A. E. KÖCHERT

FAQs - CARE TIPS

Diamonds

When purchasing a large diamond (essentially any stone 0.50 ct in size or larger), you should always insist upon getting a certificate with it. The certificate should have been issued by one of the three globally-accredited gemstone laboratories, the GIA (Gemological Institute of America), the HRD and the IGI. 

One quick and easy method of checking whether a diamond has been remounted is to place the stone in question on a newspaper with its “face” downwards. If you can no longer see the newspaper type, then it’s highly likely that you are indeed dealing with a real diamond. This is because the powerful refraction of a natural diamond deflects the rays of light to such an extent that you’ll no longer be able to see the type beneath it.

The most highly-trusted criteria for classifying a diamond in terms of its quality and value are commonly known as the 4Cs. These Cs stand for:

Carat, Clarity, Colour & Cut

The carat is the unit of measurement used to specify a diamond’s weight. Always bear in mind the fact that the carat only specifies the weight of a diamond, and not its size.  One carat is the equivalent of 0.2 grams.

Clarity enotes a diamond’s purity (“fineness”). Totally flawless diamonds are exceptionally rare. Most diamonds contain minute features, commonly known as “inclusions”, which compromise their clarity. The smaller a diamond’s inclusions are, and the fewer such features it has, the more valuable the stone.

Colour classifies the colour of a diamond. The less colour a diamond has, the more valuable it is. This is because in a totally colourless diamond, white light is able to pass effortlessly through the stone, before emerging again in all the colours of the rainbow.

A diamond’s cut describes the way in which the stone has been cut, or ground. The stone’s cut serves to enhance its lustre and emphasise the optical effects inherent to that particular stone.

For further details, see our Diamond Guide.

A brilliant is a diamond cut in a specific way. The words “brilliant” and “diamond” are not synonyms, however. In fact, the term “brilliant” (without addendum) should only ever be used to describe a round diamond with a brilliant cut. The features of today’s brilliant cut include its circular girdle with at least 32 facets plus table in the stone’s upper section, and a minimum of 24 facets in the lower section, totalling 57 or 58 facets respectively (the 58th facet is produced when the tip of the underside of the stone is cut, creating a facet in its own right).

The term “karat”, meanwhile (abbreviated as “kt”, or “K”), is used to denote the proportion of a metal alloy made up of pure gold, or its “fine gold content”. The standard alloys used in gold are: 14kt – 585 out of every 1,000 parts gold; 18kt – 750 out of every 1,000 parts gold 

The abbreviation “ct” (for “carat”), meanwhile, denotes the weight of a gemstone or diamond (with one carat being the equivalent of 0.2 g).

Originally, the term carat comes from keration, the Greek word for the carob seed. With only minute variances, these seeds weigh exactly two-hundredths of a gram, and were once used as units of weight for small objects on balance scales.

Precious Stones

A jewel is a piece of jewellery containing one or more precious stones mounted in precious metal. Occasionally, precious stones which are cut but not mounted can also be denoted as jewels.

The more radiant a stone is, the more valuable it is. You can also tell how valuable a gemstone is by its “fire”, as it is known in the specialist jargon – the stone’s mesmerising inner “sparkle”.

A stone’s colour can also reveal a great many of its innermost secrets. In the case of coloured stones, the rule is that the more intense the stone’s colour saturation, the more valuable it is.

The more inclusions a precious stone has, the duller and more “vulnerable” it is deemed to be.

A large number of scratches on the surface is a sign either that the stone has been worn already, or that it has low hardness, and is therefore of low quality.

You can tell whether or not this is the case by checking the stone is sitting horizontally in its mounting, and the edge of the mounting has been crafted in such a way that it is smooth and shiny. In pronged mountings, it is important that the tips of the prongs are still lying “fully” over the stone. If prongs are worn-out, you run the risk of losing the stone.

Essentially, the types of cut can be subdivided into three groups: the faceted cut, the smooth (cabochon) cut, and the mixed cut. One well-known shape of faceted cut is the brilliant cut. Many other subtypes of faceted cut are used besides this.

