Gift Giving Primer


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Steve:                    I’m going to finish your Christmas Primer a little bit today, and we’ve talked about different things that you’re going to encounter out there in the market, while you’re shopping for jewelry for Christmas, and that’s probably one of the biggest.


                              I would think that’s probably one of the biggest items that people buy at Christmas time, and we’ve talked about looking at the metals. You know, the gold and silver and platinum content of things. We’ve talked about some of the birthstones that you’ll encounter.


This week, it probably won’t be as interesting. You know I try to be information, but I don’t like to get real scientific because it gets a little boring. But what I’m going to do is I’m going to talk about some of the terms you’re going to hear, again, I’ve talked about it.


You know, if you’re in the jewelry industry, and you’ve been in there for awhile and you talk about different features of a piece of jewelry to a customer, we use a lot of terms that we hear every day because that’s what we do for a living, and we take it for granted that the person on the other side of the counter is going to understand what we’re saying because it’s just second nature to us.


Well, you know, being a typical consumer, none of us like to stop the person and say, “What are you talking about?” Because we all like to pretend like we are knowledgeable when we have every inkling of what someone is telling us, and rather than stopping the person and saying,

“I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. Back up and explain that to me, please.” You’re there buying a piece of jewelry, and if you’re a guy listening to me today, you could care less. “Just show me something that I think she’s going to like. I can afford it. I’m buying it. Gift wrap it, so she likes it and I’m out of here.”


And the women are looking at him going, “Tell me about this. I like it. It’s beautiful. I’m going to tell him, I’m sending him in here, and I don’t need to know anything about it either,” but the salesperson gets excited when they’re explaining it, and they use a lot of different terms. So what we’re going to go over today are some of the terms.


Now, we’re going to start slowly and we’ll work our way up, but a lot of times you may have a piece of jewelry that you’ve brought in and it holds a diamond, and there’s four little things like fingers that hold that diamond in place. A salesman may look at it and go, “Wow, you know, you’re prongs are bad and you need new tips,” and you kind of look at him with a blank stare.


Ken:                      Ha, ha! Says, “Well, you know, I don’t feel that bad”.


Steve:                    I don’t feel that bad, you know? But, generally, they’re talking about your jewelry, and what they’re talking about — those four little finger-looking like things that hold that diamond in place are called prongs, and that’s a little bit of gold or platinum or silver that hold the stone in place.


And what is the feature of prongs? Why do we use prongs to hold something in? Well, number one, if you’ve got a diamond that you’re looking at, it let’s light come in from the top of the diamond, as well as the bottom and the side. So you get a little bit more sparkle to the diamond if it sits up a little bit.


Now Tiffany’s actually patented the name Tiffany setting, and now when we look at a diamond solitaire, a diamond solitaire would be one diamond on just a plain gold or platinum band, and it sits up a little bit and it has four prongs that hold it in place. That’s what we refer to as a Tiffany setting, and it’s kind of like Kleenex.


You know, you go to blow your nose, and you don’t want a tissue — “Give me a Kleenex — you know, it’s just something that’s evolved to mean something. So when someone says, “You know, I want a Tiffany setting,” it doesn’t necessarily mean that Tiffany’s made it, but it’s the style that you’re looking at.


Now, a lot of times that solitaire setting will have six prongs or it could even have eight prongs. Some of the men’s solitaires have eight prongs holding it in place — and the more prongs the more secure that particular gemstone is — and lots of times when we have a larger diamond or a more expensive diamond, we tend to use six prong settings and the reason being it’s more secure.


If something should happen, and you banged it and you broke what we call the “tip” off of it, and the tip is the very top of the diamond — and that’s what the diamond sits in the prongs: the tip is on top of the diamond. That holds it in there securely. Now, if you break one tip off and you’ve got a four-prong setting, you can easily lose your diamond.


Or you could lose your gemstone whatever type of gemstone you have. If it’s a more expensive gemstone, we tend to use a six-prong setting for the simple reason that you could knock two of those tips off and, if they weren’t next to each other, you could still hold that stone in there fairly securely.


You can even lose three tips, and if the prongs were set sort of evenly around that gemstone, it would still hold the stone in there without you losing it, but if you lost two tips on a regular Tiffany setting, or a four-prong setting, you’re going to lose your gemstone.


So, yeah, lots of times when you’re looking at a setting, in the back of your mind you probably want to look at it and say, “You know, how secure is this gemstone going to be? You know, I’m spending a lot of money for it, and it only has four tips on it.” You can ask a salesperson, “Do you think these tips are going to hold this gemstone securely?” It’s not a crazy request.


