• Diamonds: "The Gem of Kings"
• Diamonds: "The Gem of Romance"
• Silver and Other Jewelry
• Skin Allergies
• White Gold
• Working with Gold
"Diamonds: "The Gem of Kings"
"Gem of Kings." Having been formed deep within the earth under tremendous heat and pressure, these carbon crystals were forced to the surface under tremendous pressure and speed, in a dense volcanic material called kimberlite. These diamond pipes (usually shaped as inverted carrots), are believed to have been formed between 160 million years and 3 billion years ago. These magnificent gemstones are the hardest known substance on earth (and possibly in the entire universe). These unique crystals are 150 times harder than the next hardest material, corundum (rubies and sapphires). It is said that approximate 2 1/2 tons of rock must be mined and sorted to get one crystal worthy of cutting.
"Better a diamond with flaw, than a pebble without."
Q: How to buy diamonds?
A: "You work hard, so buy right."
1) Don't be an impulse buyer, question special discount sales, like " 50% to 70% off."
Ask yourself' "off of what original price?" Ask about recent "60 Minutes," investigations.
2) Become an educated consumer, know what makes one diamond more valuable than
another by learning some important diamond basics.
3) Buy from a reputable store
4) Avoid misleading hype in advertising, the old saying applies here ". . .if it is too
good to be true, it probably is."
5) Ask questions: a) Has the Diamond been lazer drilled?
b) Is it quality enhanced?
c) Is it color treated, whitened or bleached?
d) Is it well Cut, with good alignment of facets and finish?
e) Does it have good proportions?
f) What is the Quality?
g) What is the Clarity?
h) Who graded the Quality and Clarity? And what are
i) Does the culet align with the center of the table?
j) Is the girdle consistent in uniform thickness?
k) Is the girdle faceted or polished or ground?
Remember: - If you don't ask, they won't tell you!
If they don't know the answers--Don't buy it!
6) Get it in writing!
Q: What Ralph Miller Jewelers experts recommend?
A: When buying a diamond for that special occasion, we highly recommend that you do not buy impulsively, know what you are buying. Price should not be the only determining factor. There are certain important basics that you should be familiar with prior to your final selection. With a little time and understanding you can learn how to search for a special stone that will satisfy your needs and be the worthy remembrance of that special occasion. Diamonds are one of the most available of all gemstones but one of the most confusing to correctly purchase. We challenge you to really confront retail selling techniques, such as slick ad campaigns that openly feature pricing discounts without discussion as to color, cut and clarity. (Remember, as stated earlier that price alone does not determine a good purchase). Be cautious and sensible when seeing such ads and prices.
Diamonds have almost universal wholesale prices, DeBeers, the world's largest diamond controller works extremely hard to standardize these prices. They alone sell approximately 80 percent of the world's production. So carat prices to the cutters, dealers and the jewelers are almost always uniformly similar throughout the world. Constant competition means that the very best wholesale prices are pretty much the same when the diamonds arrive to any jeweler. The actual retail price is the real variable that shows up within the market and it is caused only by the profit margin of the independent jewelers and major chains. Therefore if the wholesale costs are basically the same among jewelers, real bargains are usually unlikely. It is the perceived bargain that usually does not have all the specifics mentioned. It is very easy to feature for example, a gemstone with good color and clarity and give up proper proportions and cut to create the image of a great bargain. Know what you are buying, know all the facts and specifics about the stone you are about to purchase.
When selecting a diamond, Ralph Miller Jewelers recommends that you become an educated consumer. Realize that diamonds are priced not just because of their beauty but because of the certain properties that they each uniquely possess. This may seem confusing, but with time and a little confidence you will learn the "4 Cs." (Color, Cut, Clarity and Carat.) At Ralph Miller Jewelers we also add a 5th "C," it is Confidence. The charts (link here) located here in the diamond section of this site are the keys to your proper selection. You do not have to become an expert in grading and differentiating color, clarity and cut, as well as understanding minute differences, but you can grasp the concept of how different stones can vary greatly in their properties which indeed cause and effect the price. Ask many questions of the sales people, they should know the answers, if they don't, don't buy.
Diamond technology has advanced tremendously in the last 30 years: Some of the treatments are a) Lazer drilling of the gemstones to remove flaws, b) Quality enhancing which fills in cracks, open inclusions and fissures with a pressurized polymer glass compound, and the most recent c) Whitening, (color enhancing or bleaching) a process using pressure and heat to increase the diamond's color. Because of the relative newness to the mass markets, many of these processes have yet to be decided through "USA Trade Standards and Regulations by the FTC," as to their disclosure requirements....So if you don't ask, they don't have to necessary tell you about the processes that a particular stone may have undergone. Above all get all the information in writing, as an empowered customer you should have all the gemstone's specifics listed on a diamond evaluation sheet or certificate as well as on the purchase invoice.
Element: Made of pure carbon: "C"
Specific gravity: 3.514
Cleavage: commonly, octahedron, perfect in four directions, but also sometimes in dodecahedrons and icositetrahedrons
Hardness: 10 (on the Moh Scale)
Refracted Index: 2.417 (high) superb brilliance can occur
Dispersion: High, superb fire
Crystal shape: A perfect crystal looks like two, four sided Egyptian Pyramids joined base to base, called in the trade, "stones."
Graded by Shape: 1) "Stones," regular crystals
2) "Flats," crystal sections that resemble flat sheet glass in shape
3) "Shapes," less than the regular crystal shape, may have a corner
4) "Cleavages," crystals that are broken or varying in shape
5) "Macles," crystals that are triangular in shape or twinned
(intertwinned with shared crystal growth)
Graded by Color: Diamonds come in all colors of the rainbow, with the blood red color the
most rare and valuable
Q: Can you tell us more about the CUTS of the diamonds?
