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jginnane

Findings.

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I recently mentioned two USA sources of metalwork (for earrings, rings, pendants, whatever) as OttoFrei.com and TroyFindings.net.  The first is in Oakland CA, but the second lists an address at 76 Bowery, New York City.

 

And, that's where I have a small problem.

 

76 Bowery -- Google it, then switch to Streetview -- is in the center of the block of Bowery Street that runs from Canal Street to Grand Street.  We know the area pretty well -- it's on the edge of Chinatown.  My wife has taken her other jewelry for repairs to a friend's stall just around the corner on Grand.  Since she;'s known these folks for > 20 years, it's safe to say they are reasonably priced and ethical.  (However, it helps if you can speak Cantonese.)

 

Because most Chinese people here and in China are still preferring gold, 24K chuk gam, pure jewelry, the neighboring businesses to 76 Bowery might have "Diamonds" in their English-language street names, but their real business continues to be selling metal.

 

So my question is -- Troy Findings might be an exhaustive catalog operation run from an upstairs office, it doesn't matter to me.  But how reliable is shopping in this area compared to 47th Street?  Is this company a respected name to try to get settings from, should I ask my wife to ask her friends, or should I pay a midtown (47th Street) middleman to manufacture our two (so far) platinum earrings?

 

There are a lot of design considerations even for something as simple as stud earrings, and we want them as secure as possible (and not drooping).  At this point we're staying with platinum over WG mostly for strength, although very little metal should be visible externally on the earrings themselves.  (We hope to use the same business and achieve the same look when we complete our remaining stone selections.)

 

So if anyone has advice on this, pro or con, I could use it now.  Both findings companies have telephone access but I don't want to command a rep's time on such a small amount of business, at least before having a better education in this realm of the business (that no one seems to talk about).

Edited by jginnane

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The area around Canal St. used to be New York's jewellery district before things moved to 47th (ending in the 1970s). There are still some assorted jewellery firms around there (Troy is one of them), but I don't know anyone personally. If your wife's friends can do the work or recommend someone - whether they be located near Canal St. or on 47th or anywhere else - it's a pretty good place to start. Personal recommendation and quality of their other work are the main criteria I would use to select a bench jeweller.

 

Bear in mind that there is a significant difference between findings and jewellery: findings are pre-built parts made to a standard pattern; a bench jeweller (and setter) may use findings or fabricate a piece from wire stock or through casting, but it's rare for a supplier of findings to actually make anything with the findings. What you are looking for is a bench jeweller with experience in working platinum - said person may well use findings for the posts, the friction or screw backs and even the baskets to hold the stones, and assemble everything together, or he/she may decide to build the piece without using pre-fabricated parts. Given the unusual shape and proportions of the stones you have bought, the latter is a much more likely course of action.

Edited by davidelevi
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The area around Canal St. used to be New York's jewellery district before things moved to 47th (ending in the 1970s). There are still some assorted jewellery firms around there (Troy is one of them), but I don't know anyone personally. If your wife's friends can do the work or recommend someone - whether they be located near Canal St. or on 47th or anywhere else - it's a pretty good place to start. Personal recommendation and quality of their other work are the main criteria I would use to select a bench jeweller.

 

I never knew this about the area -- fascinating bit of history!  It makes sense, because of the waves of immigrants who have come, settled, then eventually migrated elsewhere.

 

I agree my wife's friends could be good candidates for resolving the findings issue, but they've been relatively small time in their work, just doing repairs and selling small dollar items like Sterling silver tchotchkes.  If there's much of a learning curve involved in selecting the right hardware, I'd sooner go to someone who has done this a lot of times before.

 

DL >> Bear in mind that there is a significant difference between findings and jewellery: findings are pre-built parts made to a standard pattern; a bench jeweller (and setter) may use findings or fabricate a piece from wire stock or through casting, but it's rare for a supplier of findings to actually make anything with the findings.

 

I found another findings company last night: Stuller.com, in Louisiana.  None of these companies carry a large inventory but have rapid-response time on just-in-time production, at least with 14K gold.

