EGL Graded Diamonds– Banned from Polygon and Rapnet

September 20th, 2014 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

The Polygon Trading Network, an online buying/selling service for the diamond trade, announced the latest bombshell in the EGL Diamond Grading scandal. They will no longer list diamonds with European Gemological Laboratory International (EGL) reports. This follows in the wake of the decision by another trading network, RapNet, to ban all EGL report for it’s network.

Trouble has long been brewing in the diamond grading industry. The original grading system was developed by the Gemological Institute of America in the 1950’s. The GIA system introduced terminology for color and clarity grades as well as simple standards for analyzing the cut by depth and table measurements. Their motive was simple —  provided standardized and unbiased diamond grading so consumers would know what they were buying.

Over the years, GIA diamond grading reports have been the gold standard– GIA invented the system and has kept impartiality and respect by maintaining a strict arm’s length relationship with diamond vendors.

EGL grading uses the same grading terminology established by GIA, but over the years, their application of the grades has drifted away from GIA standards. The general consensus of many in the jewelry industry is that the EGL has allowed the natural bias of diamond sellers to influence their grading. In other words, their grading is too lenient.

Consumers don’t really understand the nuances of diamond grading– to most, a grade is a grade. While using GIA’s grading terms, EGL grading has become the orange to GIA’s Apple.

This grading drift has meant that the whole purpose of formal diamond grading has been corrupted. The marketplace has clearly reflected the problem. For example, today, the wholesale price listed on Polygon for a one carat diamond graded H color SI1 by GIA recently averaged $5340 per carat, while the EGL H SI1 averaged $4120 per carat– a difference of 23%.

Consumers have access to pricing information on the internet, but aren’t market savvy and don’t really understand the nuances of diamond grading– to most, a grade is a grade. As a result, the problem recently erupted when retail jewelers selling diamonds based on EGL reports were sued for misrepresentation by their customers.

The obvious answer to the problem is for EGL to get its act together and align it’s grading with GIA– it’s basically a management issue. The master diamonds (color samples) used by EGL can be graded by GIA — this will be a good start to reestablish the legitimacy of EGL grading. Cut grading can be standardized fairly easily– numbers are pretty straightforward, so common sense guidelines for cut grading are relatively easy to establish. Clarity is probably the most subjective of the C’s and the most difficult to standardize.

In my experience as a Diamond Grading Supervisor at the GIA lab in Santa Monica, early 1980’s, it took about 6 months to train new graders to be consistent with the lab practice– and these were all Graduate Gemologists. Getting a group of independent minded folks to see things the same way is like herding cats, but it can be done. It just takes discipline and commitment– If the folks at EGL want to get in synch with GIA, they can do it.

At Mardon, because of our experience at GIA and years of selling diamonds, we’ve always recommended GIA graded diamonds to our clients. In our opinion, the AGS lab and HRD lab in Europe also grade accurately.

As American Gem Society members, we’re committed to consumer protection thru education and fair trade practices. We want you to buy the diamond, not the piece of paper. The certificate helps understand the gem but it’s the map, not the land. We do our best to represent our diamonds fairly and accurately and to show our customers where the real value of the diamond lies.

Readers Choice Best Jeweler 2014- Mardon!

September 6th, 2014 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

We’d like to thank our loyal customers for choosing us for the sixth year in a row as the Press Enterprise Reader’s Choice Best Jeweler. We truly appreciate your votes and your confidence in our small but mighty enterprise. The annual Reader’s Choice supplement will be published in tomorrow’s Sunday Press Enterprise.

Small businesses have to evolve to survive. Over the last few years, we’ve been focusing on serving the needs of our community by buying more jewelry from the public.  For many reasons, customers come to us with jewelry they need to sell.  As a result, our vintage and antique jewelry department has grown substantially.

We’ve developed new skills in working with vintage and antique jewelry in several ways. We’ve expanded our network of experts for restoring vintage and antique items. For example, we can now repair filigree jewelry effectively and can restore damaged enameled jewels.

We’ve greatly expanded our knowledge network so that we can appraise items more accurately. Today’s jewelery appraising requires market data to establish values, so we subscribe to a number of specialty services that research various markets for accurate information.

Along with appraisals, clients sometimes need to resell high ticket items. In some cases, we can buy items outright, in other instances, auctions may be the best solution. We now offer consignment services to auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christies. We handle the listing, appraisal, shipping, and insurance chores that go with selling items at auction.

All in all, this past year has seen growth and economic improvement in our community. Let’s hope the ball keeps rolling!  Thanks again for your confidence and loyal support.

Padparadscha or Not- What’s in a Name?

September 3rd, 2014 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG
Pad 3-4 for sure

2.33 ct. Padparadscha Sapphire, Mardon ring

One of the problems we encounter in the gem trade is misrepresentation to add value to gems. As aficionados of fine gemstones and as members of the American Gem Society and the American Gem Trade Association, we believe it’s important to conduct our business by a strict code of ethics and to protect our customers from fraud and false advertising.