A: The Most Common Cut is the "Round Brilliant Cut." The proper proportions will allow for strong fire or brilliance (sparkle) within and from the gemstone. This quality is called "adamantine," a word rooted from the Greek's which describes the great hardness that is a property of this unique mineral. The "Brilliant Cut" consists of approximately 58 facets (individually cut, ground and polished surface planes), which make up:
1) The Table - the flat top main center facet
2) The Crown facets - the facets surrounding the table (the star facets)
3) The Pavilion facets - the elongated facets that run from the edge of
the stone to the middle of the underside
4) The Girdle - the edge of the stone, it can be ground, polished or
faceted (it should be uniform in thickness)
5) Culet - the point at which the pavilion facets meet
Other shapes consist of the Emerald, Marquise, Pear, Oval, Princess, Crescent, Trillion and many others. Diamonds can be custom cut by lazers into many shapes, such as stars, hearts, horse heads, human profiles and all the shapes of the states, etc..
Q: Can you tell us some legends and lores of the diamonds?
A: The Greeks gave the name "adamas" to this gemstone. It means, untameable, unconquerable, and hard. When it was first mined, in India, a test was given to each stone to find if it was indeed "real." The test consisted on placing a newly found gem on a metal anvil and then hammering it with a metal hammer. If it did not break it was a real diamond. Obviously many real stones were lost by this strange test. Another unusual note is that the rare pink and red diamonds when found by the workers in India, would be destroyed because they considering them unlucky, evil and unholy.
With the mere saying of the word diamond, it immediately conjures up historic images of great kings and queens, beautiful women, grand balls, strong castles, elegant dinner parties, opulence, glamorous gems and jewelry, wealth and riches. Even today the name fills one with the modern images of high society, penthouse suites, rolls royces, movie stars, celebrities and famous families. This cherished gemstone was first discovered in the alluvial deposits in the now famous Golconda Region of India around the 800 B.C.. They were extracted by slaves and peasant laborers under the crudest of mining techniques. Diamonds became the most desired of gems. Many wars occurred against neighboring nations in the attempts to plunder and gain riches for their country's own treasuries. Many Shahs, Sultans and Maharajahs fought hard for such gains.
The prince of India in the 1700's accepted days of terrible torture and blinding to protect the whereabouts of the great Koh-i-noor. India, for nearly a thousand years, was the only source, making it a very important trading country. Following the steps of explores such as Marco Polo, trade routes to the Far East were developed by Europeans for just such hopes of adventure and chances of financial rewards. Such gem dealers as Jean Baptiste Tavernier became instant successes in trading for these special gemstones. Diamonds were craved by all royalty, their needs and wants were insatiable because of its very special beauty, hardness and the beliefs that these unique gems brought exceptional good luck, good health, strength and wealth. In addition the wearer was protected from plagues, impotence, poisons and insanity. It was held that the larger the stone the more power, protection and strength it held. India's deposits gave us great gems such as: The French Blue (The Hope), The Eugenie, The Dari-i-nur and the Koh-i-noor. These magnificent diamonds set the standards of quality and brilliance for ages to come, even today they repose in such priceless state treasury collections such as the Crown Jewels of England, Iran, Persia, and in the United States, the large Smithsonian Institute collection.
The French Blue (The Hope Diamond)
One of the most bizarre stories that still is a mystery today is the story of the "French Blue." In 1668, King Louis XIV of France (The Sun King), purchased a large assortment of diamonds (1,167 pieces for the approx. sum of $300,000.) from Jean Baptiste Tavernier, the explorer, trader and renowned gem dealer, who traveled along the great routes of Marco Polo to bring the fabled diamonds of India back to Europe. Of note was a spectacular 112 carat blue gem. It was cut and mounted into a major pear shaped pendant that was given the name "The Blue Diamond of the Crown of France," later shortened to "The French Blue." Five years later, in 1673 Marie Antoinette had the court jeweler recut the "French Blue" into a 67. carat heart. It is pictured being worn by her in many court portrait paintings. Much to France's dismay in 1792, during the revolution the crown jewels along with many of the royalty's prized possessions were stolen. Here the facts become very clouded and confusing as to what really happen to all of the crown jewels and in particular this magnificent blue gem. The missing "French Blue" is said to have been pictured in a 1799 portrait painted by the famous artist, Goya in his court painting showing Spain's Queen Maria Luisa. But the strange resemblance was not confirmed since the heart shaped gem of Queen Maria seemed slightly smaller in size. To this day it is believed that the original 67 carat heart shaped diamond "The French Blue," was cut into 3 stones (The 45.52 carat Hope, the 6 carat Pirie, and a 1 carat gem). The mystery (and misfortune), of the Hope Diamond and how it came to reside in the USA's Smithsonian Institute is another unusual story.
THE KOH-I-NOOR DIAMOND:
Many believe the legends of the Hope Diamond are deep in historical interest and intrigue and that the cutting down of the "French Blue" from 67 to 45 carats was indeed unfortunate. But the cutting down of the D colored Koh-i-noor in 1852, from 193 carats to 106 carats is said to be,
". . . one of history's greatest aesthetic tragedies." The Koh-i-noor which in Arabic means "mountain of light," has an equally rich history of wars, battles, mystery and legend. It has its beginning in 1747 in India, one of the many major diamonds found in the Golconda Region. It was cut into a tremendously brilliant rose cut gem with intricate floral facet patterns. For nearly 100 years it was fought over in wars, battles and eventually ended up in Persia as a sacrifice of conquests, a prize of war, because its legendary powers were believed to be very great because of its great brilliance and size. It came into the hands of Imperial England in 1849. As a show of its powerful regency over the region and other parts of the world, it was placed on public display in 1851 at the "Great Exhibition." Unfortunately the English society's aristocratic attitude found the stone to be a "disappointment," and cast if off as just a large bit of crystal (the same implied description as a large piece of glass). Bowing to societies' whims, the stone was recut to a then popular style of cutting, so that it would be worthy of inclusion in the royal "Crown Jewel Collection." This style of surgery, prevalent at that time, was considered appropriate and socially necessary, sacrificing size for better beauty. The royal jeweler at the time was the famous "Garrard's." It was up to them to hire a cutter to re-proportion the famous gem. They hired J.B. DeYungh, a gem cutter from Amsterdam to handle this major undertaking. It took approx. 2 months to recut the Koh-i-noor to its present representation minus a whopping 87 carats. (A major stone was cut away, so-to-speak to arrive at this gem's remaining grandeur). Many believe, even today that the gemstone lost way too much material for the debatable rewards, and consider the recutting efforts a major historical disappointment. The Koh-i-noor was mounted in the center front boarder trim of the platinum crown of Queen Elizabeth in 1937, where it remains today in the Tower of London's display of the famous collection of the English's Crown Jewels.
