Reading Reactions

Featured image is my father’s custom garnet ring, designed by Irene S. Sirois. Copyrighted design.

If I didn’t have to work, I would probably read. All day, most of the night, nonstop page-turning. Like most bibliophiles I have some preferred genres and authors, but if you put something with words on it in front of me, I’m going to read it before you’ve finished telling me not to (so please don’t). This means I have to practice extreme selectivity, because I simply don’t have time to read it all. In practice that translates to rationing my reading time, where my time currency is portioned out like my 8th grade allowance, with wild abandon sparingly and with great care.

So it might surprise you to know that I spend a daily allotment of what I lovingly call Industry Research Time poring over every blog, publication, article, Google Alert, LinkedIn Pulse, and Instagram post I can find. I take notes — actual, physical ones and purely mental ones — and attempt to connect the dots between what I’m reading and what I’m experiencing. I sift through opinions, corroborate facts, and weigh topics in an effort to determine what’s important, who’s talking about it, and how I think and feel about it all.

When you consume this much material, it’s inevitable to come across some things you simply don’t agree with. Most of the time this happens with op-eds and other opinion-based articles, and stems from having a very different perspective on the topic. Exactly such a case can be found in this article, published in the May 2016 MJSA Journal entitled “Is ‘Custom’ a Dirty Word?” which I encourage everyone to read.

The piece describes the challenges of defining what “custom jewelry” means — I subject I’ve discussed before — and goes on to describe how Lisa Krikawa of Krikawa Jewelry works around what she perceives as the extreme limitations of selling custom or customized jewelry. This workaround is to essentially remove the word custom from the conversation entirely, because she experiences the usual backlash of fear and distrust from clients who prefer to touch and try on their designs before purchasing.

To say that I sympathize with this position is an understatement, having sold both full custom and customized jewelry myself. And Krikawa’s actual conversations with clients reflect the realities of selling this type of product, in such a way that they feel heard and understood. This is exactly the right approach, and I couldn’t agree more with her process of offering examples from the showcase, hand sketches, and CAD models. It’s what I used to do, too, and it works.

In part, the solution to the touch me/feel me issue can be answered by the amazing technology I work with in my current profession. Using 3D printers to prototype quickly and cheaply gives the client a physical piece to touch and try on, even with temporarily seated gems so the full effect is present. Now the relevant questions — too tall? too thick? right size? in proportion? etc. — can be answered in real time, without the expense of fixing these issues after the fact.

My main argument with Krikawa’s approach is that by working so hard to eliminate a particular word from a client’s vocabulary, the opportunity to educate them about custom is lost. The process of qualifying a client for potential custom work does not need to turn them off or scare them away from a purchase; when handled with careful explanation, my nervous clients turned into my best evangelists for the custom process (hello, referrals!).

I have worked very hard to promote the idea of custom jewelry as the future on the industry, and feel that removing it from the conversation is counterproductive. I prefer to help the client understand and appreciate the opportunity, educate them as to the options, and explain how the risks are mitigated or eliminated.

There are few things I appreciate more than the people who expend serious time and energy making their clients happy, regardless of how they accomplish that feat. I hope the various opinions and theories about custom jewelry continue to expand and develop, especially as technology grows and offers more solutions to an often cumbersome process.

Please comment with your thoughts, I’d love to keep the conversation going!

Diamond Disruption

BREAKING NEWS: things that were once found only in nature can now be synthesized by humans!

RUN… DON’T WALK… to your nearest web browser in frantic search of “the truth” about mining vs. lab-creating!


—> Music cue: dramatic up-tempo tuneless 8-bar vamp <—

Okay, enough of that. The emergence and apparent popularity of lab-created diamonds is definitely cause for industry-wide conversation, if not some of the more hyperbolic commentary I’ve read in recent comment sections.

We now know that lab-created diamond companies aren’t kidding around. We know that some companies want to harness this force for evil, some for good, and many for profit.