We do this two ways. First, we keep our gemological skills up to date by yearly testing and by following trade publications and scientific journals. We know what we are talking about.

We work diligently to give our customers good information so that they know and understand what they are buying. The following is an example of the subtle differences that can make a big difference to the consumer.

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OOAK Benitoite & Platinum Engagement Ring–Strictly Custom

July 29th, 2014 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

Benitoite 3:4 blog

Just back from the shop, this stunning Benitoite & platinum engagement ring was made to order for our client R. This young man truly went the extra mile to create this symbol of his love for his fiancé.

Wanting something beautiful, exotic and rare, he chose Benitoite. Our California State Gemstone is all of that. One of the rarest of all the gems used in jewelry, Benitoite is found only in one small mining area in San Benito County, California. Benitoite is famous for its beautiful blue color and its flashes of rainbow colors.

He’d read our blog about a Benitoite engagement ring and contacted us, looking to acquire a nice Benitoite. We showed him several stones from our contacts in the gem trade, but they weren’t “The One.” A diligent researcher, he found a lapidary in Central California who cuts this rare gem. R. drove hundreds of miles to a gem show to meet this cutter where he was able to purchase this beautiful triangular step cut stone.

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The Creative Process in Us All

June 27th, 2014 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

Wolf Paw ring

The creative process is one of the things that makes us human. All of us have creative impulses and abilities. From the raw data of our senses and our life experiences, our minds build ideas based on thought, image, and emotion. We use these ideas in our daily life for such mundane things as everyday speech, signing our name, or making a sandwich. We express them more permanently through literature, art and music. At Mardon, we’re privileged to participate in the ideas and creations of our clients.

Recently, daughter Jenny worked with Fabian to create this unusual and striking custom ring. Fabian’s idea was to make a silver pinky ring in the image of a wolf paw print. At the Tucson Gem Shows, Jenny and husband Scott had purchased some very beautiful Oregon Sunstones and a nice group of 4 matching rainbow moonstones. It was a natural transition to use these interesting gems to represent the pads of the paw– the creative process in action.

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Rare Art Deco Pools of Light Necklace– with Stars!

June 20th, 2014 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG
BLOGPools w flowers

Striking Pools of Light Necklace

 

We acquired this highly unusual Art Deco Pools of Light necklace almost by accident. We recently purchased an estate of wonderful early 20th century jewelry items, mostly rings and pins. This piece and another interesting rock crystal necklace were included in the group. Since they had no gold content, we didn’t think too much about them and paid only a nominal amount. The wonderful thing about the jewelry business is that we learn something new everyday– in this case, we’ve discovered that this piece is a valuable Pools of Light necklace.

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Custom Rings Show Mardon’s Expertise & Versatility

June 11th, 2014 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG
Deco Ruby 3:4

Platinum Custom Ring.

These three recently completed custom rings show the versatility and craftsmanship of the experts at Mardon, in particular our gemologists, custom designers and hand engravers.

The spectacular platinum custom ring shown above is set with a 2 carat natural ruby that we brokered to our clients. Gemstone brokering means that our gemologists find a gem that meets your requirements from our network of gem traders and importers. Much like your stock broker or real estate broker, we’re able to find extra good values in the market place and we charge a straight commission for the service– in this case, saving our client about $3000 over what they might have paid for a similar stone at retail.

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2014 Reader’s Choice Voting Ends June 15

June 6th, 2014 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

The annual Press Enterprise 2014 Reader’s Choice voting is going on now!  It’s easy and fun to name your favorite shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. We, the merchants and vendors you name as your favorites, certainly appreciate your vote of confidence. To vote online, go to http://www.pe.com/sections/entertainment/readers-choice/

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The Resurrection of a Ring

May 24th, 2014 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

Damaged ring, 3:4jpg

We recently completed the resurrection of a ring that had been severely damaged.

Fine jewelry is made from precious materials that when properly cared for, will last for centuries. Gemstones are durable and ancient– diamond crystals are typically 1 to 2 billion years old. Gold is eternal. It doesn’t deteriorate and is never discarded– if a style or use becomes outdated or obsolete, gold is simply recycled into a new item. The gold ring on your finger almost certainly contains gold from ancient times, perhaps from the tombs of the Pharaohs!

But even the most well made ring will not survive the ravages of a garbage disposal! Our client accidentally dropped this and several other rings into her fast spinning garbage disposal. Can you imagine the screams of anguish over the grinding racket?

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2014 Readers Choice- Time to Vote for Mardon!

May 22nd, 2014 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

The popular Press Enterprise Reader’s Choice survey is back! Time to vote for your local favorites– we certainly hope you’ll name Mardon as best jewelry store again and that you’ll take the time to name your other favorite businesses.

We sincerely thank you for voting us the best jewelry store for the last five years in a row. By showing your support for locally owned and operated businesses, you are helping the businesses that are unique to our community survive– it’s important! Read the rest of this entry »

    Member - American Gem Society Member - American Gem Trade Association Polygon - The Jewelers Information Highway Harmony Recycled Precious Metals Canada Goose Diamonds