Jul 6, 2016

Some clients of ours recently tied the knot in a ceremony that blended cultural traditions with a love of Star Trek, and were kind enough to share some of their photos with us!

Behold the amazing USS Enterprise wedding cake, as well as a few cake shots with their Protea Diamonds rings on top 🙂

All photos by Eva Russo of Photo Lady Love.

Lalitha and Bob at Westfields Marriott in Chantilly, VA on April 16, 2016.

USS Enterprise Wedding Cake!

 

Lalitha and Bob at Westfields Marriott in Chantilly, VA on April 16, 2016.

Wedding Rings Aboard the Enterprise…

 

Lalitha and Bob at Westfields Marriott in Chantilly, VA on April 16, 2016.

Close up of wedding rings 🙂

Jun 16, 2016

It’s good to know the different properties and characteristics of metals so you can make an educated choice regarding which metal will work best for your lifestyle.

The most common metals used in jewelry are silver, gold, palladium, and platinum. Some alternative metals, mostly used in mens jewelry, include tungsten and titanium. Different metals are best suited to certain types of jewelry. Silver is a very common metal used in many types of jewelry, but as it is a soft metal, it is not appropriate for engagement or bridal jewelry.

Most bridal jewelry is made of gold or platinum. There are different shades of gold, the three most common being yellow, white, and rose. Gold also comes in different levels of purity, ranging from 9karat to 24karat. The two most appropriate for bridal jewelry are 14k and 18k, both of which are hard enough to securely hold a diamond in place and withstand years of wear and tear.

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From left to right: 18k yellow, 14k yellow, 14k white unplated, 14k white plated, and platinum.

The majority of our customers usually find themselves debating between 14k white gold and platinum. Both are great choices for bridal jewelry: the main differences are the price and how the metals wear over time. White gold is naturally a bit yellower than platinum, as you can see in the photo above. To give it that platinum-like white finish, white gold is generally plated with rhodium. Both metals get scuffed and scratched from the normal wear and tear of daily life, but the maintenance involved in maintaining their original luster is a bit different. Once the plating wears off of a white gold ring, the jeweler will buff the ring to get rid of any scuffs or scratches, and then he will re-plate the ring with rhodium. A platinum ring can simply be buffed and polished to get back to its original finish, but technically you are losing a little bit of metal every time you choose to have it refinished.

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A comparison of the different metals that are commonly used to make jewelry.

Differences between the karats of gold are more evident in yellow and rose gold. The karats correspond to the purity of the gold, so a higher karat generally means the color will be more intense. An 18 karat yellow gold ring will be yellower than a 14 karat ring. White gold, whether 14 or 18 karat, will look the same once plated with rhodium. Certain blends of white gold include a nickel alloy, which can cause allergies in some people.

Palladium is becoming a more popular choice as a white gold alloy due to its hypoallergenic properties and its naturally white color, which results in a white gold that requires no rhodium plating. Palladium, which is part of the platinum family of metals, has been used as a precious metal for jewelry making since the late 1930s. Mens bands can be made using pure palladium, but palladium women’s jewelry (or any more intricate type of jewelry) is generally made from palladium-based white gold.

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Palladium-based 14 karat white gold in nugget form.

Some things to ask yourself when trying to decide on a metal: which color suits you best? Yellow, rose, white? If you decide on white, are you allergic to nickel? If so, let your jeweler know. Perhaps palladium or platinum will be a better choice for you. If you are deciding on a ring, will it be worn next to an existing ring you already own? For example, if you have a platinum ring and are considering buying another ring to wear with it, getting the new ring in platinum is probably a good idea. A platinum ring and a white gold ring worn together will wear in different ways. Some people are bothered by the difference in color, and some aren’t. It’s all about your preferences and what you feel will work best for you!

May 13, 2016

Gemstones are a great choice for creating personalized, unique pieces of jewelry. They exist in almost every color imaginable, which means there is something for everyone. Birthstone gems are also a great gift idea, especially for baby gifts.

