Ask Diamond Jim



 Following are the “Ask Diamond Jim” columns posted to the website as of 02-05-2017





Number 020517


Diamond Jim: "What is the birthstone for February?"

For individuals with February birthdays, the amethyst makes a perfect birthstone. This month is often cold, dark and short for many people around the world, so the amethyst—which is often associated with qualities of peace, courage and stability—is the right gem for individuals who need a little extra warmth and strength this time of year.

A beautiful purple quartz, the amethyst is an easily recognizable gem, but you may not know everything about it just yet! Take a look at the links below to learn more about the amethyst.


Amethyst is purple quartz and is a beautiful blend of violet and red that can be found in every corner of the earth. The name comes from the Ancient Greek, derived from the word “methustos,” which means “intoxicated.” Ancient wearers believed the gemstone could protect them from drunkenness.

Amethyst, as previously mentioned, is composed of quartz, which is the second most abundant material found in the Earth’s crust. Amethyst gets its color from irradiation, iron impurities and the presence of trace elements. Its hardness (a 7 on the Mohs scale) is the same as other quartz, which makes it a durable and lasting option for jewelry.

While amethyst is most commonly recognized to be a purple color, the gemstone can actually range from a light pinkish violet to a deep purple that can read more blue or red, depending on the light. Sometimes, even the same stone can have layers or color variants, so the way the gemstone is cut is important to the way the color shows in a finished piece.

Amethyst often occurs in geodes or in the cavities of granitic rocks. It can be found all over the world, including the United States, Canada Brazil and Zambia.

The amethyst is not only the February birthstone, it is also used to celebrate the 6th and 17thyear of marriage.


Amethyst, the gemstone believed by ancient Greeks and Romans to ward off the intoxicating powers of Bacchus, also was said to keep the wearer clear-headed and quick-witted. Throughout history, the gemstone has been associated with many myths, legends, religions, and numerous cultures. English regalia were even decorated with amethysts during the Middle Ages to symbolize royalty. Amethyst jewelry has been found and dated as early as 2000 BC.

It has been associated with many myths, legends, religions, and numerous cultures. Some historical accounts say that Saint Valentine had an amethyst ring carved with an image of Cupid. And for those familiar with Old Testament history, amethyst was one of the twelve gemstones that represented the twelve tribes of Israel.

For many years, amethyst was held to be one of the most precious gemstones, often favored by royalty or exclusively by the clergy as a symbol for the diety of Christ. It was even held for many years in the same regard as the diamond. It wasn’t until the discovery of more abundant supplies of amethyst that it became a gemstone enjoyed by more than just the wealthiest buyers.

Many wearers of amethyst throughout history and even today prize the gem for its symbolism as well as its beauty. Leonard da Vinci once said that amethyst helps to quicken intelligence and get rid of evil thoughts. Other qualities like peace, stability, courage and strength are said to be derived from this gemstone.

Today, many wearers simply prize the amethyst for its beautiful shade and the way it complements both warm and cool colors. 


Parlé Gems
Whether you’re purchasing an amethyst for yourself or a loved one, you’re making an investment in beauty that will stand the test of time. Amethyst makes a great gift for individuals born in February, or as a celebratory milestone for a 6th or 17th wedding anniversary.

Of course, you’re also welcome to purchase amethyst “just because.” It’s a beautiful gemstone that ranges in color from a light pinkish violet to a deep red or blue purple violet and complements a number of metals and settings. It’s a durable gemstone that works well with warm or cool colors, so it’s safe to say it goes well beyond special occasion jewelry and can be worn every day, as well.

When looking to purchase amethyst, first visit a trusted jeweler, who is able to ensure that you have the best information to make a great purchase.

Next, check the color of the stone. Amethyst often has “stripes” or layers of color from how and when it was formed, so it takes a skilled gemologist to cut and polish the stone to show the overall color of the stone evenly. Avoid brownish or rust colored tints to the stone and be careful the color is not too deep or it can appear black in some lights.

Like diamonds, you can also look for clarity in an amethyst. Most gemologists will favor a richly colored stone with some minor inclusions (not eye-visible), since the color of this gem is so highly prized. In lighter colored amethysts, visible inclusions will greatly reduce the value of the gemstone.

Since amethyst is relatively plentiful, the price differential in carat sizes isn’t usually terribly significant, so this can be a great gemstone for statement jewelry pieces (though you may not be able to cost-effectively recreate some of Elizabeth Taylor’s memorable amethyst jewelry or the “Kent Amethysts” owned by the British crown).

Larger rings, earrings or pendants can make a stunning addition to a jewelry collection, but even smaller amethysts can be deeply and richly colored, making subtler pieces beautiful, too.





Number 012917


Diamond Jim: "Do you have a good story to share?"

 A Man and A Fork

Photo Credit: Waferboard via CC Flickr

There was a young man who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. So as he was getting his things ‘in order,’ he contacted his Priest and had him come to his house to discuss certain aspects of his final wishes.

He told him which songs he wanted sung at the service, what scriptures he would like read, and what outfit he wanted to be buried in.

Everything was in order and the Priest was preparing to leave when the young man suddenly remembered something very important to him.

“There’s one more thing,” he said excitedly.

“What’s that?” came the Priest’s reply.

“This is very important,” the young man continued.

“I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.”

The Priest stood looking at the young man, not knowing quite what to say.

“That surprises you, doesn’t it?” the young man asked.

“Well, to be honest, I’m puzzled by the request,” said the Priest.

The young man explained. “My grandmother once told me this story, and from that time on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement.

In all my years of attending socials and dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say,

“Keep your fork”.”

“It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming ….like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful, and with substance! So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder ‘What’s with the fork?’”

The man went on, “Then I want you to tell them: ‘Keep your fork … the best is yet to come.’”

The Priest’s eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young man good-bye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see him before his death.

But, he also knew that the young man had a better grasp of heaven than he did. He had a better grasp of what heaven would be like than many people twice his age, with twice as much experience and knowledge.

He KNEW that something better was coming.

At the funeral people were walking by the young man’s casket and they saw the suit he was wearing and the fork placed in his right hand. Over and over, the Priest heard the question, “What’s with the fork?” And over and over he smiled.

During his message, the Priest told the people of the conversation he had with the young man shortly before he died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to him.

He told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either.

He was right. So the next time you reach down for your fork let it remind you, ever so gently, that the best is yet to come.

Friends are a very rare jewel, indeed.

They make you smile and encourage you to succeed.

Cherish the time you have, and the memories you share. Being friends with someone is not an opportunity, but a sweet responsibility.

Share this story with everyone you consider as a FRIEND… and I’ll bet this will be something they will remember, every time they pick up a fork!

And just remember … keep your fork!

The BEST is yet to come!

 A personal note from Diamond Jim:  “Although I did not write this story, the thought of cherishing the relationships of family and friends is very near and dear to my heart.  Please, take a moment this week to be loving to someone who isn’t expecting it…be kind to someone who perhaps does not deserve it…and be generous to someone who is in need.  For giving (and forgiving) is its own reward.  I wish you Peace my friends” ...Diamond Jim





Number 012217

Diamond Jim: "What’s the history of Valentine’s Day?"

Valentine's Day
Valentine's Day, also called Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is an annual holiday celebrated on February 14. It originated as a Western Christian liturgical feast day honoring one or more early saints named Valentinus, and is recognized as a significant cultural and commercial celebration in many regions around the world, although it is not a public holiday in any country.

Several martyrdom stories associated with the various Valentines that were connected to February 14 were added to later martyrologies, including a popular hagiographical account of Saint Valentine of Rome which indicated he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, during his imprisonment, Saint Valentine healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius, and before his execution, he wrote her a letter signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell.

The day first became associated with romantic love within the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines"). In Europe, Saint Valentine's Keys are given to lovers "as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart", as well as to children, in order to ward off epilepsy (called Saint Valentine's Malady). Valentine's Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.

Saint Valentine's Day is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion, as well as in the Lutheran Church. Many parts of the Eastern Orthodox Church also celebrate Saint Valentine's Day, albeit on July 6 and July 30, the former date in honor of the Roman presbyter Saint Valentine, and the latter date in honor of Hieromartyr Valentine, the Bishop of Interamna (modern Terni).


St Valentine baptizing St Lucilla, Jacopo Bassano

February 14 is celebrated as St. Valentine's Day in various Christian denominations; it has, for example, the rank of 'commemoration' in the calendar of saints in the Anglican Communion In addition, the feast day of Saint Valentine is also given in the calendar of saints of the Lutheran Church. However, in the 1969 revision of the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints, the feast day of Saint Valentine on February 14 was removed from the General Roman Calendar and relegated to particular (local or even national) calendars for the following reason: “Though the memorial of Saint Valentine is ancient, it is left to particular calendars, since, apart from his name, nothing is known of Saint Valentine except that he was buried on the Via Flaminia on February 14”.

Court of love

The earliest description of February 14 as an annual celebration of love appears in the Charter of the Court of Love. The charter, allegedly issued by Charles VI of France at Mantes-la-Jolie in 1400, describes lavish festivities to be attended by several members of the royal court, including a feast, amorous song and poetry competitions, jousting and dancing. Amid these festivities, the attending ladies would hear and rule on disputes from lovers. No other record of the court exists, and none of those named in the charter were present at Mantes except Charles's queen, Isabeau of Bavaria, who may well have imagined it all while waiting out a plague.

 Modern times

In the United States, the first mass-produced Valentines of embossed paper lace were produced and sold shortly after 1847 by Esther Howland (1828–1904) of Worcester, Massachusetts. Her father operated a large book and stationery store, but Howland took her inspiration from an English Valentine she had received from a business associate of her father. Intrigued with the idea of making similar Valentines, Howland began her business by importing paper lace and floral decorations from England.

 The U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately 190 million valentines are sent each year in the US. Half of those valentines are given to family members other than husband or wife, usually to children. When the valentine-exchange cards made in school activities are included the figure goes up to 1 billion, and teachers become the people receiving the most valentines. 

Jewelry is a great expression of love and a perfect gift for Valentine's Day. Gifts of gold, silver, diamonds and watches last far beyond the vase of cut flowers or the box of "sweet candies for your sweetheart". Fine jewelry offers her a lasting impression of just how deeply you love her, how much she means to you and that your life wouldn't be the same without her by your side.

Happy Valentine's Day my Friends!




Number 011517


Diamond Jim: "What’s a good way to propose to my girlfriend?"


You've found the right person. You've found the right ring. Now you have to find the right moment to pop the question.

So how do you make your proposal turn out flawlessly? We have plenty of tried-and-true tips to help you, but overall, it all comes down to just one thing: effort.

Putting in real effort, thought and love into your proposal makes all the difference. Remember, your proposal doesn't have to change the world. It just has to show your partner that they mean the world to you.

Here are a few tips that will help you along the way:

Your proposal should be surprising, but it shouldn't come directly out of left field. Before you pull a ring out, have a good idea how your partner will respond. "Will you marry me?" shouldn't be your first discussion on the subject.

Here’s where a little bit of effort goes a long way. The history of the diamond as an engagement ring first became popular in the 1930’s, but the idea of an engagement ring has been around for centuries.

If you’re still deciding on a diamond engagement ring, consider doing some window shopping with your partner prior to making a purchase. If you want to keep things more secretive, talk to your partner’s friends and family to get a feel for their taste.

Another option is to use a stand-in ring for the proposal. Perhaps you can use their great grandmother’s diamond engagement ring, and then take your partner shopping later. (A trusted jeweler can tell you everything you need to know about how to buy a diamond and will take the time to help educate both of you).

Do your homework before buying the engagement ring. Most importantly, find a jeweler you trust.

And, since you’re making such a big investment, make sure you insure the ring as soon as you purchase it. Your knowledgeable jeweler should be willing and able to discuss this with you. One option is that you may be able to insure it for an additional cost under your homeowner's or tenants insurance policy.

Before you take a knee, take the time to speak with your partner's parents first. Asking permission is a tradition carried since the Roman times, and it’s a great way to make a good impression on your future in-laws.

This is your chance to shine. A good Jeweler should have several ideas that will help you to be creative when "popping the question". You could also use modern technology for a Twitter proposal.

No matter what you do, just put your heart into it. Here are a few ideas to get your started:

Propose via video or in person from an extreme location - atop a mountain, while skydiving, or on the shores of a romantic and faraway beach.

In an intimate setting, preferably one with family and friends waiting nearby, drop to one knee and let your heart do the talking.

Your partner will most likely handle this for you, but make sure to share the big news with people you know. You might also consider sending out an engagement announcement.

You did it! Consider toasting your engagement with a night on the town, a glass of bubbly or a celebration with friends and family.





Number 010117


Diamond Jim: "What is the Birthstone for January?"

January’s Birthstone is Garnet

For babies born in January, the garnet is the perfect gem to represent their birthstone. This beautiful stone, which is most commonly red but can be found in a range of other colors, symbolizes peace, prosperity and good health. Some say it even has the power to give the wearer eternal happiness, health and wealth.

We say it’s the perfect way to start each year! 


The word “garnet” comes from the 14th Century Middle English word “gernet” meaning dark red. The word is derived from Latin “granatum” which means seed, and is called so because of the gemstone’s resemblance to the beautifully red seeds of the pomegranate.

Garnet is actually the name of a group of minerals that comes in a rainbow of colors, from the deep red of the Pyrope garnet to the vibrant green of Tsavorites. Some rare garnets are even blue, colorless, or—most rare of all—change colors in different lights. But the most common color is a beautiful range of reds, from rust colored to deep violet-red.

The garnet is a very durable gemstone (6.5-7.5 on the Mohs scale) found all over the world, including Wyoming, Czech Republic, Greece, Russia, Tanzania, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and India.

The folklore on garnet is extensive. Legend has it that the garnet can bring peace, prosperity and good health to the home. Some even called it the “Gem of Faith,” and it’s believed that to those who wear it and do good, more good will come. (Conversely, it was also said to bring very bad fortune to those who commit bad acts while wearing it.)

It is also believed that the garnet symbolizes deep and lasting friendship. With that "legend" in mind, give a garnet to someone whose friendship you deeply value.

No matter why or how you wear garnet, this beautiful gemstone is perfect for those who share January birthdays and get to start each New Year with a sense of goodwill, happiness, and purpose.


The garnet is so durable, remnants of garnet jewelry can be found as far back as the Bronze Age. Other references go back to 3100 BC when the Egyptians used garnet as inlays in their jewelry and carvings. The Egyptians even said it was the symbol of life. The garnet was very popular with the Romans in the 3rd and 4th Century. This gemstone was also used as a talisman for protection both by warriors going into battle and to those who wanted to ward off pestilence and plague. Some ancient healers and wise men even placed garnets in wounds and praised its healing powers.

Garnet jewelry has been a fixture throughout the ages. Garnets were often used as signet rings in ancient Rome, and the nobility favored garnets in the Middle Ages. The Victorians made garnets very popular during that time period. Some of the loveliest garnet jewelry from that era mimics its pomegranate namesake, with clusters of tiny red gems forming a larger statement piece.

Today, the garnet can be found in a range of jewelry pieces and styles, from beautiful rings to stunning tiaras. Since the garnet can come in a range of colors, rare garnets in green or blue make breathtaking pieces, especially in pendants or drop earrings.


If you’re looking to purchase a garnet for yourself or a loved one, it is a great way to celebrate friendship, toast a 2ndwedding anniversary or recognize the wearer’s January birthday. When buying, visit a jeweler you know you can trust to assist you in purchasing exactly the right stone and piece. Look at how the garnet reacts under light, both natural and synthetic and check for an intense, saturated color. Remember, garnets commonly come in a wide spectrum of reds, but can also be green, pink, colorless or blue. The price of the piece will likely increase for more rare colors like green or blue.

Garnets can also be judged along some of the same parameters as diamonds, with clarity and cut affecting the beauty and value of the stone. It should be noted that some garnets have inclusions that are part of the beauty of the overall stone (like “horsetails” in Demantoid garnets, or Hessonite garnets which sometimes have a “turbulent” look). So you may discover that you like the unique look these inclusions bring to the piece.

Try to find a cut that spreads light evenly over the surface of the gemstone. This will help to bring out the overall beauty and color of the garnet. No matter which stone or piece you choose, remember that the garnet is known for its durability and richness of color, so your investment will not only have great emotional value but could be a piece that stands the test of time.





Number 122516


Diamond Jim: "What is Sapphire?"


Sapphire is a gemstone variety of the mineral corundum, an aluminum oxide. It is typically blue in color, but natural "fancy" sapphires also occur in yellow, purple, orange, and green colors; "part- sapphires" show two or more colors. The only color which sapphire cannot be is red - as red colored corundum is called ruby, another corundum variety.

Trace amounts of elements such as iron, titanium, chromium, copper, or magnesium present during formation are responsible for the color of a sapphire.

Commonly, natural sapphires are cut and polished into gemstones and worn in jewelry. They also may be created synthetically in laboratories for industrial or decorative purposes in large crystal boules.

Because of the remarkable hardness of sapphires – 9 on the Mohs scale (the third hardest mineral, after diamond at 10 and Moissanite at 9.5) – sapphires are also used in some non-ornamental applications, such as infrared optical components, high-durability windows, wristwatch crystals / movement bearings, and very thin electronic wafers, which are used as the insulating substrates of very special-purpose solid-state electronics (especially integrated circuits and GaN-based LEDs).

Sapphire is the birthstone for September and the gem of the 45th anniversary.


Natural sapphires

An uncut, rough yellow sapphire found

at the Spokane Sapphire Mine near

Helena, Montana

Sapphire is one of the three gem-varieties of corundum, the other two being ruby (defined as corundum in a shade of red) and padparadscha (a pinkish orange variety). Although blue is the best-known sapphire color, they occur in other colors, including gray and black, and they can be colorless.

Significant sapphire deposits are found in Eastern Australia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, China (Shandong), Madagascar, East Africa, and in North America in a few locations, mostly in Montana. Sapphire and rubies are often found in the same geological setting. Every sapphire mine produces a wide range of quality - and origin is not a guarantee of quality. For sapphire, Kashmir receives the highest premium although Burma, Sri Lanka, and Madagascar also produce large quantities of fine quality gems. The cost of natural sapphires varies depending on their color, clarity, size, cut, and overall quality. For gems of exceptional quality, an independent determination from a respected laboratory such as the GIA, AGL or Gueblin of origin often adds to value.

Blue sapphire

Teardrop-shaped blue sapphire


Color in gemstones breaks down into three components: hue, saturation, and tone. Hue is most commonly understood as the "color" of the gemstone. Saturation refers to the vividness or brightness of the hue, and tone is the lightness to darkness of the hue. Blue sapphire exists in various mixtures of its primary (blue) and secondary hues, various tonal levels (shades) and at various levels of saturation (vividness).

Blue sapphires are evaluated based upon the purity of their primary hue. Purple, violet, and green are the most common secondary hues found in blue sapphires. Violet and purple can contribute to the overall beauty of the color, while green is considered to be distinctly negative. Blue sapphires with up to 15% violet or purple are generally said to be of fine quality. Gray is the normal saturation modifier or mask found in blue sapphires. Gray reduces the saturation or brightness of the hue, and therefore has a distinctly negative effect.

The color of fine blue sapphires may be described as a vivid medium dark violet to purplish blue where the primary blue hue is at least 85% and the secondary hue no more than 15%, without the least admixture of a green secondary hue or a gray mask.

The 423-carat (84.6 g) Logan sapphire in the National Museum of Natural History, in Washington, D.C., is one of the largest faceted gem-quality blue sapphires in existence.

Sapphires of other colors
Sapphires in colors other than blue are called "fancy sapphires" or "parti-colored" sapphires. Fancy sapphires are often found in yellow, orange, green sapphires, brown, purple and violet hues.

Parti-colored sapphires are those stones which exhibit two or more colors within a single stone. Australia is the largest source of parti-colored sapphires – however they are not commonly used in mainstream jewelry and remain relatively unknown. Parti-colored sapphires cannot be created synthetically and only occur naturally. Colorless sapphires are sometimes used as diamond substitutes in jewelry.

Pink sapphires

Pink sapphire


Pink sapphires occur in shades from light to dark pink, and deepen in color as the quantity of chromium increases. The deeper the pink color the higher their monetary value. In the United States, a minimum color saturation must be met to be called a ruby, otherwise the stone is referred to as a pink sapphire.




Number 121816


Diamond Jim: "What is the birthstone for December?"

December’s birthstones offer three ways to fight the winter blues: tanzanite, zircon and turquoise – all of them, appropriately, best known for beautiful shades of blue.

These gems range from the oldest on earth (zircon), to one of the first mined and used in jewelry (turquoise), to one of the most recently discovered (tanzanite).

All of these stones are relatively inexpensive, but their beauty rivals even precious gems. Colorless zircon is a convincing replacement for diamond, tanzanite often substitutes sapphire, and turquoise is unmatched in its hue of robin’s egg blue.

Whatever your style preference or budget, one of December’s three birthstones will match your true blue desires.

Tanzanite is the exquisite blue variety of the mineral zoisite that is only found in one part of the world. Named for its limited geographic origin in Tanzania, tanzanite has quickly risen to popularity since its relatively recent discovery.

Zoisite had been around more than a century and a half before this rare blue variety was found in 1967. Trace amounts of vanadium, mixed with extreme heat, cause the blue color – which ranges from pale blue to intense ultramarine with violet undertones.

Due to pleochroism, tanzanite can display different colors when viewed from different angles. Stones must be cut properly to highlight the more attractive blue and violet hues, and deemphasize the undesirable brown tones.

The majority of tanzanite on the market today is heat treated to minimize the brown colors found naturally, and to enhance the blue shades that can rival sapphire.

Tanzanite is still only found on a few square miles of land in Tanzania, near majestic Mount Kilimanjaro. Its price and availability are directly tied to mines in this region.

Tanzanite measures 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness – which is not nearly as hard as the sapphire it often substitutes. Given its vulnerability to scratch during daily wear and abrasion, tanzanite is better suited for earrings and pendants than rings.

Between its deep blue color and its limited supply, tanzanite is treasured by many – whether one is born in December or not!


Zircon is an underrated gem that’s often confused with synthetic cubic zirconia due to similar names and shared use as diamond simulants. Few people realize that zircon is a spectacular natural gem available in a variety of colors.

The name zircon likely comes from the Persian word zargun, meaning “gold-colored.” Others trace it to the Arabic zarkun, meaning “vermillion.” Given its wide range of colors – spanning red, orange, yellow, green, blue and brown – both origins make sense.

Zircon commonly occurs brownish red, which can be popular for its earth tones. However, most gem-quality stones are heat treated until colorless, gold or blue (the most popular color). Blue zircon, in particular, is the alternative birthstone for December.


Admired since ancient times, turquoise is known for its distinct color, which ranges from powdery blue to greenish robin’s egg blue. It’s one of few minerals to lend its name to anything that resembles its striking color.

