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All That Glitters

jewelry

November’s Birthstone: A Cornucopia of Color

You will not be invisible with vibrant colored topaz. PHOTO BY RICHARD ALAN

ALL THAT GLITTERS Richard Alan [email protected] November is a great month for birthstones. It’s a virtual “pick a color – any color!” Topaz is an old Greek name for Topazios, an island located in the Red Sea. Which, in fact, was actually an ancient source for peridot – the ancients confused it with topaz. Today, citrine is almost always confused with topaz where the colors are nearly identical. Through the miracles of both Mother Nature and modern science the choice of color available in topaz is mind boggling. Grandma’s or Aunt Edith’s huge topaz ring was probably a smoky topaz which ... Read More »

In gold we trust?

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ALL THAT GLITTERS Richard Alan [email protected] In gold we trust? Don’t get the wrong impression; I’m not about to give you a stock market tip that will change your life forever. But recently something very strange has been going on. Gold has begun to fall out of favor from the very souls who caused it to soar to unimaginable costs in the first place – namely the heavy metal market investors. As a practicing goldsmith I handle, buy, sell and shape gold on a daily basis; I have gold dust under my fingernails. I bet the people who trade pounds of ... Read More »

Euro-eye opener

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ALL THAT GLITTERS Richard Alan [email protected] It’s nice to be missed. By the time this story is published I will be back on the island and back to the grindstone after spending nearly six weeks on a “working” vacation in Europe. From what I have heard so far I didn’t miss much around these parts. Years ago my friend Tom had characterized the island in the summer as “Mayberry with sand” and he could not describe it better. I will leave it at that and you can fill in the blanks with your own summer experiences! As many of my ... Read More »

Sicilian Hospitality

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ALL THAT GLITTERS Richard Alan [email protected] It only took less than an hour before the whole village knew the Americanos were in town. My friend Al and I accepted our mutual friend or “gum bade” Davide y (of Davide’s cafe) invitation to spend a week with his “family” in the seaside resort village of Tres Fontane in southeastern Sicily. Little did we know the hospitality included the whole village! It is my first time in Sicily, I have visited mainland Italy numerous times for both business and pleasure and made several lifelong friends but never experienced anything like this. Every ... Read More »

High Heat Hot Colors

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ALL THAT GLITTERS Richard Alan [email protected] Whew! It’s hot and so is the demand for colored gemstones, pendants, earrings and rings sporting deep purple or pastel green amethysts with dabs of electric blue or bright yellow topaz to mix or match bold colors. I have made pieces with a rainbow of colors in just a single pair of earrings and created more than one WOW finger ring. After a quiet May and June, last month I enjoyed a renewed interest in colored gems that has been a refreshing awakening in quiet summer months. Diamond jewelry in my opinion has seemed ... Read More »

To Appraise or not to Appraise?

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ALL THAT GLITTERS Richard Alan [email protected] You probably need a written appraisal.” Is my answer to questions when I am asked to put a value on a customer’s article(s) of jewelry. Often while aimlessly wandering about the island or enjoying a day at the beach it is not unusual to have a ring or a watch thrust into my face with the question “What’s it worth?” I often have to generalize or tell them I can’t value it here because the beach isn’t exactly the proper place, I honestly don’t carry my jeweler’s loupe in my bathing suit. So what ... Read More »

Catching a Breath

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ALL THAT GLITTERS Richard Alan What do you mean, Richard isn’t here? The light at the end of the tunnel I presumed to be an oncoming train was actually daylight and a sign of good things to come. To my surprise the move I dreaded making from Front Street, my original location on the island for 17 years to my current location next to Beall’s at Island Plaza proved to be the smartest thing I’ve done in a long time, besides leaving New England in ‘94. In fact the work coming in only days after reopening was at times so ... Read More »

Cracker Jack Jewelry

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ALL THAT GLITTERS Richard Alan [email protected] I saw the writing on the wall a couple of years back. The result of the rising costs of precious metals caused many jewelry manufacturers to “re-tool” so to say. When I say re-tool I mean they will have to stop making what used to be great quality gold jewelry and produce it much lighter thus sacrificing the feel and wearability. Back in 2005 gold was around $450 an ounce for pure 24 karat gold. 18 karat gold jewelry is 75% pure gold and 25% other metals such as brass copper and silver. 14 ... Read More »

June Birthstone… Alexmoonpearl

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ALL THAT GLITTERS Richard Alan [email protected] No, I haven’t lost my mind just yet, and there is no such gemstone as an Alexmoonpearl. But in fact, June is one of the few months that actually has more than one designated gemstone to signify the “birthstone” for that month. The origins for birthstones go back thousands of years. Bible scriptures describe twelve gemstones set into the breastplate of the high priest, Aaron, signifying the twelve tribes of Israel. Due to translation problems with the ancient text it is difficult to identify what exactly the twelve original precious stones were. For my ... Read More »

What kind of gemstone is this?

