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Vintage Valentine’s Day Jewels

I-23147 Elephant Pin

I-23147 18K gold Elephant, French enamel, diamonds and Burma rubies

Just in time for Valentine’s day, Friday, February 14– fabulous new goodies we recently acquired from a large collection of fine jewelry! If you are looking for something really special for that special someone, this group of vintage jewels may offer the perfect choice– we’ll highlight just a few items from over one hundred new pieces.

The estate contained many sophisticated pieces of 18K gold from France, especially whimsical animals, leopards and tigers (after Cartier), enameled ladybug earrings, turtles, frogs and other little critters. Our favorite is the utterly charming 18K white gold elephant brooch shown above, enameled and pave set with diamonds and vivid pinkish Burma rubies. Great for the political gal in this election year!

2Hearts Ring
I-23199 18K gold, Two Heart Beating as One, 2.5 cts tw

I call this dramatic 18K gold ring “Two Hearts Beating As One” because the two heart shaped diamonds reflect light from each other.

 TourmPearl brac
I-23169 18K pink Tourmaline & Pearls

This 18K gold pink tourmaline and pearl bracelet is elegant yet modern and stylish enough for everyday wear.

I-23150Tourm Earrings
I-23150 18K green & pink Tourmalines, 1.25 ct diam.

This striking pair of clip earrings from France features carved green tourmalines and faceted vivid pink tourmalines, highlighted with diamonds.

I-23197 Sapp brac
I-23197 18K 17.5 cts fancy natural color sapphires

One of the most unusual items is this 18K white gold bracelet set with over 17 carats of fancy sapphires- the beautifully matched pastel colors are natural color gems, no heat treatment, just as they come from nature.  And it has a matching pendant!

Mauboussin “Lady M”, 18K, Tiger’s Eye, 1.8 cts diam

If you love high end designer jewelry, this elegant “Lady M” bracelet watch from the famous French jeweler Mauboussin features a tiger’s eye dial accented with ultra high quality diamonds. While the original retail for the watch was a bit north of $30,000, our price is definitely “Take Me Home”

Last summer, we helped the heirs of this estate value the collection and then were privileged to buy when the time came. We offer superior professionally prepared appraisals for estates, and of course, are always interested in purchasing fine estate jewelry. Keep us in mind when you really need an honest and knowledgeable valuation for what you have.





Imitation Gemstones– Buyer Beware

Three LookALikes

A client brought these three stones to our shop looking to sell them. She had purchased the stones while traveling and was under the impression the two 30 ct. greenish blue ones were aquamarines and the peachy pink stone was morganite.

At Mardon, as gemologists, we always buy gems very carefully and only when we know exactly what we are buying. The first things I noticed– that the greenish blue color was not quite right for aquamarine and the peachy pink was unusual for morganite– told me to proceed carefully.  A preliminary observation with my trusty gemological microscope indicated the “aquas” were not aqua and the “morganite” was not morganite.

My observations of the greenish blue stones showed more doubling than I would expect to see in aquamarine, and no doubling at all in the “morganite.” Doubling is a visual effect seen in gemstones that are doubly refractive– when you look thru these gems with magnification, you see doubled images of the inclusions and the facet edges on the opposite side. The effect is sort of like what you see when you look at 3D images without the special glasses.

Aquamarines and morganites, along with rubies, emeralds, sapphires and many other gems, are doubly refractive. When light enters these gems, it is polarized into two rays that travel at different speed/wavelengths depending on what axis or direction they travel. This is known as double refraction.

Not all gems are doubly refractive. Diamonds, garnets, spinels and glass are singly refractive, meaning that light is not polarized and travels at basically the same speed thru the gem no matter what direction.

The difference in the light speed of the two rays is an optical property known as birefringence. Birefringence creates the visual effect known in gemology as “doubling”– each of the polarized rays is seen separately, so we see doubled or blurred images of the various features within the stone. Aquamarine, a member of the beryl family, has a relatively small amount of birefringence compared with many other gems.

The test we gemologists most often use to prove the identity of a gemstone is to measure the birefringence and the RI (refractive index), a measurement of the ability of a transparent medium to bend (slow down) light. Gems, minerals, and transparent media have very specific and diagnostic RI’s. Using a device called a refractometer, my measurement of the bluish stones gave an RI reading of ~ 1.54 -1.55, with a birefringence of ~ 0.009, proving the material was quartz. Now the question was natural quartz or synthetic (man made) quartz.

