Fairmined Gold: Gold to be proud of

Emily Chelsea Jewelry is proud to announce their partnership with Fairmined Gold. Emily Chelsea Jewelry is one of only a handful of jewelers who carries Fairmined Gold since it was first introduced in 2014. 

THE ISSUES

With approximately 10 million artisanal gold miners across the world, many rely on Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining as a means to make a living and support their families. However, with mining come many issues and conflicts, including but not limited to:

•    Child Labor
•    Environmental Destruction
•    Gender Inequality
•    Economic Exploitation  
•    Unsafe Working Conditions

Despite the complications, some mining operations saw mining as the best way to strengthen their community and were looking to improve mining practices to create a more sustainable and responsible industry. While there was no immediate change that could happen overnight, awareness grew and the issues became more widely known. 


A NEW STANDARD


Fairmined Gold is an initiative developed by the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), a non-profit organization globally recognized as a leader and pioneer of responsible artisanal and small-scale mining. Fairmined is an assurance label that certifies gold from responsible Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM). It is backed by a rigorous 3rd party certification system, ensuring that small mining communities are meeting the standards for responsible and safe practices. The premium that is collected for Fairmined Gold is paid directly to the mining communities and can be used to improve working conditions, social development and environmental protection.  
The Fairmined Standard not only covers all aspects of responsible mining practices, but the routine assessments ensure that miners maintain their certification as well as improve their social impact and efforts to care for the environment. 
Since Fairmined was first introduced in 2014, they now work with 10 different mines in 4 different countries, including Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and Mongolia. Currently, over 120 jewelers in 21 different countries work with Fairmined Gold, Emily Chelsea Jewelry being one of them. 


A CLOSER LOOK

The mine 15 De Agosto in Bolivia became Fairmined certified in September 2015. The co-operative mining community has 189 shareholders, 50 of them being women, with 32 workers. Since becoming Fairmined certified, the co-operative invests up to 15% of their profits in community projects and were able to entirely fund the construction of an elementary school that is free of charge and provides basic computer skills education. 

According to Alexander Nina, the president of 15 de Agosto, the work done within the mine has made an immediate impact on his family and community:

“Thanks to the work I have done in mining, me and my family have a good home and food on the table every day. My expectations to the certification are to improve our mining activities and the place we live. With the premium, we now have more possibilities to support the community and open a health center.”
Workers of the mine 15 De Agosto in Bolivia. 

Workers of the mine 15 De Agosto in Bolivia. 


FAIRMINED FOR YOU

While we provide 100% recycled gold, silver and platinum, we recognize that the mining industry is not going away (nor do we want it to!) and new mining will continue to happen. We always knew that recycled metals were not the answer but rather an alternative to conflict mining. Choosing Fairmined Gold for your jewelry is a great way to make a positive impact on the mining industry, as your purchase helps to create a more sustainable mining industry where community members and miners can directly benefit. 

Fairmined Gold is gold to be proud of; as it demonstrates the value of responsible mining, generates positive impact with each purchase and provides an assurance that each piece has been made with responsibly mined gold.  

Fairmined Gold is currently available as 14kt Fairmined Yellow Gold and 18kt Fairmined Yellow Gold and is available for all Emily Chelsea Jewelry engagement and wedding bands. 

 

 

Diamond Buying Guide and the 4 C's

A lot of people see diamonds as white, sparkly rocks. While that is partly true (diamonds are actually minerals, not rocks!) there is still so much more that goes into what makes a diamond beautiful and sparkly. The biggest of these, is the 4 C’s: Carat, Color, Clarity and Cut. Each one of these factors contributes to the price and with the right combination, you can usually find the perfect diamond within your budget.  I’m going to break down each one of these for you and hopefully get you to a place where you may feel a bit more comfortable around these white sparkly stones. 

Carat: Let’s start with the easy one. Carat refers to the weight. Diamonds are almost always referred to by their weight- not usually their size. A 1 carat diamond is the most familiar, but you can buy a diamond at any size and the price will adjust accordingly. A common starter point for an engagement ring is anywhere between .75ct and 1.00 carat. There are a few weights that usually make the price jump and those are always at the quarter mark (.25, .50, .75, 1.00, 1.25, etc). If you stay just before that quarter mark, you can land in the “sweet spot” and get a lower price for a similar size appearance. So for example, if you want the look of a .75ct in size, you could go with a .70ct or a .72ct and get a slightly better price while still appearing almost the same size as the .75ct. Incidentally, this isn’t a trade secret so the options of diamonds in the “sweet spots” are slim- especially in the .92-.99ct range.

