Good to Know

A LITTLE ENCYCLOPEDIA FOR THE JEWELLERY LOVER

Diamonds

You have Charm, Charisma, Character and Class – but what are the four C’s that define a quality diamond?

Cut

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Let's begin with ‘cut’ - referring to the visible shape of a diamond (pear, emerald, square, and round) but, like a fine wine or classic romance novel, there’s more to it than that. Cut is also about how the angles and facets sparkle off each other, the symmetry of the cut and the polish of the surface. In a nicely symmetrical diamond, more light is reflected towards your (admiring) eye but, in a poorly cut diamond light escapes through the sides and bottom, meaning a duller look.

The cut determines the value of your diamond, because in a well-cut stone the brilliance and beauty of diamond is fully achieved. Round diamonds tend to be the most brilliant, followed by square cuts. To cut a long story short, the more light a diamond reflects, the better the cut.

 

Clarity

Image 3637 3c Diamond Clarity 500pxClarity measures the flawlessness of a diamond. The clearer the diamond, the more valuable it is - although diamonds, like people, gain some charming character from their ‘flaws’. Diamond flaws are natural birthmarks called ‘inclusions’ if inside the diamond and ‘blemishes’ if on the surface. Experts measure clarity with a loupe, a small powerful magnifying glass, and assess five key aspects:  

  • The size of the inclusions/blemishes
  • Their number
  • Their visibility
  • Placement (off to the side is less serious than a central inclusion)
  • Nature–could the inclusion/blemish affect the diamond’s durability? 

 

Colour

Image 0473 3d Diamond Colour 200pxAs a child we all have our favourite colours – perhaps you still do? When it comes to rocks, some people covet the purity of a clear, colourless diamond, while others find a yellow diamond warmer in tone. Prefer royal blue? At once, your majesty. 

The differing colouration of diamonds comes down to natural chemistry. A white diamond is pure carbon but other natural elements sometimes enter the mix at source, resulting in a chemical reaction and new colouration - for instance, nitrogen (yellow) or boron (blue).

A diamond's setting can also change its appearance. A yellow gold setting makes a light yellow diamond appear whiter by contrast, but platinum or white gold setting will amplify the yellow. A colourless diamond, meanwhile, may pick up the tint of a yellow gold setting. So remember, think about both your stone and the setting that will best complement it.

 

Carat

Image 3495a 3e Diamond Carat 500pxCarat in diamonds has nothing to do with the ‘karat’ in gold, and means something totally different. A carat is a unit of measure for a diamond’s weight and is evaluated on a points system. One carat = 100 points and 2mg (a bigger rock); a half-carat diamond = 50 points and 1mg (smaller), and so on. Diamonds are weighed using highly sensitive electronic gem scales. One-carat diamonds are discovered less often than the smaller stones and so a single one-carat diamond will cost more than two half-carat diamonds - even if their other 3 C’s are identical.

Remember that bigger may not always be better; if you have a small hand, a smaller diamond will appear bigger – and there are sneaky ways that certain settings can also make diamonds look bigger.

The largest diamond ever found is still the Cullinan Diamond (S.A., 1905) which weighed in at a jaw-dropping 3 000+ carats (or 1.3 pounds). Cut down into smaller diamonds, some pieces of the Cullinan are now part of the British Crown Jewels, making them a Queen’s best friend.

Whatever combination of the four C’s makes up your chosen NWJ diamond, you can rely on accurate valuation and pricing – with a beautiful extra sparkle of our famous value for money.

Gold

Image 0440 3f Gold 400pxThere’s something about gold that never gets old.

Much-loved gold is a versatile metal to work with and retains its glorious lustre, unlike many other metals. But not all gold has the same value or durability – it all depends on the karat factor (not ‘carat’, which refers to diamonds).