We also should have predicted that the development, production, expansion, and marketing of this product would happen very quickly (which it did) and that it would reverberate through the industry like a Tibetan mountain gong (felt, rather than heard).

I actually received a handful of messages today from non-industry folks, asking for my opinion on the matter and offering up their own (one notable quotable: “now that Leo won gold, will he bedazzle the trophy in his fake glitter?”). After carefully explaining the differences between “synthetic” and “simulant,” I asked for honest opinions about giving or receiving lab-created diamonds. I also asked if they held the same thoughts about their own jewelry as they would that of friends, colleagues, or family members.

Here are their summarized answers, paraphrased and used with permission:

Friend A: I don’t even like synthetic fabrics, so why would I want synthetic diamonds when I can afford the real thing? None of my friends are engaged or close to it, but I hope they insist on the real deal.

Friend B: Well, I guess if they’re basically the same thing, then what’s the difference? It’s not like it’s an inferior diamond, it just didn’t kill children and the environment to get here. It probably end up like the drug industry though, won’t it, where generics are just as good and cost less, but some doctors are paid by the name brand and won’t write prescriptions for anything else?

Friend C: Ew. I don’t like diamonds at all anyway, and I would never want one for my ring.

Friend D: My center stone is a moissanite, but that’s because I didn’t want a blood diamond and didn’t trust any of the stores around here not to have them. If I’d known about lab diamonds, I might have asked for one.

Friend E: Maybe for earrings or something, if it’s cheaper, sure why not. But for something more important/meaningful like an engagement ring, no way. Test tube babies are still humans, but isn’t trying the natural way first better?

Well, aside from learning a lot more about these their real feelings on things other than diamonds, it was a pretty illuminating set of discussions. The most interesting part? All 5 of these responses are from women between the ages of 25-35. Yes, even evil genius friend B over there, drawing functionally accurate parallels between big pharma and big D. Smart cookie, huh?

As for my own opinions, I prefer to dig a little deeper. The jewelry industry as a whole reacts poorly to change, and adding lab-grown diamonds to the mix of lab-grown colored gems might feel like a step too far for some. The mined diamond industry is certainly feeling the pinch these days, so from their perspective, timing couldn’t be worse.

As you might have guessed by now, I’m not really a flag-waving traditionalist. I think that lab-created anything, sold and marketed with total transparency and accurate information, is perfectly good and healthy and legal. I myself have educated my clients about lab-created colored gems, and they have purchased from me in full knowledge of precisely what they bought.

The romantic in me shudders at the thought of a master gemcutter plying his or her trade with rough that did not come from the earth, passing through the hands of expert dealers and feeding the economies of local governments. The cultural connection I so cherish disappears, and for that reason, I am not personally inclined to seek out non-mined gemstones or diamonds.

Like any ethical jeweler, I abhor the use of marketing or sales tactics that attempt to cloud the truth and shade the facts in order to generate buzz (and therefore, sales). I successfully sold cultured pearls, heat-treated sapphires, and SI2 diamonds for exactly what they are, and never once did I need to resort to used-car-salesman tactics to do so. I see absolutely no reason why the emergence of yet another technological advancement should be met with anything less than our highest standards, as we do what we do best: serve the client.

Now I’m throwing the doors of discussion wide open: what do you think?


On the Fourth Day of Christmas…

… well, technically yesterday — the Third Day — the GIA gave to me…

a scholarship for 2016!

The e-mail came late yesterday afternoon, announcing that I had been granted some scholarship funding for the Graduate Gemologist program. I am already in the midst of my studies, but this means I can continue them and (hopefully) complete the program sometime in the coming year.

I am a little shocked, totally thrilled, and extremely grateful for the recommendations and support of my family and fellow industry members, all of whom contributed to the application effort.

Education and the pursuit of knowledge: what a wonderful gift to receive for the new year!

Show Me Your Creds


Did you cringe when you read that word? If not, yours are probably more than sufficient to command respect in your field (or you simply don’t have any need for them). If you did, then welcome to the club.