Q: What is the lure of the diamonds?
Density - they have the highest density of atomic composition (hardness) on earth and possibly the
Beauty - they have a high refraction of light which results in their brilliance and sparkle, the
standard for all other gems and gem cutting
Lore - of large great stones, wars, famous names, beliefs and superstitions and it represents the
birth month of April and the guardian angel gemstone for the month of August.
Rarity - the fact that large stones are extremely rare and hard to uncover with the highest of
qualities. while the smaller and plentiful gemstones are controlled by the large
DeBeer's Conglomerate for wholesale price and availability
Color - all hues of the spectrum can occur with the rarest of colors being the color shades of
purple and red
Q: What are some strange facts for the diamonds?
A: 1) Two of the first indications that diamonds were in South Africa, took place in 1867, when a farmer's son; Erasmus Jacobs brought home an odd pebble that he had found by the Vaal River. The stone was placed on the kitchen window sill. The local pastor stopped by for dinner and noticed the stone. It was given to him and he showed it to a jeweler in a nearby town. It was declared a diamond crystal, about 1 1/2 inches across with a weight of 22 carats. The pastor sold the gemstone to the jeweler and took the check back to the boy's father, who turned it away saying, " I will accept no money for a pebble." Two years later a shepherd found; in the same area a similar crystal, starting a mining rush that continues even today in many parts of Africa.
2) When the Cullinan Diamond (3,106 carats) was found in the Premier Mine in 1905, another diamond crystal of approx. 1500 carats was seen nearby but was unfortunately crushed by heavy machinery before it could be removed leading to the hypothesis that the Cullinan and the destroyed crystal may have been, at one time one large crystal that could have been more than 3 to 5 inches across and could have weight in at over 5000 carats!
3) The Cullinan Crystal was cut into 105 gemstones, with the largest the Cullinan 1, (530.2 carats) mounted into the Crown Jewels of England, now on display in the Tower of London. Historians and gemologists believe that the cutting of this largest diamond crystal ever found was a terrible mistake and that it should have been left intact as a priceless specimen.
4) Some of the world's largest diamonds ever found:
|Name of Crystal
||Rough Crystal Weight (Carat)
||Cut Weight (Carat)
|Star of the South
|Regent of Portugal
|Mountain of Splendor
|Moon of the Mountains
5) Pure carbon is the compound making up diamonds and graphite, one very hard while the other is relatively soft, the only difference is the molecular structure caused by unusual natural (and now manmade) occurrences of extreme pressure and heat which formed diamond crystals. It is such a rare occurrence that it is believed that of all the known volcanoes that have erupted approx. 2,500 times in known history none have formed the "blue rock" we call kimberlite, and only approx. one out of 100 kimberlite pipes is a diamond producer.
6) What is a carat? It is a metric measurement of unit weight. Today 5 carats equals one gram. It originally gets it name from the use of a particular seed (of almost perfect uniformity of weight measurement), in India they were used to consistently get a weight of a gemstone by the use of counterbalance against the diamond crystal.
Diamonds: "The Gem of Romance"
Q: What are diamonds?
A: Diamonds are extremely pressurized and heated carbon crystals, believed to have been transported in diamond pipes of "blue ground" called kimberlite, from deep within the Earth when the Earth was formed billions of years ago. Diamonds are the hardest natural material on earth. They have a specific gravity of 3.5, quite high considering it is an non metallic mineral. Diamonds are hard because of their crystalline structure, which can be best described as a tight alignment of its carbon atoms that are held together by strong electrical bonds, 4 times tighter than any others atomic density. It is the hardest known substance on earth, and possibly in the universe. It is estimated to be almost 150 times harder than corundum (ruby and sapphires), the world's second hardest material. The perfect crystal looks like two Egyptian Pyramids, base to base, called an octahedron. Unfortunately the diamond crystal has 4 natural cleavage planes that can cause the stone to break (cleave), if enough force is properly directed along one of these planes. This brittleness is a surprise to most consumers who do not understand the two unique properties of this gemstone. Surprisingly, diamonds come in all colors of the rainbow; some colors are much more rare and valuable than other.
Q: Where did the name "diamond" come from?
A: The word comes from a derivative of the Greek "Adamas," which means "the invincible, hard, untameable."
Q: What is some of the folklore associated with diamonds?
A: Diamonds are said to be the traditional symbols of wealth, beauty, royalty and love. The diamond is "the gemstone of Kings and Queens." The word diamond conjures up images of grand balls, mysteries, entertaining stories of great capers and even murders, as well as great love stories. The wearer of diamonds is said to have good luck, great intelligence, health and wealth, strong courage, victory in battle, as well as protection from poisons, floods, fire, thieves, fear, serpents, evil spirits, plagues, nightmares and other pestilence. Diamonds were said to cure impotence, insanity, dermatitis, weakness and psoriasis. On the other hand, the wearer of a flawed stone, according to Hindu beliefs, could cause jaundice, pleurisy, lameness and even leprosy.
Q: Are diamonds rare?
