Award Winning Gemcutters at Mardon

February 19th, 2015 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

Mardon Jewelers has a new relationship with two of America’s finest gem cutters, John Dyer and David Brackna. We met both of these award winning artists at this year’s Tuscon Gem show and were able to purchase fine examples of their work.  We’ll soon be showing these wonderful gemstones in our unique Mardon Original Jewelry.

John Dyer is a master gemstone cutter known worldwide for his artistic creations and his passion for precision. He’s won 37 AGTA Cutting Edge Awards including 9 first place prizes. John’s work is truly exciting and his taste and selection of materials are wonderful. Each of his gems is etched with his logo so you’ll know it’s a genuine Dyber gemstone. You can visit his website to see a catalog of his work.

I-24741 Gypsy Rose Garnet Face 2

I-24741 Zig Zag Cut 1.96 ct Gypsy Rose Garnet

I-24741 reverse cuts

I-24741 reverse cuts

I-24742 Concave Cut 2.00 ct, Green Tourmaline

I-24742 Concave Cut 2.00 ct, Green Tourmaline




I-24742 Green Tourm pav

I-24742 Green Tourmaline pavilion

I-24742 Green Tourm mark

I-24742 John Dyber logo

I-24743 Dreamscape 1.70 ct Aquamarine

I-24743 Dreamscape 1.70 ct Aquamarine

David Brackna is a senior member of the American Gem Trade Association. He’s also a multiple AGTA Cutting Edge Award winner. He’s known as a true innovator in the field of gem cutting and specializes in cutting new and rare materials from Africa. Examples of his work are on exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.

I-24750 1.27 ct. Merelani Mint Garnet

I-24750 1.27 ct. Merelani Mint Garnet

I-24749 5.49 Umba Garnet

I-24749 5.49 ct. Umba Rhodolite  Garnet

These beauties are available to see at our shop and will soon be featured in new Mardon designer pieces.




Black Friday Diamond Deals

January 8th, 2015 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

AGS logo

As members of the American Gem Society, we at Mardon Jewelers are committed to conducting our business ethically. Key tenets of the AGS are that the ethical business person never knowingly misrepresents the facts or intentionally deceives other parties. From our AGS Membership Manual, these are the first 3 of 15 specifically prohibited business practices.

1. Advertising which in any way is not the truth or has the intent to be misleading. 

2. Following a policy of regularly selling merchandise at prices lower than those at which it is marked or conducting repeated discount sales and discount promotional events as an on-going policy. 

3. Advertising or setting artificially high prices as the “regular price” to allow either a fictitious sale price or supposed discount “mark down” lower than the original price. 

Not only are we committed to fair pricing and ethical business practices, we’re also dedicated to consumer protection and education. One of the main reasons we decided to invest our time and energy publishing this blog is to offer our readers and clients quality information about both the good and the bad in our industry.

Just before Christmas, a lady asked us to appraise this set of wedding rings for insurance. Her fiancé had purchased the set as a Black Friday discount deal. The client didn’t have the EGL USA report shown here at the time she brought us the ring.

EGL report

We did our usual thorough workup, photographing the item, measuring and weighing the set. We had two gemologists grade the diamonds with particular focus on the center stone which accounts for much of the value. We graded the center diamond as K color, SI2, and the small diamonds at K to M color (noticeable yellow tint), SI clarity. Our appraised retail replacement value, based on the facts we determined and on normal markups for retail prices, was ~ $3400 plus sales tax.

Our client wasn’t happy with our valuation. She told us her fiancé had paid over a thousand dollars more for the set during a Black Friday sale right after Thanksgiving. He got a big discount, of the 50% off nature– where have we heard that before!!!

This episode illustrates two of the most common problems we as ethical jewelers deal with all the time. The first is a big problem — fictitious pricing. By this we mean setting excessively high prices that items would never sell for, but allow the vendor to create the illusion of big discounts so the buyer thinks he’s getting a great deal.

This set was purchased from a chain store that does lots and lots of TV advertising during the holiday seasons. You’ll notice the yellow sticker price of $10,725 on this cert.

Price tag

The facts are that the manufacturer’s cost for the 14K gold in this set was approximately $150. Using the grading from the certificate provided, the 1/2 ct princess cut center would cost ~ $550 wholesale (dealer to dealer), and the 3/4 ct of small diamonds would cost ~ $275 wholesale, for a total cost for materials at the wholesale level of ~$975. Since much of the jewelry like this sold in the mass market is manufactured in Asia where labor costs are rock bottom, you can assume that the retail store probably paid no more than $1200 to $1500 for this set.

Would you pay $10,725 for this item?

We’re sure the retailer was very happy selling the item for $5000. Do the math– that would be a markup of ~300% over cost.

Unfortunately, fictitious pricing is rampant in our society, not only in the jewelry industry but also in many businesses selling to consumers. As a consumer, it’s very hard to resist the illusion that you’re saving thousands of dollars while getting what you want. While consumers bear some responsibility for chasing “Deals”, the fault lies mainly with sellers who participate in deceptive business practices.



Antique Jewelry Stars In Costume Drama

November 15th, 2014 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

Antique splendor

We had a visit from one of our favorite clients, Chris, his wife Jaybee, and friends, on their way to a special event celebrating the Riverside Dickens Festival. We were pleased to see Jaybee wearing the exquisite antique necklace Chris recently acquired from Mardon. This necklace is one of the finest examples of Edwardian jewelry it’s been our pleasure to offer.

Edwardian Necklace, v2

As you can see, Chris and Jaybee were dressed in period costume, painstakingly created by Jaybee’s sister Judy. The event was a fundraiser for Riverside’s annual Dickens Festival held every February. Noted actor, director and producer Gerald Dickens, the great great grandson of famous author Charles Dickens, was the featured attraction, but we’ll bet he was upstaged by Jaybee in her gorgeous necklace and beautiful costume.

While the necklace graced our shop, I was particularly impressed by the design and workmanship of this wonderful platinum and diamond necklace. Read more in my blog article explaining the handcraft techniques and skills involved in creating this work of art  at this url,

At Mardon, we work with all types of fine jewelry. Whether it’s making custom items, designing original one-of-a-kind pieces, or discovering beautiful antique and vintage jewels, you’ll find us busy all hours of our day. We especially love the history of jewelry making. Stop by the shop to see and learn more about fine jewelry, from new to antique. Our regular hours are Tuesday thru Saturday, 10 am to 5:30 pm. Starting December 15, we’ll be open everyday til Christmas.

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.

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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. Read the rest of this entry »

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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