We all know that in most businesses, it’s not just who you know and what you’ve done that matters. From your hiring manager and CEO to your own client base, people will grant you an automatic jump in trust and confidence if they see some form of alphabet soup on your business card. Often these suffixes designate levels of education completed or certifications received, which do have a certain amount of credibility attached — a doctor without the MD just isn’t a doctor — but they are rarely proof of talent or ability.

Growing up in a heavily academic-oriented household, I have always been aware of a singular fact: your credentials may get you a seat at the table, but they won’t help you keep it warm. Everyone has a story about Dr. So-and-so’s total inability to fill out an intake form and write the proper dosage of a prescription despite thirty years’ experience, two doctorate degrees, and a wing in the new hospital named after him. Yes, we nod sagely, he obviously looks great on paper, but he doesn’t really have what it takes.

In contrast, I feel that the Dr. So-and-sos of the world are the exception that proves the rule. Going through the standard educational pathways shouldn’t be considered merely as minimum qualifications, but as a starting point to a greater discussion about knowledge, practical application, and person’s developing interest in a field or fields.

Obviously this topic is on my mind as I work to pursue my own degree pathway, but it also factors into my current position as gemologist-in-training. Customers will occasionally ask what the “AJP” after my name means, usually followed immediately with “oh, does that mean you’re a gemologist?” Alas, I tell them, I’m in the midst of my studies and training, but haven’t yet achieved the coveted Double-Gs. When friends or family are doing the asking, I go into greater detail about my passion for evolving an industry that is at times stuck in its own past, my interest in learning alongside the great tastemakers of the current age, and my desire to make positive contributions to the industry as a whole.

Phew. That’s a whole lot of lofty goal-setting to combine with a GG and a current full-time job. But as I inch my way there, I keep the thought of earning my chair — and keeping it warm! — forefront in my mind.

Mythbusters: Old vs. New

How you heard the news? Vintage is in! Well, sort of…

Oh, the litany of reasons people cite in an attempt to justify purchasing estate jewelry (i.e. pre-owned). To me, the only reason a buyer needs to purchase any non-necessity is because they love it — all the rest is just window dressing, as they say. But there is a lot of misinformation floating around about vintage, antique, and previously owned jewelry. So here’s a list of commonly overheard phrases, the myths they come from, and some unvarnished truth to provide some perspective.

“I like the look of older jewelry.”
Me, too! But that doesn’t mean that you can’t find new jewelry that is made to reflect a particular era’s style. In fact, with the recent resurgence of white metal, filigree detail, and the ubiquitous halo — all styles that are “comebacks” and not even remotely novel — I’d say your chances of finding a newly-made  ____-style piece are sky-high.

“If it’s antique, it lowers my carbon footprint!”
Not necessarily. From international shipping and customs delays to pre-sale repairs, that estate piece might even have a larger environmental impact than its newer cousin — you know, the one created in a state-of-the-art factory in the US where it was picked up and carried on foot from person to person until it arrived with many of its friends in the Prius-driving sales rep’s eco-friendly luggage.

“I don’t want to buy a conflict diamond.”
Great, because I won’t be selling you one, and I can actually prove it. The Kimberley Process was established in December of 2000 and was adopted in full effect in 2003 in order to impose controls on the rough diamond trade that limit and track the policies (and practices) of participating nations. This certainly doesn’t mean that a diamond sourced prior to this time is a product of a conflict region, but it does mean I can’t prove it either way. Reputable jewelry stores work only with reputable diamond vendors — many of them siteholders at established, well-run mines — so we can be fully confident in our products. The same can not be said for the majority of estate pieces.

“Jewelry always appreciates, so I’m getting a better deal!”
Please repeat after me: “Jewelry is not an investment. I buy it because I love it.” We do not sell jewelry to you today with the idea that you will resell it in 10 years and make a profit, and you don’t buy it because you think it’s a better option than stocks and bonds. Jewelry carries meaning, and that is its primary value. A “deal,” as such, is a rare bird — most often, if you think you’re getting one, what you’re really getting is had.