The karat is the standard measurement for gold and is divided into 24 parts. Pure gold is 24 karats, meaning 24 out of its 24 parts are gold – this makes for your ‘yellowest’, most classical-looking gold, but it’s also a pretty soft gold to work with. To increase its strength, gold is diluted with other metal alloys, decreasing its purity but increasing its strength. For instance, 14K gold is 14 parts gold and 10 parts other alloys, while 18K gold is 18 parts gold and 6 parts other alloys. The alloys used can also affect gold’s colour: ‘pink gold’ is created by adding large amounts of copper while green gold requires copper, silver and zinc. For white gold, mix it up with copper, zinc and nickel or palladium.

When it comes to rings, most people still prefer the more ostentatious, traditional yellow gold; but white gold settings are better for white diamonds because they won’t cast a yellow hue into the diamond. In some jewellery pieces, white and yellow gold are paired together for a lovely two-tone look.

At NWJ our membership of the Jewellery Council of SA, and the SABS mark on our gold pieces, guarantees that they meet international standards. It also verifies that each piece is real gold and that the percentage of pure gold it contains (the karat rating) is accurate.

White or yellow, green or pink – browse our affordable range and you’ll be sold on our gold.

Pearls

raw 173 3l pearls 399pxA gift shaped by nature…

Next time you take a look at your precious pearl jewellery, remember that it is one of a kind.
Pearls are the only ‘gemstone’ made by living animals, which gives them a special and unique allure. Who would have thought that it takes between 5 and 20 years for a salt water pearl to develop and between 1 and 6 years for a fresh water pearl to develop? Precious indeed!
Colours of pearl vary from pristine white to grey, red, blue, green – even black – depending where it is grown.

Did you know…

  • A pearl is a hard object produced within the soft tissue of a living shelled mollusc
  • All molluscs can make pearls, not just oysters
  • Like diamonds, every pearl is unique
  • The oldest known pearl jewellery fragment was found in a sarcophagus that was buried in about 500 BC
  • Irritants can enter oysters naturally, too, resulting in a ‘natural pearl’ being formed. These are rarer than human-cultivated pearls, and thus more expensive.

Pearls are very delicate and need to be gently cared for – once you have purchased your pearl jewellery, please be sure to read up on our tips for caring for your pearls.

Gemstones

Make your month with a personal keep sake.

There are over 130 types of minerals that have been classed as gemstones, ranging from diamonds on down, but if we were to delve into all of them here, your clicking hand may soon tire. So we’ll focus on what many view as the most special of the gemstones – the birthstones.

Each of our calendar’s 12 months has its own birthstone. The idea of birthstones has been around for millennia. Today, some people still believe that a birthstone imbues its owner with magical powers or wards off evil (you’ll find a lot of them at folk festivals in the desert). For other people, birthstones are simply fanciful fun. Pick yours out from the guide below, wear it around town and let us know if you develop special powers - or just get lots of new admirers.

All gemstones have a hardness rating on the Mohs scale, which was developed in 1812 by German mineralogist Friedrich Mohs. The higher the rating, the tougher the gemstone; a diamond is a 10, while talc sits at a lowly 1. More fragile gems should be worn less often and handled with extra care against scratching.

Click Here to Shop Our Gemstone Collection

 

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JANUARY: GARNET
The most popular and inexpensive gemstone is January's African garnet (a good thing since many of us spend a lot over December.) It's a rich brick or dark red stone with a good lustre and even colour. Garnets are available in many different shapes and are mainly mined in South Africa, Mozambique, Brazil, the United States and Mexico.

 

 

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FEBRUARY - AMETHYST
An amethyst is a purple to almost-pink variety of quartz, and is the most prized variety of the quartz family.  It is important when choosing an amethyst to ensure the stone is even in colour and not patchy. Amethysts are mainly mined in Brazil, Spain, North Carolina and Russia.

 

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MARCH: AQUAMARINE
This beautiful gemstone belongs to the Beryl family (nothing to do with Aunt Beryl) and is normally found in Brazil, Madagascar and Nigeria. Its magical green-blue colour is due to the presence of iron traces. Aquamarines are thought to have therapeutic effects on the wearer and defend the body from negative energy. The deep rich blue aquamarines are rarer and therefore more valuable.

 

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APRIL: DIAMOND
Lucky for all the girls born in this month, if not their hubby's wallet. Diamonds are made from carbon crystallised under great heat and pressure. Diamonds have a hardness of 10 on the Mohs scale and are recognised for their exceptional durability, which makes them resistant to any form of abrasion from other minerals.

