Frequently Asked Questions
We completely understand that purchasing gemstones and fine gemstone jewelry is a daunting process at the best of times; particularly over the internet.
To help you know about with whom it is that you are working, we have compiled the following information:
We, Rogerio Graca and Andrea Van Wilgenburg, are a husband and wife team operating our home-based, boutique gemstone jewelry business just outside of Liverpool, Nova Scotia, Canada
All of our gemstones come directly to you from Rogerio at wholesale pricing. Rogerio has been a professional gem cutter and wholesale supplier since 1992.
Rogerio uses a “Precision Cut” machine that allows him to cut his gemstones at their correct refractive index. Not all colored gemstones that you see on the market are cut properly (only about 5% are precision cut). A gemstone must be cut at its correct refractive index to reach its potential in brilliance.
Here is an article featured on the International Gem Society website about a stone cut by Rogerio that has 1000 facets, called “The Millenium Cut”
Also, please read feedback given about us by past clients in our two Etsy shops. Just to note, we have no control of what is or isn’t shared as feedback on Etsy. The feedback is controlled by a third party.
Loose gemstone shop on Etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/pristinegemstones
Finished jewelry shop on Etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/pristinejewelry
Some of our rings have been featured at Huff Post Weddings
Also, we recently applied (fall 2016) with the Better Business Bureau and have been accredited with them. You can click on their logo at the top right hand corner of any of our pages, and the link will take you to the BBB record on us. The BBB researched us back to 1992 when Rogerio started his business. We did not apply for accreditation previously because up until 2011, Rogerio sold as a wholesaler strictly to jewelers. So, yes, we are the real thing, and our pricing for our gemstones is wholesale rather than retail because of Rogerio’s role in the industry since 1992, and because we operate from our home online.
All appraisals are prepared by an independent, 3rd party, GIA trained gemologist and licensed appraiser. (note: it is considered a conflict of interest to use an in-house gemologist, therefore, we send our stones to an external consultant). The appraisal company that we use is Ishy Jewellery and Gemmology based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Outside of Rogerio’s 24 years of gem cutting experience and knowledge, we have a team of 2 CAD techs/casting techs/goldsmiths and stone setters who contract to us. When Rogerio has the opportunity, he makes some of our handmade designs as well. We will also use components from Stuller, a US supplier of jewelry components to North American jewelers of over 40 years. Everyone is highly experienced and skilled in his field.
Andrea’s experience working with our team in all facets of creating a fine piece of gemstone jewelry, along with her organizational and communication skills are used to coordinate the work of our team to bring our customers’ jewelry ideas to life. (please note that in order to maintain a high level of customer service, our capacity for managing customer orders is limited, therefore, from time to time we will unable to accept such orders)
Beyond our expertise and history with past customers, we are honest, hardworking people who are extremely grateful to be able to run our business from home and to work together as a couple. We have every reason to want to continue providing quality products and excellence in customer service, and to maintain a positive presence in our industry.
Please note that all of our communications regarding purchases are done via email for organizational/record keeping reasons. However we do understand concerns about shopping online; therefore, we offer a courtesy call to every new customer so that our customers can hear the voice behind our online shops. If you would like such a call, please email us or leave a message at 902-350-0025, and please leave the best time to return your call along with the time zone from which you are calling. We are operating on Atlantic Standard time.
NOTE TO OUR CANADIAN CUSTOMERS: Although we are indeed operating from Canada, because we are an online business, our website and Etsy shops are in USD. If you would prefer to work in CAD and avoid premiums on exchange rates via your credit card company, we can provide quotes in Canadian and invoice via PayPal Merchant Invoicing. Please just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we would be happy to take care of that for you.
Please click here for policy and warranty information.
Because we are gemstone suppliers, we carry 1000s of gemstones, and it isn’t feasible to have all of our stones certified, nor would it be standard practice for any supplier. The reason for this is that appraisals/certificates should be prepared by an objective 3rd party. Using an in-house gemologist is a conflict of interest. Therefore, when it is time to have a stone certified/appraised we send it out to a 3rd party.
Rogerio has been wholesaling and cutting gemstones for over 24 years. He is very skilled at identifying stones.
What we do offer is a complimentary appraisal (a legal document more in depth than a certificate) on all of our items priced over $1800USD. We bring these items to a 3rd party, independent, GIA (Gemological Institute of America) graduate gemologist and licensed appraiser for appraisal at our expense.
If an item is priced below $1800USD, and a customer feels more comfortable making a purchase by having a certificate or appraisal on the item, we can bring the item to the appraiser/gemologist for an additional charge $60USD.
A gemstone certificate is a report with a photo of the gemstone as well as its identification and its specifications and is prepared by a trained gemologist. A gemstone certificate does not place a monetary value on the gemstone.
An appraisal is technically a legal document with all the information that is contained in a certificate, and it also provides an estimated retail replacement value of the gemstone or finished jewelry piece. Appraisals are an accepted form of valuation for insurance purposes. In regards to jewelry, an appraisal is prepared by a trained gemologist and licensed appraiser.
We do offer layaway plans for some items; however, we encourage our customers to use Paypal Credit rather than set up a layaway plan with us. Using PayPal credit, you get your piece right away and can use it for any item listed in our shop (we would not even know you used Paypal credit).
To use Paypal credit you just need to have a Paypal account and select “paypal credit” at check out. It is very simple. Fore more info, visit https://www.paypalcredit.com/index.html
We do not offer financing
Almost all of our gemstones come from Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Brazil and Thailand; countries that do not finance rebel movements through the gemstone commerce; nor do they use child labor.