 

Thing is, perusing the findings catalogs helps identify what we want to wind up with.  On the marquise stone, you can swaddle it with six prongs and it's overkill for what we hope to achieve.  We'd really like 2 v's, one at each end, with a supprting wire basket behind -- open in the center to allow more light play.  How high would this sit above the ear?  Would it droop?  These are the kinds of questions that require --

 

DL >> -- a bench jeweller with experience in working platinum - said person may well use findings for the posts, the friction or screw backs and even the baskets to hold the stones, and assemble everything together, or he/she may decide to build the piece without using pre-fabricated parts.

 

Ah, now we're getting to the line of terminology I can start to use.  A bench jeweler.  It's true, looking in these catalogs is a bit on the dry side, but if I was novice before on diamond terminology, I'm much much worse on this stuff.  Martini? Wire post? Wire basket?  Choice between friction and screw backs?  Are posts screwed and glued, or soldered in? What makes the strongest, most secure package without costing an arm and a leg?  "Platinum" is either .950 or .900; are there advantages to each alloy?  And how much of this knowledge/terminology is generally useful, to someone setting a ring or pendant?

 

If only 3-5% of diamond customers take the time to learn about the 4C's to any depth, there must be an even more miniscule set of people who care about what's holding their stones in place.  But that's like having a dentist who's great at filling teeth, but can't attach crowns.  (I know, I had one like that.)

Edited by jginnane

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I found another findings company last night: Stuller.com, in Louisiana.  None of these companies carry a large inventory but have rapid-response time on just-in-time production, at least with 14K gold.

Don't know the other two you found (other than by name), but I do know Stuller. One thing that I can tell you about them is that they do not deal direct with consumers; you'll have to go through a jeweller. For "learning by looking" it doesn't matter, but they won't answer questions.

 

Ah, now we're getting to the line of terminology I can start to use.  A bench jeweler.  It's true, looking in these catalogs is a bit on the dry side, but if I was novice before on diamond terminology, I'm much much worse on this stuff.  Martini? Wire post? Wire basket?  Choice between friction and screw backs?  Are posts screwed and glued, or soldered in? What makes the strongest, most secure package without costing an arm and a leg?  "Platinum" is either .950 or .900; are there advantages to each alloy?  And how much of this knowledge/terminology is generally useful, to someone setting a ring or pendant?

There's two distinct issues here:

 

1. Choices that impact "look and feel" - and which are largely input for the jeweller. For example, your request to use two V-prongs is one such. As is the request to use screw rather than friction posts/backs.

 

2. Pure construction choices - e.g. whether posts are screwed and secured or soldered. This is in my opinion best left to the jeweller, for two very good reasons: i) usually he/she does know best what does work and ii) he/she definitely knows best what he/she does best. There are people that are great at casting and aren't that good at fabrication from wire, and vice versa. Interfering with their purely technical choices is asking for trouble later on.

 

The strongest and most secure package is the one that is built properly; given the forces that will be typically exerted on an earring setting, it's not a big issue which technique or alloy is used, as long as the work is done to a high standard. How do you know it is? Recommendation, previous knowledge of the worker in question and - as usual - direct observation of how they work (if you can) or of the result of the work. Perhaps appreciating some of the finest technical points takes an expert, but seeing the difference between a messy, dirty and shoddy finish and something at the other end of the spectrum is pretty easy based on common sense.

 

(If you are interested in platinum alloys, this write up by a very good platinum smith may be of interest: http://www.mwmjewelry.com/platinum_purity.htm; just ignore what Mark says about atomic weights, because it is incorrect. I told him ages ago, but he never fixed it, despite acknowledging it was wrong. Nevertheless the rest of the write-up is a perfectly good example of why "interfering" too much with the technician's choice may not be a good idea).

 

In other words: the terminology is useful to ensure that you communicate properly with the jeweller, but for pretty much anything that you need to communicate, a picture is worth a thousand words. The rest is "curiosity" driven, and while it's commendable, it's not necessary. Also, you have already specified pretty clearly your "functional" requests (as little metal "on view" as possible, secure but comfortable fastening, no drooping) - let the guy/gal earn his/her pay!

Edited by davidelevi

Davide - Specialised Consumer Information and Assistance,
Diamonds by Lauren (http://www.diamondsbylauren.com)
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1. Choices that impact "look and feel" - and which are largely input for the jeweller. For example, your request to use two V-prongs is one such. As is the request to use screw rather than friction posts/backs.

