At Villarreal Fine Jewelers education is paramount. Prospective buyers consistently inform us of their frustrations about not getting adequate answers to their questions when shopping at local jewelry stores. This is why we have made it our mission to keep our customers as informed as possible.

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Here you will find answers to questions most asked about diamonds- from diamond quality like the the 4 C’s to important basic gemological aspects about diamonds. Please be sure to Contact Us for any additional questions you may have. Remember, “There is no such thing as a silly question.” We are here to serve you!


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Like many precious products, diamond prices fluctuate. But it is important to know that these sparkling gemstones still retain value after years of being worn and enjoyed.


The colorless beauty and inner fire of the diamond has made this precious gem prized for centuries. Each stone’s complex characteristics cannot be duplicated, and no two diamonds can ever be the same. Each stone, like its owner, is endowed with a personality and character uniquely its own.


Diamond is the hardest substance on earth. Diamond jewelry can be worn every day and passed on from generation to generation.


New finds of diamond deposits may be discovered. However, the supply is finite. It is said that it takes approximately 250 tons of earth to be processed just to yield one carats worth of gem quality diamond. Also, only 20 percent of all rough diamonds mined can be utilized for gemstone cutting.



Created more than 3 billion years ago in the earths mantle, most diamonds worn today were brought to the earths surface by volcanic eruptions over 100 million years ago! Even before diamonds were mined in large quantity toward the end of the 19th century, they were a source of fascination and value to early man. The Greeks regarded them as tears of the gods. It is a derivation of the Greek word “adamas,” meaning unconquerable, that gave diamond its name.

The diamond became the primary token of love toward the end of the 15th century, when Austrian Archduke Maximilian gave the first diamond engagement ring to his betrothed. Five centuries later, the diamond remains one of the most luxurious and desirable gifts for any romantic and celebratory occasion, a gem whose purity and brilliance symbolizes lasting love.

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There is no other gemstone quite like a diamond. It is found in the most remote places on earth, and the fact that it forms at all is something of miracle. It takes about one ton of rock to recover less than half a carat of rough, making diamond one of the rarest and most desired gemstones in the world. A diamond is a testament of endurance and strength- and not surprisingly, the ultimate symbol of love.
Every diamond is unique. Each reflects the story of its arduous journey from deep inside the earth to a cherished object of adornment. Yet all diamonds share certain features that allow us to compare and evaluate them. These features are called the 4C’s.

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Every diamond is a miracle of time, place, and chance. Like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike. Until the middle of the twentieth century, there was no agreed-upon standard by which diamonds could be judged. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA), created the first, and now globally accepted standard for describing diamonds: Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat Weight. Today, the 4 C’s of diamond quality is the universal method of assessing the quality of any diamond, anywhere in the world.

The creation of the 4 C’s meant two very important things: 1) diamond quality could be communicated in a universal language, and 2) diamond customers could now know exactly what they were about to purchase. To learn more about diamonds and how to choose a diamond that is right for you, play the video below.



Natural diamonds are the result of carbon exposed to tremendous heat and pressure deep in the earth. This process can result in a variety of internal characteristics called “inclusions” and external characteristics called “blemishes.”

Evaluating diamond clarity involves determining the number, size, relief, nature, and position of these characteristics, as well as how these affect the overall appearance of the stone. While no diamond is perfectly pure, the closer it comes, the higher its value. The GIA Diamond Clarity Scale has 6 categories, some of which are divided, for a total of 11 specific grades.

  • Flawless (FL)- No inclusions and no blemishes visible under 10X magnification
  • Internally Flawless (IF)- No inclusions visible under 10 magnification
  • Very Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2)- Inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10X magnification
  • Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2)- Inclusions are observed with effort under 10X magnification, but can be characterized as minor.
  • Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2)- Inclusions are noticeable under 10X magnification
  • Included (I1, I2, and I3) Inclusions are obvious under 10X magnification which may affect transparency and brilliance

Many inclusions and blemishes are too tiny to be seen by anyone other than a trained diamond grader. To the naked eye, a VS1 and an SI2 diamond may look exactly the same, but these diamonds are quite different in terms of overall quality. This is why expert and accurate assessment of diamond clarity is extremely important.custom diamond reviews

Diamond color actually means lack of color. The diamond color evaluation of most gem-quality diamonds is based on the absence of color. A chemically pure and structurally perfect diamond has no hue, like a drop of pure water, and consequently, a higher value. GIA’s D-to-Z diamond color-grading system measures the degree of colorlessness by comparing a stone under controlled lighting and precise viewing conditions to master stones of established color value.custom diamond reviews

A diamond’s cut unleashes its light. Diamonds are renowned for their ability to transmit light and sparkle so intensely. We often think of a diamond’s cut as shape (round, emerald, pear), but a diamond’s cut grade is really about how well a diamond’s facets interact with light.

Precise artistry and workmanship are required to fashion a stone so its proportions, symmetry, and polish deliver the magnificent return of light only possible in a diamond. A diamond’s cut is crucial to the stone’s final beauty and value. And of all the diamond 4 Cs, it is the most complex and technically difficult to analyze.custom diamond reviews

Diamond carat weight is the measurement of how much a diamond weighs. A metric “carat” is defined as 200 milligrams.

