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Gem Talk Archive


Somewhere in Brazil in the 1500’s a green tourmaline crystal was unearthed by a Spanish conquistador. The vibrant gem was confused with emerald. That confusion led on until scientists recognized tourmaline as a distinct mineral species some 300 years later in the 1800’s.Tourmaline is easily confused with other gems because it comes in so many different colors. It actually comes in more colors than any other gemstone. The stones chemical composition directly influences its physical properties and color. The different color tourmalines are like brothers and sisters to each other. They are all the same mineral species and share the same crystal structure (same parents) but differ in their chemical and physical properties (siblings). They are all silicates that share the elements aluminum, boron and fluorine but contain a complex mixture of other elements which, in the right combination, cause the color in the stone. In addition to the array of spectral colors, tourmalines can be parti-colored, or show color-zoning in two or more different colors. One such example is the watermelon tourmaline. This gem has green, pink and sometimes white color zoning that gives the resemblance of a piece of watermelon.

Tourmalines grow elongated with a rounded triangular cross-section. Because of this shape, you will find many fashioned gems with slender proportions. They can grow very large and be relatively inclusion free. Tourmalines are very beautiful in their natural crystal form and are very valuable to collectors.

Colored tourmalines grow in an environment rich in liquids, and some of those liquids are often captured as inclusions during crystal growth. Other common tourmaline inclusions are gas bubbles, growth tubes and mineral crystals. If the growth tubes are numerous enough and the rough is cut correctly, then they can cause a cat’s eye effect.

Karly Bulinski,Gemologist at Steffan’s Jewelers

Email jewelry questions to:  suzanne@steffansjewelers.com or  karly@steffansjewelers.com

Answers to the Gem Talk Quiz: April 14th

1. C. The Culinan weighed 3106 carats

2. True. A CZ specific gravity is 5.6-6.0 and a diamond is 3.52

3. A. There is only a Flawless or Internally Flawless grade

4. D. A diamond is made up of carbon

5. B. The most rare color of a natural diamond is pink, the most common is yellow

6. A. There are 58 facets in a standard round brilliant

7. D. Boron is the trace element that colors a diamond blue

8. B. A diamond is 58 times more hard than a corundum

9. A. Most diamonds are 1 to 3 billion years old

10. False. There is a diamond mine open for public digging in Arkansas


~Thanks for playing our Gem Talk Quiz. If you enjoyed this and would like to see more quizes on different topics, please let us know! You can e-mail us at  info@steffansjewelers.com or send us a message on Facebook.


Is there any place to learn about gems in the area? My niece and nephew are very interested and I would love to learn some new things myself. Any suggestions?
The first place you could start would be your local fine jewelry store. There will be a good selection of the different gemstones on display and you can usually find an educated salesperson or gemologist who will be excited to share their knowledge and passion. Most jewelers & gemologists that I know had become interested in gems at an early age which is what ignited their careers they are in today.
The internet and your local library can also provide a wealth of information on every subject, including gems & minerals. You can also take a trip to the Field Museum in Chicago. They have an award winning display along with a great educational tour & video.
Another great place that few people know about is the Lizzadro Museum in Elmhurst. I haven’t been there in 20 years but I receive their current emails and they have really expanded on their collection of gems and minerals as well as their educational series. You can check them out online at www.lizzadromuseum.org.
Over the years I have done some presentations at local schools and have also had girl scout troops visit our store. While my schedule prevents me from visiting the schools, my store is always available for a “field trip” to your local jewelry store. Just call ahead to schedule.
Aside from the beauty that gems posses, there are specific meanings and even healing properties that each one represents. There is also the geology & mining aspect of where they come from and how they get here. There is sure to be excitement and fun while researching these little beauties that are gifts from our earth.

The April Birthstone: Diamond


The name diamond is of Latin origin meaning “invincible.” Diamonds have long been a treasured stone, being used in such items as crowns, swords, emblems and of course jewelry.

The diamond is a 10 on the Moh’s Hardness Scale, making it the hardest stone on Earth. They are composed of very densely packed carbon atoms and are formed deep within the Earth where there is intense heat and pressure. Volcanic activity of centuries ago brought them to the Earth’s surface, where they are found either within volcanic rock formations or washed out into rivers.

The true beauty of a diamond was not revealed until the 16th century, when gemstone cutting and polishing techniques were perfected. Most people prefer a diamond to be as near colorless as possible, but diamonds do come in an array of different colors. In addition to the traditional clear diamond, it can be yellow, red, brown, violet, blue, black, green and pink. Yellow is the most common fancy color and pink is the most rare. A diamond’s value is measured based on cut, color, clarity and carat weight also known as the 4C’s. The most important factor to consider is cut, the value of a diamond is largely dependant upon how skillfully and well it is cut.

A gift of a diamond is symbolic of everlasting love and is the official stone for the 60th wedding anniversary. It symbolizes wisdom, enlightenment, purity and clarity. It is also believed to provide protection, preserve peace and give power. The diamond encourages self-confidence and a desire for independence while counteracting jealousy.

It is important to have your diamond jewelry cleaned and inspected at least every six months. As with all gemstones, care should be taken to avoid scratches, sharp blows, and extreme temperature changes.



I want to start an Add-on-Pearl necklace but would first like to know what the difference is between a natural pearl and a cultured pearl?


A natural pearl is formed when a piece of sand or a foreign object gets inside an oyster.  The oyster will form layers of nacre around it that eventually becomes the pearl.

A cultured pearl has some human intervention.  A mother-of-pearl bead is implanted into the oyster.  The oyster then forms layers of nacre around the bead which creates the pearl.  Natural pearls are rare and tend to have thicker nacre whereas cultured pearls vary in their nacre thickness.  The thicker the nacre, the longer it took to make, the more expensive the pearl.  A cultured pearl takes anywhere from 6 to 36 months before it is ready for market.

When wearing pearl jewelry it is important not to apply perfumes, hairsprays and lotions on the area that the pearls will be worn.  These harsh chemicals will damage the pearls beauty be destroying it’s beautiful nacre. A soft cloth should be used to wipe off the pearls each time they are worn to preserve their beauty.

Add-on-Pearl necklaces are a great way to start a strand of pearls for that special young lady in your life. New pearls can be given at special times throughout the year such as a birthday, Christmas, Easter and Valentine’s Day. She will enjoy watching her necklace grow and by the time she is ready to get married or graduate from college, she will have a full strand of beautiful pearls to make her day even more special. This is certainly an heirloom that she will pass down to her daughter along with the story of who it came from.

The average price of a 5.5mm cultured pearl of high quality and color is around $20 each. But when finished, the necklace will have a value of around $1700.

I have a red coral pendant from my grandmother and would like to buy a pair of earrings to match. I have checked everywhere and no one seems to carry coral jewelry anymore. Is it just out of style?
Coral was once a popular organic gem which is formed by tiny animals called polyps. These polyps deposit layers of a limestone skeleton that slowly creates the underwater coral reefs. These coral reefs support 25% of all marine species. Corals growth rate is 0.2-2.0cm per year and takes 7-10 years to reach maturity, however, research shows that it should not be harvested until it is 98 years old in order to sustain a healthy population.
Issues like warming, pollution, fishing, tourism & over harvesting are just a few examples that make the environment for coral growth extremely vulnerable. Nearly 30% of the world’s tropical corals have been destroyed since the ‘80’s.
Some coral species (black & blues) are protected from human harvesting but the red & pinks are not. This has created a global exploitation that has made the Italian, French & Spanish coast no longer commercially viable. While it is still legal to harvest the reds & pinks, a group called SeaWeb has started a campaign to call on jewelers & designers to stop purchasing the gem.
I recommend that you call the antique stores or resale shops in order to locate the earrings. You will also be supporting the Sea Web’s campaign to help protect this precious gem by purchasing something that was pre-owned. The style of an older set of coral earrings will probably be a better match for your grandmothers’ pendant anyway.




We are getting married in June and need to buy our wedding bands.  We are considering Titanium or Tungsten instead of gold or Platinum because they are more affordable.  Is one better than the other?

Today there are many alternative metals to choose from.  Be sure you select a ring from a jeweler that has a lifetime sizing guarantee from the manufacturer because these rings cannot be sized like a gold or platinum ring.

Tungsten Carbide is one of my favorites.  It is the hardest exotic metal and found only in certain rare minerals-wolfram & wolframium.  Its melting point of 3410 degrees is higher than that of any other metal.  It is remarkably stiff and rigid- twice as rigid as steel and almost four times stiffer than titanium.  It also retains its polish longer than any other metal.  This exceptionally hard surface creates a gemstone-like luster not found in traditional metals.

Titanium rings are lighter in weight and one of the least expensive. They are not scratch resistant.  Titanium is available is many colors because the metals can easily be oxidized.  Some of the colors available are blue, green, purple, pink and brown.  Any of the titanium rings that we carry can be colored but the finish must be re-applied periodically.

