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Jewelry News

Read the latest Jewelry News from our Long Island Pawn Shop’s Monthly Newsletter

News, issues, tips and advice about jewelry from Long Island’s oldest established jewelry buying company and pawn (loan) shop.

Popularity of Pawn Loans on the Rise — Is it Right For You?

For some people, the thought of taking a loan from a pawn shop may make them feel uncertain. However, due to regulations and competition, many pawn shops have evolved into legitimate and sophisticated establishments that cater to people who are looking for reputable ways to sell or get a loan on their unneeded items. Thanks in part to reality TV shows such as "Pawn Stars" and "Hardcore Pawn," pawn shops and pawning has experienced a surge in popularity. With the expense of the holidays here, a pawn loan may be a smart financial alternative to running up your credit cards. Here’s an overview of how a pawn loan works, and why it may be for you.

Pawn Loans: A Mainstream Alternative

Due to the struggling economy of the last several years, a loan from a pawn shop has become a viable financial alternative to a bank or other credit loan. In addition to banks tightening their lending practices, the 2009 meltdown of the U.S. economy also saw gold prices skyrocketing to $1,900 per ounce within the next two years. This upswing encouraged people to sell their unwanted gold and silver at the local pawn shop, rather than an unknown mail-based clearing house or faceless Internet site.

Some people are looking for some extra cash for the holidays, while others rely on a pawn loan to help with rising living expenses. Whatever the reason, pawn loans have become a mainstream way to get cash, without having to permanently part with a cherished possession. According to the National Pawnbrokers Association (NPA) 2010 Trend Survey that assesses how the economy has affected the pawn industry, the average pawn loan amount increased to $100, nationally, up from an average of $80 in 2008.

Pawn Loan 101

While pawn shops differ in estimate and loan prices, pawn loans generally work the same way between shops.

  • A customer brings in something of value, from a laptop to a gold coin.

  • The pawnbroker appraises it and gives customer a fixed-term loan price for the item, plus interest, and a maturity date of the loan. There is no credit check, as the loan is secured by the collateral.

  • If customer agrees to the loan price and conditions of the loan, he/she receives the agreed upon loan amount in cash, and leaves the item with the pawnbroker as collateral to guarantee the loan.

  • The pawnbroker will give the customer a pawn ticket with their name and address, a description of the pawned item, the loan amount and the maturity date. The local police will also get a copy of the receipt.

  • When the loan is paid in full, including interest, the customer will receive the pawned item back. If a loan is not repaid, and no monthly interest payment is made, the pawnbroker will keep the item and cancel the debt.

  • Some pawn shops will allow the customer to extend the loan indefinitely if they continue to pay the minimum payment every month.

Do Your Due Diligence

Like any business, the reputation of pawn shops differ. Some are more professional and offer better loan prices than others. However, the highest loan price doesn’t make the best deal. Do your research before buying, selling or entering into any agreement with a pawn shop. Make sure you agree to the appraisal estimate, loan price and terms and conditions of the loan. An informed consumer is a happy consumer.

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In Jewelry: A Collection of the Hottest News in the World of Jewelry

What’s going on in the world of jewelry? Here’s a collection of some of the hottest and latest jewelry news, information and gossip from around the world.

  • Christie's announces online auction of Elizabeth Taylor’s private jewelry collection. From December 13 through 16, Christie's will hold a limited online-only auction featuring 950 pieces from Elizabeth Taylor’s private jewelry collection. The online component is in addition to the live auction, and is an effort to ensure that collectors from around the world will have access to the high-profile sale. The pieces will be offered under categories like designer fashion and accessories, fine and costume jewelry and decorative arts and objects online.

  • Sotheby’s Geneva sets another auction sale record with Sun-Drop Diamond. At Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels Auction in Geneva on November 15, the much-talked-about Sun‐Drop Diamond sold to an anonymous buyer for $12.4 million (11.3 million Swiss Francs), setting a world record price for a yellow stone.

    Exhibited earlier this year at London’s Natural History Museum, the Sun‐Drop Diamond is a fancy vivid yellow pear‐shaped diamond weighing 110.03 carats and is known as the largest pear‐shaped fancy vivid yellow diamond in the world. The stone has a purity of VVS1 and has been graded Fancy Vivid Yellow, the highest color grading for a yellow diamond by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

    The rough for the Sun‐Drop Diamond was discovered in South Africa in 2010, and was cut and polished by Cora International in New York, one of the world's leading manufacturers of exceptional diamonds.

  • 45th Country Music Awards shone bright white, silver and gold. Nashville sparkled brightly November 9 at the 45th Annual Country Music Association Awards. Carrie Underwood, 28, served as the show’s co-host with Brad Paisley for the fourth consecutive year, and sparkled in a gold-sequined Reem Acra gown with cap sleeves. The Female Vocalist of the Year nominee wore her hair down and completed her look with a champagne satin clutch, drop earrings and a cocktail ring. Another of country music’s reigning queens, 21-year-old Taylor Swift, sparkled in a flowing silver/oyster colored gown. Swift delighted the audience as she accepted the Entertainer of the Year award—and referred to the names of people she wanted to thank on her left arm!

  • Jewelry for the HolidaysHolidays are looking good for jewelers—and jewelry lovers. A study by the Local Search Association proves that people are searching to buy jewelry during the month of November by the millions. More than 31 million searches are made for "jewelers" in print and Internet Yellow Pages each year, with the highest number occurring during the month of November. The Local Search Association's latest findings show around 5 million searches for "jewelry" occurring in the month of November. The study also found that nearly half of U.S. consumers who searched for "jewelers" had no jewelers or multiple jewelers in mind. Nearly 75 percent looked at multiple ads, turning to an average of 7.4 before making a purchase. The study also found that consumers spent $227 following a search. The bottom line, according to a statement by The Local Search Association, is that it looks like a lot of lucky people will be getting great jewelry gifts for the holidays.

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Exploring the Jewelry of Colonial America

Exploring the Jewelry of Colonial AmericaWith Thanksgiving a few weeks away, we thought it was a good time to go back in time and explore the jewelry styles that were popular with our founding fathers and mothers. Although the pilgrims were stark and austere, by the 18th century colonial America had become adorned. So pull up a wooden chair, sit down with a cup of hot tea and enjoy some tales of jewelry in early America.

Recorded History Begins with the Newspaper

Boston News-LetterHow do we know what our early American ancestors wore? Portraits of well-to-do citizens and their families that have survived the ages are one source. But we get much of our historical information from colonial newspapers. In 1704, the British government allowed the publication of The Boston News-Letter, which became the first continually published newspaper in America.

Like today’s papers, colonial papers carried many advertisements related to jewelry, from sales ads by goldsmiths and silversmiths to lost and found and stolen property ads by citizens. The papers that survived from that time provide an interesting and accurate account of what Americans bought, wore, lost and stole. Gold and silver jewelry, precious and semiprecious stones, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, topaz, garnets were highly prized by the colonists — and for the same reasons today: an appreciation of its beauty, the collection of wealth and the appearance of status and social standing in the community.

What They Bought, Wore and Stole

Based on sales, lost and found and stolen property ads from various colonial newspapers, the jewelry that was popular includes silver snuff and tobacco boxes with mother of pearl lids, gold and silver sleeve buttons, brooches with detailed portraits set with gemstones, elaborate silver hilted swords, garnet and crystal three-drop earrings, coral necklaces, silver and gold watches, gold heart lockets set with garnets, and, of course, gold and silver belt buckles. An ornate belt buckle was an essential fashion piece to complete a well-dressed look.

A Blending of Cultures

American Indian JewelryColonial jewelry came from various sources, and the result was a melting pot of the cultures convening in the colonies. The Native American Indian tribes were known for their intricate beadwork. They would stitch together thousands of beads made of carved bone and wood, ground coral, shell, turquoise and copper.

Spanish silversmiths and goldsmiths helped introduce that style of metalwork in jewelry, and silver and gold earrings, necklaces, belt and shoe buckles became popular. As more European settlers arrived, the jewelry "shops" of the day became more diverse, offering a cornucopia of gems and one-of-a-kind pieces made and found throughout the colonies, Europe and South America.