Each carat can be subdivided into 100 ‘points.’ This allows very precise measurements to the hundredth decimal place. A jeweler may describe the weight of a diamond below one carat by its ‘points’ alone. For instance, the jeweler may refer to a diamond that weighs 0.25 carats as a ‘twenty-five pointer.’ Diamond weights greater than one carat are expressed in carats and decimals. A 1.08 carat stone would be described as ‘one point oh eight carats.’
All else being equal, diamond price increases with diamond carat weight, because larger diamonds are more rare and more desirable. But two diamonds of equal carat weight can have very different values (and prices) depending on three other factors of the diamond 4 Cs: Clarity, Color, and Cut.
It’s important to remember that a diamond’s value is determined using all of the 4 Cs, not just carat weight.

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GIA’s diamond D-to-Z color grading scale is the industry’s most widely accepted grading system. The scale begins with the letter D, representing colorless, and continues with increasing color, to the letter Z. Many of these color distinctions are so subtle that they are invisible to the untrained eye. However, these distinctions make a very big difference in diamond quality and price.


Watch the video below and learn how to choose your perfect diamond. This diamond buying video will better prepare you for asking the right questions when shopping for a diamond and a prospective local jeweler.


Diamond Classification

What is fluorescence?

Fluorescence is the visible light some diamonds emit when they are exposed to invisible ultraviolet (UV) rays. On a GIA diamond grading report, fluorescence refers to the strength, or intensity, of the diamond’s reaction to long-wave UV, which is an essential component of daylight. The light emitted lasts as long as the diamond is exposed to the ultraviolet source.

Is fluorescence common?

Yes. Of the diamonds submitted to GIA over the past decade, approximately 25% to 35% exhibit some degree of fluorescence. However, only 10% of those show strengths of fluorescence that may impact appearance (i.e., strengths noted on laboratory reports as medium, strong or very strong). In more than 95% of the diamonds that exhibit fluorescence, the color seen is blue, In rare instances, the reaction is yellow, white or another color.

What impact does fluorescence have on the appearance of a diamond?

GIA studies show that, for the overwhelming majority of diamonds, the strength of fluorescence has no widely noticeable effect on appearance, In many instances, observers prefer the appearance of diamonds that have medium to strong fluorescence. In rare cases, some diamonds with extremely strong fluorescence may appear hazy or oily; fewer than 0.2% of the fluorescent diamonds submitted to GIA exhibit this effect.

Does fluorescence compromise the structural integrity of the diamond?

No. A diamond that fluoresces has the same integrity as one with no reaction to UV. Submicroscopic substitutions and/or shifts in the diamond structure can cause fluorescence as well as prevent it. Nothing in either instance inherently weakens or is bad for the diamond.



Technological advances in recent years have made it possible for natural diamonds to be enhanced, which increases their beauty and affordability, or grown in a laboratory environment. It’s important to discuss with your professional jeweler if the diamond you are purchasing has been enhanced in any way. Some treatments require special care, of which you need to be aware.


Diamonds can be colored, tinted, coated, irradiated or heated to improve their color and clarity. Inclusions are sometimes removed with lasers or fractures are filled with a glass like compound. Some of these procedures are not permanent. While it is not always possible to determine if a diamond has been enhanced just by looking at it, it is required that your jeweler disclose this information. A professional jeweler will let you know if a diamond’s natural appearance has been altered.

Qualified gem labs have very sophisticated equipment that can analyze a diamond and determine if it is synthetic or enhanced. If you are uncertain about the diamond you plan on purchasing and it does not have a quality report from a well-known laboratory, ask your professional jeweler to send it to a laboratory for analysis.


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Synthetic diamonds are created with special equipment in a laboratory. They have almost identical optical, chemical and physical properties as natural diamonds. Consumers sometimes confuse synthetic diamonds with diamond simulants, like cubic zirconia and moissanite, which have different chemical, physical and optical properties from natural diamonds.


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Conflict diamonds are diamonds that are illegally obtained by rebel groups and then sold to fund conflict abroad.

Putting an End to Conflict Diamonds

Consumer demand for diamonds is higher than ever, but this year, more customers may be asking about conflict diamonds. With recent and upcoming mentions of conflict diamonds in books, music and movies, the subject is topical again. So it is important that you understand the facts.

In January 2003, governments, non-governmental organizations and the industry created an intergovernmental agreement called the Kimberley Process Certification System. It was established to eradicate the trade in conflict diamonds.

Over 99% of diamonds are from sources free of conflict.

At their peak in 1999, conflict diamonds accounted for approximately 4% of the world’s diamond supply. Since the Kimberley Process was established, conflict diamonds have been reduced to considerably less than 1%.

Revenue from diamonds provides funds for hospitals, schools and more.

Diamonds are helping transform lives around the globe, especially in Africa. Revenues from diamonds ($8.3 billion in the last year alone) have helped provide jobs, education and healthcare, especially in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

We can assure you that the gemstone industry is 100% committed to the total eradication of conflict diamonds.

“The elimination of conflict diamonds is a moral imperative for the entire industry and based on our past success, it is an attainable goal. However, for us to succeed, it requires the commitment and participation of everyone in the industry.” – Eli Izhakoff , Chairman and CEO, World Diamond Council, August 2006


Diamonds are meant to be a gift of love, and we at Villarreal Fine Jewelers abhor the way in which some gems have been used to fund conflict. To stop this practice, government, our industry, and human rights groups created the Kimberley Process in 2002, which today regulates 99% of the rough diamond supply, to prevent the sale of conflict diamonds.

We require our suppliers to provide us with a written warranty, stating that their diamonds come from Kimberley-certified sources and are not involved in funding conflict. The warranty statement, which was officially recognized at the creation of the Kimberley Process, reads:

The diamonds herein invoiced have been purchased from legitimate sources not involved in funding conflict and in compliance with United Nations Resolutions. The seller hereby guarantees that these diamonds are conflict free, based on personal knowledge and/or written guarantees provided by the suppliers of these diamonds.