 
I think v-posts are probably safer -- less snagging, larger metal base to avoid bending -- and they accomplish the objective of protecting the tips on these two stones.
 
A wire "basket" could provide space under the marquise for some light to enter, particularly since it's a better-cut stone.  The trillion is very shallow (with a black hole when viewed directly on-axis) so I'm inclined to try for a mirror-like surface directly under the culet.  (The black hole vanishes when your view moves slightly off-axis, maybe 10 degrees or less.  This is fine for an earring!)
 
DL >> Pure construction choices - e.g. whether posts are screwed and secured or soldered.
 
We notice most of these pre-built settings have the posts off-axis, so the stone is intended to be worn in a specific (if arbitrary) up/down fashion.  This might be good for the trillion, since it's not a perfect triangle.  However, I would expect the marquise to be worn in a complementary pattern to our future 4-point setting stone, rather than in a vertical orientation.  That means the post ought to be dead-center.   (Maybe I'm still talking look and feel.)
 
DL >> (If you are interested in platinum alloys, this write up by a very good platinum smith may be of interest: http://www.mwmjewelr...inum_purity.htm;
 
Platinum/iridium (.900) it is!  Mark Morrell's ring work is beautiful.  I don't know if a $600 starting ante is necessary for each of our earring stones, but it would be nice if he lived on the other (closer) side of NYC.  And I don't even care if he's off a few points on platinum weight, not after my pi-eating flub.  Err, "test".
 
When my blood sugar's back up a bit it'll be time to attempt to add some pix to this thread.  The hospital thing -- 4 days, Fri-Mon -- was extremely unexpected, and at one point i was "down about a pint", as the Irish say.  Sadly, the doc informed me I couldn't replenish with Guiness, so it's iron pills for the duration.

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V-prongs are definitely safer - for all the reasons you mention. Wire basket - not a problem, but unless your wife has very uncommon biochemistry (á la Sue Storm, so to speak), there will be very little light entering from below the stone: it's against her ear...

 

Careful with mirrors - while they are feasible, they require both metalsmith and setter to really know what they are doing, and they can get scratched/dirty with time (rather a short time on an earring).

 

Post in the centre vs. offset: to me, it's a very clear "look and feel" issue; you don't care whether it costs (reasonably) a little more to build the post and the support vs. buying a pre-fabricated part, but the work has to produce the effect you want, i.e. the stone pivoting around its centre of symmetry.

 

Platinum/iridium (.900) it is!  Mark Morrell's ring work is beautiful.

Full agreement on the second point. On the first, if you ask Mark, you know this is what you are going to get. If you ask someone else, let them choose. Mark predominantly uses wire fabrication, and for that 900-100 is very good. Others may prefer to cast parts, and then 950-50 flows more easily. Yes, it is softer (unless the 50 is something other than Ir), but it's more likely to work correctly in a casting, it's easier to polish, and earrings aren't subject to a lot of mechanical stress, unlike rings and sometimes bracelets.

 

Guinness: ever tried Irn Bru? Not a substitute, but generally more pleasant than iron pills. ;) Best wishes for a quick recovery.

Edited by davidelevi

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As promised, I wanted to put in some illustrations of the earring alternatives we have.  Platinum limits the choices somewhat in using stock settings, and increases price.  You can have a "cheap" stud setting in 14K or 18K white gold, or you can try to get exactly what you want.

 

This first set of illustrations from the Stuller catalog is probably as close as we're going to get to what we want without going all-the-way custom:

 

post-134047-0-74169100-1399219995_thumb.jpgpost-134047-0-35894100-1399220010.jpg

post-134047-0-60131700-1399220019.jpgpost-134047-0-15150000-1399220031.jpg

 

HOWEVER, it seems our trillion isn't an exact fit (8.5mmx7.5mm, so we might have to use the expanded stock settings of 18K white gold.

 

Or we could try to use this very differently shaped different component --

 

post-134047-0-30785000-1399220805_thumb.jpg

 

Before we get on to the Marquise -- separate post -- here's something I learned today.

