Custom Jewelry by Mardon

June 1st, 2018 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

Color Change Garnet in Custom 14K Yellow Gold Ring

Recent custom pieces by Mardon show off some reasons why people have us make custom jewelry.

We made this snake ring set with a rare gem for a long time client who has a taste for Asian art. We made her a custom diamond ring several years ago that featured Asian style dragons on both sides of a very nice round diamond. This new piece features a serpent wrapped around a rare color change garnet from Africa.

Color change garnets have been mined in Tanzania, Madagascar and Sri Lanka since the 1980’s. Production has been mostly small stones– this 1.20 ct gem is large for the type. They are a variety of Pyrope Garnet. According to one mineralogist, they are mix of 80% Pyrope, 10% Spessartine, and 10% Almandine. Like the alexandrite, they have the rare property of appearing red to pink in incandescent light and blue green in daylight. Our client has become intrigued by some of the rare gems we feature in our shop, and wanted something very unusual. She was delighted with her new ring.

Unusual Opal Doublet in Custom 14K White Gold Ring

This unusual opal ring was made featuring a high quality opal doublet from a yellow gold ring that our client had worn for years. It was a favorite but she wanted it in white gold. The stone had acquired scratches and dings, so we had it repolished before making the new ring. The new ring shows off the unusual shape of the gem and accents the color of the opal with the sparkle of white diamonds

Art Deco-inspired Custom Ring with Sapphires and Diamon

This unique design is based on a vintage Art Deco ring collected by our client who buys and sells vintage jewelry. She loved the design, but wanted something in white gold that would be good for everyday wear. Our CAD wizard, Jenny, worked with her to develop this great looking white gold ring set with diamonds and blue sapphires. Simply stunning!

Tsavorite Garnet & Diamonds in 14K Gold Pendant with Abalone Shell Texture

This intriguing pendant was made for a couple who’ve traveled extensively and had bought the pear shaped Tsavorite garnet on one of their trips. The owner brought us a sketch of his design. The tricky part was that he wanted a textured surface around the stones that is reminiscent of the surface inside an abalone shell.  Jenny was able to translate his thoughts successfully; he told us we captured just what he had in mind.

The stone had been worn in a ring for years so it was pretty scuffed up. Our lapidary re-faceted the top with just a few points of weight lost. The new owner was delighted– she hadn’t seen the Tsavorite so sparkly in years.

CAD rendering for custom pendant

At Mardon, we make custom jewelry starting with a idea, sometimes a simple sketch. We develop your ideas into a CAD rendering which illustrates the new design perfectly. The CAD design is then made into a castable model by our CNC mill which carves the model out of wax or by our 3D printer which grows the model out of plastic resins.

It’s our job to help you realize your ideas and desires into a new piece of jewelry that suits your lifestyle. We’re a true manufacturing jeweler working directly with consumers. You can visit our shop at 5225 Canyon Crest Drive, #14, Tuesday thru Saturday, 10 to 5:30.

Don’t forget to cast your ballot online for the 2018 Annual Reader’s Choice survey — Sunday, June 3 is the last day you can vote. We hope you’ll choose Mardon as the Best Jeweler of the Inland Empire–for the tenth year in a row! Thanks for all your votes.

It’s easiest to vote on line — just follow this link.

You can take the entire survey for your choices for best local shopping, restaurants and services. For your ballot to count, vote for at least 25 categories — it’s easy and fun. And you can vote every day! Voting ends this Sunday, June 3.

We thank you for your vote and support– this recognition inspires us and helps us keep going to bring you beautiful custom pieces like the ones shown in this post.

Pearl Blossoms

May 29th, 2018 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

Pearl Blossom Necklace and Earrings- Original Design by Kaye Sweaney

We’re proud to introduce “Pearl Blossoms”, the newest pearl fashions by Kaye Sweaney of Mardon. Kaye calls these “Pearl Blossoms” because they remind her of cherry blossoms and other flowers. These unique pieces are each made by hand from “Keshi” pearls from the pearl farms of Asia. Keshi are accidental pearls which spontaneously form as by products of pearl cultivation. Keshi are produced in both saltwater and freshwater pearl farms.

