Oct 072014

Back on Sept. 16th I did up a post about Nitza Lerner Fine Watches selling fakes, or party fake watches.

rolex_rscI took the watch to a Rolex Service Center (RSC) on Sept. 18th.  They said they would have an estimate for servicing the watch for me the next day.  They will not authenticate a watch, but they will not service a watch that is not all original either (they make you replace the parts with genuine Rolex).

They called me the next day and said they did not have the service history for the watch, so would need to contact Geneva (I don’t know why).

They did mention a few problems that they spotted already though.

1) The band had cracks (I never noticed them) so they would no longer be willing/able to polish it

2) The inner bezel (made of aluminum I think) was cracked (again, I never saw that).

They said they would contact me on October 6th once they heard back from Geneva.

They ended up calling me on October 7th, but still don’t have the information I really want.  Now they are saying the watch will be sent to some place where the movement and inside of the watch will be inspected…  They are expecting that process to be completed by October 21st.

I will do another post after I hear back from them towards the end of the month.

Oct 052014

We got an email from a reader and thought it would be beneficial to answer it here for those who may have similar questions.

I am currently working in sales for a jewelery store in Canada. The longer I work here and learn about jewelery, the more interested I became in this industry and in gems in general. I am looking to expand my horizon in terms of possible careers in the jewelery business and became interested in the GIA graduate gemologist program.  Do you have some valuable insight into this program and its usefulness after completing.

What are you getting  into?

GIA's Robert Mouawad campus

GIA Campus @ Carlsbad, CA

Before starting with the GIA I did some research into what type of jobs people with a G.G. designation get and the salary.  I was not impressed to say the least as I was making much more money in another field.  I still had the desire to learn about diamonds so I signed up for the diamond program.

The diamond course was very easy for me to complete since I had a genuine interest, I soaked up the material like a sponge.

The 2nd part of your G.G. deals with colored stones and other materials.  With much less interest in the course material it was a not so easy to work through.  At the end there is also a killer exam for gem identification.  The exam is something like 5 – 6 hours long and the passing grade is 100%, anything less than that and you don’t make the grade 🙁

Whats next?

Once you have your G.G. are you done?  Just sit back and bring in the dollars?  Probably not.

If you intend to work in sales, the G.G. designation will certainly demonstrate to potential customers that you know what you are doing.  Most G.G.’s tend to be higher up in the food chain due to the extra training and experience.  The bottom line however is how are you sales?  Getting your G.G. will not give you sales.  If you are born to sell you  don’t need a G.G. course – you an sell ice to an Eskimo anyway right?

If you intend to be an appraiser you are going to need practical work experience, combined with specific appraisal classes.  Being a G.G. does not mean you are an appraiser.   Most appraisers (at least the good ones) are going to have specific training to be an appraiser, you might want to check with the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers.  While you are there you can ask them about one of the jewelry industries biggest scams – highly inflated appraisal values.

I’ve seen some people with a G.G. work as diamond buyers, diamond sorters and even diamond mine operators!

Dam that is expensive!

The G.G. course is a big decision, because it is expensive!  Currently doing the program at the Carlsbad campus (world headquarters) would cost you about $21,000 for the program plus you have to find somewhere to live around the school for the 6 month duration.  You are going to walk away with a much lighter pocketbook for sure.

If the cost has you down you can consider their distance education version.  That is going to set you back about $6,500 for the class material.  The benefit is you can do it while living in your own home and even working full time if you do the classes at night and on weekends.  There are still a few more hidden costs involved with the distance education version of the program.

gia_microscope1) You must take some hands on classes, which for most people is going to mean a couple weeks of trips to an actual GIA campus or if you are lucky a class will be offered near your home.

2) You NEED equipment.  They provide you with the class material but you need tools like a loop, polariscope, dichroscope, refractometer etc.  Possibly the most crucial piece of equipment is a quality microscope.  The GIA store sells a student kit which will set you back another $2,500. If you go for a better microscope the costs can be quite a few thousand more.  You can also consider eBay for used equipment or maybe you know someone who is a G.G. who will let you use their equipment.

For all the details about the costs of the G.G. program you can check with the GIA Graduate Gemologist Program website.

Was the GIA program worth it?

One of the biggest factors for many considering taking some gemology class is the cost.  Is it worth it, would I personally do it again?

Personally one of the biggest advantages of being a G.G. is credibility.  To people outside the jewelry industry – they have no idea what a Graduate Gemologist is.  However, if you walk into a jewelry store, job interview, industry event or trade show and someone sees that you are a G.G. you are instantly treated differently – because they know that you are serious and know what you are doing.  Many employers are looking to hire staff who have their G.G. already so that opens new doors otherwise not available to you.