Where It Can Be Seen Today

While many colonial era jewelry pieces have been lost to age, war and attrition, there are several museums with impressive collections. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a 19th century American jewelry exhibit. Colonial Williamsburg’s DeWitt Wallace Collections and Conservation Building houses a small but precious sampling of 18th and 19th century jewelry. Visit Colonial Williamsburg online — their website has an online clothing exhibit, "Historic Threads: Three Centuries of Clothing." You can see some of the intricate beadwork and accessories of the day. The Antique Jewelry University is also a good resource to view and learn about early American jewelry.

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In Jewelry: A Collection of the Hottest Jewelry News

What’s new in the world of jewelry? Here are hot news items culled from various fashion, entertainment and jewelry sources from around the world.

  • Pantone Fall ColorrsFall jewelry colors: bright and warm. Fall jewelry colors will contrast brighter-than-usual warm colors against versatile neutrals. Some "in" colors include Phlox (deep purple), Orchid Hush (gray with orchid undertones), Deep Teal (watery blueish green), Quarry (cool medium gray) and Cedar (midtone neutral green), Nougat (warm tan), Emberglow (bright warm orange), Bamboo (warm yellow with greenish undertone), Coffee Liqueur (rich creamy brown) and Honeysuckle (Awarded "Color of the Year" for 2011 by color technology company, Pantone).

  • Real jeweler visits "Real Housewives." Real-life jeweler Erica Courtney appeared on the October 3 episode of Bravo’s "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." Courtney did a walk-on to show housewife Camille various glittery gems she could wear to the Tony Awards.

  • cocktail rings!Celebrities gaga over cocktail rings. Celebrity Jewelry Gawk observed that today’s hottest celebrities are all about cocktail rings this season. From large, ornamental designs to more delicate feminine styles, cocktail rings are being seen on the red carpets of the world.

  • Survey reveals most consumers prefer to sell to a jeweler. Most consumers prefer to sell their unwanted gold at local jewelry stores, according to a survey by MVI Marketing’s Jewelry Consumer Opinion Council. The survey found that 60 percent of people who sold gold did it at a local jewelry retailer, while 14 percent sold their gold through a television offer. Only 10 percent sold their jewelry at a one-day event.

  • Company claims it can determine origin of diamonds. Texas company Materialytics claims it can determine the origin of a diamond with 95 percent accuracy. Materialytics uses lasers to determine the chemical composition of a mineral, then matches it against a database of that object’s properties. The company does not yet plan to market its technology, but there is much interest in the industry, in part due to its impact on the blood diamond trade.

  • Alaska’s Bristol BayCitizens in Southwest Alaska voted to prevent the construction of the Pebble Mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay. The ballot vote was conducted by mail among residents of the Lake and Peninsula borough. Residents voted 280–246 against building the mine. The Pebble project is controversial because critics say it will destroy the surrounding salmon habitat, along with the long-standing fishing business that goes with it. Jewelers including Zale and Tiffany support anti-mining efforts. The Pebble Partnership and the State of Alaska view the initiative as unconstitutional since it covers state-owned lands, and will challenge it in Alaska's Superior Court.

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First Wives’ Jewelry Club — Tastes and Trends of Presidential Spouses

With First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis back in the news with a never before released interview and new book, Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy, we're reminded of how influential First Ladies have been on culture and fashion. Here’s a look back in time at some of our country’s most iconic First Ladies and their penchant for eye-popping jewelry.

The Elegance of Presidential Pearls

From Jackie O. to Michelle O., many First Ladies have loved the simple but classic elegance of pearl necklaces and bracelets. Barbara Bush was known for wearing her three-strand costume pearl necklace while in the White House. They became so popular that many companies created replicas and sold them as "First Lady Pearls" or "Barbara Bush Pearls."

Current First Lady Michelle Obama also favors pearls, specifically necklaces with Gobstopper-sized pearls and a 16 mm single strand bracelet by Carolee. Michelle O. is seen so often wearing pearls, that she has been credited with bringing them back into fashion.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ iconic style influenced a generation of fashion-forward women who embraced her style as their own. Jackie O. loved her pearl necklaces and made them wildly popular while she was in the White House. Her signature piece while First Lady was a triple-strand faux pearl necklace designed by jeweler Kenneth Jay Lane. The necklace went on to sell for $211,500 at Sotheby’s.

More Famous First Jewels

Mamie Eisenhower had a taste for large and beautiful costume jewelry, but it wasn’t necessarily expensive. She was not above buying her pieces from discount department stores such as J.C. Penny’s and Woolworth’s.

Julia Grant loved her green emeralds, blue sapphires and red rubies, but black onyx was the personal favorite of Mary Lincoln. She is seen in many official photographs wearing some or all of a of black onyx set that included a necklace, bracelet, earrings and pin.

Ida Saxton McKinley was quite the jewelry collector. Her extensive collection began with gifts from her father and grandfather, and grew to include many diamond pieces and unset jewels that she kept in a bag. She enjoyed taking them out and admiring them, and was even known to let visiting children play with them.

Nellie Taft was also a fan of diamonds. She was famously photographed in the White House donning a white diamond tiara, and was also regularly seen wearing thick diamond necklaces with matching bracelets.

For Christmas following her husband's election in 1920, Florence Harding was given a large diamond sunburst. The piece had been picked out by her best friend—heiress Evalyn McLean who owned the Hope Diamond.

In her later years as First Lady, Nancy Reagan often chose to wear a matching gold necklace and bracelet. She was photographed wearing the pieces in 1988 when she addressed the United Nations.

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The Healing Power of Gemstones and Crystals

Throughout history, gemstones and crystals have been valued for more than just their aesthetic beauty. Since ancient times, kings, queens, priests and others of influence used amulets and charms made of crystals and gems to increase their potency and power. And still today, people throughout the world believe certain gemstones and crystals are small storehouses of power with healing and/or magical properties — from the ability to cure mental and physical maladies to attracting good fortune and love.

Crystal quartz is commonly used in watches for its unique ability to keep time. But are crystals and gemstones really magical or are their powers the result of "New Age" will and belief? The jury is still out. Here's an alphabetical list of gemstones and the powers they are said to bestow upon their wearers.

  • The Healing Power of Gemstones and CrystalsAmethyst: The gem of inner peace, strength and contentment, Amethyst is said enhance one's psychic and creative abilities. It is also used to support sobriety and help break other addictions.
  • Amazonite: A powerful gemstone for creative people, amazonite encourages heartfelt communication with loved ones.
  • Amber: Amber, which is fossilized tree resin, is known to open up the crown chakra and increase physical vitality and energy flow throughout the body.
  • Bloodstone: Good for the heart, improving oxygen through the bloodstream and encouraging relaxation and reducing emotional stress.
  • Blue Lace Agate: Can be used to aid in the healing of bone and skeletal maladies. It is said to promote the healing of bone breaks and fractures.
  • Carnelian: By helping to promote feelings of love and acceptance, carnelian helps to reduce feelings of fear, insecurity and anger. Also good for actors and those in the theater.
  • Citrine: Known as a "merchant" stone, citrine is believed to attract money and increase business. It also raises self esteem and warm feelings of hope.
  • Dumorteirite: A good gemstone for relationships, dumorteirite helps encourage positive communication, increase patience and seeing the best in others.
  • Fluorite: Excellent for advancement of mind, greater concentration, meditation. Helps one to grasp higher, more abstract concepts. Facilitates inter-dimensional communication.
  • Garnet: The stone of love and commitment, garnet helps balance energy in and around the body and promote feelings of love for oneself and others.
  • Green Jade: Said to be a stone of good luck, green jade helps promote peace within and in the world around us.
  • Hematite: A gem said to encourage inner peace and happiness and increase focus and confidence.
  • Honey Jade: Used since ancient times, honey jade helps emotional balance and with communication to the spiritual worlds.
  • Iolite: Encourages responsibility with money and eliminate debt. Also used to promote harmony in relationships.
  • Jasper: A gem of protection and nurturing, jasper is said to cleanse auras and provide protection against negative energies. It also promotes a sense of brotherhood and "green" outlook on the world.
  • Lapis Lazuli: The stone of royalty, known to increase strength and vitality. Also to protect its wearer from physical and psychic danger.
  • Malachite: The stone of transition, malachite helps balance and ground one’s energy and stay on the right path. Also used in the treatment of swollen joints, broken bones and torn muscles.
  • Moonstone: Called the "traveler’s stone," moonstone is a gem of good fortune and protection when traveling.
  • Obsidian: Known as the "mirror stone" because it helps one look within and address personal issues that need to be dealt with. Promotes forgiveness.
  • Onyx: Used to enhance the ability to make good decisions, encourage happiness and attract good fortune.
  • Peridot: Provides a shield of protection to block out negativity and helps to promote inner happiness and letting go of anger and jealousy.
  • Quartz: A stone of power, quartz is known to promote harmony and align energies within and around the body.
  • Rose Quartz: Helps calm energy, remove negativity and heal emotional pain. Good to have around chaotic environments.
  • Sodalite: Promotes psychic abilities and helps to calm and clear the mind. Also used to strengthens the metabolism and lymphatic system.
  • Tigereye: Encourages clarity of mind, enhances psychic ability, and promotes the attainment and management of wealth.
  • Turquoise: Good for creative expression and promoting open communication and friendship. Used in the treatment of lung, circulation and respiratory issues.
  • Unakite: Promotes emotional balance, also used to stimulate healthy pregnancies and babies. Also used to examine the underlying cause of disease.

