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Jasper52 offers high style in Antique to Modern Fine Jewelry Auction, Oct. 7

You may have heard the old line, “Say it with flowers.” It’s a classic way to express feelings for another person, for any number of different reasons or occasions. But if you really want to make an impression, “Say it with jewelry.” It’s easy to buy tasteful, high-quality jewelry, even if you’re not particularly knowledgeable about jewels or precious metals. You can leave it to the experts at Jasper52, who never fail in putting together auctions of fine jewelry that include the most sought-after designers, gems and design periods.

Vintage 14K gold, sapphire and diamond earrings. Estimate $4,000-$5,000

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Natural vs. Synthetic Diamonds: Spotting the Difference

This lovely set of natural diamond earrings with a total carat weight of 2.40 carats set in 14K white gold sold recently for $10,400. A similar set of synthetic earrings in the same setting would sparkle similarly but sell for a fraction of that price. Image courtesy: Estate Jewelry Auctioneers and LiveAuctioneers

A diamond is forever, but does it matter if the diamond was recently cultured or one that was produced over millions of years? It may not matter to the heart, but it can at auction.

Natural diamonds are the very definition of elegance and design. Their mystique comes from millions of years of tectonic pressure and powerful volcanic activity. However, there are other much newer options that symbolize everlasting love.

Natural Diamonds

The way a natural diamond reflects natural light is bedazzling. A rainbow of sparkling color is a natural expectation from the exquisitely handcrafted facets of a cut diamond. But what is a diamond, anyway?

Scientifically, any diamond is grown as a tetrahedron, eight triangle-shaped facets that grow from the center outward in a flat square pattern of nothing but hard carbon and tectonic pressure. This pressure deep within the earth’s crust creates the diamond, but volcanic activity “pushes” them closer to within 100 miles of the earth’s surface in kimberlite magma pipes where they are mined, sorted and processed into natural diamond jewelry. The total time from pressurized carbon to “I do” is several million years.

This sterling silver with large 2.25 carat synthetic white diamond pendant sold recently for $50 , considerably less than if it had been a natural diamond. Yet from a distance, its cut, carat, clarity and sparkle rivals that of a natural diamond. Image courtesy Greenwich Auction and LiveAuctioneers

Synthetic Diamonds

Once natural diamonds were revealed to be nothing more than compressed carbon, by Antoine Lavoisier in 1772, attempts to recreate the natural process to form synthetic diamonds were underway. It would take nearly 200 years and numerous attempts around the world to replicate the process to the point that the resulting product was acceptable for commercial or industrial use.

The most economically feasible process to create synthetic diamonds was developed by General Electric (GE) in the 1950s. The process known as High Pressure and High Temperature (HPHT) begins with a diamond “seed” placed within metallic material which is then subjected to very high pressures and high temperatures. This slowly builds up diamond carbon around the natural seed, somewhat similarly to how a natural pearl germinates, producing one synthetic diamond over a period of about a month.

More recently a Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) process was developed that uses low pressure and high temperature. Carbon-based gas such as methane or plasma is pumped into a closed vacuum chamber where a microwave beam then breaks down the carbon molecules. The carbon falls over a panel of multiple diamond seed plates over a month or so slowly building up to create more than one synthetic diamond at a time.

While both processes produce properties that are visually similar to those of a natural diamond, they are so significantly different from each other, and from natural diamonds, that close examination of their atomic structures can easily determine their origin. HPHT diamonds will show a yellow octahedral and blue flat cube structure known as a cuboctahedron, while a CVD synthetic diamond structure features a flat square structure with usually a dark brownish edge of graphite that has to be chemically removed. Neither type displays the octahedron or eight-sided triangle structure of a natural diamond.

How to Quickly Tell

Just looking at a diamond will not necessarily tell you whether it is natural or synthetic. However, there are simple tests that any gemologist can quickly perform to identify the differences through coloration, inclusions, and stress patterns.

According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA.edu) color variations help to identify diamonds in different ways. While natural diamonds can show some uneven coloration, HPHT synthetic diamonds will show mostly uneven coloration when both are viewed under either magnification or an immersion test. CVD synthetic diamonds show no uneven coloration at all. Under ultraviolet light, natural diamonds will fluoresce blue and yellow; while synthetic diamonds fluoresce in green, yellow green, yellow, orange or red.