You can read more about different types of gemstones and their characteristics on our Gemstones page. Not all gems are suitable for rings, as some are very delicate and risk being damaged from the wear and tear of daily life. Gemstones can add a very classic touch, or they can make a piece of jewelry very contemporary and different.

Here are some examples of classic gemstone pieces we have created over the years:

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Citrine stone set in an 18 karat white gold and diamond pendant.

 

 

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Oval emeralds set in 18 karat white gold and diamond earrings. A timeless style!

 

 

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Morganites set in 14 karat two-tone white and rose gold hanging earrings. Diamonds surround the morganites.

 

 

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Pear-shaped mint grossular garnet in an 18 karat white gold and diamond pavé pendant.

 

We have also seen some pretty rare and beautiful loose gemstones, more unusual colors than the traditional greens, blues, and reds of emerald, sapphire, and ruby. Some examples:

A trio of beautifully cut aquamarines. These would make for a great modern piece of jewelry.

 

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A matched set of mint grossular garnets.

 

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A stunningly beautiful marquis-cut Mozambique Cuprian Tourmaline.

 

Imagine all the possibilities when incorporating these beautiful and unusual gemstones into a piece of jewelry! You can create something that reflects your personality, tastes, and style.

Looking for another way to add meaning to your jewelry? Take a look at this birthstone chart and determine which gemstones are tied to your birth month.

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Consider using gemstones to add a unique touch to your next piece of jewelry. The only real limit is your imagination!

Apr 29, 2016

With proper care, quality jewelry can survive through many generations. Most jewelry is durable enough to withstand the wear and tear of everyday life, but jewelry should be treated carefully to ensure that the metals and gems stay in good condition. Gold and platinum are strong metals and diamonds are scratch-proof, but neither are indestructible!

If you’re gardening, weight-lifting, rock-climbing, doing any kind of extreme sport or doing rough work with your hands, it’s probably best to leave your rings at home. Going swimming, skiing, or taking a long walk on a sandy beach? Leave your rings at home. Looking for rings in the sand, pool, ocean, or ski slope is very tricky indeed. Does your ring feel loose enough to slide off your finger? Bring it in to have it sized so it doesn’t fall onto the ground and get damaged.

Lastly, just because it’s a diamond, doesn’t mean it can’t break or chip! If you have a delicate ring or piece of jewelry where the edges of the diamond are exposed, take extra care not to hit it against any hard surfaces. The diamond could crack or chip!

Here are some photos of damaged jewelry we’ve seen over the years…

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Diamonds can crack, chip, and break! Diamonds with corners, especially princess cut diamonds, are susceptible to breakage of the pointed corners.

 

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Platinum is a hard metal, but it can get scratched and pitted over time especially when exposed to rough surfaces or heavy-duty handwork.

 

tungsten

Tungsten is a heavy and scratch-resistant metal that appeals to people with an active lifestyle who don’t want to scratch up their ring. Tungsten is a hard metal, but it is brittle! Drop your tungsten band on a hard tile floor and it may end up looking like this.

 

We recommend having your jewelry checked every 6 months to make sure that the prongs are tight and the stones are not loose. This is good preventive maintenance, especially for more delicate settings or settings with little diamonds along the shank.

A bottle of jewelry cleaner is included with every purchase at Protea Diamonds. If you run out, stop by to pick up some more! We once had a client who read an old wive’s tale that said leaving a ring in bleach overnight was a good way to clean her ring. By the next morning, the bleach had completely eaten away her platinum ring. Using a proper jewelry cleaner is the best way to keep your jewelry sparkly and clean. Don’t feel like cleaning your ring yourself? Bring it by and we will clean it in our ultrasonic or steam cleaner!

Mar 25, 2016

We recently made a simple solitaire pendant in our workshop and set a white sapphire in it. White sapphire is a nice choice for someone on a limited budget.

