note this is a “living page” and comments and questions
will be added as we receive them. New comments
will have the word “New!” beside them for a month.
If you have any questions please
let us know. Your question will be personally
answered and could end up here!
is Electro-forming? Electroforming is a close
cousin to electroplating. Electroplating, as most
people know is the deposition of a pure metal on a
metallic surface using electrical current and the
appropriate conductive electrolyte solution. Vermeil,
for example is gold plated over silver: a fairly common
solution to oxidation of silver in some Victorian
pieces. Electroforming, on the other hand is the deposition
of pure metal on a non-metallic object! In other words,
you can have an acorn or a small pinecone plated in
24K gold and wear it around your neck as a piece of
jewelry! How is that done? Click
for rest of article.
is LASER Welding and what can it do for me?
(Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation)
technology is not new. By now just about everyone
has heard of Laser Surgery or some other useof this
precise and coherently focused light source... Click
for rest of article.
bought your ionic cleaner (as a gift) and extra Gem
Sparkle in hopes that I could use it myself without
the ionic machine. Possibly, to use it in a jar like
other kinds of jewelry cleaners?
Gem Sparkle is an exceptional cleaning fluid even
without the ionic cleaner. Mix the Gem Sparkle 1:5
or 1:6 with water (1 tablespoon solution to 5 or 6
tablespoon water). Warm (microwave is OK) it in a
small sealable Tupperware kind of dish. Soak your
jewelry in the solution (never microwave with the
jewelry IN the solution). Scrub gently with a SOFT
toothbrush after a few minutes. If the jewelry is
heavily soiled, you may have to soak longer. The prepared
solution is reusable, which is why suggested the Tupperware
kind of dish.
By the way, Hematite is the ONLY Gemstone you cannot
clean in an ionic cleaner. However, it can be cleaned
with Gem Sparkle.
enjoy your site, I like to learn. When I go shopping
for a different piece I sometimes go looking at used
shops & yard sales. I have found some chains that
say 1/20 14k gf. Is that gold plated?
The marking 1/20 14k gf means "Gold Filled"
(that's what the GF stands for). The process was invented
quite a few years ago and used extensively in pocket
watch cases. This brought the price down to where
an ordinary person could afford one, and still look
like they were carrying something expensive.
The process of creating a gold filled piece involves
"hot rolling" thin
sheets of (in this case 14k gold) on to a substrate
sheet (usually brass).
This is done under great pressure and heat - thereby
bonding the gold very firmly on to the brass. The
end result is a sheet of metal that looks like gold,
but is only 1/20th gold (hence THAT number).
Gold filled "wears" better than gold plated.
For example the original gold filled watches were
guaranteed 20 years! Eventually however the government
stopped companies from providing those guarantees
as most cases did not stand up to wear that long after
do you arrive at an appraisal?
The following information has been prepared for you
to understand how we perform appraisals. Please feel
free to ask us any other questions you might have
- we are here to help!
Initial Evaluation: The
item is examined thoroughly (using at least a 10 power
loupe) to record all aspects of the piece. This includes
number and type of gemstones, characteristics of the
gemstones, any "attractors" (something that
makes the stone unusual, rare, or positively affects
price), or "detractors" (a flaw, surface
scratch or anything that negatively affects price).
Identification: The gemstones (if any) are identified
by our experts. This identification could include
measurements like refractive index of the stone, or
other necessary measurements.
Physical Dimensions: Most appraised
pieces are finished pieces with gemstones already
mounted. (Although we do appraise gemstones, of all
types, by themselves as well). The gemstone dimensions
are measured in millimeters. Depth of the stone, if
accessible, is also measured. From these measurements,
using the specific gravity of the identified stone,
the carat weight (ct.) of the stone is calculated.
This is an approximation, since the only accurate
way to determine weight is to demount and actually
weigh the stone on a carat scale.
Metal Evaluation: The inside or rear
of the piece is carefully examined for makers marks
and karat (K) marks. The piece is weighed, and the
total carat weight of the stones is subtracted to
get the metal weight. At this time, the style or period
of the ring is also estimated. Often this is a guess
from experience of styles of jewelry in particular
periods. Agha Designs does not appraise
antique jewelry for its "value as an antique"
as this is a science and an art all its own. We can,
however, recommend reputable auction houses that perform
Evaluation of Execution: This is where we look at
how well a piece was made. This is not a subjective
evaluation of the beauty or style of the design, but
a critical evaluation of how well the goldsmith or
manufacturer performed their art.
Calculation of Appraised Price: This
is where all of the above come together to calculate
how much the piece would cost if it were built TODAY,
in the US, using fair market rates. This does not
mean that the item could be SOLD at that price, as
the selling price of an item is defined solely by
how much someone wants to pay for it. This is proven
every day at auctions.
What is "A Deal too good to be true"?
This is exactly what the words say. If the deal
is too good to be true, it probably IS too good to
What is Custom Jewelry?
Custom Jewelry is made essentially from scratch.
The Jeweler usually with the help of the customer
or on their own defines and executes the design.
At Agha Designs we prefer to work WITH
the customer to design their piece. This way
the creative energy of the customer becomes an integral
part of the design. Most of our customers prefer
this. The design can be “one of a kind,” a “limited
series,” (either numbered or unnumbered), or a design
that is still the copyright of the jeweler, but several
pieces can be made for sale. Often customers
ask us to design “one of a kind” pieces for them.
When this is requested, NO other pieces are made,
but the resulting piece costs more. The piece
can be created by Forging, Fabricating, Casting, or
a combination of all three.
What is Semi-Custom Jewelry?
Semi-Custom Jewelry is a piece of jewelry that starts
out life as piece that belongs to the customer and
is modified to suit their changing tastes, or finances.
It can also be a piece that is selected from our large
supply of pre-existing mountings, and then modified
with either additions or subtractions of metal or
gemstones to suit the customers’ individual taste.
Often our customers will bring us a piece that has
sentimental value but they don’t like the way the
piece looks. Often we can redesign the piece
for them, and sometimes even use the existing metal
in the “new” piece so that the “sentimental” value
What is Forging?
No, this does not mean copying someone else’s work!
In the jewelry world forging means “moving metal”
with a hammer or chisel or a similar tool.
Forging can be performed with the metal either hot
or cold and requires frequent annealing (softening
of the metal) to form the piece. For an example
of forging see “How
was this made?”
What is Fabricating?
Fabricating is when different pieces of metal
are ”joined” together either with or without gemstones
to form a cohesive whole that ends up being the piece
of jewelry that you buy.
Joining can be performed “cold” with something like
rivets or hinges or links or “hot” by soldering the
pieces together, or a combination of the two.
In jewelry the “hot” method is called soldering, but
because of the temperatures involved the technically
correct word is “brazing.” This is done with
gold that has been alloyed to have a lower melting
temperature than the cast or forged gold that it is
being used to join to another piece. For example,
a 14 K head being soldered on to a 14 K band would
be joined using a 14 K gold solder. Another
“hot” connection is “fusing.” This is when similar
or dissimilar metals are joined together (with or
without pressure) with the application of heat, where
their contacting surfaces literally “fuse” together.
“Granulation,” an ancient technique, is an example
What is Casting?
Casting is when a piece is made from molten metal.
The metal in this state is poured into a mold (which
can be made from many materials). The mold is
then parted, either by breaking (in the case of “one
time” molds) or separated (in the case of metal molds).
Most custom jewelers use “one time” molds, whereas
metal molds are used by large metal work shops that
create hundreds or thousands of pieces. The
piece is then polished and “joined” to other pieces
to create the completed piece.
What is the Lost Wax Process?
The jeweler executes the design by carving or shaping
a piece of wax in to the desired shape. Wax
sprues are attached to the piece (these will be the
access channels for the molten metal) and then it
is placed in a container and filled with the investment
(a Plaster of Paris like substance). After the
investment has solidified, the whole piece is upended
and steam-heated to allow the wax to melt out.
The residual wax is now burned off in a small furnace
at very high temperatures, leaving an empty cavity
that matches the original carving. Molten metal
is now poured in to this and, after cooling, the casting
is broken free of the investment.
What is Granulation?
Granulation is a very ancient process of taking TINY
spheres of metal and attaching them to another metal
WITHOUT soldering. The pieces are attached so
that the two metals fuse together at the point of
contact. Many methods for granulation are used,
some of them considered proprietary or even secret.
Most jewelers who are practitioners of this art have
their own method. In the simplest terms:
The granules are “stuck” to the metal in a design
or pattern using an organic “glue”. An oxygen
free, high temperature, environment is produced around
the “granules” and the metal. The metal at the
point of contact surface melts BEFORE both pieces
melt into a big blob. The granules and the metal
are thereby fused together. For a picture ,
What is Soldering?
Soldering is when two metals are joined together by
a similar (or different) metal that has a lower melting
point. In the fabrication of jewelry, because
of the temperatures and the materials used, soldering
is actually a misnomer. The correct term is
brazing. A solder of the same carat value as
the pieces being joined is used. This solder is designed
to melt at a lower temperature than the pieces being
joined together. As the temperature of the two
peices is raised , the metal on both in the crystalline
matrix at the JUNCTION of the two, pulls back.
This enables the solder, which is NOW applied, to
flow into the microscopically open space between the
two pieces. The heat is removed, and the joined
piece is allowed to cool. The joint is polished,
and the seam where the solder flowed, if everything
is done EXACTLY right - is invisible.
What is a Brilliant Cut Diamond?
The beauty of a diamond is based primarily on its
ability to reflect light and refract it in to a myriad
of rainbows. The measurement of this ability
is called the “refractive index” or “RI” of the stone.
The angles of the facets to each other are critical
to the amount of light being reflected and refracted.
These angles were calculated mathematically to optimize
these prismatic properties so that all the light is
reflected up-and-out of the stone. The cut that
has the most brilliance has a round outline when seen
from the top that enables the prismatic properties
to be fully exploited and hence, is called the brilliant
cut. Diamonds also come in many different
cuts beside the brilliant. They include oval,
pear, marquise (or navette), princess, emerald or
octagon step cut, trillion, triangle, baguette and
tapered baguette, In addition to the preceding
more common cuts are kites, shields, rose cuts, half
moons, radiants, stars, hexagons, fans, and briolettes.
How are diamonds rated for Clarity?
The ratings are the following: Flawless, Internally
Flawless, VVS1 & 2, VS1 & 2, SI1 & 2,
and I1, I2, and I3. This system is based
on the visibility, color, size, and position of inclusions
under a ten power magnifier for the higher grades,
and by the unaided eye for the other grades.
The meaning of VVS1 is “very very slightly included”
with the VVS1 being less included than a VVS2 rated
stone. The “Included” grades: I1, I2, and I3
have inclusions that are progressively more visible
to the unaided eye, with the I3, the “promotional
grade,” being very heavily peppered with inclusions
and approaching “industrial grade” stones (i. e. stones
used to make cutting , grinding and polishing wheels).
Inclusions can be whitish spots, carbon spots, crystal
growth lines, air bubbles, or even “foreign” crystals
that grew in to the matrix of the stone when it was
What is Eye Clean?
A stone that is rated “SI1 or SI 2” is said to be
“eye clean.” This term is usually applied to
diamonds, but can also be applied to other precious
or semi-precious stones as well. When the stone
is viewed with the unaided eye, the stone has no visible
inclusions to detract from the stone’s beauty.
Inclusions might be visible when viewed under a magnifying
loupe or microscope. This is the most economical
grade for diamonds that are going to be worn as jewelry.
What is Moissanite©?
Moissanite© is a synthetic lab grown stone that
has some physical properties very similar to diamonds.
An ordinary diamond tester can not differentiate between
Moissanite© and diamond, and special testers
have to be used. There is an easy way, however,
to differentiate Moissanite© from diamonds.
The jeweler will carefully view the stone with a magnifying
loupe. At the conjunction of the facets, instead
of seeing one line, two are visible. This is
because Moissanite© is doubly refractive, and
diamonds are not. When in doubt, contact us,
or any other reputable jeweler.
What is a “precious stone?”
By modern definition, precious stones are diamond,
ruby, emerald, and sapphire.
What is a “semi-precious stone?”
ANY stone that is NOT a diamond, ruby, emerald, or
sapphire is considered a semi-precious stone.
This is actually a misnomer. Often semi precious
stones are MORE rare (and therefore more precious)
than diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires.
As a result they are very often, carat-for-carat,
much more expensive.
What are Inclusions?
When gemstones are formed in the earth’s crust
(this can take thousands to millions of years), often
some other element or “impurity” gets into the crystal
as it “grows.” Not all inclusions or impurities
are bad as often these are what give gemstones their
beautiful and myriad colors. More often than
not, in the case of a diamond which is essentially
“elemental carbon,” a tiny (or sometimes large) piece
of black carbon will be included. Depending
on the placement of this renegade piece of carbon,
the diamond will either be of high quality (you can
barely see the carbon piece). OR What
is sometimes called “promotional quality,” (which
means it probably should be used to cut glass – but
definitely NOT on a piece of custom jewelry!)
Was That Made?|Contact