Now, lots of times different styles of settings you’ll look at have what we call a head in it, and the head is a separate piece of gold or silver or platinum that the gemstone sits in, and then it’s soldiered to the band or other type of setting that it’s going to sit in. So sometimes it’s made in one piece and there’s not much you can do about the amount of prongs that you have.


But, if it’s the type of thing where you’re sort of custom designing it, where we’re making it for you, you could say to the jeweler, “You know what, I’m spending a lot of money for this gemstone. Is it possible that we could put it in a six-prong head?” and the jeweler would say to you, “Well, of course, we’re putting the head in there anyway.”


The six-prong head is going to cost a little bit more than a four-prong head, the reason being, there’s more gold or there’s more platinum in making that head. So yeah, you’re going to pay a little bit extra for that particular piece.


But if you’re spending the money on the gemstone and you’re worried about keeping secure, then the difference between a four-prong and a six-prong head isn’t enough that you should even worry about. You know, what you’re worried about is the ability to keep that gemstone secure, so you could.


There’s no problem in questioning your jeweler, “You know, should it be in a four-prong; should it be in a six-prong?” Sometimes a six-prong head will make your gemstone look larger, especially if it’s a diamond, and a diamond is a clear stone, it’s white. So the fact that you’ve got this white metal around the gemstone, lots of times it makes that gemstone look a little bit larger.


And there’s nothing wrong with bigger, so lots of times we will use the six-prong setting. Sometimes, if you’ve got a colored gemstone and it’s not a real big gemstone, and when you use a six-prong setting sometimes it just doesn’t look right — the proportions aren’t good.


So this is something that you want to look at if you’re spending a lot of money on a ring. Look to see if that gemstone is held in there, and if it sits up a little bit, and you can see underneath it and you can see the whole gemstone, then it’s probably up on prongs.


Now, another thing that you’re going to see out there, some jeweler is going to show you a band, and you’re going to say, “Man, this is beautiful! It looks sort of like a wall of diamonds. It’s all… there’s lots of little diamonds in this thing, and it just shines really nice.”


And they’ll say to you, “Well, these are pavéd in here, and what’s nice about it, it’s flat and it won’t catch on your clothing,” and you’ll say, “Okay, I like this, but I don’t have any idea what you just said to me,” and he’ll say, “Well, they’re pavéd in, and they’ll look at you like, “Don’t you know what I’m talking about?” and you could look at him and say, “No, I don’t.”


You know, don’t be intimidated. Say, “Well, I don’t understand what pave´ means.” Pave´ means, what we do is we take a solid piece of gold or platinum, white gold or yellow gold, we drill little holes into it that are about the same size of the diamond that you’re going to buy or gemstone. We set that into the piece of metal so that it sits flat.


So that means like the top of the gemstone basically is about as high as the piece of metal that we’re looking at, and then what we do is, the jeweler actually takes what we call an engraver, and he will sit there and dig it into the metal enough so that a little piece of metal comes out and they form that over the top of the diamond or the gemstone to make it to hold that gemstone securely.


It’s kind of like if you had a prong, and you smashed it with a hammer. Okay, we’re basically doing the same type of a thing, but what we’re doing is we’re setting that gemstone flat so it doesn’t sit up, and we’re working the gold or silver or platinum around that gemstone to hold it in there securely.


Now what’s the plus or the minus? The plus is the fact that it’s down into the metal, so if you hit that piece of jewelry, you’re probably not going to knock that gemstone out, unless you really wack it hard, so it’s protected pretty well. It’s flat it doesn’t stick up so we do this with a lot of professionals in the health industry.


You know if you’re a physician or a nurse or you’re a dental hygienist or whatever, and you’re putting glove on and off all day long. You know that if you had a diamond and it was sticking up in the air, up on prongs, you’re going to rip those gloves — it’s a hassle.


The fact that you’re looking at a diamond band, and the diamonds are sitting in it very, very flush, you can put that glove on and off and you won’t have any problem. So this is something that we do for a lot of professionals who are in this health industry where you’re putting gloves on and off, a pavéd piece of jewelry is a great piece of jewelry for you.


Now, what are the negative factors to this? Now the fact that you’re wearing it daily, you’re washing your hands, hopefully, and you’re doing a lot of different things, what happens — and I’m going to speak about gemstones in general — any kind of soap or oil is going to stick to the backside of a gemstone. It’s just indicative of what happens to gemstones.