“If it’s lasted this long, it must be pretty sturdy!”
In a general sense, this carries some truth. A very well-made piece is more likely to stand the test of time, and will likely be in better shape after 50 years than a counterpart of lesser make. Unfortunately, that’s the only bit of truth here — many of the older pieces were made using inferior materials and processes (that is, relative to today’s standards) and they have simply been worn so much that they are in dire need of repair. Often, the issues can’t be repaired at all; when metal has worn away to nothing and gemstones are chipped and crushed, there is very little that can be done to salvage the original piece.

A note on family heirlooms and other types of sentimental jewelry: we fully understand that intrinsic value trumps just about everything I mentioned here, and that you’re often willing to do “whatever it takes” to get that special piece wearable again. But when more than half the ring needs to be replaced — new shank, new prongs, new head, replace four sapphires, recut the center diamond, etc. — ask yourself if it’s worth the time, money, and potential heartache if something unexpected happens in the process. And also, ask us what your other options are… we might surprise you.

Spongelike: A Learning Addiction

I love to learn.

While not the most overused sentiment in history, it’s probably on the eyeroll-inducing list. Nobody likes a know-it-all, and that’s often the perception of someone who goes around declaring an undying passion for acquiring knowledge. It’s taken me years to get over that and embrace my addiction to learning, for which my parents deserve equal parts thanks and blame. (They’re both know-it-alls, too.)

When I first spoke to them after Vegas — at about 12:30am local time — they valiantly tried to ask the requisite travel questions. How was the flight? (Fine.) Are you sure you have everything? (Yes.) Are you hungry? Do you want us to stop somewhere? (Yes. No.) But once those pleasantries were safely out of the way, my father asked his favorite two-parter: How was it? Learn a lot?

I suspect neither of them are conscious of it, but the fact remains that nearly every experience I’ve ever had has been met with this question. Whether I spent a day at a symposium or summer camp, one or both would ask what I learned. Not if I learned — that was a given — but what parts of the day proved edifying (and, it was implied, worthwhile). This emphasis on treating life like a big open classroom has stuck with me over the years, and I’m now able to contain, spongelike, every droplet of experience and turn it into stored information for later use as knowledge, wisdom, or anecdote. Useful, no doubt, and probably the sole trait that prevents boredom from overtaking my life.

So I answered them as best my tired exhausted brain would allow, which involved a version of, Yes (yawn) Dad, I learned a lot (yawn), and it was an awesome (yawn) experience (double yawn). He took the hint, and I drifted off.

I think I’m finally ready now, as I settle back into the daily workload, inch my way toward my G.G., and return to normal sleep patterns, to give my parents the answer they deserve.

Mom and Dad, I learned more in this past week than in the last year. I observed different kinds of business being conducted by as many personalities as there are facets on a diamond. I watched hordes of people begin to glaze over as they paraded past hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise. Even the security guards appeared unfazed by day three. I talked with designers who are so devoted to their craft that they take a “five minute chat” and turn it into an hour and a half meeting. And some company representatives appeared to care so little, I wondered why they bothered to show up. I watched as some people warmly embraced the next big idea, new generation, novel trends. And some blatantly rejected the presence of women, of youth, and especially youthful women. I was ignored and dismissed by some, but welcomed, encouraged, and treated as a full equal by others. Disorganization was frustratingly rampant at times, and a clear, concise meeting was a refreshing change. I learned that it can be equally difficult to keep my mouth shut as to speak up, and that I should balance a gut feeling with my knowledge of social politics. I learned how fast and how long I can walk in heels in a freezing cold room while hungry, thirsty, sleep-deprived, and stressed… and that I can still function at a reasonably high level while doing all of that because I love it, it excites and drives me, and that I would do this all day, every day if I could.