Even though diamonds are the hardest substance on earth, they can still be damaged. The following are tips to help keep your diamond jewelry looking fantastic for many years of enjoyment.

  • Don’t just throw your diamond jewelry together with everything else in your jewelry box, as diamonds can scratch diamond and other jewelry. It is always best to keep your items separated in divided compartments.
  • Don’t wear your diamonds when going to the gym or doing rough work. Contrary to popular belief, diamond can be chipped when hit hard enough.
  • Your diamond jewelry should be cleaned regularly by using commercial or professional cleaners. Other household cleaners like a mild detergent or a diluted mix of ammonia and water may also be used. Simply soak your jewelry for at least a few minutes, then lightly brush with an old soft bristle toothbrush to gently clean dirt and lotions that may have accumulated over a short period of time.
  • Never use chlorine bleach or other chemicals to clean your jewelry as they can damage your gemstones and metal.


Your diamond jewelry should be cleaned regularly by using commercial or professional cleaners. Other household cleaners like a mild detergent or a diluted mix of ammonia and water may also be used. Simply soak your jewelry for at least a few minutes, then lightly brush with an old soft bristle toothbrush to gently clean dirt and lotions that may have accumulated over a short period of time.

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At Villarreal Fine Jewelers we love creating custom made engagement and wedding rings as well as other special occasion jewelry with colored gemstones. Beauty. Rarity. Durability. These attributes attract us to colored gemstones for personal adornment and make gemstones valuable and precious. Colored gemstones provide the opportunity for uniquely personal expression.


Garnet is the accepted birthstone for the month of January. It is aloes the anniversary gemstone for the second year marriage. When most people think of garnet, they picture the dark red Bohemian garnet that was popular in Victorian times. You may be surprised to learn that the garnets are found in every color except blue, including brilliant green Tsavorite garnet, raspberry pink rhodolite garnet, and orange Malaya garnet, Bright red “anthill” garnets are found in Arizona.

The czar of Russia favored rare green demantoid garnets. Garnets offer enough variety in appearance to suit every pocketbook. Legend holds that Noah hung a large garnet in the ark for illumination. It reportedly also gives it s wearer guidance in the night, protection form nightmares, and according to Egyptians is an antidote for snake bites and food poisoning. It was also thought to have a special affinity with the blood. Garnets are durable and brilliant and will give years of pleasure. As with all gemstones, care should be taken to protect garnet for scratches, sharp blows, and extreme temperature changes. Garnets are found in the U.S, Africa, Sri Lanka, Russia, Brazil and India.


Amethyst is the recognized birthstone for February and the accepted anniversary gemstone for the sixth year of marriage. Amethyst is a variety of quartz and comes in pale lilac to rich, deep purple shades. Ideally, it is a deep medium purple with rose-colored flashes that give the amethyst its beauty and fire. Because of its abundance, it is readily available in all sizes and shapes. It is durable and can be worn every day.

Coupled with the folk legend of the Greeks that it will prevent intoxication when worn, it becomes a most desirable gem! Amethyst was said to have a sobering effect on the wearer-not only those who indulged but on those over-excited by love’s passion as well. It has symbolized peace, protection and tranquility. Some say it will prevent baldness and improve the complexion, as well as protect from treason and deceit. Because royalty has always adored the color purple, amethyst bound in the ornaments of ancient Greeks and Egyptians, and in the British crown jewels. As with all gemstones, care should be taken to protect it from scratches and sharp blows. Amethyst is found in Brazil, Uruguay and Zambia.


Aquamarine is the traditional birthstone of March. It is also the accepted anniversary gem for the 19th year of marriage. The ideal color for Aquamarine is a refreshing pastel sea blue. Stones with a clear blue color without green or gray, are generally the most valuable. If you are looking for a big, durable gemstone, aqua is readily available in larger sizes and is truly dramatic when cut in rectangular or oval shapes. It is a member of the important Beryl family, which also includes emerald.

In ancient times, the stone was said to aid seafarers; thus it is an excellent gift suggestion for sailors or one who takes frequent cruises! To dream of aquamarine signifies the making of new friends; to wear aquamarine earrings brings love and affection. It is a universal symbol of youth, hope, and health. Parts of the normal finishing process, some aquamarines are heated to remove traces of green and yellow. To maintain the brilliance of this beautiful gemstone, it should be immersed in jewelry cleaner or in lukewarm soapy water and cleaned with a small bristle brush. Do not use home ultrasonic machine. As with all gemstones, care should be taken to protect it from scratches and sharp blows. Aquamarine is found mainly in Brazil, Nigeria, Zambia, and Madagascar.


Diamond is the birthstone for the month of April. Besides being the most popular gemstone for engagement rings, is the accepted anniversary gem for the 10th and 60th years of marriage. The name “diamond” comes for the Greek word ‘adamas”, meaning unconquerable-suggesting the eternity of love. In fact, diamonds have been the traditional symbol of love since Greece. Discovered about 2,500 years ago in India, the ancients believed they were splinters from the stars, perhaps crystallized lightning or hardened dew drops.