For further details, see our Diamond Guide.

The cabochon is the main representative of the smooth cut. In the cabochon, the upper section is cut so that it is round, while the lower section is smooth or convex. In the mixed cut, meanwhile, the upper side of the stone is rounded and the lower faceted, or the other way around.

Precious Metals

Precious metals are metals resistant to corrosion, in other words largely able to withstand external influences. This is why gold and silver were originally used to produce jewellery and coins, at the time of the ancient Egyptians.

Normally, the metals processed to produce your jewellery will be gold, silver, platinum and palladium (a platinum metal). Pure gold alone is too soft to be processed into jewellery. As a result, it is usually alloyed with silver, copper or platinum metals. When doing this, the alloy has to meet certain minimum levels of fine gold content specified by law. In Austria, these are 14kt gold (in which 585 out of every 1,000 parts must be fine gold) and 18kt gold (750 out of every 1,000 parts fine gold)

Essentially, the rule is: the higher the fine gold content the material contains, the more valuable it is. You will be able to tell your jewellery is good quality if the material is not porous, but boasts a smooth surface instead.

Hallmarking an item of jewellery made of gold with “750” or “585” means it contains the equivalent of 750 parts fine gold out of every 1,000 (in 18kt gold) or 585 parts out of every 1,000 in 14kt gold. 

This means the alloy contains either 75% (18kt) or 58.5% (14kt) fine gold.

An alloy is a mix created by combining different precious metals. The three-digit numbers 750 and 585 indicate how many parts (weight) of a gold alloy consist of fine gold. The baseline for fine gold is 1,000 parts pure gold. This is referred to as the alloy’s “fineness”.

White gold, red gold and rosé gold are created by using slightly different mixes of additional metals with fine gold in an alloy.  White gold, for example, is created by mixing this fine gold with silver, zinc or platinum metals. Depending on the composition of the alloy metals, the jewellery will feature a more or less pronounced yellow tint. This is often offset by “rhodium plating” the jewellery in addition to this, to achieve a pure white. Rhodium plating is the name given to the process of electroplating the jewellery with rhodium, a platinum metal. 

By alloying this with copper as well, the gold alloy can be lent a reddish colour, creating either red gold or rosé gold. Rosé gold is red gold with a slightly lower proportion of copper.

Caring for Jewellery

Ideally, you should keep your jewellery in a case or jewellery box featuring a variety of different compartments and sections, and lined with a soft material (velvet, leather or silk). To ensure pieces of jewellery don’t rub up against one another and get scratched, always be sure to store them separately. This is particularly important for jewellery featuring diamonds, and for “hard” precious stones such as diamonds, sapphires and rubies.

A wide variety of substances can become deposited on jewellery when it is worn. Soap, creams, perfume, make-up and small particles of skin can all leave their respective traces on the piece in question. The good news? It doesn’t take much effort to take good care of your jewellery.

High-value pieces should be rubbed down carefully using a lint-free cloth. If your jewellery is more heavily soiled, meanwhile, try immersing it in a water bath filled with liquid soap or dishwasher detergent. You can then clean the jewellery carefully in the solution using a soft toothbrush, rinse it off in clear water, then rub it dry with a soft cloth. Under no circumstances should you ever let your jewellery come into contact with chemical products, however! 

Special immersion baths, which you can purchase at specialist shops, are very well-suited to cleaning jewels.

If you want pearls to retain their special lustre and not appear dull, you’ll need to clean them regularly. This will allow you to remove traces of sweat, perfume and cosmetics. To clean pearls, just use a soft cloth. If the jewellery is more ‘stubborn’, then use luke-warm soapy water, a soft brush and a soft cloth to clean it. After doing this, dry the pearls off at room temperature by laying them out on a towel and placing this on a warm radiator.

Some care products contain substances which will damage the pearls – hairspray and sun cream have particularly aggressive effects, for example. As a general rule, you shouldn’t put on pearl necklaces until your make-up and hair are finished.

Important tip: over time, the thread of a necklace can become brittle or change colour due to being worn. As a result, you should ensure pearl necklaces are rethreaded and knotted regularly (once every two years or so if the piece is worn frequently). 