When you connect with people within the industry you will often come across other G.G.’s and you instantly have a connection by the common training.

Will you get your investment back after spending all that cash with the GIA?  If you plan to work in the industry, you are probably going to get the investment back – many times over.

I have bought and sold diamonds that have netted many thousands of dollars on a single transaction.  If you don’t have the training you will never be able to spot potential values and pitfalls.

If someone presents you with a diamond that they say is H color and SI2 clarity and you opinion is that the diamond may be an SI1 clarity you have an opportunity to make some extra on the transaction – something you can’t do if you are not a skilled diamond grader.

If you don’t have the skills that you can learn at the GIA and someone presents you with a diamond they say is an H color and SI2 clarity but in reality it is K color and I2 clarity – if you buy you are going to suffer a major loss.

If you like diamonds & gems, are currently, or considering to work in the industry – take some classes with the GIA it is time and money well spent.

Sep 162014

This is a post to warn others who may be considering a watch from Nitza Lerner.  Nitza Lerner is a high end watch dealer who operates out of 20 West 47th Street in New York.

Rolex 168000

Rolex 168000 with fake dial.

In mid 2014 she had a used Rolex Submariner 168000 for sale.  I was interested in the watch so we struck a deal and I made payment via a bank transfer.

The watch looked good to me when it arrived, but I’m not an experienced Rolex guy.

After a couple of months it came to my attention that the dial on the watch is not original.

I referenced my copy of Rolex Submariner Story to see if there was a known dial variation for the 168000 that might match.  Turns out there are two dial variations for the 168000 but neither of them even come close to matching the dial on the watch.

I reached out to a couple of Rolex experts to get their opinion.  Neither of them think the dial is original.  One of the experts I consulted immediately spotted problems with the dial, without me saying anything.

Is it possible that a Rolex dealer with more than 16 years experience could have missed the fake dial?

I contacted Nitza to see if she was aware the watch dial was not original when sold.    She insists to this day that the dial is original.

I took these enlarged photos of the watch dial and sent them to her.  I pointed out that the font is not the type Rolex uses and the lettering is not level – still, she insists the dial is original.

At this point I assume she knew the watch dial is not original.

Fake Dial - Enlarged

Enlarged dial printing showing a Serif style font and sloppy printing.

So far I have not had the watch opened, with a bit of luck it will only be the dial that is not correct.  Worst case the inside will be powered by Timex 🙁

The markings on bracelet show the correct model for the watch, but the date code on indicates it is not original to the watch either (it is much older than the watch).

I will do a followup post to this once I have the watch taken apart for servicing and let you know what we find inside.

Hopefully this posting helps someone else, Nitza Lerner is not a trust worthy dealer and may be selling watches that are party fake or made up of various watch parts.  That type of watch is often called a Franken and the value is seriously impacted.

She has refused to take the watch back, nor offered any dial replacement or any restitution for selling a watch with a fake dial.  Her actual reply was essentially that there is nothing I can do about it and he will not take the watch back.  Since I paid with a wire transfer I have no credit card to charge back, and she knows it.

Hopefully this posting will help save someone before laying out thousands on a fake watch.

Jun 162014

I was recently in Macau and stopped into a hotel lobby to cool down.  They had some incredible carvings all around the lobby done in various gemstones and a two incredible pieces done in mammoth tusk!  Of course I snapped a few photos, here are a few of the snaps and a description of the item as posted by the piece.

A Fine Mammoth Tusk Carving of the Great Wall

Height 236cm – Length 228cm – Width: 53cm

Carved from top grade mammoth tusk, it took six years by more than ten experienced craftsmen to create, including on-site surveying, research and examinations at the Great Wall of China.  The carving portrays the everyday life of the locals and the scenes from the Shanhaiguan to Jiayuguan, in exquisite details.  With its life-like appearance, perfect proportions and fine details created by superb craftsmanship, it is an outstanding and magnificent artwork.

Mammoth Tusk Carving

click photo for larger view

Carving - Zoom 1

Close Up #1

Carving - Zoom 1

Close Up #2

Apr 032014

You may have seen on a diamond report with the words bearded girdle, or girdle bearding not shown… something like that.

A diamond showing a bad case of bearding.

A diamond showing a bad case of bearding.

What the heck is that?  Girdle Bearding is small feathers going into the diamond from the girdle.  They are not natural, they are caused by poor workmanship when cutting the diamond (no exceptions, it is not caused by wear or damage after cutting).