Both Tungsten Carbide and Titanium can have inlays of gold, silver or platinum in them to create interesting design patterns and they can also have Diamonds. The choices for wedding bands is consistently growing and changing as the jewelry world evolves.


When buying a diamond ring, is cut an important factor to consider?


Absolutely. Cut is probably the most important C to consider although it is usually the most overlooked.

Cut quality refers to the proportions, symmetry and polish of a diamond. The proportions are the angles and relative measurements of a polished gem and the relationships between them. Basically how the angles are positioned within a diamond. Symmetry is the exactness of a finished gems shape and the placement of its facets and the polish is the overall surface condition of the finished diamond. Poorly cut diamonds tend to look smaller than they are because there is weight hidden at the bottom of the stone.

In addition to the quality of the stone, cut can also refer to the shape of the stone. The popular is the 58 facet round brilliant. All other cuts, emerald, oval, pear etc., are considered to be fancy cuts.

Hearts on Fire diamonds are the worlds most perfectly cut diamonds. In order to get a perfectly cut diamond, the rough that the stone is fashioned out of must be of the highest quality. That’s why Hearts on Fire only uses 0.002% of the worlds best diamond rough. Once the best rough is chosen, the stone has to be cut by a master cutter. Less than 400 people in the world are qualified to cut Hearts on Fire diamonds. During the cutting process, the cutter uses 100x magnification instead of the standard 10x and all Hearts on Fire diamonds are still cut by hand




Amethyst-The February Birthstone

The word amethyst is derived from the Greek word “amethystos” meaning sober.  The amethyst is a variety of quartz and comes in many shades of purple ranging from very light purple to very deep purple. These purple beauties are found primarily in Africa and South America, but are also in Canada, Australia, India, Madagascar, Russia, Sri Lanka and in the U.S.


Legend has it that the amethyst is a very powerful gemstone. According to the ancient Greeks, the amethyst protected people from intoxication. They also believed that it had magical and medicinal powers. The amethyst has symbolized peace, protection and tranquility. It is also said to prevent baldness, improve the complexion and protect from treason and deceit.


In addition to being February’s birthstone, the amethyst is the accepted anniversary gemstone for the sixth year of marriage. A gift of amethyst is symbolic of protection and the power to overcome difficulty.


The amethyst is a member of the quartz family and is ranked a 7 on the Moh’s hardness scale. As with all gemstones, care should be taken to avoid scratches, sharp blows, and extreme temperature changes.


I would like to propose on Valentine’s Day. I want to purchase a specific diamond and have it set in the engagement ring that my girlfriend likes. She has printed out photos from the internet. If I bring in the picture can you make the ring? I am not comfortable buying something this important online, but it is “the one” she wants.


First of all, GOOD FOR YOU in recognizing what an important purchase your engagement ring is and how buying it online can be a total disaster! Don’t get me wrong, the internet can make sense for certain purchases, but I have yet to see it be a good choice for any jewelry purchase.
We can definitely help you with the ring and the diamond. Once I see the photo, I will be able to give you a price on what it will cost to create it. More often than not, I will probably recognize the manufacturer and may suggest just ordering it if that makes more sense than custom making it. Sometimes this option can save you some money.
You should get going on this as soon as possible so we can get everything we need to do for you done, so you can propose on the most romantic holiday of the year!!!
Suzanne Cannon, Graduate Gemologist

I was once told that if a stone can scratch glass then it must be a diamond. Is this true?

The stone could be a diamond, but it could also be several other stones as well. In 1812 a German scientist, Friedrich Mohs, invented a scale that would rank the hardness of any type of rock or mineral. The scale goes from 1 to 10 with 1 (talc) being the softest and 10 (diamond) being the hardest. In order to test a rock or mineral you would first need a “tool” which is simply an object that you already know the hardness of. You would then take the object being tested and scratch it’s surface with your “tool”. If the “tool” leaves a mark then you know the object is softer and if it doesn’t leave a mark the object is harder than your testing “tool”.

What does all of this information have to do with scratching glass? Glass has a hardness of 5.5 on the scale. That means that anything harder than a 5.5 will scratch glass. So yes, a diamond will definitely scratch glass but so will a ruby (9), sapphire (9), emerald (8), quartz (7), a good steel file (6.5), even an opal (6.5) will scratch but might end up cracking during the process.

Why is it important to know the hardness of a gem? For most people it really isn’t a necessary fact to know. It’s useful when you are rock hunting and you want help identifying what you found. It’s also useful information to have when you are shopping for gemstones. If you know the hardness of the stone, you will learn the proper care techniques as well decide which stone is right for you based on how hard you are on your jewelry.  Most importantly, it’s pertinent information for jewelers to know so proper care is taken during the repair process.

I have a beautiful wedding set from my previous marriage. What should I do with it? Can you sell it for me?
That is one of today’s hot topics for sure. Several people approach us everyday wanting to know the same thing. So here are the facts;
Selling your old wedding rings to someone else to wear as their own is tough. Most people do not want to deal with the karma.
I suggest that you have the center diamond removed and sell it loose. This way the purchaser can reap the benefit of a “pre-owned” purchase price, but can also have it reset into something brand new. This option is definitely the most popular in our store.
If the old set has a large quantity of side diamonds, there are some creative ways to let them remain in the setting as is. Our jeweler can do some simple modifications and transform it into a new fashion ring or even a pair of earrings. This is also a great, cost effective option because you are not paying the labor to remove and reset all those little diamonds.
If you are not interested in refashioning the “leftovers”, you can have the small stones removed and sell the metal for scrap. Gold & Platinum are still at record high prices which makes the cash value of that old setting a pleasant return on your investment.
We will be happy to discuss your options with you and give you a price of what we think we could sell your diamond for. You may also use the entire set as a trade in towards a new piece of jewelry for yourself. That is the perfect way to dispose of them and retain a nice portion of their value.
Suzanne Cannon, Graduate Gemologist

January’s Birthstone is the Garnet

The word garnet is derived from the Latin word “granatus” meaning “grain” or “seed.”  The garnet has a variety of different colors including green, orange, pink, reddish purple and of course red. Most of these colorful garnets come from sources in Africa, but can also be found in the U.S., Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Brazil, Australia and India.

Legend has it that Noah hung a large garnet in the ark for illumination. According to the Egyptians, the garnet can be used as an anecdote for snake bites and food poisoning and the pharaohs would be entombed with their garnet jewelry so they would have their prized possessions with them in the afterlife. The garnet is known as the protective gem of journeyers and is believed to give its wearer guidance in the night and protection from nightmares.

In addition to being January’s birthstone, the garnet is the accepted anniversary gemstone for the second year of marriage. A gift of garnet is symbolic of love and the desire for a loved one’s safe travel and speedy homecoming.

Because the garnet is composed of several different minerals, the hardness can range from 6.5-8.0 on the Moh’s hardness scale. As with all gemstones, care should be taken to avoid scratches, sharp blows, and extreme temperature changes.



This Gemtalk is dedicated to our wonderful customers.


Not a day goes by without someone asking me “how is business?”

My reply is sincere and the same. It’s good.


It’s good because we have learned by our success.

It’s good because we have learned by our mistakes.

It’s good because we have learned to work harder.

It’s good because we have become more grateful.


As customers pass through our doors they share their stories of love, life, heartbreaks and triumphs. The generosity of that sharing helps us grow into our best selves and apply those lessons to our own lives. It helps us to see who our customers are and what they need. It also helps us realize the importance of the precious gifts that you buy from our store and the message that those gifts are meant to send to those you love.


The jewelry business is so much more than selling jewelry. The true profits are the friendships we have made along the way and the life lessons that we continue to learn. Yes this business is Good.


Thank You for letting us be a part of your lives. Merry Christmas!


Suzanne Cannon, Graduate Gemologist

Email jewelry questions to: suzanne@steffansjewelers.com

or shop online at www.steffansjewelers.com

“Good” jewelry in all price ranges on sale 10% to 65% off


CITRINE-The November Birthstone

Citrine comes from the mineral quartz. Citrine ranges incolor from orangey yellow to reddish orange. The presence of iron is the causeof its color. Naturally colored citrine is rare. Almost all citrine availabletoday is heat treated amethyst. The saturation of the amethyst’s hue is whatdetermines the depth of orangey red in the transformed citrine.

Citrine was once believed to have magical powers of wardingoff evil thoughts, the plague, bad skin and snake venom. It was also used as aremedy for urinary and kidney ailments. Receiving a gift of citrine is a symbolof hope and strength.

The main suppliers of natural citrine are Bolivia, Madagascar,Mexico Spain & Uruguay. Amethyst that is commonlyheat treated mostly come from Brazil.

Citrine has a hardness of 7 out of 10 so it is a durable gemsuitable for jewelry. Like all gems avoid hard blows, cosmetics, harshhousehold cleaners and long exposure to sunlight. Citrine can be cleaned in anultrasonic cleaner with a jewelry cleaner solution.

Stop in to see our beautiful selection of Citrines in all ofthe different sought after hues.