Kaye saw these bright but irregular freshwater keshi pearls and fell in love with their soft luster and shifting colors known as “orient.”  They reminded her of flower petals, so she  went to work to develop a way to make her lovely “Pearl Blossom” jewels. After much trial and error, she was able to create these beautiful blossoms.

Pearl Blossom Enhancer

You’ll find “Pearl Blossoms” only at Mardon Jewelers, the best jewelry store in Riverside. The Limited Edition earrings start at $75, the 5 blossom necklace is $295. If we don’t have exactly what you’d like, Kaye will be happy to make  special blossoms just for you!

Don’t forget that June is Pearl Month– Pearls, Moonstone, and Alexandrite are the birthstones for June.

Pearl Blossoms are now on display at Mardon Jewelers at the Canyon Crest Towne Centre, 5225 Canyon Crest Drive, #14. It’s best to enter the center from the Central Avenue entrance– we’re the first store left of Rite Aid. We’re open Tuesday thru Saturday, 10 to 5:30.

If you’ve enjoyed the blog about Kaye’s beautiful Pearl Blossoms, please give us a vote of confidence in the 2018 Inland Empire Reader’s Choice survey sponsored by the Press Enterprise. It’s easiest to vote on line — just follow this link.

You can take the entire survey for all your choices for best local shopping, restaurants and services. For your ballot to count, vote for at least 25 categories — it’s easy and fun.  And you can vote every day! Voting ends this Sunday,  June 3.

We thank you for your vote and support– this recognition inspires us and helps us keep going to bring you fine original pieces like Kaye’s Pearl Blossoms found only at Mardon Jewelers.

Antique Victorian Cameo Set

May 18th, 2018 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

Agate Cameo Necklace and Earrings, circa 1870

This just in– an exciting antique necklace and matching earrings with Agate Cameos, from the Victorian era. Hardstone cameos were associated with mourning jewelry starting as early as the 16th century. Sets like this came into vogue during the reign of Queen Victoria after the death of her beloved husband Prince Albert in 1861. The tassel places this set squarely in the Mid Victorian period, circa 1870-1880

The set consists of a necklace with a centerpiece of fabricated 1oK rose gold, set with a banded agate cameo and freshwater pearls. The center setting is basically a box fabricated by hand from sheet gold. The front is lavishly decorated with hand engraving and taille de epergne enameling. Taille de epergne is a variation of champleve enameling where opaque enamels– usually black– are fired into engraved lines forming a design. This necklace is especially nice compared to others we have seen because of unusual shape, the added leaves and natural pearls, and of course, the tassel. Overall condition is very good, considering the set is ~150 years old!

Left and right facing earrings

The earrings feature matching agate cameos, beautifully made with hand engraving and taille de epergne engraving. One cameo facing left, the other faced right so they both face forward when worn. The earrings are nicely articulated- the middle section is hinged the top where the earwires attach and the little engraved “skirts” below the cameo are also jointed.

Anticlastic handmade chain

The interesting 17 inch chain is completely handmade of 5 mm anticlastic (having opposite curvatures at a given point) wire rings, assembled into units and soldered.

Cameos and intaglios were very popular in the 1800’s. Cameos have the carved figure raised above a level surface, usually of a contrasting color, while intaglios are carved down into the surface, opposite that of a cameo. Kind of like navels– inny or outy!

Shell cameo from the 1920’s

Moonstone intaglio from the 19th Century

Hardstone cameos are most often carved from banded agate so that the carved figure is a light color that contrasts with the dark base layer. This set is black and white, others can be brown and white or orangy pink and white. Hardstone cameos are more expensive than cameos carved from shell because the carving is  difficult and time consuming. As such, hardstone cameos are more rare than shell cameos and are very collectible.

Sold as a set only, I-27903, this wonderful antique necklace with matching earrings is now showing in our estate department, Tuesday thru Saturday, 10 -5:30.

If you enjoyed this blog, please give us a vote for Best Jeweler in the 2018 Reader’s Choice survey– it’s easy! You can use a mail-in ballot from the daily newspaper of the Riverside Press Enterprise or even even better, vote online at

And, you can vote once every day! We hope you’ll help us make it 10 years in a row as Best Jeweler in the Inland Empire. Thanks for your support and your vote!