Pearls are sensitive to scratching, so you should keep them in small fabric bags. Air-tight cases or plastic sachets are not recommended, as these dry the pearls out, robbing them of their lustre.

Wherever possible, we recommend you do not wear jewellery while doing the housework or gardening, participating in sports, when under the shower, swimming, sunbathing or in the sauna. Bumps to your jewellery can cause deep indents and scratches, which are often difficult to repair.

Coming into contact with cosmetics such as hairspray, powders, perfumes, deodorants and sun cream can damage jewellery – pearls are particularly vulnerable here.

You will need to be particularly careful when handling certain types of stone. Examples include: 

Emeralds; these are relatively soft – and can easily get broken or scratched as a result. 

Opals; these stones can fracture, or “explode”, if exposed to sudden changes in temperature.

Pearls; should never be kept in a safe or plastic bags for too long, as the lack of oxygen in these environments means the pearls will become dull and lose their lustre. Pearls need to be worn in the fresh air! Hairspray and cosmetics can damage pearls.

If you wear several rings with precious stones next to one another, you should ask a jeweller to check the condition of their mountings from time to time!

Production/Repairs

You are always welcome to bring your jewellery in, so we can inspect it and offer you expert advice on your options. Based on this advice, we can offer you a quotation for any work that might be deemed necessary. You can, of course, commission a variety of different types of repair. These might include altering your ring width, extending or shortening necklaces or bracelets, mounting and replacing diamonds or precious stones, altering jewellery, and much more besides.

You can have your jewels altered in such a way that wearing them will be a new and inspiring experience. A diamond brooch that’s been lying in the safe for years, for example, can be altered to become a pendant or ring – without needing to forego its treasured existing role as a brooch. Win-win!

Purchasing a Piece of Jewellery; Quality Criteria

When purchasing jewellery, insist upon a certificate including a photograph and details of the materials used and weights of the stones. Keep this certificate separately from the piece itself. This could save you a great deal of time and trouble should you ever need to submit an insurance claim

Finding the piece of jewellery that’s right for you isn’t just a matter for discussion, of course. It will also cost you money; sometimes a considerable amount of money. Very few people have the knowledge to be able to judge whether a piece of jewellery is actually worth what they have paid for it, however. That’s why trust is so important in such matters. However, there are a number of criteria you can use to estimate the quality of jewellery.

1. First of all, look at the reverse face of the jewellery!
The reverse face of a piece offers uniquely accurate evidence of its quality, particularly if the piece in question is set with stones. Check out how the piece has been crafted. On the reverse face of the stones, for example, are there simply holes drilled into the metal? Or have the openings on the reverse face been finely carved, creating squares or honeycomb patterns? As well as making the piece much easier on the eye, such workmanship makes it much harder for dirt to stick to the reverse face. This artistic way of elaborating the reverse face of a piece of jewellery is known as “openwork”.

2. Take a look at the side of the jewellery.
The way in which the side of a piece of jewellery is worked is also important. Many stone mountings simply need to be of a certain height to ensure the stone doesn’t ”see through” underneath. Mountings such as these can start to look “boxy” if the surface is not loosened up on the side in some way. This may be achieved by what is known as “air”, for example, or by working them into a fine “framework” – known as contours. This is a simple but effective method of mounting a stone at the side.

3. Clip patents on ear clips
On ear clips: Well-crafted ear clip patents can be adjusted to fit the thickness of your earlobes, to ensure they are as comfortable as possible. A small rubber insert will stop the clip slipping, and dampen the pressure on your earlobe slightly. Nothing is more tiresome than ear clips pressing too hard on your ears – nothing, that is, except losing those ear clips altogether.

4. The hallmark
If you are thinking of buying a piece of jewellery, always ensure it is hallmarked. By selling you jewellery hallmarked with its name, the jeweller becomes liable for ensuring the fine gold content of the piece is correct. In the case of 18kt gold, this is usually shown as 750, while for 14kt gold it is 585. Pieces made from platinum, meanwhile, are hallmarked with the figure 950. 

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