Although diamonds are associated with being a colorless stone, they are occasionally found with a strong, bright color-green, red, pink, blue, canary yellow or amber. These “fancy” colored diamonds are highly prized. Occasionally, to improve appearance, diamonds are laser drilled and, sometimes, a foreign substance is used to fill surface cavities or fractures. Diamonds may also be irradiated or heated to induce ‘fancy’ colors. Even though it is the most durable gemstone, care should be taken to protect a diamond from sharp blows. Household chemicals may discolor or damage the mounting. To clean, you may use jewelry cleaner, lukewarm soapy water and a small bristle brush, soak in a half-and-half solution of cold water and ammonia for ½ hour, or use a home ultra sonic machine with its recommended cleaner.


Emerald is the birthstone for the month of May. It is also the anniversary gemstone for the 20th and 35th years of marriage. Emerald is one of the most highly prized of all the gems The name comes from the Greek word “smaragdos” which means green stone. The most prized is pure grass green. Emeralds are often characterized by a garden of inclusions trapped within, known as the “jardin”, because under magnification you will see all sorts of lovely patterns resembling foliage in a garden. A flawless, clear emerald is a very rare and is usually found in only small sizes. Small to medium sized stones are often faceted in the “step” or emerald cut. The gem is also lovely when cut into a cabochon or dome shape, Sometimes emeralds are even carved.

According to legend, the wearing of emerald not only cured a wide range of ailments, including low I.Q., poor eye sight and infertility, but also enabled the wearer to predict the future. As part of the normal fashioning process, most emeralds are immersed in colorless oil or resin so small voids are not as noticeable. Care should be taken to protect it from scratches and sharp blows, household chemicals, and extreme temperature changes. Do not use a home ultrasonic machine. Emeralds are found mainly in Colombia, Brazil, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Brazil, Belmont

Pearl is the birthstone for the month of June. It is also the accepted anniversary gemstone for the 3rd and 30th years of marriage. A pearl is the product of an oyster’s defense mechanism. When a foreign irritant is introduced either by humans (cultured) or naturally, the oyster immediately surrounds it with a layer of a substance called nacre. This forms the exquisite gemstone known as pearl. Natural pearls are extremely rare. Almost all pearls on the market today are cultured by humans. Cultured pearls come in a wide range of colors. They should be relatively free from skin blemishes. The more perfectly round the shape the better. The higher the luster, or “orient” the more valuable the specimen. The larger the cultured pearl, the greater the value. Besides the popular round shape, they are stylish mabe(large hemispherical cultured pearls), freshwater(elongated in interesting shapes and colors), and South Sea (large cultured pearls 10mm and up from Australia’s and Indonesia’s waters) to name a few.

Cultured pearls have been recognized as the emblem of modesty, chastity, and purity. They have come to symbolize a happy marriage. Avoid household chemicals, cosmetics, hair sprays, and perfumes. Don’t use ultrasonic cleaners. Wash with mild soap and water and store in a protective chamois pouch or tissue paper. Moonstone is sometimes used as an alternative by those born in June since it physically resembles some pearls.

Multi color Tahitian and South Sea pearl necklace

Ruby is the accepted birthstone of July. It is also the accepted anniversary gemstone for the 15th and 40th year of marriage. Ruby is known as the “Lord of the Gems” because of its rarity and beauty. Derived from the Latin word, “ruber” it simply means red. Ruby, like Sapphire, is a variety of corundum and only exists as a true red color. The finest color is a vivid, almost pure spectral red. The highest quality rubies are said to protect their owner from all kinds of misfortune. A fine ruby assured the owner he would live in harmony with his neighbors. It would protect ones stature in life, home and his land. Its protective powers were intensified when set in jewelry and worn on the left side.

Many believed rubies possessed an inner flame that burned eternally. As part of the customary fashioning process, virtually all rubies are heated to permanently improve their color and appearance. As with all gemstones, care should be taken to protect the ruby from scratches and sharp blows. The finest rubies emanate from Burma, having been mined there since ancient times. Other sources include Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Tanzania, Cambodia, Afghanistan, and India.


Peridot is the accepted birthstone for August. It is also the accepted anniversary gemstone for the 16th year of marriage. Peridot should be a lively lime green, without a brownish or olive cast. Peridot is the child of volcanic action. Tiny peridot crystals are sometimes comber from the black sands of Hawaii. Peridots were favored by pirates, considered powerful amulets against all evil, and when set in gold were said to protect the wearer from the terrors of the night. They had medicinal uses, too. If fashioned into a chalice from the medicines were drunk, they intensified the effects of the drug.

Care should be taken to protect the peridot from scratches, and sharp blows, household chemicals, and extreme temperature change. Do not use home ultrasonic machine for cleaning. The peridot is abundant and is available in larger sizes. It is found in Burma and the U.S. The most important source of peridot in the world is the San Carlos Apache Native American Reservation near Globe, Arizona, where it is mined by Native Americans. Large sizes are mined in Myanmar (Burma), and peridot is also found in China.


Sapphire is the September birthstone as well as the accepted anniversary gem for the 5th and 45th years of marriage. Sapphire, a variety of corundum, comes in all colors except red (the red variety being known as ruby), but is especially popular in deep blue. Fancy colored sapphires- including pink, green, orange, and golden yellow-are magnificent when combined in a necklace or a bracelet. The stone’s durability, combined with its beauty, makes it the perfect alternative for an engagement ring. Ancient priests and sorcerers honored sapphire above all gems, for this stone enabled them to interpret oracles and foretell the future. Ancients believe the Ten Commandments were written on a sapphire tablet. Marriage partners put great faith in the stone. If the luster dimmed, one knew his or her spouse had been unfaithful. Sapphire refused to shine when worn by the wicked or impure.