Inclusions are an important aspect of diamonds, whether natural or synthetic. Natural diamonds feature bits of dark carbon embedded within the diamond. HPTP synthetic diamonds will also reveal dark inclusions, but these are remnants of the metal flux used in its production. Because they are metallic, they can sometimes be attracted by a handheld magnet, where natural carbon will not. CVD synthetic diamonds are manufactured with no inclusions.

Under magnification, natural diamonds will feature a “strain pattern” usually observed as a crosshatch, mosaic, or of different striations of colors that clearly demonstrate geological pressures evident from its natural creation. Synthetic diamonds show no stress patterns at all.

Other Diamond Types

There are other diamond types that form part of the gem industry classifications as well.

Within a large collection of smaller diamond stones such as are seen in this lot weighing 10 carats, there might be a mix of natural and synthetic diamonds, especially if the stones are 0.2 carats (11 mm) known as melee. There is no standardized test to sort out the difference just yet. Auction price: $1,000. Image courtesy: Jasper52 and LiveAuctioneers

Diamond Melee  

The term melee is used to describe smaller brilliant-cut natural diamonds as well as all small synthetic diamonds. They are used to embellish mountings around larger gems and are categorized as usually weighing about 0.2 carats (about 11mm). Because of their small size and cut in much larger quantities, determining whether they are synthetic or natural is time consuming. A cost-effective test has yet to be devised. A mix of natural and synthetic melee in a commercial packet of 100 diamonds is not unusual.

Diamond Simulant

Once diamonds were able to be replicated in a laboratory setting, a number of diamond-like substitutes were developed. Cubic zirconia, synthetic moissanite, Yttriam Aluminum Garnet (YAG), synthetic spinel, synthetic rutile, and strontium titanate easily replicate the clear brilliance of natural diamond, but at a fraction of the cost. While they have a similar appearance to natural diamonds, they have very different chemical and physical properties that can be readily identified by using a thermal tester, which won’t work with synthetic diamonds.

These 10K gold earrings are set with a quarter-carat (total weight) of irradiated blue diamonds. The “enhanced” melee diamonds are still diamonds, but the change in color reduces their overall value. They sold for $295. Image courtesy World Jewelry Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

Diamond Enhancement

Neither completely natural nor completely synthetic, a natural diamond can be treated to cover or repair noticeable flaws. Drilling to remove obvious inclusions, filling in cracks, changing or enhancing the natural color through irradiation or even changing the color completely are a few ways to improve the commercial appeal of a natural diamond. Once it is disclosed that it is an enhanced natural diamond, the auction value is much lower than that of a natural diamond.

Values of Diamonds

The value of all diamonds, in any format, is still certified by the 4 Cs: color, carat, cut and clarity, not necessarily in that order. Grading each natural or synthetic diamond is still important, especially for auction and resale.

There are several well-respected diamond-grading certifications available from the American Gem Society (americangemsociety.org), the Gemological Institute of America (gia.com) and the International Gemological Institute (igi.org). While each has their own specialty, they will all evaluate and certify both natural and synthetic diamonds.

Retail prices for synthetic diamonds were higher than natural diamonds only about three years ago, according to the gem industry experts. That’s because manufacturing synthetic diamonds was very high, but innovations have begun to lower the manufacturing cost dramatically so now natural diamonds have a higher retail value overall. But what about resale value?

Natural diamonds may lose at least 50% of their retail value when it comes time to sell to a dealer. Even so, natural diamonds never quite lose their value and, in fact. rise over time at a steady rate, while synthetic diamonds never do, according to the diamond industry.

The resale value of synthetic diamonds isn’t very high if at all. “Lab-created diamonds have no resale value,” says a recent article by Michael Fried titled Lab-Created Diamonds: Prices & Value for diamonds.pro, a consumer-oriented industry website. While that may be true when you want to sell to a dealer, recent auction values show a healthy interest in synthetic diamonds, if not for investment then at least to affordably complement special occasions. “The basic question is, are you willing to sacrifice long-term value for short-term bang for your buck?” asks diamonds.pro.

Another consideration is whether the gem industry is able to confidently identify and heavily restrict “blood or conflict diamonds” that consumers don’t want to acquire. A synthetic diamond just might be a safer alternative to the ones mined and sold by murderous militia.

So, whether your goal is simply to make a sparkling personal statement or you’re planning to make it a lifetime deal after exchanging heartfelt “I do’s,” be assured that there’s a diamond for that.

Jasper52 auction shimmers with fine jewelry Sept. 30

Jasper52 will conduct an online auction devoted to fine jewelry from a variety of designers, eras and mediums on Wednesday, Sept. 23. The nearly 300 lots ranges from everyday wear to elegant showstoppers to unique antique heirlooms.

GIA-certified emerald and diamond ring in an 18K yellow gold setting valued at $50,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Sterling silver, turquoise star in Southwest jewelry auction

A Jasper52 auction that will be conducted on Wednesday, July 15, showcases the beauty, versatility and history of fine Southwestern and Native American jewelry. Sterling silver and turquoise stand out in this 102-lot auction, from concho belts to squash blossom necklaces.

Gold filled sterling silver & turquoise concho belt with turquoise cabochons, 33¾in long, 248.3 grams, 1980s. Estimate: $1,100-$1,500. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Jasper52 to host No Reserve Fine Jewelry Auction July 1

Affordable fine jewelry is offered in a no-reserve auction that will be conduced by Jasper52 on Wednesday, July 1. Each of the 127 lots will be sold to the highest bidder without reserve.

14K gold and diamond ring, 0.62 carats. Estimate: $225-$275. Jasper 52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Jasper52 presents fine Asian jewelry April 14

A select collection of fine antique Asian jewelry is offered by Jasper52 in an online auction that will take place Tuesday, April 14. Gold rings, necklaces, bracelets and uncommon forms—most set with precious gems and pearls—are featured.

A gold and diamond bangle. Estimate: $5,500-$7,000 Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Fabulous jewelry featured in online auction March 25

Jasper52 will conduct a spectacular jewelry auction on Wednesday, March 25, that showcases fine jewelry from a variety of designers, eras and mediums. The age of these precious objects ranges from the 20th century to contemporary. Many of the diamonds offered are multi-carats and come in a variety of colors.

GIA certified 4.64 carat natural fancy canary yellow cushion-cut diamond ring. Estimate: $55,000-$66,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Colorful Stambolian jewelry starring in online auction Jan. 22

On Wednesday, Jan. 22, Jasper52 will conduct an online auction devoted exclusively to the designs of the Stambolian House of Jewels, the fine jewelry brand specializing in 18K gold, diamond, and precious and semiprecious stones. More than 300 lots of Stambolian jewelry, all handmade in the United States by highly skilled and experienced artisans, will be offered.

Stambolian 18K gold bangle bracelet with pink sapphires (12.25 carats) and diamonds (4.30 carats). Estimate: $16,000-$19,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Native American silver jewelry on tap at Jasper52 auction Nov. 26

Jasper52 will present an outstanding collection that showcases the beauty, versatility and tradition of fine Southwest and Native
American jewelry in an online auction on Tuesday, Nov. 26. The natural beauty of turquoise and coral is complemented by sterling silver wrought by highly skilled designers and artisans. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.

Sterling silver and turquoise vintage squash blossom necklace, 1970s, 25½in long, 169.8 grams. Estimate $700-$800. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Eons-old jet in vogue through the ages

NEW YORK – Jet, a black gemstone of fossilized wood, is primarily sourced in the cliffs and moors adjoining Whitby, a historic seaside town in North Yorkshire, England.

Since jet finger-rings, amulets, cones and beads have been found in Neolithic and Bronze Age burials in that region and farther, archeologists believe ancients associated its dark presence with death.

Similarly, Greeks associated jet with the underworld goddess, who welcomed the dead to her realm. In addition, they dedicated it to Cybele, goddess of nature, agriculture, healing and fertility.

Anglo-Saxon glass and amber restrung bead group containing small annular jet, fifth-seventh century. Property of a Nottinghamshire gentleman; found Saxmundham, Norfolk, UK in 1971. Realized £320 + buyer’s premium in 2013. Image courtesy of TimeLine Auctions Ltd. and LiveAuctioneers

When ignited, wrote Pliny the Elder in first century Rome, fumes of this costly, magical material drove off snakes and deflected the Evil Eye. Powdered and boiled with wine, it cured toothache; mixed with wax, it cured “wicked” tumors. Naturalists, centuries later, observed that jet burns in water, is extinguished by oil, and like amber, becomes electric through friction and warms to the touch. It was also considered an excellent remedy for dropsy (edema).

In Roman Britain (A.D. 43 to 410), carved armlets, finger-rings, hair pins, beads, bangles, bracelets and brooches, made from mined or beachcombed jet, were the height of fashion. In Ireland, jet amulets protected against a litany of perils, including poison, demonic possession, disease, sorcery, snakebites and thunder.

Through the Middle Ages, nuns and monks favored jet prayer beads, crucifixes and amulets, perhaps because they merged protective pagan power with religious belief. So did travelers on pilgrimage, who purchased them as souvenirs.

A 19th century mourning pendant with lock of hair to center bordered by black Whitby jet stones, 1¼in long. Realized £120 + buyer’s premium in 2015. Image courtesy Dickins Auctioneers Ltd. and LiveAuctioneers

Whitby’s first jet workshop, established in the early 1800s, sourced local, uniformly black, hard, dense material – considered the world’s best. By mid-century, highly polished, hand-carved jet had become so popular that Queen Victoria designated Thomas Andrews as her official “Jet Ornament Maker.” A year later, when jet necklaces, bracelets and brooches were featured at London’s Great Exhibition, this lightweight gem also reached an international audience.

Jet jewelry was popularized, however, when Queen Victoria, mourning the death of

Prince Albert in 1861, obliged her entire court to mourn with her. In time, common folk too, following fashion, mourned private losses by accessorizing their dark crepe outfits with jet mourning rings, beads, buttons, bracelets, crosses, earrings and lockets. Sentimental, jet-rimmed bars and brooches, often featuring locks of the deceased person’s hair, were also popular.

Victorian mourning brooch, gold-filled oval form with jet stones and pearls surrounding woven hair under glass, second half 19th century, 7/8in x 1½in. Realized $275 + buyer’s premium in 2016. Image courtesy of Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates and LiveAuctioneers

Hundreds of Whitby jet workshops emerged, employing well over 1,000 grinders, cutters, lathe turners, carvers, polishers and finishers, met mourners’ needs. In addition to jewelry, they produced jet spindles, loom weights, visiting card trays, chess sets and decorative carvings.

As demand grew, some workshops imported softer jet, more suited to beads than finer works, from France or Spain. Others marketed less costly “French” black glass, obsidian, dyed horn, gutta percha or vulcanite as genuine jet.

Victorian triple cameo ring featuring three cameos including lava, coral and jet, 14K gold. Realized $300 + buyer’s premium in 2018. Image courtesy Cordier Auctions & Appraisals and LiveAuctioneers

Although shiny jet beads jazzed up flapper belts, headbands, pumps and dresses through the Roaring ’20s, these – and similar pieces, soon fell from fashion.

Across the American Southwest, however, native tribes had long adorned silver necklaces, finger-rings, earrings, pins and bracelets with bits of locally sourced gems, including jet – albeit for their own use. As rail service expanded, scores, produced specifically for market, reached the general public. Since the 1970s, demand for traditional and contemporary Native American gem-inlay silver has soared, especially among tourists and collectors.

Night Sky and Pueblo micro inlay pendant of sterling silver, genuine jet stone, jasper, turquoise, coral and spiny oyster, 2in x 2¼in. Signed: Matthew Jack. Realized $550 + buyer’s premium in 2019. Image courtesy of Billy The Kid Auction House and LiveAuctioneers

In recent years, fashionistas, charmed by one-of-a-kind creations by luxury jewelers like Pomellato, Vhernier , Romolo Grassi and Yossi Harari, have also discovered the allure of this dramatic, old-new gem.

Yossi Harari 24K gold jet bead necklace, 16 7/8in long. Realized $1,600 + buyer’s premium in 2019. Image courtesy Hampton Estate Auction and LiveAuctioneers

These days, Whitby supports just a handful of workers. Yet biannually, it goes to the dark side, hosting Goth Weekend, an alternate music festival celebrating Gothic subculture, along with the town’s association with Dracula, by Bram Stoker. Jet enthusiasts often come to strut their stuff. So do New-Agers who, observes Nicholas Pearson in Stones of the Goddess: Crystals for the Divine Feminine, wear jet gems for “binding, banishing, protection, preventing nightmares and hex-breaking.” – as of old.