 

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MAY: EMERALD
In previous centuries, emerald was believed to promote honesty and frugality and to hold within it the promise of new life in springtime. Emeralds are precious stones of great value and intrigue. Their colours vary from brilliant green to soft blue or pale leaf greens. Emeralds are mined in Colombia, Brazil, South America, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Zambia.

 

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JUNE: PEARL
A pearl is rather different from the rest because it's not found in the earth. Cultured pearls are formed inside oysters, with the assistance of man. Pearl cultivators insert a small shell nucleus into the fleshy interior of a pearl oyster. The rest of the grunt labour is done by the oyster, which coats the nucleus with a nacreous material that hardens to form the pearl. Then, shame, people take it away from the oyster.
Cultured pearls are amongst the most adaptable items in jewellery. Their simple elegance makes them an ideal choice in a wide range of pieces including necklaces, earrings and rings. There are a variety of shapes including baroque, pearl, barrel, round and 'mabe' (half sphere). Because cultured pearls are formed by a natural process, the shapes cannot be predetermined.

 

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JULY: RUBY
Rubies are regarded as symbols of freedom, charity, dignity and divine power. Like sapphires, they vary in strength of colour and their value is dependent on two factors - colour and the number of inclusions. Depending on the size, cut and quality of a ruby they are usually more expensive than sapphires. A hardness of '9' means that these stones are very durable. The finest rubies are found in Burma, although Thailand is the main source.

 

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AUGUST: PERIDOT
Peridot is the name applied by jewellers to the mineral know to mineralogists as "olivine'. Peridot has a highly characteristic green colour and vitreous lustre that makes it a popular gemstone for jewellery. It is usually transparent and has very few inclusions. It has a hardness of '6.5' to '7', so it is reasonably resistant to daily wear. Gem cutters are able to cut the Peridot into many inventive and mixed cuts. The main sources are the island of Zebiget, Arizona (USA), the Hawaiian Islands, Burma and Brazil.

 

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SEPTEMBER: SAPPHIRE
Sapphire is regarded as a symbol of truth, sincerity and constancy. A durable and versatile gemstone, it has a hardness of '9' on the Mohs scale - the hardest being a diamond at '10'. Sapphire is aluminium oxides know as corundum (not nearly as romantic a name as sapphire). This stone is valued according to the evenness and depth of colour, as well as the lack of visible inclusions. While most people think of sapphires as a deep blue, they actually come in a variety of colours including yellow, green, pink, different shades of blue and colourless.

 

Opal Stone
OCTOBER: OPAL
Opals are popular for their iridescent flashes of colours. They are mainly shaped into cabochon (smooth not faceted) as they are brittle. They can also be damaged easily by chemicals, perfume, hand cream and daily wear. Solid opal has a hardness of only '5' to '6.5' on the Mohs scale and since it is easily damaged it's not suitable for daily wear –best worn as occasional dress rings, earrings and pendants. The fiery opal or triplet is a harder-wearing opal and comes in a variety of lively colours - the blues, greens and reds being our most popular. Opals are mainly mined in Australia, but the bright orange fire opal comes from Mexico. It is said that those who fall under this birthstone have great foresight – or did you know that already?

 

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NOVEMBER: TOPAZ
A very popular stone, the Topaz - which is mined all over the world - occurs in a variety of shades ranging from transparent to yellows and greens or blues. It can be worn daily without significant damage or scratching, and can be cut into any shape desired. Our most popular cuts are marquise, round, oval, pear and octagonal. Hint: topaz sets up beautifully in white or yellow gold.

 

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DECEMBER: TANZANITE
Tanzanite is a very rare and precious gemstone, because it is only found in one location in the world - the Merelani hills of east Africa, at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Discovered only in 1967, it is said to be 1 000 times rarer than diamond. This rarity has seen it grow and grow in popularity in the 21st century. Due to its newfound fame, it was only declared in 2003 as the new birthstone for December. Tanzanite is blue in colour and shimmers in a slightly purplish hue. As with many coloured gemstones, Tanzanite is not ideally suited for everyday rings. To minimise the risk of harm, Tanzanite jewellery is suited for more selective wear.

