Herbert Marcus Sr. left his job to found a new business with his sister Carrie Marcus Neiman and her husband, A.L. Neiman. In 1907 the trio had $25,000 from the successful sales-promotion firm they had built in Atlanta, Georgia, and two potential investments of funds. Interestingly enough, they were offered ownership in Coca-Cola at the time yet declined the investment opportunity. The store, which opened on September 10, 1907, was lavishly furnished and stocked with clothing of a quality, something not commonly found in Texas. THe store sold most of its inventory within a few weeks as oil rich Texans were looking for places to spend their money. By the 1920s-1930s Neiman Marcus began expanding into jewelry as it meshed nicely for their clients. Original Neiman Marcus designed and crafted pieces can be found from time to time. The extravagance continued in all things including jewelry when, in 1952, Stanley Marcus introduced extravagant and unusual gifts in each year's Christmas catalog. The idea was sparked when a journalist discussed with Marcus on air if the store would be offering anything unusual that might interest his radio listeners. Marcus invented on the spot the idea of selling a live Black Angus bull accompanied by a sterling silver barbecue cart. After the interview and press they altered the catelog to offer the bull and sterling BBQ for $1925. Neiman Marcus continued to make headlines for years and in November 2013 they discovered a 25-carat rough diamond off Namibia's coast, which was valued with a reserve price tag of $1.85 million. The diamond was referred to as the "Nam Diamond".
To learn more about jewelry designers check out a Makers Biographies section.
NFT's and Jewelry. NFT's and diamonds. Nft's and Gemstones. what is an nft? how are nft's changing the world?
Non-fungible tokens (NFT) are digital assets that represent a wide range of unique tangible and intangible items. They are changing the world from sports cards to virtual real estate and to even jewelry. We are one of the first companies in the jewelry industry to get in on the NFT space and early.
The main benefit of owning a digital collectible versus a physical collectible like a is that each NFT contains distinguishing information that makes it both distinct from any other NFT and easily verifiable. This makes the creation and circulation of fake collectibles pointless because each item can be traced back to the original issuer. So in certain high value pieces owning the NFT for that piece can be important. For example any of our photos we are able to convert to NFT's for you should you purchase a piece from us for an additional charge you can buy the rights to those photos.
Some important things about NFT's that make them attractive to own as a part of purchasing a piece from us:
In 1896 in Paris France Salomon Arpels and his son-in-law Alfred Van Cleef founded the trailblazing brand in fine jewelry. Van Cleef & Arpels baubles have long been coveted by royals, celebrities and other members of high society. The brand even patented the “Mystery Setting”, which is a proprietary technique that allows the prongs of a jewelry piece to be nearly invisible. VCA's unique offerings make many of their pieces in a league of their own.
That being said creating such beautiful items attracts the attentions of copycats and counterfeiters. Though some do make a fairly convincing imitation, there are usually different tells that one can look for to identify a fake. We will try to outline some of them as we have been writing a book for about 12 years on counterfeit jewelry such as VCA, Cartier, Winston etc. One thing to note is these tells are based on our experience and opinion and are not to be taken as advice. We recommend sending the items to Van Cleef and Arpels for authentication for more guaranteed results however this is a paid service (the cost is around $2000 we were told but cannot guarantee the accuracy)
Our methods are meant as a guide, and not a foolproof security measure, they will definitely help you separate a genuine piece from a counterfeit VCA piece however they are not perfect. Some counterfeits can be easier to spot than others, so thorough inspection and caution are highly advised.
Trademarks, Hallmarks, Serials, Styles, Local
There are three main things that become important in identifying a genuine versus counterfeit vca piece.
*Always look at the entire piece. The quality of build and quality of stones. VCA pieces are coveted because of their quality.
If you've found a Van Cleef & Arpels piece that's being sold for an uncharacteristically low price its likely because it isn't real. There are price differences from store to store and online shop to online shop, but when comparing prices, they are mostly very close in price. If a price is much lower its likely not correct. The price tag is high for a reason, VCA makes quality. Quality, design, reputation, and skill are all reflected in the cost of each piece.
Van Cleef & Arpels is crafted by hand with high quality materials and techniques. There is a great amount of time and labor that goes into each piece, you will understand why a Van Cleef & Arpels is coveted. Each piece should be outstanding. So if anything about the piece is of doubt its best to pass. There should be no gap between stones, all stones should be cut to perfection. Diamonds with easily noticeable inclusions are not VCA pieces. Serial numbers, hallmarks and trademarks should be smooth and legible, very very rarely crooked or sloppy.
Consider the Source
Certain preowned websites and even local jewelers may need extra caution and attention. Fraudulent sellers love websites and they make it easy for them to sell, with false information, photoshopped or stolen photos, etc. Many times your item arrives and is not what you ordered, is clearly a fake, or worse yet, you shell out money for authentication only to be told it's not an authentic piece later on. ALWAYS shop with a reputable, honest seller, with EXPERT KNOWLEDGE, also with an excellent record. Buying from a trusted jeweler very much increases the chance of you securing an authentic piece of Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry. NOTE: a local jeweler may not have the experience with buying or selling a VCA piece. They may be an expert of their craft however doing business with a company that has experience with buying and selling VCA daily may be a better direction to consider. We constantly review both genuine and counterfeit pieces. In fact we have been tracking counterfeiters progress for approximately 12 years documenting signatures and tells.
Note: These notes are just our opinions and experience and in no way are any advice in buying or selling piece.
We are serious buyers and sellers of all things Van Cleef and Arpels. Our experience is vast from Alhambra collection pieces, to custom one of a kind pieces, and even watches. Should you have a piece to sell we are serious buyers and have collectors all over the world who are personal friends and clients of ours this helps to make sure you are getting top dollar for your pieces. If you are looking for an authentic VCA piece we are happy to help.
Opal gemstones: Opal values, Opal prices, opal information What makes opal valuable? how much is opal worth? what is my opal worth?
Opal is the product of water that drenched dry ground in regions such as Australia’s semi-desert “outback.” The showers soaked deep into ancient underground rock, carrying dissolved silica downward. The silica spheres deposit and during dry periods, the water evaporates leaving deposits of silica in between layers of underground sedimentary rock. The silica deposits form opal.
Opal is known for its unique display of flashing rainbow colors called play-of-color. There are two broad classes of opal: precious opal and common opal. Precious opal displays play-of-color, common opal does not. Play-of-color occurs in precious opal because it’s made up of silica spheres which have stacked in a grid-like pattern. As light-waves travel between the spheres, the waves diffract, or bend. As they bend, they break up into the colors of the rainbow, called spectral colors. Play-of-color is the result.
Although gem opals can be divided into many different categories, five of the main types are:
Did you know?
In 1829 The novel “Anne of Geierstein” gave opal a reputation of being unlucky but actually is only unlucky if you haven't purchased yourself some!
Calculating the value of an opal is actually quite complex as many factors go into valuation of an opal
As internationally recognized opal experts we are serious buyers of opals. In fact we currently have opals on display in museums! If you have loose, or mounted opal in jewelry we would love the opportunity to evaluate it!
How to know the purity of my gold? what are ways to check gold purity? how does a jeweler know the purity of gold?
We are often asked "How do I find out the purity of my gold?" or "How do I test the quality of my gold?."
Lets start with the basics:
Here we discuss a few different methods used widely to test the purity of gold. There are a number of different ways jewelers use to check the purity of gold.
Here at Velvet Box Society we use ALL of these methods in house and verify our materials in different ways based on subject matter. With the volatility in the price of gold and other precious metals, we cannot afford the time or the potential inaccuracies to not check every single piece. So if you should have items you wish to sell we'd be happy to assist in the matter. For more information contact us directly as we offer this service for dealers as well as the public!
How to sell gold? How to find someone to sell gold to? Who buys gold? What to know when selling gold? antique jewelry buyers?
We get a lot of inquires from customers regarding buying old jewelry. YES WE BUY ALL JEWELRY, COINS, GEMSTONES, DIAMONDS, and WATCHES. So I thought this will be a good blog topic to cover and provide solid tips to our customers and readers on how to effectively sell gold jewelry.
We welcome the opportunity to evaluate your items. Whether you are a dealer, a retired jeweler, or the public we are happy to help.
Can 22k gold tarnish? Can real high karat gold discolor or tarnish? Can real gold tarnish? does gold tarnish?
When your gold jewelry tarnishes, it does not mean that it is not real gold; it only means that your gold jewelry is not 'pure' gold or 24 karat gold. Any purity which is below 24 karat gold can tarnish or discolor under certain circumstances which we will discuss here. The information available online is very confusing, so for our readers benefit, we have written this blog to provide authentic information on how real gold can tarnish, become black or discolor and have also included tips and preventive measures.
999 gold or 24 karat gold is also called pure gold or 100 percent gold. This means that all 24 parts in the gold are all pure gold without traces of any other metals. It is known to be 99.99% pure. Only pure 24K gold stays shiny, and it does not rust, discolor or tarnish as pure gold is the least reactive chemical element. 24 karat gold is often too soft to be used in jewelry so it is usually alloyed with other base metals to make it more useable.
Generally 999 gold is used to make bullion, coins and bars as well as use in electronics and medical devices. Other gold purities like 22K, 18K, 14k and 10k are alloyed with other metals such as silver, copper, zinc, and nickel to make gold jewelry because the alloys increase the hardness of the metal and helps the metal gain a higher polish and brighter luster. It is these other base metals alloyed with gold that actually react with or to oxygen, sulfur, and moisture and at times. These reactions discolor or tarnish gold jewelry sometimes making it black in color. Gold tarnishing is the slight corrosion of the gold surface and is evident as a dark discoloration of the gold item, also called a tarnish film. Real gold jewelry can sometimes tarnish or become black and discolor. But usually the higher the percentage of gold in the alloy, it is less likely for the gold jewelry to discolor or become black.
Some Reasons Gold Will Tarnish
Tips/ Preventive Measures:
INDIAN GOLD JEWELRY ALLOWANCE. INDIAN GOLD JEWELRY CUSTOMS REGULATION.
As per the latest Indian customs regulation (march 28 2018 reported), a male passenger can carry up to 20 grams gold jewelry duty-free into the country, provided that it has a maximum value of 50,000 Rupees. That being said, if you are a female passenger, your duty-free gold limit is 40 grams, with a maximum worth of 100,000 Rupees.
These same rules also apply to children, as long as they have been living abroad for longer than a year.
NOTE: the duty-free allowance is ONLY for plain gold jewelry and does not include studded gems or diamond jewelry or any other form of gold. So diamond a gemstone jewelry would not be included in that import.
Gold ornaments that are brought into the country that exceed these limits can be subject to a 10% customs duty. Additionally f you are planning on bringing other forms of gold into India, you may have to pay duties on it. If you are taking gold in any form other than jewelry, you must declare it! The duty-free allowance in India is ONLY for gold jewelry and NOT for gold coins, gold bars, or gold biscuits.
Few Steps NRIs/ US Citizens Can Initiate To Minimize Problems When Taking Gold Jewelry To India:
WE DO JEWELRY APPRAISALS!
It is good practice to have receipts, even an appraisal with photographs so that jewelry being carried is easily identifiable. If you intend to bring the jewelry back out of India when you leave, you should be prepared to present appraisals so the jewelry can be documented. If the jewelry was originally bought in India, you would need to provide proof (or have proof handy if necessary) to the custom officials. In the event the items are not identifiable and cannot be documented, your jewelry items can be held by customs, a receipt will be given to you and you can take it back when you leave India. To prevent this gap in being able to wear your jewelry simply contact us for an up to date appraisal noting the purpose of the appraisal!