The word turquoise dates back to the 13th century, drawing from the French expression pierre tourques, which referenced the “Turkish stone” brought to Europe from Turkey.

Ancient Persia (now Iran) was the traditional source for sky blue turquoise. This color is often called “Persian blue” today, regardless of its origin. The Sinai Peninsula in Egypt was also an important historical source.

The U.S. is now the world’s largest turquoise supplier. Nevada, New Mexico, California and Colorado have produced turquoise, but Arizona leads in production by value, as well as quality. The stone’s popularity here makes it a staple in Native American jewelry.

Turquoise is found in arid regions where rainwater dissolves copper in the soil, forming colorful nodular deposits when it combines with aluminum and phosphorus. Copper contributes blue hues, while iron and chrome add a hint of green.

Some turquoise contains pieces of host rock, called matrix, which appear as dark webs or patches in the material. This can lower the stone’s value, although the uniform “spiderweb” pattern of Southwestern turquoise is attractive.

Turquoise is sensitive to direct sunlight and solvents like makeup, perfume and natural oils. The hardest turquoise only measures 6 on the Mohs scale, which made this soft stone popular in carved talismans throughout history.

From ancient Egyptians to Persians, Aztecs and Native Americans, kings and warriors alike admired turquoise for thousands of years. It adorned everything from jewelry to ceremonial masks to weapons and bridles – granting power and protection, particularly against falls.

Highly esteemed for its striking namesake color and its ancient history, turquoise remains popular through time.




Number 121116


Diamond Jim: "What can you tell us about the Bulova Watch Company?"

Bulova is an American manufacturer of watches and clocks. Its headquarters is located in New York City. Bulova's Swiss-Made line is known as Bulova Accu•Swiss or formerly, Bulova Accutron. 


Bulova Ambassador Automatic

Bulova was founded and incorporated as the J. Bulova Company in 1875 by Joseph Bulova (1851 – November 18, 1936), an immigrant from Bohemia. It was reincorporated under the name Bulova Watch Company in 1923, and became part of the Loews Corporation in 1979[4] and sold to Citizen at the end of 2007.

In 1912, he launched his first plant dedicated entirely to the production of watches. Manufacturing watches at their factory in Biel (Switzerland), Bulova began a standardized mass production never seen in the world of watchmaking until then. In 1919, Joseph Bulova offered the first complete range of watches for men. The iconic visual style of his first popular advertising made its watches popular with the American public. But beyond the original style, precision and technological research also became an endless quest for Bulova. In 1927, he set up an observatory on the roof of a skyscraper located at 580 5th Avenue to make measurements that would enable him to determine very precisely universal time.

Bulova established its operations in Woodside, New York, and Flushing, New York, where it made innovations in watchmaking, and developed a number of watchmaking tools. Its horological innovations included the Accutron watch, which used a resonating tuning forkas a means of regulating the time-keeping function.

Bulova became a renowned watch company in 1923. Bulova produced the first advertisement broadcast on radio in 1926, announcing the first beep of history: ‘At the tone, it’s eight o’clock, Bulova Watch Time’, an announcement heard by millions of Americans. In 1927, Charles A. Lindbergh was the first pilot to cross the Atlantic nonstop. His crossing earned him a Bulova Watch and a check for $1000, and it became an emblem for the brand that created the model "Lone Eagle" in his likeness. Bulova claims to have been the first manufacturer to offer electric clocks beginning in 1931, but the Warren Telechron Company began selling electric clocks in 1912, 19 years prior to Bulova. In the 1930s and 1940s, the brand was a huge success with its rectangular plated watches whose case was strongly curved to better fit the curve of the wrist.

Bulova produced the world's first official television commercial, on July 1, 1941, before a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies over New York station WNBT (now WNBC). The announcement, for which the company paid anywhere from $4.00 to $9.00 (reports vary), displayed a WNBT test pattern modified to look like a clock with the hands showing the time. The Bulova logo, with the phrase "Bulova Watch Time", was shown in the lower right-hand quadrant of the test pattern while the second hand swept around the dial for one minute.

At one time in the 1940s, Bulova made a few examples of their complex four sided, five-dial per side "sports timer" game clock for use in NHL pro ice hockey games and for the nascent NBA pro basketball league of that time, used for indoor sports arenas such as Boston Garden, Chicago Stadium and the Detroit Olympia through to the last example being taken out of service in Chicago in 1976, all replaced by digital-display game timepieces.

The Joseph Bulova School of Watchmaking was founded in 1945 by Arde Bulova, Chairman of the Board, initially to provide training for disabled veterans after the Second World War. The school later became a full-fledged rehabilitation facility, an advocate for disabled people nationwide, and one of the founders of wheelchair sports in America. The school closed in 1993.

In 1967, Bulova bought the Manufacture des montres Universal Perret Frères SA at Geneva and sold it in December 1977. The factory in Biel was closed in 1983.




Bulova’s "Accutron" watches, first sold in October 1960, use a 360 hertz tuning fork instead of a balance wheel as the timekeeping element. The inventor, Max Hetzel, was born in Basel, Switzerland, and joined the Bulova Watch Company of Bienne, Switzerland, in 1948. The tuning fork was powered by a one-transistor electronic oscillator circuit, so the Accutron qualifies as the first "electronic watch". Instead of the ticking sound made by mechanical watches, the Accutron had a faint, high pitch hum which came from the vibrating tuning fork. A forerunner of modern quartz watches which also keep time with a vibrating resonator, the Accutron was guaranteed to be accurate to a minute per month, or 2 seconds per day, considerably better than mechanical watches of the time.

In the 1960s, the company was involved in a notable Space Age rivalry with Omega Watches to be selected as the 'first watch on the moon'. Ultimately, Bulova either did not or could not certify the Accutron as dustproof. The Omega Speedmaster Professional chronograph wristwatch was designated by NASA for use by the astronauts in all manned space missions, becoming the first watch on the moon on the wrist of Buzz Aldrin.

All instrument panel clocks and time-keeping mechanisms in the spacecraft on those missions were Bulova Accutrons with tuning fork movements, because at the time, NASA did not know how well a mechanical movement would work in low gravity conditions. An Accutron 214 movement was placed on the moon in a communications relay device by the first moon landing mission. The U.S. government had used the 214 in military satellites, and had even prevailed on Bulova to delay the commercial release of the Accutron to prevent the Soviet Union from obtaining the technology during the Cold War.

A little known fact, Bulova had been a contender for the NASA trials to find the right watch to be worn by the astronauts. While Omega’s Speedmaster won the right to be the Official NASA watch, Bulova’s Accutron timing devices were used on 46 NASA missions throughout the 1950s and ‘60’s. During the Apollo 11 mission in 1969 – the first moon landing – an Accutron timer was placed in a communications relay device and placed in the Sea of Tranquility to help control vital data transmissions.

In 1971, a Bulova chronograph was carried on board Apollo 15 – the fourth mission to land men on the moon — by mission commander David R. Scott. Of the dozen men that walked on the moon, all wore standard Omega Speedmaster watches that had been officially issued by NASA. Those watches are deemed to be government property. However, transcripts from the Apollo 15 Lunar Surface Journal attest to the fact that during his second excursion to the moon’s surface, the crystal on his Official Omega watch had popped off. So, during his third lunar walk, he used his backup Bulova watch.

The Bulova Chronograph Model #88510/01 that Scott wore on the lunar surface was expected to fetch more than $1 million, as it is the only privately owned watch to have walked the lunar surface. There are images of him wearing this watch, when he saluted the American flag on the moon, with the Hadley Delta expanse in the background. That Apollo 15 third excursion lasted 4 hours, 49 minutes and 50 seconds. The watch shows “significant wear from exposure while on the moon, and from splashdown and recovery.”

The Bulova company briefly manufactured a limited edition "Astronaut" model under its Accutron line of watches. The back of the watch case is autographed by Buzz Aldrin. The tuning fork movement has been discontinued by Bulova, and the current Astronaut model features automatic ETA SA movement.

Present day
On January 10, 2008, Citizen bought the Bulova Watch Company for $250 million. Together they are the world's largest watchmaker. In 2013 Gregory B. Thumm was named the president of Bulova, after having previously held the senior vice president post at Fossil Group heading product development since 2004.

Currently Bulova designs, manufactures, and markets several different brands, including: the signature "Bulova", the stylish "Caravelle New York", the dressy/formal Swiss-made "Wittnauer Swiss", and the very popular "Marine Star". In 2014 Bulova ceased the sale of watches under the "Accutron" and "Accutron by Bulova" brand, eliminating some Accutron models and subsuming others under the "Bulova" brand.

In 2010, Bulova introduced the Precisionist, a new type of quartz watch with a higher frequency crystal (262144 Hz, eight times the industry standard 32768 Hz) which is claimed to be accurate to ±10 seconds per year (0.32 ppm) and has a smooth sweeping second hand rather than one that jumps each second.

The Precisionist's second hand is even smoother than high beat automatic watches such as Rolex Submariner or Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000, because it runs at 16 beats per second (57,600 bph), compared to the Rolex movement's 8 beats per second (28,800 bph) and the Seiko at 10 beats per second (36,000 bph).

The Bulova Precisionist movement is thin enough to be used inside ladies watches, and can run on a CR2016 type battery for at least 3 years.

In 2013, Bulova rebranded "Caravelle by Bulova", its entry range of watches, as "Caravelle New York" to reflect the line's switch to a more stylish range of watches exclusively designed in New York City by the Bulova Corporation.

In 2014, Bulova rebranded the "Accutron" line as "Bulova AccuSwiss" to further differentiate the Swiss Bulova line. They then introduced a new line of watches under the "Bulova Accutron II" brand that features vintage Accutron watch designs fitted with a modified Precisionist movement, which better reflects the heritage of the Accutron brand.

In April 2015, Bulova moved its Global Headquarters to the iconic Empire State Building in NYC.




Number 120416


Diamond Jim: "What’s a really great way to propose?"



You've found the right person. You've found the right ring. Now you have to find the right moment to pop the question.


So how do you make your proposal turn out flawlessly? We have plenty of tried-and-true tips to help you, but overall, it all comes down to just one thing: effort.

Putting in real effort, thought and love into your proposal makes all the difference. Remember, your proposal doesn't have to change the world. It just has to show your partner that they mean the world to you.

Here are a few tips that will help you along the way:

Your proposal should be surprising, but it shouldn't come directly out of left field. Before you pull a ring out, have a good idea how your partner will respond. "Will you marry me?" shouldn't be your first discussion on the subject.

Here’s where a little bit of effort goes a long way. The history of the diamond as an engagement ring first became popular in the 1930’s, but the idea of an engagement ring has been around for centuries.

If you’re still deciding on a diamond engagement ring, consider doing some window shopping with your partner prior to making a purchase. If you want to keep things more secretive, talk to your partner’s friends and family to get a feel for their taste.

Another option is to use a stand-in ring for the proposal. Perhaps you can use their great grandmother’s diamond engagement ring, and then take your partner shopping later. (A trusted jeweler can tell you everything you need to know about how to buy a diamond and will take the time to help educate both of you).

Do your homework before buying the engagement ring. Most importantly, find a jeweler you trust.

And, since you’re making such a big investment, make sure you insure the ring as soon as you purchase it. Your knowledgeable jeweler should be willing and able to discuss this with you. One option is that you may be able to insure it for an additional cost under your homeowner's or tenants insurance policy.

Before you take a knee, take the time to speak with your partner's parents first. Asking permission is a tradition carried since the Roman times, and it’s a great way to make a good impression on your future in-laws.

This is your chance to shine. A good Jeweler should have several ideas that will help you to be creative when "popping the question". You could also use modern technology for a Twitter proposal.

No matter what you do, just put your heart into it. Here are a few ideas to get your started:

Location, Location, Location
Propose via video or in person from an extreme location - atop a mountain, while skydiving, or on the shores of a romantic and faraway beach.

Keep it Traditional
In an intimate setting, preferably one with family and friends waiting nearby, drop to one knee and let your heart do the talking.

Spread the News
Your partner will most likely handle this for you, but make sure to share the big news with people you know. You might also consider sending out an engagement announcement.

You did it! Consider toasting your engagement with a night on the town, a glass of bubbly or a celebration with friends and family.




Number 112716


Diamond Jim: "What is an “Eco-Drive” watch?"

Eco-Drive is a model range of watches manufactured and marketed worldwide by Citizen Watch Co., Ltd. — and powered primarily by light. As of 2007, the company estimated the drive system had eliminated disposal of 10 million batteries in North America.

Citizen introduced the Eco-Drive line to Asia, Latin America and Europe in 1995 and to the United States in April, 1996.

The Eco-Drive concept introduced several technical refinements over previous solar powered watches, including light-capturing cells that could be made virtually invisible behind the dial instead of highly conspicuous-enhancing the appearance of the watch.



Citizen Eco-Drive METAL AW1365-19P

featuring a light-absorbing "solar ring"

instead of solar cell panels, allowing

opaque metal dials to be used.


Eco-Drive concept
The technical platform that made the Eco-Drive concept possible was the Eco-Drive caliber 7878 movement. This movement was the first light powered movement where the solar cells could be mounted under the dial. Previous light powered watches from Citizen and other manufacturers had the solar cell(s) mounted directly on the dial. This innovation was enabled by marked improvements in thin film amorphous silicon solar cells, which, by the early 1990s had become significantly more efficient. By locating a sufficiently translucent dial material over the now more efficient solar cells, enough light could pass through the dial face to power the movement. Though the Eco-Drive caliber 7878 movement solar cells remained slightly visible through the dial, the physical styling of the light-powered watch was no longer constrained by visible solar cells.

To store electrical energy the first Eco-Drive movements employed titanium lithium-ion rechargeable or secondary batteries. This battery type became available in the early 1990s, enabling an Eco-Drive 7878 movement to run 180 days on secondary power before requiring recharging via light exposure — a marked improvement in energy storage over previous light-powered watches. The movement also featured an "insufficient recharging" indicator.


Eco-Drive technology
Light as power source
Most Eco-Drive type watches are equipped with a special titanium lithium ion secondary battery charged by an amorphous silicon photocell located behind the dial Light passes through the crystal and dial before reaching the photocell.

Depending on the electronic movement, a fully charged secondary power cell could run with no further charging from 30 days to 3,175 days (8.7 years), though most Eco-Drive men's watch models offer a six-month power reserve. If kept from light for an extended period, some Eco-Drive movement models can hibernate, where the hands of the watch stop and the internal quartz movement continues to track the correct time. When subsequently exposed to sufficient light, the hands move automatically (without human intervention) to the proper positions and resume regular timekeeping.

Temperature difference as power source
Citizen Eco-Drive Thermo watches were introduced in 1999 and use the temperature difference between the wearer's arm and the surrounding environment as a power source. The rare Eco-Drive Thermo watches use the Seebeck effect to generate thermo electricity that powers the electronic movement and charges the secondary power cell. In the sun or in the tropics the ambient temperature can come close to or exceed the temperature of the wearer's wrist causing the watch to stop generating thermo electricity. In case no power is generated, an Eco-Drive Thermo movement will save power by moving the second hand in ten second increments until the production of thermo electricity is resumed. Citizen has stopped making Eco-Drive Thermo watches.

Hybrid Eco-Drive movements
Citizen also built an automatic quartz powered watch, the Citizen Promaster Eco-Duo Drive (released in December 1998). Novel to this watch was the use of both mechanical power as well as a solar cell to power the electronic movement and charge the secondary power cell. This model was an attempt to enter higher-priced markets (at a cost of around $1,000 USD). The Eco-Duo Drive technology failed to attract consumer interest and Citizen has since stopped making use of the unique movement.

Solar cell and secondary battery life expectancy
According to Citizen, experimental data showed the solar cell and secondary battery will last for more than 10 years. According to Citizen Europe, laboratory tests showed that after 20 years the secondary battery retains a power storage capacity of 80% of its initial capacity.

For water resistant and diving Eco-Drive watches Citizen recommends a watch gasket exchange every 2 or 3 years to preserve their water resistance because watch gaskets, which form a watertight seal, degrade as they age. Further, Citizen recommends maintenance for Eco-Drive watch movements in regular intervals in order to extend the life of the watch movement, since the gears used in running watch movements are subject to slow wear. Citizen states that their lubricants for Long-Lasting Precision Equipment when used in watches, timepiece movements remain smooth for a long time as the oil does not harden even after 20 years.




Number 112016


Diamond Jim: "What is the U.S. Merchant Marine?"

United States Merchant Marine
The United States Merchant Marine refers to either United States civilian mariners or to a fleet of U.S. civilian and federally owned merchant vessels. These fleets are managed by either the government or private sector, and engage in commerce or transportation of goods and services in and out of the navigable waters of the United States. The Merchant Marine is responsible for transporting cargo and passengers during peacetime. In times of war, they can be an auxiliary to the United States Navy, and can be called upon to deliver military personnel and materiel for the military. Merchant Marine Officers may also be designated as Military Officers by the Department of Defense. This is commonly achieved by commissioning unlimited tonnage Merchant Marine Officers as Strategic Sealift Officers in the Naval Reserves.

Merchant mariners move cargo and passengers between nations and within the United States, and operate and maintain deep-sea merchant ships, tugboats, towboats, ferries, dredges, excursion vessels, charter boats and other waterborne craft on the oceans, the Great Lakes, rivers, canals, harbors, and other waterways.


The United States Merchant Marine is also governed by several international conventions to promote safety and prevent pollution. As of 2006, the United States merchant fleet had 465 privately owned ships of 1,000 or more gross register tons. Nearly 800 American-owned ships are flagged in other nations.

The federal government maintains fleets of merchant ships via organizations such as Military Sealift Command and the National Defense Reserve Fleet, which is managed by the United States Maritime Administration. In 2004, the federal government employed approximately 5% of all American water transportation workers.

United States Merchant Marine Academy


Aerial view of United States Merchant Marine Academy

The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (also known as USMMA or Kings Point) is one of the five United States Service academies, and one of seven United States maritime academies. It is charged with training officers for the United States Merchant Marine, branches of the military, and the transportation industry.

The Academy operates on an $85 million annual budget funded by the US Department of Transportation and is administered by the U.S. Maritime Administration ("MARAD").



Joseph Banks Williams was the first African

American to graduate from the Academy, in 1944.


Joseph Banks Williams entered the Academy in 1940 and was the first African-American to graduate in 1944. Admission requirements were further changed in 1974 to become the first service academy to enroll female students, two years before the other service academies.

Freshmen, known as plebes, start in early July where they begin a three-week indoctrination period, also known as "indoc." Indoc is functionally run by upperclassmen but is overseen by officers of the United States Maritime Service who are part of the Commandant of Midshipman's staff. This high stress period involves physical training, marching, and an intensive introduction to regimental life at the academy. After the indoctrination period is completed, the academic year begins. In September, first year students officially become part of the regiment upon taking the oath of office into the U.S. Navy Reserve on Acceptance Day. Until they are "recognized" later in the academic year, plebes continue to be required to adhere to stringent rules affecting most aspects of their daily life. After earning it, the plebes are recognized giving them the title of Midshipmen, which gives them more privileges, known as rates.


Academy students, known as midshipmen, focus on one of two different ship transport areas of education: marine transportation or marine engineering. Transportation students learn about ship navigation, cargo handling, navigation rules and maritime law. Engineering students learn about the function of the ship's engines and its supporting systems. There are currently five different academic majors available to midshipmen. Two of them are referred to as "Deck Majors" because in addition to a Bachelor of Science degree in the major field of study: Marine Transportation or Logistics and Intermodal Transportation; they sit for and upon successful completion of the examination are issued a Third Mate (Deck Officer) License of Steam or Motor Vessels, Unlimited Tonnage, Upon Oceans. The other three available curricula are referred to as "Engine Majors"; they are: Marine Engineering, Marine Engineering Systems, and Marine Engineering and Shipyard Management. "Engine Majors" sit for and upon successful completion of the examination are issued Third Assistant Engineer (3 A/E - Engineering Officer) Licenses Steam and Motor Vessels, Any Horsepower. Marine Engineering Systems and Marine Engineering Systems & Shipyard Management graduates are also qualified to sit for the Engineer In Training (EIT) examination administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES).


WWII advertising poster

For part of sophomore and junior year, known at the Academy as third class and second class year, students work as cadets on American flagged unlimited tonnage merchant ships. Midshipmen are typically paired two to a ship, one engineering cadet and one deck cadet. Midshipmen work and function as part of the crew and gain an opportunity for generous amounts of hands-on experience as well as the opportunity to travel abroad to many different foreign ports. The average midshipman travels to 18 countries during this period, which totals a minimum of 300 days. Due to this absence from the Academy, the remaining three academic years span from late July, through mid-June.

State maritime academies


The TS Texas Clipper II (1999-2005) Training ship for the Texas A&M Maritime Academy

Like the Federal United States Merchant Marine Academy, the following states academies offer the same training and licensing for United States Merchant Marine officers, with varying USCG approved programs. Each academy operates their own training ships, which are owned by the government. These act as training laboratories during the semester and are sailed on by the cadets during training cruises for months at a time. An example training ship would be the USTS Golden Bear. Women were barred from U.S. maritime academies until 1974, when the State University of New York Maritime College and the California Maritime Academy first admitted women cadets.

·         Texas A&M Maritime Academy

·         State University of New York Maritime College

·         Massachusetts Maritime Academy

·         Maine Maritime Academy

·         California Maritime Academy

·         Great Lakes Maritime Academy

We at Pineforest Jewelry proudly salute all members of the US Merchant Marines, as well as all of our service men and women…alive and passed. Without your service and sacrifices we would not have the freedoms we enjoy today.




Number 111316


Diamond Jim: "Is the precious metal Silver a good investment?"

Silver as an investment
Silver, like other precious metals, may be used as an investment. For more than four thousand years, silver has been regarded as a form of money and store of value. However, since the end of the silver standard, silver has lost its role as a legal tender in all developed countries, although some countries mint bullion and collector coins like the American Silver Eagle with nominal face values. In 2009, the main demand for silver was for industrial applications (40%), jewelry, bullion coins and exchange-traded products. In 2011, the global silver reserves amounted to 530,000 tonnes (tons).

Millions of Canadian Silver Maple Leaf coins and American Silver Eagle are purchased as investments each year. The Silver Maple Leaf is legal tender at $5 per ounce and there are many other silver coins with higher legal tender values, including $20 Canadian silver coins. Silver is legal tender in the U.S. state of Utah, and can be used to pay all debts.



Silver price history 1960–2011

Like most commodities, the price of silver is driven by speculation and supply and demand. Compared to gold, the silver price is notoriously volatile. This is because of lower market liquidity, and demand fluctuations between industrial and store of value uses. At times this can cause wide ranging valuations in the market, creating volatility.

Silver often tracks the gold price due to store of value demands, although the ratio can vary. The crustal ratio of silver to gold is 17.5:1. The gold/silver price ratio is often analyzed by traders, investors and buyers. In Roman times, the price ratio was set at 12 or 12.5 to 1. In 1792, the gold/silver price ratio was fixed by law in the United States at 15:1, which meant that one troy ounce of gold was worth 15 troy ounces of silver; a ratio of 15.5:1 was enacted in France in 1803. The average gold/silver price ratio during the 20th century, however, was 47:1.

Physical bullion, in coins or bars, purchased from a dealer, may have a premium of 20 percent or more. For much of 2015 as well as early 2016, physical silver bullion bars have been available for purchase at a premium of less than 7% over the Comex spot price, while government minted coins still command a much higher premium. The paper or computer prices are not the prices for buying actual silver, in your hands. There will always be a major difference between computer traded pricing, and the real, in your hands buying and selling of silver.

Investment vehicles

A 5 kg silver bar

A traditional way of investing in silver is by buying actual bullion bars. In some countries, like Switzerland and Liechtenstein, bullion bars can be bought or sold over the counter at major banks.

The flat, rectangular shape of silver bars makes them ideal for storage in a home safe, a safe deposit box at a bank, or placed in allocated (also known as non-fungible) or unallocated (fungible or pooled) storage with a bank or dealer. Silver is traded in the spot market with the code "XAG". When settled in United States Dollars, the code is "XAGUSD".

Various sizes of silver bars:

·         1000 oz troy bars – These bars, 999 fine, weigh about 68.6 pounds avoirdupois (31 kg) and vary about 10% as to weight, as bars range from 900 ozt to about 1,100 ozt (28 to 34 kg). These are COMEX and LBMA good delivery bars.

·         100 oz troy bars – These bars weigh 6.86 pounds (3.11 kg).

·         Odd weight retail bars – These bars cost less and generally have a wider spread, due to the extra work it takes to calculate their value and the extra risk due to the lack of a good brand name.

·         1 kilogram bars (32.15 oz troy)

·         10 oz troy bars (311 g) and 1 oz troy bars (31.1 g)

Coins and rounds

American Silver Eagle bullion proof coin

Silver coins include the one ounce 99.99% pure Canadian Silver Maple Leaf and the one ounce 99.93% pure American Silver Eagle. Coins may be minted as either fine silver or junk silver, the latter being older coins made of 90% silver. U.S. coins 1964 and older (half dollars, dimes, and quarters) are generally accepted to weigh 24.71 grams of silver per dollar of face value, which at their nominal silver content of 90%, translates to 22.239 g of silver per dollar. All U.S. dimes, quarters, halves and 1 dollar pieces contained 90% silver since their introduction up until 1964 when they were discontinued. The combined mintage of these coins by weight exceeds by far the mintages of all other silver investment coins.

All 1965-1970 and one half of the 1975-1976 Bicentennial San Francisco proof and mint set Kennedy half dollars are "clad" in a silver alloy and contain just under one half of the silver in the pre-1965 issues.

Junk-silver coins are also available as sterling silver coins, which were officially minted until 1919 in the United Kingdom and Canada and 1945 in Australia. These coins are 92.5% silver and are in the form of (in decreasing weight) Crowns, Half-crowns, Florins, Shillings, Sixpences, and three pence. The tiny three pence weighs 1.41 grams, and the Crowns are 28.27 grams (1.54 grams heavier than a US $1). Canada produced silver coins with 80% silver content from 1920 to 1967.

Other hard money enthusiasts use .999 fine silver rounds as a store of value. A cross between bars and coins, silver rounds are produced by a huge array of mints, generally contain a troy ounce of silver in the shape of a coin, but have no status as legal tender. Rounds can be ordered with a custom design stamped on the faces or in assorted batches.


In many tax regimes, silver does not hold the special position that is often afforded to gold. For example, in the European Union the trading of recognized gold coins and bullion products is VAT exempt, but no such allowance is given to silver. This makes investment in silver coins or bullion less attractive for the private investor, due to the extra premium on purchases represented by the irrecoverable VAT (charged at 20% in the United Kingdom and 19% for bars and 7% for bullion products with face value, e.g. The US Silver Eagle and the Canadian Maple Leaf, in Germany). Norwegian companies can legally deliver free of VAT to the rest of Europe within certain annual limits or can arrange for local pickup.

Other taxes such as capital gains tax may apply for individuals depending on country of residence (tax status) and whether the asset is sold at increased nominal value. For example, in the United States, silver is taxed only when sold for a profit, at a special collectibles capital gain rate (your normal income tax rate, subject to a maximum of 28% for silver held over 1 year).




Number 110616


"Diamond Jim...Who or What is the GIA?"

Gemological Institute of America
The Gemological Institute of America, or GIA, is a nonprofit institute dedicated to research and education in the field of gemology and the jewelry arts. Founded in 1931, GIA's mission is to protect all buyers and sellers of gemstones by setting and maintaining the standards used to evaluate gemstone quality. The institute does so through research, gem identification and diamond grading services and a variety of educational programs. Through its world-renowned library and subject experts, GIA acts as a resource of gem and jewelry information for the trade, the public and worldwide media outlets.

In 1953 the GIA developed its International Diamond Grading System and the Four Cs (cut, clarity, color, and carat weight) as a standard to compare and evaluate the quality of diamonds.

Today, the institute is headquartered in Carlsbad, California and operates out of 13 countries, with 11 campuses, 9 laboratories and 4 research centers worldwide.



The story of the GIA starts back in the 1920s with a man named Robert M. Shipley. Shipley had been enjoying a successful career as a jeweler, but was coming to realize the unfortunate state of the gem and jewelry industry: a typical jeweler in the US, himself included, had a surprising lack of expertise when it came to jewelry and precious stones. He therefore took it upon himself to bring change to the jeweler’s trade, and restore the public’s trust therein.

After traveling to Europe and completing the Great Britain National Association of Goldsmiths gemological correspondence course, Shipley returned to Los Angeles. It was here that he launched his own preliminary course in gemology on September 16, 1930, seeking to train and certify jewelers. The jewelers he certified would eventually serve to form a national guild of jewelers, dedicated to providing the public with a superior sense of professionalism within the gem and jewelry field.

The first GIA gemological laboratory was established in Los Angeles in 1931. The jeweler's profession was quickly transformed, with the introduction of the "Certified Gemologist" professional designation and the legitimization of gemology as a recognized science. Over the years, the group has brought many significant new developments to the industry, including the following:

·         1934: GIA patents a jeweler’s loupe with triple aplanatic lenses.

·         1937: GIA patents the world’s first gemological microscope, allowing gemologists to properly examine the insides of gemstones.

·         1953: The diamond grading system based on Shipley’s Four C’s becomes an international standard for determining diamond quality.

·         1955: GIA issues the first diamond grading reports, which are accepted as an international benchmark for the jewelry industry.

·         1956: GIA finds a reliable way to detect diamonds that have been irradiated to artificially enhance their color.

·         1960: The GIA Diamond Dictionary is published, becoming an international industry reference.

·         1987: The Liddicoat Gemological Library and Information Center amasses the largest collection of books on gemology in the world.

·         1991: GIA hosts its first annual Career Fair, which becomes the industry’s most significant recruiting event.

·         1999: GIA identifies a way to detect diamonds that have been decolorized by high pressure and high temperatures (HPHT treatment).

·         2003: GIA identifies a way to detect sapphires made from beryllium-diffusion techniques, and diamonds made from chemical vapor deposition.

·         2005: GIA creates a system for grading the cut of round brilliant diamonds in the D-to-Z color range.

·         2007: GIA introduces a Synthetic Diamond Grading Report.

·         2014: GIA introduces DiamondCheck, which is capable of differentiating between natural and treated or synthetic diamonds.


GIA is actively engaged in research to advance the science of gemology. Historically, research has focused on developing methods and technologies to accurately identify and characterize gems. This research has produced significant advances in the ability to differentiate gems and identify simulants (particularly diamond simulants). GIA was also responsible for the first modern diamond grading reports, where it introduced grading methodologies for diamond color and diamond clarity. Today, these scales and methods are the standard within the gem trade for characterization of diamonds.

Current research at gemological laboratories concerns the development of improved detection techniques for treated and synthetic diamonds, as well as for treated sapphires, rubies, and pearls.

 Laboratory Services

The GIA Laboratory provides a variety of gem grading and identification reports. Diamond grading reports for unmounted natural and synthetic diamonds determine their key characteristics: color, clarity, cut and carat weight. GIA issues two types of reports, the more complete being the Diamond Grading Report (a briefer and less expensive version is called a Diamond Dossier). The reports contain a number of measurements, including of carat weight as well as a diagram of where and what types of inclusions are located in the diamond. Diamond grading reports are now demanded by most consumers purchasing diamonds over a certain size, typically for over 0.5 carat (100 mg), and almost always for over 1.0 carat (200 mg), and are considered an important tool in guaranteeing that a diamond is accurately represented to a potential buyer.

GIA colored stone identification reports may include a comment about any treatments detected and an opinion of country of origin for ruby, sapphire, emerald and tourmaline. Pearl reports specify the weight, size, shape, color, origin (natural or cultured) and presence of treatments.


GIA offers several programs and courses online through an interactive eLearning format, and through its 12 campus locations around the world. The institute also offers corporate training programs and works with trade organizations worldwide to provide technical training in gemstones and jewelry.

The Graduate Gemologist (G.G.) diploma offers a comprehensive education in gemology. Graduates of the program receive the Graduate Gemologist diploma as well as Graduate Diamonds and Graduate Colored Stones diplomas. Students can also earn an Accredited Jewelry Professional diploma with the addition of one more course, which can also be taken independently. The Graduate Pearls diploma program provides a comprehensive foundation in pearl identification and grading.

Additionally, GIA's Carlsbad campus offers several programs in jewelry arts. The Applied Jewelry Arts Program (AJA) diploma covers jewelry design, wax carving, mold making, casting and CAD/CAM. The Graduate Jeweler diploma program teaches the fabrication, repair and stone setting skills to become a professional bench jeweler. Other jewelry arts classes are held on campus in Carlsbad and New York.

GIA's Carlsbad and New York on-campus courses are accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). Its Distance Education courses are accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC).

GIA Diploma Programs and courses include:

·         Graduate Jeweler Gemologist

·         Graduate Gemologist

·         Graduate Diamonds

·         Graduate Colored Stones

·         Graduate Pearls

·         Accredited Jewelry Professional

·         Jewelry Design & Technology

·         Graduate Jeweler

·         Jewelry Design Course

·         Comprehensive CAD/CAM for Jewelry Course

GIA also exists to educate the gem and jewelry industry and the general public through its publications and outreach efforts. Most notable of these efforts is the quarterly publication of the magazine Gems & Gemology, a respected journal in the field. The journal includes full-length feature articles, as well as reports on GIA research, abstracts of relevant articles from other journals, book reviews, and industry news from around the world.



 Number 103016


Diamond Jim: "What is the birthstone for November?"

Individuals born in November can choose between two sunny gemstones to brighten up this chilly month. November’s birthstones, topaz and citrine, are both known for their calming energies, bringing warmth and fortune to those who wear them.

Topaz and citrine look so similar, in fact, that they’ve often been mistaken for one another throughout history. They are actually unrelated minerals, and topaz occurs in a wide spectrum of colors far beyond yellow.

Both of November’s birthstones are fairly abundant and affordably priced, even in large sizes, which means everyone can find a way to fit topaz and citrine into their budget.


Through much of history, all yellow gems were considered topaz and all topaz was thought to be yellow. Topaz is actually available in many colors, and it’s likely not even related to the stones that first donned its name. 

The name topaz derives from Topazios, the ancient Greek name for St. John’s Island in the Red Sea. Although the yellow stones famously mined there probably weren’t topaz, it soon became the name for most yellowish stones.

Pure topaz is colorless, but it can become tinted by impurities to take on any color of the rainbow. Precious topaz, ranging in color from brownish orange to yellow, is often mistaken for “smoky quartz” or “citrine quartz,” respectively—although quartz and topaz are unrelated minerals.

The most prized color is Imperial topaz, which features a vibrant orange hue with pink undertones. Blue topaz, although increasingly abundant in the market, very rarely occurs naturally and is often caused by irradiation treatment.

The largest producer of quality topaz is Brazil. Other sources include Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Russia, Australia, Nigeria, Germany, Mexico and the U.S., mainly California, Utah and New Hampshire.

Measuring 8 on the Mohs scale, topaz is a rather hard and durable gem. Its perfect cleavage can make it prone to chipping or cracking, but when cut correctly, topaz makes very wearable jewelry.

Topaz is a soothing stone that has been said to calm tempers, cure madness and eliminate nightmares.


November’s second birthstone, citrine, is the variety of quartz that ranges from pale yellow to brownish orange in color. It takes its name from the citron fruit because of these lemon-inspired shades.

The pale yellow color of citrine closely resembles topaz, which explains why November’s two birthstones have been so easily confused throughout history.

Citrine’s yellow hues are caused by traces of iron in quartz crystals. This occurs rarely in nature, so most citrine on the market is made by heat treating other varieties of quartz—usually the more common, less expensive purple amethyst and smoky quartz—to produce golden gems.

Brazil is the largest supplier of citrine. Other sources include Spain, Bolivia, France, Russia, Madagascar and the U.S. (Colorado, North Carolina and California). Different geographies yield different shades of citrine.

With a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale, citrine is relatively durable against scratches and everyday wear-and-tear—making it a lovely option for large, wearable jewelry.

Citrine is sometimes known as the “healing quartz” for its ability to comfort, soothe and calm. It can release negative feelings, spark imagination and manifest fresh beginnings. It’s even called the “merchant’s stone” for its tendency to attract wealth and prosperity.




Number 102516


Diamond Jim: "What can you tell us about the US Coast Guard?"

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the country's seven uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the U.S. military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission (with jurisdiction in both domestic and international waters) and a federal regulatory agency mission as part of its mission set. It operates under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security during peacetime, and can be transferred to the U.S. Department of the Navy by the U.S. President at any time, or by the U.S. Congress during times of war. This has happened twice, in 1917, during World War I, and in 1941, during World War II.

Created by Congress on 4 August 1790 at the request of Alexander Hamilton as the Revenue Marine, it is the oldest continuous seagoing service of the United States. As Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton headed the Revenue Marine, whose original purpose was as the collector of customs duties in the nation's seaports. By the 1860s, the service was known as the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service and the term Revenue Marine gradually fell into disuse.



MH-65C Dolphin in flight.


The modern Coast Guard was formed by a merger of the Revenue Cutter Service and the U.S. Life-Saving Service on 28 January 1915, under the U.S. Department of the Treasury. As one of the country's five armed services, the Coast Guard has been involved in every U.S. war from 1790 to the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan. As of 2012 the Coast Guard had approximately 42,000 men and women on active duty, 7,900 reservists, 32,000 auxiliary personnel, and 8,700 full-time civilian employees. In terms of size, the U.S. Coast Guard by itself is the world's 12th largest naval force.

The Coast Guard's legal authority differs from the other four armed services, as it operates simultaneously under Title 10 of the U.S. Code and its other organic authorities, such as Titles 6, 14, 19, 33, and 46. Because of its legal authority, the Coast Guard can conduct military operations under the U.S. Department of Defense or directly for the President in accordance with Title 14 USC 1–3. The Coast Guard's enduring roles are maritime safety, security, and stewardship. To carry out those roles, it has 11 statutory missions as defined in 6 U.S.C. § 468, which include enforcing U.S. law in the world's largest exclusive economic zone of 3.4 million square miles (8,800,000 km2). The Coast Guard's motto is the Latin phrase, Semper Paratus (English: Always ready).



A boatswain's mate watches from the side port door as Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf's Over-The-Horizon small boat departs to receive personnel from Coast Guard Cutter Chandeleur in 2008.


The Coast Guard has roles in maritime homeland security, maritime law enforcement (MLE), search and rescue (SAR), marine environmental protection (MEP), the maintenance of river, intracoastal and offshore aids to navigation (ATON).

With a decentralized organization and much responsibility placed on even the most junior personnel, the Coast Guard is frequently lauded for its quick responsiveness and adaptability in a broad range of emergencies. In a 2005 article in Time magazine following Hurricane Katrina, the author wrote, "the Coast Guard's most valuable contribution to [a military effort when catastrophe hits] may be as a model of flexibility, and most of all, spirit." Wil Milam, a rescue swimmer from Alaska told the magazine, "In the Navy, it was all about the mission. Practicing for war, training for war. In the Coast Guard, it was, take care of our people and the mission will take care of itself."


Search and Rescue





Search and Rescue Program Logo of the

United States Coast Guard.


While not the oldest, search and rescue (SAR) is one of the Coast Guard's best known missions. The National Search and Rescue Plan[23]designates the Coast Guard as the federal agency responsible for maritime SAR operations, and the United States Air Force as the federal agency responsible for inland SAR. Both agencies maintain rescue coordination centers to coordinate this effort, and have responsibility for both military and civilian search and rescue.[24] The two services jointly provide instructor staff for the National Search and Rescue School that trains SAR mission planners and coordinators. Previously located on Governors Island, New York, the school is now located at Coast Guard Training Center Yorktown at Yorktown, Virginia.


Notable Coast Guardsmen
Numerous celebrities have served in the Coast Guard including tennis player Jack Kramer, golfer Arnold Palmer, All Star baseball player Sid Gordon, boxer Jack Dempsey; musicians Kai Winding, Rudy Vallee, Derroll Adams, and Tom Waits; actors Buddy Ebsen, Sid Caesar, Victor Mature, Richard Cromwell, Alan Hale, Jr., William Hopper, Beau Bridges, Cesar Romero; author Alex Haley; and Senator Claiborne Pell.





Number 101816


The “Ask Diamond Jim” column was not prepared this week




Number 100916


Diamond Jim: "What are some of the most famous Diamonds?"


Famous Diamonds Examined by GIA (Gemological Institute of America)

The Hope Diamond, the Dresden Green, the Idol’s Eye, the Portuguese Diamond and the Moussaieff Red – these famous diamonds are spectacularly beautiful jewels that have been admired for centuries. An aura of mystery has always surrounded these rare natural wonders, so it was quite an honor when GIA researchers examined them.


The Hope Diamond
VS1 • 45.52 ct 

The Hope Diamond. Courtesy of Chip Clark/Smithsonian Institution.

The Hope Diamond may be the most famous colored diamond in the world. A team of GIA gemologists graded it in 1988. Because they were able to weigh the diamond unmounted, they quickly made a notable discovery: the diamond was 45.52 ct, and not 44.50 ct, which had been its previously recorded weight. GIA graders also reported that the Hope Diamond is a cushion antique brilliant. The diamond was color graded as a natural color Fancy dark grayish blue diamond.

Since the 1800s, the Hope Diamond had been described as being flawless. During their examination, the GIA team noticed that the diamond had accumulated a few wear marks over the years and had whitish graining and a few minor feathers. Its clarity was graded as VS1 (Very slightly included). Good polish and Fair to Good symmetry were also noted. Technical specifications aside, the Hope Diamond captivates the imagination like no other gemstone.

The Dresden Green
41 ct

The Dresden Green

In late 1988, GIA gemologists secured permission to examine the famed Dresden Green diamond in the Green Vaults, which was then in East Germany. They were particularly excited, as it promised to provide insight into distinguishing natural from laboratory-irradiated green diamonds (radiation is usually the cause of color in both instances). Because the diamond’s history had been recorded since 1741, researchers could be confident that it had not been treated in a laboratory. As the diamond remained mounted upon examination, GIA gemologists were not able to issue a grading report.

GIA researchers described the Dresden Green as Fancy green, with a modified pear-shaped brilliant cut. The natural green color has medium tone and slightly grayish saturation. The Green Vaults records indicate it weighs 41 ct.

The Portuguese Diamond
VS1 • 127.01 ct

The Portuguese Diamond. Courtesy of Harold and Erica Van Pelt.

Of South African origin, the Portuguese Diamond weighs 127.01 ct. GIA gemologists graded it an M on the GIA Color Scale, and gave it a VS1 clarity grade because of a small bruise on one of the facets and two very minor scratches on the table.

The Portuguese has Very Strong blue fluorescence, and this may help mask the faint yellow color in the diamond. Because the fluorescence is so strong, in 1924 it was advertised by Black, Starr & Frost to be a blue diamond.

Idol’s Eye
VVS1 • 70.20 ct

Idol’s Eye. Courtesy of Graff Diamonds.

Another famous diamond shrouded in myth, the Idol’s Eye was probably mined in India’s Golconda District – an area famed for producing fine diamonds. There are many tall tales about the diamond, including one that says the Idol’s Eye is also the Nassak. This has been disproven. The first confirmed documentation of the Idol’s Eye was in one of the lots being sold at auction by Christie’s London in July 1865.

GIA gemologists confirmed that the Idol’s Eye weighs 70.20 ct. Its color grade is Very Light blue and its clarity is VVS1 (Very very slightly included).

The Moussaieff Red
5.11 ct

The Moussaieff Red

Although the Moussaieff Red weighs just 5.11 ct, it’s a predominantly red diamond (no secondary hues like purple), which means it’s incredibly rare. A description of Fancy red is remarkable. GIA records show that from 1957 to 1987 there was no mention of a GIA report issued for a diamond with “red” as the only descriptive term.

Only a handful of Fancy red diamonds are known, because in diamonds the color red is often modified with another hue, such as purplish red or orangy red.

A Brazilian farmer discovered the Moussaieff Red in the 1990s. It was cut and polished from a 13.9 ct crystal.




 Number 100216


Diamond Jim: "How did the internet begin?”

 In ancient Israel , it came to pass that a trader by the name of Abraham Com did take unto himself a healthy young wife by the name of Dorothy (Dot for short).  Dot Com was a charming woman, broad of shoulder and long of leg. Indeed, she was often called Amazon Dot Com.

 And she said unto Abraham, her husband, "Why dost thou travel so far from town to town with thy goods when thou canst trade without ever leaving thy tent?"  And Abraham did look at her as though she were several saddle bags short of a camel load, but simply said, "How, dear?"

 And Dot replied, "I will place drums in all the towns and drums in between to send messages saying what you have for sale, and they will reply telling you who hath the best price. The sale can be made on the drums and delivery made by Uriah's Pony Stable (UPS)."

 Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way with the drums.  And the drums rang out and were an immediate success. Abraham sold all the goods he had at the top price, without ever having to move from his tent.

 To prevent neighboring countries from overhearing what the drums were saying, Dot devised a system that only she and the drummers knew.  It was known as Must Send Drum Over Sound (MSDOS), and she also developed a language to transmit ideas and pictures - Hebrew to The People (HTTP).

 And the young men did take to Dot Com's trading as doth the greedy horsefly take to camel dung. They were called Nomadic Ecclesiastical Rich Dominican Sybarites, or NERDS.  And lo, the land was so feverish with joy at the new riches and the deafening sound of drums that no one noticed that the real riches were going to that enterprising drum dealer, Brother William of Gates, who bought off every drum maker in the land.

 Indeed, he did insist on drums to be made that would work only with Brother Gates' drumheads and drumsticks.  And Dot did say, "Oh, Abraham, what we have started is being taken over by others." 
 And Abraham looked out over the Bay of Ezekiel , or eBay as it came to be known, and he said, "We need a name that reflects what we are."  And Dot replied, "How about Young Ambitious Hebrew Owner Operators?"

 "YAHOO," said Abraham. And because it was Dot's idea, they named it YAHOO Dot Com.

 Abraham's cousin, Joshua, being the young Gregarious Energetic Educated Kid (GEEK) that he was, soon started using Dot's drums to locate things around the countryside. It soon became known as God's Own Official Guide to Locating Everything (GOOGLE).

 That is how it all began. And that's the truth!




Number 092516


"Diamond Jim...What subject would you like to share with us?"

In today’s world, we face adversity, negative attitudes, and many pressures nearly every day.  I personally enjoy positive experiences, people with positive “can do” attitudes, and those who conduct themselves with good manners. 

To that end, here’s a story that starts out a little rough but ends with a very “positive” message. I hope you enjoy it!

The Wooden Bowl

I guarantee you will remember the tale of the Wooden Bowl tomorrow, a week from now, a month from now, a year from now. 

A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year-old grandson. 

The old man's hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered. 

The family ate together at the table. But the elderly grandfather's shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor.   

When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.

The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess.

'We must do something about father,' said the son.

 "I've had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor."

So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. 

There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. 

Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl.

When the family glanced in Grandfather's direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. 

Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.

The four-year-old watched it all in silence. 

One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. 

He asked the child sweetly, 'What are you making?' Just as sweetly, the boy responded,  'Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up.

The four-year-old smiled and went back to work..

The words so struck the parents so that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.

That evening the husband took Grandfather's hand and gently led him back to the family table. 

For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.

On a positive note, I've learned that, no matter what happens, how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.

I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles four things:  a rainy day, the elderly, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

I've learned that making a 'living' is not the same thing as making a 'life.'

I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.

I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back sometimes. 

I've learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you. 

But, if you focus on your family, your friends, the needs of others,  your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you.

I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.

I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one.

I've learned that every day, you should reach out and touch someone.

People love that human touch -- holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.

I've learned...that I still have a lot to learn.




Number 091816


"Diamond Jim...What can you tell us about the United States Navy?"

United States Navy

The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest, most capable navy in the world, with the highest combined battle fleet tonnage. The U.S. Navy has the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with ten in service, two in the reserve fleet and three new carriers under construction. The service has 328,194 personnel on active duty and 101,199 in the Navy Reserve. It has 272 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 aircraft in active service as of February 2016.


The U.S. Navy traces its origins to the Continental Navy, which was established during the American Revolutionary War and was effectively disbanded as a separate entity shortly thereafter. It played a major role in the American Civil War by blockading the Confederacy and seizing control of its rivers. It played the central role in the World War II defeat of Japan. The 21st century U.S. Navy maintains a sizable global presence, deploying in such areas as East Asia, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. The Navy has the ability to project force onto the littoral regions of the world, engage in forward areas during peacetime, and rapidly respond to regional crises, making it an active player in U.S. foreign and defense policy. The Navy is administratively managed by the Department of the Navy, which is headed by the civilian Secretary of the Navy. The Department of the Navy is itself a division of the Department of Defense, which is headed by the Secretary of Defense. The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) is a four-star admiral and the senior naval officer of the Department of the Navy. However, the CNO may not be the highest ranking naval officer in the armed forces if the Chairman or the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are Navy officers, who by law, outrank the CNO.

 The Navy's three primary areas of responsibility are:

·         The preparation of naval forces necessary for the effective prosecution of war.

·         The maintenance of naval aviation, including land-based naval aviation, air transport essential for naval operations, and all air weapons and air techniques involved in the operations and activities of the Navy.

·         The development of aircraft, weapons, tactics, technique, organization, and equipment of naval combat and service elements.


“It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious.”

— George Washington


The Navy was rooted in the American seafaring tradition, which produced a large community of sailors, captains, and shipbuilders in the colonial era. In the early stages of the American Revolutionary War, Massachusetts had its own navy. The establishment of a national navy was an issue of debate among the members of the Second Continental Congress. Supporters argued that a navy would protect shipping, defend the coast, and make it easier to seek out support from foreign countries. Detractors countered that challenging the British Royal Navy, then the world's preeminent naval power, was a foolish undertaking. Commander in Chief George Washington resolved the debate when he commissioned seven ocean-going cruisers, starting with the schooner USS Hannah, to interdict British supply ships, and reported the captures to the Congress.

The Continental Navy achieved mixed results; it was successful in a number of engagements and raided many British merchant vessels, but it lost twenty four of its vessels and at one point was reduced to two in active service. The Continental Navy was disbanded at war's end.

From reestablishment to the Civil War

The United States was without a navy for nearly a decade—a state of affairs that exposed its merchant ships to a series of attacks by Barbary pirates. The sole armed maritime presence between 1790 and the launching of the U.S. Navy's first warships in 1797 was the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service (USRCS), the primary predecessor of the U.S. Coast Guard. Although USRCS Cutters conducted operations against these pirates, the depredations far outstripped the abilities of the USRCS and Congress passed the Naval Act of 1794 which established a permanent standing navy. The Naval Act ordered the construction and manning of six frigates and, by October 1797; three years later, the first three were welcomed into service: USS United States, USS Constellation, and USS Constitution. In 1798–99 the Navy was involved in an undeclared Quasi-War with France.

The U.S. Navy saw substantial action in the War of 1812, where it was victorious in eleven single-ship duels with the Royal Navy. The navy drove all significant British forces off Lake Erie and Lake Champlain and prevented them from becoming British controlled zones of conflict. The result was a major defeat for the British invasion of New York state, and the defeat of the military threat from the Indian allies of the British. Despite this, the U.S. Navy was unable to prevent the British from blockading American ports and landing troops on American soil. After the war, the U.S. Navy again focused its attention on protecting American shipping assets, sending squadrons to the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, South America, Africa, and the Pacific.

21st century

When a crisis confronts the nation, the first question often asked by policymakers is: 'What naval forces are available and how fast can they be on station?'

— Admiral Carlisle A. H. Trost


 The United States Navy continues to be a major support to U.S. interests in the 21st century. Since the end of the Cold War, it has shifted its focus from preparations for large-scale war with the Soviet Union to special operations and strike missions in regional conflicts. The navy participated in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and is a major participant in the ongoing War on Terror, largely in this capacity. Development continues on new ships and weapons, including the Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier and the Littoral combat ship. Because of its size, weapons technology, and ability to project force far from U.S. shores, the current U.S. Navy remains a potent asset for the United States.


 Notable sailors

Many past and present United States historical figures have served in the navy. Notable officers include John Paul Jones, John Barry (Continental Navy officer and first flag officer of the United States Navy), Edward  Preble, James Lawrence (whose last words "don't give up the ship" are memorialized in Bancroft Hall at the United States Naval Academy), Stephen Decatur, Jr., David Farragut, David Dixon Porter, Oliver Hazard Perry, Commodore Matthew Perry (whose Black Ships forced the opening of Japan), George Dewey (the only person in the history of the United States to have attained the rank of Admiral of the Navy), and the officers who attained the rank of Fleet Admiral during World War II: William D. Leahy, Ernest J. King, Chester W. Nimitz, and William F. Halsey, Jr..

 The first American president who served in the navy was John F. Kennedy (who commanded the famous PT-109). Others included Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush. Both Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt were the assistant secretary of the navy prior to their presidencies. Many members of Congress served in the navy, notably U.S. Senators Bob Kerrey, John McCain, and John Kerry. Other notable former members of the U.S. Navy include astronauts, entertainers, authors and professional athletes.

 We at Pineforest Jewelry salute our service men and women stationed here in the USA and all over the world. You have our deepest respect and our appreciation.  *** They place themselves in harm’s way, no questions asked, so that we may be safe at home…Thank you! ***




Number 091116


"Diamond Jim...What can you tell us about the gem Tourmaline?"


Tourmaline is one of the birthstones for the month of October and has also become a favorite gemstone among jewelry designers and gem collectors the world over. Since it is available in a wide variety of colors, it is ideally suited to almost anyone's taste.

Tourmaline is also known for displaying several colors in the same gemstone. These bi-color or tri-color gems are formed in many combinations; gemstones with clear color distinctions are highly prized.  

One multi-color variety is known as watermelon tourmaline, and features green, pink, and white color bands; to resemble its namesake, the gemstone is cut into thin slices having a pink center, white ring, and green edge. 

Tourmaline is found in many localities including Brazil, Afghanistan, East Africa, and the USA.



Tourmaline gemstones – Mozambique

Tourmaline has a variety of colors. Usually, iron-rich tourmalines are black to bluish-black to deep brown, while magnesium-rich varieties are brown to yellow, and lithium-rich tourmalines are almost any color: blue, green, red, yellow, pink, etc. Rarely, it is colorless. Bi-colored and multicolored crystals are common, reflecting variations of fluid chemistry during crystallization. Crystals may be green at one end and pink at the other, or green on the outside and pink inside; this type is called watermelon tourmaline. Some forms of tourmaline are dichroic, in that they change color when viewed from different directions.


Two dark green rectangular tourmaline

stones and one oval tourmaline stone.

The pink color of tourmalines from many fields is the result of prolonged natural irradiation. During their growth, these tourmaline crystals were initially very pale. Due to natural gamma ray exposure from radioactive decay in their granitic environment, gradual formation of ions occurs, which is responsible for the deepening of the pink to red color.

Tourmaline is found in granite and granite pegmatites and in metamorphic rocks such as schist and marble. Schorl and lithium-rich tourmalines are usually found in granite and granite pegmatite. Magnesium-rich tourmalines, dravites, are generally restricted to schists and marble. Tourmaline is a durable mineral and can be found in minor amounts as grains in sandstone and conglomerate, and is part of the ZTR index for highly weathered sediments.

United States

Some fine gems and specimen material has been produced in the United States, with the first discoveries in 1822, in the state of Maine. California became a large producer of tourmaline in the early 1900s. The Maine deposits tend to produce crystals in raspberry pink-red as well as minty greens. The California deposits are known for bright pinks, as well as bicolor. During the early 1900s, Maine and California were the world's largest producers of gem tourmalines. The Empress Dowager Cixi of China loved pink tourmaline and bought large quantities for gemstones and carvings from the then new Himalaya Mine, located in San Diego County, California. It is not clear when the first tourmaline was found in California. Native Americans have used pink and green tourmaline as funeral gifts for centuries. The first documented case was in 1890 when Charles Russel Orcutt found pink tourmaline at what later became the Stewart Mine at Pala, San Diego County.

 World's Largest Tourmaline

A large cut tourmaline from Paraiba, measuring 36.44 x 33.75 x 21.85 mm (1.43 x 1.33 x 0.86 in) and weighing 191.87 carats, was included in the Guinness World Records. The large natural gem, owned by Billionaire Business Enterprises, is a bluish-green in color. The flawless oval shaped cut stone was presented in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on 14 October 2009.




Number 090416


"Diamond Jim...What’s a ‘Challenge Coin’ and why is it important to some people?"


Challenge coin
A challenge coin is a small coin or medallion (often military related), bearing an organization’s insignia or emblem and carried by the organization’s members. Traditionally, they are given to prove membership when challenged and to enhance morale. In addition, they are also collected by service members. In practice, challenge coins are normally presented by unit commanders in recognition of special achievement by a member of the unit. They are also exchanged in recognition of visits to an organization.


There are several stories detailing the origins of the challenge coin.

One such story is that the Roman Empire rewarded soldiers by presenting them with coins to recognize their achievements.


Another story dates challenge coins back to the origins of our country when some of our founding fathers were drafting the Articles of Confederation (the precursor documents to the Constitution for the United States of America). Since communication between the colonies was slow, to say the least, the brilliant men gathered in secret so that the British spies would not discover what the colonists were doing. To ensure that no spies were present during their many meetings, a coin was struck in very limited number and was issued to each man whose identity was verified. To gain entry into the meetings behind heavily fortified doors, the invited participants had to slide one of these coins through an opening in the door to someone waiting on the other side. Once the coin was acknowledged, the door was opened and the person was allowed inside. At the end of each meeting and before leaving the building, each person was re-issued one of the coins to be used for identity verification and access to the next meeting, and so on.


According to the most common story, challenge coins originated during World War I. Before the entry of the United States into the war in 1917, American volunteers from all parts of the country filled the newly formed flying squadrons. In one squadron, a wealthy lieutenant ordered medallions struck in solid bronze and presented them to his unit. One young pilot placed the medallion in a small leather pouch that he wore about his neck. Shortly after acquiring the medallion, the pilot's aircraft was severely damaged by ground fire. He was forced to land behind enemy lines and was immediately captured by a German patrol. In order to discourage his escape, the Germans took all of his personal identification except for the small leather pouch around his neck. In the meantime, he was taken to a small French town near the front. Taking advantage of a bombardment that night, he escaped. However, he was without personal identification. He succeeded in avoiding German patrols by donning civilian attire and reached the front lines. With great difficulty, he crossed no-man's land. Eventually, he stumbled onto a French outpost. Saboteurs had plagued the French in the sector. They sometimes masqueraded as civilians and wore civilian clothes. Not recognizing the young pilot's American accent, the French thought him to be a saboteur and made ready to execute him. He had no identification to prove his allegiance, but he did have his leather pouch containing the medallion. He showed the medallion to his would-be executioners and one of his French captors recognized the squadron insignia on the medallion. They delayed his execution long enough for him to confirm his identity. Instead of shooting him they gave him a bottle of wine.

Back at his squadron, it became tradition to ensure that all members carried their medallion or coin at all times. This was accomplished through challenge in the following manner: a challenger would ask to see the medallion, if the challenged could not produce a medallion, they were required to buy a drink of choice for the member who challenged them. If the challenged member produced a medallion, then the challenging member was required to pay for the drink. This tradition continued throughout the war and for many years after the war while surviving members of the squadron were still alive.

 Outside of the military

Challenge coins are also exchanged outside the military. NASCAR, the NFL, cadets of the Civil Air Patrol, Eagle Scouts and World Series of Poker all have their own challenge coins.  They are also becoming popular with police departments, fire  departments and fraternal organizations. In 2007, the Utah Symphony and Opera gave challenge coins to all of its staff and musicians, making it the first symphony organization in America to do so. Franklin Public School in Ontario has a coin that is given to graduates, featuring its mascot 'Frankie'. Many non-profits, especially those with connections to the military, give challenge coins to donors to acknowledge their support of the organization.

Harley Owners Group

In 2009, the Harley Owners Group (HOG) created and made available its own challenge coin to Harley-Davidson motorcycle owners through the HOG members only website, stating: "Those who ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles share a bond in much the same way as those who have served their country with pride. Carrying a H.O.G. National Challenge Coin in your pocket, on your bike or off, is a meaningful way to show your pride of Harley-Davidson ownership—while also paying tribute to those who serve." The HOG National Challenge coin, measures 1.75 inches (44 mm) in diameter and is minted in US from solid brass alloy with an antique finish. The HOG eagle logo is stamped on the coin. The Harley-Davidson bar and shield logo encircled with the words "the official riding club of Harley-Davidson" is stamped on the back.

Pineforest Jewelry has a very nice selection of Challenge Coins on display and for purchase. We can even customize Challenge Coins just for you.





Number 082916


Diamond Jim: "How did the internet begin?”

In ancient Israel , it came to pass that a trader by the name of Abraham Com did take unto himself a healthy young wife by the name of Dorothy (Dot for short).  Dot Com was a charming woman, broad of shoulder and long of leg. Indeed, she was often called Amazon Dot Com.

 And she said unto Abraham, her husband, "Why dost thou travel so far from town to town with thy goods when thou canst trade without ever leaving thy tent?"  And Abraham did look at her as though she were several saddle bags short of a camel load, but simply said, "How, dear?"

 And Dot replied, "I will place drums in all the towns and drums in between to send messages saying what you have for sale, and they will reply telling you who hath the best price. The sale can be made on the drums and delivery made by Uriah's Pony Stable (UPS)."

 Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way with the drums.  And the drums rang out and were an immediate success. Abraham sold all the goods he had at the top price, without ever having to move from his tent.

 To prevent neighboring countries from overhearing what the drums were saying, Dot devised a system that only she and the drummers knew.  It was known as Must Send Drum Over Sound (MSDOS), and she also developed a language to transmit ideas and pictures - Hebrew to The People (HTTP).

 And the young men did take to Dot Com's trading as doth the greedy horsefly take to camel dung. They were called Nomadic Ecclesiastical Rich Dominican Sybarites, or NERDS.  And lo, the land was so feverish with joy at the new riches and the deafening sound of drums that no one noticed that the real riches were going to that enterprising drum dealer, Brother William of Gates, who bought off every drum maker in the land.

 Indeed, he did insist on drums to be made that would work only with Brother Gates' drumheads and drumsticks.  And Dot did say, "Oh, Abraham, what we have started is being taken over by others."
 And Abraham looked out over the Bay of Ezekiel , or eBay as it came to be known, and he said, "We need a name that reflects what we are."  And Dot replied, "How about Young Ambitious Hebrew Owner Operators?"

 "YAHOO," said Abraham. And because it was Dot's idea, they named it YAHOO Dot Com.

 Abraham's cousin, Joshua, being the young Gregarious Energetic Educated Kid (GEEK) that he was, soon started using Dot's drums to locate things around the countryside. It soon became known as God's Own Official Guide to Locating Everything (GOOGLE).

 That is how it all began. And that's the truth!




 Number 082116


"Diamond Jim...How old is The United States Army?"

The United States Army

The United States Army (USA) is the largest branch of the United States Armed Forces and performs land-based military operations. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution, Article 2, Section 2, Clause 1 and United States Code, Title 10, Subtitle B, Chapter 301, Section 3001. As the largest and senior branch of the U.S. military, the modern U.S. Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed (14 June 1775) to fight the American Revolutionary War (1775–83)—before the U.S. was established as a country. After the Revolutionary War, the Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784, to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The United States Army considers itself descended from the Continental Army, and dates its institutional inception from the origin of that armed force in 1775 (so, The United States Army is approximately 241 years old).

As a uniformed military service, the Army is part of the Department of the Army, which is one of the three military departments of the Department of Defense. The U.S. Army is headed by a civilian senior appointed civil servant, the Secretary of the Army (SECARMY), and by a chief military officer, the Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA) who is also a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In the fiscal year 2016, the projected end strength for the Regular Army (USA) was 475,000 soldiers; the Army National Guard (ARNG) had 342,000 soldiers, and the United States Army Reserve (USAR) had 198,000 soldiers; the combined-component strength of the U.S. Army was 1,015,000 soldiers. As a branch of the armed forces, the mission of the U.S. Army is "to fight and win our Nation's wars, by providing prompt, sustained, land dominance, across the full range of military operations and the spectrum of conflict, in support of combatant commanders. The service participates in conflicts worldwide and is the major ground-based offensive and defensive force.

The Continental Army was created on 14 June 1775 by the Continental Congress as a unified army for the colonies to fight Great Britain, with George Washington appointed as its commander. The army was initially led by men who had served in the British Army or colonial militias and who brought much of British military heritage with them. As the Revolutionary War progressed, French aid, resources, and military thinking influenced the new army. A number of European soldiers came on their own to help, such as Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, who taught the army Prussian tactics and organizational skills.

The army fought numerous pitched battles and in the South 1780–81 sometimes used the Fabian strategy and hit-and-run tactics, hitting where the enemy was weakest, to wear down the British forces. Washington led victories against the British at Trenton and Princeton, but lost a series of battles around New York City in 1776 and Philadelphia in 1777. With a decisive victory at Yorktown, and the help of the French, the Continental Army prevailed against the British.

After the war, though, the Continental Army was quickly given land certificates and disbanded in a reflection of the republican distrust of standing armies. State militias became the new nation's sole ground army, with the exception of a regiment to guard the Western Frontier and one battery of artillery guarding West Point's arsenal. However, because of continuing conflict with Native Americans, it was soon realized that it was necessary to field a trained standing army. The Regular Army was at first very small, and after General St. Clair's defeat at the Battle of the Wabash, the Regular Army was reorganized as the Legion of the United States, which was established in 1791 and renamed the "United States Army" in 1796.

Army components

The task of organizing the U.S. Army commenced in 1775. In the first one hundred years of its existence, the United States Army was maintained as a small peacetime force to man permanent forts and perform other non-wartime duties such as engineering and construction works. During times of war, the U.S. Army was augmented by the much larger United States Volunteers which were raised independently by various state governments. States also maintained full-time militias which could also be called into the service of the army.


U.S. general officers, World War II, Europe

By the twentieth century, the U.S. Army had mobilized the U.S. Volunteers on four separate occasions during each of the major wars of the nineteenth century. During World War I, the "National Army" was organized to fight the conflict, replacing the concept of U.S. Volunteers. It was demobilized at the end of World War I, and was replaced by the Regular Army, the Organized Reserve Corps, and the State Militias. In the 1920s and 1930s, the "career" soldiers were known as the "Regular Army" with the "Enlisted Reserve Corps" and "Officer Reserve Corps" augmented to fill vacancies when needed.

In 1941, the "Army of the United States" was founded to fight World War II. The Regular Army, Army of the United States, the National Guard, and Officer/Enlisted Reserve Corps (ORC and ERC) existed simultaneously. After World War II, the ORC and ERC were combined into the United States Army Reserve. The Army of the United States was re-established for the Korean War and Vietnam War and was demobilized upon the suspension of the draft.

Currently, the army is divided into the Regular Army, the Army Reserve, and the Army National Guard. The army is also divided into major branches such as Air Defense Artillery, Infantry, Aviation, Signal Corps, Corps of Engineers, and Armor. Before 1903 members of the National Guard were considered state soldiers unless federalized (i.e., activated) by the President. Since the Militia Act of 1903 all National Guard soldiers have held dual status: as National Guardsmen under the authority of the governor of their state or territory and, when activated, as a reserve of the U.S. Army under the authority of the President.

Since the adoption of the total force policy, in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, reserve component soldiers have taken a more active role in U.S. military operations. For example, Reserve and Guard units took part in the Gulf War, peacekeeping in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The staff entire at Pineforest Jewelry salute all of our service men and women, from every branch of the military, stationed here in the USA and all over the world. You have our deep respect and our unending appreciation. 

If you like and appreciate your freedom, be sure to Thank a U.S. Military Veteran for putting themselves in 'harm's way' so that you can be safe and free!




Number 081416


"Diamond Jim...Does a genuine Violet Diamond really exist?"


Rio Tinto Unveils ‘Impossibly Rare’ Violet Diamond

The 2.83-carat Argyle Violet is “impossibly rare and limited by nature,” said Patrick Coppens, general manager of sales for Rio Tinto Diamonds, and will be “highly sought after for its beauty, size and provenance.”

 MAY 6, 2016

Melbourne, Australia--Last year, Rio Tinto made an astounding discovery at its Argyle mine in Western Australia and never said a word about it. 

The diamond mining company unearthed a 9.17-carat piece of rough that yielded a stone Rio Tinto Diamonds’ Patrick Coppens describes as “impossibly rare”--a 2.83-carat fancy deep grayish blue violet diamond that it dubbed the “Argyle Violet.” 

It is the largest violet diamond ever recovered from the mine. And now it will embark on a world tour, of sorts, as part of the 2016 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender. 

The Gemological Institute of America assigned the oval-shaped stone a color grade of fancy deep grayish blue violet. In a peer-reviewed article in the spring 2009 edition of Gems & Gemology, the GIA noted that the Argyle mine is the world’s only known source of type IaB hydrogen- and nitrogen-rich diamonds colored gray to blue to violet. The article also noted that the more violet-hued stones in this range are colored by nickel defects.

Rio Tinto said the Argyle Violet has a clarity of SI1. 

When asked for an estimated sale price, the mining company said it is difficult to know what the stone will sell for given the rarity of violet diamonds but noted that “violet diamonds sit in the limited company of red diamonds as an indicator of value.”  

In November 2014, Christie’s Hong Kong auctioned a heart-shaped 2.09-carat SI2 fancy red for $5.1 million, or $2.44 million per carat. 

If the Argyle Violet garners the same per-carat price, its sale price will total nearly $7 million. 

The oval-shaped Argyle Violet will be the star of the 2016 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender, Rio Tinto’s annual sale of rare diamonds from its Argyle mine in Western Australia. The mine produces 90 percent of the world’s pink diamonds.

The tender will commence with private trade viewings in June, traveling to Copenhagen, Hong Kong and New York. More details on other diamonds in the tender will be released at its launch in Copenhagen in early June.

The closing bid date for the tender is Oct. 12.

Note worthy:

Pure violet diamonds, which are so rare as to be almost non-existent, are sometimes created by the existence of hydrogen in the diamond’s crystal lattice.
Fancy violet diamonds are an extremely rare member of the purple diamond family, which frequently come with gray or blue as secondary colors. In the past decade or so, pure purple and violet diamonds have become highly sought after by both collectors and investors.

There are very few violet diamonds with a single, pure color and others exist with Grey, Greyish, and Bluish secondary hues.
Depending on the color combination of the stone, they have Fancy, Fancy Intense, Fancy Deep and Fancy Dark intensity grades.




Number 080716


"Diamond Jim...Who or What is the United States Marine Corps?"

United States Marine Corps


                                         Eagle, Globe and Anchor

 The United States Marine Corps(USMC) is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection, using the mobility of the United States Navy to, by Congressional mandate, rapidly deliver combined-arms task forces on land, at sea, and in the air. The U.S. Marine Corps is one of the four armed service branches in the U.S. Department of Defense and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest-ranking military officer in the U.S. armed forces, is a Marine Corps general.

The Marine Corps has been a component of the U.S. Department of the Navy since 30 June 1834, working closely with naval forces for training, transportation, and logistics. The USMC operates posts on land and aboard sea-going amphibious warfare ships around the world, and several of the Marines' tactical aviation squadrons, primarily Marine Fighter Attack squadrons, are also embedded in Navy carrier air wings and operate from the Navy's nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

Two battalions of Continental Marines were formed on 10 November 1775 in Philadelphia as a service branch of infantry troops capable of fighting for independence both at sea and on shore. The role of the Corps has since grown and evolved, expanding to aerial warfare and earning popular titles such as, "America's third air force", and, "second land army". The United States Marine Corps has distinguished itself as it has served in the majority of American wars and armed conflicts, from its inception to the modern era, and attained prominence in the 20th century when its theories and practices of amphibious warfare proved prescient and ultimately formed the cornerstone of the Pacific theater of World War II.

By the mid-20th century, the U.S. Marine Corps had become a major theorist of and the world's dominant practitioner of amphibious warfare. Its ability to rapidly respond on short notice to expeditionary crises gives it a strong role in the implementation and execution of American foreign policy. As of 2016, the USMC has around 182,000 active duty members and some 38,900 reserve Marines. It is the smallest of the U.S. armed forces within the U.S. DoD.

The USMC serves as an expeditionary force-in-readiness. As outlined in 10 U.S.C. § 5063 and as originally introduced under the National Security Act of 1947, it has three primary areas of responsibility:

·         The seizure or defense of advanced naval bases and other land operations to support naval campaigns;

·         The development of tactics, technique, and equipment used by amphibious landing forces in coordination with the Army and Air Force; and

·         Such other duties as the President may direct.

 This last clause, while seemingly redundant given the President's position as Commander-in-chief, is a codification of the expeditionary responsibilities of the Marine Corps. It derives from similar language in the Congressional acts "For the Better Organization of the Marine Corps" of 1834, and "Establishing and Organizing a Marine Corps" of 1798. In 1951, the House of Representatives' Armed Services Committee called the clause "one of the most important statutory – and traditional – functions of the Marine Corps." It noted that the corps has more often than not performed actions of a non-naval nature, including its famous actions in Tripoli, the War of 1812, Chapultepec, and numerous counter-insurgency and occupational duties (such as those in Central America), World War I, and the Korean War. While these actions are not accurately described as support of naval campaigns nor as amphibious warfare, their common thread is that they are of an expeditionary nature, using the mobility of the Navy to provide timely intervention in foreign affairs on behalf of American interests.

The Marine Corps fulfills a vital role in national security as an amphibious, expeditionary, air-ground combined arms task force, capable of forcible entry from the air, land, and sea. It is capable of asymmetric warfare with conventional, irregular, and hybrid forces. While the Marine Corps does not employ any unique combat arms, as a force it can rapidly deploy a combined-arms task force to almost anywhere in the world within days. The basic structure for all deployed units is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) that integrates a ground combat element, an aviation combat element and a logistics combat element under a common command element. While the creation of joint commands under the Goldwater–Nichols Act has improved inter-service coordination between each branch, the Corps' ability to permanently maintain integrated multi-element task forces under a single command provides a smoother implementation of combined-arms warfare principles.

 In addition to its primary duties, the Marine Corps conducts Visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) operations, as well as missions in direct support of the White House and the State Department. The Marine Band, dubbed the "President's Own" by Thomas Jefferson, provides music for state functions at the White House. Marines from Ceremonial Companies A & B, quartered in Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., guard presidential retreats, including Camp David, and the Marines of the Executive Flight Detachment of HMX-1 provide helicopter transport to the President and Vice President, with the radio call signs "Marine One" and "Marine Two", respectively. The Executive Flight Detachment also provides helicopter transport to Cabinet members and other VIPs. By authority of the 1946 Foreign Service Act, the Marine Security Guards of the Marine Embassy Security Command provide security for American embassies, legations, and consulates at more than 140 posts worldwide. The relationship between the Department of State and the U.S. Marine Corps is nearly as old as the corps itself. For over 200 years, Marines have served at the request of various Secretaries of State. After World War II, an alert, disciplined force was needed to protect American embassies, consulates, and legations throughout the world. In 1947, a proposal was made that the Department of War furnish Marine Corps personnel for Foreign Service guard duty under the provisions of the Foreign Service Act of 1946. A formal Memorandum of Agreement was signed between the Department of State and the Secretary of the Navy on December 15, 1948, and 83 Marines were deployed to overseas missions. During the first year of the MSG program, 36 detachments were deployed worldwide.

 The staff entire at Pineforest Jewelry salute all of our service men and women, from every branch of the military, stationed here in the USA and all over the world. You have our deep respect and our appreciation.  *** SEMPER FIDELIS *** It’s not just a slogan…it’s a “Way of Life”.

 Do you like and appreciate your freedom?  Thank a U.S. Military Veteran for putting themselves in 'harm's way' so that you can be free!




Number 073116


"Diamond Jim...What’s the best way to clean my Jewelry?"

 Here’s how to properly & safely care for your Fine Jewelry



Clean your sterling silver jewelry with a soft 100% cotton (nub free) cloth or flannel cloth. Remember, silver is a very soft metal and you can scratch it if you aren't careful so don't rub it too briskly. Never use anything but a clean 100% cotton or a special sterling silver cleaning cloth or very soft bristle brush, like a baby’s tooth brush or a horsehair silver brush. Paper, polyester, and coarse fabrics often contain wood fibers or synthetics that can cause tiny scratches in the surface of your fine sterling silver jewelry. Dirt left over from previous cleanings can scratch the surface as well.

Note:  Focus on preventative care by storing your silver jewelry in a closed box or plastic baggy as silver will tarnish when exposed to air.

Diamonds are forever, as long as you take good care of them!


Bridal jewelry, such as engagement rings and wedding bands are typically worn daily, and can appear like they've lost their sparkle if not cleaned on a regular basis. Lotions put film on diamonds and reduce their shininess. Don't wear diamond jewelry while doing rough work. Avoid chlorinated pools and hot tubs. Avoid touching diamonds with your fingers, as smudges can affect a diamond's luster and fire.


If you have questions, feel free to visit an expert Jeweler for advice on cleaning and care. Some jewelry stores will gladly recommend the best products and procedures to use when caring for your diamonds, to help keep them in great shape.

Use a cotton or flannel cloth to wipe your jewelry clean. A special jewelry polishing cloth would be perfect (a popular choice is Sunshine Polishing Cloth). Using straight, back and forth strokes, polish your jewelry and remove any surface dirt and dust. Do not rub in a circular motion as that can scratch the surface of your jewelry. Then use a cleaning solution to remove grime and dirt.

Just like a diamond, a cubic zirconia can be cleaned with warm water and mild soap. Use a soft, cosmetic applicator to reach crevices. However, if you wish, you can use a trusted jewelry cleaner to remove any dirt and dust from your zirconium.

Store your jewelry in an airtight, sealable plastic bag. If this is not possible, store your jewelry in a lined jewelry box, away from the outside air.

Pearls are very soft and need special care and attention. You should never store your pearls in a jewelry box next to other jewelry as the box and other pieces of jewelry can damage the pearls by scratching and nicking. Instead keep your pearl in a fabric lined box or fabric pouch.

Human skin produces acids that can harm your pearls, so if worn regularly pearls should be wiped down with a soft cloth after every wearing. A pearl necklace will gradually absorb acid from the skin that will eat into the pearl causing it to lose its luster. Wiping pearls off with either a wet or dry soft cloth will prevent dirt from accumulating and keep perspiration, which is slightly acidic, from eating away at the nacre. You can also use a drop of olive oil on your cleansing cloth to help maintain your pearls’ luster.

Along with being soft and easily scratched, pearls can be damaged by chemicals and heat. Only use jewelry cleaners that are clearly marked safe for pearls. Never use ultrasonic cleansers, dish or wash detergents, bleaches, baking soda or ammonia based cleansers. Never use toothbrushes, or any other abrasive materials to clean your pearls. Always take off your pearls before using any cosmetics, hair spray, or perfume and avoid heat and dry air because both can cause pearls to turn brown, dry out, and crack.

Clean rhodium plated silver with warm water and a mild liquid soap (like ivory dishwashing soap). Rinse and dry with a soft polishing cloth immediately to avoid mineral residue from the water.

Never use any chemicals on your rhodium items. Never use toothpaste and never brush with a toothbrush. Don't use polishing cloths that are intended for use on uncoated silver or for gold jewelry. If you have an antique or heirloom piece, don't clean it without consulting an expert about your item.

Gold doesn’t tarnish, but it can be dirtied or dulled by the oils in your skin, body lotion, makeup or other substances. There are lots of products out there that promise to clean gold, but you can do it easily with mild detergent and a soft cloth.

Mix a squeeze of mild dish detergent with warm water in a bowl. Put the gold item into the soap mixture and let sit for a few minutes. Use a soft toothbrush to gently scrub the jewelry. Remove item from soapy water, rinse it and dry thoroughly with a soft

Gemstones are quite literally hard as rock, buy they can be damaged from careless handling and negligence. Here are some tips for keeping your gems and jewelry looking fabulous for years to come.

Remember, even the hardest gemstone variety can be vulnerable to breakage if it has inclusions that weaken the crystal structure. Exercise common sense: if you have a ring set with a softer gem variety or an included stone, take it off before strenuous exercise. Even the hardest gem of them all, the diamond, can shatter or break in two with a single well-placed blow.

Never remove rings by pulling on the stone: that habit may result in a loose and then a  lost gem. Most importantly, store each piece of gemstone jewelry separately so that harder stones don’t scratch softer ones. Almost every gemstone is much harder than the metal it is set in. Gems can scratch the finish on your gold, silver or platinum if you throw your jewelry in a heap in a drawer or jewelry box.

Rings in particular tend to collect dust and soap behind the gem, especially if worn often. You need to clean them regularly to let the light in so your gems can shine. To clean transparent crystalline gemstones, simply soak them in water with a touch of gentle dish soap. Use a bowl of water rather than the sink to eliminate the risk of anything going down the drain. If necessary, use a soft toothbrush to scrub behind the stone. Rinse the soap off and pat dry with a lint-free cloth (you want to make sure threads won't catch on the prongs).

Think twice before putting gems in an ultrasonic cleaner. Diamonds, rubies and sapphires will be fine but many other gems many not be, in particular emerald, opal, pearls, and peridot: when in doubt, leave it out.

Organic gems like pearls, coral, and amber should only be wiped clean with a moist cloth. Due to their organic nature, these gems are both soft and porous. Be careful about chemicals in hairspray, cosmetics, or perfume: they can, over time, damage pearls in particular. Opals also require special care. Never use an ultrasonic, never use ammonia, and avoid heat and strong light. Opaque gemstones like lapis lazuli, turquoise, and malachite, require special care because they are rocks, not crystals of a single mineral like transparent gems. These gem materials should just be wiped clean gently with a moist cloth. These gemstones can be porous and may absorb chemicals, even soap, and they may build up inside the stone and discolor it. Never use an ultrasonic cleaner and never use ammonia or any chemical solution.

Stainless steel jewelry won't rust but it can tarnish over time. Steel jewelry does not tarnish as fast as silver jewelry but the rate of tarnishing depends on how its used. As with any jewelry it is best to avoid contact with chemicals (lotions, chlorine from pools etc.) in order to keep it cleaner longer. Steel jewelry is easy to clean, you can use mild dishwashing liquid (two or three drops in warm water will do) and wipe it down with a soft cloth. Steel jewelry is very durable and can withstand a lot of wear and tear, as opposed to silver which is a very soft metal.




Number 072416


"Diamond Jim...How is Natural Yellow Gold made into White Gold or Rose Gold?"

 Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au (from Latin: aurum) and the atomic number 79. In its purest form, it is a bright, slightly reddish yellow, dense, soft, malleable and ductile metal. Chemically, gold is a transition metal and a group 11 element. It is one of the least reactive chemical elements, and is solid under standard conditions. The metal therefore occurs often in free elemental (native) form, as nuggets or grains, in rocks, in veins and in alluvial deposits. It occurs in a solid solution series with the native element silver (as electrum) and also naturally alloyed with copper and palladium. Less commonly, it occurs in minerals as gold compounds, often with tellurium (gold tellurides).

Gold's atomic number of 79 makes it one of the higher atomic number elements that occur naturally in the universe. It is thought to have been produced in supernova nucleosynthesis and from the collision of neutron stars and to have been present in the dust from which the Solar System formed. Because the Earth was molten when it was just formed, almost all of the gold present in the early Earth probably sank into the planetary core. Therefore, most of the gold that is present today in the Earth's crust and mantle is thought to have been delivered to Earth later, by asteroid impacts during the Late Heavy Bombardment, about 4 billion years ago.


Gold is commonly formed into bars or coin for use in monetary exchange.

Gold is the most malleable of all metals; a single gram can be beaten into a sheet of 1 square meter, and an ounce into 300 square feet. Gold leaf can be beaten thin enough to become transparent. The transmitted light appears greenish blue, because gold strongly reflects yellow and red. Such semi-transparent sheets also strongly reflect infrared light, making them useful as infrared (radiant heat) shields in visors of heat-resistant suits, and in sun-visors for spacesuits. Gold is a good conductor of heat and electricity and reflects infrared radiation strongly.

 White Gold 

White gold is an alloy of gold and at least one white metal, usually nickel, manganese or palladium. Like yellow gold, the purity of white gold is given in karats.

White gold's properties vary depending on the metals and proportions used. As a result, white gold alloys can be used for many different purposes; while a nickel alloy is hard and strong and therefore good for rings and pins, gold-palladium alloys are soft, pliable and good for white gold gemstone settings, sometimes with other metals like copper, silver, and platinum for weight and durability, although this often requires specialized goldsmiths. The term white gold is used very loosely in the industry to describe karat gold alloys with a whitish hue. It is a common misconception that the color of the rhodium plating, which is seen on many commercial pieces, is actually the color of white gold. The term "white" covers a large spectrum of colors that borders or overlaps pale yellow, tinted brown, and even very pale rose. The jewelry industry often conceals these off-white colors by rhodium plating.

A common white gold formulation consists of 90 wt.% gold and 10 wt.% nickel. Copper can be added to increase malleability.

The strength of gold–nickel–copper alloys is caused by formation of two phases, a gold-rich Au–Cu, and a nickel-rich Ni–Cu, and the resulting hardening of the material.

The alloys used in jewelry industry are gold–palladium–silver and gold–nickel–copper–zinc. Palladium and nickel act as primary bleaching agents for gold; zinc acts as a secondary bleaching agent to attenuate the color of copper.

The nickel used in some white gold alloys can cause an allergic reaction when worn over long periods (also notably on some wrist-watch casings). This reaction, typically a minor skin rash, occurs in about one out of eight people and because of this, many countries do not use nickel in their white gold formulations.

 Rose, red, and pink gold

Rose gold is a gold and copper alloy widely used for specialized jewelry. Rose gold, also known as pink gold and red gold, was popular in Russia at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and was also known as Russian gold although this term is now obsolete. Rose gold jewelry is becoming more popular in the 21st century and is commonly used for wedding rings, bracelets, and other jewelry.

Although the names are often used interchangeably, the difference between red, rose, and pink gold is the copper content: the higher the copper content, the stronger the red coloration. Pink gold uses the least copper, followed by rose gold, with red gold having the highest copper content. Examples of the common alloys for 18K rose gold, 18K red gold, and 18K pink gold:

18K Red gold: 75% gold, 25% copper

18K Rose gold: 75% gold, 22.25% copper, 2.75% silver

18K Pink gold: 75% gold, 20% copper, 5% silver

12K Red gold: 50% gold and 50% copper.

Up to 15% zinc can be added to copper-rich alloys to change their color to reddish yellow or dark yellow.

During ancient times, due to impurities in the smelting process, gold frequently turned a reddish color. This is why many Greco-Roman texts, and even many texts from the Middle Ages, describe gold as "red".

Rose gold
Also known as "Crown Gold".

The highest karat version of rose gold is also known as crown gold, which is 22 karat. Eighteen karat red gold may be made of 25% copper and 75% gold. For 18 karat rose gold, typically about 4% silver is added to 75% gold and 21% copper to give a rose color. 14 karat red gold is often found in the Middle East and contains 41.67% copper.

High-end musical flutes are very commonly made of solid rose gold, the most common alloy being 14K.




Number 071716


"Diamond Jim...What is a Moissanite and what makes it different from a Diamond?"

Moissanite, also known as silicon carbide, is a gemstone unlike any other. With more brilliance and fire than diamond, this stone has been a source of intense interest ever since its discovery more than a century ago. Moissanite dances with sparkles of light that draw the eye and delight the senses. Its unique internal beauty lends a captivating allure to jewelry, making a magnificent statement at a fraction of the cost of other gemstones. But only you know what you paid - envious passers-by see only a grand statement of opulence.

Today’s alluring Moissanite gemstones are the end result of a 110 year old geological discovery. Moissanite was first discovered in 1893 by the Nobel Prize-winning French chemist Dr. Henri Moissan at the site of a massive meteorite strike in Arizona. The tiny particles he unearthed were initially mistaken for diamond due to their hardness and brilliant reflectiveness, but after painstaking testing, were identified as naturally-occurring silicon carbide. This intriguing new stone was named Moissanite in his honor, and Moissan spent the rest of his life attempting to re-create this exceptional mineral, which is among the hardest materials on Earth.

Moissanite vs Diamonds
The resulting gemstones exhibit more brilliance than diamond, and are more durable than ruby, emerald, and sapphire. With a refractive index of 2.65-2.69, Moissanite is truly the World’s Most Brilliant Gem®. And thanks to a dispersion level that produces 2.4 times the fire of diamond, Moissanite bends light into mesmerizing rainbow flashes of fire. By day and by night, Moissanite’s conspicuous brilliance is spectacular.

The unrivaled fire and brilliance of Moissanite is guaranteed to last forever. The sparkle that makes this gemstone so beloved will never fade or dull, and is protected by a limited lifetime warranty from Charles & Colvard. Due to a hardness that is second only to that of diamond, Moissanite is highly unlikely to ever break, scratch or chip. And unlike diamonds, Moissanite stones are conflict-free and sustainable, grown as they are in a lab rather than mined from the earth.

Natural Moissanite is incredibly rare on Earth; in fact, the largest natural Moissanite gems are too small to be set into jewelry. Nearly one hundred years after Dr. Moissan’s discovery, scientists at a research laboratory in central North Carolina perfected and patented the innovative process that creates silicon carbide crystals for Charles & Colvard®. Within a controlled environment that mimics the forces of nature, our researchers produce durable, super-hard crystals with a minimum of ecological impact, and absolutely no mining. Today, Charles & Colvard® remains committed to producing the highest quality Moissanite gemstones using innovative techniques and technologies.


(a three stone Moissanite engagement ring)

 Moissanite was introduced to the jewelry market in 1998. It is regarded as a diamond alternative, with some optical properties exceeding those of diamond. Its lower price and less exploitative mining practices necessary to obtain it make it a popular alternative to diamonds. Due in part to the similar thermal conductivity of Moissanite and diamond, it is a popular target for scams; however, higher electrical conductivity and birefringence of Moissanite may alert a buyer to fraud. In addition, thermoluminescence is exhibited in Moissanite, such that heating it gradually will cause it to change color starting at around 150 degrees Fahrenheit. This color change can be diagnostic for distinguishing diamond and Moissanite, although birefringence and electrical conductivity differential are more practical diagnostic differentiators. On the Mohs scale of mineral hardness it is a 9.5, with a diamond being a 10. In many developed countries, the use of Moissanite in jewelry has been patented; these patents expired in August 2015 for the United States, and will expire in 2016 in most other countries except Mexico, where it will remain under patent until 2018. Moissanite gemstones are sometimes marketed as amora gems, as well as under the trademark Berzelian.




Number 071016


"Diamond Jim...What are Pearls and how is one type different from the next?"


For centuries, pearls have been a symbol of beauty and purity. Today, they are regarded as both classic and contemporary, coming in many more fashionable styles than your grandmother’s traditional strand of pearls.


Learning about types of pearls is important when adding items to your jewelry collection.

Pearl Education

Pearls, natural or cultured, are formed when a mollusk produces layers of nacre (pronounced NAY-kur) around some type of irritant inside its shell. In natural pearls, the irritant may be another organism from the water. In cultured pearls, a mother-of-pearl bead or a piece of tissue is inserted (by man) into the mollusk to start the process. 

For both, the quality of the nacre dictates the quality of the luster, or shine of the pearl, which is very important to its beauty and its value. The surface of the pearl should be smooth and free of marks while the overall shape could be round, oval, pear-shaped, or even misshapen. Misshapen pearls are called baroque pearls.

While shopping for pearls, there are various lengths available:

A collar fits directly against the throat
A choker rests at the base of the neck
The princess length reaches near the collarbone
A matinee length is usually 20-24 inches
The Opera length is 30-36 inches
The longest length, known as a rope, refers to all strands longer than 36 inches
Necklaces can also be classified as uniform (where all pearls are about the same size) or graduated (pearls change uniformly from ends to center).

Natural Pearls
Natural pearls are extremely rare. Historically, many were found in the Persian Gulf; unfortunately, today, most have already been harvested. You may be able to purchase small, natural pearls, but they will be costly.

Cultured Pearls
Cultured pearls are grown in pearl farms. The mollusks are raised until they are old enough to accept the mother-of-pearl bead nucleus. Through a delicate surgical procedure, the technician implants the bead and then the mollusks are returned to the water and cared for while the pearl forms.

Not all produce a pearl; and not all the pearls are high quality. Over 10,000 pearls may be sorted before a 16” single strand of beautifully matched pearls is assembled.

Pearls can be found in saltwater and in freshwater. There are also different types of mollusks that produce very different looking pearls.

Saltwater Pearls
Saltwater pearls include the akoya cultured pearls grown in Japanese and Chinese waters. They range in size from 2mm (tiny) to 10mm (rare) and are usually white or cream in color and round in shape.

Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines produce the South Sea pearl – the largest of all the pearls. They range in size from 9mm to 20mm and can be naturally white, cream, or golden in color.

Tahitian pearls are interestingly not exclusively from Tahiti – they’re grown in several of the islands of French Polynesia, including Tahiti. Their typical sizes range from 8mm to 16mm. These naturally colored pearls are collectively called black pearls, but their colors include gray, blue, green, and purple.

Freshwater Pearls
These pearls are grown in freshwater lakes, rivers, and ponds, predominately in China. Although many are white and resemble the akoya cultured pearls in shape and size, they can also be produced in various shapes and in an array of pastel colors.

Many freshwater pearls don’t have a bead nucleus — only a piece of tissue — resulting in a pearl with thicker nacre than the akoya.

Imitation pearls
Imitation pearls are usually a coated glass bead. Most have a high luster, but not the depth of luster seen on high quality cultured pearls.




Number 070316


"Diamond Jim...What is the birthstone for July?"



There’s no better way to demonstrate your love than by giving a ruby in celebration of a July birthday. Rubies arouse the senses, stir the imagination, and are said to guarantee health, wisdom, wealth and success in love.

Fine-quality ruby is extremely rare, and the color of the gem is most important to its value. The most prized color is a medium or medium-dark vivid red or slightly purplish red. If the gem is too light or has too much purple or orange, it will be called a fancy-color sapphire.

A ruby is a pink to blood-red colored gemstone, a variety of the mineral corundum (aluminium oxide). The red color is caused mainly by the presence of the element chromium. Its name comes from ruber, Latin for red. Other varieties of gem-quality corundum are called sapphires. Ruby is considered one of the four precious stones, together with sapphire, emerald and diamond.

Prices of rubies are primarily determined by color. The brightest and most valuable "red" called blood-red or "pigeon blood", commands a large premium over other rubies of similar quality. After color follows clarity: similar to diamonds, a clear stone will command a premium, but a ruby without any needle-like rutile inclusions may indicate that the stone has been treated. Cut and carat(weight) are also an important factor in determining the price. Ruby is the traditional birthstone for July and is usually more pink than garnet, although some rhodolite garnets have a similar pinkish hue to most rubies. The world's most expensive ruby is the Sunrise Ruby.

Rubies have a hardness of 9.0 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. Among the natural gems only moissanite and diamond are harder, with diamond having a Mohs hardness of 10.0 and moissanite falling somewhere in between corundum (ruby) and diamond in hardness.

All natural rubies have imperfections in them, including color impurities and inclusions of rutile needles known as "silk". Gemologists use these needle inclusions found in natural rubies to distinguish them from synthetics, simulants, or substitutes. Usually the rough stone is heated before cutting. Almost all rubies today are treated in some form, with heat treatment being the most common practice. However, rubies that are completely untreated but still of excellent quality command a large premium.

Some rubies show a three-point or six-point asterism or "star". These rubies are cut into cabochons to display the effect properly. Asterisms are best visible with a single-light source, and move across the stone as the light moves or the stone is rotated. Such effects occur when light is reflected off the "silk" (the structurally oriented rutile needle inclusions) in a certain way. This is one example where inclusions increase the value of a gemstone. Furthermore, rubies can show color changes—though this occurs very rarely—as well aschatoyancy or the "cat's eye" effect.



Number 062616


 "Diamond Jim...What is the true meaning of Independence Day and the 4th of July?"

Independence Day (United States)

"Fourth of July" and "4th of July”

Independence Day of the United States, also referred to as the Fourth of July or July Fourth in the U.S., is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, by the Continental Congress declaring that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and no longer part of the British Empire. Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the National Day of the United States.


During the American Revolution, the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence that had been proposed in June by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia declaring the United States independent from Great Britain rule. After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining this decision, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five, with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author. Congress debated and revised the wording of the Declaration, finally approving it on July 4. A day earlier, John Adams had written to his wife Abigail:

“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

Adams's prediction was off by two days. From the outset, Americans celebrated independence on July 4, the date shown on the much-publicized Declaration of Independence, rather than on July 2, the date the resolution of independence was approved in a closed session of Congress.

Historians have long disputed whether Congress actually signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, even though Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin all later wrote that they had signed it on that day. Most historians have concluded that the Declaration was signed nearly a month after its adoption, on August 2, 1776, and not on July 4 as is commonly believed.

Coincidentally, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence later to serve as Presidents of the United States, died on the same day: July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration. Although not a signer of the Declaration of Independence, but another Founding Father who became a President, James Monroe, died on July 4, 1831, thus becoming the third President in a row who died on the holiday. Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President, was born on July 4, 1872, and, so far, is the only U.S. President to have been born on Independence Day.


·         In 1777, thirteen gunshots were fired in salute, once at morning and once again as evening fell, on July 4 in Bristol, Rhode Island. Philadelphia celebrated the first anniversary in a manner a modern American would find quite familiar: an official dinner for the Continental Congress, toasts, 13-gun salutes, speeches, prayers, music, parades, troop reviews, and fireworks. Ships were decked with red, white, and blue bunting. In 1778, from his headquarters at Ross Hall, near New Brunswick, New Jersey, General George Washington marked July 4 with a double ration of rum for his soldiers and an artillery salute (feu de joie). Across the Atlantic Ocean, ambassadors John Adams and Benjamin Franklin held a dinner for their fellow Americans in Paris, France. In 1779, July 4 fell on a Sunday. The holiday was celebrated on Monday, July 5.

·         In 1781, the Massachusetts General Court became the first state legislature to recognize July 4 as a state celebration.

·         In 1783, Moravians in Salem, North Carolina, held a celebration of July 4 with a challenging music program assembled by Johann Friedrich Peter. This work was titled "The Psalm of Joy." This is recognized as the first recorded celebration and is still celebrated there today.

·         In 1791, the first recorded use of the name "Independence Day" occurred.

·         In 1870, the U.S. Congress made Independence Day an unpaid holiday for federal employees.

·         In 1938, Congress changed Independence Day to a paid federal holiday.



Independence Day is a national holiday marked by patriotic displays. Similar to other summer-themed events, Independence Day celebrations often take place outdoors. Independence Day is a federal holiday, so all non-essential federal institutions (like the postal service and federal courts) are closed on that day. Many politicians make it a point on this day to appear at a public event to praise the nation's heritage, laws, history, society, and people.

Families often celebrate Independence Day by hosting or attending a picnic or barbecue and take advantage of the day off and, in some years, long weekend to gather with relatives. Decorations (e.g., streamers, balloons, and clothing) are generally colored red, white, and blue, the colors of the American flag. Parades are often in the morning, while fireworks displays occur in the evening at such places as parks, fairgrounds, or town squares.

The night before the Fourth was once the focal point of celebrations, marked by raucous gatherings often incorporating bonfires as their centerpiece. In New England, towns competed to build towering pyramids, assembled from barrels and casks. They were lit at nightfall, to usher in the celebration. The highest were in Salem, Massachusetts (on Gallows Hill, the famous site of the execution of 13 women and 6 men for witchcraft in 1692 during the Salem witch trials, where the tradition of bonfires in celebration had persisted), composed of as many as forty tiers of barrels; these are the tallest bonfires ever recorded. The custom flourished in the 19th and 20th centuries, and is still practiced in some New England towns.

Independence Day fireworks are often accompanied by patriotic songs such as the national anthem "The Star-Spangled Banner", "God Bless America", "America the Beautiful", "My Country, 'Tis of Thee", "This Land Is Your Land", "Stars and Stripes Forever", and, regionally, "Yankee Doodle" in northeastern states and "Dixie" in southern states. Some of the lyrics recall images of the Revolutionary War or the War of 1812. 




Number 061916


"Diamond Jim...What is Flag Day and what does it mean?"

 Flag Day in the United States

People across the United States celebrate Flag Day on June 14 each year to honor the United States flag and to commemorate the flag’s adoption. On the same day, the United States Army celebrates its birthday.


Flag Day honors the United States flag. 

What Do People Do?

Flag Day falls within National Flag Week, a time when Americans reflect on the foundations of the nation’s freedom. The flag of the United States represents freedom and has been an enduring symbol of the country’s ideals since its early days. During both events, Americans also remember their loyalty to the nation, reaffirm their belief in liberty and justice, and observe the nation’s unity.

Many people in the United States honor this day by displaying the American flag at homes and public buildings. Other popular ways of observing this holiday include: flag-raising ceremonies; Flag Day services; school quizzes and essay competitions about the American flag; musical salutes; street parades; and awards for special recognition.

Organizations such as The National Flag Day Foundation are actively involved in coordinating activities centered on the event and keeping the flag’s traditions alive. Following Flag Day is Honor America Days, a 21-day period through to Independence Day (July 4) to honor America. During this period, people hold public gatherings and activities to celebrate and honor the nation.

Public Life

Although Flag Day is a nationwide observance, it is not a public holiday in many parts of the United States. It is a legal holiday in a few areas in the USA, such as Montour County in Pennsylvania.


On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress replaced the British symbols of the Grand Union flag with a new design featuring 13 white stars in a circle on a field of blue and 13 red and white stripes – one for each state. Although it is not certain, this flag may have been made by the Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross, who was an official flag maker for the Pennsylvania Navy. The number of stars increased as the new states entered the Union, but the number of stripes stopped at 15 and was later returned to 13.

In June 1886 Bernard Cigrand made his first public proposal for the annual observance of the birth of the flag when he wrote an article titled “The Fourteenth of June” in the old Chicago Argus newspaper. Cigrand’s effort to ensure national observance of Flag Day finally came when President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling for a nationwide observance of the event on June 14, 1916. However, Flag Day did not become official until August 1949, when President Harry Truman signed the legislation and proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day. In 1966, Congress also requested that the President issue annually a proclamation designating the week in which June 14 occurs as National Flag Week.

The President is requested to issue each year a proclamation to: call on government officials in the USA to display the flag of the United States on all government buildings on Flag Day; and to urge US residents to observe Flag Day as the anniversary of the adoption on June 14, 1777, by the Continental Congress of the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the United States.


The American flag, also nicknamed as “Old Glory” or “star-spangled banner”, has changed designs over the centuries. It consists of 13 equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton bearing 50 small, white, five-pointed stars. Each of the 50 stars represents one of the 50 states in the United States and the 13 stripes represent the original 13 colonies that became the first states in the Union.



Number 061216


Diamond Jim: "What is the history of Jewelry?"


Here's a Timeline of Jewelry

·         110.000 - 73.000 BC - Decorative sea shell beads found in the archeological digs in Morocco. They were probably used as amulets. Drilled shells have also been found in Israel, Algeria and South Africa.

·         38.000 BC - Beads made from bone and animal teeth found in France.

·         28.000 BC - Fossilized shells and ivory beads found in the East Gravettian culture, located in modern Czech Republic.

·         4400 BC - Around the time of first domesticated animals and invention of wheel, ancient Thracian civilization produced oldest known objects made from gold.

·         5000- 30 BC - Use of copper starts a new era in jewelry production, and secrets of alluvial gold gathering arrives in Egypt around 4000 BC. They quickly start producing glazed steatite beads and countless jewelry designs based on scarab beetles, scrolls, winged birds, tigers, jackals and antelopes. Popular gemstones of that time were carnelian, feldspar, amethyst, chalcedony, lapis lazuli and turquoise.

·         2750 - 1200 BC - Ancient Mesopotamia produced wide range of jewelry based on the design of lives, grapes, cones and spirals. Gemstones that they used were agate, lapis, jasper and carnelian.

·         1400 - 30BC - Greek jewelry was made in the style of animals and shells and was infused with the amethysts, pearls, chalcedony, cornelian, garnet and emeralds.

·         500 BC - 400 AD - Ancient Roma preferred seal rings, brooches, amulets and talismans that were infused with the designs of animals and coiling snakes. Most popular gemstones were sapphires, emeralds, pearls, amber, garnets, jet and diamonds.

·         400 - 1000 AD - In European Dark Ages use of jewelry was not common, except among higher nobility and royalty.

·         1066 - 1485 - Medieval jewelry finally become widespread by the help of religion. The most famous designs of that time were hair and cloth jewelry that was worn during religious ceremonies. They were adorned with gemstones such as rubies, sapphires, pearls, emeralds, semi-precious stones and diamonds.

·         1500 -1830 - Arrival of Renaissance and Georgian time period brought rise of jewelry use in entire Europe. Necklaces (single or multi strand), earrings (ordinary or with chandeliers), and many other designs were decorated with the images of animals. Intricately designed gemstones became very popular to the point that diamond jewelry became commonly used as a part of evening attire.

·         1835 - 1900 - Reign of English Queen Victoria had a profound effect of fashion and jewelry tastes in Europe.

·         Early 1900s - These years were remembered for the Art Noveau and Edwardian styles.

·         1920 - 1935 - Roaring Twenties brought the rise of the Art Deco, which introduced jewelry of vibrant colors, filled with geometrical shapes, abstract designs, cubism, modernism and oriental art. It also popularized wearing of wristwatches.

·         1939 - 1949 - Because of influence of World War II and widespread embargoes on gemstones, popular jewelry shifted to the more metal based designs adorned with patriotic motifs and semi-precious and synthetic gemstones.

·         1950s - Post war years saw the return of brightly colored jewelry, heavy use of rhinestones and big beads. Diamonds solidified its spot as the most popular gemstone. 



Number 060516


 Diamond Jim: "What is the history of Father's Day?"

Though Father’s Day wasn’t made a national holiday until 1972, the efforts of one woman in Washington sparked a movement to celebrate dads long before then.

Sonora Dodd and the First Father's Day

In 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington, was inspired to create a holiday honoring fathers. William Jackson Smart, her father, was a farmer and Civil War veteran that raised Sonora and her five younger brothers by himself after his wife, Ellen, died giving birth to their youngest child in 1898. While attending a Mother’s Day church service in 1909, Sonora, then 27, came up with the idea.

Within a few months, Sonora had convinced the Spokane Ministerial Association and the YMCA to set aside a Sunday in June to celebrate fathers. She proposed June 5, her father’s birthday, but the ministers chose the third Sunday in June so that they would have more time after Mother’s Day (the second Sunday in May) to prepare their sermons. So it was that on June 19, 1910, Sonora delivered presents to handicapped fathers, boys from the YMCA decorated their lapels with fresh-cut roses (red for living fathers, white for the deceased), and the city’s ministers devoted their homilies to fatherhood.


 A National Holiday

The widely publicized events in Spokane struck a chord that reached all the way to Washington, D.C., and Sonora's celebration started its path to becoming a national holiday.

·         In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson and his family personally observed the day.

·         Eight years later, President Calvin Coolidge signed a resolution in favor of Father’s Day “to establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations.”

·         In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed an executive order that the holiday be celebrated on the third Sunday in June.

·         Under President Richard Nixon, in 1972, Congress passed an act officially making Father’s Day a national holiday. (Six years later, Sonora died at age 96.) 



Number 052916-1


"Diamond Jim: What is the birthstone for June?"


June counts three gems as birthstones: pearl, Alexandrite, and moonstone.



For centuries, pearls have been used as an adornment., and were one of the favorite gem materials of the Roman Empire. Later in Tudor England, the 1500s were known as the pearl age. 

Pearls are unique as they are the only gems from living sea creatures and require no faceting or polishing to reveal their natural beauty. In the early 1900s, the first successful commercial culturing of round saltwater pearls began. Since the 1920s, cultured pearls have almost completely replaced natural pearls in the market.

The qualities that determine the overall value of a natural or cultured pearl or a piece of pearl jewelry are size, shape, color, luster, surface quality, nacre quality, and—for  jewelry with two or more pearls—matching.

Size: When other value factors are equal, larger pearls are rarer and more valuable than smaller pearls of the same type.

Shape: Round is the most difficult shape to culture, making it the rarest cultured pearl shape and—if all other factors are equal—also generally the most valuable. There are exceptions, though. Well-formed pear, oval, or baroque (irregularly shaped) cultured pearls are also prized by pearl lovers.

Color: Natural and cultured pearls occur in a broad range of hues. There are warm hues like yellow, orange, and pink, and cool hues like blue, green, and violet. Pearls have a wide range of tone from light to dark. Pearl colors tend to be muted, with a soft, subtle quality.



A relatively modern gem, Alexandrite, was first discovered in Russia in 1831 during the reign of its namesake, Czar Alexander II, and is an extremely rare chrysoberyl with chameleon-like qualities. Its color is a lovely green in both daylight and fluorescent light; it changes color to a purplish red in incandescent light. 

Due to its rarity, some jewelers stock synthetic versions of this enchanting gemstone. (Synthetic gemstones are man-made alternatives to the natural material, possessing the same physical, optical, and chemical properties as the natural gemstone.) Alexandrite is also the gem for the 55th wedding anniversary.


The third birthstone for June is the moonstone. It was given its name by the Roman natural historian Pliny, who wrote that moonstone's appearance altered with the phases of the moon — a belief that held until well after the sixteenth century. 

A phenomenal gemstone, moonstones show a floating play of light (called adularescence) and sometimes show either a multi-rayed star or a cat's eye.

Considered a sacred stone in India, moonstones often are displayed on a background of yellow (a sacred color) and are believed to encapsulate within the stone a spirit whose purpose is to bring good fortune. Part of the family of minerals called feldspar, moonstone occurs in many igneous and metamorphic rocks and comes in a variety of colors such as green, blue, peach, and champagne.

The most prized moonstones are from Sri Lanka; India, Australia, the United States, Mayanmar, and Madagascar are also sources. 



Number 052916-2


Diamond Jim: "What is the history of Mother's Day?"


The official Mother’s Day holiday arose in the 1900s as a result of the efforts of Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis. Following her mother’s 1905 death, Anna Jarvis conceived of Mother’s Day as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children. After gaining financial backing from a Philadelphia department store owner named John Wanamaker, in May 1908 she organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia. That same day also saw thousands of people attend a Mother’s Day event at one of Wanamaker’s retail stores in Philadelphia.

Following the success of her first Mother’s Day, Jarvis—who remained unmarried and childless her whole life—resolved to see her holiday added to the national calendar. Arguing that American holidays were biased toward male achievements, she started a massive letter writing campaign to newspapers and prominent politicians urging the adoption of a special day honoring motherhood. By 1912 many states, towns and churches had adopted Mother’s Day as an annual holiday, and Jarvis had established the Mother’s Day International Association to help promote her cause. Her persistence paid off in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

Anna Jarvis had originally conceived of Mother’s Day as a day of personal celebration between mothers and families. Her version of the day involved wearing a white carnation as a badge and visiting one’s mother or attending church services. But once Mother’s Day became a national holiday, it was not long before florists, card companies and other merchants capitalized on its popularity.

While Jarvis had initially worked with the floral industry to help raise Mother’s Day’s profile, by 1920 she had become disgusted with how the holiday had been commercialized. She outwardly denounced the transformation and urged people to stop buying Mother’s Day flowers, cards and candies. Jarvis eventually resorted to an open campaign against Mother’s Day profiteers, speaking out against confectioners, florists and even charities. She also launched countless lawsuits against groups that had used the name “Mother’s Day,” eventually spending most of her personal wealth in legal fees. By the time of her death in 1948 Jarvis had disowned the holiday altogether, and even actively lobbied the government to see it removed from the American calendar. 

Mother’s Day falls on the second Sunday in May and traditionally involves presenting mothers with flowers, cards and other gifts.  Currently, more phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than any other day of the year. These holiday chats with Mom often cause phone traffic to spike by as much as 37 percent.  It celebrates motherhood and it is a time to appreciate mothers and mother figures. Many people give gifts, cards, flowers, candy, a meal in a restaurant or other treats to their mother and mother figures, including grandmothers, great-grandmothers, stepmothers, and foster mothers.   




Number 052216



Diamonds are submitted for GIA (Gemological Institute of America) certification by the diamond's current owner (usually the diamond cutter or dealer, but often a retailer or sometimes even the end consumer).

The grading process begins when the diamond arrives at the GIA lab. It might be delivered from anywhere in the world by courier or submitted in person by the owner. A member of the GIA client services staff accepts hand-delivered submissions through a secure booth.

 The submitted diamond may not include any company names, initials, logos, or other information that would allow GIA personnel to identify the owner during the grading process. This allows GIA to avoid the appearance of favoritism, and insures an objective grade. The submitted diamond is assigned its own internal tracking number and placed into a transparent storage case. The tracking number identifies the diamond as it makes its way through the grading process.


A diamond submitted for GIA certification
is weighed (left) and measured (right)

The first step in the certification process is for the diamond to be weighed and measured. An electronic micro-balance captures the carat weight, while an optical scanning device is used to determine the diamond's precise measurements, proportions and facet angels. These devices are more accurate than the manual gauges you might see in a jewelry store or appraiser's office.

An additional review is done to determine whether the submitted gem is a synthetic diamond or a simulant, or if the diamond's color is lab induced rather than natural. If necessary, the gem may be sent for further testing to determine is chemical composition and origin of color.

The diamond's clarity and finish are graded under magnification using standard viewing conditions, and multiple graders. The first grader examines the diamond to locate any clarity and finish characteristics as well as evidence of treatments such as fracture filling or laser drilling. At the same time, the grader verifies all weight and measurement data captured in the prior step.


A GIA grader creates a Diamond Plot,
mapping the diamond's flaws

The grader then assigns an opinion of the diamond'sclarity, polish and symmetry. If the diamond is to receive a full grading report (as opposed to a dossier), adiamond plot is also created, mapping the diamond's interior and exterior flaws. In it, the grader indicates the size, position, and nature of each clarity characteristic. Finally, the diamond's culet size and girdle thickness are also assessed.

 A second grader then takes the diamond through the same process, once again identifying each clarity characteristic, evaluating the polish, symmetry, culet, and girdle, and checking for the presence of any treatments. This grader then submits a second independent opinion of the diamond. Depending on the diamond's carat weight, quality, and the degree of agreement between graders, a senior gemologist may review the previous grading information and render a third opinion. Grading results are finalized once there is sufficient agreement on grades.



A master stone set is used to determine color grade


Next, the diamond's color is compared to a set of master stones. The master stone set is a row of stones laid out from D to Z, representing the standard for each color grade. Each stone represents the least amount of color in its range. By moving the submitted diamond step by step down the line of master stones, the grader is able to determine where the submitted diamond falls in the color grade spectrum. The grader next observes the diamond under special UV lighting to see if the diamond exhibits signs of fluorescence; and if so, to what degree.

A GIA grader evaluates a diamond for color.

Every diamond is judged by several graders to insure that accurate color and fluorescence grades are assigned. Each grader is unaware of the opinions of the other graders. Only when there is sufficient agreement between individual graders is a color grade assigned. Since light source and background can have a significant impact on the appearance of color within a diamond, the grading environment is kept to a neutral gray and white.

For round brilliant diamonds, a cut grade is assigned once the color and clarity grading process is complete. The diamond's brightness, fire, and scintillation are assessed and incorporated into the cut grade. The diamond's measurements, proportions, facet angles, polish, and symmetry are also factored into the final cut grade.

As diamonds move through the grading process, they are monitored by a central tracking department using electronic surveillance equipment which can pinpoint the diamond's exact location at any time. Upon completion of each grading step, diamonds return to the inventory control department before being sent to the next step. This insures that the distribution of diamonds to graders is completely random.

Every diamond receiving a diamond dossier certificate is laser inscribed with the GIA certificate number. Diamonds receiving a full grading report can also be laser inscribed at the owner's request. Any laser inscription is noted on the certificate itself.

 Once the grading process is complete, GIA issues the diamond's certification. The report is printed with micro print lines, a hologram, and other security components before being laminated. This helps to prevent tampering while preserving the certificate over time. The final report is then placed in a protective sleeve and delivered to the owner, along with the originally submitted diamond.



Number 051516


 "Diamond Jim: WHAT IS OPAL?"

In order to know what an opal is, we also need to answer a few more questions concerning Opals…

What is opal? Where does opal form? What causes the colors in opal? What is potch? How does opal form?

Opal is one of the world's most beautiful and precious gemstones, predominantly found in Australia. It is one of only six types of precious gemstones found on planet earth, sharing prestigious company with diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and pearls.


 Over 95% of the world's precious opal comes from Australia, and opal is Australia's national gemstone.

While several different types of opal are present in nature, there are two main varieties - precious opal and common opal or potch. Precious opals exhibit the characteristic “play-of-color”, and is comparatively rare. Opal which is dull and valueless is called common opal. Common opal occurs in abundance throughout the world. Common opal and potch do not exhibit a play of color. When common opal is found in association with precious opal, it is known as potch. About 95% of all opal mined from the opal fields is common or potch, that is opal that is basically one colored, i.e. white, grey, black, and is only suitable for backings for doublets or triplets. Of the 5% that has some color, about 95% is only of mediocre grade - therefore only approximately 0.25 per cent has any real value at all.

Scientifically, opal is known as SiO2·nH2O - an amorphous mineraloid comprised of hydrated silicon dioxide. (A mix of silica and water). The opal's appearance can range from colorless, white, and light grey through to dark grey and black. However the truly unique thing about opal is that it displays all the colors of the spectrum in a "play of color", resulting from the interference and diffraction of light passing through tiny silica spheres in the microstructure of opal. This means the bright rainbow colors of opal, as they appear to the human eye, will move and change dramatically depending on the angle at which the stone is viewed.


A definition of opal : "An amorphous non-crystalline gem mineral solidified from gelatinous or liquid silica deposited in cracks and cavities left by decaying vegetation, wood, crustaceans and bones. Very valuable in its 'black' forms and containing a reasonable content of water. Chemical symbol: SiO2 plus H2 O. The water content in opals can be as high as 10%. Refractive Index of 1.38 - 1.60 and a hardness of between 5.5 to 6.5 on Mohs' scale."

Precious opal is defined as opaline silica with a play of color. The term, play of color was created solely to describe opal's beautiful shifting of spectral hues. Australian opal is referred to as "sedimentary opal" because it is hosted predominantly by sedimentary rocks of the Mesozoic Great Artesian Basin. Australian precious opals usually contain around 5-6% water and consists of small silica spheres arranged in a regular pattern. Its hardness of 5.5 to 6.5 on Moh's scale puts it about half way down the range (roughly the same hardness as glass). It has a specific gravity of 1.9 to 2.3 depending on the amount of water present.


Opal is formed from a solution of silicon dioxide and water. As water seeps through sandstone, it picks up tiny particles of silica. Millions of years ago, the solution flowed into cracks and voids in sedimentary as well as volcanic areas inland Australia. Estimates suggest this solution had a rate of deposition of approximately one centimeter thickness every five million years at a depth of forty meters. Over a period of approximately 1 to 2 million years after this period solidification occurred as the climate changed. The opal therefore remained soft and un-cemented for long periods before becoming hardened. Find out more about how opals are formed.


As the silica in solution was deposited, and the water content gradually decreased, spheres formed in the gel. The spheres are formed by the particles of silica spontaneously adhering to other particles which form around it. These spheres of amorphous silica range in size from 1500 to 3500 angstroms (1 angstrom is 1 ten millionth of 1 millimeter).

The spheres are not only remarkably uniform in size but are packed, in gem quality opal, in a very regular array. Because they are spherical, there are tiny holes remaining in the structure (much the same as when marbles are placed together in a container) and these holes too are arranged in a regular three dimensional way. Therefore because of the regular array of these cavities, opal is an optical diffraction grating for visible light.   

When the spheres are bigger (about 3500 angstroms diameter) the red or orange colors are produced. And at the other end of the scale, at about 1500 angstroms diameter, the blue end of the spectrum is diffracted. Between these figures the rest of the colors of the rainbow occur.  From this it can be deduced that the light diffraction in the voids is greatest when the sphere size is greatest. Therefore red is usually the brightest color and the blue duller. 

In summary, the color in precious opal is caused by the regular array of silica spheres and voids diffracting white light, and breaking it into the colors of the spectrum. The diameter and spacing of the spheres controls the color range of an opal. Small spheres produce opal of blue color only (the most common), whereas larger spheres produce red (the rarest color).  For more detail, see our article on how color is formed in opals.


The value of each individual opal differs greatly depending on the unique qualities of the opal. There are many determining factors, including body tone, play of color, colors present, brilliance, pattern, and size. It truly takes an Opal Expert to determine the true monetary value an opal however, the best value of an opal is the beauty you see in its colors and its unique brilliance. When you own an opal you own a One-Of-A-Kind creation of nature as no two opals are exactly the same.

In reality, it's the customer's expression when they see "their" opal for the very first time that really determines its value, as well as the compliments they receive when others admire their choice in such an incredible creation.



Number 051016


"Diamond Jim: What is the Birthstone for May?"

The May Birthstone is Emerald

As the birthstone for May, the emerald, a symbol of rebirth, is believed to grant the owner foresight, good fortune, and youth.

Emerald, derived from the word smaragdus, meaning green in Greek, was mined in Egypt as early as 330 B.C.

 Today, most of the world’s emeralds are mined in Colombia, Brazil, Afghanistan, and Zambia. The availability of high-quality emerald is limited; consequently, treatments to improve clarity are performed regularly.

In addition to being the birthstone of May, the Emerald is also the traditional gift for the 55th wedding anniversary in the US.  Its iconic green coloring is closely linked to spring and rebirth making it a perfect stone for the month of May.  Emerald has consistently surpassed other green gemstones like peridot and tourmaline with its unmatched vivid and lush green tones. However, even though emerald is a relatively hard gemstone, so many of them have various inclusions.  This makes emeralds more difficult to set into jewelry.  The inclusions also make the gems susceptible to cracking or chipping.  Despite this, emerald is one of the most popular stones and one that is commonly faked.  With the proper setting and proper care as well as a little know how, emerald makes for a great investment in the fine jewelry world. 

Fun Emerald Facts
1)  Emerald is one of the four recognized precious gemstones.  The others are ruby, sapphire, and diamond.
2)  Top quality emeralds can be worth more than diamonds because emeralds without imperfections are very rare. 
3)  A 1 carat emerald appears larger than a 1 carat diamond because emeralds have a lower density.
4)  Most emeralds have some type of inclusion or imperfection.  Instead of use the term imperfection, dealers like to reference emerald inclusions as an internal "jardin" (garden in French).  
5)  Most emeralds are treated usually by filling the emerald with an oil to fill in the cracks and help prevent unintentional chipping or cracking. 
6)  Due to the inclusions within an emerald, it is not wise to clean these gems in an ultrasonic cleaner.  Instead clean gently by hand using warm water.  
7)  Emerald is made of beryl just like aquamarine but gets its green coloring from very small amounts of chromium and/or vanadium
8)  Color, clarity, cut, and carat weight are four factors used to determine the value of an emerald.  The most important of these four is color. 9)  The best color is vivid green or blueish green with even saturation and no color zoning.  It is also important that the emerald is very transparent and isn't too dark or too light. 
10)  The oldest emeralds are about 2.97 billion years old.
11)  The first known emeralds were mined in Egypt around 1500 BC.
12)  One of Cleopatra's favorite stones was emerald.
13)  Emeralds were discovered in South America in the 16th century by the Spanish. They were used by the Incas well before this discovery.
14)  The Spanish then traded these emeralds across Europe and Asia for precious metals, opening up the emerald trade to the rest of the world. 
15)  According to ancient folklore, putting an emerald under your tongue would help one see into the future.
16)  Today, Colombia yields the largest amount of emeralds, contributing to more than 50% of all emerald production worldwide.
17)  The Duke of Devonshire Emerald is one of the largest uncut emeralds weighing 1,383.93 carats.
18)  Synthetic sapphire and ruby were created in 1907, but synthetic emeralds were not created until 1935 when American chemist Carroll 19)  Chatham successfully grew his first one carat Chatham emerald which is now on display at the Smithsonian Institute. 
20)  Emeralds were first discovered in North America in the Yukon Territory in 1997, though large emerald deposits in the United States and further north are very rare. 
21)  A gemologist judges a diamond's clarity grade by using a 10x loupe.  The clarity of an emerald is often assessed with the naked eye.  



Number 050316


 Diamond Jim "What is Diamond Clarity?"


Clarity is the state of being clear or transparent. Diamond clarity is the presence or absence of characteristics called inclusions in the diamond.

When grading the clarity of a diamond, the lab determines the relative visibility of the inclusions in a diamond and their impact on the overall visual appearance.

So, what are these inclusions that affect clarity? In short, inclusions are the internal or external flaws of the diamond. The size and severity of these flaws determines the grade.

Clarity characteristics in diamonds are classified into two types: inclusions which are internal, confined to the inside of the diamond, and blemishes, which are external characteristics that are on the surface of the diamond.

Blemishes typically have less impact on the clarity of a diamond than inclusions.

Inclusions usually form in diamonds as a result of the tremendous heat and pressure deep in the earth, where diamonds form, or are caused by their violent journey to the surface of the earth caused by volcanic eruptions. These events can cause irregularities in the atomic structure of the diamond.

Blemishes are the surface features on a polished diamond that are usually a result of the polishing process, or wear and tear on the diamond.

Diamond graders use their expertise to analyze the size, nature, number, location, and relief of the inclusions and blemishes to decide what clarity grade is most appropriate for your diamond.



 Since many inclusions and blemishes are very small, and can be difficult to see with the naked eye, they are graded at 10x magnification. Grading at 10x is an industry standard to determine the final clarity grade of the diamond.

Diamond graders plot the inclusions they see in the diamond on a diagram which is included on diamond grading reports.

Clarity grade is determined on a scale of decreasing clarity from the highest clarity (Flawless or FL) to the lowest clarity (Included 3, or I3).

The clarity scale originated because jewelers were using terms that were un-standardized and could be easily misinterpreted. Descriptive terms such as “eye clean,” or “included” were vague and didn’t communicate the clarity of the diamond effectively.

The modern clarity scale was invented in the 1950s, by a former president of GIA (Gemological Institute of America), Richard T. Liddicoat, Jr. With minor modifications, it has been the universal standard ever since, using verbal descriptors most are now familiar with: Flawless, Internally Flawless, VVS1, VVS2, VS1, VS2, SI1, SI2, I1, I2, and I3.

Diamond size and cut can have an effect on clarity.  It’s easier to see an inclusion in a larger diamond than a small one. It’s also easier to see inclusions in diamonds with fewer facets, such as an emerald cut.

Clarity is considered important in the value of a diamond because of the notion that diamonds with a higher clarity are rarer in nature.

It’s important to have your diamonds graded by a credentialed expert or a reputable diamond grading laboratory.   



Number 042616


Diamond Jim "What's a really great way to Propose?"


You've found the right person. You've found the right ring. Now you have to find the right moment to pop the question.


So how do you make your proposal turn out flawlessly? We have plenty of tried-and-true tips to help you, but overall, it all comes down to just one thing: effort.

Putting in real effort, thought and love into your proposal makes all the difference. Remember, your proposal doesn't have to change the world. It just has to show your partner that they mean the world to you.

Here are a few tips that will help you along the way:

Your proposal should be surprising, but it shouldn't come directly out of left field. Before you pull a ring out, have a good idea how your partner will respond. "Will you marry me?" shouldn't be your first discussion on the subject.

Here’s where a little bit of effort goes a long way. The history of the diamond as an engagement ring first became popular in the 1930’s, but the idea of an engagement ring has been around for centuries.

If you’re still deciding on a diamond engagement ring, consider doing some window shopping with your partner prior to making a purchase. If you want to keep things more secretive, talk to your partner’s friends and family to get a feel for their taste.

Another option is to use a stand-in ring for the proposal. Perhaps you can use their great grandmother’s diamond engagement ring, and then take your partner shopping later. (A trusted jeweler can tell you everything you need to know about how to buy a diamond and will take the time to help educate both of you).

Do your homework before buying the engagement ring. Most importantly, find a jeweler you trust.

And, since you’re making such a big investment, make sure you insure the ring as soon as you purchase it. Your knowledgeable jeweler should be willing and able to discuss this with you. One option is that you may be able to insure it for an additional cost under your homeowner's or tenants insurance policy.

Before you take a knee, take the time to speak with your partner's parents first. Asking permission is a tradition carried since the Roman times, and it’s a great way to make a good impression on your future in-laws.

This is your chance to shine. A good Jeweler should have several ideas that will help you to be creative when "popping the question". You could also use modern technology for a Twitter proposal.

No matter what you do, just put your heart into it. Here are a few ideas to get your started:

Location, Location, Location
Propose via video or in person from an extreme location - atop a mountain, while skydiving, or on the shores of a romantic and faraway beach.

Keep it Traditional
In an intimate setting, preferably one with family and friends waiting nearby, drop to one knee and let your heart do the talking.

Spread the News
Your partner will most likely handle this for you, but make sure to share the big news with people you know. You might also consider sending out an engagement announcement.

You did it! Consider toasting your engagement with a night on the town, a glass of bubbly or a celebration with friends and family.



Number 041916


Diamond Jim: "How do I determine the value of my Fine Jewelry?”

Keep, SELL or Repurpose My FINE JEWELRY?


 The diamond necklace from an ex, the gold watch that sits in your jewelry box, the ruby necklace that you loved---a decade ago. We all have jewelry that we no longer wear.

 Selling your old jewelry is an option, but it can be hard to know how and where to get started. Here are a few tips for getting the most from your rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces.

1. Know the worth
You may love your jewelry. It may have been in the family for many years, or been a treasured gift at some point, or something that you saved for a long time to purchase.

Unfortunately, the emotional value you assign to your jewelry often has little to do with the current fair market price of your piece. Many factors go into determining the current value of a piece of jewelry, including any wear and tear, needed repairs and quality of the gems and metals.

The best way to determine current value is to take your piece to be appraised by a credible jewelry appraiser.  A trained and certified appraiser will carefully determine the retail replacement value (the cost for a comparable replacement in the retail marketplace) for your piece.

However, while an appraiser will certainly give you a thorough look at your piece, the value they assign may not be the price a buyer is willing to pay, especially if they are hoping to resell. That’s why you should…

2. Be informed
Think through how quickly you want to sell. If you want an immediate sale (i.e. cash in hand today), your options will be limited on where you can sell, and how much cash someone might be willing to pay immediately. Some jewelers buy fine jewelry for both resale and for scrap purposes. Of course, there are pawn shops that may be able to  help you with an immediate sale, but you will want to visit several to get a good idea of the range of what these brokers will pay for a piece like yours.

If you are able to wait a bit, researching some other possibilities could net you a better price for your jewelry, or give you some other options, like re-setting stones from your jewelry into a new piece.

If you're considering selling you jewelry, visit a credible jeweler who buys jewelry (not all do), and learn about your options to sell your piece or work out another solution. Some jewelers will credit you a higher percentage of the value of your jewelry if you work with them to create a new custom piece of jewelry.

3. Be realistic
Again, we emphasize that the way you feel about your jewelry’s worth may not align with current fair market price. Have a range in mind of what you would accept for the piece and be willing to accept an offer in that range.

 If you are looking for a jeweler in your area who might be interested in purchasing your jewelry, you are in the right place.



Number 041216


Diamond Jim: "What is the secret to knowing what to look for in jewelry?”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is an enhanced or treated gemstone?
Gemstone treatments or enhancements refer to the way some gemstones are treated to improve their appearance or durability, or even change their color.

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

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



Number 040516


Diamond Jim: "What type of precious metal jewelry should I choose?"



The word gold, used by itself, means all gold or it can refer to “pure” gold, meaning 24 karat (24K) gold. Because 24K gold is soft, it’s usually mixed with other metal jewelry called alloys to increase its hardness and durability. If a piece of jewelry is not 24 karat gold, the karat quality should accompany any claim that the item is gold.

The karat quality marking tells you what proportion of gold is mixed with the other metals. Fourteen-karat (14K) jewelry contains 14 parts of gold, mixed in throughout with 10 parts of an alloy metal. The higher the karat rating, the higher the proportion of gold in the piece of jewelry.

Jewelry should be marked with its karat quality. Near the karat quality mark, you also should see the name or
the U.S. registered trademark of the company that will stand behind the mark. The trademark may be in the
form of a name, symbol or initials. If you don’t see a trademark accompanying a quality mark on a piece of jewelry,
look for another piece. 

List of precious metals:
Platinum is a type of precious metal jewelry that costs more than gold. It usually is mixed with other similar metals, known as the platinum group metals: iridium, palladium, ruthenium, rhodium and osmium. 

Different markings are used on platinum jewelry as compared with gold jewelry, based on the amount of pure platinum in the piece. The quality markings for platinum are based on parts per thousand. For example, the marking 900 Platinum means that 900 parts out of 1000 are pure platinum, or in other words, the item is 90% platinum and 10% other metals. The abbreviations for platinum — Plat. or Pt. — also can be used in marking jewelry.

The words silver or sterling silver describe a product that contains 92.5% silver. Silver products sometimes may be marked 925 which means that 925 parts per thousand are pure silver. Some jewelry may be described as silverplate: a layer of silver is bonded to a base metal. The mark coin silver is used for compounds that contain 90% silver. According to the law, quality-marked silver also must bear the name or a U.S. registered trademark of the company or person that will stand behind the mark.

Choose a Precious Metal that Fits Your Lifestyle
We all know that different people have different interests. But did you know that when choosing jewelry, you can pick a metal that fits your interests? Certain precious metals, platinum for instance, are more durable and fit an active lifestyle. Look at the lifestyles below, and see the metals that fit yours!

True Romantic Tim — Tim leads a moderately active lifestyle. He likes to play sports with his friends, but you won’t catch him on the field every day. When it comes to romance, he’s a traditionalist. What should he do to match his lifestyle? Buy gold. Coveted for its luster and beauty, gold is the traditional metal for wedding rings. However, gold continues to hold its own among a bevy of new metals. The percentage of gold in a ring is measured by karats. Since gold is a relatively soft metal, the higher the percentage of gold (and the higher the Karat), the softer the ring. Men’s rings generally are made in 10, 14 and 18 karat gold, so that the rings will be more durable. Most gold jewelry is either yellow or white.  The alloys used will alter the color.  Some gold is plated with rhodium to make it appear a brighter white.  Since the coating can wear away with time, active individuals may prefer a more durable white metal such as platinum or palladium. Visit your local American Gem Society jeweler for quarterly polishing and cleaning to keep the luster alive.

Everyday Evelyn — Evelyn likes to wear jewelry every day. Earrings, bracelets, rings, necklaces — and she likes to wear different jewelry often. What should she buy? Silver. Silver is the softest — and the least expensive — of the fine metals. Since it scratches easily, it is best used for jewelry that is not worn daily. Since it is inexpensive, silver allows you to have many pieces you can switch out. People who are extremely active or enjoy gardening or working with their hands, may want to consider a harder metal.

Gotta Go Gary — Gary is active. He likes sports, and he often helps his wife in the garden. He’s found he often forgets to remove his gold wedding ring, and it is covered in scratches. What should Gary do? Purchase Titanium. Coming in an array of silvery colors, titanium is a great metal for the most active of people. Titanium is the hardest of the metals, therefore more scratch, dent, and bend resistant. Another benefit is that in its pure form, titanium is 100% hypoallergenic. Titanium does have its drawbacks: since it cannot be soldered, titanium rings cannot be sized and in an emergency, it is much harder to cut off than other metals.

Allergic Anna — Anna is young and active with many interests. But she also has sensitive skin, which white gold tends to irritate. Being young, she is still climbing the career ladder. What should she buy? Palladium. This is a popular choice among the young and active. As a white metal, palladium strikes a harmonic balance between white gold and platinum. Harder than gold, yet softer than platinum, palladium can be used in jewelry in its near pure form, making it hypoallergenic. Also, palladium, unlike white gold, is naturally white. Palladium is also less expensive than platinum and can be sized and polished.