Cleaning and Care

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'What do you mean, the dog ate my engagement ring!?'

Besides insurance cover, there are many little ways in which you can help your jewellery, watches or other 'smalls' stay safe and undamaged. These things, over the years, become a treasured part of our lives and may one day be passed down to future generations.

 

Some general tips:

  • Remove jewellery when doing housework/gardening (but don't leave it where a jewellery-loving puppy can get at it, either)
  • Do not store your jewellery or heirlooms in one drawer; keep each item separate in a jewellery box, ideally wrapped in velvet or silk
  • Check for loose stones on your rings frequently
  • We recommend professional cleaning once a year - any damage or wear and tear can then be detected and repaired if necessary
  • Clean your jewellery frequently to maintain sparkle and beauty. Nb. do not use toothpaste as its abrasives can damage softer gems and metals. Use NWJ jewellery cleaner (following the instructions on the box), or use mild soap and warm water, and gently wash and rinse in lukewarm water afterwards


Diamonds, silver and gold

While some jewellery metals are resistant to tarnishing, silver isn't. If you have a silver piece that you don't often wear, tarnish can build up on its surface. Regular polishing with a silver cleaner is the quick and easy solution, but it's important to clean tarnish early, or it can cause long-term damage to some jewellery. We recommend you use NWJ jewellery cleaner on your silver items, and rinse them in lukewarm running water after cleaning; then dry thoroughly. Any residue, cleaner or moisture left on jewellery can cause it to tarnish to a point that can't be restored to the original state.


Gemstones

All gemstones lose their lustre without the correct care and cleaning. Hand creams and perfumes can cause them to become dull but regular cleaning will restore them to their original beauty. While diamonds are practically invincible some stones, such as opals, are more prone to chipping than other gems. Make sure you find out upon purchase and wear/handle your items accordingly.


Pearls

Quality pearls are very durable but all pearls, because of their natural origin, need a little TLC. To clean off oils and dirt, just wipe with a soft cloth. Pearls can scratch, so store them separate from other jewellery which may scratch the pearls' surface. Keep pearls in linen, soft cloth, or place in a soft pouch – but never in anything airtight as pearls need moisture. They can't be too dry either - if placing them in a safety deposit box or in a hot environment, leave a damp cloth nearby. Keep pearls away from chlorine bleach, vinegar, ammonia, hairspray, perfume, and cosmetics. If you're hitting the gym and are somehow still wearing your pearls, remove them – they don't like sweat. Take your pearls to a professional to be strung once a year, if worn often.

Choosing The Correct Ring Size

Image-0395 diamondsv2If you like it then you better put a ring on it ...but when it comes to love, size matters! Here's how to work out the correct measurements of your next ring purchase. Download our Ring Sizer here

 

Measure finger size:

If measuring for a ring at home, measure your/your beloved's finger size at the end of the day when warm (in the morning, fingers are cold and actually smaller!). Measure it 3 or 4 times, to be sure. A lot of people use paper or string to take a measurement, don't - they can stretch, giving you an incorrect finger size. Thin wire is best.
Engagement and wedding rings are traditionally worn on the ring finger on the left hand. The ring should fit comfortably; tight enough not to slide off by itself, but loose enough that it will come off with a little tug.


Print document below to determine ring size:

NB! Before printing:Press CTRL+P

  • Set the Page Scaling to None on your print dialogue box;
  • Measure the bar on the left onscreen. It must be exactly 3cm long.


Lay the page flat and place the ring over the circles on the page, matching it to the circle nearest in size. This gives you the inside diameter of the ring, and a corresponding official ring size. If the ring seems to fall between two sizes of circle, then go for the larger size.

Guys, women, rings typically range from sizes 3 to 9, with the average being 6.
Ladies, your gent could be between 8 and 14, averaging 9. Fortunately, most rings can be resized (but not titanium).


For further assistance on ring sizing, please contact us on 0861 444 493

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