Category Archives: Ask the Expert

Q&A with a Jeweler [Glittering Gold Edition]

Mom Pic (Resized)Peggy Woon is a GIA-accredited jeweler; now a retiree, she was in the jewelry industry for more than 30 years. For 28 years, she and her business partner co-owned the Silver Lining Jewelry store in Oakland, Calif.  Today, she spends her time spoiling 3 grandchildren and 2 German Shepherds, as well as volunteering with local non-profits. Unable to stay away from her first passion, she can also be found working the jewelry counter at the Oakland Museum of California’s White Elephant Sale and occasionally at Given Gold Jewelers on Piedmont Avenue.


What is the difference between 24k, 18k and 14k gold? 
When it is mined, it’s 24k solid gold. To make it into jewelry, they have to mix in different alloys to maintain hardness.

18k gold is 75 percent pure (that’s why they stamp it 750) plus 25 percent other alloys to make it hard enough to make it into jewelry.

14k is 525 parts gold and 475 parts different alloys.

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If someone wanted to buy a gold piece of jewelry, would you recommend they not get 24k gold because it’s too soft?
24k is really malleable, so unless it’s a really thick piece of jewelry to make it very strong, then it will bend. If you were to buy a thick 24k ring, for instance, it will conform to the shape of your finger.

When you’re shopping for gold jewelry for yourself, what do you typically buy? 
I mostly buy 14k. With 18k you really cannot see the difference, it’s just that you’d know the difference. Some people like having more pure pieces in their collection, but to the general onlooker, no one will know if it’s 14k or 18k.

What does ‘gold filled’ or ‘gold plated’ mean? 
Gold filled is alloy mixed with gold to make it stronger. Usually, it will turn to a shade that’s less shiny than 14k. Typically they’ll do a flash coating of 14k on the outside to give it a nice 14k look, but that will wear away over time. Overall, it will stay a gold color, but it will not be as pretty of a color as what you’d get with 14k.

Gold plated means they’ve coated another metal, such as sterling or brass, with a coat of gold. It will wear off with time and the metal on the inside will show.

This is part of an ongoing series of blog posts featuring experts

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Q&A with a Jeweler [‘Real or Fake?’ Edition]

Mom Pic (Resized)Peggy Woon is a GIA-accredited jeweler; now a retiree, she was in the jewelry industry for more than 30 years. For 28 years, she and her business partner co-owned the Silver Lining Jewelry store in Oakland, Calif.  Today, she spends her time spoiling 3 grandchildren and 2 German Shepherds, as well as volunteering with local non-profits. Unable to stay away from her first passion, she can also be found working the jewelry counter at the Oakland Museum of California’s White Elephant Sale and occasionally at Given Gold Jewelers on Piedmont Avenue.


How can you tell if a piece of Silver or Gold is real? If silver is stamped 925, that’s the international code. If it sticks to a magnet, it’s not all silver; it’s some other metal. As for gold, you should also look for stamping; e.g.: if you see 565, 14k, 750, 18k or 24k, then that’s a good indicator that’s it’s real, but not a certainty.

925

What about Pearls? Rub pearls together. If it has a gritty feeling, they’re usually real. If it’s super smooth, they’re most likely not real. [If you only have 1 pearl to test, try rubbing it against your tooth to check the texture.]

Fine Gem Stones? They might be real, but could be color-enhanced by dye injection. This is hard to figure out for the untrained eye. I’ve looked at enough stones, though, that I can get a sense for whether they’re dyed, usually by noticing if the color is too even (no striations) or if it has a fake glass look to it.

Diamonds? At home, you can try to look at the stone closely for carbon and other natural flaws. If it looks too good to be true, it may not be real. This is very difficult to do with the human eye, though. Many jewelers have instruments that can be used to detect carbon in real diamonds. The invention of moissanite (a simulant) complicated things a bit because it can trick some diamond testers. While moissanite is more expensive than a cubic zirconia, it’s not as expensive as a real diamond. For instance, a moissanite 1 karat might be US$800 vs. US$5,000 for a real 1 karat diamond. Today, though, there are tools that can test for moissanite versus a real diamond.

Fine Watches, such as a Rolex? Some watch makers or repair experts can verify a watch by checking the serial numbers. In the case of a Rolex, oftentimes a consumer can look at the watch face and see if the hands have a smooth sweep. If it’s tick-tick-ticking along, that’s not a Rolex. A real Rolex will have hands that appear to glide. Also, if there’s a battery, that’s usually not a real Rolex; most Rolex watches are automatic.
When in doubt, you can bring your pieces to an expert who has instruments that can be used to probe the material to check the authenticity and integrity of the jewelry.

This is part of an ongoing series of blog posts featuring experts.

How to Pick the Perfect Pumpkin – Experts Weigh In

The air is still warm with what feels like a late summer breeze, but according to the calendar and our coffee cups – pumpkin-spiced everything! – the fall season is here. When you’re ready to pick out a pumpkin, whether for decorating or baking, we’ve got some great information from experts to share with you this week! Two California-based farms were kind of enough to provide their advice for today’s blog post.

“Picking the perfect pumpkin isn’t about looks as much as it is about freshness.  Pumpkins have a very long shelf life, so you have no idea how long a pumpkin has been in a big box store when you get it home to carve or decorate. For pie pumpkins and regular pumpkins, you can judge freshness by how firm the flesh is.  The more “give” the pumpkin has, the older it is. For a very fresh pumpkin, try to go to a local farmer or pumpkin patch, pick it from the field, and find whichever one is visually appealing to you!” – Justin Bloss of Vierra Farms / Dave’s Pumpkin Patch, West Sacramento, CA

“Select winter squash that are hard and heavy for their size – avoid cracked shells or those with decayed areas. Hard-shelled squash can be stored at room temperature for 2 months, and in a cool, dry place for 3-6 months. Squash that is already cut should be wrapped in plastic and will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Cooked and mashed squash can be frozen and stored for up to 6 months.” – Cindy Groverman of Petaluma Pumpkin Patch, Petaluma, CA

If you’re in Northern California, make sure to visit Dave’s Pumpkin Patch and Petaluma Pumpkin Patch to check out their beautiful fields and wonderful selection of very fresh pumpkins!

We’d love to see the squash that you choose for your homes this fall. Please upload your photos to social media and tag us on Facebook or Instagram. Happy pumpkin picking! pumpkins2