Beer Walk, Canyon Crest

May 1st, 2018 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

Craft Beer Walk Poster

The 4th Annual Craft Beer Walk at Canyon Crest is next Saturday, May 5.  The Walk starts at 4 pm and lasts until 8 pm. This is your chance to visit interesting shops, see new things and sample local Craft Beers and tasty knoshes in a relaxed atmosphere– and you don’t have to fight the freeway! Tickets are available at Mardon Jewelers and other merchants in the center– $35 includes beer and food, $25 for food only.  Your ticket will entitle you to quaff delicious local brews and nibble new snacks, meet the merchants and experience the latest in jewelry, books, clothing, and services.

Mardon is featuring the unique beers and ales of Euryale Brewing Company of Riverside. This local micro brewery is known as one of the best in the Inland Empire — check out their website,

Press Enterprise Reader’s Choice

April 27th, 2018 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

The Press has announced that voting for the annual Reader’s Choice survey will begin next Tuesday, May 1. You’ll be able to vote at!Ebest. Many of you may know that Mardon has won Best Jeweler of the Inland Empire for 9 years in a row. Let’s go for 10!

In the coming weeks, we’ll keep you posted on new happenings at Mardon. Speaking of happenings, the 4th Canyon Crest Towne Centre Craft Beer Walk is on Cinco de Mayo! We’ll be featuring local craft beef from Euryale, one of Riverside’s award winning small brewers.  Munchies too! Tickets are available at Mardon and other merchants in the Centre. Proceeds benefit the Riverside Community Arts Association.

Stop by the shop soon– You can get your Beer Walk tickets and peruse the new pieces we’re showing

Marcus & Company Art Deco Ruby & Diamond Brooch

March 17th, 2018 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

Art Deco Pin by Marcus

Just acquired: this sweet little Art Deco brooch. During the buy, we noticed a serial or stock number engraved on the back, but didn’t see a quality or maker’s mark. The piece tested to be 14K white gold,and was set with Old European cut diamonds and a fine natural star ruby, so we were happy to to purchase it. Afterwards, examining the pin more carefully, we spotted a maker’s mark on the pin stem– “Marcus.” We purchase vintage and antique jewels by Tiffany, Krementz, T.B. Starr, Whiteside and Blank, and other famous American makers, but this was our first piece by Marcus & Company!

Marcus Maker’s Mark

Marcus maker’s mark closeup

Marcus & Company was one of the elite American jewelry houses. Classically trained in the European apprentice system, Herman Marcus immigrated from Germany to New York in 1850 and started working as a designer at Tiffany & Co. He left Tiffany in 1864 to form a partnership with Theodore B. Starr, Starr & Marcus. After Starr & Marcus dissolved in 1877, Herman Marcus returned to Tiffany. In 1884, he joined the firm of Jaques & Marcus, of which his elder son William Marcus was already a partner. George Jaques retired in 1892 and the firm was renamed Marcus & Company. Herman died in 1899, but his sons continued to run the business well into the 20th century. The firm was sold to Gimbels in 1941 and merged with Black, Starr, and Frost in 1962

Marcus & Company was famous for meticulous craftsmanship, for the use of unusual gemstones and fine enameling and for innovative designs inspired by the French Art Nouveau movement. Marcus & Co. jewelers worked in the Paris workshop of Rene Lalique to learn the art of enameling. Throughout the late 19th and early 20th Century, Marcus & Co. was responsible for some of the most unique jewelry created by an American jewelry house. Marcus & Co. pieces are rare and highly collectible.

The combination of gem materials in this pin is unusual and interesting. The carved and frosted rock crystal quartz flanking the center was in keeping with the “camphor glass” look that was all the rage during the 1930’s. The soft white quartz contrasts nicely with the bright red center, a natural cabochon star ruby. The inclusions in the ruby produce a weak star and prove it to be unheated and from Mogok, Burma. The color is vivid violetish red, known as pigeon’s blood red. Old European cut diamonds finish the ensemble of gems and brighten the look.

Besides being the pinnacle of Art Deco styling, the 1930’s were also the Golden Age of Aviation. This pin reminds me of an airplane propeller. My father learned about airplanes and became a pilot during the 30’s, so this piece goes into my personal collection for a couple of  good reasons.