It is rare to find a sapphire that has not received heat treatment. Approximately 95% of sapphires on the market have received heat treatment. Heat treatment is a common, stable, well accepted practice. It is basically an extension of the natural formation of gemstones; heat and pressure and it only causes subtle improvements in color and clarity, if at all.
It is such a common practice that it is the only treatment of sapphires that is not required to be disclosed, as it is just assumed heat treatment is present. All other known treatments must be disclosed.
It is when a sapphire has not been heat treated that it is noted, and often a premium is charged for such a stone. Heat treatment is very difficult to confirm even by a trained gemologist. The only way to be absolutely certain about whether or not a sapphire has received heat treatment is by testing and certification by the main GIA or GRS lab. We believe there are the only two labs in the world that have the multi-million dollar equipment for such testing. Basically, if a vendor claims to have a non-heat treated sapphire, there is only one way to be sure, as just described. Otherwise, you can assume heat treatment has occurred.
Please find more important information on sapphires and treatments in our sapphire blog.
Emeralds are type III gemstones, which means the conditions under which they are formed are not favorable hence inclusions are present in most emeralds. For that reason, most emeralds are oiled in order to fill in surface reaching cracks and inclusions, improving their clarity and stability.
There is often confusion between hardness and durability. Although the diamond is the hardest gemstone (refer to the previous question about the Mohs scale on hardness), it does have perfect cleavage making diamonds prone to breakage due to a hard blow. On the other hand, sapphires, which are 9 in hardness on the Mohs scale, are much tougher gemstones than diamonds and can withstand blows against hard surfaces relatively well.
Carat (ct), in regards to diamonds and colored gemstones, is the weight measurement. 1carat = 200 milligrams. Gemstones and diamonds are priced by carat weight. Because naturally occurring larger stones are more rare than smaller stones and often more desirable, the price per carat tends to increase as size increases, which in turn increases overall prices exponentially as you go up in size.
NOTE: The various types of gemstones have different masses, so a 1 carat diamond does not necessarily have the same dimensions as a 1 carat sapphire.
Karat (K) for gold measures the purity of the gold. 24 karat is essentially pure gold. Gold that is 50 percent pure is 12 karat, and so on.
Native cut gemstones are cut by traditional equipment, which often lack the degree of accuracy of the modern-day precision-cut machines. Gemstones that have been native cut often do not reach their potential in brilliance, while precision-cut gemstones do, as they are cut at the correct refractive index for the specific category of gemstone.
Refractive index is the angle on the culet (bottom) of the gemstone, which compensates for the refraction of light passing through the stone in order to reflect 100% of the light back.
The construction of custom made jewelry can have many variables that will affect the cost of a finished piece. Among the variables are the size and quality of the main stone; the size, weight, number, and quality of the accent diamonds (if any); the metal choice; the metal weight; the actual design of the jewelry piece; and even how the jewelry is actually produced (ie, using pre-made components vs having everything made from scratch). Having a budget ceiling allows jewelers to narrow down the multitude of variables in order to provide his/her customer with the best options possible within the customer’s budget.
Prices per carat for fine emeralds, rubies, sapphires, other colored gemstones, and diamonds increase exponentially as size increases. The larger the gemstone, the more rare that it is, and often the more desirable that it is.
There are certain varieties of gemstones that are rarely or never treated. Here are a few of them: spinel, peridot, most tourmaline, garnet, most natural zircon and a few less common gemstones. Other types of gemstones may or may not have received treatment, and the treatment should be disclosed to the purchaser.
Grading gemstones can sometimes be challenging and quite subjective due the wide spectrum of quality. Prices will be affected by the many variables such as color, clarity, weight, and cut. Furthermore certain shapes will command higher prices due to their high demand and limited availability.
Grading clarity alone can be very subjective. Also there will be more tolerance in regards to inclusions for type II gemstones (ie .sapphires) and type III gemstones (ie. Emeralds), which are rarely free of inclusions.
It is not unusual for a jeweler to take several weeks to complete an order for a specific piece of jewelry. Based on a jeweler’s popularity and workload, custom items can take even longer.
Rather than completing one job at a time, for efficiency reasons, most jewelers will complete their orders with other orders in their various stages of production. As an example, all of the casting work for several orders is done at the same time, all of the finishing work for several orders is done at the same time, all of the stone setting for several orders is done at the same time, and so on. Not to mention, each of the stages are specializations and are often done by different craftspeople. It is not common knowledge, but it takes years for a goldsmith to master stone setting. Therefore; many goldsmiths actually don’t set their own stones and will send their stones to be set by a master stone setter.
Also, out of fairness to customers, orders are addressed on a first-come, first-serve basis. A jeweler can easily have two weeks’ worth of work queued by the time a new order comes through.
As you can see there are many reasons for the length of time required to create, maintain, or repair fine jewelry. The schedule of each member involved in the process also has to be considered in the time it takes.
IMPORTANT NOTE: It is never wise to rush a piece of fine jewelry. Sometimes there are problems with casting material and a mount needs to be recast, a stone setter may be having difficulty setting stones, etc. Quality work on fine jewelry requires the proper time and attention, so please be patient with the process and the craftspeople.
We are always happy to answer your gemstone and jewelry related questions. However, if you would like a trusted 3rd party resource of information on gemstones and diamonds, we always recommend the Gemologicial Institute of America (GIA). The GIA is the most reputable gemologicial institute in the world.
Thank you for your interest in working with us and for taking the time to read our frequently asked questions.
Rogerio Graca and Andrea Van Wilgenburg
Pristine Gemstone Jewelry