DECLARING YOUR JEWELRY :
In the customs declaration form, a traveler should declare gold jewelry he/she is wearing or carrying. If you are carrying more than the duty-free gold jewelry allowance, you should consider declaring the jewelry items on arrival in India with the customs authorities and get the items endorsed on your passports for ease. Indian customs has proposed that a traveler can be charged 10% of the duty, which he/she can reclaim on his/her return. Indian customs can depute a jewelry appraiser to assess the value of gold jewelry so an accurate, up to date, professional appraisal is important (again we can handle this for you). For those who carry a lot of gold/jewelry and deliberately fail to declare the items on arrival, their gold/jewelry items can be confiscated and they can face fines and prosecution under the customs laws of India. NRI's/ US Citizens should also keep in mind that when they take jewelry to India from countries like USA and Canada they may be questioned by customs officials on their return.
CARRY A REASONABLE AMOUNT OF GOLD JEWELRY:
The primary purpose of customs officers in India regarding gold jewelry, is to stop the illegal importation of gold. Note: Most customs officers are not looking for NRIs/ US Citizens coming for a short visit and bringing in a reasonable amount of jewelry to wear during their stay. Most are looking for gold in a solid form or unreasonable quantities of gold jewelry being carried. A person wearing or carrying 50 gold bracelets is probably considered as a non-reasonable amount of jewelry being taken in for personal use. This would in turn make customs officials check such passengers. Should you wish to carry this type of quantity or more we are happy to offer our paid services for consulting on such matters.
CONSIDER GETTING JEWELRY APPRAISAL DONE IN YOUR HOME COUNTRY:
To avoid problems with customs officials at Indian airports, and quite frankly, your home country when you return, strongly consider getting an appraisal done before leaving. Here at Velvet Box Society for the purpose of travel we will photograph each piece and document all details of the piece including XRF analysis of exact metal content. This appraisal should be carried with the passenger and may help with Indian customs officers, as well as customs officers in the middle east, and other countries in Asia that your jewelry will travel back when you leave the country . Furthermore, an appraisal will help customs create a card in your home country (USA for example where we are located) to avoid problems when you return home with the jewelry.
REMAKING OLD JEWELRY:
In most foreign countries (outside the USA), when it comes to gold jewelry, customs will charge a duty on remade jewelry. Generally, depending on the country, they will treat it as an entirely new item. To clarify, you could take old gold ornaments from USA to India to get jewelry made there, technically the labor cost is likely to be less (though not always) and the quality would likely not be the same (though it depends on who is making it). When you return, duty payable would be calculated on the full appraised price and even though the gold was taken from USA it will be subject to duty. This duty would be collected on BOTH borders likely and is not recommended. Made in the USA has a nice ring to it as well.
DIAMONDS & OTHER STUDDED GOLD JEWELRY:
If you have jewelry set with precious stones or diamonds, these will not qualify for duty-free allowance. You will have to pay duty on them based on the quantity carried. The free allowance is only applicable for pure gold jewelry specified within Indian customs regulation. Other countries do differ.
HOW MUCH GOLD JEWELRY EACH PASSENGER CAN CARRY:
Each passenger can carry up to 1 kg (kilogram) of gold jewelry upon payment of customs duty. This is true particularly if the passenger has stayed abroad for a minimum of a year or more. Additionally, Indian customs will not allow more than 1 kg of gold jewelry even if the passenger is willing to pay the customs duty for it.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the author. For more information we would recommend reviewing International laws. These opinions and views are expressed at the above date and are subject and likely to change. We will not be held responsible or liable in any way shape or form for expressing these opinions or views. That being said we are happy to help with appraisals and do offer special expert consulting solutions for complex gemstone, gold, and diamond importation and exportation.
A Guide to Colored Stones
Colored gemstones have been revered for centuries, even before the field of gemology was invented. They were tumble, carved, polished, and faceted. Properties like color saturation and clarity characteristics are important aspects to consider when shopping for a colored gemstone.