At Mardon, we buy estate jewelry on a daily basis, so we always have new and interesting things to show. If you have jewelry you’d like to sell, please give us a call. We’ll be happy to verbally appraise your items– no fee will be charged if you sell us your items. We buy for cash or trade for store credit. For high value items, we offer consultation and assistance for selling at auctions by Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and other prominent auction houses.  We’re open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am to 5:30 pm– Please call for an appointment.


GIA iD100 Diamond Tester at Mardon Jewelers

March 3rd, 2018 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

Mardon Jewelers just acquired the latest diamond testing device from the Gemological Institute of America, the GIA iD100. This desktop instrument uses spectroscopic technology to separate synthetic and imitation diamonds from natural diamonds. The GIA iD100 was developed to inform and protect both jewelers and consumers.

Because of recent technological advances, laboratory grown diamonds are now widely available in sizes suitable for jewelry. Synthetic diamonds aren’t easily identified by normal gemological testing. Most companies label their product with laser etching on the girdle, but unmarked stones are showing up in the market place, posing problems of disclosure.

For centuries, natural diamonds have been valued highly because they are beautiful, durable, and rare. Synthetic diamonds are now being mass produced, so they are not rare. Since synthetic diamonds usually sell for about one third the price of natural diamonds, it’s very important for jewelers to know what they are selling and for consumers to know what they are buying.

The GIA iD100 gives very straightforward results quickly and can used to show consumers whether a diamond is natural or synthetic. Over 98% of natural diamonds are type I while all synthetic diamonds are type II. The tester recognizes the luminescence of type I diamonds and gives them a “Pass”. Synthetic and imitation diamonds generate a “Refer” signal, meaning further study is needed to identify the stone. Type II natural diamonds also referred, but these are very rare. Gemologists usually identify type II natural diamonds by natural inclusions and other characteristics.

As part of our appraisal and buying services, Mardon is proud to offer the latest methods for evaluating jewelry and gems. Even though new technologies like the GIA iD100 are very expensive, we know these investments are worth it in the long run. By keeping up with these new developments, we’re able to offer the best merchandise and expert services available to our clientele.





8 Reasons For Custom Jewelry

January 26th, 2018 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

People have many reasons for wanting custom jewelry.  Sometimes, they want something new and exciting, sometimes they need a problem fixed, sometimes it’s to replace or recreate a special piece. The artisans of Mardon solve all sorts of design requests and challenges– in addition to our in-house design services, we work with the best crafts people in the business for expert hand engraving, stone repair, and enameling.

Custom Hand Engraved Wedding Bands

Owning unique one-of-a-kind jewelry sets us apart. This couple wanted easy to wear wedding bands with a vintage style. Designer Jenny Sweaney created this original floral design reminiscent of the Art Deco style. The open work is perfect for hand engraving. These beautiful wedding bands will make this couple’s ceremony memorable and will draw admiration for their marriage in the years that follow.

Perfectly matched GIA graded Diamonds

This gentleman wanted a simple elegant ring with a matched pair of high quality diamonds to celebrate his 40th anniversary. We found the perfect diamonds and followed his suggestions for the design.

Old Mine Cut Diamond in a Modern Style

After many years of marriage, this lady wanted a new wedding ring. She  had a good idea what the design should be- We adapted her idea to her gems. Along the way, we recut her chipped Old Mine cut family diamond. We like the combination of an antique diamond with this modern look– it really works.

Men’s Lost Wedding Band Recreated in Platinum and Rose Gold

This man lost his unusual wedding band– we recreated it in platinum and rose gold with princess cut diamonds.

Sapphire and Diamond Ring, redesigned

This client kept losing sapphires from her ring. It was a design flaw that wasn’t repairable. We re-engineered the design with more secure settings for her stones while keeping a similar look. Now her new ring is problem free.

Gorgeous Natural Jadeite in 14K Gold

This lady received a wonderful natural Jadeite from friends on one of her many trips to China. Our custom setting shows off her gorgeous gemstone and suits her lifestyle to a T- She was ecstatic with the result!

Imperial Topaz and Baguette Tsavorites in Rose Gold

This shopper bought a fine Imperial Topaz in Brazil and wanted an unique setting. We matched it up with a perfect pair of rare Tsavorite baguettes. The step cutting, the colors of the gems and the rose gold work together in beautiful harmony.

Pallasite Peridot from the Stars!

