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 it’s beautiful blue color and it’s 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.

Benitoite closeup 2

R. was raised in Wisconsin but is of Middle Eastern descent. He wanted the ring to have a vintage filigree look with a Middle Eastern flavor. Since his stone was triangular, we started from a ring design from my portfolio that was V shaped. Working from images he sent, we developed this first design featuring the curls and arabesques of the mandala.

Mandala 1

First try_edited-1After seeing the first rendering, he wanted a more geometric look to the open work and sent this mandala with an Ottoman design.

Mandala 2

Very difficult– we had to adapt a flat two dimensional design meant to cover a large area such as a window screen onto a very small three dimensional object with multiple curved surfaces. The tolerance for casting platinum are tricky– we had to balance the delicacy of the filigree with the dimensions required for casting the ring successfully. After hours of work, our CAD wizardess Jenny created this striking design.

Design 1

The CAD rendering can really help our customers visualize the final product. With his approval of the design, our platinum smiths went to work and created this wonderful ring.

He wanted me to send him a picture of the finished piece, but I asked him to wait to see it in person. With a design like this, the actual gemstone and the final hand engraving are what makes the piece come alive– no photo can really capture the beauty and presence of fine jewelry like this. When he saw the ring, his eyes lit up– he was glad he waited!

Front & back x Benitoite z

We were lucky to have a client who had the vision of something beautiful and special for his fiancé. Once again, our design team has been able to rise to the occasion.

Thanks to technology, we can do custom work for anyone with internet access. The CAD renderings allow a precise fit between your dream and the real jewelry piece. Stop by the shop in person or visit via internet or just give us a call. We’d love to hear your story, see your vision. We’re open Tuesday thru Saturday, 10 – 5:30 Pacific time.





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 »

Consumer Alert– Cruise Ships, Low Quality Emeralds, Very High Prices- Update

May 8th, 2014 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

1.89 ct Chivor Em UPDATE June 6, 2014 – A happy ending to the story below– 7 months after returning the emerald to the seller, the couple received their money back.

A retired couple purchased this 1.89 carat natural emerald last December in Cartagena, Columbia while on a cruise thru the Caribbean. The emerald shop they bought from had been touted by the cruise ship personnel as the biggest and best. Out of a room full of similar emeralds, the couple chose this one as one of the best. Upon returning from the cruise, they came to our shop  and asked me to appraise it. As soon as I saw the stone, I sensed this would be a difficult appraisal, because the emerald was at the low end of the quality scale. I knew I would be the bearer of bad news. Read the rest of this entry »

Custom Wedding Rings with Natural Alexandrites

April 19th, 2014 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG
Alex ring 3:4

Custom Natural Alexandrite & Diamond Wedding Ring

Our client Laura has a passion for gems and fine jewelry, especially for natural Alexandrite. Her dream was to have custom wedding rings set with natural Alexandrites and Diamond. She found us thru the Mardon Blog and lives in the northern part of our state, so we’ve worked with her via email.

Antique Yogo Sapphire Pin

March 8th, 2014 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG
Yogo Pin w-pin

Antique Yogo Sapphire & Diamond Pin

A client inherited this gorgeous antique Yogo Sapphire pin and asked us to appraise it.

Sapphires were known to occur in several areas of western Montana as early as 1865. For the most part, these deposits produced only moderately good sapphires. The discovery of sapphires in Yogo Creek was different. In 1895, famed gemologist G.F. Kunz, working for Tiffany’s of New York, labeled them “the finest precious gemstones ever found in the United States”.

The Yogo stones are prized for their good clarity and wonderful natural color, often called “cornflower blue”.  Unlike the other Montana sapphires, the Yogo gems require no heat treatment whatsoever.

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