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Top 10 Jewelry Looks for Fall 2011

Top 10 Jewelry Looks for Fall 2011 Fall is always a fun and exciting time for fashion. So what kind of pieces are showing up on the runways of New York, London, Milan and Paris? Here, straight from the top fashion papers is a sneak peek at the top 10 jewelry fashions for fall 2011.

  1. Red hot! Red is the must-have color for clothes and jewelry this fall and will dominate the runways this season. If you buy one new accessory, make sure it's a variation of red, such as cherry, ruby or vermillion.

  2. Finger flavor. Big and fun rings have been all the rage this summer, and — if Oscar de la Renta’s New York Fashion Week runway show was any indication — the trend continues into the fall. Wear ’em big or not at all!

  3. Winter white. Yes, you can wear white after Labor Day. Oscar, Calvin and Yves all say it’s ok. At least until next season. Pair your pure white ensemble with feminine accessories in muted colors, pastels and off-whites.

  4. The spirit of the Southwest. The spirit of the American Southwest is alive in this fall’s jewelry collections. Look for Native American-inspired arrowhead and crossbow earrings and pendants, animal motif bracelets and turquoise necklaces.

  5. Heavy metal rules. The fall runways are looking like an Iron Maiden concert with all the metal on display. This season, you’ll stand up and shout for large (but lightweight) metallic statement pieces in copper, brass and sterling silver.

  6. Emeralds, rubies and sapphires, oh my! Taking a wave of the hand from this year’s royal weddings, another popular look this fall is all about luxury and opulence. Go for "rich girl chic" with richly hued rubies, emeralds and sapphires. Can’t afford the real thing? No worries—opt for crystal gemstone alternatives.

  7. Animal motifs. Embrace your inner animal this fall with the exotic look of animal-motif jewelry. Track down pieces like Steven Tyler’s bird feather hair accessories, large, bold pendants with elephant or lion heads or faux snakeskin bracelets.

  8. Day-glo green. Yes, day-glo green. You can thank celebs like Kim Kardashian and Ginnifer Goodwin for bringing back the ’80s and making neon in this fall. Look for chunky bracelets in Kermit the Frog’s favorite color.

  9. Fetish is in fashion. Back in March in Paris, iconic model Kate Moss closed out Marc Jacobs’ fetish-inspired Louis Vuitton fashion show. The look is carrying into fall, so pair up a military cut jackets with a fun patent leather bracelet with spikes or, if you’re really feeling frisky, a chain link necklace.

  10. Silver drop earrings. If a more conservative look is your taste, long silver drop earrings are still in style and exemplify a classic and timeless look. Choose a longer drop to the shoulder for a fancier, more eye-catching style.

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How a Pawn Loan Works — And Why It May Make Sense For You

How a Pawn Loan Works—And Why It May Make Sense For YouIn today’s economy, many people are struggling to make ends meet or make some extra money where they can. One option that has increased in popularity is to sell valuable jewelry or coins at a pawn shop. But what if you don’t want to part permanently with your cherished belongings? A pawn loan may be the answer. Before you enter into a loan agreement with a pawn shop, make sure you do your homework regarding the shop, and understand how the loan works. Here’s an overview.

How a Pawn Loan Works

While terms and conditions between pawn shops and jewelry stores may differ, a pawn loan generally works like this: when you bring in a piece of jewelry or other item to the pawn shop, the property is appraised by a professional appraiser. The appraiser then gives you a price for your item, the interest rate on the loan and other terms and conditions of the loan.

If you agree to the price, terms and conditions, you will receive cash in the amount of the agreed upon loan. The item then becomes collateral against the loan. Pawn shops vary, but most pawn loans are two or three months.

Once you repay the loan in full, including interest, you receive your property back. If you do not repay the loan within the time set forth in the terms, the collateral then becomes the property of the pawn shop. If you cannot repay the loan, you may surrender your loaned item as payment in full or apply for a loan extension or renewal.

Loan Extensions and Renewals

Many pawn shops offer extension and/or renewal periods. With an extension, you may extend the length of your loan, as allowed by state law. Most pawn shops will require you to pay a portion of the interest owed.

Another option is a loan renewal. You pay the accrued interest on the loan, and a new loan is written. The original (principal) amount of the loan and the interest rate stay the same, but the due date of the loan is reset to the beginning.

Benefits of a Pawn Loan

Many people feel a sentimental attachment to a piece of jewelry. They may want to keep it as an investment or bequeath it to their children. A pawn loan is a quick and easy alternative to selling. You also do not have to qualify for the loan or go through a credit check like you would with a traditional bank loan. The amount you receive is based on the appraised value of your piece—not your credit rating or other variable. It's common knowledge that banks have tightened their lending standards over the last few years, so, for many, a pawn loan is a viable option to a traditional loan.

What to Know Before You Pawn

Before agreeing to a pawn shop loan, do your research. Is the pawn or jewelry store reputable? Can you talk to or read testimonials from satisfied customers?

Make sure the pawn shop is licensed and regulated by the state and/or local authorities. Also ask if the pawn shop is insured and your item will be locked up and safe. Before you get your item appraised, be sure the appraiser is properly trained and experienced. Finally, make sure you understand how the appraiser determined the appraisal value of the item and all the terms and conditions of the loan.

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8 Great Summer Jewelry Fashion Trends

What’s hot in jewelry right now? Summer 2011 is all about big and bold statement pieces, bright colors like aqua blue turquoise to match the summer sky, and let’s not forget to thank the ever-cool Steven Tyler for bringing back feather earrings! Here, in no particular order, are the top 8 jewelry fashion trends for summer 2011.

  • Summer jewelry trend 1: Statement necklaces take center stage. The neckline is one of the most beautiful areas on a woman. Do it justice by wearing a graceful, draping statement necklace. Visualize a waterfall of colorful gems or pearls cascading from a silver chain.

  • Big Rings are in style!Summer jewelry trend 2: Rings with bling. This summer, your rings can't be too big, bright or bold. Whether you prefer round, oval or square, costume cocktail rings are a great way to make a colorful statement without breaking the bank.

  • Summer jewelry trend 3: Teardrop-shaped earrings. Nothing says taste and class like a pair of teardrop earrings. They’re classic and versatile, too—pair them with a pair of faded bluejeans or with your favorite cocktail party dress for a special evening out. For an added bit of glamour, choose some teardrops with some sparkle. Cheers.

  • Summer jewelry trend 4: Cabochon-style gem jewelry. Like cocktail rings, bigger is better when it comes to Cabochon-style stone and gem bracelets and necklaces. Go for Native American Indian-inspired pieces with large round or oval sardonyx, agate and turquoise gemstones.

  • Summer jewelry trend 5: The big ’80s are back! Girls still wanna have fun with plastic oversized bracelets in neon pink, green and orange. They're fun and cheap, so hit the discount department store and get an armful!

  • Summer jewelry trend 6: Fringe is in. The 80s aren’t the only bygone era back in vogue. Retro 60s and 70s-style fringe and tassels are hip again, dig? Remember Natalie Portman’s purple fringe earrings from The Oscars? You get the idea. Or opt for some neck candy with a wavy tassel necklace.

  • Summer jewelry trend 7: Feather earrings rock! Ever the trendsetter, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler reminded us how cool feather earrings look floating on air and intertwined with long hair. Also consider rocking feather clip-in hair accessories. Hair flair!

  • Summer jewelry trend 8: Your Grandparent’s jewelry. Speaking of retro trends, old and romantic jewelry is definitely experiencing a rebirth. Revisit your grandparent’s jewelry box for pendants with photos, war medals with ribbons and ethnic necklaces and bracelets from the old country.

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The World’s Most Famous Jewelry Pieces

There are many beautiful and expensive pieces of jewelry, but few can be considered the world’s most famous jewelry of all time. Here's an overview of some pieces and collections that fall into that very exclusive and expensive category.

  • Queen Elizabeth II’s Godman Necklace. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth has a vast collection of jewelry that she wears for occasions at Buckingham Palace and for various State visits and Commonwealth tours. One of the most elegant and impressive is the Godman Necklace given to her by daughters of Frederick Du Cann, a British naturalist, who purchased the necklace in Bavaria in the 1890s. The emerald and diamond-encrusted necklace is one of the many famous pieces in Queen Elizabeth II’s private collection. It’s most striking quality — besides the diamonds and emeralds — is its perfectly symmetrical floral motif.

  • Elizabeth Taylor’s Taylor-Burton Diamond. Liz Taylor’s passing and Christie’s recent auctioning of her jewelry — estimated at $150 million—renewed interest in her extensive and expensive collection. One of the most famous of her many pieces was the Taylor-Burton diamond. Taylor wore the 69.42 carat pear-shaped stone to many events, including Princess Grace’s 40th birthday party in Monaco. It was once the most expensive stones in the world and is currently estimated to be worth $3.5 million. Taylor sold the diamond in 1978 following her divorce from Burton to fund her charity work.

  • The Collections of the Maharajahs. India’s legendary Maharajahs were among the most passionate jewelry collectors in history. During India’s Mughal period from 1570 to 1857, the Maharajahs — Mughal lords — had a ravenous appetite for gold and amassed massive collections, in part because India had some of the most prolific gold mines in the world at the time. The Maharajahs adorned themselves in gold and gems as a sign of wealth and appreciation for jewels. Some of the most legendary of the Maharajah’s pieces included a tunic spun entirely from gold, massive tapestries made of natural pearls, rubies and emeralds, a solid gold, ruby-studded bird and a necklace triple strung with red and emerald gemstones the size of eggs.
    The Faberge Easter Egg
  • The Faberge Easter Eggs. Russian jeweler Peter Carl Faberge’s famed Faberge Easter Eggs were passionately collected by wealthy socialites in the late 19th Century. Handcrafted by the House of Faberge between 1885 and 1917, the most famous eggs were those made for Czar Alexander III’s wife, Czarina Maria Fedorovna. In 1885, Faberge delivered to their palace what appeared to be an enamel egg. The Czarina was delighted to discover that within the egg was a "golden yolk" containing a gold hen, which contained a miniature royal crown and tiny ruby egg. From then on, Czar Alexander III commissioned Faberge to deliver a new, custom-made Faberge egg each Easter, always exquisitely hand-crafted and full of jeweled surprises.

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Top 5 Tips to Selling Your Gold, Silver and Estate Jewelry

Top 5 Tips to Selling Your Estate JewelryWith the economy still recovering and precious metals hitting all-time highs, selling unwanted gold, silver and estate jewelry is a very popular way to generate some extra cash right now. Some pawn shops and jewelry stores allow you to borrow against the value of your jewelry. For some, this may be a viable option to a bank loan. But with all the options out there, where should you sell or borrow? Before you decide, know the top 5 tips to selling your gold, silver and estate jewelry.

  1. Understand the process. You don’t have to know the exact value of the jewelry you are selling, but it’s a good idea to have a general and realistic idea of what your piece is worth, and how the transaction will take place. With gold jewelry, for example, an appraiser will quote you a price based on the weight of the gold content—indicated in karats—also taking into account the current market price, and minus a handling fee. Solid gold is 24 karats. Most gold jewelry is less than that because it is mixed with other metals. If it contains precious or semi-precious gems, that should increase the value.

  2. Get it appraised in person. There are many online jewelry companies who advertise that they buy and sell online. Some are legitimate, and others are not. They work by having you mail them jewelry you want to sell, they appraise it and mail you back a check. To ensure that you are happy with the appraisal and amount offered, it's best to get your jewelry appraised in person by a reputable appraiser at an established jeweler.

  3. Seek out several appraisals. Once you have some jewelry stores or pawn shops in mind, it's smart to shop around and get your jewelry or coins appraised at more than one location. Call ahead and make sure the appraiser is Gemological Institute of America (GIA) educated. The GIA is the industry standard for gem and precious metal appraisals. A GIA-educated appraiser will abide by the strictest industry ethics and methods to ensure that a seller is given the fair market price for the piece being sold.

  4. Realize the market fluctuates. The price of gold and silver changes daily based on various factors, including market demand, manufacturing supply and the financial markets. It’s important to understand that the price you are quoted for a piece applies to the day that the piece is/was appraised and is/was based on the market value in the industry at that time.

  5. On appraisal day. When you get your piece appraised, confirm that the appraiser is GIA-educated and the sell price will be based on the current market value. Don’t be afraid to haggle, within reason, and make sure your jewelry or coins never leave your eyesight. A legitimate appraiser will make a point to explain the process, do the appraisal in front of you, and answer any and all questions. Finally, trust your instinct. If you feel comfortable with the appraiser and the price and are ready to sell, go for it. If not, politely decline and say you’re going to think about it. Remember, selling your gold, silver or estate jewelry is not just about getting the most money—it’s also about the transaction and being happy with the outcome.

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What Your Jewelry Says About Your Personality

What Your Jewelry Says About Your PersonalityThe type of jewelry you like and wear is as much a statement about you and your personality as the clothes you wear, the way you speak, the car you drive and other indicators of your unique tastes and interests. Like a beautiful gem, you’re probably multi-faceted with many sides and looks but here’s a general look at what the jewelry you wear is saying about you.

  • Bold and beautiful. If you love large jewelry such as big hoop earrings or a rings with some "bling," it's likely that you're an active, social and fun loving person. You're the one to get the party started and love to be noticed when you walk into the room.

  • Earth-friendly. Smart and eco-conscious, you love animals and the outdoors. Your jewelry reflects your natural tastes, as you generally wear recycled materials in brown, beige and other Earthy tones. You also gravitate toward unique pieces such as berry bangle bracelets and hemp necklaces with turquoise woven throughout.

  • Elegant and simple. You’re a classic beauty, inside and out. Traditional and family-oriented—but with a healthy dose of sex-appeal—you prefer a quiet dinner with the right person over crowds and always know how to pick the perfect signature piece for the occasion, such as pearl stud earrings to go with your black cocktail dress.

  • Only the best. You demand the best in life, and your jewelry is no exception. You probably drive an expensive SUV, shop at Neiman Marcus and Saks and, like Carrie Bradshaw from "Sex in the City," you love your diamonds from Tiffany & Co. Wink.

  • Perfectly matched. If your necklace and earrings tend to match, it’s likely that you’re neat, smart, responsible and organized. You’re a gracious host, excellent conversationalist and probably the one most of your friends look to for advice.

  • The retro trendsetter. You don't care about the brand name as much as the look and energy of a piece. You love vintage and can be found searching the finest thrift stores for the perfect piece of costume jewelry to wear to the weekend's hippest loft party—that you planned.

  • Small and conservative. If you're into petite and delicate pieces such as a classic pearl necklace, you pride yourself on your good taste and etiquette. You're smart, educated, well-mannered and have a healthy respect for tradition and timeless style.

  • Sporty spice. If you’re the energetic, athletic type, you probably trend towards trendier jewelry that can keep up with your active lifestyle. You go for modern-looking tennis bracelets and necklaces with pendants that have inspirational sayings engraved on them.

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Silver Jewelry Sales and Demand Rising with Value, Study Shows

Silver Jewelry Sales and Demand Rising with Value, Study ShowsAs the value of silver increases, so are silver jewelry sales and consumer demand for silver, according to two recent studies by the Silver Promotion Service, a nonprofit trade association to promote the use of silver and educate people about silver.

Precious metals are a hot commodity right now, so it’s no surprise that consumer demand for fine silver jewelry is also on the rise. While the value of silver has doubled over the last 7 months, it is still more affordable than gold—a factor contributing to silver’s increasing popularity.

The consumer market research study regarding silver jewelry showed that:

  • 70 percent of people accessorize more with silver jewelry than gold jewelry because silver is more affordable than gold
  • 51 percent think sterling silver jewelry is more wearable than gold
  • 50 percent wear silver jewelry almost every day
  • 46 percent prefer white metals for diamond jewelry
  • 42 percent prefer sterling silver jewelry over yellow gold jewelry
  • 32 percent wear sterling silver all the time

A Second Study Proves Silver Sales Rising

Another 2011 survey by the Silver Promotion Services showed a marked increase in jewelry sales. The study surveyed retail jewelers on their sales of silver jewelry. Of the jewelers surveyed:

  • 87 percent said silver jewelry sales increased in 2010
  • 52 percent showed an increase of 11 and 25 percent
  • Silver jewelry accounted for 36 percent of their unit volume and
  • 28 percent saw a more than 25 percent increase in silver sales
  • 28 percent of their dollar volume in 2010

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7 Wedding Jewelry Trends for Spring 2011

7 Wedding Jewelry Trends for Spring 2011The marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton had the world talking about wedding rings and accessories. Now that they’re wed, there’s no reason to stop talking about wedding jewelry! With wedding season upon us, here’s a list of seven au courant wedding trends for spring 2011.

Like a fresh Tuscan meal, wedding jewelry right now is a few simple ingredients that wow the senses. Keep accessories light, classy, unique but unencumbered. Here’s what’s on the accessories menu this season.

  • Silver beats gold. A recent study by the Silver Promotion Service, showed that 46 percent of consumers prefer white metals for diamond jewelry. If you’re feeling bold, go with black diamonds on silver or white metal.

  • Pastel pearls are in. Nothing says a spring wedding like pastels. Innocence is in, so look for pastel-colored pearls in lavender or pink—and match your bridesmaids' dresses with your pearls.

  • Cluster earrings. Earrings are one of the most important accessories to your wedding gown. Think clusters of pearls and other small jewels in delicate clusters—like grapes on a vine. Select studs instead of dangly earrings.

  • Vintage is in. When it comes to wedding jewelry, what’s old is new again. Go vintage jewelry shopping and look for unique, distinctive pieces. Remember, vintage doesn't have to mean expensive, and old doesn’t have to equal boring.

  • Eco-friendly earth tones. "Green" is in this year with earth-tone-inspired pieces and colors: think semi-precious stones in warm colors.

  • Thin is in. Bracelets come and go, as far as wedding jewelry is concerned, but this spring, bracelets are back in favor, big time. Go for graceful with your bracelet and necklace, instead of big and bulky.

  • Creative? Go custom. If you're the creative type, custom jewelry is not only popular now, it’s a great way to put your personal stamp on your overall look. It’s also a unique way to ensure your accessories perfectly match your gown.

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Story of a Royal Ring: From Princess Di to a Princess-To-Be

Royal Engagement RingIf there's one event that is inspiring a renewed interest in romance and jewelry, it is the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Of particular interest is the engagement ring that Prince William proposed to Middleton with—the famous sapphire and diamond band belonged to his mother, Lady Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales.

In 1981, Princess Diana chose the ring for her engagement to Prince Charles. She was criticized at the time for choosing a ring that, "anyone could buy" instead of having one custom made. But Lady Di had an eye for style, and replicas of the ring were quickly in demand, as they are again today. The royal ring was originally purchased in 1981 from the catalog of the historic British jeweler, Garrard, for 28,000 British pounds ($65,000 US). Today, the ring is said to be worth about half a million dollars, with the sapphire alone worth $300,000. Princess Diana liked the ring so much that she even wore it after her divorce from Charles.

Upon Diana’s death, the ring went to Prince Harry, while Prince William received a Cartier watch. But the two brothers had an agreement that whoever became engaged first would present the ring to their betrothed. William romantically proposed to Middleton while they were on vacation last October in Kenya.

Diamonds and Sapphires

The royal engagement ring is a deep blue oval sapphire—estimated at 12 carats—encircled by 14 round diamonds set in 18K white gold. Middleton recently decided to have the engagement ring resized by the royal jewelers G. Collins & Sons to fit her finger better. She asked them to attach small platinum beads inside the bottom of the ring to make it a size I, one notch up from her own finger width. When Middleton first showed the ring in public last November at St. James’s Palace in London, she wore a royal blue dress by Issa that accentuated the blue of the sapphire.

Royal Replicas In Demand

Since Middleton first appeared wearing the royal ring, demand for replicas has skyrocketed around the globe. The National Sapphire Company's website actually crashed from demand-related traffic. With the April 29 nuptials around the corner, jewelers around the world are working overtime to respond to the demand.

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Diamond Prices Up in the U.S.—And It’s a Seller's Market

DiamondsThe prices of certified polished diamonds are on the rise in the U.S., according to Harry Winston Diamond Corporation and a new report by Rapaport Research. Prices rose almost 10 percent this year due to various factors, including increased demand in India and China, strong trading by dealers and a lag in manufacturing that can’t keep pace with demand—all factors contributing to a current seller’s market in early spring.

Diamond Research by RapNet

In the March 2011 Rapaport Research Report — the world’s largest diamond trading network of buyers and suppliers—the average asking price for polished diamonds on rapnet.com increased 6.6 percent in March. RapNet’s prices in the first quarter rose 11.5 percent and, year over year, average prices were up 17.2 percent compared to late March, 2010.

Why Diamond Prices Are Going Up

There are several international reasons for the surge in domestic prices:

  • India: India claimed a 10 percent share of the global demand for diamonds in 2010—a 31 percent increase, according to De Beers. That number is likely to increase by at least 20 percent in 2011.
  • China: China accounted for 11 percent of global demand last year—a whopping 25 percent increase. Like India, the country is growing rapidly and should increase its consumption growth in 2011.
  • Japan: The tragic earthquakes and tsunami, may cause a small decline in demand and buying, but not significantly effect diamond demand as Japan was previously in a recession. However, Rapaport’s Group Chairman Martin Rapaport believes that the tragedy could lead to inflation which, he warned can have a major impact on diamond prices.

Domestic Economy and Diamond Sales

  • United States: Even in last year’s down economy, diamond demand in the U.S. grew seven percent, reaching 38 percent and the largest of global demand for polished diamond jewelry. Indications earlier this year showed signs of rising consumer confidence, and as that increases so will the demand for luxury items, including diamonds. If however inflation continues to rise, diamond prices will also rise.

Now May Be the Time to Sell Your Diamond

If you’re thinking about selling your unwanted diamond jewelry, now may be a good time. Let Empire Jewelers, Inc., Long Island’s oldest fine jewelry buyers, give you a free appraisal. We are experts at appraising diamonds and our professional jewelers are GIA-educated to ensure you receive accurate diamond appraisals. Empire is paying a premium for diamonds 2 carats or larger because of the increase in global demand of polished diamonds. As members of the National Pawnbrokers Association, Empire abides by strict regulations that protect our customers who are looking to sell or take a loan on their jewelry. For more information, call Empire today at (516) 520-5252 or visit our website.

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Gold 101—Understanding the Noble Metal

Gold 101—Understanding the Noble Metal The world has had a long-standing obsession with gold. From its aura of wealth and power, to its romantic symbolism, gold is yet alluring yet practical. There is much to know about gold, from its chemical makeup to how it is valued. Here’s a brief tutorial to help you better understand gold, the "noble" metal.

A Precious Metal

Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. The word gold comes from the Latin word aurum. Gold is known as the noble metal because it does not combine well chemically with nonmetallic elements such as oxygen. It is considered precious because of its rarity, durability and beauty. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster and is found as nuggets or grains in rocks, in veins and in alluvial deposits. It also occurs in minerals as gold compounds, usually with tellurium. Gold metal is dense, soft, shiny and is the most malleable element known on our Earth. Next to silver, gold is the best conductor of heat and electricity and the most reflective of light. But unlike silver, gold is very resistant to oxidation. Because of these unique physical properties and the fact that gold is very scarce, it has long been a valued and sought after metal.

Karat Weight and the Purity of Gold

The karat system is measure of the purity (fineness) of gold, or its proportion in an alloy. The higher the purity, the more valuable the gold. Pure gold is defined as 24 karats. A troy ounce contains 31.1 grams, or 20 pennyweights. Gold less than 24K is discounted proportionately: 18K is 75% pure gold, 14K is 58.3% and 10K is 41.7% gold. Gold jewelry of 10K or more will have a karat stamp. Pure or nearly pure gold usually comes in the form of gold bullion. Jewelry and bullion are usually stamped, indicating the item's karat weight. Since pure gold is much too soft to make jewelry out of, and must be mixed with other metal alloys (often copper) to make it harder and more durable.

The True Currency

Gold is a commodity that investors buy and sell each business day on Wall Street and in open markets around the world. As investors buy and sell gold, the price rises and falls with market conditions. The spot price of gold represents the immediate settlement price per ounce the moment an ounce of pure gold sells. Gold standards have been the most common basis for monetary policies throughout human history, being widely replaced by fiat currency only in the late 20th century. Many believe that gold is the only true currency, and the best form of money that we have. It has been proven time and again through history that gold does not lose its value as a store of wealth. This was demonstrated in France after the French Revolution, in Germany after the World Wars, and in many countries in modern times. Those who held a significant portion of their wealth in gold were able to rebound from economic difficulties much better than those who had no gold.

Jewelry, A Store of Wealth

Gold is one of the coinage metals and has served as a symbol of wealth and a store of value throughout history. Some believe that gold jewelry came about as a safe and practical way to store and carry (wear) gold. Since jewelry represents 85% of the fabrication demand for gold, gold itself is not a commodity, but a store of wealth. Gold, whether in the form of coins, bars or jewelry, is money. In certain parts of the world, people save by buying chains of gold rather than putting money in the bank. Lately as the value of gold has risen, many people have decided to take advantage of the value of their jewelry and are looking to sell their coins, jewelry, even broken, scrap gold chains.

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History Lesson: The California Gold Rush

History Lesson: The California Gold RushIn January 1848, at a distant outpost near Sacramento, California, frontiersman John Sutter had a group of men building a sawmill. The mill was nearly complete when, on the cold, clear morning of January 28, James Marshall found shiny metallic nuggets in the American River. It was confirmed to be gold. The gold rush that followed was to become one of the largest human migrations in history as a half-million people from around the world descended upon California in search of instant wealth. It also made California the richest state in America.

The Rush Is On

The first printed story on the rush was in the March 15, 1848 issue of "The Californian" in San Francisco. Shortly after Marshall's discovery, General John Bidwell discovered gold in the Feather River and Major Pearson B. Reading found gold in the Trinity River. As news of the discovery spread, hopeful miners from around the world began arriving to seek their fortunes. Some 80,000 people poured into California in 1848 alone, arriving via covered wagon on California Trail, by ship around Cape Horn or through the Panama shortcut. The majority came in an immense wave during the summer '48. The discovery sparked almost mass hysteria as thousands of immigrants invaded what would soon be called the Gold Country of California. The peak of the rush was in 1849, which is why many gold seekers were known as the Forty-Niners.

The Hopeful Gamblers

Gold Rush CaliforniaThe search for gold was open to all. It was truly the wild frontier since no towns or roads yet existed. Every prospector was on his or her own, and no taxes were levied on what the miners found. But digging for gold from early dawn until dusk was backbreaking work. The most common and oldest technique for looking for gold was called placer mining, or panning. Because of gold's high density, it sinks more rapidly from moving water than the lighter siliceous materials with which it is found. Panning employed a pan in which a few handfuls of the gold-bearing soil or gravel and a large amount of water were placed. By swirling the contents of the pan, the miner washed the siliceous material over the side, leaving the gold and heavy materials behind. Still, the hope of striking it rich became an obsession with many of the Forty-Niners. Stories of those who found their fortunes—whether true or fabricated¯drove them on, and like the hopeful gambler, they believed a streak of bad luck could always be followed by a big find.

The Price of Gold

California officially became a state in 1850, decades earlier than it would have without the gold. While the gold rush brought great wealth and diversity to the state, the land and its people also paid a great price for its wealth and the attention it attracted. As people created faster and more destructive ways to find gold, the land was ravaged. Hillsides were washed away in torrents of water, and towns downstream were inundated by immense mud slides. Water supplies were poisoned with mercury, arsenic, cyanide and other toxins. Grand forests of oak and pine were leveled for mining timbers and to build railroads, and invisible boundaries were crossed between the settlers and native Americans.

A Dwindling Supply

By 1853, the California gold territory saw its peak production of placer gold. Over the years that followed, less gold was found, while more prospectors arrived in California to battle it out over the dwindling supply. At the same time, merchants raised the prices of mining tools, clothing and food to astronomical levels. Most miners barely found enough gold to pay for daily expenses. Still, some struck it rich. In 1854, a 195-pound mass of gold—the largest known to have been discovered in California—was found at Carson Hill in Calaveras County. Thousands of others began returning home with little to show for their time, but lucky to have made it out alive. By 1855, most of the rich surface placers were largely exhausted, and river mining accounted for much of the state's gold output. The California Gold Rush is generally considered to have ended in 1858, when the New Mexico Gold Rush began.

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Emerald—History and Mythology of the Green Gem

Heart Shaped Emerald RingSt. Patrick’s Day is a time to celebrate all things green. Take a moment to reflect on one of the rarest and mythical of all gems—the enchanting green emerald.

Gem of Love

Named after the Greek word meaning green gemstone, the emerald is the birthstone for the month of May and the zodiac sign Taurus. Emerald jewelry signifies success in love, life and springtime, as well as the 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries. Emerald’s deep green hue is also considered to be the color of beauty and love.

Emeralds in History

For more than 6,000 years, the emerald has been cherished by many cultures for its beauty and supposed magical qualities. According to Indian mythology, the name emerald was first translated from Sanskrit as "marakata," meaning "the green of growing things." Today’s term "emerald" is believed to originate from an ancient Persian word, translated to Latin as "smaragdus," and then morphed over time to "emerald."
The first emerald mine is thought to be in South America, where the Incas and the Aztecs first discovered the shining green gems and hand crafted them into stunning pieces of jewelry. Another theory speculates that emeralds originated in ancient Egypt near the Red Sea.
Throughout history, emeralds and emerald jewelry has been thought to possess magical properties such as healing powers and good luck. The pharaohs believed emeralds protected and empowered its wearer. Cleopatra is thought to have owned countless precious emerald jewelry pieces, as well as emerald mines.

The Claddagh Ring

Ireland is known as "The Emerald Isle" because of its lush greenery. It is also where the Claddagh emerald ring originated more than 300 years ago. The name of the Claddagh ring comes from a small, picturesque fishing village named Claddagh, Ireland. The ring symbolizes three virtues: love, friendship and loyalty and has today become a worldwide symbol of love and faith.

Emeralds on Display

Some of the world's most famous emerald discoveries are, or have been, on public display. New York's Museum of Natural History showcased a cup crafted out of an emerald. It sat next to "Patricia," one of the biggest emeralds ever known at over 600 carats. Another famous display was at the Bank of Bogotá, which held five separate emeralds each between 200 and 1,000 carats. The "Mogul" Emerald is one of the biggest emeralds ever known at over two hundred carats. Prayers were engraved in the gem, along with flower etchings. It is rumored that that emerald was purchased for more than $2 million dollars by an anonymous buyer.

Let Empire Appraise Your Gems

Have a gem you’re interested in selling or wondering about its worth? Let Empire Jewelers’ GIA-educated experts give you a free, no obligation appraisal. Call Empire today at (516) 520-5252 or visit our website.

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Gold Prices Inspire Affordable Jewelry Trends

Vintage Gold NecklanceAs gold prices have soared and the economy has continued to struggle, jewelry customers looking for more value for their dollar have looked to non-gold, high-fashion pieces. Jewelry manufacturers have eagerly responded to the demand. Here’s a look at some of the latest trends in the world of high-quality fashion jewelry.

Charming Glass and Silver Charms

As jewelers expand beyond gold, they are making the most of silver and other metals. A delicate 14-karat white gold heart necklace with an ideal-cut diamond might cost more than $1,000, while a similar necklace in silver might cost a few hundred.

Today, the definition of fine jewelry is much broader than it used to be. Fashion costume jewelry is more affordable and can be very well made. One of the most popular trends of the last few years has been Chamilia and Pandora jewelry. These finely crafted, interchangeable beads of glass on a silver necklace or bracelet are all individual, so you create your own bracelet or necklace based on your personal taste or to commemorate special occasions such as an anniversary or graduation.

Beads average around $30 each, plus the cost of the silver bracelet or necklace. Some pieces showcase Swarovski crystals or sparkling drusy quartz for a modern yet moderately priced look.

Chocolate Diamonds

White or colorless diamonds never go out of style, but less expensive brown "chocolate diamonds" are gaining in popularity, mainly because they are more abundant in nature and thus less expensive. Chocolate diamonds come in several shades, some naturally occurring and others achieved with radiation. Many gems are enhanced, and can be a less-expensive option to their purer counterparts.

Bold and Affordable in Fashion

In 2011, frugality is still in vogue when it comes to jewelry. Look for one unique "statement" piece of jewelry: a large, colorful and unusual piece that stand out as the centerpiece of an outfit. Examples are an oversized bracelet, an elaborate layered necklace, big square bangles, extra-long earrings and huge retro rings.

Let Empire Appraise Your Jewelry

Have fashion or costume jewelry you’d like to sell? It may be worth more than you think. Let Empire Jewelers’ GIA-educated experts appraise your jewelry. Call Empire today at (516) 520-5252 or visit our website.

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Diamonds—Origin of the Jewel of Love

Most people consider diamonds the "jewel of love," a public symbol of engagement and a promise of everlasting love. But when did the romance with diamonds start, and why has a relatively common gem become synonymous with love and dedication?

A Brief History

DiamondsThe word "diamond" comes from the Greek word adamas, meaning "unconquerable." Diamonds are the hardest and most brilliant of all precious stones, a quality that has contributed to its symbolism of enduring love.

The first recorded history of the diamond dates back about 3,000 years to India, where it is likely that diamonds were first valued for their ability to refract light. In the Dark Ages, the diamond took on a mythical aura as a medical aid. It was believed that diamonds held in the hand or ingested could heal wounds and cure illnesses.

The popularity of diamonds increased in the Middle Ages with the discovery of many large and famous stones in India, such as the Koh-I-Noor and the Blue Hope. Today India maintains the foremost diamond polishing industry in the world.

"Central Selling Organization"

Then in the 19th century, after the discovery of huge diamond mines in South Africa, diamonds flooded the market. The glut of supply created so little demand that the British financiers of the South African mines created the De Beers company and its "central selling organization" to control supply and demand. De Beers still controls about 90% of the world's diamonds. Quality diamonds are actually not scarce at all, but De Beers controls how much supply comes on the market and that keeps prices high.

Diamonds Are Forever

De Beers also greatly influenced the association between diamonds and love. Because of their decades-long "Diamonds Are Forever" advertising campaign, the diamond engagement ring is now considered an essential part of the courting ritual of marriage. Marilyn Monroe also did her part in romanticizing diamonds. Who can forget the iconic song and dance number of "Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend" in the 1956 film, "Some Like It Hot."

The Kimberly Process

In the late 1990s, the diamond industry again changed as demand dropped due to the "blood diamond" controversy. De Beers, along with the U.N. Security Council, governments and other industry organizations, spearheaded the Kimberley Process, an international program that requires that governments certify that shipments of rough diamonds are free from conflict. More than 70 governments are now members of the Kimberley Process and almost 99 percent of all diamonds around the world are monitored through the Kimberley Process to ensure they are produced in an ethical and auditable manner.

Let Empire Appraise Your Diamond

If you're planning on selling your diamond, Empire Jewelers, Inc., Long Island's oldest fine jewelry buyers, are experts at appraising diamonds and other fine jewelry. Our professional jewelers use the GIA International Diamond Grading System to offer you accurate diamond appraisals, courteous service, and the best sale prices on Long Island. In fact, Empire is currently paying a premium on diamonds over 2 carats.
As members of the National Pawnbrokers Association, we abide by strict regulations that protect our customers. Whatever the reasons for selling your diamond, we believe it is your concern alone, and your privacy will always be respected.

For more information, call Empire today at (516) 520-5252 or visit our website.

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Gemstones—What To Know Before You Buy or Sell

GemstonesValentine’s Day is on the heart and mind, and nothing says romance like a sexy red ruby or regal purple amethyst. Various gemstones are popular gifts, but before you buy or sell your gemstone, there are some things to know about how it will be graded and appraised.

The first step is go to a reputable jeweler/appraiser that uses the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) standard of grading gems. The GIA’s rating system is the industry standard world wide. When a gem is GIA-certified, sellers, jewelers, vendors and insurance companies can trust the appraisal. The jewelers at Empire Jewelers, Inc. are GIA-educated professionals.

What Defines Precious vs. Semiprecious?

In the past, the difference between precious and semiprecious stones were clearly defined. Diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires were considered precious, while others were considered semi-precious. Today, classification is not as clearly defined. The GIA rates gems by four basic criteria: color, clarity, cut and if a gem has been "treated" or not. Other factors, such as the whims of fashion and market availability also influence rating and thus its value.

GIA’s Rating System

  • Color. On GIA’s system, or scale, color is described by hue—the spectral color, such as red, blue or yellow. Tone is how light or dark the color is, from very light to very dark. Saturation is the purity of color, from grayish to vivid.

  • Clarity refers to the transparency of the gemstone and gemstones are rated for clarity against stones of their same type. Type I gemstones have few if any inclusions, Type II gems usually have some inclusions and Type III gems almost always have inclusions.

  • Cut. The colored gemstone is described by shape, then graded for cut. Cut refers to the gem's proportion and finish. The deeper the cut, the more the gemstone will sparkle. Proportion is composed of face-up outline, profile and brilliance.

  • Treatment. Gemstones are commonly treated to enhance appearance by heating, coating, oiling, irradiation, filling or dyeing. Some treatments are legitimate practices, while others are considered deceptive and have a negative impact on value.

Beauty Is In the Eye …

While there are ratings standards for gemstones, the saying "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" also applies. The beauty and appeal of a gemstone can vary widely, depending on the taste of the buyer. Whether or not the gem you are selling is technically "flawless" has nothing to do with its ultimate appeal. The gem you are no longer interested in and are selling may be a treasure to the person who buys it.

Let Empire Jewelers Appraise Your Gems

If you’re thinking of selling or taking a loan on your gems, let Empire Jewelers’ GIA-educated experts appraise them to ensure the best prices. Call Empire today at (516) 520-5252 or visit our website.

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Pawn Shop Loans

loans on your jewelryThe New Year is a time for resolutions. If you resolved to get out of debt and overspent on gifts, consider taking a loan on your jewelry or coins to help pay down holiday debt. Empire Jeweler’s loan rates are governed by New York State and won’t affect your credit score. Plus, if you have a sentimental attachment to a piece of estate jewelry or don’t want to part with your coin collection, pawning it can be a great alternative to selling it.

Why do many people get a loan from a pawn shop?

Primarily, convenience. Pawn shop loans are a fast way to get cash. It is also easier than a bank loan or applying for a credit card, as a credit check and co-signer is not required. The transaction is usually straightforward: A pawn broker will determine the value of the item you are leaving as collateral, such as a gold necklace, you can usually get cash within minutes. Also, if you decide not to repay the loan, your credit score will not be affected.

Another reason someone may decide to pawn their jewelry instead of outright selling it is because they have a sentimental attachment to it. Perhaps it’s a diamond engagement ring that belonged to your grandmother, or a pocket watch that’s been in the family for generations and you wish to pass it down to your child. Pawning the item and then paying off the loan allows you to take back the item once the loan is paid off.

How does a pawn shop loan work?

The pawn broker will determine the value of the item you are selling. In the case of coins and jewelry, the value is based on certain industry factors, such as karat weight. A professional jeweler will also appraise it for its rarity and condition. The pawn broker will then offer a fixed-rate loan based upon the value, for a period of time. The customer will receive a pawn ticket with his/her name and address, a description of the pawned item, the loan amount and the maturity date. Empire Pawn’s typical contract is four months and interest rate is 4% per month.

The item will never leave your site during the appraisal process, and then it is stored securely in Empire’s state-of-the-art vault, or if it is a high value loan, it is stored in a bank vault. Once the loan, plus interest is paid back, the customer receives his or her item back. If a loan is not repaid in the agreed upon time, and no monthly interest payment is made, the broker will appropriate the item and cancel the debt.

Read more on how loans work at Empire Jewelers, on our website.