In the microscope, I had noticed inclusions (internal growth characteristics) that looked like bread crumbs and tiny nails. Inclusions in both natural gems and synthetic stones are a result of the growth environment and show us how the materials were formed. I made a careful examination of these inclusions, comparing them with photos in John Koivula’s famous Photoatlas of Inclusions in Gemstones . The presence of these “nailhead spicules ” led me to conclude the stones were hydrothermally grown synthetic (manmade) quartz.

The peachy pink stone exhibited no doubling, i.e. no birefringence, meaning it was singly refractive. It had an RI of ~ 1.49, no observed inclusions and was hard to the touch of a pin, so my conclusion was that the stone could only be glass.

The field of gemology was born from the need to distinguish valuable gems from look-a-like imitations. Often, the imitation appears very much like the genuine article, so scientific methods of observation and testing are needed to separate the imitation from the genuine. Unfortunately, these imitations are often represented as the real thing and sold at high prices like the stones they mimic.

The incentives to cheat are great. Fine gems can be enormously valuable while imitations are usually produced very cheaply. For example, these 30 ct. synthetic quartz stones probably cost less than $100, while a good aquamarine of 30 carats could easily sell for $15,000! You can see how much profit can be made by cheating the buyer. Frequently, the sale is made by presenting the stone at prices “too good to be true.”

For reasons I cannot fathom, travelers seem to think their cash has greater purchasing power in foreign countries and are especially susceptible to these phony bargains. We are currently seeing lots of sad cases where our armed forces personnel are buying bogus gems in places like Afghanistan. They’re spending their truly hard earned dollars trying to make money buying misrepresented stones- synthetic rubies and sapphires sold as genuine, very low quality rubies, sapphires, and diamonds sold as high quality gems, etc. Really too bad — their “investments” will only remind them of their service in an unfriendly country, and not the money they made. The moral of the story is of course buyer beware— if you don’t know your gems or you don’t know the seller, resist the temptation to scoop up a bargain.

The gemstone trade is an ancient and honorable profession that has long been plagued by unscrupulous individuals misrepresenting cheap imitations as the real thing or low grade genuine stones as high quality. New technologies developed over the last few decades has substantially increased the number and types of imitations and treated gems coming to market so the problem is more acute than ever.

Fortunately, the gem trade and jewelry industry has met the challenge to stay ahead of the game by creating and supporting organizations like the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) which develop scientific methods to detect the new treatments and imitations. Additionally, the American Gem Society (AGS) and the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA), professional organizations of which we are members, have embraced the mission of consumer protection thru education of both jewelers and the buying public, coupled with support of ongoing research and advanced gemological testing. As a Certified Gemologist Appraiser (CGA), I keep up to date on the latest information and news about gems and am required to recertify my AGS title by testing annually.

If you have jewelry or gems that need appraisal or identification, bring them by our shop. Our gemological services are scientifically based, reasonable in price, and unbiased– call or email for an appointment.  Our hours are Tuesday thru Saturday, 10 am – 5:30 pm, phone is 951 682-2325, customer

Secret Decoder Wedding Ring- In Rose and White Gold!

Dcodr groom side _edited-1

We just completed the most unusual wedding ring we’ve ever done- a Secret Decoder Ring, crafted of 14K white and rose gold and set with diamonds. Greg, one of Jenny’s best friends and an avid entertainment industry buff, had taken his fiancé Rebecca to a performance of “The Thrilling Adventure Hour”.  Greg and Rebecca had such a great time, the idea for an unique wedding ring came naturally from this plastic souvenir of the show. (Continued)

Evolution of the Solitaire Engagement Ring


Classic Six Prong Solitaire by Tiffany & Co., I-22723

When you mention engagement ring, most of us think of a simple band with a single diamond, shining and sparkling with love and promise. This is known in the jewelry trade as a solitaire engagement ring. The development of today’s solitaire rings really began in the late 1800’s when several new technologies brought jewelers the means to experiment with fresh ideas and expressions of this most simple of rings.