What is the difference between a precious gem and a semi precious gem?

While the terms precious and semi precious are relatively old jewelry terminology, they are still used frequently in the industry when referring to the different types of gems.
The term “precious” referred to gemstones that are very rare, not overly abundant and definitely valuable. An example of stones considered to be “precious” are diamonds, ruby, sapphire & emerald.
The term “semi-precious” referred to gemstones that are very abundant, easy to find in large sizes and very affordable. An example of semi-precious stones are topaz, amethyst, citrine, turquoise, onyx & lapis.
In any type of substance, the more rare something is, the more precious it becomes. I am not a big fan of classifying gems in this manner as I find that each and everyone posseses it’s own form of rarity and certainly beauty.
When you think about it, all of the lovely diamonds & gemstones, along with the precious metals they are set in are an extraordinary gift from mother earth. In my book they are all precious.
My sincere gratitude,
Suzanne Cannon, Graduate Gemologist



I saw in your ad that you carry Debbie Brooks purses in your jewelry store. How are they related to the jewelry industry and why put purses in your store?

That is a great question! While attending a jewelry show 2 years ago I came upon her booth and thought the same thing. Why is there a purse designer at this jewelry show? So I stopped to check out why she was there and why her purses were being marketed to jewelry stores.

After seeing her designs, I quickly understood how well her products complimented my customers and their keen eye for artistically different products. I also found out that Debbie Brooks herself is one of the most passionate people I have ever met. She has been a gallery pop artist since 1990 with artworks in galleries worldwide. She was also the Olympic artist for the 2004 & 2006 games.

Debbie launched her handbag line at Henri Bendels in NYC Fifth Avenue in 2002. Since then she has created exclusive bags for the Tony Awards, Oscars, Olympics, Elton John, Pattie Label, Iman, The Winn Hotel, The Four Seasons, and the Avon foundation to raise money for breast cancer. Over 125 celebrities have a Debbie Brooks bag.

Her line has expanded to include IPhone & IPad covers with matching bags to fit both.

So when you see her work, you will appreciate the quality and the fact that each bag is made by hand and no two bags are alike. This concept of artistic talent is in sync with our beautiful collection of jewelry that we continue to inspire our customers with.

Debbie Brooks will be appearing on WGN @11am on Friday, October 28th talking about her beautiful handbags and Steffan’s Jewelers 65th anniversary celebration. After the segment she will be coming to our store with an extended collection of her designs. Please stop in to meet her in person and don’t forget to ask her to autograph your very own Debbie Brooks bag!

Store hours are 10am -8pm. Debbie should be arriving around 2pm with a cocktail party starting at 4pm. Please join us for this very special anniversary celebration.

Suzanne, Graduate Gemologist



I heard that you repair eyeglasses. Can you let me know what type of repairs you are able to do and what the cost would be?
Yes we do repair eyeglasses with our Laser Welder. This enables us to weld breaks or cracks in metal frame glasses only. Plastic frame breaks are un-repairable. The average cost is $50.00 and we can have them done within a day.
The Laser Welder is one of our favorite shop tools. Not only can we repair eyeglasses but we can work on jewelry that previously was un-repairable. The welding is done with a laser beam as opposed to an open flame from a traditional jewelers torch. Many of the repairs with the laser can be hand held which enables us to hold the broken item in place while it is being welded back together.
Because the laser uses such low heat, we are able to work on fragile gems such as emeralds and opals with ease. While they are always treated as a customer risk repair, the risk factor is much lower.
Pretty cool stuff that’s been around in our industry for about 10 years. And like all new technology, it continues to be improved upon. It just keeps getting better!

Suzanne, Graduate Gemologist



Sapphire is a variety of the mineral corundum. It comes in every color of the rainbow with the most popular color being blue. Red is the only color that is not sapphire because it is considered ruby. (They are both a variety of corundum).

Sapphire is also considered a special gem to be given for the 5th & 45th wedding anniversary. The stones durability combined with its beauty make it a great alternative for an engagement ring. It symbolizes truth, honesty & faithfulness. Ancients believed that if the stones luster dimmed that one knew his or her spouse had been unfaithful.

The most valuable blue color has a vibrant hue and medium tone. The very dark, almost black tones and the washed out pale blue are the most affordable stones. The current sources for sapphires include Australia, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the U.S.

Almost all sapphire has been heat treated to improve its appearance. The treatment is very stable and really brings out the stones full potential. They are 8.5 on the hardness scale of 1-10 which make them hard and durable. Ultrasonic & steam cleaning are the best ways to keep them clean.



Graduate Gemologist




Why have diamonds gone up 40% this year? I can understand the goldmarket and it’s connection to the dollar but I am curious as to the reason for the increase in diamonds.

There are 310 million people in America. China & India have 2.5 billion. China & India’s economy is much stronger than ours right now and is projected to grow 10% this year. This should be no surprise as many of our American manufacturers have left our country to do business “cheaper” over there. Their strong economy has created a population that wants to own luxury items of all kind with diamonds being at the top of the list.

There are also more people in America buying diamonds as investments. There are 2 major investment companies that have scooped up billions of dollars in diamonds. With the change in our economy, people want their money invested in something they feel is safe. The U.S. still represents 40% of the global demand for diamonds and have rediscovered them as a tangible investment. There are also no new diamond mines so the supply is currently less than the demand.

Here are some things that you should consider. If you own diamond jewelry, have it re-appraised. It’s probably under insured. If you want a larger diamond, now is the time to trade your old one in and reap its value. If you just want to sell your diamonds, bring them in and we can advise you the best way to go about getting the most for your money, but whatever you do, DO NOT go to the fly by night gold & diamond buying events that are popping up in our local hotels and running full page ads promising you top dollar. I have yet to see anyone that has received correct information much less a fair price for their jewels.

Your local jewelers are here for you and serve the communities in which they are a part of themselves. If they did not do a good job with their customers, they would not be in business. Steffan’s is proud to say we have served our community for 65 years and truly care about playing a positive role in our customers lives.

Suzanne, Graduate Gemologist



I was told that I am suppose to have my wedding rings checked and cleaned every 6 months. Why? I thought diamonds lasted forever. Is this just a way for jewelry stores to make extra money?

No, it truly is for your benefit. We actually make more money replacing stones for those who neglect to have their settings checked.

You are correct that diamonds do last forever, but the rings that they are set in do not.

Precious metals are used for jewelry because they are soft enough to set stones in without damaging them but this also means that platinum, gold & silver can wear thin, crack or bend. These are the main reasons that stones can become loose or fall out.

Checking & cleaning your jewelry every six months will help ensure that your settings are safe and wearing well. Keeping your jewelry clean removes dirt that builds up underneath the settings and will keep it looking beautiful.

Some stores do charge a fee, Steffan’s does not. Our clean & check service has been complimentary for 65 years and is always done while you wait. We just love the oohs & ahhs that we get when we give back your freshly steamed bling! Stop in anytime and we will be happy to help you!




Graduate Gemologist



Dear Suzanne,

I have some good jewelry that I no longer wear.  Some of it I would like to sell for the gold but the other pieces are too good to melt down.  How can I sell them for a fair dollar amount?  I really do not want to go to a pawn shop.

 This is the most popular question that is asked in my store.  On average we are seeing 10 customers everyday with the same dilemma. Because there are more sellers than buyers, getting a higher price for your pre owned or outdated jewelry can be tough.  So here is what we recommend;

Bring your collection in and we will give you honest advice on what to scrap, what to keep for redesign and what to sell.  We have created a consignment collection in our showroom and those pieces sell quite well. It is important to be patient when you choose to sell on consignment.  Some items will sell in a few days and others can take several months.  It is hard to predict.

Trading your items towards something new can also be a lucrative choice.  If you plan on making a jewelry purchase, always inquire first about a trade in value prior to selling it just for the gold value.  We always offer 20% over the current gold cash value if you are using it towards a purchase and can offer you additional money for the stones.


Graduate Gemologist



Dear Suzanne, If diamonds are cheaper on the internet, then why should I buy one from you?

My answer is only going to cover some of the reasons. I don’t want to buy an entire page from the NW Herald so you may call me for the rest.

A diamond is more than letters and numbers, it truly is a work of nature. You can get all serious on dimensions, clarity & color but if I gave you the dimensions of a woman could you tell me if she is beautiful? NO! You would need to see her. The same is true with a diamond.

A store lets you examine the diamond BEFORE you buy it, and you can compare it to other stones side by side. I would never purchase a diamond without seeing and comparing it first, why should you?

Retail prices on a 1ct round F SI1 can range from $2k to $15k. If every F SI1 was the same then people would always buy the cheapest! There are MANY differences such as brightness, scintillation, position & relief of inclusions that determine beauty.

If it seems too good to be true, it usually is. No one is giving anything away. There is always a reason something is selling below market value. The internet also lists fabulous stones at ground breaking prices, but many times the stones don’t even exist. This is called “bait & hook” marketing.

