain color tones are associated with different country’s mines: Burma, now known as Myanmar, with pure reds, Vietnam with vivid pinkish rubies with exceptional clarity, Sri Lanka with more pastel softer pinkish reds, Thailand with dark red to burgundy, Kenya with translucent stones with juicy pure reds, Madagascar with pure transparent reds, color alone cannot tell you where a stone was born: a laboratory report may be required. When confirmed, stones from Burma’s famed Mogok mine command a premium, particularly if the color is natural.

Most rubies are heated almost to 2,000 degrees in order to maximize the red and remove secondary colors of blue and brown. Some rubies are also heated to improve clarity. Sometimes glassy residue can be trapped in fractures when the ruby cools. Heat enhancement is stable, does not require special care, and does not reduce the stone’s value unless significant residue is present.

If ruby shows no signs of heating, it is very rare. The stone’s natural color must be confirmed by a laboratory report if it is to command a premium. The ruby must also possess a pleasing color and appearance.

Ruby is most common in oval and cushion shapes. Other shapes may be difficult to find in sizes above a carat. Rubies above five carats are extremely rare and valuable.

Ruby, like sapphire, is the mineral corundum, one of the most durable minerals, a crystalline form of aluminum oxide. Corundum has a hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale and is also extremely tough. In its common form, it is even used as an abrasive. As a result, rubies are the most durable of gems. Clean with mild dish soap: use a toothbrush to scrub behind the stone where dust can collect.

Alexandrite: JUNE BIRTHSTONE

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

If you love magic, especially the magic of science, you’ll love alexandrite, the color-change gem. Outside in daylight, it is a cool bluish mossy green. Inside in lamplight, it is a red gem, with a warm raspberry tone. You can watch it flick back and forth by switching from fluorescent to incandescent light. Alexandrite is a gem variety of the mineral chrysoberyl discovered in 1830 in Czarist Russia. Since the old Russian imperial colors are red and green it was named after Czar Alexander II on the occasion of his coming of age.

How does the color change work? Most gems transmit and absorb light throughout the visible spectrum and we interpret the mixture of the transmitted wavelengths as the gem’s color. Alexandrite transmits light only in two discrete windows of the spectrum, in the blue-green and red regions. The rest of the spectrum is absorbed. When viewed under light sources active in those particular regions of transmission, you see one of the two colors. In daylight, or in artificial light that simulates it, like fluorescent light, light waves in the green region predominate. In candlelight, or artificial light that simulates it like incandescent or tungsten light, light waves in the red region predominate. The gem is displaying changes in the light, not changing itself.

Today, fine alexandrite is most often found in period jewelry since newly-mined gems are extremely rare. You’ll see fine gems offered at auction with impressive estimates. The original source in Russia’s Ural Mountains has long since closed after producing for only a few decades and only a few stones can be found on the market today. Material with a certificate of Russian origin is still particularly valued by the trade. Some alexandrite is found in Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe and Brazil but very little shows a dramatic color change. For many years, alexandrite was almost impossible to find because there was so little available.

Then in 1987, a new find of alexandrite was made in Brazil at a locality called Hematita. The Hematita alexandrite shows a striking and attractive color change from raspberry red to bluish green. Although alexandrite remains extremely rare and expensive, the production of a limited amount of new material means a new generation of jewelers and collectors have been exposed to this beautiful gemstone, creating an upsurge in popularity and demand.

When evaluating alexandrite, pay the most attention to the color change: the more dramatic and complete the shift from red to green, without the bleeding through of brown from one color to the next, the more rare and valuable the stone. The other important value factors are the attractiveness and intensity of the two colors, the clarity, and the cutting quality. Due to rarity, large sizes command very high premiums.

GIFTS OF APPRECIATION

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

Most days at Eichhorn Jewelry we assist customers in selecting gifts for special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries. This past week one of our loyal shoppers requested a gift for her husband for their 15th wedding anniversary. She was looking for something to represent crystal – and we had the perfect gift: a silver-tone Bulova anniversary clock with a glass dome and four revolving crystals!