As part of the customary fashioning process, virtually blue, yellow, and golden sapphires are heated to permanently produce or intensify their color. As well all gemstones, care should be taken to protect it from scratches and sharp blows. Sapphire is found in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), Australia, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, China, and the U.S.

Opal is the birthstone as well as the accepted anniversary gemstone for the 14th year of marriage. The well-known Roman naturalist Pliny described opal as, “made up of the glories of the most precious gems… the gentler fire of the ruby, the rich purple of the amethyst, the sea-green of the emerald, glittering together…” White opal has a white or light body color with flashes of many colors. Black opal has black, dark blue, dark green or gray body color with vivid flashes of color such as red, pink, and bright green. In the middle ages, young, fair-haired girls wore opal their hair to protect its lovely blonde color. Medieval writers believed opal could render its wearer invisible when the need arose. It was also said to have beneficial effect on eyesight. It was thought to banish evil spirits and favor children, the theater, amusements, friendships and feelings.

Care should be taken to protect it from scratches, sharp blows, household chemicals, and extreme temperature change. To maintain the brilliance of the opal, it should be wiped clean with a soft cloth. Do not use ultrasonic machine or jewelry cleaner. Opal sources are Australia, Mexico, and the U.S. Tourmaline is sometimes used as a birthstone for October and spans the spectrum from red to violet. It also occurs in color combinations in one stone, which accounts for its popularity. It is not fragile as opal and is sometimes selected by those who prefer faceted stones.


Topaz is the accepted birthstone for November. Blue topaz the accepted anniversary gemstone for the 4th year; imperial topaz is for the 23rd year of marriage. Most people think of topaz as a transparent golden yellow gemstone. However, this gemstone occurs colorless as well as orange-yellow, red, honey-brown (dark sherry), light green, blue, and pink. The name topaz is derived from the Greek word meaning “to shine” and also implies “fire”. Orange-red “imperial” topaz and pink colors are rare and most valuable. The love, magic, and romance of topaz goes back many thousands of years. It holds the distinction of being the gemstone with the widest range of curative powers. The Greeks felt it gave them strength. In addition, it supposedly cooled tempers, restored sanity, cured asthma, relieved insomnia, and even warded of sudden death. Topaz is said to make its wearer invisible in time of emergency. It proved the loyalty of associates by changing color in the presence of poison.

As part of the normal fashioning process, most brownish to sherry topaz is heated to produce a permanent pink color. Certain types of topaz are irradiated and heated to produce shades of blue. Topaz is found mainly in Brazil, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and China. Citrine is often used as an alternative to topaz because it appears in many of the same colors of topaz. Unlike topaz, citrine is readily available and inexpensive even in large sizes.Topaz

Turquoise is the accepted birthstone for December and is accepted anniversary gemstone for the 11th year of marriage. Colors of turquoise range from sky blue (most desirable color), blue green, and apple green. The name means “Turkish stone”, because the trade route that brought it to Europe used to come via Turkey. The best qualities are found in northeast Iran (Persian turquoise). However, the southwestern United States is now the world leader in production. The deposits in Sinai were already worked out by 4,000 B.C. At that time the stone was used for jewelry, amulets and in the preparation of cosmetics. During the 16th century turquoise was used as currency by the Southwest Native Americans. They believe the gemstone could bring spoils to the warrior, animals to the hunter, and the happiness and good fortune to all.

Although large Quantities of beautiful turquoise that have not been color enhance are available, today’s turquoise is commonly stabilize with plastic to improve its color and durability. Chalky varieties of turquoise are normally impregnated with oil or wax to enhance color. This color change way not be permanent. Care should be taken to protect the turquoise from scratches and sharp blows, hot water, and household chemicals. Do not use a home ultrasonic machine.


Caring for Your Colored Gemstone Jewelry

Put on jewelry, especially cultured pearls, after you apply makeup, perfume or cologne.

Remove jewelry before heavy yard work, home cleaning chores, working on heavy equipment or relaxing in a pool or spa (especially if you are in chlorine regularly).

After removing jewelry, wipe it gently with a soft cloth to remove residues of the day. Store items in a jewelry case ofr soft cloth so that they do not touch each other. This avoids the potential of harder gemstones scratching softer ones.

Discuss your potential insurance needs with your local jeweler or home insurance agent.

Discuss how to clean your jewelry with Villarreal Fine Jewelers or your local jeweler. Avoid home cleaning solutions, including home ultrasonics, unless you are sure the item is suitable for home cleaning. Some jewelry is suited to home cleaning with a mild soap solution and a soft brush. Always rinse and dry your jewelry thoroughly after cleaning and before storage.

Ask Villarreal Fine Jewelers or your local jeweler to clean your jewelry every six months.

At least once a year, ask Villarreal Fine Jewelers or your local jeweler to check the security of your jewelry. Are the prongs holding your gemstone secure? Is the clasp secure? Do the cultured pearls need to be restrung? Does the ring still fit securely or does it need to be resized ? During this check, your jeweler might also recommend a re-polishing of the gemstone itself in order to restore the gem’s original beauty.

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Precious platinum is the perfect choice for the woman of today – it is beautiful, versatile and elegant, yet it has hidden strength and resilience. The metal is pure, it has brilliant white sheen and is kind to the skin. It is also rare, a treasure coveted by influential individuals for centuries . Platinum is eternal, with and everlasting radiance and durability. Choosing this precious metal is the perfect way to express your own individuality, strength and style.