When you buy for price that is all you get. This is the same for every category of shopping. A diamond may be the most precious item you ever own. It means something special and most likely will be passed on for generations. A diamond is forever. Who are you going to go to if there is a chip, or a problem? The internet site will not provide maintenance, experience, or service. When you buy from a jeweler you are purchasing their time & expertise. We will give you an appraisal and guarantee. We will keep your settings strong & clean at your convenience.

We are celebrating 65 years in our same town. If we were doing it wrong, we would have only celebrated 1. I see my customers everyday in town, I want them to wave, say hi and maybe even get a hug. That’s only going to happen when you do it right.





Dear Suzanne

I found a 2 carat diamond for $4000 from a chain store that sells engagement rings. I would rather buy my engagement ring from you but your salesperson said that you cannot match that price. Why?

Truthfully we can match the price but we would not be proud of what we were selling you in exchange for your hard earned money. $4000 is a lot of money, which is why we will try to explain why you may be disappointed to purchase a $4000, 2 carat diamond.

People buy diamonds because they want sparkle. Sparkle happens when the stone is cut to certain proportions by an expert who will also put effort into it’s symmetry and polish. The diamond also needs to be clean enough internally so that it has the ability to refract light. The overall body color of the stone will look much better if it is clear or somewhat white, although you can get a good amount of sparkle from a yellow or brown diamond providing the clarity and cut are good. A typical cost for a 2ct diamond that looks good and faces up well is $12k to $25k.

The point is that if gorgeous 2 carat diamonds were available for $4000, everyone would have one. If you still have your heart set on making the purchase, you may want to check in to “clarity enhanced” diamonds which are treated in labs to improve their appearance. This may help you get the size you want and also stay within your budget. We can give you an education about these diamonds and the special care that they require, but it is definitely an option that may make more sense.

Your other option is to purchase a smaller diamond that has the ability to sparkle and upgrade it every couple of years to achieve the size you want. You will always get a full trade in when you shop with Steffan’s.




Graduate Gemologist



This Sunday is Father’s Day and I would like to dedicate this column to all of the great Dads that I have had the pleasure of meeting during your visits to my store.

I have enjoyed over 30 years of “fatherly advice” from many of you. And, yes, I have listened. The stories that you generously share about your children and the trials and tribulations of raising them has given me a wealth of knowledge that is truly priceless.

Some of the best advice I receive comes from my best friends and customers. When I think about it, they are one in the same, as most of my customers have become my best friends.

The single best experience in my career is when a young man or woman comes into the store for an engagement ring and says “My Dad said I had to come here because he trusts you”. Wow, what a privilege! It gives me goose bumps…and then it makes me feel old because I sold their Dad and Mom their wedding set back in the day.

So, for years you have “come in shopping for Mom” with all of the kids in tow to pick out something special for her birthday or Mother’s Day, and now it’s your turn to be appreciated for the great father and friend that you are.



Dear Suzanne: Our anniversary is this month and I want to surprise my wife with an anniversary ring. I have no idea of what she would like. Her wedding rings are 15 years old and I would like this anniversary to enhance it. What do you suggest?

Happy Anniversary! June is definitely a busy month for wedding and anniversaries in our store.

I would suggest that you select a single row of diamonds with a shared prong, channel or bead style setting. Usually this is a great addition that will fit next to her wedding set. If she loves the look, you can add another to the other side of her set for the next anniversary to complete the look. (You do want to make sure that her original set is not too wide.)

You should also let us know if her set has curves to it that would not allow a straight edge band to sit next to it. If that is the case, then you could purchase a simple anniversary ring to present to her on your anniversary. Afterwards, she would bring her set into the store so we can custom make a diamond band that fits perfectly. This way you are still giving the romantic gift of diamonds on your anniversary!

Adding single row diamond bands are a great way to upgrade the look of her original rings without having to purchase a whole new set. If her set is not conducive to adding additional diamond bands, there are beautiful anniversary rings that are made to wear on the right hand – many of these are double and triple rows.

Stop in to visit and we will show you all of the possibilities.



The June Birthstones – Alexandrite and Pearl

June is one of the few months that celebrate 2 birthstones.

Alexandrite is the original gem for June. It is one of the rarest gemstones in the world and is known as a “color change” gem. In daylight will appear greeen and in incandescent light is appears red. The more vivid color change, the more valuable the stone. Alexandrite is a variety of chrysoberyl.

Ancient legend has it the alexandrite brings good luck when the sun in shining and stimulates pleasure and love at night. It is 8.5 on the hardness scal of 1 to 10 but should be protected from scratches and sharp blows. They are primarily found in Russia, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Africa and Burma.

Pearl is the alternate birthstone for June. Pearls are very abundant and affordable in comparison to Alexandrite. Pearls come from oysters. When a foreign irritant enters and oyster by nature or by man, the oyster immediately surrounds it with layers of a substance called nacre. The nacre is the pearl. The more even layers of nacre, the more lustrous the pearl. The less blemishes on the nacre, the more valuable the pearl.

Pearls are typically round and white, however, they can come in just about any shaped and color. While some colored pearls are natural, many are dyed. Pearls are 2.5 – 4.5 on the hardness scale and should be worn with care as they will scratch easily.

Ancient legend has it that pearls symbolize a happy marriage and are also the emblem of modest, chastity & purity.  Asia is a major source of pearls but they come from many parts of the world and are either salt water or freshwater pearls. Strands of pearls should be restrung every couple of years.

As with most gemstones, avoid household chemicals, cosmetics, hairsprays and perfumes. These can permanently ruin a gem. Wash with mild soap and water.



Dear Suzanne: My 25th wedding anniversary is in June and I would lover to get a new wedding set with a larger diamond and go from yellow to white gold. Is there a way I can do this without losing all of the sentimentality of my original ring?

There are many ways to address your goals. First of all, new designs can be updated but you could incorporate some of the original style in subtle ways that will help with the sentimental issue. Some of the styles have stayed traditional while others are brightly colored and made out of new materials such as ceramic and tungsten steel.

Upgrading your center diamond is a great idea and I would suggest incorporating your original diamond as a side stone in the new design. Many people will purchase a diamond that matches the original and go for a 3 stone look. The possibilities are truly endless, even using your original stones. Custom design can really fit all budgets and with the price of gold we encourage you to trade any of your other jewelry you no longer wear towards the new piece. We offer 20% more than scrap value towards a trade.

Custom design is just one of the areas we supersede our competitors. The time that we spend getting to know your taste will exceed your expectations. The finished piece is always received with the thrill of excitement and a huge hug – followed by the usual remark of “Oh my gosh, why didn’t we do this years ago?”

We promise that you will be thrilled with your new design and you will fall in love all over again!



Dear Suzanne: I need a graduation gift for my Godson who is graduating college. I want to give him something special that he can use and also have as a keepsake. Are young men still wearing watches? My sister told me that everyone uses their cell phones these days to tell time.

A couple of years ago, I would have agreed with your sister. But, this last year we have seeen an overwhelming interest in watches again, especially with the 20-30 year old consumer.

Some of the styles have stayed traditional while others are brightly colored and made out of new materials such as ceramic & tungsten steel.

The most important part of selecting a watch for your nephew is selecting a brand that has a great warranty and the ability to service the watch or replace parts in case any issues arise in the future.

I would recommend choosinga watch that you think fits his personality and then have a special message engraved on the back to express your wishes for him.

The watch brands we have in our store have been selected for style and outstanding customer service.



OK, I will admit I was not born in April but diamond is my favorite gem.

The Greek word ‘ada’ means ‘unbreakable’, which is why it is the gem for marriage. Also, it is the hardest gemstone on the planet with a perfect “10” on the Mohs hardness scale. Diamonds are also great thermal conductors.

Diamonds are formed deep in the earth’s mantle and are brought to the surfae by volcanic eruptions. There are over 130,000,000 carats mined annually with a US value of $9 billtion dollars. 49% of them come from Central and South America with other sources being Canada, India, Russia, Brazil and Australia. 80% of the diamonds mined are unsuitable for gems and are used for industrial purposes.

There are also synthetic or cultured diamonds available today. They are mostly yellow in color but can be produced in other colors.

There is a company specializing in culturing a diamond form a lock of hair or the cremated remains of a loved one. These are available in all colors of the rainbow and can be worn everyday. (And, yep, you guessed it, I think it’s really cool!)



Dear Suzanne: I know you will buy my old jewelry for the gold value which is great, but how do I avoid losing money on the value of the diamonds & gems that are in those pieces? The jewelers who are advertising they will buy the stones are offering pennies on the dollar. How do I retain the value from the original pirce I paid then the pieces were new?

We encounter this question several times a day, every day. If you are no longer wearing the jewelry you own because the style has changed along with your taste, it is the perfect time to sell it for the gold value. Precious metals are still at an all time high, so selling those items now will get you a pleasing return on your investment.