 

You think a v-prong is more secure because it's carved out of solid metal?  Think again.  There are conventional V-prong solder kits, and also this button-tip kit, specifically designed for laser application:

 

post-134047-0-85747300-1399221037_thumb.jpg

 

While I'm sure an expert metalworker can make this retention device (v-clip or button) just as secure as a forged/cast piece, what you get may not be as good as what you assume you're getting.  If there's any doubt, ask!

 

 

 

 

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The second post in this thread for today shows some stock alternatives for the marquise stone.  It's not as easy as you'd think.

 

Even if you're NOT currently designing earrings, I'd still suggest you get familiar witth these company catalogues so that you can identify what you want when you're talking to your jeweler.  The choices may be sublime, but can have a major effect on your long-term enjoyment of your jewelry.

 

 

 

First, the simplest Marquise setting, all we need, really, is only available (as a stock item) in low-grade metal.  Is this because it's not very secure?

post-134047-0-47292300-1399221660_thumb.jpg

 

 

 

Or, you can completely bury the diamond in a heavy bezel.  This might be very safe ... but then you might as well use CZ.  Or plastic.

 

post-134047-0-10368900-1399221752_thumb.jpg

 

 

Of the stock, overnight-available settings in the Stuller catalog, there are only two that seem to fit the bill.  The first is what we call the Old Lady's style, because of the fine detail "scroll"  metalwork --

 

post-134047-0-46663200-1399221911_thumb.jpg

 

 

And finally, of this bunch, there's another 6-prong setting that might be closest to what we're going for (except that we really only want the two end "v-tips" to show, not the 4 extra prongs).

 

post-134047-0-54260500-1399221991_thumb.jpg

 

 

Whatever comes of the calculus for choosing settings on these first two stones will also have to be applied to our two future stones: the 4-point "square-shaped" stone, and the traditional Round (which will be worn on the same ear as the trillion).  IOW, we can't have the metalwork be from incongrous eras.

 

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As promised, I wanted to put in some illustrations of the earring alternatives we have.  Platinum limits the choices somewhat in using stock settings, and increases price.  You can have a "cheap" stud setting in 14K or 18K white gold, or you can try to get exactly what you want.

I think you are overworking this... in the sense that since you are fitting one single stone, the price of pre-fabricated findings and of a custom setting done in wire will not be very different. Also - and this is one of the reasons why most bench jewellers won't deal with the public - I think you will find that most truly skilled craftsmen/women heavily resent being told "how to do" what to do.

 

You think a v-prong is more secure because it's carved out of solid metal?

Nope. I think a v-prong is more secure because it has a larger area in contact with the diamond and it protects the point. The strength of properly done solder (or laser-welded) joints is essentially the same if not higher than that of properly cast parts (not least because you can use different alloys, and work-harden them). On the other hand, a poorly soldered joint is usually apparent, whereas an internal porosity in the casting only becomes apparent when you x-ray it... or when it's too late!
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I think you are overworking this... in the sense that since you are fitting one single stone, the price of pre-fabricated findings and of a custom setting done in wire will not be very different. Also - and this is one of the reasons why most bench jewellers won't deal with the public - I think you will find that most truly skilled craftsmen/women heavily resent being told "how to do" what to do.

 

 

Well... this is one purchase -- it will eventually be 4 separate, linked purchases -- where we're not looking for any sort of discount. In fact if we were offered a discount, we'd be suspicious. :)

 

We want something that will work to bring our 4 mismatched stones together -- because otherwise, they might as well be 4 different metals.  We want to pay decently for what we get, assuming the margin on this sale will compensate the jeweler for not also selling the stones.  That means essentially avoiding a $600 off-the-rack setting the jeweler can slap together in 5 minutes in the back room, the parts he happens to have been holding on to since the last Ice Age.

 

We need to know what we want, so we're not steered toward something simply for someone else's convenience.  We need to be able to demonstrate what we're looking for to not waste everyone's time.  We need to have a sense of price (only to make sure we're not getting absolutely killed on a quote).

 

My suspicion is that many diamond sales from ethical merchants have relatively low markup, and profits are generated in providing elaborate, pre-manufactured settings (with lots of melee).  So our objective is a little at odds with this business plan (if it even exists, outside those suburban malls).

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$600 per stone? Nah. $600 for all four, then it's the "5 minute" (more like 1 hour anyway) job.

 

If we are able to expect simple platinum stud earring mountings for all four stones averaging less than $300 apiece, then I'm not going to worry about price.  I was expecting something on the order of 300% markups, from catalogue -> metalworker -> retailer.

 

Then we can just concentrate on what looks and works best.  (The OttoFrei.com catalogue shows in-trade prices for established customers, and I was mentally tripling those figures to get a sense of what I might have to pay as a retail customer.)

 

Do you think Mark Morrell would respond positively to an email RFQ, or do I need to condense my meandering thoughts significantly before contacting him?  I could get the remaining 4-point stone and the round inside of a week online; I think I know enough now to choose wisely (or at least better than I did starting out).  But then I wouldn't have an excuse to meet your associates on 47th Street... and pay midtown NYC parking rates for a day. :)

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I'd say that for simple stud mountings $300 should be ample. To be honest, though, I tend to skip at least one passage and so my perception of "retail" prices may well be skewed; it certainly isn't "high street prices" - then again, if you check Blue Nile, they sell three and four prong stud settings in platinum at about $250... per pair!

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I'd say that for simple stud mountings $300 should be ample...

 

Well, I keep seeing all these fantastic photos of exquisite, fun jewelry from a little shop called diamondsbylauren.com, and I'm almost afraid to go in there, because I don't think we'd walk out with what was on our minds when we entered. :)

 

Currently considering an Asscher (G/VS2) by whiteflash for the 3rd stone, because the sparkle would be a vastly different effect from the adjacent marquise.  But now I'm really getting stumped over the findings issue, and am even more likely to want someone like Mark Morrell to work his magic, pulling the pieces together.  I have a mental image that he could make it seem perfectly natural to have 4 entirely different diamonds work in harmony ... and still later, when we add a 5mm ruby cabochon and a blue sapphire to the set of stud earrings.

 

Incidentally, after studying the Stuller catalogue, the two previous (OttoFrei and Troy Findings) don't seem to be in the same general class of material.  That is to say, the 14K gold might be a simple stamped-out piece that looks and wears very cheaply.  Are there rankings among the stock "findings" companies, similar to stones? 

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Yes, there are definitely "better" and "worse" types of findings, and suppliers tend to focus on different segments. Stuller's are "middle of the road"; other than the name of Otto Frei, I don't know the other two.


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After working through the Stuller catalogue, I'm disinclined to pursue the other two.

 

I assume the next grade up from Stuller is in the custom metal workmanship realm.  Considering the amount of time I've spent educating myself on this stuff, custom-built earrings are an obvious final step.

 

If the Asscher I'm looking at this week proves reasonably acceptable, that only leaves the > Bingo < stone to go.  (Plus at least a visit to your 47th St Candyland. :)

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Next grade up from Stuller may well be a much narrower/focused supplier - for example, there are people that specialise in chains. All sorts, grades, widths, weights, designs. But only chains.

 

We are there Mon-Fri... :)

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Next grade up from Stuller may well be a much narrower/focused supplier - for example, there are people that specialise in chains. All sorts, grades, widths, weights, designs. But only chains.

 

We are there Mon-Fri... :)

 

Since it's really getting down to the end, I visited Mark Morrell's website again.  Hmm ... no earrings at all!  And his Massachesetts address is a PO Box, though he's accessible to the trade.  I can send him a direct email, but otherwise I'll have to work through an intermediary.  Not as easy as a drive up, even if I could persuade him to do our work.  (I'll try a voice call Thursday to see if he'll take on the project.  It might be challenging integrating the design for the 4 cuts, and it could add a page to his design catalogue.  If he does agree, it's expected this might take ~8 weeks after we pay in full.)

 

Plan B is to identify someone -- through your company, Barry at Excel, maybe another online retailer in NYC -- to provide an alternate metalworker.  This could get tricky, as the only diamond non-profit I know in midtown is the parent for GIA Labs. :)  Though actually, I'm paying for experience, knowledge, peace of mind...  and the ability to manipulate platinum.

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Another platinum smith that you may want to try is Leon Megé. Not the easiest of characters to work with, but he does first quality work, and does deal with the public directly. (http://www.leonmege.com)


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What's wrong with your metalworker making a profit?