PLATINUM – The most precious of all metals

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The Platinum Basics

Americans love it. Some consider it the most elegant and timeless precious metal. It is the preferred metal of choice for celebrities. Celebrities such as Sarah Michelle Gellar, Madonna, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, Ashley Judd and numerous others. Celebrities and consumers alike are purchasing platinum jewelry ranging from bridal to fashion. They all want and deserve the very best!

  • Pure…most platinum is 90% or 95% pure platinum, whereas 18 karat gold is 75% pure and 14 karat gold is 58.5% pure gold.
  • Rare…ten tons of ore must be mined before producing a single ounce of platinum.
  • Strong…one gram of metal can produce fine wire more than a mile long.
  • Fashionable…its natural white color complements gold’s natural yellow shade.
  • Natural White Metal…compared to white gold, which began yellow but has alloys added to it to make it appear white.
  • Heavy…a six-inch cube weighs 165 pounds.
  • Dense…it will not wear away like other metals. When it is scratched the metal is merely displaced, never lost.
  • Durable…some of the worlds greatest treasures, like the Hope Diamond, are set in platinum to last for generations.
  • Distinctive…it has a rich tone that is all its own, and it’s more rare and valuable than white gold or silver.
  • Hypoallergenic…it will not cause an allergic reaction and does not tarnish.

engagement rings diamond rings

What is the difference between platinum and white gold?

It is naturally white, whereas yellow gold is alloyed with other metals to achieve a white look.l THE color of white gold is often further enhanced by plating the piece with rhodium. This plating can wear away, however, revealing the yellow-gray color of the white gold. A more immediate means of distinguishing the two metals is their comparative weight. E even a simple wedding band made of platinum is noticeably heavier than the same ring made of white gold, giving reassurance of its value. 

How do I know that a piece of jewelry is really platinum?

All platinum jewelry is marked Platinum, Pt or Plat. Its pure metal content can also be shown:

850 jewelry is 85% pure

900 jewelry is 90% pure

950 jewelry is 95% pure

999 jewelry is 99.9% pure

Why is this metal more expensive than gold?

  • The rarity of this precious metal means that its price is invariably higher than that of gold.
  •  Jewelry containing this metal is generally 95% pure platinum, compared with 18 karat gold jewelry which is 75% pure gold.
  • It is denser than gold, so a piece of platinum jewelry weighs over a third more than the same piece made of 18 karat gold.
  • The process of making a piece of platinum jewelry requires a higher level of craftsmanship.

engagement rings diamond bands

Will platinum jewelry scratch?

All precious metals can scratch , and platinum is no exception. However, the scratch on platinum is merely a displacement of the metal, and none of its volume is lost. Over time, the metal develops a natural patina, which many people find just as attractive as a polished finish.

Is platinum a new metal for jewelry?

This precious metal was used for decoration by both the ancient Egyptian and Inca civilizations and, in modern times, was the first material cable of securely holding diamonds in a delicate framework. This led to the creation of the beautiful Art Deco pieces of the 1920’s. Today, the understated elegance of platinum continues to enchant new generations of consumers.

How do I care for my platinum jewelry?

  • Store pieces separately in a jewelry box or chamois bag so they don’t get scratched by other items of jewelry.
  • Remove your jewelry when doing manual work.
  • Don’t handle bleach or harsh chemicals when wearing platinum jewelry. Although they won’t hurt the metal, chemicals may discolor gemstones.
  • Clean platinum periodically in the same way you clean other fine jewelry –  using a pre-packaged jewelry cleaner or by soaking it in a mild solution of soap and warm water, and then gently rubbing it with a soft cloth.
  • Have your platinum jewelry professionally cleaned once in a while. For your pieces set with gemstones, be sure to do this every six months.
  • If looked after properly, your jewelry should not need to be repaired. For adjustments, re-sizing, polishing and cleaning, look for a qualified jeweler with a platinum trained bench worker.

 Can I wear it if I have sensitive skin?

Because of its purity, the metal is hypoallergenic, therefore ideal for sensitive skin.

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Images courtesy of Platinum Guild International

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What you should know about sterling silver jewelry and gifts. Since the dawn of civilization men and women have been captivated by its spell and splendor. throughout the ages this mystical white metal has been used to mark historical milestones, celebrations, achievements and special occasions.

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No one knows with certainty when the first silver gift was bestowed. But as early as 3,100 B.C., ambassadors from Crete were already bringing vases made with this white metal as gifts for Egyptian rulers. The metal’s popularity has even influenced our languages and customs. A silver spoon has symbolized great fortune and privilege since the 17th century when the Spanish writer Cervantes cleverly acknowledged that not everyone was born with one in his mouth. The tradition of the “silver anniversary” dates back to Germany where it was customary to present a wreath made of the precious metal to a woman after 25 years of marriage. It is also a favorite medium for today’s most creative and innovative designers due to its affordability and malleability- it can be shaped into almost any form imaginable. A special gift of silver is a touching and lasting expression of affection, friendship, celebration, congratulation or thanks.

Defining the Elements

Silver is an element that occurs naturally in the earth and is generally considered too soft in its pure form for practical use in jewelry, giftware or flatware. An alloy such as copper is usually added to make the metal workable for jewelry.