Nancy Nightlife — Nancy keeps her schedule full, day and night. She needs jewelry that can keep up with her and can have the style she needs if a late business dinner leaves her running for the night club. What should Nancy do? Invest in platinum. This prestigious — and expensive — metal is hypoallergenic dense, heavy and scratch resistant. It fits an active style where a sense of class and elegance are desired, even while on the run. 




Number 032916


Diamond Jim: "What is the birthstone for April?"





Natural diamonds are a rare and unique ultimate gift for a loved one. Thought to be one of the hardest substances on the globe, diamonds date back billions of years.

The diamond is the traditional birthstone of April and holds significant meaning for those born in that month, thought to provide the wearer with better relationships and an increase in inner strength.

Wearing diamonds is purported to bring other benefits such as balance, clarity and abundance. It's also symbolic of eternal love, and those fortunate to call April the month of their birth will enjoy the following history behind this rare gem.

 Diamond Gemstones

Adopted from the Greek work adamas, meaning “invincible,” diamonds come in a wide range of colors such as black, blue, green, pink, red, purple, orange and yellow. The color is dependent upon the type of impurities that are present in the stone. For instance, yellow stones have minuscule traces of nitrogen while blue ones contain boron.

 The Origin of Birthstones

It’s uncertain how the specific months became connected with the various stones. However, some speculate that the origins of birthstones dates back to biblical times when the breastplate belonging to a priest was decorated with 12 assorted colored gems. As time wore on, the 12 gems became associated with the zodiac and the months connected to it.

This started the tradition of wearing a colored stone each month as a sort of good luck charm. Initially people wore all twelve stones, rotating according to the month of the year to derive the greatest benefit of each stone.

Believing that the various gems held magical powers for the individual born within a given month, people started to wear the stone associated with their birth month for the entire year.

In 1912, the American National Association of Jewelers designed a list dedicating different gems to various months. What was once thought to be controversial based on its commercialism is now widely accepted as the official birthstone list.

 The History and Beliefs Surrounding the Diamond

As told through the Encarta, Sanskrit texts dating back before 400 B.C. found that people associated significant value and wonderment with crystals. There is also significant research dating back to 1330 showing diamond cutting in Venice. The diamond trading business flourished towards the 15th century with the opening of Eastern trade routes.

Ancient theories touting the magical powers of diamonds were prevalent: some thought lightning bolts formed diamonds, while other theories asserted that diamonds were the tears of god.

 The Healing Powers of Diamonds

During the Middle Ages, diamonds were thought to hold healing powers and to cure ailments stemming from the pituitary gland and brain. By heating the crystal and taking it to bed, it was thought to draw out the harmful toxins that were crippling the body.

It was also believed that diamonds could have an effect on an individual’s balance and clarity and could boost their energy when combined with other crystals like amethyst.

The diamond as the April gemstone has garnered the hearts of many and is the most coveted crystal to date. Deemed as the “King of all Birthstones,” diamonds make the ideal choice for an April birthday gift. (She’ll love you for it!)



Number 031616


Diamond Jim: "What is the birthstone for March?”


The two birthstones for March are aquamarine and bloodstone.



The name aquamarine is derived from the Latin wordaqua, meaning water, and marina, meaning the sea.  This gemstone was believed to protect sailors, as well as to guarantee a safe voyage.  The serene color of aquamarine is said to cool the temper, allowing the wearer to remain calm and levelheaded.  Its pale, cool color beautifully complements spring and summer wardrobes.  Aquamarine is most often light in tone and ranges from greenish blue to blue-green; the color usually is more intense in larger stones.  This gemstone is mined mainly in Brazil, but also is found in Nigeria, Madagascar, Zambia, Pakistan, and Mozambique.


The second birthstone for March is bloodstone, a dark-green jasper flecked with vivid red spots of iron oxide.  This ancient stone was used by the Babylonians to make seals and amulets and was believed to have healing powers — especially for blood disorders.  It is sometimes called the martyr's stone as legend tells that it was created when drops of Christ's blood stained some jasper at the foot of the cross.  Generally found embedded in rocks or in riverbeds as pebbles, primary sources for this stone are India, Brazil, and Australia.



Number 021416


Diamond Jim: "What is the birthstone for February?”




Amethyst, the gemstone believed by ancient Greeks and Romans to ward off the intoxicating powers of Bacchus, also is said to keep the wearer clear-headed and quick-witted.  Throughout history, the gemstone has been associated with many myths, legends, religions, and numerous cultures.  English regalia were even decorated with amethysts during the Middle Ages to symbolize royalty. Amethyst is purple quartz, a beautiful blend of violet and red that can found in every corner of the earth. Historically, the finest amethyst were found in Russia and were featured in much royal European jewelry.  Today, while Brazil is the primary source of this gemstone, fine material can be found elsewhere, especially in Zambia.  The healing power of amethyst is said to aid in the reduction of insomnia, arthritis, pain relief, and circulatory issues. Amethyst is considered the gemstone of meditation, peace, balance, courage, and inner strength. 



Number 012416

Diamond Jim: "How did the internet begin?”

 In ancient Israel , it came to pass that a trader by the name of Abraham Com did take unto himself a healthy young wife by the name of Dorothy (Dot for short).  Dot Com was a charming woman, broad of shoulder and long of leg. Indeed, she was often called Amazon Dot Com.

 And she said unto Abraham, her husband, "Why dost thou travel so far from town to town with thy goods when thou canst trade without ever leaving thy tent?"  And Abraham did look at her as though she were several saddle bags short of a camel load, but simply said, "How, dear?"

 And Dot replied, "I will place drums in all the towns and drums in between to send messages saying what you have for sale, and they will reply telling you who hath the best price. The sale can be made on the drums and delivery made by Uriah's Pony Stable (UPS)."

 Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way with the drums.  And the drums rang out and were an immediate success. Abraham sold all the goods he had at the top price, without ever having to move from his tent.

 To prevent neighboring countries from overhearing what the drums were saying, Dot devised a system that only she and the drummers knew.  It was known as Must Send Drum Over Sound (MSDOS), and she also developed a language to transmit ideas and pictures - Hebrew to The People (HTTP).

 And the young men did take to Dot Com's trading as doth the greedy horsefly take to camel dung. They were called Nomadic Ecclesiastical Rich Dominican Sybarites, or NERDS.  And lo, the land was so feverish with joy at the new riches and the deafening sound of drums that no one noticed that the real riches were going to that enterprising drum dealer, Brother William of Gates, who bought off every drum maker in the land.

 Indeed, he did insist on drums to be made that would work only with Brother Gates' drumheads and drumsticks.  And Dot did say, "Oh, Abraham, what we have started is being taken over by others." 
 And Abraham looked out over the Bay of Ezekiel , or eBay as it came to be known, and he said, "We need a name that reflects what we are."  And Dot replied, "How about Young Ambitious Hebrew Owner Operators?"

 "YAHOO," said Abraham. And because it was Dot's idea, they named it YAHOO Dot Com.

 Abraham's cousin, Joshua, being the young Gregarious Energetic Educated Kid (GEEK) that he was, soon started using Dot's drums to locate things around the countryside. It soon became known as God's Own Official Guide to Locating Everything (GOOGLE).

 That is how it all began. And that's the truth!



Number 011716


 Diamond Jim: "What is the birthstone for January?”



Garnet, the birthstone for January,  signifies eternal friendship and trust and is the perfect gift for a friend.  Garnet, derived from the word granatum, means seed, and is called so because of the gemstone's resemblance to a pomegranate seed.  References to the gemstone dates back to 3100 B.C., when the Egyptians used garnets as inlays jewelry.  Garnet is the name of a group of minerals that comes in a rainbow of colors, from the deep red of the pyrope garnet to the vibrant green of tsavorites.  Today, the most important sources for garnet are Africa, Sri Lanka, and India.



Number 010316


Diamond Jim: "What are the jewelry trends for 2016?”
7 Trends to Watch in 2016

From National Jeweler By Brecken Branstrator


Mixed metals in bridal, like this 18-karat rose and white gold ring set from LX Antwerp, will continue to be popular next year.

New York--It’s going to be an exciting year in jewelry design. 

Trends have been taking new and innovative turns, and now spread across the country faster than ever, as social media and the Internet allow everyone to see and adapt to them in a short period of time. Because of this, retailers need to adapt to the trends more quickly or even be out ahead of them, said Amanda Gizzi, director of public relations and special events at Jewelers of America. 

Here are the trends that the experts think will be popping up, and staying put, in the fine jewelry market in 2016.

1. Stackables/layering. This trend isn’t going anywhere, especially for pieces that are personalized or allow for the sentimental. In jewelry, this includes layering delicate necklaces together as well as stacking rings and bracelets. 

“It’s really important (for retailers) to have and buy these pieces to drive in the younger generation,” Gizzi said. “It’s a buy-one-today, add-one-tomorrow mentality.”

2. Mixed metal. As bridal trends continue to evolve to suit today’s millennial couples, mixed metals have been and will continue to be a top trend, especially when it comes to rose gold mixing with white gold and platinum.

“The juxtaposition of the warm rose against cool platinum makes for a unique and beautiful setting, and there are so many different ways in which you can display the accent, from contrasting prongs to a halo,” Amanda Tropila, the former public relations manager at the Platinum Guild International (PGI-USA), said in an interview conducted in early December.

3. Open styles. One of the most prevalent variations on this trend is openwork jewelry. This is an ongoing trend likely influenced by high precious metal prices.

Openwork cuffs are going to get a little bigger and spread out to keep metal weight down, “letting more skin show through,” Gizzi said. She also noted that these types of pieces likely will begin to include fewer opaque stones, as the style moves toward the use of more translucent or transparent gems.  Variations on the trend also can include rings and bracelets that wrap around the finger or wrist without meeting in the middle, and collars that remain open in the front of the neck, not completing the circle.

4. Y necklaces. This classic shape already began its comeback in 2015, and Helena Krodel, senior vice president of creative and brand at TrueFacet, said she expects Y necklaces to continue their resurgence in 2016, as fashion brands such as Chloe continued to use the style on the runways in their most recent fashion shows.

 5. Black and white. This will be especially prevalent given the rising popularity of blackened metals, Gizzi said. Brands like David Yurman, Lagos and Armenta all unveiled lines featuring blackened metals for fall/winter collections and many more are expected to follow in 2015.

Gizzi said that she thinks this trend has a lot to do with punk influences and the impact of rock-and-roll, as well as the popularity of tribal-inspired pieces and traditional Mexican silver jewelry.

6. Unique stones. Also speaking to today’s younger consumers are unique gemstone shapes or cuts, both in colored stones and diamonds. 

“Uniquely shaped stones, as well as colored stones, are still popular as the millennial bride looks to make a statement and stand out from the rest,” Tropila said. “Pears and marquise are being set east-west or just slightly askew to give it extra personalization.”  Heart-shaped stones also are gaining traction as celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Iggy Azalea bring them to light.

7. Fanciful. While the use of animals, wings, and feathers are nothing new in fine jewelry, they will “have some freshness for 2016,” Gizzi said. 

They’re not only playing on the fanciful, fantastical imagery, but they’re also pulling from symbols of empowerment, such as the use of wings. The added meaning behind these pieces can make the jewelry extra special for a consumer. 

“Jewelry that pulls on people’s emotions will always have a place for customers.” 




Number 112915


Diamond Jim: "I’m so confused. Why do so many mall jewelers have such incredible discounts?”

The 30-50-70% off banners hang everywhere in the malls and “big box” jewelry stores. I believe that most customers KNOW those discounts are a sham, and don’t really believe that they are getting 60-70% off the ORIGINAL price at all. But many still believe they are getting SOME kind of a deal, whether true or not.
I personally am not a fan of discounting because it presumes one of three things: 
1) The customer is getting a real deal, in which case I wonder where the margins will come from to run the business. Good for the consumer, bad for the store.
2) You can compete long term on a “lowest price” model. But there is generally only one winner in that game.
3) The “lowest price” model is actually misleading and illusionary. There likely would be enough customers who are smart enough to see through that, and ultimately it will reflect very poorly on the store in the short and long term.
Retail stores will choose for themselves which is the best course for them, be it price value or non-price value. But whichever direction one chooses, I believe it ought to have at its core the basic premise of price integrity!!! 70% OFF may appear to work for them in the short-term… but it is not a sound strategy for long-term growth or for customer loyalty. It is generally simply a lie, even when a store is going out of business! I prefer to have integrity in pricing…and deal with those stores that have integrity in pricing. I have devoted my business life to providing quality and value for a fair price. When on the other side of the counter I always ask myself… is it the truth… and is it fair? I do the same when behind my own counter. I think consumers should do the same when choosing where to spend their money, and give serious consideration to truth and integrity in pricing. And if a business chooses to price its products appropriately and fairly and sell on value, while full well knowing it won’t win the customer who is hell-bent on getting a “deal”, then that company should owe no apology to anyone for that strategy. The store with the most integrity in pricing will more than likely have the same values and integrity in all of its dealings with you. And THAT is the store with which I choose to do business.

And the last point I’d like to make while on the subject simply deals with comparing quality. This is a quote from a gentleman from the 1800s… John Ruskin… “There is nothing in this world that some men cannot make worse and sell cheaper… and those who see only price, are this man’s lawful prey!”

So now how do you feel about the following ad?




Number 111515

Diamond Jim: “"Where did the diamond tennis bracelet get its name?

Believe it or not, it all stems back to an an incident in 1987 when tennis champion Chris Evert was wearing a bracelet whose clasp broke in the middle of a televised match. The game was stopped to allow her time to find her pretty diamond accessory. Because of the huge audience viewing the match, a sudden craze was born for sleek inline diamond bracelets. From that moment on, this style of bracelet would be referred to as a tennis bracelet.




Number 110815


Diamond Jim: “What is the difference between a precious stone, a semi-precious stone, and a gemstone?

A precious stone and a semi-precious stone are both classifications of gemstones. It is a portion of a mineral, which, in refined and cut form, is used to create jewelry or other embellishments. The term “precious stone” versus “semi-precious stone” is a commercial term that simply isn’t always applicable.  They are terms that exist solely in the West and were created as a marketing tool by the people who were looking to sell precious stones. Precious stones are diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires. All other stones are considered semi-precious stones.




Number 110115

Diamond Jim:  "Why don't wedding rings appear on financial statements?”

I sat next to a fellow and his girlfriend at a wedding reception dinner last week.  We had a discussion lasting several minutes concerning the value of diamond wedding rings, expensive watches, expensive jewelry in particular, and how high-quality diamonds appreciate in value so much.  He was deep in thought… and then looked me straight in the eye.  With a sincere face he asked me, “Why don’t wedding rings appear on financial statements?”  I told him that it was because there is NO banker or other lender who would be brave enough to try to take a diamond ring off a woman’s hand, or a Rolex off her arm.  And, furthermore, I said I knew of NO judge that would be that brave either.  I told him that everyone knows that regardless of the value of a woman’s jewelry, especially a wedding ring, a lender would never expect to recover a woman’s personal jewelry to absolve debt… and neither should her husband.  He simply shrugged his shoulders as if to agree entirely.  Another woman at the table simply pursed her lips, nodding in agreement.  Now he knows the rules.  I think he will be in next week to purchase an engagement ring.  ‘Nuff said.




Number 102515


Diamond Jim…Are Chatham Created Emeralds real Emeralds?

Chatham Created Emeralds are, in fact, "real" emeralds.  They are genuine emeralds... created in a laboratory.  And for this reason they are actually more beautiful than emeralds created in nature.  Chatham Created Emeralds have far less inclusions and far greater depth of color than the natural emeralds... and at about 1/7th the price of natural emeralds! Click here for more information.




Number 102515


Diamond Jim... How do you test for sterling silver versus silver plate?




Number 101815


Diamond Jim... What is the difference between “karat” and “carat”?

Often the source of much confusion, the difference between a karat and carat is fairly easy to understand, but may be somewhat hard to remember. A karat is simply a unit of measurement to indicate the purity of a metal, usually gold. The term carat is used to note the weight of a precious stone, especially diamonds.

The term karat is necessary, especially for gold, simply because the nature of the metal means it must be made into an alloy. Pure gold, or 24K gold, is a very soft metal that is not able to used practically as jewelry in its purest form. It would quickly become deformed and scratched. Therefore, jewelry makers must do something to fortify the metal. This task is accomplished by mixing gold with a harder metal.

The karat is responsible, in most cases, for determining the relative value of the gold piece. The difference in price between 10k, the lowest purity that gold can be and still be considered gold, and 18k, the highest purity of gold jewelry commonly available, can be significant. Gold designated as 10 karats is less than half gold, while eighteen karat gold is 75 percent gold.




Number 101115


Diamond Jim…How do you spot a Genuine Diamond from a Cubic Zirconia?

 Diamonds are supposed to be a girl's best friend. But you can rest assured about its authenticity only after you have conducted a few tests. Most CZs of good quality are amazingly similar in shape, size, and color. Some tests that can tell the difference between CZ's and diamonds are the scratch, the transparency, the fog, the weight, the dot, UV or black light, and the stamp test. The Scratch Test for testing diamonds is the oldest and most traditional. However, this test though being used often is not as accurate or reliable as once imagined. Everybody knows that a genuine diamond will scratch glass while an imitation cannot, and therefore takes it to be a good sign of its authenticity. However, as modern technology has proved of late, there is high quality cubic zirconia that can also scratch glass. Hence this method falls short. The reason why many hesitate to use the Scratch Test is that in case the diamond is genuine, subjecting it to the test may cause damage and lower its value.The Transparency Test requires you to place the stone being tested on a newspaper. If you are able to read the print clearly, it proves that the stone is a fake because a CZ is transparent. Diamonds on the other hand do not allow you to read the print clearly as they are not transparent. For the Fog Test you have to hold the stone in your hand and breathe over it to fog it. If the stone gets instantly clear and the heat is dispersed instantaneously, it means that the stone is a genuine diamond (diamonds do not hold heat), but if the stone remains foggy it proves that the stone is a CZ. If you have a carat or gram scale, you can conduct the Weight Test. To ascertain whether the diamond is real or not, purchase a similar CZ that has the same size, color, dimensions and shape. Place the stones side by side on the scale. The CZ is almost 50% heavier than the real diamond. One of the easiest and simplest tests to conduct is the Dot Test. Diamonds reflect light through its top surface or the "table" whereas CZs reflect light in a very different manner because they are transparent. Draw a small dot on a white piece of paper and place the stone on the dot, face down. If it is genuine, you will only see a much distorted version of the dot as the diamond is not clear. The CZ will show a clear dot. For The UV or black light test place the diamond under the UV light.  Some diamonds will show a blue fluorescence. 99% of imitation stones and CZs do not show fluorescent blue.   Finally, to find out if your diamond is really a cubic zirconium, it pays to focus on the type of "stamp", if it has one on the inside of the jewelry setting. If the stamp indicates that the stone is set in platinum or genuine gold it will have the words 10K, 14k, 18K, etc. written which tells you that the chances of the stone being genuine are good. Make sure to also look for the letters CZ which tells you that the stone in the center is a cubic zirconia and not a diamond.

For the most accurate answer come to Pineforest Jewelry and ask one of our master jewelers to tell you if it is a Diamond or CZ.




Number 100415


Diamond Jim…What can you tell me about Quartz Movement in a watch?

Quartz movements are powered by electricity. Automatic movements are a type of mechanical movement. Mechanical watches have a main spring which has tension applied, as that tension is released it turns the hands. An automatic watch is one in which the motion of the wearers wrist winds the spring. Mechanical watches take alot of fine craftsmanship to make good, and are impressive for that reason. Quartz watches have the advantage of allowing far more features. A quartz watch can hold its charge for weeks or months. An automatic will lose its charge in a few days if not worn and needs resetting. A quartz may need to have it's battery replaced from time to time, mechanical movements need more expensive servicing every few years. Some quartz have Atomic  time keeping(set itself to atomic clocks through radio transmissions) and keep the time set on its own. A quartz can hold enough power to keep small internal computers operating that can be great for hikers, divers etc... A quartz can maintain both analog and digital functions at the same time. 




Number 092715


Diamond Jim…What is the History of the Diamond as an Engagement Ring?

 Diamonds signify steadfast, enduring love because of their unmatched strength and beauty. The versatile look of diamonds enables them to be worn with any outfit, from an elegant cocktail dress to blue jeans. It’s no wonder diamond engagement rings are the most popular accompaniment to popping the question. Although the tradition of giving a ring to the woman who has promised to become your bride goes back centuries, diamond engagement rings are a relatively recent innovation. Diamond engagement rings first became popular in the 1930s. By 1965, 80 percent of all new brides in the United States sported one. What's the most important criterion for the diamond engagement ring? It should be a piece of jewelry that she loves and that fits within his budget.

The History of the Diamond Engagement Ring

A man presents his prospective bride with an engagement ring upon acceptance of his marriage proposal. Anthropologists believe this tradition originated from a Roman custom in which wives wore rings attached to small keys, indicating their husbands' ownership. In 1477, Archduke Maximillian of Austria commissioned the very first diamond engagement ring on record for his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy. This sparked a trend for diamond rings among European aristocracy and nobility. The sentimental Victorians popularized ornate engagement ring designs that mixed diamonds with other gemstones, precious metals and enamels. Often these rings were crafted in the shapes of flowers and were dubbed “posey rings.” Diamond rings crafted during the Edwardian era continued the tradition of pairing diamonds with other jewels, commonly mounted in filigree settings. Diamonds were too rare and expensive for those of lesser means to afford until the discovery of African diamond mines in the 1870s. The De Beers Company was the sole owner and operator of these newly discovered mines in South Africa. In the 1930s, when demand for diamond rings declined in the U.S. during hard economic times, the De Beers Company began an aggressive marketing campaign using photographs of glamorous movie stars swathed in diamonds. Within three years, the sales of diamonds had increased by 50 percent. In 1947, De Beers launched its now classic slogan, "A Diamond is Forever." This spurred even more sales. The implied durability of a diamond conveyed the meaning in the American psyche that marriage is forever. A diamond's purity and sparkle have now become symbols of the depth of a man's commitment to the woman he loves in practically all corners of the world. In 1992, the average cost of a diamond engagement ring was $1,500. Today, the average cost is closer to $5,000. Over the years, the most popular cut for diamond engagement rings has always been the round brilliant, consisting of 58 facets that divide the stone into a top and bottom half. Runners up include the princess cut, the emerald cut and the oval cut, with the cushion cut quickly gaining popularity as a recent trend.

 If you have questions pertaining to jewelry, watches, diamonds, precious stones, precious metals, and other questions related to the jewelry industry email He will answer as many questions as time permits. Answers to questions will be displayed above.