Natural VRS Treated : Natural color is highly desired because in todays world these stones are exceedingly rare. Three things must coincide perfectly to accomplish an amazing natural color: chemistry, formation conditions, and time. These three factors combine to create some of the most beautiful colors naturally occurring on Earth. Some gemstones however are treated to help make a stone more appealing. Some treatments include:
Determining if a gem has been treated takes a careful eye to survey inclusions. With Velvet Box Society each piece has been evaluated to satisfaction by our trained Graduate Gemologist staff. Often times we will additionally accompany our pieces with a report from a major laboratory
Another important factor to value gemstones is:
Origin: Origin significantly contributes to the value of a stone for a few reasons. Firstly origin became a significant factor because certain areas of the planet are better incubators for certain gems to form and because this is the case certain areas historically have produced some of the top gemstones from that category gem and are hence known as the best stone in the world. Origin is difficult to assess by observation alone and usually is determined by the American Gemological Laboratories (AGL) or the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or other similar laboratory. You can read more about the different laboratories in our educational section on gemstones.
Synthetic gemstones have the same physical and chemical properties as their natural counterparts, these however, are grown in a laboratory instead of in the earth. Synthetics are dramatically less valuable than natural gemstones of the same size, color, and cut because they were not formed over a significant amount of time and in a laboratory. Hence synthetic gemstones are not rare. Synthetics tend to be very saturated and uniform in color and can be appealing for their price and overall look.
Assembled stones such as doublets or triplets can look like amazing gemstones and even test partially like their natural counterparts however their color is pulled from two or more stones being fused together.
All our pieces are evaluated and graded by our professionally trained staff including GIA Graduate Gemologists. Mountings prohibit full and accurate observation of gem quality and weight, all data pertaining to mounted gems can be considered as approximate unless accompanied by an independent laboratory report (GIA, AGL, Mason Kay or others).
If you need assistance in evaluating your colored stones, have questions about ours, or have interest in learning more simply contact us!
First of all, if you are looking for information on hallmarks, jewelry makers marks, or gold purity marks check out our educational pages under the brand tab you will find out much much more information there but we thought we'd summarize a few questions we get from time to time.
What does 916 & KDM mean?
This is quite simple, 916 represents the finesse of the gold in the jewelry. 91.6% of gold per 100%. The figure 916 denotes 22 carat (22 ÷ 24 = 916). And if you are wondering why not make jewels in pure gold, often times that depends on what the gold will be used for certain types of jewelry work better with 22k as 24k is much more soft and malleable. There is some 99% (24k) pure jewelry however delicate workmanship & intricate designs are not possible in pure gold.
KDM & Non KDM jewelry
So what does KDM jewelry mean? Considers the basic process in jewelry crafting, Soldering. Solder, in order to make jewelry will have a melting temperature lower than that of gold, so just the solder melts and joins gold pieces without melting the gold parts. Earlier this solder was a combination of Gold and Copper. Though there was no particular ratio for this solder, generally it was about 60% gold + 40% copper. Since this alloy was strong and easy to make, it was widely used in jewelry. The downside to this solder is that, the purity of the solder is only 60%. So when this jewel is melted, the quality will be less than 22 carat. This is the reason your old jewels may carry an seal of 22/20 (20 carat represents the melting purity).
To overcome this problem and maintain a high standard of gold purity, cadmium began to be used in place of copper. The advantage being that unlike the traditional gold & copper solder, gold and cadmium can be mixed in a ratio of 92% + 8%. In other words the solder itself has a purity of 92%. This ensured the finesse of jewel remains constant regardless of the amount of solder used. Such jewelry using cadmium began to be widely known as KDM jewelry.
But shortly after the introduction of cadmium, it was banned as it was found to cause health issues for artisans working with it and wearing high amounts of cadmium. After the ban, cadmium was replaced by advanced solders with Zinc and other metals. But the term “KDM” hung on and is still commonly used. So a KDM jewelry means it will have the same purity even when it is melted, as the solder itself has a purity of 92%.