Color: The color of a diamond is graded on a scale of D through Z. As you get lower on the color scale, diamonds will start to gain a yellow or brownish tint. The color scale is bracketed which makes it a little bit easier to follow. D, E and F are considered colorless. That means that to the untrained eye, you can see no color. G, H, I and J are considered near colorless. That means that you may be able to see slight color, especially in I and J. K, L and M are considered faint, which means you may notice a yellow tint. After M, the color grades are grouped (N-O, P-Q) and they show obvious color.

Image source: www.gia.edu

Image source: www.gia.edu

There are sweet spots in color too! If you want a colorless diamond, but don’t want to pay for a D, E or F, go for a G. G is so close and definitely appears quite white, especially when set in a ring. H and I are great too, especially if color isn’t something that jumps out at you or is one of your priorities. Here’s a tip: If you are getting a yellow gold or rose gold ring, you can get away with a lower color diamond and on the contrary- if you get a white gold setting, the color of an H or I may stand out more than it would in a warmer hued ring.

Clarity: Clarity measures the inclusions inside the diamond. Almost all of the clarity grades cannot be seen to the unaided eye but I1, I2 and sometimes SI2 are visible without magnification. Stones with clarity as low as I1 and I2 are quite visible and can affect the sparkle of the stone. When considering an SI2, try to see it in person or get a detailed report on the inclusions. I always like to get SI2’s in prior to buying and I will analyze the stone for you and give you my honest opinion of the stone as well as send along detailed images. There is a range in clarity grades and you can have a good SI2, a fair SI2 or a bad SI2. I have seen amazing SI2's that I think should be graded higher and I have seen terrible SI2's. It all depends on the size, type, color and placement of the inclusion. Most inclusions are small crystals that are included inside the diamond when it formed but some can also be an interruption in the growth structure, a natural imprint, or a minute enclosed fracture.

Image source: www.gia.edu

Image source: www.gia.edu

Cut: Cut is the only grading criteria that is a contribution from man. How well the diamond is cut determines how much sparkle it will have. Cut is measured by three things: the symmetry of a diamond’s facets, the proportions of the angles and how well the diamond has been polished. The better the angles, the more symmetrical and proportionate facets, the more optimal light return it will have, aka sparkle. A very good cut grade is a great place to be and "excellent" is the top cut grade. I wouldn't go any lower than "good.”

Cut is the biggest grading criteria that most people overlook- cut can make or break a stone. If a 1 carat diamond was a D color, VS1 clarity but has a fair to poor cut the stone can appear quite dim and not have any sparkle to it.

Image Source: www.gia.edu

Image Source: www.gia.edu

Shape: Shape is part of cut and helps define a diamond’s profile shape. Round is the most popular, but there is also princess cut (square), cushion cut (soft cornered square, looks like a pillow), oval, emerald, old European, marquise and pear as well as a few others. When you are considering a shape other than round, the cut grade is not as applicable since GIA’s grading system is modeled for a round brilliant cut diamond.

 

Other do’s and don’ts:
-Avoid diamonds with strong fluorescence. According to GIA, fluorescence does not affect the appearance of the stone[1] but this is debatable. When viewing a diamond with strong fluorescence indoors, it may appear no different than a stone without fluorescence. If you take that diamond outside to view it in sunlight, the diamond with strong blue fluorescence will appear very cloudy and look smudged despite how many times you try to wipe it clean. Additionally, often times when you view two diamonds that are equal in all ways except for fluorescence, the stone with the stronger fluorescence will be priced lower than the one without. This is usually a good indication that the fluorescence contributes to the appearance of the diamond. That being said, sometimes a warmer colored diamond, like a J or K with faint fluorescence can actually be a benefit. The diamond may appear whiter because the blue tint from fluorescence cancels out the warmth tone. This varies stone to stone so it is always important to see a stone in person before purchasing it or having a professional give you their personal and honest opinion. 

 -Avoid diamonds with EGL reports. The 4 C’s grading system was invented by GIA but many other certification institutes use it as well. EGL is a lab that uses the 4C’s grading system but often misuses it and grades higher than what the diamond actually is. They most commonly do this in color since they grade the diamond in the face up position, rather than the intended face down position, as instructed by GIA. For example, they may give an I color diamond a G grade. When you are searching for diamonds and you come across this G graded diamond by EGL, the price may seem like a great deal. However, if you go to get this appraised in the future, it will appraise for less than what you paid and will be reassigned the correct color grade.