This pair of custom earrings features gems that are literally out of this world! This couple waited for two years for a specialty lapidary firm to locate and cut this matching pair of Pallasite gems. Pallasite is an unique variety of peridot– the Pallasite crystals form within meteorites and fall from the heavens! CAD whiz Jenny Sweaney worked for several weeks developing the perfect design to show off these ultra rare gems and to express the couples’ feelings for each other.

Custom made jewelry is a Mardon specialty. It’s one of the special parts of our skill base that keeps us looking forward to our work each day.

Our state of the art CAD jewelry design software allows our clients to participate in the design process and to see precisely what their jewelry will look like before it’s made. We produce castable models with a 3-d printer, a computer controlled milling machine, as well as by hand carving. You can see from these examples how versatile custom jewelry can be.

If you have need for custom jewelry or just want to ask questions, stop by our shop anytime during business hours, Tuesday thru Saturday, 10 am to 5:30 pm. We’ll be happy to show you how it works. You can call 951 682-2325 or email



Art & Crafts Pin

November 21st, 2017 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

We recently acquired this sweet little diamond and 18K gold pin from the late 19th century. It’s a perfect example of the ideas behind the Arts & Crafts movement– made by traditional fabrication methods using simple tools to create simple forms and styles of decoration.

The jeweler made the main stem of the piece by forging 18K gold wire into a tapered form. He used a jeweler’s hand saw to split the large end of the taper to form a Y to which he added a crescent wire of gold. He soldered the stem to the diamond setting which is composed of three concentric circles held in position by gold cross bars. Notice how he curled the ends of the Y into a simplc decorative element. A pin assembly was added to complete the metal work, then the diamond was set and the pin polished. We’ve left the patina of age on the pin.

The most interesting part of the pin is the innovative way the jeweler made the pin catch. It’s just a gold wire loop formed into an elegant S shape, soldered to the back of the main tapered wire. A gold wire attaches to and stabilizes the loop on one side, while the opposite side is left open for the pointy end of the pin stem to fit into. The wire is perfectly shaped to cover the sharp end of the stem.


The simplicity of this important part of the jewel is remarkable, especially when you compare it other pin catches of the period and after. Most have moving parts which have to be properly aligned in order to work properly. They can be tricky to operate and are easy to bend out of shape.

The ingenuity of this jeweler to create a perfectly functional catch with no moving parts using basic materials and hand tools is the essence of what the Arts & Crafts movement was all about. These ideas are still important today and are often expressed in the jewelry of the Modern Period. See Mardon Blog ,

At Mardon, we always adding new items to our estate department. Not only are these items beautiful, they often teach us about our history, not only of jewelry but also of our culture. We incorporate these lessons into many of the original and custom works we create right here in Rivcrside.

Stop by at our new location soon, at the Canyon Crest Towne Centre, next to the Rite Aid.  Starting Tuesday, November 28, we’ll be Open 7 Days A Week for your shopping convenience, Sunday thru Thursday, 10 – 5:30, Open Late, Friday & Saturday, 10 – 8 pm.

Gold Buckles

October 25th, 2017 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

Our latest find in the Estate Department is this beautiful pair of gold shoe buckles. They are fabricated of 14K yellow gold. The style and method of construction suggest they were made in the early 20th century.

At first, we thought they might be for suspenders or lingerie straps. That didn’t exactly make sense. Women don’t often wear suspenders and the buckles are too heavy for lingerie. In researching the maker’s mark, one of our friends in the gemological community suggested they might be shoe buckles and sent over this image– Bingo. Not quite so fancy as our vintage buckles but you get the idea.

The buckles are designed for a strap that is ~ 1 3/8 inches wide. The rectangular opening in the clamp is where a strap attaches, then the other strap slides under and out. The clamp closes easily and the serrated edge insures a perfect fit and a secure grip.

The size of the buckles suggests a small foot, and the ornate style and  beautifully engraved initials suggest a gift– perhaps something special for the Debutantes’ Ball!

As always, our Estate Department offers many interesting treasures from the past. Stop by and shop or just enjoy browsing.. We’re open Tuesday thru Saturday, 10 to 5:30.

If you have jewelry you’d like to sell, we’re always open to buy. If you need appraisals or information about jewelry you own, our staff of gemologists are at your service with expert advice and information. We also offer consignment services for auctioning high value items. Call for an appointment.

For more information about appraisals, go to this page,

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