Now, if you have a pave´setting, we drill that hole so that it goes all the way through that piece of metal, but it tapers down so that the gemstone will hold into that piece of metal, and then we work the prongs over the top of it. What’s going to happen: those holes are going to clog up with oil from your skin or from what you’ve been touching.


Soap is going to get into them, and you’re going to find that the gemstones that looked bright and beautiful, originally, sort of get dull looking, and what’s the reason for it is you’ve got this scum on the backside of your gemstone. So with a pave´ setting, it’s important that you take it off and go out there and buy another toothbrush.


Don’t use the same one you usually use. Get yourself another toothbrush and a little bit of a cleaner. I tell people, go out there and get some Simple Green. It’s a great cleaning agent; it’s easy on your gemstones, and you don’t have to spend a ton of money for it. You mix it with a little bit of water, and take that toothbrush and scrub the backside of your gemstones.


Then wash it off, dry it, and you’ll find that those gemstones will shine again. So if you’ve got any kind of a pave´ setting, and all of a sudden you look down and you go, “Man, this doesn’t shine like it used to.” That’s because you’ve got dirt and things in the backside of it.


Scrub it up real good, and you’ll find that you love your piece of jewelry as much as you did when you first started, so pave´ is a great setting.


Ken:                      For cleaning.


Steve:                    Cleaning, yes, sir.


Ken:                      I’ve always heard that you can use like Colgate toothpaste.


Steve:                    It’ll keep your gemstones from getting cavities, and they’ll smell good.


Ken:                      [Laughter]


Steve:                    Yeah, all you’re doing, toothpaste is an abrasive. You know, it’s got little abrasive particles inside of it. All you’re doing is cleaning that scum that we just talked about off the front or backside of your gemstone. What it does do, it’s going to scratch up the metal — over a period of time, it will scratch the metal, and it needs to be polished, which we can do.


But that’s why I say Simple Green or soapy ammonia and you mix that with a little bit of water, those are two of the best cleaning agents you can really use. Now, there are certain gemstones you don’t want to use them on, like opals. You really don’t want to use it on that. You don’t want to use it on Emeralds. Because these soft stones.


Ken:                      Scratch easy.


Steve:                    These are soft gemstones and they scratch easy, and with Emeralds — we’ve talked about it before — a lot of times these are oiled, and you didn’t oil them, but the manufacturers oil them. What happens, they soak them in a coconut oil, and it goes into the stone and it basically masks or hides any of the inclusions in it.


It’s not a bad thing, it’s nothing horrible, but if you use the wrong cleaning agents, you’re going to suck that oil back out of it, and all of a sudden, that emerald that you thought was beautiful, you’re going to say, “Wow, I don’t know what I did to this emerald, but it doesn’t look like it did the day I bought it.” That could be re-soaked and retreated, but using like toothpaste or something on that.


Ken:                      Yeah, it just scratches.


Steve:                    Is bad because it scratches it, and it also gets into the inclusions. Sometimes you have like little cracks or fissures in it; all of a sudden you’re going to see little white lines in there from the toothpaste, so you really don’t want to use it. Toothpaste is not the ideal thing to be using, but back when they started with “toothpaste is the best thing you can clean with,” they didn’t have a lot of these other types of liquid cleaners.


Ken:                      Yeah.


Steve:                    So I would say, toothpaste isn’t the best.


Ken:                      Okay! Thank you.


Steve:                    You’ll also see another thing called “channel setting,” and this you’ll see in a lot of rings nowadays. You’ll see it in bracelets and things like that. What does channel set mean? Basically, if you can visualize like a railroad track; you have two lines that are running parallel to each other.


Let’s imagine that they’re made out of gold or silver, and now you take a gemstone and you put it in between those two rails of gold or silver or platinum, whatever, and we cut a little groove on each side of that track. We put the gemstone in there, and then we squeeze the track together and it holds the gemstone in there.


Now, what are the advantages and disadvantages? First of all, you get to see the majority of your gemstone, and that’s nice because you get to see the shape of the gemstone if it’s round or if it’s square or it’s rectangular, whatever. It’s a very clean look. When I say “clean” I don’t mean shiny. I just mean you don’t have prongs holding it.


You know, you get to see the whole gemstone. Light gets behind it and the sides, so the gemstone will sparkle, and it gives it a real nice appearance. It’s a little scary sometimes if you have a larger gemstone, and you just have this piece of metal on either side holding it.


