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
*Many excerpts were derived from the AGS website
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.
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.
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:
- 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!
- 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’?
- 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.
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:
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Rinse your ring in cool water
- Lay your jewelry out on a paper towel or clean cloth to dry
- 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!
With our Wedding Band Event currently happening, we wanted to share 10 Tips From the Pros (our Managers) on buying Wedding Bands and Anniversary Bands:
1. Buy from a reputable jeweler! Buy from a jeweler who wants more than to just make a sale. Deal with one who wants to help you celebrate life’s most memorable moments, for a lifetime
2. Order early, if necessary! With so many designs and custom fitting available, you may choose something which will require additional time. Many special orders can take upwards of 4 weeks or more.
3. Make sure it is what you want. Do you want his and her matching bands? Though matching bands are certainly available, many couples choose to select similar styles which fit both of them best but share some design features.
4. Decide what is most important to you. Is the quality of the diamond more important than the size? All of these factors will determine what the best value may be for you.
5. You can find bands in all price ranges. Ask about different metal options and different diamond qualities to find the right ring for your budget.
6. Customize it! Michaels Jewelers offers many additional services such as custom sizing and inside ring engraving
7. Make sure it matches! If matching a band to your engagement ring, consider matching your metals so they wear the same over time
8. Consider having your engagement ring and wedding band soldered together to prevent friction, wear and keep them always aligned. Don’t worry; this process can be easily reversed if you wish to upgrade your ring in the future.
9. Make sure that the band you choose fits your lifestyle. Bands are available in different metals and some are more durable than others.
10. Take advantage of our special events! We offer 15 months interest free financing for our Wedding Band Event and you can save up to $500 off your next purchase!