A: For centuries, the only known location where diamonds were ever found was the alluvial deposits in the streams of the Golconda region of India. At one time, diamonds were known as the "gem of kings," the most valuable of all gemstones, because they were so scarce that only kings, queens and nobility were able to own one. That all changed when news came in 1725 that diamonds had been found in Brazil in the Minas Gerais region near the town of Diamantina. These were also alluvial deposits, where sparkling crystals were found in streams and rivers. It gave the world another area where diamonds could be found to help satisfy the demand, which was ever increasing worldwide.
It was not until 141 years later, in 1866, that the diamond rush was really on, creating an industry, with the first discovery of the crystals in the actual surrounding rock called Kimberlite, which was named after the nearby town, Kimberley, South Africa, near Johannesburg. This discovery above all others allowed the common man to own an affordable diamond as well as give scientists and geologists a key clue for the further successful search of other diamond pipes throughout the world.
The main mines of South Africa and throughout the world have either been purchased or have agreed to sell some or all production to the DeBeer's Cartel, a worldwide monopoly that controls the search, mining and distribution to cutters. It was formed in 1889 when Cecil Rhodes took over many small claims in South Africa creating the DeBeer's Consolidated Mines. In 1934, the DeBeer's organization, under the deft rule of the Oppenheimers created the Central Selling Organization (CSO). In 1999, it is estimated that the DeBeer's organization had over 13 billion dollars in sales of rough diamonds. Because of the USA's federal anti-monopoly (anti-trust) regulations, as well as other countries rules against controlled selling syndicates, the DeBeer's Organization can not sell directly to the public in those specific countries. They sell the rough diamonds only to the invited large cutting buyers at the 10 annual sales called "sights" where they can be expected to pay upwards of $170.00 per carat for good quality rough, If a sightholder does not buy the prepared box, they may very well not be invited back again for the next sight. (Note: Each prepared box holds upwards of $2 - $2.5 million dollars worth of rough gems, which if chosen must be paid for in full within 7 to 10 days).
Because of the many recently discovered locations throughout the world, including the most recent areas in Canada, there seems to be a very plentiful supply of diamonds, and in relationship to other gems such as Alexandrite, diamonds are no longer rare. They are however controlled in price and value. We therefore, at Ralph Miller Jewelers would not suggest nor advise the purchase of a diamond as a worthwhile financial investment, unless one is purchasing a rare natural blue, red, green, violet or other fancy colored gem (we specifically mean natural and not color-enhanced gems by irradiation in a cyclotron. When in doubt, telltale evidence can be easily obtained by testing the gem in question on a spectroscope and if it shows a 5940 absorption line it has been irradiated).
Q: Why is the Golconda area of India so important when we talk of diamonds?
A: The crystals found from the streams in Golconda region were the main source of these hard "invincible" gemstones for nearly 18 millennia. This region gave us the spectacular gems named The Hope diamond and its twin blue called The Eugenie (both in the Smithsonian), The Dari-i-nur in the crown of the Shah of Iran, The Koh-i-noor, in the Queen Mother's Crown of England, The Great Mogul and the Orloff. The traits of many of the crystals found there have become to many diamond connoisseurs the criteria of perfection for superb luminous and colorless transparency. It was here that the "Rose Cut," a checkerboard style of cutting a diamond with surface facets, was created.
The mystique that this region has given to the diamond industry is undeniable.
Q: What is the "Big Hole?"
A: It is the largest excavation by hand ever undertaken. It is the result of the millions of yards of kimberlite ore mostly being hand carried to the processing tables at the world-renowned Kimberley Mine in South Africa, starting in 1872, after 6 years of research and the selling of 31-foot-square claims. The inefficiency was unbelievable; there were many deaths due to caveins, and fights and even murders over stakes and claims. The situation continued until two strong entrepreneurs entered the scene to change the history of the diamond industry forever. In 1888 Mr. Barney Barnato battled Mr. Cecil Rhodes for ownership of the mine's many small share owners. Each tried to outmaneuver the other for ownership of the hundreds of 31-foot-square claims, making deals and buying shares at a frantic rate, and at seemly exorbitant prices. Finally Cecil Rhodes won control of the "Big Hole" by writing the largest check ever written up until that time, worth $200 million today, to create the DeBeer's Consolidated Mine, Ltd. (Named after the DeBeer brothers who were the first to find diamonds on their farm land were the mine started). The hectic, out of control mass claims mining was immediately replaced by Rhodes with unified controlled mining. Formal mining started in 1903 and continued uninterrupted until 1932 when the mining was not able to continue because of water problems. In the end, 25,000,000 tons of materials were hauled out and a record yield of over 14.5 million carats (over 3 tons) of diamonds were found. When you see the pictures of the "Big Hole" and you see the water approximately 1000 feet down, remember that the water is approximately another 500 feet deep. The "Big Hole" was the largest excavation of its time but has easily been surpassed by many open strip mines using modern machinery and technology, as well as the Premier Mine which is over 2000 feet deep, and still in operation today.
Q: What is the largest diamond ever found and where?
A: The largest diamond was called the "Cullinan" after Thomas Cullinan, who founded the Premier Diamond Mining Company Limited at one of the richest diamond mining sites in the world, located 24 miles east of Pretoria, South Africa. It was found by an African worker who pointed out the shiny crystal in the wall of the mine, It was dug out by the mine manager, F.G.S. Wells. Found in 1905 and weighing in at an amazing 3024 3/4 carats, it became a historic epic size that has yet to be out done. It was purchased by the Transvaal Government and was presented to King Edward the VII of England. To current collectors and historians, the cutting of the stone into smaller ones was a travesty, but at the time it was considered a proper undertaking. It was cut into 9 large stones and 96 smaller stones. The largest stone is called "The Star of South Africa." It is mounted in the royal Scepter of Britain, and can be seen in the Tower of London in the display of the crown jewels along with the Koh-i-noor found in India.