 -Consider clarity inclusions as a benefit and remember your diamond’s inclusions. No two diamonds are alike. Your diamond’s unique inclusions can always help you identify your stone. This is great if you are taking your diamond ring to a new jeweler for service or repair. Knowing your diamond’s inclusions and where they are located can help ease your nerves when you drop off your diamond for the first time.
 

Congratulations! You are now a diamond pro. Even if you don’t feel like one yet, you now have some knowledge to start with in your search for the perfect diamond.

Still have questions? Please shoot me an e-mail! I am a certified Graduate Gemologist through GIA and love to answer any questions.

 

[1] http://www.gia.edu/gems-gemology/winter-1997-fluorescence-diamonds-moses

 

 

 

A Sweet Engagement

The owner of the beautiful sapphire twig engagement ring sent this video to me the other day and I knew I had to share it. Neil proposed to his now fiance at Burning Man this summer in front of a big crowd and this video captures the proposal and so much more- definitely worth a watch.

 

In case you missed the story of the ring, take a look here:

 

Responsible and Sustainable

Emily Chelsea Jewelry is very proud to announce that we are now using recycled precious metals and recycled or responsibly sourced diamonds and gemstones.

I recently attended an industry trade show where I had the opportunity to meet with several suppliers and got to talk to them about their sourcing. Many of them were recommended to me through Ethical Metalsmiths- an organization committed to responsible mining, sustainable economic development and transparency. All of the vendors I spoke to knew first hand where their stones came from and had a direct relationship with the mines themselves. I've highlighted a few specifics below about the metals, diamonds and gemstones I will now be using.

Gold, Platinum and Silver: All gold, platinum and silver from Emily Chelsea Jewelry is now sourced from a local refinery. The refinery melts down  scrap gold and old jewelry to be reused again in casting and hand fabrication. When I met with them, they were very honest with me by saying that their silver is 95% recycled and the last 5% just simply cannot be traced. I appreciate their transparency and their efforts to running a sustainable business.

Diamonds: I was thrilled to meet so many awesome diamond dealers who source full cut, rose cut, rustic and rough diamonds! The diamonds (including the teeny tiny ones) are either recycled or sourced from ethical mines. The suppliers also check in regularly with the mines to insure they are continuing responsible practices. 

Gemstones: Gemstones can be a lot harder to trace in comparison to diamonds. Despite this, I met with several gemstone miners, producers and suppliers who deal in responsibly sourced materials.  Everyone I spoke to was very passionate about what they do and eager to show me some of their most prized pieces. The most popular stones I saw were rubies and sapphire (including Montana green sapphire), green quartz, garnet of all colors and opal. 

Bear with us. There isn't a clear and definitive solution to being entirely 100% responsible and sustainable but as an industry we are taking the steps to create  a more environmental and ethical trade. I encourage you to talk to your local jeweler about where they source their materials from and to ask about their studio practices. While the demand is growing, more jewelers are redefining their business model to include sustainable supplies and practices. If you would like to learn more about Ethical Metalsmiths or to view a directory of EM jewelers, visit their website here.

 

 

Reusing Heirloom Diamonds

A customer recently contacted me about repurposing her diamonds from a preexisting ring she had. She had sent me a picture of her ring and diamonds hoping we could reuse them in a new 18kt yellow gold ring.

 

 

After going over the CAD model with her, we decied to add two more diamonds to complete the look. 

With her approval of the final design, the ring was 3D printed and cast in 18kt gold. 

 

 

 Take a look at the final ring and keep this in mind when designing your custom ring! Diamonds are a very strong material and do not scratch or wear away over time. Heirloom diamonds can almost always be used in a new setting.  What a great way to combine the old and new, creating an updated look while holding on to the sentimental value. 

 


The Pilot of Blog Entries

Thanks so much for checking out my blog and my new website! 

I plan on using this blog for a number of different topics. First, to keep you updated on what's going on in the studio. Sometimes ideas take a long time to make their way through production, but hopefully you will get to watch them grow from sketch, rough casting, to finished piece! It will also be very helpful to hear your feedback along the way, so comments are welcome. 

In addition, I plan to use this blog for educational purposes. The topic of jewelry is so complex and there is not a lot of information available to you, the purchaser. Some of the topics I plan to write about include:

Metals and karats
Diamonds and the importance of cut
Pricing differences and discrepancies from company to company
Ring Sizing!
Sourcing
CAD and Custom Design
The Basics of the 4Cs
Canadian Diamonds

I look forward to diving into these topics and if you have any suggestions or questions, feel free to comment!