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First, we begin with a piece of white gold wire.

 

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We heat it to make it malleable so that we can shape it into what we want.

 

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The wire is coiled to make the base of the pendant, as well as the jump rings that will be used to attach it to the chain.

 

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Some pieces of wire are joined with the base ring in order to form the basket of the pendant where the sapphire will be set.

 

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Here is the basket: in rough form.

 

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The basket is placed in a magnetic tumbler, which is a bath filled with tiny pieces of metal that polishes and smoothes the piece.

 

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Now that the basket is polished, we can move on to the next step.

 

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Now it’s time to attach the chain and set the stone.

 

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Once the chain is attached, we put the pendant on shellac to hold it in place.

 

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We use a bur to make a seat for the stone. This helps it sit properly and not fall out.

 

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Once the seat is done, we place the stone in it.

 

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The prongs are then bent over to secure the stone in place.

 

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The prongs a slightly filed to give them a nicer shape.

 

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Now that the stone has been set, it’s time to clean it up.

 

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We give it a good polish using a soft brush.

 

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The pendant is then placed in an ultrasonic jewelry bath.

 

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The pendant is done and ready to be worn!

Feb 9, 2016

Have you ever wondered what the process is for adding those sizing balls that help your ring fit just right? Sizing balls are little balls of metal that are soldered to the inside of a ring to adjust the size and keep the ring from spinning around. We snapped some pics during our latest sizing ball repair so that you could see how it’s done!

 

We are adding sizing balls to this classic solitaire setting.

 

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We make two markings on the inside of the ring where the sizing balls will be soldered.

 

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Underneath the sizing balls are small strips of solder that will be heated in order to attach the balls to the ring.

 

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Using a drill bit, we make a small indentation where the solder and sizing ball will go.

 

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The strips of solder are heated, and they form into tiny balls.

 

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Using a pick, we place the ball of solder into the indentation we made with the drill bit.

 

We add some flux so that the solder will flow into place.

 

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Once the solder is placed, we set the sizing ball on top of it.

 

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The sizing balls have been placed, but the ring is a bit blackened from the heat. The next step is to clean this off.

 

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Using copper tongs to prevent contamination, the ring is dipped in an acid pickle bath to remove the black firescale.

 

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Once the firescale has been removed, the ring is almost done. This ring is white gold, so it will need to be plated with rhodium to give it that bright white finish. Prior to doing this, we make sure to polish out any scratches on the surface.

 

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The ring has been polished, plated, and the process is complete! The sizing balls will help the ring fit better and stay upright.

Jan 29, 2016

Once in a while, we come across some spectacular and unusual gems. Fancy colored diamonds are among the most beautiful and valuable gems in the world.

A little bit about fancy diamonds from the GIA website:

Gem diamonds in GIA’s D-to-Z range usually decrease in value as the color becomes more obvious. Just the opposite happens with fancy color diamonds: Their value generally increases with the strength and purity of the color. Large, vivid fancy color diamonds are extremely rare and very valuable. However, many fancy diamond colors are muted rather than pure and strong.

This cushion shape fancy yellow diamond weighs over 30 carat and sold for about $1,000,000.

 

This radiant cut is a fancy vivid yellow color, weighs 5 carat, and sold for around $200,000.

 

These matched fancy yellow square-radiant diamonds were set into custom yellow gold earrings for one of our clients.

Dec 22, 2015

For the holidays, we’ve put together a beautiful pendant with a light yellow sapphire that has the look of a fancy canary yellow diamond. At a far more attractive price, of course. This delicate pendant is crafted of white gold, and it has yellow gold prongs to accentuate the yellow hue of the sapphire. Small white diamonds are set in a halo around it, and it hangs on a 16-inch chain.

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Dec 17, 2015

Did you know? We have a selection of beautiful rings, pendants, and earrings for under $500. Stop by the store and have a look!

A selection of our jewelry in the $500 and under range. Stop in and have a look!