While your scrap gold can be turned into cash immediately, that’s not the case for the diamonds and gems that were set into those pieces. Those stones need to be graded, sorted, priced, reset and sometimes repolished. All of this takes time and money. This is why you may be disappointed from the offers you receive from those who advertise they buy your old stones.

We recommend resetting them into something new that will match your current taste and that you will enjoy wearing once again. This is the ONLY way that you will maintain 100% of your original investment. And you will fall in love with those sentimental gems all over again.

Over the past three years our custom work has increased over 80% because people realize the value of transforming their jewelry. We also offer 20% more on any scrap gold sold if you are going to redesign your diamonds & gems into something new. Now you truly have a great return on your investment.



Dear Suzanne: I am a grandmother for the first time. My son and his wife had a baby girl last week. I want to get her something special that she will have forever. Are “add-on-pearl” necklaces still popular? Do you carry them and how does it work?

Yes, in fact add-on-pearls have never gone out of style. I remember selling them in my grandparents’ store over 30 years ago. They are still just as popular today as they were back then.

There are pearl brand companies that sell them but years ago we figured out a better system that enables us to control the quality and keep the cost reflective of the overall value when the strand is completed.

With Steffan’s Add-On-Pearl program, we suggest a sterling silver or gold filled chain to start the necklace. These chains run around $20 as opposed to purchasing a 14 karat chain for $150. The chain gets cut away as you add pearls. The pearls are strung on silk in the center with a knot in between each.

To start a necklace, you can begin with one, three or five pearls. Cultured pearls come in many different millimeter sizes. If you would like to end up with a traditional strand of pearls at the end, we suggest 6mm to 7mm, but you can choose how you want it to look when it is complete. The necklace can be worn anytime at this point and your granddaughter will enjoy watching it grow over the years as you add pearls for those special occasions.



Dear Suzanne: I have a number of loose tanzanite stones that I purchased in Mexico. They run from 3 to 6 carats in size and I would like to make a pendant out of one of them. Is this something that Steffan’s can do?

It is very important that tanzanite gemstones are set by an expert. They can break or chip if too much pressure is used, or if there are internal fractures inside the stone. We strongly recommend that you insure the stones PRIOR to letting anyone handle them.

Just a little about the stone – tanzanite is brown at the time of mining and is heat treated to bring out the vivid violet color. They are fairly rare and found in only one location in the world – Tanzania in East Africa.

Here at Steffan’s, we specialize in custom design and our stone setters all have over 30 years experience. We are well versed in all types of gemstone setting techniques and stones including tanzanite.

As far as the initial design for your pendant, we have jewelry designers on staff who will work with you to design a piece that expresses your taste while keeping within your budget. This month, we have world renowned designer, Mark Schneider, visiting our showroom April 7-9. Mark is a personal friend of mine and visits our store once a year to work with a select group of customers. He offers complimentary consultations and I strongly suggest that you show him your stones and let him work up some sketches. One of our sales reps will sit with you during the process and help you communicate your ideas.

As a gemologist, I look forward to seeing these special stones. Do stop by the showroom!



The March Birthstone – Aquamarine

Aquamarine’s color range is pale blue to slightly blue green to strong greenish blue. The most common color you will see in jewelry stores is a very pale light blue. These are the most common and affordably priced. The deeper color stones that resemble the color of the Caribbean Sea fetch a higher price and are more rare. The blue color is due to traces of iron in the crystal structure.

Aquamarine is a variety of the mineral beryl and has a hardness of 7.5 on a scale of 1 to 10. Most aquamarine is eye clean and free of inclusions. Brazil, Nigeria, Zambia and China are some of the areas from which they are mined. If an aquamarine has too much yellow, heat treating the stone will remove that and improve the purer blue tones.

Aquamarine’s name is derived from two Latin words – aqua meaning “water” and marina meaning “of the sea”. It is said to aid seafarers so it is an excellent gift for sailors or those who spend time at sea. Wearing aquamarine earrings is believed to bring love and affection. It is a univeral symbol of youth, hope and health.

Unlike the very fragile gemstone, emerald (also a variety of beryl), aquarmarines are durable and make a great choice for any type of jewelry including rings. Stop by to see our collection.



Dear Suzanne: I just looked down at my engagement ring and was sick! The entire diamond is gone along with all of the prongs that held it in. How can this happen? We paid a lot of money for the ring and thought it was made well enough to wear everyday. I just had it checked and cleaned at the place we bought it at and they said it was in good shape. Did we get ripped off?

Without seeing the ring, it is hard to comment but here are a few thoughts.

Just because you pay a lot of money for a piece of jewelry, it does not mean that it is indestructible. While an engagement ring should be constructed with enough metal to support any diamonds, the prongs (head) should also be soldered well to the ring and heavy enough to hold the diamond. This does not mean that it cannot be bumped hard enough to bend the metal that eventually creates a crack near the solder seam. In fact this happens more than you would think!

As far as just having it checked and cleaned, your ring could have been in perfect condition at the time of inspection (especially if you are dealing with a reputable jeweler). You could have damaged the ring AFTER the inspection. I often use an analogy that may help put this into perspective; if you are driving and hit a tree, your car would certainly be damaged. Does that mean that the car was not built well or that it shouldn’t have passed inspection the last time you had it washed and serviced? Accidents happen. That is why it is so important to have your rings appraised and insured.

If you want me to take a look at your ring I can make some suggestions to make sure this doesn’t happen again.



Dear Suzanne: The bottom of my ring keeps bending and now it finally cracked. I have worn it for ten years and is seems thinner than when I first got it. I thought gold was supposed to be a strong metal for an engagement ring. What should I do?

If a ring bends at the bottom it is due to heavy lifting with the pressure being placed directly onto the bottom of your ring. Gold is soft and somewhat flexible but strong enough and works well for all kinds of jewelry, especially engagement rings. With daily wear it can wear thin over the years. If your ring was sized and the bottom of it gets bent, it will crack where it was sized.

These issues are very easy to correct. A new shank (which is the band part of your ring) can be replaced and will restore your ring to “like new” condition.

Keep in mind that if the shank is getting thin, chances are your prongs may also be starting to wear. Thin or broken prongs are the number one reason people lose their diamonds and gems. Prongs can be rebuilt or replaced to secure your stones like new once again.

If you are curious as to the condition of your jewelry, please stop in for a free inspection. Necklaces and bracelets should be included as clasps are also susceptible to wear. This service only takes a few minutes and is done while you wait. We will also include a complimentary professional cleaning to keep your diamonds dancing and your gems gleaming.



Dear Suzanne: I inherited a large diamond from my grandmother. It was appraised as a high quality stone, however, it doesn’t sparkle like my other diamonds. There are also some small chips along the edge. Were diamonds cut differently than they are now? I also would like to change the setting and need ideas.

Typically, yes. Old European cut diamonds were very deep stones with small tables and very thin girdles. Thin girdles are very easy to chip. The amount of facets are the same as they are today at 58, however the symmetry and polish of the older stones were usually poor.

This doesn’t mean that all older cuts were done poorly, even today with all of our advanced knowledge in cutting, symmetry, proportions and polish there are many diamonds that are cut primarily to retain weight. This means that the cutter wanted to maximize the largest finished diamond from the rough crystal that he started with. Usually this will lead to proportions that will not maximize a diamond brilliance.

A chipped girdle (the outer edge of a diamond) is indicative of a stone that was not cut to the best proportions. However, there are cases when a properly cut diamond can be hit hard enough at the right angle that can cause damage.

I suggest to have the diamond re-cut to prevent further chips. The cutter can also improve proportions, polish and symmetry. The result will be a more valuable and brilliant diamond. Once the diamond is recut, we can discuss designs for a setting that fits your style. All of this can be done for a minimal investment and will preserve your heirloom for future generations.



Dear Suzanne: Tell me about January’s birthstone.

Most people think of garnet as a dark, reddish brown gem. However, garnets come in all colors except blue. Andradite, YAG, spessartite, grossularite, pyrope, tsavorite and almandite are all species of the garnet family. Their colors include red, brown, yellow, orange, purple, green and colorless.

Garnets are typically found in the U.S., Africa, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Brazil, Australia and India. Tsavorites (green garnets) are found in Kenya and Tanzania.

Garnets are a durable stone with a hardness of 7-7.5 on the Mohs scale of 1-10. They are great gems to set in jewelry but standard care should be taken when they are in rings as they are subjected to more wear that may result in scratches.

Legend has it that Noah used a large garnet in the ark for illumination and that garnets give their wearer guidance in the night, protection from nightmares, snake bites and food poisoning.



Dear Suzanne: I received some jewelry for Christmas that was purchased online. Can I still bring it to your store to have it sized and appraised for insurance?

Absolutely, you can. We appraise jewelry no matter where it was purchased from. Depending upon the item, we will advise you on whether or not  you need a formal written appraisal which is the document you need for purchasing insurance. We can also quote you the fee along with the amount of time it will take. You may call ahead to schedule a “while you wait” appointment.