Q: What is the difference between graphite and diamonds?
A: In one respect, nothing; they both are made up of pure carbon atoms. But there the similarity ends, and it is said that no other two minerals on Earth, of the same base, have such diverse properties. 1) Diamonds have very tightly electrically bonded atoms, while graphite's atoms are far apart with weak bonds to hold them together. 2) Diamonds have a specific gravity of 3.5 while graphite has 2.2. 3) Diamonds are hard, lustrous and transparent, graphite is soft, opaque and dull. 4) Diamonds are non-metallic, graphite is metallic.
Q: Why do diamonds get so dirty so fast?
A: Another one of the unique properties of diamonds is that they are attracted to dirt, grease and grime. Perhaps this is because of the electrical bond of its atoms. This property was used to an extreme advantage by many mining companies, who devised an easy process to separate the diamonds from the kimberlite. It was accomplished by running the crushed rock over heavily greased tables to collect the crystals that would adhere immediately to the sticky surface while the rest of the ore past by without any adherence whatsoever. The diamonds in your jewelry maintain this same property of attraction. We recommend weekly cleaning of your fine jewelry items. At Ralph Miller Jewelers we never charge a fee for cleaning and checking your items.
Q: How are diamonds priced?
A: Diamonds are priced by grading them using a descriptive formula called "The 4 C's": Cut, Clarity, Color and Carat Weight.
Cut is the shape of the stone as well as the proper alignment of facets and the proportions of the table, pavilion, star cuts and girdle.
Clarity is the transparency of the stone, as well as the degree that the stone is absence of imperfections.
Color is the actual hue of the diamond. Although diamonds come in all colors of the rainbow the rare colors are blue, red, green, violet, purplish-red, pink, yellow, etc. The white stones are valued by the degree of colorless tints that the particular stone possesses. The whiter and more brilliant and transparent the stone the better.
Carat weight is the actual metric weight of the stone. 5 carats is equal to 1 gram.
See much more information on each in our diamond section.
Q: Why should I buy a diamond from Ralph Miller Jewelers?
A: Because we are proud to add another "C" confidence, to our grading system. We will educate you to become an informed knowledgeable consumer. You can trust this century-old store.
You will be confident that the stone you select from us is exactly what it is said to be.
We inspect every stone we sell.
We offer highly trained associates to assist you in your search for your special item.
We grade all of our stones very strictly.
We have been in business for over 100 years and we have a century of tradition of trust, confidence and fairness.
We can import directly from our sources in Johannesburg, South Africa, Belgium, Israel, etc., for your special needs of unusual colored diamonds or diamonds over 3 carats.
We only sell well-proportioned stones.
We sell only faceted or polished girdle diamonds.
We offer a trade up policy to all of our diamond patrons.
We sell Certified stones: GIA, EGL, AGL, ARGLE, etc.
We are members of the Retail Jewelers Association of America as well as the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, bound to uphold integrity, trust and honesty to all of our patrons.
WE DO NOT:
We do not sell laser drilled, quality enhanced or whitened stones.
We do not sell poorly-cut stones with major differences in facet alignment and girdle thickness.
We will not sell any diamonds that we've had to sacrifice one of the "C" to increase our profit margin.
We do not sell stones that we do not know the source of.
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Q: What is a fossil?
A: Fossils are remains of prehistoric life. They include frozen mammoths, dinosaur tracks, fossil sea life, ferns and petrified wood. They can be microscopic or gigantic. Not all fossils are turned to stone; amber is a fossil resin that can hold fossil insects and dry caves can preserve extinct animals as mummies.
Q: What is Coprolite?
A: Coprolite is the formal name for fossilized dinosaur dung, or any fossil excrement. Coprolite can be from any type of animal and it is difficult to determine what kind of animal was responsable. Dinosaur coprolite is identified by shape, large size, and content as well as locality and age. The excrement is totaly replaced by stone over millions of years.
Q: Are fossils rare?
A: NO! There are trillions of fossils and they can be found in localities all over the world. Places to find fossils exist in every state and Province in North America. For instance, scientists estimate that Montana alone contains enough dinosaur remains to fill displays in every grade school, high school and college in the country. One rock formation in Wyoming and Utah holds enough fossil fish that every person on the planet could have one. Fossils are not rare! Some kinds of fossils are found only infrequently and should be shown to persons familiar with local fossils to see if they are new types or important enough to publish. Fossils like this are best kept in museums.
Q: Should all fossils be in museums?
A: Fossils of new species should be placed in museums, but if all fossils were in museums we would have to store billions of repetitive samples. For example, many buildings are made of rock that contains fossils; mining coal and other fossil fuels produce uncounted fossils; and in states like Florida, most of the roads are made of crushed fossil shells. In addition the public sector needs fossils in schools, colleges and universities, and amatuer collectors dealers and students have legitimate reasons to own fossils. We are lucky to live in a free country where we can do this. Specimens of new kinds of fossils need to be donated or offered to museums.
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Q: Why is gold called the "noble metal?"
A: From ancient times to the present, gold has always been associated with nobility. In addition, gold does not oxidize in its pure state. It maintains its deep, warm, rich, yellow color unless it is acted upon chemically.
Q: What is 24 karat gold?
A: This form of the metal -- colored a deep, rich, warm, yellow -- is 99.99% pure gold. It is the highest purity of gold available.
Q: What is the difference between 18 karat, 14 karat, and 10 karat gold?
18 karat gold = 75.0% pure gold
14 karat gold = 58.3% pure gold
10 karat gold = 41.6% pure gold
Q: What is the difference between "carat" and "karat" in the jewelry industry?
A: They are the metric measurement for weight and purity, respectively.
5 carats = 1 gram
24 karat gold = 99.99% pure gold
Q: What is the lowest karat gold available in the United States?
A: Ten karat gold is the lowest, legally allowed gold purity of a jewelry piece without it being hallmarked as gold filled. Other countries, however, do permit 6 karat and 8 karat gold to be sold.