The solitaire style was popularized in 1886 by Tiffany & Co, when they introduced the classic six prong setting shown above. This early solitaire featured a single diamond held up to the light supported by six prongs.Their primary innovation was the use of six prongs in a light weight open mounting.

At the time, most fine jewelry was fabricated from sheet and wire. The Tiffany goldsmiths started by forming a small cone of sheet gold, cutting off the pointed end, then sawing, carving and filing the piece into the form we see here. By cutting 6 equal and deep V notches down from the wide end of the cone, then making 6 shallow V‘ s up from the bottom, they were able to create the graceful “Tiffany” setting which was then soldered on to the ring shank.

Note – The actual setting that holds the diamond is now known in the trade as a “head” or “crown”, while the part that goes around the finger is known as a “shank.”

I-22723 detail b
Modern Cast Tiffany Setting, I-22723

This Art Nouveau solitaire features a more elaborately carved white gold head set onto a styled band.

I-19219 detail
Fabricated Art Nouveau ring, I -19219

Around the turn of the century when platinum was all the rage, jewelers made solitaires like this Edwardian ring . The yellow gold ring shank was overlaid with a thin layer of platinum hand engraved with a graceful design. This jeweler used a 6 prong head similar to the earlier Tiffany style to set the diamond.

14K & Platinum Edwardian Ring
Fabricated 14K & Platinum Ring, I-22726

During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, the Industrial Revolution brought die striking technology to the jewelry industry in a big way. A two part steel tool known as a die and hub was used to stamp and form a design onto a sheet of precious metal. Steel rollers were also hand engraved with designs that could then be embossed onto a precious metal wire. Often, two die struck halves were  soldered together to make a lightweight yet strong hollow form like this delicate Art Deco solitaire. The larger look of the design allowed using a smaller stone while creating a real presence at an affordable price.

Die Struck Art Deco Filigree Ring, I-22701
Die Struck Art Deco Filigree Ring, I-22701

The styles of Art Nouveau-Art Deco era included domed shapes like this die-struck solitaire. The basic form was create, then pierced and engraved by hand into the filigree style.

Die Struck Art Deco Dome Shape, I-21796
Die Struck Art Deco Dome Shape, I-21796

Other goldsmiths still preferred to execute their designs by fabricating them from sheet and wire parts, like this dramatic hexagonal Art Deco solitaire with typical repetitive geometric elements.

Fabricated Art Deco Ring, I-22270
Fabricated Art Deco Ring, I-22270

Precision lost wax casting developed in the early 20th century by the dental profession revolutionized modern jewelry making. Casting allows the jeweler to make multiple copies of a design without the expense of a costly steel die and hub. It also allows greater flexibility in the geometry and form of jewelry. These three modern designer solitaires show curved prongs that cross over each other, as well as variations of shank width and shape.

Cast Solitaire with cross over prongs, I-21941
Cast Solitaire with cross-over prongs, I-21941
Cast Solitaire with Cross over prongs and wide shank, I-16350
Cast Solitaire with cross-over prongs and wide shank, I-16350
Cast solitaire with high shoulders and narrow shank, I-13879
Cast Solitaire with high shoulders and narrow shank, I-13879

Modern period solitaires have generally returned to a simpler look, a single stone on a simple band. These two cast solitaires show the difference between high polish or decoration with hand engraving– giving our brides the choice between a bright modern look or a beautifully detailed vintage style.

I-22703 detail
Cast Platinum Solitaire by Cartier, I-22703
Cast and Hand Engraved Ring, I-21589
Cast and Hand Engraved Ring, I-21589

This grand and bold solitaire of hand engraved platinum decorated with 18K yellow gold filigree combines casting, fabrication and hand engraving.

Cast and Fabricated Platinum and 18K Gold Solitaire, I-21599
Cast and Fabricated Platinum and 18K Gold Solitaire, I-21599

This popular design features a die struck head made from 3 flat stamped parts, slotted so they fit together into a round configuration. Because the parts are mass produced, this style is one of the least expensive solitaires.

Die Struck 6 Prong Setting, I-22620
Die Struck White Gold 6 Prong Setting, I-22620

This type of head is available in both 6 and 4 prong configurations and can be set with white or yellow gold die struck or cast shanks. Note how the notched shank fits snugly into the sides of the head.

