Why Finding an AGS Jeweler is Important

Why Finding an AGS Jeweler is Important

Did you know that only 5% of jewelers, designers and appraisers have met the American Gem Society standards?  We are here to tell you what exactly is the American Gem Society (AGS) and why it is so important to find a jeweler who is AGS certified.

In 1934, Robert M. Shipley founded the AGS as a not-for-profit trade association comprised of retail jewelers, independent appraisers, suppliers, and selective industry members in the North America.  The goal was to build an elite group dedicated to consumer protection, ethical business practices and the development of superior gemological skills and knowledge.  The AGS was built with consumers in mind to protect them as well as their purchases by putting your trust into working with a consummate professional who adheres to the highest standards of the jewelry industry.

There are several titleholders which include:

  • Registered Jewelers (RJ)- a title earned by those who have completed the required coursework and classroom study of diamonds & gemstones who also adhere to the AGS‘s Code of Ethics.  This title but be renewed annual to increase knowledge and ethical practices
  • Certified Gemologists (CG)- A Certified Gemologist has taken advanced studies in diamonds and colored gemstones. A CG also demonstrates mastery of diamond, gemstone, and precious metal testing procedures
  • Certified Gemologist Appraisers (CGA)- This title is the most highly regarded among peers in the jewelry industry. Why? Because it certifies that the sales person can identify diamonds, gemstones, and jewelry and determine their value. This title requires advanced training and experience in determining the value of diamonds and gemstones
  • Independent Certified Gemologist Appraisers (ICGA)– This title represents those individuals whose sole business is appraising. He or she does not purchase or sell diamonds, gemstones, or jewelry.To receive this certification, the appraiser has completed the requirements for RJ, CG, and CGA, plus has successfully completed an extensive course in personal property appraising. He or she must not only complete the annual re-certification exam, but also submit proof of continuing education in their field every five years

In order for a jeweler to become certified by the AGS, one must meet strict criteria that include:

  • Have an exceptionally high level of gemological knowledge including successfully completing prescribed courses and classes in diamonds and colored gemstones
  • Possess a reputation for unquestioned integrity and must conduct business to enhance the confidence of the public
  • Demonstrate sincere interest in ethical business practices and exemplify this belief
  • Be a retail jeweler, jewelry business supplier or independent appraisal business that has been established for at least two years with demonstrated financial stability
  • All titleholders must be re-certified every year

In order to maintain membership, jewelers in the American Gem Society must agree to their Code of Ethics:

  • Provide full disclosure of all facts pertaining to the products they sell
  • Never intentionally deceive their employees, consumers, vendors, or business partners
  • Compete fairly and never speak unprofessionally about their competitors. Likewise, encourage their colleagues in the jewelry industry to embrace these principals.
  • Resolve any customer complaints relating to the sale of a product
  • Not sell conflict diamonds. AGS jewelers must make every effort to fully comply with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and the World Diamond Council System of Warranties
  • Continue their gemological and jewelry education, always improving their knowledge and keeping up with trends in jewelry and ethical business practices.
  • Adhere to anti-money laundering (AML) program, which is designed to comply with the USA Patriot Act

Michaels has several Managers and Associates with titles of Registered Jewelers, Certified Gemologists and Certified Gemologist Appraisers.  To find an AGS certified jeweler near you, click here.

 

 

 

 

*Many excerpts were derived from the AGS website

 

Pandora FREE Leather Bracelet Event Happening NOW!

Pandora FREE Leather Bracelet Event Happening NOW!

Its back! The Pandora FREE Leather Bracelet Event graced us just in time to complete our Summer wardrobe.   Spend $100 or more* and receive a FREE bracelet of your choice! Featuring bright, beautiful colors including shades of blues and pinks as well as a variety of neutral colors that will match any outfit.  Stop in to our Avon, Bristol, Danbury, Manchester , Meriden , Orange, Torrington, Westfarms or Waterbury Michaels Jewelers locations to check out this event, now through June 19th.

 

*Free leather bracelet (up to a $55 USD retail value). While supplies last at participating retailers. Bracelet selection may vary by store. Excludes gift card purchases. Charms sold separately.

Semi-Annual Estate Event at Michaels Jewelers!

One of a kind treasures with exceptional values!

Our Estate Collections spans centuries from Victorian Era pins to Mid-Century masterpieces.   Explore some of the most unique pieces including Citrine & Ruby
14kt gold Retro Earrings, 18kt gold South Sea Pearl & Diamond Pendant, cameo pins and filigree diamond rings.  Michaels Jewelers brings you the finest diamonds and gemstones at a fraction of the cost to manufacture today.  We invite you to view our full collection during our Semi-Annual Estate Tour.
Tour dates are as follows:
Mar 10 – Mar 13 Trumbull
Mar 17 – Mar 20 Bristol
Mar 24 – Mar 26 Torrington
Mar 31 – April 3 Manchester
April 7 – April 10 Danbury
April 14 – April 17 Meriden
April 21 – April 24 Orange
April 28 – May 1 Westfarms
May 5 – May 8 Avon
May 12 – May 15 Waterbury

Holiday Jewelry Tips from the Pros

Holiday Jewelry Tips from the Pros

It’s that time of year again!  With family and friends traveling to visit for the holidays it seems that there will be quite a bit of preparation, a ton of cooking and of course, what may seem like endless cleaning to be done.

Here are a few tips on how to keep your jewelry clean and safe this holiday season:

  1. Take your jewelry off while baking and cooking.  This is a must.  Let’s face it, we’re all preparing delicious treats using lots of butter and oil and if you’re like me, the only way to mix properly is with your hands.  Truth is, all of those oils will get stuck in the crevices of your jewelry which isn’t easy to get out and clouds your jewelry.  Make sure to take off rings, watches and bracelets before preparing your dishes to ensure they’ll shine brighter than the Christmas lights strung on your tree.
  2. Consider leaving your valuables at home when traveling.   Every time I leave for a trip, I gather all of my jewelry and anything valuable and store it in my safe.  We have enough to worry about like catching flights, beating traffic and with the hustle and bustle of holiday traveling – sometimes I feel like a chicken with my head cut off.  The last thing you want is to leave your precious ring in the restroom at the rest stop or have a bracelet fall off after going through the security line. TIP: After my fiance proposed, my mom bought me a faux version of my ring.  I thought it was a strange gift but I’d rather make sure to leave my ring in a safe spot at home and rock my mock ring than ruin the holidays if anything were to happen to my real version. 
  3. Make sure to remove jewelry before cleaning.  We all want our house to sparkle before guests arrive so we bust out the vacuum, detergents, carpet cleaners – anything we can get our hands on to make the house look pristine.  While all those cleaning supplies will loosen dirt and grime, they could do a number on your jewelry.  To be on the safe side, store your jewelry in a safe spot while you get to work.
  4. Have your jewelry appraised.  Despite being jolliest time of the year, we must face the facts, an FBI study found that more than 400,000 burglaries occur in the United States during the months of November and December each year (have you seen Home Alone?!).  On top of storing your valuables, make sure that your have had all your jewelry recently appraised and added to your insurance plan (most policies require an appraisal).  I use Jewelers Mutual who covers loss, theft, damage and mysterious disappearance.  Its a small price to pay for the peace of mind knowing that if the unthinkable happens, your jewelry is covered. TIP: Our certified appraiser* recommends to have your jewelry appraised every 3-5 years.  The reason for this is — the market changes constantly especially for gold and diamonds – who knows, your jewelry could be worth more than when you originally purchased it! 
  5. Have your jewelry checked and cleaned from a professional.  No matter what home cleaning solution I use, there is nothing quite like getting your jewelry cleaned by a jeweler.  Jewelers should be checking your jewelry before cleaning to make sure that there aren’t any loose stones or loose clasps.  I am guilty of being rough with my jewelry – I wear my ring to the gym and am constantly catching it and banging it on any and everything.  This will loosen the prongs and distort the shape of your jewelry.  Stop by any ten Connecticut Michaels Jewelers locations and have one of our pros check out your jewelry to make sure they’ll shine bright this holiday season.

We hope these tips help give you peace of mind over the holidays and keep your diamonds sparkling!

*Our appraiser, Donald Walsh is an American Gem Society Certified Gemologist Appraiser.  

8 QUESTIONS YOU MUST ASK YOU JEWELER

stock-footage-store-jeweler-looking-at-a-diamond

Let’s face it, you have you barber or stylist and your favorite local pizza joint but do you have a jeweler that you can call and trust?  Unfortunately, today, many retailers mark up prices just to reduce them or curb their answers to make it sound like you are getting a better deal than you really are.  With engagement rings averaging closer to $6,000, you should absolutely do your homework not only on the ring, but also on your jeweler.  Before you make any purchases you should ask these 8 questions to ensure your jeweler is a reliable one:

1. If I buy a diamond from you, do you guarantee that it will receive the same grade if I send it to any lab, including the GIA or the AGS? We have found many labs to be wildly inconsistent, sometimes over-grading a diamond by 5 to 6 grades. There are Jewelers who use this grey area to make unrealistic claims about the value they are offering. If the answer they give you is, “Well, we have a money back guarantee” or “even the GIA can grade it differently,” that demonstrates they are not confident in their offering and you should seek another Jeweler.

2. Do you guarantee the craftsmanship of your products beyond the return privilege or do I have to buy the warranty? Many Jewelers use extended service plans to boost their bottom line. Often, these plans include unusual use or abuse disclaimers that allow them to determine what they will or will not cover even after the customer has paid extra. In general, Jewelers who focus on selling extended plans should be avoided.

3. Do you have an accredited laboratory to handle appraisal and gem identification work?  As an AGS (American Gem Society) Jeweler, we submit to annual re-certification to insure that our equipment and
associates are up to standard. If a Jeweler needs an outside company to do appraisal work for them, you should question their ability to properly recommend or insure that the item you’re buying meets the specifications that the manufacturer has stated.

4. Can I see my diamond or gemstone under a loupe or a Gem Scope?  If the jeweler gives you a hard time, they should be avoided.  No Jeweler or gemologist would ever buy a piece of fine jewelry without inspecting it under 10X magnification. We inspect the match and consistency of the gemstones as well as the quality of the prong work.

5. Have you ever sold this product at the price shown on the tag? (If you are receiving a % off discount.)  Unfortunately, the oldest trick in the book is to mark up a product only to mark it down later.  The AGS considers this form of advertising to be less than honest and note in the best interest of the consumer or industry.  

6. If my jewelry needs to be serviced, where do you send it?  Many jewelers use trade shops that are out of state, which requires extra time and circumvents any quality control procedures. Our certified master goldsmiths perform all our repairs on premise.

7. If I want to upgrade m diamond, how much more will i have to spend? Many jewelers require you to double the purchase price. Our Love for Life Guarantee allows you to exchange your diamond engagement ring at any time with no upgrade required. In the future, if you wish to trade in your solitaire diamond earrings or the diamond in your engagement ring, Michaels Jewelers requires you to spend only 50% more.

8.  Are all of your Rubies, Emeralds and Sapphires natural?  Several of the national chains have gone strictly to lab created stones and often the sales associate forgets to disclose the major difference. It is our opinion that full disclosure on any and all treatments is the only way to operate. This would be particularly true with gemstones that are grown in a laboratory.

If you have any hesitations about purchasing a piece of jewelry, visit any one of Michaels’ 10 locations where our professionals have the tools and experience to help guide you through any questions you may have.

The Biggest Bridal Trends for 2015

We just returned from the JCK Las Vegas show where we met with some of the biggest vendors in the industry and got some great insight on what the latest and greatest trends are for engagement rings and wedding bands.  Check it out below:

  1. The Bigger the Better– With celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Beyoncé sporting 20+ carat diamonds, more and more, our vendors are getting requests for larger stones — even if it means compromising quality.  There are a few ways to achieve this look without breaking the bank account.  One option is to look for a diamond that may have slight imperfections (in most cases you won’t be able to see inclusions with an SI2 stone and up) or you may want to consider Estate pieces.  Old European Cut diamonds date back as far as 1890-1930 and achieved a  more mathematically round cut stone and bridged the gap of Old Mine cuts and today’s Round Brilliant cut.  These rings can come in very unique and intricate settings (who doesn’t love a vintage look?) but can also be reset to achieve a more modern look.   Another option is to add a halo (or two) which creates the effect of a more prominent look and size, yet can significantly reduce the cost versus going up a size in carat weight.  Lastly, check out Michaels Jewelers’ Special Buys which provide a unique opportunity for stones that are superior but aged and priced far below market value.  So if you don’t quite have the budget of Jay-Z or Kanye, consider this look!

halo-round-engagement-ringold-european-cut-diamond

  1. Bright, Beautiful Color – Kate Middleton’s oval Sapphire engagement ring (inheritated by the late Princess Diana) is perhaps the most famous of engagement rings, but certainly not the first! Celebrities have gone non-traditional with colored gems and diamonds such as Halle Berry’s Emerald, Carrie Underwood’s Yellow Diamond and of course, who could forget Bennifer’s Pink Diamond?  Morganite and Amethyst styles are extremely popular and we even had a request for a custom Black Tahitian Pearl engagement ring! If you’re not willing to fully commit to color, accenting your ring with your favorite colored stone or birthstone is also a great way to make your ring truly unique.  We are also seeing colored stones in wedding bands — why not consider mixing and matching your favorite colors together?  We recently saw some bands that alternated diamonds and gemstones which achieved the perfect pop of color.  One caveat with this style is gemstones all have different quality levels in terms of hardness so there is risk in the wear varying depending on which stones you mix and match.  This trend isn’t going away so why not consider one of these vibrant gems when it  comes to ‘the ring’?

pinkgold-morganite-engagement-ringsaphire-diamond-wedding-band

  1. Mixed Metals – White metals dominated the industry for quite some time but we are pleased to see more and more colored and alternative metals come back into the mix. Rose Gold, Yellow Gold and two-toned combinations are everywhere in both engagement rings and wedding bands. Combined with diamonds or the gemstone trend, colored metals are a great way to incorporate your favorite tones.  Pink Gold makes a perfect pair with Morganite and we love the monotone look of yellow Diamonds and yellow gold.  We are also seeing a huge trend in men’s alternative metal bands.  Tungsten Carbide, Titanium and Cobalt are extremely scratch resistant and come in a variety of colors and styles as well as significantly inexpensive in comparison to traditional gold and platinum.

pink-white-gold-engagement-ringyellow-gold-oval-halo-engagement-ring

Spring Jewelry Cleaning Tips from the Pros!

Spring Jewelry Cleaning Tips from the Pros!

Now that Spring is officially upon us, almost everyone has started their Spring cleaning, but don’t forget about cleaning your jewelry!  Come in today for a full professional cleaning and inspection at Michaels Jewelers.  Our free service utilizes the latest in ultrasonic and high pressure steam cleaning and our thorough inspection will insure your gemstones are tightly mounted to prevent loss.  If you can’t make it into one of our stores soon, here is a safe way to keep most of your sparkly gems shining at home:

  1. Fill a small bowl with warm water and add a small amount of gentle dish soap.  The best choice is one made with natural ingredients in order to avoid harming your jewelry with chemicals. Gentle hand soaps or shampoos may also be used but be sure not to use one which contains moisturizers as this could leave a film on your gemstones
  2. Place your jewelry in the bowl for a few minutes to allow the warm water to penetrate and loosen any dirt, dust, and grime that has built up there
  3. Use a soft bristled toothbrush to gently rub any grime from your jewelry.  Scrub lightly, poking the bristles into the hard-to-reach crevices.  Most mountings have openings behind your gemstones.  Use the brush to reach through these openings to the backs of your gemstones
  4. Rinse your ring in cool water
  5. Lay your jewelry out on a paper towel or clean cloth to dry
  6. Stop by any Michaels Jewelers location and have one of our Associates check your jewelry to ensure there aren’t any loose stones and use the proper form of cleaning.  If you have any questions on which method is best for your jewelry, don’t hesitate to ask.  Remember, Cleaning and Inspection is FREE!