  • Sterling  –  92.5 percent (925 parts) pure silver and 7.5 percent (75 parts) alloy metal. Sterling is the primary material used for this type of jewelry, giftware, holloware and flatware.
  • Coin –  90 percent (900 parts) pure silver and 10 percent (100 parts) alloy metal. As its name implies, it  was used to produce U.S. currency during the 19th century. It is no longer a commonly used material.
  • Vermeil – Pronounced “vermay,” vermeil is a French word describing sterling silver that has been electroplated with at least 100 millionths of an inch of karat gold.
  • Flatware – knives, forks, spoons and various serving utensils made of the white metal are commonly referred to by this term.
  • Holloware –  Tableware which is larger than flatware and is designed to function as containers and decorative pieces. This category includes bowls, vases, serving dishes, trays and candlesticks.
  • Giftware – Decorative and functional objects such as picture frames, desk accessories, key rings and vanity items.

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The content and quality of all jewelry and gift items must be accurately represented. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has established a set of stamps and markings to represent silver content and you should look for them when making a purchase. Only jewelry that is at least 92.5 percent pure can be called or labeled “silver,” “solid silver,” “sterling silver,” or “sterling.” If one of these terms is stamped on the jewelry you are purchasing then the piece meets the U.S. government standards. Sometimes, a piece will be stamped with “925,” “.925,” or “92.5” These are also appropriate markings and they assure you that you are buying genuine sterling jewelry. Coin silver is labeled as “coin silver,” “coin,” “900,” “.900,” or “90,” signifying that the piece contains at least 90 percent pure white metal. Any item that is  plated must be labeled as “silver plated,” “silver coated,” or “plated with silver.” In addition, the plating must be of sufficient thickness to ensure durability. Vermeil must have sterling silver base and a plating of at least 100 millionths of an inch of karat gold, Only items meeting this definition can be labeled “vermeil.” Look for the manufacturer’s trademark or hallmark on items. In addition to the quality marks described above, trademarks and hallmarks give you information about your purchase. Your professional jeweler can explain all of these markings to you in greater detail. Silver jewelry and gift items are priced based on their precious metal content, design and craftsmanship. A price based solely on weight and metal content does not reflect the work that has gone into the piece. Each piece of jewelry is unique and, if cared for properly, can last a lifetime. When purchasing a piece of jewelry or a silver gift item look for quality construction. Inspect the piece carefully. Pay special attention to fasteners or clasps, making sure catches work easily but are secure. Pin backs and earring posts should be strong and firmly attached to the piece with no visible marks. Lay chains flat to make sure the links don’t kin k or bend. For gift items, make sure that hinges, locks, picture stands and other items are securely attached an function properly. If your purchasing silver-plated items, inspect the piece to ensure that the plating is of the appropriate thickness and covers the entire piece.

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The beauty of sterling silver jewelry and gifts is part of this metal’s ageless appeal. Properly caring for your collection is a sure way to keep sterling looking its shining best. As with any fine jewelry or gift item, each piece of it should be stored individually, ether in its own soft pouch or in a separate compartment in a jewelry or storage box. If you toss your jewelry into a dresser drawer and allow pieces to rub against each other, scratches will result. Keep it in a cool, dry place. Sterling silver, like other precious metals, can oxidize with time. It is a good idea to store it in a tarnish-proof cloth or in drawers lined with tarnish resistant strips. If sterling does become tarnished, it is easily restored to its original gleam by using a paste, liquid polish, or a treated polishing cloth intended for use on this metal. Or you may simply wash the jewelry or sterling object with warm water, rubbing in a little soap or toothpaste, rinsing and then patting dry with a fine soft cloth. Avoid using tissue paper or paper towels as they can scratch sterling. Your professional jeweler should be able to provide you with cleaning materials specifically for the metal as well as directions for their proper use. The best way to prevent tarnish is to actually wear your sterling jewelry or use your items often. However, don’t wear this metal in chlorinated water or when working with household cleaners such as bleach or ammonia. Treat your pieces well and it will actually develop a lush patina and will reward you with a lustrous look.

Custom made unique Engagement Rings and Pendants | Villarreal Fine Jewelers - Austin's Custom Jeweler, Austin, TX “Your diamond engagement ring specialist”

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At Villarreal Fine Jewelers we love creating custom made engagement, wedding rings and other special occasion jewelry in beautiful, lustrous yellow and white gold adorned with diamonds and colorful gemstones. Beauty, Purity and Durability are the attributes that attract gold lovers to its alluring glitter for uniquely personal expression.

Gold’s Value To Us

The most alluring use of the sun-colored metal has always been in jewelry. The Egyptians, largest producers of gold in the ancient world, equated gold with the sun, the giver of life, and reserved its use for pharaohs only. The ancient Etruscans created meticulously hand-wrought objects using fine granules and threads of gold, a technique still practiced today. To this day, Chinese and Indian brides wear jewelry of 24-karat gold on their wedding day to ensure a lifetime of good luck and happiness.  A gift of gold jewelry says love and permanence as eloquently today as in all the ages past.

Golds Value To Us - Villarreal Fine Jewelers

The Characteristics of Gold

Gold combines four basic characteristics that make it a universally treasured possession:


Gold’s natural color can be further enhanced by alloying it with small amounts of other metals, yielding a spectrum of exquisite, subtle shades. Metalsmiths are able to create yellow, rose , green and white golds by adjusting the alloys.


It is estimated that only slightly more than 100,000 tons of gold have been taken from the earth during all of recorded history. And although gold can be ground in rivers, seas and land in many parts of the earth, it is not easily extracted. Opening a mind is a time-consuming and costly operation, and several tons of ore are required in order to produce just one ounce of the precious metal.


Look no further than the nearest museum, where gold jewelry, coins and artifacts from ancient civilizations attest to the metal’s enduring beauty and permanence.


