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This is the place to find out information about your jewelry, whether fine jewelry, costume jewelry or grandma's hand-me-downs that are in your jewelry box.

⤚Jewelry Specifics

What Does "Carat" Mean, and How Much Does One Actually Weigh? The word "Carat" comes from the Greek name of a seed, which was first used in ancient times as a measure of weight. A carat weighs seven-thousandths of an ounce, and about 142 of them are needed to make a single ounce. The carat is divided into 100 points, so that when a woman says her diamond is a quarter of a carat, for example, she means it is 25 points.

How are Cultured Pearls Produced? Following the pattern set by nature herself, an irritant in the form of a mother-of-pearl bead is slipped within the folds of a live oyster. The oyster is then returned to the water and in time covers the bead with layers of nacre, the pearl substance. At the end of the prescribed period, the oysters are taken out and the pearls removed.

What does it mean when a gemstone is "enhanced"? Since gemstones were first discovered, man has continuously sought ways to improve the beauty of stones. Cutting, or fashioning, is the most basic enhancement process used to more fully realize the beauty of a gemstone. Other methods used to maximize color, clarity and brilliance include heating, oiling, irradiation and dyeing. Most enhancements are permanent. However, Tara does not use 'Enhanced' gemstones. She feels it is essential to use 100% natural gemstones in your jewelry, with a few exceptions. Black diamonds are one of them.

What are black diamonds? The opaque color of black diamonds is caused by dark inclusions or, more commonly, by color treatment. Most black diamonds are treated to become a green that’s so dark it appears black, but not opaque.

What is the difference between a trademark and a quality mark? With gold jewelry, the karat mark or quality mark indicates the purity of the piece: "14K" means 58.3% pure gold; "18K," 75% pure. In other words, in a piece of 14k gold jewelry, 14 of its 24 parts are pure gold; the other 10 are alloy, which could be any number of different metals, added for strength and sometimes to change the color (to rose gold, white gold, etc.) Platinum - the hardest and most rare metal - is most often marked "PLAT" or "950 PLAT." Sterling silver pieces are usually stamped "925." For pieces manufactured in the U.S., if the quality mark appears, the piece is required by federal law to also be stamped with the manufacturer's trademark, which ensures that the manufacturer stands behind the authenticity of the piece.

⤚What is Leland Blue Slag Glass?

Leland Blue (AKA Antique Foundry Glass) Circa 1875-1900
This unique material was a byproduct of the short-lived days of smelting iron ore in Northwestern Michigan. The Upper Peninsula Mesabi iron ranges supplied the ore. A high grade charcoal made only from beech and maple combined with local limestone flux reduced the iron ore to pig iron, creating a unique foundry glass. Smelting began in 1875 and by 1900 had ceased due to lack of hardwood. The byproduct was dumped into Lake Michigan and shows up from time to time on the beaches from Leland to Traverse City. 

I LOVE using slag glass for my creations. Most of it I have cut and polished myself, and the vibrant blue color with its unique translucency makes it a perfect gemstone for my work  

 ⤚Pearls⇾

What is the difference between cultured pearls and natural pearls? When a foreign body becomes lodged inside a mollusk, the organism develops a sack around the irritant, secreting calcium carbonate in the form of nacre to cover it. As the mollusk deposits layers of nacre, a pearl will gradually grow in size. Natural pearls occur randomly in nature, without the aid of human intervention, and are quite rare. Cultured pearls are cultivated by man when technicians instigate nacre formation process.

Cultured pearls. Look for surface cleanliness: an absence of any scarring or pitting. Also important is the pearls' lustre: they should be glowing with iridescence, not chalky or dull. When purchasing a strand of cultured pearls, be sure there is a knot between each pearl. This insures that if the strand breaks, the pearls won't skitter across the floor. In addition, the knots keep the pearls from rubbing against each other. Before you purchase, roll the strand of pearls on a flat counter top to be sure they don't wobble; this will tell you that the pearls have been drilled exactly through their centers and that they will lay beautifully around one's neck. Fine jewelry is unlike any other purchase. Jewelry that is wisely bought and well cared for will be treasured for generations to come.

⤚Jewelry Storage⇾

Proper jewelry storage is often overlooked. Jewelry should never be tossed into a drawer or on top of a dresser. Most jewelry pieces come in a box or pouch from the store, which is a perfect place to keep them. Sterling silver, for example, should be kept in an anti-tarnish bag or cloth (ask me for your free anti-tarnish felt bag upon your first purchase!). Jewelry boxes that feature individually padded slots for rings and posts for hanging necklaces and bracelets are also ideal.

Cultured pearls must be kept away from hard or sharp jewelry items that could scratch them. Pearls are best stored in a soft cloth pouch, or a separately lined segment of a jewelry box. 