 

There's occasionally a bit of savings by getting your own supplies but the tradeoff is more than you think.  For starters, the best setters simply won't put up with it.  It's like going to a restaurant and asking for a discount because you brought your own silverware and condiments.   I think you're making a mistake shopping for findings beyond a matter of choosing style.  What you're looking for is a craftsman.  Let him/her choose and supply the parts and have THEM be in charge of the quality standards. Having a 'middleman' involved isn't all bad. Consumers often don't understand the variables, setters don't want to take the time to explain it to them and important details can get lost in cracks.    

Many tradespeople keep their addresses secret, especially the internet based folks.  It's a security thing.  Mark's a fine jeweler but I don't think he has a showroom and probably isn't prepared to receive a walk-in customer even if you drive up there.  It's up to you to decide if that's a deal killer but I wouldn't be inclined to hold it against him.

Edited by denverappraiser

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 I think you're making a mistake shopping for findings beyond a matter of choosing style.  What you're looking for is a craftsman.  Let him/her choose and supply the parts and have THEM be in charge of the quality standards. Having a 'middleman' involved isn't all bad. Consumers often don't understand the variables, setters don't want to take the time to explain it to them and important details can get lost in cracks.    

Many tradespeople keep their addresses to be secret, especially the internet based folks.  It's a security thing.  Mark's a fine jeweler but I don't think he has a showroom and probably isn't prepared to receive a walk-in customer even if you drive up there.  It's up to you to decide if that's a deal killer but I wouldn't be inclined to hold it against him.

 

First, the findings research is so that we can visualize what the final result could look like. Then when a metal worker, perhaps Mark, asks our preference, we know what to say, instead of having to think it out in front of him (and have a 50% chance of guessing wrong).

 

I'm happy with someone like Mark making a decent profit on the work.  I'd be less happy if I could only interact with him through another party, because I'd be afraid we wouldn't have clear two-way communication.  But I don't think I'd even need to see CAD/CAM work "for approval"; I have a good sense of what he's about, and aside from expressing a mild preference for v-tips as appropriate, I'd just let him run free.  (Does that sound like GWB on Putin?) :unsure:

 

In terms of "walk-in", I know he'd likely ask something obvious that we might not think of, like "how far are the pierced ear holes apart" --?  He'd like to see the intended recipient of the earrings.  If he had a trained intermediary on Main Street in downtown Concord MA (across from the PO Box where he gets his mail), that would be good enough for dropping off our stones and solving these types of questions.  We don't especially need to see Mark's "digs".

 

 

 

 

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Another platinum smith that you may want to try is Leon Megé. Not the easiest of characters to work with, but he does first quality work, and does deal with the public directly. (http://www.leonmege.com)

 

He seems to have an enjoyable if a little offbeat website; his work has given him a coveted perch on 47th Street.  The gallery seems slightly leaning toward an old-fashioned sensibility that may or may not work for us.  He likes melee, but abhors fluoresence in stones.  Has an interesting taste in interesting stone cuts.  (If I were to analyze deeper, I might conclude he still never apologizes for having once supported Rudy Giuliani.)

 

First I'll give Mark a shout this afternoon ... it seems this website defaults to displaying USA Pacific time, so I have to wait another 3 hours.

Edited by jginnane

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Just an update on this thread ...

 

1.  Contacted Mark by phone, and he seemed interested in the project.  So I emailed him my details (so far).  If we go this way, it's going to be maybe 8-12 weeks for a finished product.  First I want to see if his quote is reasonable (since I'm leaving most of the details of the metalwork to him).  This, 4 different earring cuts integrated together, could turn out to be the inception of another signature-type product line for him -- mwmjewelry.com, if you haven't visited.

 

(Incidentally, Mark wasn't familiar with diamondreview.com, but said he used to be active on diamondtalk.com.  If you try visiting there today, it just redirects to captive forums on jamesallen.com.)

 

2.  The .97 ct Asscher I was looking at last week didn't turn out to look so good with an Idealscope, etc.  Big doughnut hole.  Since this is one of the two "better" diamonds we want, the one that's intended to out-sparkle the Marquise worn in the same ear, we canceled it even before shipping.  Unfortunately, we lost a week just getting the images.