In business for three generations, Empire Jewelers, Inc. will take the utmost care in appraising your jewelry, offering you the opportunity to sell for cash, or take a loan out on its value. As members of the National Pawnbrokers Association, we abide by strict regulations that protect our customers. Whatever the reasons for selling your jewelry, we believe it is your concern alone, and your privacy will always be respected.

For more information, call Empire today at (516) 520-5252 or visit our website.

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What Determines a Coin’s Value?

Value of CoinsThinking of selling your unwanted coins? Maybe you inherited a relative’s collection, or need the cash more than the coins. Perhaps you don’t want to part from your coins forever and would like to take a loan on their value. Whatever the reason, it’s important to understand what determines a coin’s value and price first.

The rarity of the coin. Generally, the rarer a coin is, the higher its value. Keep in mind that the rarity of the coin does not always determine its value. There are many 1,000-year-old Chinese coins that sell for a few dollars because there are so many of them around, whereas a 1913 Liberty Head Nickel may sell for over $1,000,000 because there are only five known in existence.

The condition or grade of the coin. The better the condition a coin is in, the higher its assigned grade will be, and the more it will be worth. For example, an uncirculated coin in flawless condition , or “mint state,” will likely be worth much more than the same coin in good condition that has been circulated.

The quality of a coin makes it more valuable. The way a coin was minted and its overall eye appeal can make it more valuable than other coins of the same design and certified grade. Coin quality is also the most difficult to determine properly, and requires a practiced eye. Differences in grade are usually small but observable to the expert eye.

The demand for a particular coin by collectors is also a determining factor. Some coins that are relatively plentiful may command higher prices than scarcer coins simply because they are more popular with collectors.

The value of the precious metal. Regardless of where it is from, how old it is, or its condition, gold or silver coins are appraising higher because it contains precious metal that is greatly in demand today. Empire Jeweler’s expert appraisers know the factors that affect the value of a gold or silver coin, including its rarity and the supply and demand of the gold or silver.

What are your coins worth?

There is no risk in having them appraised. In business for three generations, Empire Jewelers, Inc. will take the utmost care in appraising your coins, offering you the opportunity to sell for cash, or take a loan out on its value. As members of the National Pawnbrokers Association, we abide by strict regulations that protect our customers. Whatever the reasons for selling, we believe it is your concern alone, and your privacy will always be respected.

Call us today for an expert appraisal at (516) 520-5252 or visit our website.

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Estate vs. Vintage vs. Antique
What are the differences?

In jewelry terms, estate, vintage and antique jewelry have similar meanings but the differences can greatly influence the value of the jewelry pieces. Before you sell a previously-owned piece of jewelry, it’s important to understand the terms.

Although estate jewelry connotes a piece that has been passed down from a previous generation, it actually refers to any piece of jewelry that was previously owned, regardless of its age. Estate jewelry can be broken down into two types: vintage jewelry that is less than 100 years old and antique jewelry that is more than 100 years old.

Vintage jewelry generally consists of pieces that were created between 1910 and 1990. The most commonly collected are those between 1910 and 1970. That includes the glamorous, Hollywood-inspired 1940s jewelry, Retro era pieces, the fabulous Jackie Kennedy-inspired jewelry of the ‘60s, and even the dramatic and bold jewelry of the1980s.

According to government guidelines, jewelry is considered antique if it is at least 100 years old. Popular jewelry created in historic eras that are still commonly found in the U.S. through estate sales generally begin in the rare Georgian Era (1714-1837), in which every piece was hand-crafted and therefore very valuable.

The jewelry of the Victorian years were of three distinct eras: Early Romantic Victorian (1837-1850), Grand Mid-Victorian (1860-1880) and Late Aesthetic Victorian (1885-1990). The simplified jewelry of the Arts & Crafts Movement (1894-1923) was the hand-made jewelry artisans’ rebellion to the Industrial Revolution, while at the same time Art Nouveau jewelry (1895-1915) was popularized by the famous French jeweler, LaLique. Edwardian era jewelry—named after Queen Victoria’s son, Edward—was popular during 1901-1910, followed by the visually forward Art Deco Style (1920-1935).

Let Empire Appraise Your Jewelry

If you’re planning on selling your estate, vintage or antique jewelry, it is important to choose the right appraiser to ensure it is not under-valued. In business for three generations, the professionals of Empire Jewelers, Inc. are experts at appraising fine jewelry.

We will take the utmost care in appraising your jewelry, offering you the opportunity to sell or take a loan out on it as you wish. As members of the National Pawnbrokers Association, we abide by strict regulations that protect our customers. Whatever the reasons for selling your jewelry, we believe it is your concern alone, and your privacy will always be respected.

When you bring your jewelry to Empire, it will not leave your sight throughout the appraisal process, unless and until you have sold it. Once you receive your appraisal and the price is agreed upon, you will receive your cash instantly for your jewelry.

For more information, call Empire today at (516) 520-5252 or visit our website.

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The Four Cs of Selling Your Diamond
Color, Carat, Clarity or Cut…

If you’re planning to sell or take a loan on a diamond, it’s important to understand the “4C’s” in how it will be evaluated and appraised. The global jewelry-industry standard can be confusing for many people, especially for first-time sellers. What is considered a “flawless” diamond? Which “C” is most important? What factors determine not just a diamond’s aesthetic beauty, but its market value?

In the ‘40s and ’50s, the Gemologists Institute of America (GIA), an educational and research non-profit organization founded in 1931, developed the “4Cs” and the GIA International Diamond Grading System™ to objectively compare and evaluate diamonds. Today, even if you buy or sell a diamond in another part of the world, the jeweler will likely use the same GIA grading systems.

Understanding the 4C’s

  • Color: Most diamonds run from colorless to near-colorless, with slight hints of yellow or brown. “Color” is not how much color a diamond has, but the degree to which it is colorless. The GIA set the industry standard with its D-Z scale (D is colorless to Z meaning the most yellow.) The exceptions to this rule are the more rare blue or pink diamonds which aren’t included in the GIA’s D-Z scale.

  • Clarity: Most diamonds have tiny crystals, feathers or clouds within them, called “inclusions.” Surface imperfections are called “blemishes.” The rarest diamonds are flawless and have no internal inclusions or external blemishes. The GIA uses a Clarity Scale of 11 grades that are measured using 10X magnifications.

  • Carat: Signifies the weight—not the size—of the diamond. One carat is equal to 200 milligrams. Since heavier diamonds are rarer than smaller diamonds, the value is higher the heavier the carat weight.

  • Cut: The cut of a diamond refers to its proportions, symmetry and polish. When evaluating cut, two aspects are evaluated: its shape (round, marquise, square cut, etc.), and how well the cutting was executed. It must be geometrically precise, since it will affect a diamond’s fire (the flash of rainbow colors from within) and brilliance (its sparkle). The cut was historically the most subjective and difficult to standardize during appraisal, but due to advances in technology, the GIA introduced its cut grading systems in 2005.

So, What Is a Quality Diamond?

A general guideline for a diamond of quality would be a carat size of .50 points (1/2 carat) or larger, color of D-H, clarity of SI2 (slightly included 2) or better. For cut, it is preferred to have a depth and table proportion of 56%-62%, and good or better polish and symmetry.

The GIA International Diamond Grading System is the industry standard when an appraiser evaluates a diamond’s beauty and value. A report should be provided by an impartial expert, preferably one who is GIA-trained to prevent over- or under-grading a diamond’s value.

Let Empire Appraise Your Diamond

If you’re planning on selling your diamond, it important to choose the right appraiser to ensure it is not under-valued. As Long Island’s oldest fine jewelry buyers, Empire Jewelers, Inc. are experts at appraising diamonds and other fine jewelry. Our professional jewelers use the GIA International Diamond Grading System to offer you accurate diamond appraisals, courteous service, and the best sale prices on Long Island.

We will take the utmost care in appraising your diamond, offering you the opportunity to sell or take a loan out on it as you wish. As members of the National Pawnbrokers Association, we abide by strict regulations that protect our customers. Whatever the reasons for selling your diamond, we believe it is your concern alone, and your privacy will always be respected.

When you bring your diamond to Empire, it will not leave your sight throughout the appraisal process, unless and until you have sold it. Once you receive your appraisal and the price is agreed upon, you will receive your cash instantly for your diamond.

For more information, call Empire today at (516) 520-5252 or visit our website.

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