Q: What is the meaning of the 18 karat HE plate stamped inside a ring?
A: It means that the ring has 18 karat gold electroplated over the base metal, which is usually brass or some white metal composition.
Q: Is there any difference in the quality of gold purchased in different countries such as Italy, Brazil, England, France, India, etcetera?
A: No. Gold is an element and its quality does not vary. Also, stamped 14 karat gold is always 58.3% gold no matter where it is being sold.
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Q: What is Platinum?
A: Platinum is a white metal that is found in nature in usually alluvial (water-washed and -transported sediment) deposits. Its name is a derivative of the Spanish word "plantina," which means "silver." It was given the name "platina del Pinto," because it was first found in 1741 in New Granada, now known as Colombia, South America. It unfortunately is never found in its pure form in nature; it is always found with other alloys of metals of the platinum group of metals (the platinum group is a closely-related group of alloys consisting of platinum - the most abundant, iridium, osmium, palladium, rhodium and ruthenium). It also is found in deposits of iron, copper, gold and nickel. Platinum, with a specific gravity of 21.45, is a much denser and thus heavier metal than gold which has a specific gravity of 19.3. Because it is heavier than gold and is usually much stronger, it was used to hold many important gems including the Hope Diamond. In jewelry, platinum is usually used at 90% to 95% purity, and thus it is a purer metal than the 10kt (48.0%), 14kt (58.5%), or 18kt (75.0%) alloys of gold and therefore it is much more expensive.
Q: Does platinum tarnish like silver?
A: No, platinum does not tarnish, and because it does not, it is in high demand for use in the art, industrial and medical fields. It is one of the very few metals that does not cause allergies to the human body and is used in surgical situations for bone supports, pins and plates. Although platinum that does come in contact with certain chemicals can develop a darker patina, it can be easily removed by simple buffing by the jewelers at Ralph Miller Jewelers.
Q: Are there different cleaning needs for jewelry made from platinum?
A: No, a standard recommended jewelry cleaner available at any jewelry store is fine for this purpose, as well as a mild liquid soap mixture that you can mix at home while using a discarded toothbrush to clean crevices, undercarriages and behind the gemstones. Wipe the item with a soft cloth to clean off fingerprints and smudges. Please note that it will not remove the scratches.
Q: My platinum rings have many scratches that are due to my constant everyday wear. When I purchased them and paid considerably more money for them then gold, I thought since platinum is a much stronger and denser metal it would be less susceptible to scratching.
A: Yes, platinum is a heavier, more expensive and stronger metal than gold, but it still will scratch. All precious metals will scratch with wear. These everyday wear scratches can be easily removed by a fine jeweler. At Ralph Miller Jewelers we do not charge for cleaning and polishing of your platinum jewelry items.
Q: What is the difference between 14kt white gold and platinum?
A: A platinum item of the exact same proportions will weigh 60% more than the same item in 14kt white gold. White gold is an alloy of pure yellow gold that has had other metals added to the mixture to bleach out the yellow color (nickel was one of the alloys used in many older pieces of white gold jewelry along with silver, platinum and palladium, etc.). 14kt white gold is usually electroplated with rhodium (another member of the platinum group), to increase its brilliance and enhance a whiter look. On the other hand, platinum is a naturally white metal.
Q: Why is platinum never mentioned in the history books as being used by civilizations of antiquity, as are other precious metals such as gold, silver, copper and bronze?
A: Although platinum is as plentiful as gold and silver, it was not discovered until 1741. Platinum is not found in easily identifiable veins as is silver and gold. It is found in much less identifiable concentrations, usually in gravel along stream beds and never in its pure form. The stream beds in New Granada (Colombia) was the only known location for platinum until 1824, when a new discovery was found in Russia in the Ural Mountains. It was not until a 1935 discovery in Canada that platinum was found in North America. The greatest deposits of platinum were found in South Africa in a region known as the Bushveld Igneous Complex in 1923. An extremely mineral-rich area of approximately 30,000 square miles in the Waterberg district, by the 1950's this had become the world's leading producer of platinum.
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Silver and Other Jewelry
Q: What is German Silver?
A: German Silver is not silver at all, it is nickel.
Q: Why do watches and clocks take longer to repair than jewelry?
A: Watches and clocks take longer to repair because of the length of time needed to obtain the appropriate parts. Many parts are usually made in -- and must be shipped from -- Asia. After the parts are received, it takes an additional week or two to clean and reassemble the piece and to make sure that it is timed correctly (that all the mechanics are working in coordination).
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Since the current fashion fad of body piercing has become commonplace to the younger generations, new cases of allergic reactions are occurring at an alarming rate. Statistics have stated that white metal allergies have increased by 40% during the last five years, with nickel being the main cause (according to Dr. Pamela Scheinman, Dermatologist and Allergy Specialist from the New England Medical Center). With the continued exploration of unique areas of piercing to the body both visible and hidden, the exposure to varied infections can be caused by just the sheer locations of the piercings. Locations such as the genitalia, tongue, navel, breasts, eyebrows, lips, nose and nasal septum, as well as the upper areas of the ears, all increase the chance of infections, skin reactions, scarring, and life long allergies to nickel. Extreme care must be taken in these areas of possible infections to avoid medical problems. Remember that piercing is an invasion of the largest organ of the body (the skin).
Q: I've suddenly developed an allergic reaction to certain pieces of jewelry. Why?
A: Because your jewelry has alloys added to the mixture of the metal, to lower the gold content for the increasing of strength and colorization (such as bleeding out the yellow to create white gold), as well as lowering the cost of the items. It is probably your body's reaction to the presence of these alloys and not the base metal itself.
One of the leading causes of allergic reactions is the use of the metal alloy, nickel.
Q: Is there something I can do to prevent this skin reaction from continuing, if it has already occurred?