 

3.  Have re-ordered, this time a .93ct F/VS2 Asscher from Blue Nile that's almost a perfect square. (GIA #1149610380)  The dimensions, depth and table are acceptable; the inclusion listed is "Crystal" which could hopefully be OK on an Asscher cut.  And the price, "$3888", is a good number in Chinese numerology, something we always have to watch out for. :)

 

4.  Once Mother's Day is out of the way, there should be a long period where vendor stone inventories get slowly replenished, and rings are finished off for June weddings.  I'm not so worried about the final stone choice, the Round, being in scarce supply.

 

5.  The several threads on GIA vs EGL have acquired the traditional existential angst that means there isn't really much more to say.  I'm sorry EGL exists, that it is necessary to have this grading report entity as a brand, because knowing an associate has an EGL stone is like knowing they drive Chrysler products.  (Just as an AGS stone is like having a premium car, say a Lexus, BMW, or better.)

 

Yes -- it's only a stone.  Would it be so impossible for the industry to just have a single integrated grading report, perhaps with actual numbers (0-100) assigned for each attribute?  Would it be impossible for each vendor to do at a minimum what James Allen offers online, so you don't need to wait a week to find out whether the basic parameters of a stone are acceptable?

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I wouldn't be so negative on EGL per se. The problem is the way in which it is used; if the trade didn't want them to behave the way they do, they wouldn't - or be out of business very quickly. And I'm sure there have been (and there may be in the future) fine Chrysler cars, just like I'm sure there are (and will be) crap BMW and Lexus - and even Ferrari or Rolls-Royce. The brand is only a risk-hedging instrument.

 

On the standardised grading report: it may be possible technically - to some extent, it already exists, and it's called GIA - but there are still plenty of competing labs, and we are all better off because they (AGS, AGL, GRS, Gubelin, etc.) exist.

 

Same for the "JA approach" to photograph anything that stand still, then place it on a turntable and photograph it while it moves: today it is  possible, but it requires investment (not least in convincing wholesalers to do it), it adds to the cost of the stone, it doesn't necessarily add that much value (one single high-contrast photo and a 15 seconds video under spotlight - useful for discriminating eye-clean in some cases and visual symmetry in others, but not much else) and having people that do not subscribe to the approach allows those that do not want the photo to get their stones slightly cheaper. Plus, if I were JA, I wouldn't encourage it at all: it's their USP - and they have probably built barriers to protect their investment.


Davide - Specialised Consumer Information and Assistance,
Diamonds by Lauren (http://www.diamondsbylauren.com)
davide@diamondsbylauren.com

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I wouldn't be so negative on EGL per se. The problem is the way in which it is used; if the trade didn't want them to behave the way they do, they wouldn't - or be out of business very quickly.

 

Well... let's just call them the e-cigarettes of the diamond industry; a contraption designed to provide a distinction without a difference.  Since GIA is hiring and training a lot of people this year, if their rating backlogs diminish, does that simply mean the EGL brand could be retired (like the Plymouth car line)?  Or are jewelers still going to "shop" their stones to get higher gradings, as Neil (denverappraiser) says?

 

David >> ... there are still plenty of competing labs, and we are all better off because they (AGS, AGL, GRS, Gubelin, etc.) exist.

 

I'm more impressed by the AGS approach, the more I look at it.  In this respect, I think branding actually does make a difference, and it's significantly more important than any single vendor's arbitrary premium designation.  When we finally get around to targeting the Round, our 4th and final stone, we'll start with AGS (and work our way down, if needed).

 

Davide >> Same for the "JA approach" ... it doesn't necessarily add that much value ... useful for discriminating eye-clean in some cases and visual symmetry in others, but not much else (...)

 

Well, for me it has helped identify bow-ties, doughnut holes, "tragic" inclusions, really crooked girdles, general shape visualizations, and other reasons NOT to look further at a stone.  It seems the stones they show which are non-exclusive (meaning, you can buy from someone else on diamondreview or pricescope) have a $100-300 premium in the size/quality range I've been looking at, which is a steep price to pay for someone cleaning a stone and clicking a camera shutter.

 

I appreciate their effort.  I wish they'd take pictures of everything.  HOWEVER I'd also appreciate it if the most-responsive online merchants weren't 2000+ miles away, FedEx Overnight notwithstanding.  You know the NYC Diamond District has to be linked every which way with computers, but that seems to be exclusively for the trade, not general public.

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