As far as adjusting the jewelry, we have a full service repair shop that can size rings, shorten or lengthen chains and watch bands and install safety locks on diamond earrings and bracelets. For those who are pressed for time, we offer express service.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of  you a happy and healthy New Year and thank you for your trust since 1946.



Dear Suzanne: I would like to buy a diamond engagement ring and propose this Chirstmas. What is the most imporant “C” to consider when buying a diamond? Is is clarity, color, carat or cut?

For years, diamonds have been priced and sold based on clarity and color but CUT is what makes a diamond sparkle!

Eight years ago, we took a risk and partnered with the “Hearts on Fire” diamond company. We mede a commitment to carry a brand of diamonds that is  like no other. While our competitors were trying to sell the cheapest, biggest diamonds, we found ourselves doing quite the oposite. Like all new businesss ventures we were scared to say the least. But, as it turns out, eight years later, it was one of the best decisions we ever made.

We realize now how much people really do expect out of their investment. While price may be a primary concern, brilliance, sparkle and shine are the real reasons people buy diamonds. Most diamonds will sparkle to a degree, but when you put any diamond next to a Hearts on Fire diamond, there is no comparison.

Hearts on Fire has been around for only 14 years and is already sold in over 35 countries. It is the most recognized diamond brand in the world. There are 58 facets on a Hearts on Fire diamond just like any other diamond but Hearts on Fire are perfectly cut. It is the difference in proportinon, polish and symmetry that set them apart. Adding more facets does not increase the brilliance of a diamond. It only  makes them have more facets. Hearts on Fire is the only diamond that has all 7 colors of the spectrum. Most diamonds are cut and polished at 10 power magnification. Hearts on Fire is cut at 100 power.

There are so many other things to say about this wonderfully brilliant diamond. The true success that we have found with offering such a superior stone is what we have heard from our customers. The thrill in their voice when they tell me how many compliments they receive and the passion they use to describe how much they love their Hearts on Fire diamond says it all. Visit our Hearts on Fire showcase and see the difference for yourself.



Dear Suzanne: I love your new website and noticed you are now selling jewelry online. While I love coming to your store, the holidays are so busy that I am considering some Christmas shopping from your website. Are the products online the same quality and selection that are in your showroom?

Yes, they are. In fact, all of the items offered on our eCommerce site are actual pieces from the showroom that we photographed in house. 

We built the eCommerce site because our customers wanted to see more of our jewelry on the website. Our old site merely sent users to our vendors’ sites where they could view merchandise but not purchase any. While I am not a huge online shopper myself, I understand the convenience of time and never having to leave your home or office. The best part about shopping online at Steffan’s is that we are always here in the showroom should you have a question or require a live presentation, service or alteration. The quality is always guaranteed at Steffan’s no matter how you make the purchase.

We chose the online selection to reflect some of our most popular categories, but the items shown represent a mere 2% of our actual inventory. If you are interested in something that is not the website, please call us and we an email you additional items and pricing. We always offer to ship anywhere in the US and often times will hand deliver along with free gift wrapping.



This week’s Gem Talk is dedicated to Esther Gunderson and all of the “Esthers” that we might be fortunate enough to encounter in our lives.

This past Saturday night I had the pleasure of dining at Crandall’s for my first time. For those of you who know it, they have the best broasted chicken ever. I complimented our server, Paren, on her really cool earrings. I knew they were from the 80’s and thought they looked familiar. She started telling me that they were left to her by Esther, along with a beautiful amethyst ring. Esther had passed away in August after losing her battle with cancer.

Paren’s eyes welled up with tears when she told me that Esther had been the hostess at Crandall’s. She was in her late 70’s and had a zest for life and lived true to herself. When she knew she was ill she set aside some things for those people who meant the most to her. As it turns out, I also knew Esther. I hadn’t seen her in a long time but she had visited my store in the past and I am pretty sure that Esther bought those earrings from Steffan’s some 25 years ago.

This story is so familiar to me. I’ve heard is a hundred times and the moral of it is always the same. It’s about the real value of jewelry. Nor matter how of why it is given, the meaning that it holds is priceless. The memory of how and why you received it will stay with you forever. And, I could not think of a better place to be than right here in my store. Helping people express their sentiments and knowing that it will continue to generate that energy for generations to come. For this, I am thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving. And, to all of our friends who have made Steffan’s Jewelers a part of their lives. Thank you.



Dear Suzanne: We are getting married in December and I need to get a wedding band to match my engagement ring. The store that sold it to us does not have one that will match and they said I needed to have one custom made. Then they told me it would take 8 to 10 weeks! Does Steffan’s do custom work and how long will it take?

Yes, we do. We specialize in custom design, especially custom made wedding rings. We can design, quote a pirce and create a model for you to see and make the ring in 3 weeks or less.

It is common today that many engagement rings do not come with a matching band. We do stock a few styles of wedding bands with curves in them so they fit nicely next to a wide range of today’s engagement ring styles. I would suggest that you take a look at the selection to see if there is something available that fits your ring and your taste. If not, custom making your ring is easy. Stop in to work with one of our designers and we will create the wedding ring your dreams!



Dear Suzanne: My husband told me I need to come to your Ladies Day event. Is it open to the public and what exactly is it? We have been hosting Ladies Day for over 27 years. It is our most popular event and is specifically designed for women who love jewelry. This year the date is Friday, November 19th. The day begins at 11am and ends at 7pm. We typically have over 200 ladies who will visit the store throughout the day. They will enjoy refreshments and food while trying on some spectacular jewelry. The object is to create a “Wish List”.

We created Ladies Day in order to help men and/or family members help with their gift giving. Over the years we have hearts too many time, “I just don’t know what to get my wife, girlfriend, mom, sister, aunt” so the wish list takes away all of the guess work Plus, when you fill out a “wish list”, the chance of things coming true will increase because you wrote it down. We know for a fact that this works.

For dessert we serve our famous Diamond Cake made by Riverside Bakery. One of the pieces has a diamond in it. There are raffle prizes throughout the day and special sale prices for those who also would like to shop for themselves or holiday gifts. This is our second year of turning Ladies Day into a charitable event. We will have our Giving Tree for the Pioneer Center. With a donation of $10 you can choose a gift from the tree with a value ranging from $10 to $800 (platinum and diamond pendant). The event is open to new guests so please feel free to join us.



November Birthstone – Citrine

Citrine is the golden color variety of quartz. Its name comes from citron, the French word for lemon. The colors range from light champagne tones to the deep color of yellow orange.

Most citrines come from Brazil, Madagascar, Bolivia and the US. When mined, citrines were either amethysts or other quartz family members. They are heat treated to improve their appearance and give them their golden yellow color. The color may fade if exposed to heat or sunlight for prolonged periods of time.

Legend has it that people carried citrine as a protective talisman against the plague, bad skin and evil thoughts. It was also used as a charm against snake bites.

Citrines are a 7 on the Mohs hardness scale of 1 to 10. They can be cleaned with any commercial jewelry cleaner. You should avoid any sharp blows, wearing them in strong sunlight or tanning beds.



Dear Suzanne: I have a grandson who is turning 21 and I would like to get him a piece of jewelry to mark the occasion. What are the young men wearing these days and would you have anything in your store that would be an appropriate gift for him?

We are excited to say that jewelry is back for the young generation. And, boy, have the styles changed! We have an exciting new line of sterling silver and stainless steel jewelry that is super cool and is flying off the shelf. The styles are durable with carbon fiber designs on many of them.

There are crosses, dog tag pendants, bracelets, rings and earrings. Many of these styles can be engraved, which would be a great way to express a permanent message to your grandson. Visit our showroom and let us help you find something special for him.



Dear Suzanne: Why is the price of gold so high and is it really a good time to sell my old jewelry I no wear? If so, where should I go? The price of precious metals always goes up when the dollar goes down. Gold has climbed over $1,340 per ounce last week. That is a record. Platinum is almost $1,700 per ounce. This is a great time to get rid of any jewelry that you ar no longer wearing. Just like you update your hair and wardrobe, your jewelry should also be in fashion. Why not get paid to get rid of it?

Be selective as to whre you go to sell it. There are some chain type businesses that have opened up solely for the purpose of buying gold. They are not notorious for paying the most. If you stay with a local business who has been in your community for years, you will always do better, and they will giv eyou honest advice as to what to do with any gems or diamonds that are in those items.

You are welcome to bring your jewelry in to Steffan’s and we will tell you what it is worth. We can offer you cash or check or you may exchange it for a Steffan’s Jewelers Shopping Spree! If you decide to shop, we will offer you 20% more than the cash value.



Dear Suzanne: What is the birthstone for November? And, will you be offering a special promotion? Citrine is the November’s birthstone. It is actually the golden color variety of quartz with colors ranging from light champagne to deep yellow orange. The name comes from citron, the French word for lemon. 

Most citrine comes from Brazil, Madagascar, Bolivia and the US. When mined, the rough is   either purple (amethyst) or other colors of quartz. They are heat treated to improve their appearance and achieve a golden color. Their color may fade if exposed to heat or sunlight for prolonged periods of time.