Remember a diamond ring can scratch your treasured pearl necklace (and all other gemstones, including other diamonds). Keep them separate and ideally wrapped in velvet, paper, or silk.

Pearls and opals draw moisture from the air, so storing your opal or pearl jewelry in a dry area, such as a safe deposit box, can sometimes do more harm than good.

When traveling, protect your jewelry pieces from scratches or other impact damage by padding it in a separate box or case. (The best tip ever? String your necklaces through drinking straws and clasp them to keep each one isolated and eliminate tangles.)

Many jewelry stores offer free check-up or professional cleaning at scheduled intervals: Jewelry should be checked every six months and cleaned frequently. Tara offers a free inspection and cleaning every 6 months on every piece she sells.

⤚Repair⇾

See your jeweler at least once a year to have your jewelry checked for loose prongs, worn mountings, and general wear and tear. Visit Tara every six months to have your treasures professionally cleaned. Tara only does repairs on the jewelry she has created, and she will resize rings 1 or 2 sizes at no charge, if purchased at an event.

⤚Resizing a Ring⇾

If too loose or too tight, there are a few ways Tara can resize your ring:

  • Cutting & soldering: A cut is made and metal is either added or removed to adjust the size to fit. Sizing should be done at the center of the shank bottom, unless there are quality marks or an inscription that precludes it. No seams should be visible when finished. This method is the most time-consuming, because all gemstones must be removed prior to soldering.
  • Hammering: most precious metal rings can be hammered to enlarge about 1 size.
  • Sizing beads: placed on the inside of the bottom of the shank, these accommodate slight discrepancies in size for a half size or less
  • Spring inserts: placed inside the shank adjusts to 1-2 full finger sizes.

⤚Cleaning⇾

⤚Cultured Pearls

More delicate than other gemstones and precious metals, cultured pearls need special care to ensure they will remain clean, bright and lustrous for generations to come. Cosmetics, perfume and hairspray all contain elements that may dull the lustre of a pearl. Even acids present in the body oils and perspiration may have a damaging effect.

Here are a few suggestions that will help preserve the beauty of cultured pearls:

  1. Pearls should be put on after the application of makeup, perfume or hairspray. After they are worn, a soft, damp cloth may be used to wipe them free of any of these harmful elements. Cultured pearls should be washed periodically with a mild soap.
  2. Cultured pearls must be kept away from hard or sharp jewelry items that could scratch them. Pearls are best stored in a soft cloth pouch, or a separately lined segment of a jewelry box.
  3. Body oils and cosmetics also can damage the silk or nylon thread on which the pearls are strung. If the pearls are worn often, it is best to have them restrung by your local jeweler once a year to avoid strand breakage.
  4. To prevent all the pearls from coming loose should a strand break, make sure the string is knotted between every pearl. Individual knotting also protects the pearls by keeping them from rubbing against each other.

⤚Diamonds & Gold

Gems and precious metals are gifts of nature, which need special care. Even though a gem may be millions of years old, once mined and worn, it is exposed to conditions and chemicals that can damage it. The harder the gem, the less vulnerable it is to potential damage. A diamond, for example, is the hardest gem known to man, and that's one reason why it is known as "Forever." Hardness is based on a gem-trade standard called the Mohs Scale, developed in the early 19th century. The scale is structured so that material rated at each higher number can scratch substances with lower numbers. Diamonds are rated the highest, at 10; rubies and sapphires are Mohs 9; emeralds and topaz, 8; and garnets, tourmalines and quartz, 7. Anything softer than a 7 can be scratched, including opal, turquoise, lapis lazuli, coral, pearl. Gold, silver, and platinum are only Mohs 2-1/2 to 4, which means that they require special care when wearing, storing, or cleaning.

    Jewelry DO'S AND DON'TS

    • DON'T wear fine jewelry when doing housework or gardening.

    • DON'T heap your jewelry into one drawer. Remember a diamond ring can scratch your treasured pearl necklace (and all other gemstones, including other diamonds). Keep them separate and ideally wrapped in velvet, paper, or silk.
    • DO check for loose stones frequently by gently tapping the piece with your finger near your ear.
    • DO get pearls restrung every two years or annually with frequent use.
    • DO clean fine jewelry often to maintain its sparkle and beauty. 
    • DON'T use toothpaste to clean your jewelry as the abrasives it contains can damage softer gems and metals. All fine jewelry can be safely cleaned by soaking for 10 minutes in warm soapy water (using a non-detergent soap). 
    • DO use a soft brush on harder gems to loosen any dirt around the prongs. To reduce greasy build-up on diamond jewelry, dip it in plain alcohol or vodka before soaking.

    This information provided by: Jewelers of America and GIA.