A: It is our recommendation that you remove the item of jewelry that is causing the problem, plus we recommend a visit to an qualified dermatologist or allergy specialist immediately for proper treatment and medication. NOTE: Once you have developed a skin allergic reaction to nickel, it is extremely hard to avoid reoccurrence, except under proper medical care.
Q: What can I do to avoid this type of skin allergy, if I plan on getting a piercing in the future?
A: Remember that proper sterilization and sanitary conditions must prevail prior, during and following the piercing, so go to only properly trained professionals for the recommend proper care and piercing techniques. The use of the one step, spring-reaction piercing systems are the safest of all. They use surgical stainless steel studs that are used only once, which helps greatly to remove the chance of infections. Just boiling and using a flame to prepare your instruments is not enough. It is not a do-it-yourself project or a group event at a party. If you have skin that is susceptible to scarring, or your family has a history of skin problems, you may be at risk (please consult a qualified dermatologist prior to your piercing event). The piercing of cartilage and thick areas of skin are at much higher risks of infections and reactions, plus they take a lot longer to heal.
Q: I only wear 14kt gold and Sterling silver earrings and yet I've developed a keloid, scar tissue growth on one of my ear lobes. What am I to do?
A: The use of 14 karat gold and Sterling silver is not a guarantee that you will not develop an allergic reaction to the metal alloys (especially nickel), which they both contain (in small amounts). Keloids are growths that can occur due to, for example, the cartilage of the ears, and if left untreated can grow to the size of the ear itself. Immediate attention must be given by a qualified Dermatologist. The entire piece of jewelry must be made of nickel free gold or silver, platinum, or surgical stainless steel to avoid the risks of skin allergies. The solder at the base of the earring post that secures the post to the rest of the earring should be plumb solder with as high a gold content as possible. A nickel test kit can test your earrings to avoid any doubt of the possibilities of the presence of nickel. We invite you to stop into Ralph Miller Jewelers for assistance.
Q: What is nickel and why does it increase the occurrence of skin allergies?
A: Nickel is a white metal used to make jewelry bright and shiny. But the body, to many different degrees, can react to the presence of the metal. The cells of the human body react against the presence of nickel causing the skin to erupt. The specific cells of the body which fight the nickel are called T-Cells. Unfortunately (in this case) they have cell memory. Once they have reacted to nickel coming in contact with the body, they will continue to do so every time the body is exposed to the presence of nickel, thus developing an immediate reaction time and time again. Reactions can occur by events as simple as chewing on a metal pen or a paper clip.
Q: What metals are safe to wear?
A: We recommend the wearing of only fine jewelry made of pure gold, platinum, palladium, or rhodium electroplated jewelry, nickel-free alloy gold or silver items, and surgical stainless steel. At Ralph Miller Jewelers we will be happy to help you with your problems or search for safe alloy metals.
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Q: Do jewelers switch stones when people bring jewelry pieces in for repair?
A: It is possible, but it is as unlikely as your mechanic switching engines in your car.
Q: Where are diamonds found?
A: The leading producers of diamonds are Australia, Siberia, and 5 different countries in Africa. However, diamonds are also found in China, Brazil, Colorado, and (most recently) Canada.
Q: When buying a diamond, of the '4 C's' - cut, clarity, color, carat weight -- which are the most important? (See Diamonds for more information.)
A: At Ralph Miller Jeweler it is our belief that color is the most important aspect of a diamond. A diamond can always be re-cut if the stone is old or damaged. Re-cutting or re-facetting of the girdle can decrease a diamonds carat weight. However, one can never change the diamond's color without bleaching it -- a considerably expensive process.
Clarity is another important 'C' when purchasing a diamond. This characteristic, along with color, gives the diamond its "life, fire or brilliance." One cannot change the clarity without expensive quality enhancing techniques or laser drilling to remove flaws. At Ralph Miller Jeweler, we do not sell quality enhanced or laser-drilled diamonds. We do, however, sell diamonds that have polished or faceted girdles that increase a stone's reflection or refraction along the edges.
Q: Why does a diamond break if it is the hardest substance known to man when measured on the Mohs Scale of hardness?
A: Although diamonds are very hard, they are also brittle like emeralds.
Q: What if I do not like my birthstone?
A: Along with the traditional birthstones, each month has several other stones associated with it. Check out the birthstones section on our website or give us a call.
Q: Are all gemstones treated or enhanced?
A: Although there are a few that are not treated, the majority of gemstones are enhanced. Some of these treatments have been handed down since the 1600's.
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Q: Why does it take so long to repair watches?
A: Because watches are timing mechanisms, they require exact timing control. It takes approximately a week to two weeks to lock in the correct syncopation of all parts. In addition, any parts that are needed are usually supplied from distributors that deal in watch replacement parts that are usually made overseas. Therefore, it takes time for the suppliers to ship the replacement parts. It also takes time to clean, overhaul, oil and adjust the watch?s mechanical or electrical interior parts.
Q: Why is it so expensive to repair a watch?
A: Because replacement parts are expensive and it takes considerable time by our trained watch-repair personnel to repair the watch. It is usually a long, involved process that requires that the watch first be taken apart to see what the problem(s) are. Unlike cameras or other electronic repair centers, we do not charge to investigate what the problem(s) are and what it would take to return your watch to working order. Here at Ralph Miller Jewelers, we always give you -- the customer -- the option of a free estimate to permit you to decide if it is worth the expense to you to have your watch restored to working order.
Q: What does the stamp "Silver Ore" that is on the inside of a pocket watch mean?
A: It is an old stamping term used in the early century to denote "Nickle Silver" to inform that it has no silver content what-so-ever in the case.
Q: What does the stamp "20 Year Case-Guarantee" on the inside of a pocket watch mean?
A: It is a stamping term used to denote a gold filled case that has a 20 year wear guarantee. It was a very popular and less expensive option chosen over solid gold priced cases.