When the diamond is bruted (given its shape), if the guy doing the work is pressing too hard or trying to  get the job done too fast you can end up with bearding on the girdle.

The harder they push to shape the diamond the more bearding that can occur.  Some diamonds have a small amount of bearding and it would never be mentioned on a report (some is acceptable) but when it gets bad as shown in the photo here it will most certainly be mentioned.

Mar 012014

The Pink StarSome diamonds get around.  You might be familiar with these diamond names if you follow big diamonds:

The Steinmetz Pink
The Pink Star
The Pink Dream

It is the same diamond!  With so many names, don’t you think the little pink guy might be confused?  The diamond is in a bit of a jam right now.  In November 2013 it was sold at Sotheby’s auction for a record setting $83,187,381 USD.   That’s 83 million for a 59.60ct diamond.  The buyer was Isaac Wolf.

Isaac Wolf had changed the name from The Pink Start to The Pink Dream after he bought it.  Problem is, he did not actually purchase the diamond – so has the name now been changed?

Isaac Wolf did not have the cash to pay for it.  Sotheby’s has had to suck up the cost and place the diamond in their inventory and write off the auction fee.  They currently are holding the diamond with a value of $72 million placed on it.  They are still going after the dead beat buyer but are considering other alternatives.

Personally I don’t know why they don’t just list it up for auction again, perhaps it is bad karma or something.

sell diamonds | selling diamonds | sell diamonds for cash

Feb 132014

Looks like Gem Diamonds Limited (based in London) has pulled a couple more big rocks out of the ground at their Letšeng mine.


162.06ct Type II – Rough Diamond

On Feb. 13th, they sent out a press release about the two new stones.

They list the stones as two rough diamonds (a 162.06 carat type II diamond and a 161.74 carat type I diamond).  Companies don’t usually state any color/clarity of the diamonds at this point so you have to try and follow them through the market (often difficult to do) to get the details about them.

Both diamonds were recovered in largely undamaged condition and will be sold via tender later this month.

I will try and find keep track of the 162.06ct diamond, since it is a Type II it is possible that this diamond could be color treated.  Imaging if – by remote chance – it was a Type IIb and could be turned blue.  The three photos here are the Type II diamond, just from looking at the color it does not look like something that you would want to alter the color of – it looks quite white already and treating it would probably not increase the value but the potential is there due to it being Type II.

It was only a few month ago that the same mine produced a 12.47ct natural blue diamond.  The company announced the blue diamond on September 30th and it was sold via tender in Antwerp on October 11th for $4.8 million USD ($59,173 per carat).

162.06ct Type II – Rough Diamond

162.06ct Type II – Rough Diamond

162.06ct Type II – Rough Diamond

162.06ct Type II – Rough Diamond

Photos courtesy of Gem Diamonds Limited

Jan 052014

Got boron?  If a diamond crystal contains trace elements of boron, you can end up with a blue diamond.  Currently there are nine grades defined for blue diamonds.

Most ‘blue’ diamonds will have a secondary color, which could be grey, green or yellow.  With the secondary color’s you end up with color descriptions of all types like fancy vivid green-blue, fancy light greenish blue or fancy intense blue-green etc.  Finding a blue diamond without a color modifier is almost as rare as finding a blue diamond itself 😉

Jan 012014

Radiant Cut Blue DiamondI am going to start new quest, something that I expect will take years.  I accept the fact right now, that I may never find the elusive blue diamond.

Let me explain.

There are four ways to get a blue diamond.

  1. Buy a natural blue diamond (not really an option, they are too expensive)
  2. Have a diamond irradiated (a treatment), the end result never looks natural to me.
  3. Have a diamond coated, I have done this in the past will do up a post on it.
  4. Turn a natural diamond blue through HPHT

While HPHT is considered a treatment, the result of the process is permanent and looks much more authentic than diamonds that are irradiated.

As part of my quest I will do several articles on the types of diamonds, the HPHT process, some lab equipment and hopefully I can get some experts in the field to provide some technical content as well.

Jan 012014
New GIA Report

New 2014 GIA Report

Looks like the GIA is finally releasing their new report format.  They attempted it in 2013 as well, but just before launch they pulled them for some reason.

I have a few stones at the GIA right now, will post up photos of the new report(s) when I get the batch back.

They are adding a QR code to the reports, so you can easily look-up the details online.  Of course with every new generation of report they have added some new security features, hopefully to keep one step ahead of counterfeits.

I always hate when new report formats come out, because everyone wants the ‘new’ report.  I don’t know if stones with ‘old’ reports start trading at a discount, but I’ve seen dealers turn their nose up at old report formats after a change.