Legend has it that people carried citrine as a protective talisman against the plague, bad skin and evil thoughts. It was also used as a charm against snake bites.

Citrine is 7 on the Mohs hardness scale of 1 to 10. They can be cleaned with any commercial jewelry cleaner and you should avoid wearing them in strong sunlight or tanning beds. YES, we are offering a 20% discount on all citrine jewelry in our showroom. The sale lasts until the last day of the month.



Dear Suzanne: I hear you are having a Pandora Trunk Show this weekend. What exactly is Pandora?  Pandora is a company that created a specific type of charm (bead) bracelet. The concept is quite different from the traditional style charm bracelets that have been around for decades. The bracelet itself is a “snake” style link with three separate sections divided by “threaders”. All of the charms have a threaded hole going through the center. The charms (beads) screw onto the bracelet and are placed in one of the three sections of your choice. The concept is to fill the bracelet with all of the different beads to created a memory for each time a bead is added.

There are hundreds of styles to choose from. Beads are available in sterling silver, 14K yellow gold and Murano glass. Some of the charms contain synthetic gems, natural gems or diamonds. Pandora allows its stores several promotions each year and this specific event is a free bead clasp bracelet with $150 purchase in charms. WARNING: They are very addictive, fun to wear and make great gifts. It is not uncommon to collect several bracelets with your own customized themes.



Dear Suzanne: What can you tell me about the birthstone for September?  Sapphire, the birthstone for September, is also accepted as the anniversary gem for the 5th and 45th years of marriage. It is a gem that symbolizes truth, honesty and faithfulness. Typically, you think of sapphires as being medium to deep blue in color, but they are available in almost every color of the rainbow. Red “sapphire” (corundum) is called ruby. The finest sapphires no matter their color are a vibrant saturation with a medium tone. The extreme dark blue or pale blue are the most affordable and not as rare.

These stones are found in Kashmir, Australia, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the United States. Almost all sapphires on today’s market have been heat treated to improve appearance. Heat enhanced sapphire is very stable. They are very hard and durable stones and a great choice for a gemstone ring.



Dear Suzanne: I have my great Aunt’s ruby ring and just had is appraised at your store. Your gemologist appraised it as a “doublet”. What does that mean?    A doublet is an assembled gem. This eans that two different things were adhered together to create one stone. In the case of your Aunt’s ruby, the top of the stone (crown area) is the genuine piece of ruby that was glued to a synthetic ruby (pavilion area). Sometimes the entire crown is the natural stone and sometime it is just a top portion of the crown area.

There are many kinds of assembled stones. Garnet and glass, sapphire and synthetic sapphire, synthetic spinel and strontium titanate are just a few. These are also “triplet” stones. Triplets are two different stones put together with a colored cement to create a particular color. Opal triplets are very popular – they consist of a black plastic bottom, a think layer of opal and a clear quartz top.

The production of assembled stones dates back as far as the 19th century. Many of these are very difficult to detect and require an expert gemologist to do so. These doublets and triplets are quite common and if you want to be positive of what  you have, stop in and ask our expert gemologists. We will be happy to run the appropriate tests to determine the real identity of your heirlooms. We offer while-you-wait appointments and drop off service.

If you yourself are fascinated with gems and interested in a career in gemology, stop by the store and we can explain the education process and get you in touch with the appropriate instructors.



Dear Suzanne: I have my old wedding rings to sell.  How do I go about finding out the value?  Do I need a written appraisal or can you just tell me how much they are worth?  A written appraisal is the most accurate way to know what the current value of your rings.  Written appraisals are done by a graduate gemologist and there are appropriate fees that apply to these legal documents.  The appraisal  can be done to establish the current replacement value which is what the ring would cost new, or it can be done to establish the fair market value which is what it may sell for on the second hand market.

Anyone  offering a written appraisal that has not studied gemology is not qualified to give you the correct information regarding the stones and their value.  The most common type of appraisal  for jewelry is for  people to buy insurance on those items in case of damage or loss. A professional gemologist does not give free verbal appraisals.  To be accurate and give you the correct advice, there is work and time involved in calculating the proper value. Anyone who glances at your jewelry and blurts out a price should not be taken seriously.

As far as selling your old wedding rings, truth be told, the second hand market on those items is extremely saturated.  They are a tough sell because there are very few buyers that want to buy used wedding rings from a divorce to start their new marriage with.  I recommend selling the settings and bands for the scrap gold price Gold is at an all time high and the “melt down” price is at the highest ever.  Your diamonds can be removed and saved to be used as a trade in at  a later date or reset into something new.  As with any sale, it’s a matter of finding the right buyer that wants what you have and is willing to pay what you want.



Dear Suzanne:  I saw a really cool ring on your facebook page and it mentioned that there were 3 generations of diamonds put into the ring.  It’s my 30th anniversary this month and I want to update my wedding rings but I also have my Mom’s diamonds from her original wedding set.  Is it okay to combine them all?  I am thinking that is what you did with the ring featured on your facebook.Yes, that is exactly what we did.  What’s even better is that the owner of that ring created it with the intention of passing it down to her daughter someday. I suggest that you bring in the diamonds that you have to work with and we can discuss your ideas and suggest a design that fits your personality.  Since it is your anniversary, it may be appropriate to add some “anniversary diamonds or bands” to symbolize that occasion as well.

While jewelry is definitely about the sparkle, almost every piece holds something more.  It tells the stories of love, family and celebrations.Last but not least, please remember to get your family heirlooms and wedding rings appraised and insured so that those stories can be passed on for generations to come. Alexandrite & Pearl Jewelry is 20% off for the month of June.  



Dear Suzanne: I just received my grandmother’s diamond ring and diamond watch. I have no idea how much they are worth and need advice on whether to insure them. Can I just bring them in to your store to find out? Please do. We will be happy to examine the jewelry and advise you as to the approximate value and whether you should have formal written appraisals done. Usually when we suggest that you have the items appraised it indicates that they are of significant value and should also be insured.

Many homeowners assume that their jewelry is covered under their blanket policy. While this may be true, it usually is only covered for fi re or theft. This coverage does not include stone loss, mysterious disappearance or damage. That is why a formal appraisal from a graduate gemologist should be obtained and then submitted to your insurance company. They will then include those items on a separate jewelry rider. You will have additional premiums for this type of coverage, but it is minimal in comparison to replacing a loss out of your own pocket.

Our initial consultation is free, at that time we will advise you on whether or not you should have the items appraised and insured. We have two Gemologists on staff that can assist you and you are welcome to leave the items or schedule an appointment and wait for the appraisal. We will also quote you our appraisal fees once we determine how many items need to be appraised.


Dear Suzanne: My 25th anniversary is coming up this summer. My wedding set is yellow gold and I still love the design and the sentiment it holds, however I would like to “ramp it up” a little by adding some more diamonds and maybe bands in white gold. Is it okay to mix the two colors?Absolutely!! In fact we have been inundated with the same requests for the last couple of years and have come up with some amazing additions to enhance your original rings. There is so much that can be done and it is certainly less expensive than redesigning the whole ring. The only time we suggest a complete redesign is if the customer requests it or if the rings are so worn out they are no longer safe to wear.


One of the simplest and most classic additions is a thin diamond band, set in white gold that goes on either side of your original set. These can be created to follow the outer contour of your rings and fi t perfectly. By adding the white gold bands to the yellow engagement ring, you will see a dramatic difference in the amountof sparkle your rings will have.
There are several other ways to make small additions to your rings without costing large amounts of money. Please stop in for a free design consultation and see what can be done to symbolize the milestone anniversaries of your marriage.


Dear Suzanne: I just received an engagement ring from my fiance and it is too large.  All of the jewelers are telling me that they can’t size it down to a 4 because of the small diamonds on the sides of the ring.  They have told me to take it back to the jewelry store that sold it to him.  I just found out he got it on the internet and it is not returnable.  What can I do?  If he would have purchased it from a jeweler, how could they have solved my problem and why won’t the internet company take care of it? Unfortunately you are not alone, this is an on going problem with jewelry bought online.  There is NO customer service or skilled craftsmen that are there for the kind of support that you need when you make such an important purchase like an engagement ring.  Most internet companies are in the business to make money.  And once the sale is complete, that’Ŵs where the relationship ends.  They do not invest in the skilled jewelers or deal with manufactures that have the ability to create the rings in small or large sizes.  If they did, they would not be able to sell the ring for so cheap!


Independent jewelry stores deal with jewelry suppliers and designers that have the capacity to satisfy most every customer need.  They also hire skilled professionals to work in their stores to handle these special requests.  However, many of the rings sold online are being cranked out of China with a focus on price only, therefore quality is sacrificed in order to sell it for less.
There are some sizing applications that we may be able to suggest in order to make your ring fit, each piece is different, so if you want to stop in and let us take a look I will explain what your options are.