Selective Sparkle: Holiday Gifting Guide Part 3

Everybody loves a trilogy, so I’m pleased to present the third and final installment of my gifting guide. ICYMI, head over here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.

I had originally planned a humorous little cheat sheet for what to buy each person on your list, but I honestly can’t say I could do it better than this post right here from one of my favorite industry blogs. So please settle in for a chuckle and read her post — trust me.

So here’s the Plan B post instead: a motley assortment of tips & tricks for buying that special someone a little special something.

— Those beautiful diamond studs you chose for your girlfriend of 6 years are lovely, but you might want to ask for something other than a small, square-shaped box that’s going to look a whole lot like the kind of box something else with diamonds might come in. Catch my drift?

— On the other hand, keep him or her from sniffing out a surprise proposal by using something other than a ring box. A good friend used one of those Danish butter cookie tins and placed the ring inside the center paper cup. She chose not to open the tin until dessert.

— A diamond will survive a champagne bubble bath, a pearl might not. Potential choking hazard aside, seriously consider your presentation before drowning your jewelry in your drink.

— Before investing in those five golden rings, try to get a finger size. Please.

— You know the holiday classic, “I Wonder as I Wander”? Don’t let that be you. When we ask what we can help you find, it’s not so much a sales tactic as a way to make life easier for you. A couple once walked in the door, glanced quickly left and right, then the woman turned to the man and said, “they don’t even have any pearls here! Let’s go!” Had we been given more than 3 or 4 seconds, we would have shown them the two large cases of beautiful pearls… located towards the rear of the store.

— Don’t let your budget hold you back. We respect what you want to spend, and can often find something your giftee will adore without breaking the bank. On the other hand, we are neither miracle workers nor magicians, and we can not, in fact, “make a few of those zeros disappear.”

— Many wish list items can be found at different price points: those diamond studs I mentioned could cost anywhere between $500 or $25,000+ so please ask before you cross an item off the list.

— While it is a customer service standard to under promise and over deliver, we’re pretty upfront when it comes to timing a gift for Christmas. There are some things that simply take too much time, and many vendors or other services get backed up or even close early at this time of year. We will always, and I mean always, do what we can for you, but we can’t control every factor (see above comment re: miracles).

— No, that $10,000 ring will not be on sale for $2000 the day after Christmas. Or ever.

— Yes, I really do think that pendant will make your mother extremely happy, especially since it’s a thoughtful gift. Yes, I already removed the price tag. No, I don’t recommend telling her you got a “killer deal.” (Yes, that was a real conversation).

— Please be patient with me if both point-of-sale terminals are in use and I can’t swipe your credit card for another minute or two and it feels a little warm in here and you forgot to call your nephew and the candy store ran out of fudge and the kids singing carols outside are out-of-tune. I will happily wrap your gift in beautiful paper with a big golden bow while we wait for the system, clean your rings and earrings until they shine, and validate your parking so you can continue to shop downtown worry-free. I will do everything in my power to make you happy and comfortable. I will wish you and your family a very happy holiday season, and I will hope you’ll wish me the same.

Coming soon to POKC: The Twelve Gems of Christmas!

Selective Sparkle: Holiday Jewelry Gifting Guide Part 2

Okay folks, I’m back with another Q&A session to help along your seasonal shopping! Today’s questions focus on some useful information to keep in mind when shopping so you don’t end up on some morning television’s Buyer Beware feature. This will be a lengthy post, because I feel that an educated consumer is a good consumer.

Are these natural pearls?”

Ah, such a seemingly simple question with such a complicated answer. We really, really love our pearls around here, and thanks to that addiction passion we tend to know a whole lot about them — which is a darn good thing, considering the huge breadth of pearl jewelry on the market right now.

