At the beginning of his column Appraisal Q&A in the November issue, Mr. Rosen asks the question: “How do you accommodate a customer who wants an appraisal?” You don’t need to go beyond this question and read his lengthy dissertation, which avoids the main point. The answer is quite simple. The jeweler should tell the customer that he’s not qualified to offer an appraisal.

Nowhere does Mr. Rosen explain how a graduate gemologist-appraiser in an independent laboratory (where one does not buy or sell jewelry) can give time, knowledge and ability to use gemological instruments to identify, grade and value stones. Nor does he mention the methodology used to arrive at a proper value, using either the cost or market approach. To do so, the appraiser must know prices from around the country and also from his section of the country.

The jeweler may know prices for his store, but that’s all. But an appraisal cannot be based on the prices in one store. The price in a local store won’t be the same as that in such stores as Van Cleef & Arpels or Cartier.

Let’s get another point straight. A gemologist working in a jewelry store should not, under any circumstances, appraise gemstone jewelry, whether it was bought elsewhere and especially if it was purchased in the gemologist’s store.

This gemologist hasn’t got the time to offer an in-depth appraisal. One must understand that this person is at work in a retail store and there are many things he must do besides a once-in-a-while appraisal. He can be responsible for repair take-in, for keeping the store looking clean, possibly for window dressing and selling, for show case display and much more. The gemologist should use gemological knowledge to help close a sale, when necessary.

This hired gemologist is beholden to the jeweler/employer. He cannot offer an unbiased appraisal because if, for example, the owner sells a diamond ring for $5,000, then the gemologist cannot give a lower price (for an insurance appraisal) even if he is sure the ring is worth only $4,000, after doing some price research. The boss would fire him.

When a person has eye trouble, he or she doesn’t go to an optician. The place to go is the specialist, the eye doctor.

The same is true for appraisals. If you need an appraisal for gemstone jewelry, you don’t go to the jeweler but to a professional, the gemologist-appraiser in an independent laboratory.

Walter A. Greenbaum

Kroll Jewelry Appraisal Service Inc.

Madison, N.J.


I would like to congratulate JCK for publishing a most informative article regarding appraisals by Elly Rosen in the December issue.

I believe the gem and jewelry industry at large and professional gem and jewelry appraisers all could benefit by continuing to address appraisal issues in our industry.

Jerry Ehrenwald

President, International Gemmological Information

New York, N.Y.


Congratulations on the December cover with Michael Dyber. It’s wonderful to see the face, and human element, behind the gemstones and jewelry designs featured within the magazine. Very dynamic! Bravo! Bravo!

I’d love to see more covers like this – not just models with someone else’s jewelry on them.

Abigail Harris

Abigail Harris/Maxam Magnata

Fairfax, Cal.


The recent furor kicked up over nickel-based alloys in the jewelry business and the supposed allergic reactions they cause on humans brought a smirk to my face a few days ago. Dr. Dean Edell, the nationally-syndicated medical talk show host, was on the radio quoting a recent study done in Denmark.

The study dealt specifically with severe allergic reactions to nickel, curiously picked up from recycled toilet paper. It seems that the reconstituted tissue contains significant amounts of nickel residue from the processing involved. Participants in the study developed symptoms that included unbearable itching, usually at bedtime.

But, to be serious, there’s a stark contrast between chemical ingestion into and on to the body and the topical surface reaction commonly associated with the wearing of jewelry. White gold alloys and base metal materials contain varying amounts of nickel, which does cause allergic reactions in some people. It is a small group, make no mistake about it. But there are small groups of people who are allergic to eggs. We don’t ban eggs. The affected people don’t eat eggs, you see. Simple. Affected people shouldn’t wear nickel-based jewelry.

Notions about nickel problems have been browbeaten to death. This is absurd.We can place this hysteria directly in line with butter on popcorn and the coconut oils, Mexican food, Chinese food, bakery “fumes,” vinyl fumes in new cars, ballpark hot dogs, smells from dry cleaners and the potato – which contains levels of nicotine. We are bombarded with health crises on a daily basis but the release of annually-computed statistics show plainly and unequivocally that Americans’ life expectancy just went up again – from 70.2 years in 1970 to 77 in 1994. Are we stupid or what.

There are other metals in jewelry that can cause varied reactions. Sterling is famous for turning fingers green, from Maine to California. Sometimes there can be an allergic reaction, but the majority of green fingers stem from a very acidic diet. The body oils are PH acidic, thus causing a pickling effect on the surface of the skin (try verbalizing that to your next customer who complains about your cheap metal).

I relish sane moments in an increasingly insane world. I am comforted by voices of logic, relevance and true science, as opposed to all that junk science out there. The least we can do is put things in perspective. As far as nickel-based alloys are concerned, we haven’t stopped making them at the refinery. But we do offer alternatives to nickel. Palladium white is a popular choice. Freedom of choice. It has a nice ring to it.

However, if I were traveling to Denmark I would pack my own. . .

Marc Robinson

Precious Metals West/Fine Gold

Los Angeles, Cal.