Once in a great while we have a more unusual request for a gift. What if you could go on a dream trip and a family member agrees to watch your children for free? Upon returning home a gift of a lovely peach color carved cultured pearl by Artist Chi Galatea Huynh would represent your greatest appreciation!

What if someone saved your life? A gift of appreciation is difficult to measure in dollars but a token jewelry gift can be a remembrance of the event. The gift is not measured in dollars and cents but selecting a truly memorable token, perhaps an engraved charm for either a bracelet or pendant?

These days ‘push’ presents are more popular than ever. When my mother delivered twin girls at the age of 45 (number 9 and 10 respectively) my father gave her a trophy.  In later years she laughed she would have rather had a lovely piece (or two) of jewelry for bearing the gems!

Many years ago one of our loyal customers added two diamonds to his wife’s 14K gold bracelet on the delivery of twin boys. It is still a fond memory that we were able to help him celebrate the couple’s happiness.

One of the areas high schools continues a tradition of presenting perfect four year attendance with a reward gift of a Cross® Pen.  Engraved with the student’s name on each, these represent a crowning achievement.

Gifts of appreciation are well-meaning and can represent a very special keepsake.

DIAMONDS ARE NOT INDESTRUCTIBLE

By Eileen Eichhorn

Diamonds are the hardest substance known to man. They are also uniquely resistant to heat and scratching. Yet a surprising fact to some is that diamonds are not indestructible.

Diamonds can chip or crack, if subjected to a sharp blow or knock. Diamonds are even more prone to chip/cracks at the girdle. Every major jeweler speaks about diamonds chipping or cracking, as it unfortunately does occur.  It is distressing to chip or crack your diamond, so always do your due diligence by not wearing your diamond(s) when performing active work or play. Making sure your ring is properly fit to your finger is paramount to avoiding damage exposure. If your ring turns on your finger, especially upside down, the diamond is much more prone to chipping.

It is always recommended to have your precious gems insured. After all, this is exactly what insurance is for! Most homeowners and renters have insurance riders that cover jewelry. They will replace the diamond and/or have the original diamond recut. Again, we highly recommend that you contact your insurance company to protect your diamond(s).

The Gemological Institute of America explains, “Toughness: Any stone, including a diamond, will break if it’s hit hard enough in the right place. Toughness is a measure of how well a gem can survive an impact and resist breaking, chipping, or cracking.
Diamonds are tougher in the directions where the atoms are bonded tightly together, less tough where they’re not so tightly bonded. Cutting styles with pointed corners or ends are often set with prongs to protect the corners from chipping. The weakest directions are the ones where the atoms are farthest apart. It’s easier to break a diamond in those directions, which are called cleavage directions. A cutter can cleave a diamond by hitting it sharply in the cleavage direction. But even after cutting, a hard blow can still cleave a diamond. This can happen during the setting process, or even when it’s being worn.”

“Resistance to breaking and resistance to scratching are two different things. Wood, for example, is generally very soft and easy to scratch but pretty strong when it comes to breakage. Pine is easy to scratch with your fingernail but buildings made from it can last a lifetime and beyond. Glass is at the other extreme. Under normal circumstances it doesn’t scratch all that easily but it can be terribly fragile. Diamonds fall in between. Although they are nearly impossible to scratch under normal wear, they can chip with just the right impact.”

Most people are naturally concerned with what they can do to minimize their risks, even when they’re insured or under warranty. To some extent, it helps to be just plain lucky but chips generally happen when the edge of the stone is knocked against something hard. Granite countertops, porcelain sinks and other jewelry items with diamonds in them are the most common culprits. When you’re wearing your jewelry be careful about these surfaces and, when you’re not wearing a piece, put it in a soft bag or compartment in your jewelry box to prevent knocking things against one another. Be careful about putting it in your pocket or purse where it can knock against other things. Have it checked periodically by a professional.

“There is no such thing as perfect toughness. Any gem will break if it’s hit hard enough. Diamonds are very tough, but remember that a diamond cutter can cleave a diamond by giving it a sharp blow in the right direction. The same thing can happen if a diamond accidentally receives a severe knock or drops onto a hard surface. Less severe damage, in the form of chipping, can also occur. Some proportion variations (for example, the combination of a shallow crown and thin girdle) make a diamond vulnerable to chipping. Fancy shapes with points – like princess-cuts, pears, hearts and marquises – are also more susceptible to this kind of damage. If the shape is thin or the mounting exposes the point, the risk is heightened.” 

65 Days Until Christmas…

As I write this, the clock is ticking. Every year for nearly 50 years, it seems as if the year goes faster. When I was young Christmas seemed like it would never arrive. Now that I am wiser (and older) it seems as if it another year flies by in a heartbeat! My father always said, “It’s later than you think.” He would know. Having been in the jewelry business in Downtown Decatur for 55 years he saw a lot of trends in the watch and jewelry business. He would be in awe to know of this year’s tremendous demand for custom jewelry, special orders, and jewelry repairs! We have notified our staff of a backlog earlier than normal for October. That is a good thing and a bad thing. We have been blessed with business. We wish we could accommodate everyone’s last minute request, however, there are just not enough hours in the day to process everything. We humbly ask your patience. Yes, it is possible to accomplish some jobs “while you wait” or in as little as a few days but many require weeks if complex in nature. Most customers are understanding and try to bring in their projects early. Some think we have a magic wand. If only it was that simple…I lovingly explain, “If it was so easy, everyone would be doing it.” As the facilitator, I personally process the details of typically more than a hundred jobs a week. During November and December it is many, many more.

My most rewarding customer projects are jewelry design and repurposing. Last week my sister Kate and I co-designed a ring using the client’s five diamonds. It took considerable research time to locate a mounting she liked and our imagination combined with hers to create the perfect ring. Our bench jeweler executed his modifications and expert diamond setting techniques. The ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos can be seen on our facebook page (with permission from our client). She was as delighted as we were with the stunning results.

Patience is a virtue…

CONSTRUCTION

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

When I was young and my mother took me shopping for clothes we studied how a garment was constructed prior to purchasing. How well it was manufactured, what materials it was made from and where it was made was important enough to her to share with me.  I seldom could try a dress on unless it passed her muster. Hats and gloves were more critiqued. In the sixties, not one Easter did the ritual of selection skip the inspection detail. The time I spent shopping with her is priceless to me. It determined my destiny in more ways than I’m sure she ever envisioned! My career path of costume design in the theater as well as accessorizing fashions was cemented firmly.

I am constantly in awe of the construction techniques used today in jewelry manufacturing vs. years ago.  Because we clean and check jewelry routinely we did not sell as well as items we did sell the dichotomy is mind blowing. Shortcuts to cut costs initially and improve appearance abound: but long term – beware! A common theme for several years running is shared prongs. Where this process impresses sparkle by limiting metal around diamonds and other gemstones may successfully be employed, the disadvantage is when too little metal or porosity is subsequently noticed and creates an accessory that cannot be worn without loss of stones. So common is this, I am compelled to alarm the wearer unfamiliar with the hidden tactics of mostly overseas cast-in-place manufacturing. This is not to say that this method cannot be accomplished successfully by some both here and abroad. We do sell cast in place jewelry, but the manufacturers we represent have undergone rigorous scrutiny before their products enter our showcases. They warrant their merchandise which is a tribute to their longevity. We insist.

Recently a ring we did not sell came in for inspection. It was a time sensitive ‘quick look’ and yet I remembered seeing this exact ring just weeks before. It is a beautiful ring but cannot be practically worn daily. Such a shame to the young woman who received it for her engagement ring. She admitted it had been returned to the place of purchase for diamonds to be replaced more than once. Unfortunately, nothing can be done to better the design. It is what it is. Someone sold her fiance’ the ring. I doubt if construction was ever discussed. Even more troubling is that no conversation about her job and how she would wear the ring entered the seller’s or buyer’s mind, I’m sure. If it had been a more practical style of better construction it could have been purchased for a little more money. That design would, hopefully, last a lifetime and perhaps into the next generation.