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ALL THAT GLITTERS Richard Alan [email protected] Another steamy off season day on the rock, and while I’m still trying to recover from six months of a busy season, I’m counting the days until I have returned to the Balearic Island in Mallorca, Spain, a small coastal village called Cala Fornells. My idea of paradise is being perched on a Mediterranean seaside cliff overlooking the beach with my derrière parked in a lounge chair complete with a good book, a (legal) Cuban cigar and an ice cold pitcher of freshly made sangria…. Excuse me, now where were we? Back to reality… ... Read More »

Hello… Ma!

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ALL THAT GLITTERS Richard Alan [email protected] It’s just around the corner again, Mother’s Day. Of course you remember her? Without Mom, you would not exist in this world. This person loved, nurtured and raised you to be the person you are today; a joy for most – and for some – she could be the reason you have been going to therapy since you were in your teens. I am one of the fortunate ones. I have the coolest Mom in the world. For without her, I would be lacking front teeth due to numerous ice hockey and tree climbing ... Read More »

White Hot Season

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As I predicted, sterling silver and other white metals such as palladium and stainless steel were on fire this season. Don’t think the demand for gold was nil; it wasn’t. But when the cost for the regal yellow metal was quoted to most, it was out of the question due to the expense. Gold is down but still not cheap, nor will it ever be again. Sea life jewelry was as usual, the predominant must have item. If you can’t sell nature jewelry here on Marco Island, I suggest you hang it up because year after year in my shop ... Read More »

Watch Spring Cleaning

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By Richard Alan - [email protected] It’s April already, things are nearing the crescendo in my shop, lots of last minute “I’ll take that” and “Can you repair this today, I’m leaving early tomorrow morning?” These throngs of folks have been on the island since January and wait ‘til the last moment to get complicated repairs or restoration performed which I regretfully have to refuse. Most people understand that nothing is done well quickly, and a least I give them the choice to leave the work to have it done correctly, and in a timely fashion, and when completed we will ... Read More »

Too good to be true

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It’s another day in paradise, and season is in full bloom and it is already Monday and I feel like I just passed myself leaving when I walked in the shop this morning! Ah, yes season on Marco Island. Everything is moving at breakneck speed, the volume of work coming in is beyond overwhelming. It involves the simplest repair to the most complicated special orders to basic requests, the phone never stops ringing, and the best way to describe it is drinking from a fire hose. That’s the way it is here in paradise, suck it up and deal with ... Read More »

We look but we do not see

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Ever look for an article and even though it is in plain sight, the signal to your brain still renders the darn thing invisible, but come back minutes later and there it is? Most guys can relate to this searching experience if you have ever misplaced your wedding band. I guess the word is panic because no explanation to your bride, no matter if it’s really true, will convince her you misplaced it in the garage while working with power tools. People who wear jewelry look but do not see everyday; it could be a cherished heirloom diamond ring from ... Read More »

So Many Questions

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By Richard Alan [email protected] In many professions there are certain tricks of the trade of which the public may be unaware. What moving company would leave the garage without a pocket full of black or brown crayons to touch up dings and scratches that can appear during the moving process? Or grocers who wax or spray water on fruits and vegetables to give them appeal. Same holds true for the jewelry business. Fancy, expensive lighting can make the worst quality diamonds or gemstones look more attractive when you view them in the store, Then, when you leave the store with your ... Read More »

Yet, More Questions…

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ALL THAT GLITTERS Richard Alan [email protected] The most common question I am asked as a jeweler is “how much is it worth?” Sometimes, the answer is cut and dry. For instance, a mass produced, Italian-made 14-karat gold rope neck chain can be weighed and calculated at the current gold market price. Let’s say it weighs 20 grams; the retail price could be between $1,500 and $2,000. That’s kind of a ball park figure because it all depends on when and where you purchased the item. If the chain was purchased ten or so years ago, the purchased price would have been ... Read More »

Questions and Answers

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ALL THAT GLITTERS Richard Alan [email protected] I hope to debunk wives tales and inform the misinformed in the next couple of issues about “all that glitters.” Also, always feel free to email any questions you may have about jewelry, diamonds or precious gems to [email protected] Falsehood #1… You can take a bunch of little diamonds and melt them together to make one large one. Diamonds are individual carbon crystals that take millions of years of pressure and high temperatures to form, one can burn a diamond and ruin its appearance but never melt one. It would be like melting two jet ... Read More »

Inquiring Minds

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ALL THAT GLITTERS Richard Alan [email protected] Over the course of a single day, I can be asked lots and lots of questions pertaining to my profession. The questions can begin with: Why? How come? Or my favorite… How do you know? For those of you reading my column for the first time, let me catch you up to speed. I make my living as a goldsmith. In a nut shell, the following is what many goldsmiths do… He or she is a technical professional who works with gold and other precious metals and gemstones. A goldsmith can design, create and fabricate original ... Read More »

Where’s the love?

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ALL THAT GLITTERS Richard Alan [email protected] I had an eye opening experience the other day, while serving a friend in my shop who was picking out a “no apparent reason gift” for the lady he was head over heels in love with. This was one of many baubles he had presented her in the past couple of months. While my Mom was gift wrapping the piece of jewelry he told me how much joy he experienced just seeing the look on her face when she opened the box and put the new piece of jewelry on. There was a mention of ... Read More »