But generally, if it’s a well-constructed piece of jewelry the channel is going to be thick enough, so that when we put tension on it and we close it, it’s going to hold the gemstone in place and you won’t really have a problem with that.


Now I love channel setting because it’s a real — like I said, it’s a real clean look. Again, for the professional who wants to wear jewelry, and they’re putting their gloves on and off, again, no prongs. Nothing to catch on those latex gloves; it’s easy to clean. Now, you may find this problem. Now with a pave´setting, your scum will get on the backside of it, and it’ll clog those holes up.


With channel set, you don’t really have that hole so much in the back of it. Some types of settings you’re going to have the hole, some of them you won’t — the backside of that channel will be solid.  What happens: you’ll get that soap scum and oil on top of the stone, and it’ll still get on the sides of it. It can’t get to the bottom because the bottom is sort of blocked off.


What you’re going to have to do, again. Take that Simple Green or your soapy ammonia and that new toothbrush — not the old one that you use on your teeth — and you can scrub it again and that way again, you’ll clean your gemstones up. They’ll look beautiful and clean again, and that’s with a channel setting. It looks really, really pretty.


You’ll find some real heavy settings for men; you’ll find some very fine settings. You’ll find this is a lot of diamond tennis bracelets anymore. They use a lot of channel set because, again, the women love their diamond bracelets, but you know, when you’re getting dressed it catches on your nylons, it catches on sweaters and things like that.


Sometimes it will catch on your towels and you don’t realize it. We constantly have people come in with their diamond bracelets that were prong set rather than channel set, and it got stuck on the towel, and the next thing you know, they’re missing a diamond because it pulled the prong back.


On channel sets you don’t have that problem. You know, they’re smooth, they’re nice, they’re strong, and it’s a pretty setting, and then the setting you’ll really run into this year at Christmas will be what we call “invisible set.” It doesn’t mean that the gemstones are invisible, and you just pretend like they’re there. We’re talking about invisible setting.


This started back in the — actually in the 70s, perfected in Israel, and some gem merchants and manufactures said,


“You know what? It would be cool if we could build a piece of jewelry and it looked like just a wall of diamonds. We could build it with princess cut diamonds because these are a little less expensive for us to manufacture, and we could give it the appearance that it’s a big piece of jewelry for a lot less money.”


So what they did is, if your familiar with tongue and groove flooring, you’ll know that one piece of flooring has a little piece that sticks out. The next piece that you slip it into has a groove cut into it. Well, what they did is they took lasers, and did the exact same thing to the edges of some of these square cut diamonds.


Why square cut? Because with round you couldn’t get them to interlock, but with square cut, you have that nice, flat surface. So they would use a laser on it, the diamonds would be put together, and then they would build a gold border around it and under pressure it would hold the gemstones in place.


Now, depending on the quality of the gemstones, some of the stuff is very expensive and the reason being, it’s labor intensive. It’s a lot of labor involved in laser cutting them and setting those gemstones.


Now, a lot of times they’re caste all together with the gemstones — are put in what we call “the wax mold” — and then the gold is casted around it so there’s not as much setting involved in it. This is done in China. It keeps the cost down considerably, and this is why you find a lot of these invisible set rings in the malls and they’re much less expensive.


So these are some of the things you’re going to encounter, while you’re shopping out there this Christmas, and if you’ve got questions, please stop by to see us at Westchester Gold and Diamonds. We’re in the Bear Plaza behind ABC Liquors — yes, we have jewelry and all these different styles that I’ve explained to you.


Ken:                      And you’re Santa Steve.


Steve:                    And I’m Santa Steve? And I’m more than happy to sell it to you, but I’m also happy to explain to you what you’re buying, so if you’ve looked at it somewhere else and you were afraid to ask them because they just looked at you like “you better know what I’m talking about.” You don’t understand it, stop by and see me.


We’re in the Baer Plaza behind ABC Liquors. I’ve been doing this for 37-years, and I can guarantee we’ve got the largest selection of jewelry in the area. I’m going to say goodbye to everybody, until next week, and please stop by and see us.


This is Santa Steve saying, see you next week.

Have Questions about your antiques, estate jewelry, collectibles or old treasures?


If you have questions for Steve Duke to answer about your jewelry, antiques or collectibles, just send a photo of the item and your question directly to Steve Duke at and Steve will research it for you and you may be contacted to participate in an upcoming Tradio episode. Be sure to include your name, email and phone number along with your question and email it to: