The More You Know, The Better We Feel

After more than 20 years in the jewelry field we have found many questions come up again and again. To help you feel more comfortable about your next jewelry purchase, we have collected an extensive list of frequently asked questions and categorized them for easy use. If you have a question we haven’t covered, please feel free to contact us directly and we will be happy to help.

We want your experience here at Torgny & Co. Jewelers to be amazing!

We understand that many times a jewelry purchase is a large investment and/or very sentimental, and we want to make it as easy for you as possible. We are low pressure, full of smiles, very friendly, and easy to work with. We stand behind our work and will do everything we possibly can to make sure you leave wanting to come back again!

Please click the links below for further answers to questions you may have:

Custom Design

What Are the Birthstones?

All About Colored Stones



Jewelry Care




What are the Birthstones?
January – Garnet (any color)
February – Amethyst
March – Aquamarine
April – Diamond
May – Emerald
June – Alexandrite or Pearl
July – Ruby
August – Peridot
September – Sapphire (any color except Ruby)
October – Opal or Pink Tourmaline
November – Imperial Topaz or Citrine
December – Blue Zircon, Turquoise, newly Tanzanite

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Colored Stones

I hear the term Precious and Semi-Precious used for colored stones. What does this mean?

Traditionally, there were Precious stones and Semi-Precious stones. Precious stones were Ruby, Emerald, and Sapphire. They were commonly the most expensive colored stones, and also the most well known. Semi Precious was everything else. However, these are outdated and inaccurate terms that suggested a two-tier ranking in the gem kingdom: the exalted status of “precious,” and an inferior category of “semi-precious.” In today’s colored stone market, there are hundreds of lesser known gemstones, such as Tsavorite Garnet (Green Garnet) that are beautiful, rare, and can be fairly expensive ($500.00 per carat). Or how about a very popular stone, Tanzanite? It is also very beautiful, fairly rare, widely popular, and can cost as much as $1,000.00 per carat for very high quality. How can you call these beautiful stones “semi-precious” when they may cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars for a nice sized stone?

What is a Synthetic Gemstone?

A synthetic gemstone is a gemstone grown in a laboratory instead of in nature. These gems are identical in chemical composition to the natural stone. If you have a natural ruby and a synthetic ruby next to each other, they are both “ruby,” yet one is formed for millions of years in the ground and one is grown in a lab with human intervention.

What kind of treatments or enhancements are done on colored stones?

There are many different types of treatments or enhancements performed on colored stones. These treatments/enhancements are processes other than cutting and polishing that improves the appearance (color/clarity), durability, or availability of a gemstone (from American Gem Trade Assoc). Some treatments are detectable and some are not. Many stones are commonly treated and are very rarely seen without some type of treatment. For example, Tanzanites are always heat treated to change it from its natural brown to the beautiful blue/purple stone we know it as today.

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What do I need to know to buy a Diamond?

Color – Many people think of diamonds as colorless. In reality, truly colorless diamonds are quite rare. Most diamonds used in jewelry are nearly colorless with faint yellow or brown tints. These diamonds fall in the normal color range. A diamond that is said to have “fine color” has little or no visible coloration. The less color, the higher the value. The Diamond color scale goes from D to Z, with D color having no color and will always be more valuable than other diamonds in the scale, when all other factors – clarity, carat weight, and cut – are equal.

Clarity – Like color, clarity is a key factor in determining a diamond’s value. Few things in nature are absolutely perfect. This is as true of diamonds as anything else. Diamonds have internal features, called inclusions, and surface irregularities, called blemishes. Together, they’re called clarity characteristics. A clarity grade is determined by the relative absence of clarity characteristics.

Cut – You may think of cut as the shape and style of a polished diamond. But when we talk about Cut as a value factor, we’re also talking about the proportions, symmetry and polish of a diamond, often called “make” in the diamond trade. A diamond with a “good make” will speak to you. It’s bright, fiery, symmetrical, and sparkles with light.

Carat – The last C has to do with the basic measuring unit of diamonds. Carat weight is how much your diamond weighs. Diamonds are weighed to a thousandth (0.001) of a carat and then rounded to the nearest hundredth, or point. Over a carat, diamond weights are usually expressed in carats and decimals. A 1.03ct stone, for example, would be described as “one point oh three carats,” or “one oh three.” A diamond that weighs 0.83ct. is said to weigh “eighty-three points,” or an “eighty-three pointer.”

Each of these 4 C’s affect the price of a Diamond in their own way. To learn more about Diamonds, please feel free to visit us anytime.

What is the difference between a certified or non-certified stone?

A certified stone includes a Diamond Grading Report or Certificate from an independent Gemological Laboratory, such as GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or EGL (European Gem Laboratory). These reports or certificates state the grades for color, clarity, proportions, etc assigned to each stone through the educated opinions of the Lab. Diamonds that are graded or certified will always carry a premium price versus an uncertified stone. With an uncertified stone, the jeweler tells you what they believe the stone to be, based on their experience and education. These stones will typically be less expensive, but you must trust your jeweler and trust that they know what they are talking about. If you are in doubt, the jeweler should be willing to have the diamond graded by an independent lab and should not require you to buy the stone if the grade comes in significantly different from his or her educated opinion.

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What is the difference between a natural pearl and a cultured pearl?

A natural pearl forms in a pearl-bearing mollusk with no human intervention or assistance. Some kind of small irritant gets into the mollusk’s shell and irritates the soft tissue. The mollusk will try to reduce the effects of the irritant by coating it with layers of smooth nacre (the outer ‘skin’ of a pearl). The process is the same for both natural and cultured pearls, except that in cultured pearls, the irritant is purposefully placed inside the mollusk by humans to begin the nacre process. There are very few natural pearls on the market today, due to many factors dating back to the early 1900’s. Almost all the pearls on the market today are cultured.

I’ve heard of Tahitian and South Sea pearls, are these cultured?

Yes. There are four types of cultured pearls; Akoya, South Sea, Tahitian, and Freshwater. The first three are produced on saltwater pearl farms in oysters. Akoya pearls are farmed in Japan and China. South Sea pearls are farmed in Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Tahitian pearls are farmed in French Polynesia, Cook Islands and other surrounding areas. The Freshwater pearls are produced as their name indicates, on freshwater farms in mussels. Freshwater pearls are farmed in China, Japan and the US. Each of these types of pearls have different features and benefits. Please visit us for more information!

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Jewelry Care

How should I care for my jewelry?

In caring for your jewelry, the most important thing to remember is maintaining your jewelry will always keep it looking its best. We recommend bringing your jewelry in at least twice a year to check your stones and settings to insure everything is secure. While it is with us, we will soak your jewelry in an ultrasonic cleaner with mild liquid soap especially designed for the ultrasonic cleaning. In between trips to your jeweler, you can feel safe about cleaning your jewelry in a solution of warm water and mild liquid soap (Ivory liquid works well). Just a note, pearls and opals require a little extra care. Pearls are porous, so do not leave them in the cleaner for too long (about 5 minutes is long enough) and rinse them extremely carefully with warm water. Do not hang them to dry, this lengthens the silk and will wear our the stringing faster…lay them flat on a dry surface. Opals contain water and should not be left in the cleaner for more than a few minutes as well. Rinse all your jewelry in lukewarm water to remove any soapy residue.

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Metals: Gold/Platinum/Titanium

What is the difference between 14kt and 18kt?

14kt gold is 58.5% gold and 31.5% alloy (other metals). 18kt gold is 75% gold and 25% alloy. Alloys are metals other than gold that are added in to give the gold durability, strength, and in some cases, color. White, rose, and green gold all get their color from the alloys that are mixed in with the gold, which always comes out of the ground yellow. 14kt has less gold content, therefore is harder than 18kt. 18kt on the other hand has more gold content, giving it a richer yellow color.

Why does my white gold look so yellow?

White gold looks yellow because all gold comes out of the ground yellow. Pure gold is very soft, so it is then mixed with other metals (alloys) to make it look white and add strength and durability. The downside to this is that white gold will always have a tinge of yellow.

Is there any way to make my white gold whiter?

Many times white gold is rhodium plated to make the jewelry appear pure white. Rhodium is a metal in the platinum family. It is a finish that is electrically charged to the metal and will wear away in time. This process can be repeated as often as you like to keep your jewelry looking like new.

What is the difference between white gold and platinum?

White gold and platinum are completely different metals. One major difference between the two is the color. As explained above, white gold has a yellow tinge to it, while platinum is pure white. Also, platinum is a more dense metal, so it is heavier than gold (white or yellow). Both metals scratch, they just scratch differently. As you wear your jewelry, everyday activities add wear. With white (or yellow) gold, the metal physically comes off the jewelry as it wears away. With platinum, the metal just moves with the rest of the metal, staying on the jewelry instead of shaving off.

Help! I’m allergic to gold!

Actually, what you’re allergic to is the alloy mixture in the gold. The FTC states the 14kt gold must be 58.5% gold and 31.5% alloy…but they don’t provide for specific formulas. Therefore, every gold manufacturer in the world makes their gold differently. (This is also why you can find different shades of 14kt yellow gold) Your best bet if you’re allergic to some alloy in gold is to go with a higher karat gold (18kt 75% gold) or even platinum, which is an inert metal.

Do you carry Titanium?

Yes! For you gentlemen who don’t want to wear a ring, because you’re afraid you can’t get used to it, Titanium is for you! Titanium is extremely light-you won’t even know you’re wearing it. It’s also extremely durable. The only downside to Titanium, is that it is so durable we can’t repair it. Don’t worry though! We have a wonderful company that we get our Titanium bands from and they have a Lifetime Insurance Policy. If you ever need your ring sized, or if you lose or break it, you just send them the ring (if you have it) with the small deductible and you get a brand new ring!

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An appraisal is a document assigning value to an article of jewelry, usually for insurance purposes. Our appraisals value items for Retail Replacement Cost.

Procedure for Appraisal:

  • We will inspect each piece for areas that may need repair prior to the appraisal.
  • We then clean each piece thoroughly in order to correctly grade and identify stones.
  • Every aspect of the piece of jewelry is then inspected and documented. This includes size, estimated weight, color, and clarity of all stones, metal karatage, and quality of construction and stone setting.
  • Your jewelry is then photographed and the enlarged photograph is included on the appraisal form.
  • Appropriate Retail Replacement Cost will be determined and documented, using an industry accepted national database.
  • A cover sheet will explain the appraisal including its purpose and grading system used.

We generally only need to have your jewelry approximately 24 hours in order to take all measurements necessary. The appraisal documents may take longer, in order to complete the necessary market research.

We recommend that appraisals be reviewed and updated every 2 years.

Our Insurance Agency provides Personal Jewelry Insurance to our customers.
Please contact us for details at 805-494-3500.

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Custom Designing

I’ve had this ring in my jewelry box for years and haven’t worn it because I don’t like it … is there anything I can do with it?

YES! Bring those pieces in, whether you don’t like the look of them, or even if you are just ready for a change in style. We specialize in custom design. We also now have the technology to show you in 3D what your new piece of jewelry will look like! We can have lots and lots of fun with your jewelry, so bring in your old pieces and let’s make something stylish and new for you to wear!

How does this process work, does it take a long time? How much does it cost?

First thing we do is sit down with your old jewelry, loose stones, or just with your ideas and come up with a design. We will draw out the design on paper and get all measurements and information necessary. Then we put it into the computer in a 3-dimensional jewelry design program so you will be able to see your piece of jewelry from every direction. You will get to see the metal color as well as the stone colors. We’ll also be able to make changes before the work begins, saving you a lot of time and money in the long run. Once the rendering is approved, we carve the wax using a milling machine. When the wax is finished, it will be functionally perfect, since not even a wax carved by hand can be this exact. The wax is then cast in your choice of metals, 14kt, 18kt, Platinum, or a combination of metals. Then the jewelry is taken to our master stone setters for finishing. They ensure the best possible settings for your stones. We bring the items back in house for final finishing, including a perfect polish. We then present your new jewelry in a beautiful box as you enjoy seeing your design ideas come to reality from a picture we drew just a short time ago!

Custom designing usually takes anywhere between 2 to 4 weeks, completely depending on the complexity of the project, and the timing of all the manufacturing. When we sit down and do our initial designing, we will be able to give you a more definite date.
Each design is very personal, including the stones and metals you choose. Therefore there is no flat price for custom design. When we sit down, we will be able to give you an approximate cost, and when the 3-d rendering is finished, we can give you a final cost as we can give you exact weights of the stones and metals.

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What is the difference between an Accredited Jewelry Professional & a Graduate Gemologist?

An Accredited Jewelry Professional (A.J.P.) is a person who has educational training from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in the basics of the Jewelry Industry. This person has basic knowledge in Diamonds, Colored Stones, and Jewelry style and manufacture.

A Graduate Gemologist (G.G.) is a person who has spent many hours studying in-depth many facets of the jewelry industry. They have studied Diamonds, Colored Stones, and Pearls. Their studies cover how to grade quality of many different types of stones, where the stones come from, including their composition and surrounding geology. They also study the path stones travel from the mines to the public. Graduate Gemologists are also able to identify stones and differentiate between natural, synthetic, simulant, and treatment enhanced. The Graduate Gemologist is perhaps the most widely recognized and internationally respected designation in the Jewelry Industry.

Do you have a Graduate Gemologist on staff?

Yes, we have an accredited Graduate Gemologist on staff. This person is responsible for all our appraisals and is available for any jewelry questions you may have.

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