First things first: almost all pearls are cultured. This means that the oyster that housed them as they formed was grown alongside thousands of others on a pearl farm. It also means that a person most likely took a bead, piece of shell, or even another small pearl and inserted it into the oyster to nucleate (or “seed”) the pearl or pearls that grew inside. In the wild, a pearl occurs when some kind of irritant (like sand) enters the oyster’s shell, and the critter inside builds up layers and layers of nacre (pronounced NAY-ker) around it to stop it from bothering the delicate mollusk. On a pearl farm, it’s the humans that cause the irritation, but what else is new. Zing!

Pearls are judged on the quality of luster, overall shape, surface smoothness, color, and matching (on a strand). The luster is that particular combination of opaqueness and translucence that gives the pearl its soft but reflective appearance. Because pearls are organic, their surfaces are often marked with dimples, pimples, lines, striations, and all manner of varying nacre thicknesses; baroque pearls are unusually and irregularly shaped and therefore have a more uneven surface, while round or off-round pearls should be smooth with few marks. On a strand, pearls should either match as closely as possible (one color) or maintain a similar overtone (mixed colors).

Freshwater pearls are the most widely available, and are often the least expensive because they are grown fairly inexpensively by the thousands (China in particular has developed amazing and innovative techniques, including growing hundreds of tiny pearls inside just one oyster). The most common color is white, and they tend to be smaller than their saltwater cousins. They are also sometimes dyed, a treatment that is not at all permanent and will fade or discolor over time. Dyed colors range from fun brights like purple, pink, and blue to colors that mimic those found naturally in more expensive pearls. A trustworthy jeweler will be upfront about which pearls are dyed and which are not, and they should be priced accordingly.

Saltwater pearls are larger and generally more rare than freshwater, and are frequently referred to by their signature growing locations: Tahiti and the South Sea region. Tahitian pearls have become interchangeable with “black” pearls, though the colors within that category range from bright peacock green and purple to grey-silver or even brownish. South Sea pearls are white, pinkish, greyish, or even a greenish pistachio color. Finally, my personal favorite, the golden South Sea pearl, is a beautiful gold-yellow color that often seems to gleam with its own inner light.

All of the colors mentioned above are absolutely and completely natural — the pearls formed with that color. In fact, that beautiful golden South Sea pearl comes from the Golden-Lipped Oyster! White pearls of both fresh and salt water are typically placed in a bleach solution to ensure evenness of tone, but this treatment is both perfectly common and permanent.

Tahitians and South Seas are more expensive than most freshwater pearls because they take almost twice as long to form, and they are only grown individually — one pearl per oyster at a time. With their variety of natural colors they can be very difficult to match, making beautiful strands difficult to find.

Bottom line: most pearls are cultured, which means farmed (or, as I like to say, grown on purpose!). They are strung on silk and knotted in between each pearl. As an organic gem, they are extremely sensitive to chemicals, changes in temperature, and rough handling, so they should be the *last thing on, first thing off* when worn. Dyed pearls should be far less expensive than naturally colored. Pearls are a beautiful accessory that can be dressed up or down, and have such incredible variety that I can absolutely find a pearl for anyone and everyone.

Why do I see ruby rings for $99 in some department stores?”

The short answer here is that you’re not looking at a natural ruby, you’re looking at a composite formed with crushed red corundum, colored glass, and lead. You might even be looking at a piece of glass with a thin coating of red lacquer. Is it a ruby? No, it isn’t, and a trustworthy store will be telling you that right up front, both verbally and in visible print.

Aside from the obvious deceit and fraud factors, these composite stones are bad news because they can’t be handled like regular gems. Stick one of those rings in a hot ultrasonic cleaner and watch it disintegrate. Try to size the ring or fix a prong and watch it crumble away or turn all kinds of ugly colors. Hit the stone in just the right place with enough force and watch a huge chunk fly away.

Bottom line: when it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Disclosure is a constant industry focus topic, and the good places will be happy to educate you on exactly what you’re buying.

What’s a synthetic stone? What’s a simulant stone?”