Dear Suzanne:  I just had my gold chain repaired at your store and it is broken again in a different spot. I’ve worn it for 20 years and never had any problems until now. Can you explain why this has happened since you just fixed it? If it is a fairly good chain, we recommend fixing it a couple of times, but trading it in for a new one will eventually be the best choice. We carry a specifi c brand of gold chain called “Leslies”. They have all of the typical styles available, but they have a lifetime guarantee which is the best offer in our industry. We also can offer you an above market trade in for your old chain towards the purchase of a new one. Please bring your chain back and lets examine all of your options and evaluate continued repairs vs. buying a new one.



Dear Suzanne:  What is the birthstone for March and can you tell me about it?
A beautiful blue gem called Aquamarine.  The ideal color is a refreshing sea blue, not too pale and not too green.  While it is the birthstone for those born in March it is also an accepted gift for a 19th wedding anniversary. Aquamarine is a durable stone and often available in large sizes.  It is a 7 1/2 to 8 on the mohs hardness scale.  It comes from the mineral beryl.  Aqua’s are typically free of inclusions. Emeralds and alexandrites also come from beryl however they are highly included. In ancient times, the stone was said to protect seafarers, so it is an excellent gift for sailors or those who take frequent cruises.  To wear aquamarine earrings brings love and affection.It is a universal symbol of youth, hope and health. Aquamarine is found mainly in Brazil, Nigeria & Zambia. All of our aquamarine loose gems and jewelry are on sale for the month of March. Save 20%. 


Dear Suzanne:   I looked down at my ring and to my horror, there is a big chip in it.  I thought diamonds were the hardest gem and were not suppose to break! How could this happen? They are the hardest natural material on the earth.  But there is a difference between hardness and toughness. Hardness is the resistance to scratching and abrasion. Toughness is the resistance to breakage or cleavage. You can chip or break a diamond (hardness 10) on something else like glass (hardness 6) if you hit it just right.  


Another myth is that a real diamond will scratch glass.  That is true, but so will every other diamond substitute.  Glass will also scratch glass.Buying a well cut diamond will help prevent chipping.  Diamond cutters know the best proportions to cut a diamond that will not compromise the toughness.  Proper proportions will also guarantee maximum sparkle.  The best example on the market today is the Hearts On Fire Diamond.  Stop in for a free lesson on what a diamond should look like when it is cut perfectly.


Dear Suzanne: I heard you had an art contest to design a charm?  What kind of charm is it? We invited the local junior high and high school students to submit their drawings in honor of “Make a difference Day”. The charm was to depict how to make a difference and help others in our community.


Several schools responded and we received over 100 entries from some very talented art students.  The winner was Lauren Pytel of Johsburg High. We will present her with a charm created from her design that will be embellished with a Diamond.We have produced two versions of her art rendering. The larger piece is a stunning pendant and the smaller version is a charm. Both pieces are sterling silver and sell respectively for $59.95 &  $25.00.

The purpose of this contest was to raise money for our charity of choice this Holiday.  100% of the proceeds  will go to the Pioneer Center in McHenry. The pendant & charm are only available at Steffan’s Jewelers for a limited time. Please stop by to purchase yours and know that you are “making a difference”. They will make their first debut in our showroom on Ladies Day, Friday November 20th 11am – 7pm.




Dear Suzanne: I purchased an engagement ring and want it engraved inside, but I was told that the shank was too “skinny” to fit my message and a date.  Is there any other way I can get my message across without changing the ring? Yes, you have a couple of options. Most of the time, the wedding band is engraved inside because it does not contain a center stone, there is usually a little more room for your message. So you can wait and just engrave the band instead.

Engraving the inside of a ring can be done by hand or machine.  The hand engraver has a lot more freedom when it comes to placement of letters and where they will fit.  A machine engraver has many more limits.  However, there is usually just enough space to fit initials and a date. The reason you engrave a ring is to have a permanent message placed inside the ring, but keep in mind finger sizes change over the years and if she has to have the ring sized, the engraving will be lost. You can have it re engraved. I suggest putting your message directly on the diamond. We can laser inscribe the girdle (edge) of your diamond with your message and it is permanent. It does not harm the stone in any way and can only be seen with a magnifier.  This also becomes an identification marking for your stone if it was ever lost, stolen or “switched”.

Dear Suzanne: I have a pair of Diamond hoop earrings that I love to wear but they are so heavy and become uncomfortable after a couple of hours.  Is there anything you can do to make them lighter? Yes. Depending on the style and how far the diamonds go around, we can usually modify them to make them lighter. I am not suggesting that we grind any metal off or change the way they look from the front. What we can do is remove the back half of the earring where there are no stones set and perhaps change the post. Often times a simple modification to a ring, pendant or earrings can change the way a piece wears, or improve the way it looks. It just takes a little creative insight from a skilled jeweler to figure out the best solution for the best price. We also have some inexpensive and creative ways to incorporate your good yellow gold jewelry into your new white gold wardrobe. Stop in to check out our ideas.

Dear Suzanne: My Great Aunt’s ring has a blue stone in it and I always thought it was a Sapphire.  Then when I was in St. Thomas, the jeweler there told me it was a Tanzanite. When I brought it in for repair, you told me that it may be a synthetic!  It’s over 100 years old, it just has to be real.  How do I find out for sure what it is? Unfortunately it is not always possible to identify a Gem by just looking at it under a microscope. Anyone who just looks at a stone and tells you what it is, is guessing.


In order to tell you what your stone is there is a series of gemological tests that must be performed.  Examination under the microscope to look for identifying inclusions, color banding, swirl marks, concave facets and treatments is the first step. Then a refractive index reading is necessary to measure the speed of light when it travels through the stone. Gemstones have different RI’s that help to identify them. A spectroscope, polariscope & dicroscope are other tools used in testing. Once the testing is complete, the information is used to confirm the identity of the Gem.

In today’s there are so many different types of synthetics and treatments, one has to be an expert in order to identify a Gem correctly. Expertise comes through intensive gemological training and experience.
Synthetic Gems were created in the late 1890’s and have been prevalent in jewelry ever since. So just because it is old, does not mean it is genuine. **The cost to identify a gemstone is $15 A full appraisal with today’s replacement value is $75 for the first item and $50 for each additional. Same day appointments are accepted.

Dear Suzanne: It’s Mother’s Day Sunday and this year I want to get my Mom something really meaningful but I am a student and can’t spend alot of money.  Can I get something really nice from your store? It’s all about the lighting. In general, green blue and violet gems look better in fluorescent light that is found in most office environments. Fluorescent light gives off a lot of blue and green which enhances these gem colors. Red,  orange and yellow gems look best in incandescent light,  like candlelight,  a regular lamp or the sun’s rays at sunset. Incandescent light gives off light waves mainly in red, orange and yellow, emphasizing these gem colors. A gem’s chemical composition and crystal structure affect the way it absorbs and returns light. The refractive index of a gem is how much light slows down once it enters the gemstone., All of these factors have a big influence on the beauty of a gem.

Dear Suzanne:
I am a senior in college and do not have a lot of money right now.  I want to buy and engagement ring and propose on Christmas eve.  Is it possible to get a decent engagement ring for under $1000 and can I put it on layaway for that long?
Congratulations early!  You absolutely can put your ring on layaway until Christmas. It’s funny you asked because layaways were becoming a thing of the past, but the concept is becoming very popular once again. While some stores offer layaway, they may also charge a fee. Our layaway service is free and we are happy to work out whatever payment plan works best for you. We are pretty easy going when it comes to layaways, especially when it comes to our college students who are on a budget.


You will be thrilled to find what a beautiful ring you can buy for under $1000. Since the economy went south, jewelry designers have stepped up to the plate with some amazing rings that you will be proud to propose with. We strive to help our customers stay within their price range so they have no financial regrets. We believe jewelry should be affordable and come with all good feelings attached.

Dear Suzanne: My husband wants to buy me a pair of  Diamond stud earrings for Christmas because the ones I have are really small. He is insisting that we go somewhere else because they are on sale for 70% off. I want him to shop at Steffan’s because I know the quality is going to be good. Will you be having a 70% off sale anytime soon? Also, what can I do with my old pair? First, I want to thank you for recognizing our quality. We will never have a 70% off sale because we do not inflate the value of our price tags so that we can run “fake” discounts. Unfortunately the entire country seems to fall prey to this perceived value & discount practice. In most states it’s actually illegal, but no one is really policing the situation. It happens in every market, but most often in clothing, furniture and jewelry.


Very rarely does anyone give anything away below their cost. In my store, we would actually melt the piece down to recover our investment vs selling it at 70% off which would be considerabley below our cost.  I’ve addressed this topic before and the reality of it is “You get what you pay for”. If you truly believe you are getting 70% off, wouldn’t you question their mark-up in the first place?

I would be happy to trade your old pair of Diamond studs in, regardless of where they were purchased, and give your husband a generous trade in towards the bigger pair. You can also reset them and add a colored stone to make a pendant.

Graduate Gemologist