4 Prong Die Struck Platinum Solitaire, I-22140
4 Prong Die Struck Platinum Solitaire, I-22140
Two Tone Die Struck Solitaire, I-22560
White and Yellow Gold Die Struck Solitaire, I-22560

Today’s brides often prefer diamond shapes other than round. Modern cutting technology has brought us innovative new cuts and shapes. The square or rectangular shapes such as the Princess, Radiant, Emerald, and Asscher cuts are especially popular. This Tiffany solitaire features a beautiful Radiant cut.

Solitaire by Tiffany with Radiant Cut Diamond, I-22311
Solitaire by Tiffany with Radiant Cut Diamond, I-22311

Many brides now choose colored gems over diamonds as a way to express their individuality. Mardon made this beautiful custom solitaire to show off an exquisite natural Padparadscha sapphire. Computer Aided Design (CAD) helped us create a wonderful piece efficiently while allowing our client creative input in the design process– a truly special experience for a young couple just starting out.

Padparadscha in Custom Rose & White Gold Solitaire
Padparadscha in Custom Rose & White Gold Solitaire

The modern solitaire has truly matured over the last century propelled by technology, creativity, and innovation. Couples now can choose between more styles, decorative treatments, unique diamond and gems than ever. We at Mardon pride ourselves in offering the latest choices and options to our clientele. Give us a call or stop by the shop– we offer a full range of wedding jewelry, including genuine vintage, designer, or custom rings.









La Lechuga-A Cross of Colombian Emeralds in Peach Gold

La Lechuga 3




















Garden fresh, this one-of-a-kind pendant is set with gorgeous Colombian emeralds. Based on my vintage design, the pendant was brought to fruition by our master CAD designer Jenny Sweaney and skillfully set and finished by Scott Reeves. We think its warm peach gold is a perfect accent for the soft green of the emeralds. (Continued)

Platinum Ring Stars in Line-up of Vintage Engagement Rings

AD Ring 3-4 vu

Platinum Art Deco Ring, I-22693

This striking ring is a standout in our latest line-up of fine vintage engagement rings. The ring is pure Roaring 20’s, combining design elements of the delicate Edwardian style along with geometry of the Art Deco look. The low setting gives a nice big look with comfort and wearability. (Continued)

Mardon Chosen Again–Best Jeweler, 2013 Readers Choice

Octagon Ring 3-4 blog

Mardon Jewelers would like to thank all of our loyal clients for voting us the Best Jeweler in the Press Enterprise 2013 Reader’s Choice– that make’s five years in a row! Our focus has always been on our community– we’re really appreciative of the support you’ve shown over the years. Check out the Reader’s Choice supplement in tomorrow’s paper, July 31.

This coming year, we’ll continue making new designs and original work. Here’s a dazzling new original piece we just completed modeled after the Art Deco style.  The 18K ring above is set with over 3 carats of shimmering vintage diamonds– diamonds don’t wear out, so we recycle and reuse good stones whenever possible. (Continued)

Evolution of the Solitaire Engagement Ring


Classic Six Prong Solitaire by Tiffany & Co., I-22723

When you mention engagement ring, most of us think of a simple band with a single diamond, shining and sparkling with love and promise. This is known in the jewelry trade as a solitaire engagement ring. The development of today’s solitaire rings really began in the late 1800’s when several new technologies brought jewelers the means to experiment with fresh ideas and expressions of this most simple of rings. (Continued)

Original Jewelry Designs- One-of-a-Kind Looks for Summer!

7.80 ct. Aqua in Rose Gold
I-22629- 7.80 ct. Aqua in Rose Gold

Just in time for summer, our newest original jewelry designs include this beautiful pendant set with an excellent 7.80 ct Aquamarine, accented with diamonds. (Continued)

Emerald from Muzo- There is Nothing Like It!

Fine Muzo Emerald

Fine Muzo Emerald

Fresh green from our shop– our hand crafted classic 3 stone ring accents this fine 1.21 ct. emerald from the fabled Muzo mine of Colombia with a matched pair of brilliant cut trapezoid shaped diamonds. The cut and clarity of the stone show the color to its rich perfection. The soft yet vivid color of this gem is perfectly balanced between slightly yellowish green and slightly bluish green. (Continued)