Q: Why can't I set the hands on my pocket watch even though the stem and the crown turn freely and I can still wind the watch?
A: More than likely you have what is called a "lever set" style pocket watch. This was very popular early in the century, especially for gentlemen working on the railroad where a watch that was worn in one's pants pocket or vest would not change time if bumped or handled was needed. Your pocket watch, if it is a lever set, must be opened on the dial side. The lever should be at approximately the 2:00 location around the rim. Pulling it out will engage the stem to allow you to set the correct time. Push in the lever after the task is completed and return the case cover to its original location. Note that some case covers are screw-off and not pry-open or lip-pin styles, so extreme care is advised in determining how to remove your dial cover. We invite you to stop in to Ralph Miller Jewelers and we will be happy to show you how to correctly set your antique watch at no charge . (Also note that some pocket watches also require keys to set and wind. Notches and key-pins are easily seen when closely investigating your watch).
Q: Why are some antique watches more valuable than others?
A: Several series of questions need to be answered in order to determine the value of your watch. These questions are listed below.
What is the watch's present condition? Does it have the original hands and crystal and is the dial in good condition? Is the case well worn or in mint, fine or good condition?
What was the total number made? Who was the manufacturer?
What is it made of; is it gold, gold-filled or plated? Does it have additional gems as accents?
What is the number of jewels in the internal mechanics and who was the manufacturer of them?
All the above items need to be researched in order to approximate the value of your item. We invite you to stop in for a free investigation of your special antique watch's value.
Q: How long will a watch battery last in my quartz watch?
A: It depends on the type of battery that is installed in your watch. If it is a standard high or low drain 1.5 volt battery, it will last approximately 1 - 1.5 years, many times even longer. If it is a 3 volt lithium battery it will last up to 3 years. Of course the battery's life will also be determined by the treatment of the watch itself such as if it is kept clean and dry. Water will short out a battery and the electronic components in a quartz watch very quickly. We invite you to stop in to Ralph Miller Jewelers and see our selection of "Kenetic Watches" and the revolutionary "Solar Watches" that never require batteries.
Q: What is the difference between waterproof and water-resistant watches?
A: Most consumers are confused by the terminology, they think that the "water-resistant" stamp on their watch means that it is waterproof. This is not the case. Water proof watches are just as they say they are, they can withstand being submerged in water and usually have a specific depth of water pressure also marked on the case; i.e., 20 feet, 35 feet, 50 feet, 100 feet, etc. These are usually sports, divers or fashion watches and are more expensive depending on the depth standard. Waterproof watches usually have heavy crystals and lots of gaskets to keep the water out, especially around the stem and crown -- the easiest location for a watch to leak. Many watches in this category, such as Rolexes, Bolovas and Mivados, usually have a screw-tightening crown to further insure that the watch does not leak. These types of watches are expensive to overhaul because once the seals have been broken they must be replaced in order to insure the continuation of the water proofing.
Water-resistant watches on the other hand are NOT waterproof. They do have seals and gaskets, but they are not intended for under water work. Do not wear these common watches to do the dishes, wash your car or take a shower, etc. They are, as they say, resistant to a degree, but after that they will take on water, severely damaging the watch. Quick care in drying out your watch is needed when this occurs before damage can become extensive. Time is of the essence. We therefore invite you stop in to Ralph Miller Jewelers for your watch care, overhaul and repairs. We have Rolex certified repair personnel for all your most expensive and serious repair needs.
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Q: Is it possible to have 24 karat white gold?
A: No. White gold is an alloy of pure gold. The highest purity of white gold available is 20-karat.
Q: I have white gold rings. Why did they lose their brightness after only a year from purchase?
A: The most typical reason for loss of brightness is the loss of the rhodium plating that is on the ring when purchased. Rhodium is type of platinum that is very white and often used to plate white gold items in order to make them much whiter and brilliant. At Ralph Miller Jeweler, we invite you to stop in and have your rings cleaned, buffed and rhodium re-plated at a nominal charge in order to restore your rings to their original luster.
Loss of brightness is also due to the fact that white gold is an alloy and has a tinge of yellow to it. Also, gold is a very soft metal and the minute scratches that occur with wear lower the gold's luster.
Q: Why do most diamond engagement rings have the center diamond(s) set in white gold prongs?
A: White gold is an alloy of gold and it is much stronger than pure gold. To increase their strength even more, most white gold prongs are forged and fabricated instead of cast. In addition, white gold is brighter and gives the diamonds a more brilliant white reflection than would yellow gold.
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Working with Gold
Q: When sizing pieces of jewelry do you stretch the gold or add to it?
A: At Ralph Miller Jeweler, we always add gold to the ring unless it is a designer band (the design goes all the way around the ring) or the size of the ring is only going to be increased by one-half of a size.
Q: Why do shanks discolor where soldered?
A: Discoloration occurs when the jeweler does not use a hard plum solder to solder the joints during the sizing process. Although plum solder is more costly, it is a more pure solder. At Ralph Miller Jeweler, we always use the more expensive hard plum solders to avoid discoloration.
Discoloration can also be the result of exposure to chemicals such as bleach, pool solutions, hair coloring and other hair dressing chemicals in addition to iodine and other medical chemicals. Discoloration is especially likely to occur in those lower karat areas where sizing has taken place.
Q: When I wear my gold rings, why do they turn my fingers black?
A: Fingers are turned black by gold rings due to the chemicals in some of the hard and soft waters in which you wash your hands or cook. In addition, certain cosmetics and medical prescriptions can cause this problem. We recommend that you take a soft cloth and wipe your rings well, especially on the inside.
Q: What is added to gold to change its color to white, pink(rose) or green?
A: Various ratios of the following substances are used to create the colored gold alloys.
white: copper, nickel, and zinc or palladium, silver, and zinc
pink(rose): copper, silver, and zinc
green: gold, silver, copper, zinc, and cobalt
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