Jewelers throughout the ages have preferred gold to all other metals for its beauty and ease of workmanship. Gold can be melted, or shaped, to create any design. It can be alloyed with a number of other metals to increase its strength and produce a variety of colors and can be re-melted and used again to create new designs.

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 How to Buy Karat Gold Jewelry

Look for the quality mark. Pure gold, or 24-karat, is generally considered too soft for use in jewelry, so gold is alloyed with other metals to increase its strength.

Eighteen-karat gold is 18/24ths, or three quarters, pure gold.

In the United States, 14-karat gold is used most commonly for jewelry. Fourteen-karat gold is 14/24ths, or slightly more than one-half, pure gold.

Nothing less than 10-karat gold can be legally marked or sold as gold jewelry in the United States.

Look for trademarks accompanying the quality mark. When a piece of jewelry is stamped with a quality mark, law requires that it be stamped with a hallmark or trademark as well. Sometimes the jewelry is also marked with its country of origin. These designations are designed to assure you that you are buying genuine gold jewelry of the karatage marked.

Quality Marks on Karat Gold Jewelry


Because gold is alloyed with other metals to increase its strength, it can also be made in a variety of colors. For example, yellow gold is created by alloying the metal with copper and silver; using copper only creates pink gold; white gold contains nickel, zinc and copper; green gold contains silver, copper and zinc.

Alloys Used in Karat Gold

Gold Pricing

Pricing is based on four factors: karatage, weight, design and craftsmanship. The karatage and wight tell you how much gold is in a  piece, but other crucial factors determining price are the piece’s construction and design. A price based solely on weight does not reflect the work that has gone into the piece. It’s important to remember that each piece of gold jewelry is unique and, if cared for properly, can last a lifetime. Look for quality construction. When buying a piece of gold jewelry, be sure to inspect it carefully. Pay special attention to fasteners or clasps, making sure catches work easily but are secure. Likewise, the backs of pins and earring posts should be strong and firmly attached to the piece, with  no soldering marks visible. With gold chain,k lay it flat and make sure the links don’t kink or bend.

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Caring for Your Gold Jewelry

Gold is lasting and durable, but it can get scratched or dented if treated roughly. Gold’s worst enemy is chlorine. Repeated exposure can weaken gold’s structure, eventually leading to breakage. Keep your jewelry away from chlorinated cleaning products and out of swimming pools and jacuzzis.

Protect your gold jewelry by storing it safely or keeping it wrapped in a soft cloth when no being worn.

Clean your gold jewelry with a cleaning solution of sudsy lukewarm water , or bring it to your local jeweler and have it steam-cleaned.

Dry polish jewelry with a chamois or soft cloth after cleaning and rinsing.

Keep gold jewelry free from dust, moisture, perspiration and makeup.

Always inspect your gold jewelry for weakness or damage and bring it to a professional jeweler for immediate repair. Your jeweler will be able to restore it for you.

Where to Buy Karat Gold Jewelry

You can buy gold jewelry in many types of stores, and “incredible discounts” are not hard to find. However, the best place to start is with your local jeweler. But to make sure you get jewelry that you will be happy with now and for years to come, follow a simple rule: buy from a professional, someone you can trust. Choose a local retailer who has been serving the community for a number of years and has an established reputation. Ask if the jeweler is a member of Jewelers of America, the national association for retail jewelers. Or look for the “J” mark on the door.

JA jewelers are knowledgeable, and they have a wide selection of fine jewelry that will make putting your gold jewelry wardrobe together easy and fun. They will not only help you with this purchase, but they will be there in the future to answer all you questions and help you with your purchases, repairs, and custom design. JA members have signed and abide by a Code of Ethics, so you can buy with confidence from your JA member jeweler. Villarreal Fine Jewelers – proud members of Jewelers of America, Inc.

Courtesy of Jewelers of America, Inc.

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An important question that we are asked most often is “Where do I purchase insurance for my jewelry?” Whether you live in Austin, Central Texas or anywhere within the country, we always recommend our clients protect their investment by purchasing insurance for their newly purchased diamond engagement, wedding or anniversary ring, as well as other custom designed jewelry items. After all, your personal jewelry will become sentimental family heirloom pieces that will be passed down from generation to generation –  all the more reason to be properly insured. Below are more reasons why you should protect your highly prized jewelry items.

Personal Jewelry Insurance from Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company

Jewelry insurance

Jewelry insurance

Your favorite pieces of jewelry reflect who you are and connect you to special moments with the ones you love. Jeweler Mutual Insurance Company – the only insurer specializing exclusively in jewelry insurance for more than 100 years – offers repair or replacement coverage to protect your jewelry for all its worth.

We trust Jewelers Mutual and believe you deserve a professional, informative jewelry insurance experience so that you can wear your jewelry without worry.

Jewelers Mutual Advantages:

  • Comprehensive repair or replacement coverage that often goes beyond standard homeowners insurance and warranties
  • Worldwide protection against theft, damage, loss and even mysterious disappearance
  • Flexibility to work with your own jeweler; no need for multiple estimates
  • Licensed agents, GIA Graduate Gemologists and American Gem Society Certified Gemologists on staff whose passion and specialty is jewelry
  • Personal, professional assistance with every call, question or claim

Visit JewelersMutual.com to learn more, get a free quote or apply online. If you have any questions, please call Jewelers Mutual at (888) 884-2424.

Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company has provided the content on this page. Underwritten by Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company, Neenah, Wisconsin. Coverage and pricing are subject to underwriting review and approval, and to policy terms and conditions.


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