A synthetic stone is formed in a laboratory but otherwise possesses the identical properties as the naturally-formed version. A gemologist can perform tests to determine whether it was naturally formed or lab-created, but otherwise the two are the same. Natural gems are more expensive due to their rarity and costs associated with mining and cutting.

Example: synthetic color-change Alexandrite is popular because the natural version is rare and difficult to obtain. The lab-created version is much less expensive but still possess the beautiful color-change properties

A simulant is any material that is meant to look like a particular gemstone but is in no way related or comparable to it.

Example: anything that looks like a diamond, but pretends to be: cubic zirconia, glass, moissanite, or even white sapphire is used to mimic the look of a diamond. To be clear, it’s a synthetic if it’s trying to be something it isn’t, like a CZ and silver ring that looks suspiciously like something that would usually come in a little blue box. It’s not a synthetic if it’s a step-cut green tourmaline — you might mistake it for an emerald, but it’s not trying to be one.

Bottom line: when in doubt, ask! Forgive the broken record, but full disclosure policies ensure you’ll never think you’re getting one thing but end up with another. Also, keep price in mind as you shop to ensure you’re really comparing like to like.

Once again, hit me with your burning questions and I’ll do my very best to answer. No query is too small!

That Sounds Good

Chocolate diamonds. Champagne diamonds. Cognac diamonds.

Lemon quartz. Watermelon tourmaline. Bubblegum pink sapphire.

Are you hungry yet? Food may pave the proverbial path to a man’s heart, but evidently food-type descriptors make consumers hungry for colored diamond and gemstone jewelry.

Few people would deny that professional marketing teams are the true drivers of consumer habits these days. We’re essentially told what we want, so that we want what somebody wants to sell. It’s not a bad cycle really, as long as everyone is honest and ends up happy with what they sold or what they bought.

As someone who works very hard to ensure a client is educated about how they’re spending their money, I sometimes send a silent thank-you to the inventors of those delicious nicknames. A custom client who can use vivid descriptors of any kind, food or otherwise, is more likely get what they really want the first time: “a purple that’s not too deep, not really royal, and definitely not plum, but a bit more violet. Like out outer edge of a violet, but sort of like grape Jello.” Yes, I can work with that. (Maybe I’ll coin “Grape Jello Sapphire”?) Personally, I get a kick out of gems with foodlike names because, well, I’m a foodie, and calling my jewelry something edible is kind of the perfect combination of passions for me. I relate much better to a lip-smacking red raspberry rhodalite garnet set in buttery-yellow 18K gold, don’t you?

So clearly I’m not totally averse to unique and descriptive nicknames. But I do have issues with the rampant dishonesty and consumer duping that comes from those marketing geniuses who decided to take their pitch one step too far. These are the people who sell gems that are worth very little (or almost nothing) at prices comparable to their truly rare and valuable counterparts. I’m looking at you, purveyors of the chocolate or champagne or cognac diamonds.

They’re pretty. If the color appeals to you, they’re stunning. They are incredibly useful in design work, and they’re an excellent alternative to softer gems in similar colors. Do you know what they are not? Rare. And therefore, expensive.

It is absolutely astounding to me that certain retailers are promoting these common-as-dirt, industrial quality, murky brownish diamonds as something special enough to sell in the same price bracket as white diamonds. The markup on such a product must be astronomical — great for the retailer, of course, but not so much for the consumer. It’s a bit like buying meatloaf at Kobe prices just because somebody told you it was pretty much the same thing, and tastes pretty good.

I love beautiful pieces of wearable art, and jewelry made with these brownish gems can be equally beautiful to those made without. But my expectation is to pay less for something with a lesser value, and informed customers should expect the same. I question how long a value system can last if price — usually, though not always, a major factor — becomes a meaningless mode of comparison. Consumers should be purchasing jewelry because they love it, but they should be charged an appropriate amount for the true value of their dollar’s buying power.

What’s your favorite colored gemstone nickname? Do we need to introduce some new ones?