Frequently Asked Questions
We completely understand that purchasing gemstones and fine gemstone jewelry is a daunting process at the best of times; particularly over the internet.
To help you know about with whom it is that you are working, we have compiled the following information:
We, Rogerio Graca and Andrea Van Wilgenburg, are a husband and wife team operating our home-based, boutique gemstone jewelry business just outside of Liverpool, Nova Scotia, Canada
All of our gemstones come directly to you from Rogerio at wholesale pricing. Rogerio has been a professional gem cutter and wholesale supplier since 1992.
Rogerio uses a “Precision Cut” machine that allows him to cut his gemstones at their correct refractive index. Not all colored gemstones that you see on the market are cut properly (only about 5% are precision cut). A gemstone must be cut at its correct refractive index to reach its potential in brilliance.
Here is an article featured on the International Gem Society website about a stone cut by Rogerio that has 1000 facets, called “The Millenium Cut”
Also, please read feedback given about us by past clients in our two Etsy shops. Just to note, we have no control of what is or isn’t shared as feedback on Etsy. The feedback is controlled by a third party.
Loose gemstone shop on Etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/pristinegemstones
Finished jewelry shop on Etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/pristinejewelry
Some of our rings have been featured at Huff Post Weddings
Also, we recently applied (fall 2016) with the Better Business Bureau and have been accredited with them. You can click on their logo at the top right hand corner of any of our pages, and the link will take you to the BBB record on us. The BBB researched us back to 1992 when Rogerio started his business. We did not apply for accreditation previously because up until 2011, Rogerio sold as a wholesaler strictly to jewelers. So, yes, we are the real thing, and our pricing for our gemstones is wholesale rather than retail because of Rogerio’s role in the industry since 1992, and because we operate from our home online.
All appraisals are prepared by an independent, 3rd party, GIA trained gemologist and licensed appraiser. (note: it is considered a conflict of interest to use an in-house gemologist, therefore, we send our stones to an external consultant). The appraisal company that we use is Ishy Jewellery and Gemmology based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Outside of Rogerio’s 24 years of gem cutting experience and knowledge, we have a team of 2 CAD techs/casting techs/goldsmiths and stone setters who contract to us. When Rogerio has the opportunity, he makes some of our handmade designs as well. We will also use components from Stuller, a US supplier of jewelry components to North American jewelers of over 40 years. Everyone is highly experienced and skilled in his field.
Andrea’s experience working with our team in all facets of creating a fine piece of gemstone jewelry, along with her organizational and communication skills are used to coordinate the work of our team to bring our customers’ jewelry ideas to life. (please note that in order to maintain a high level of customer service, our capacity for managing customer orders is limited, therefore, from time to time we will unable to accept such orders)
Beyond our expertise and history with past customers, we are honest, hardworking people who are extremely grateful to be able to run our business from home and to work together as a couple. We have every reason to want to continue providing quality products and excellence in customer service, and to maintain a positive presence in our industry.
Please note that all of our communications regarding purchases are done via email for organizational/record keeping reasons. However we do understand concerns about shopping online; therefore, we offer a courtesy call to every new customer so that our customers can hear the voice behind our online shops. If you would like such a call, please email us or leave a message at 902-350-0025, and please leave the best time to return your call along with the time zone from which you are calling. We are operating on Atlantic Standard time.
NOTE TO OUR CANADIAN CUSTOMERS: Although we are indeed operating from Canada, because we are an online business, our website and Etsy shops are in USD. If you would prefer to work in CAD and avoid premiums on exchange rates via your credit card company, we can provide quotes in Canadian and invoice via PayPal Merchant Invoicing. Please just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we would be happy to take care of that for you.
Rogerio has been wholesaling and cutting gemstones for over 24 years. He is very skilled at identifying stones.
What we do offer is a complimentary appraisal (a legal document more in depth than a certificate) on all of our items priced over $1800USD. We bring these items to a 3rd party, independent, GIA (Gemological Institute of America) graduate gemologist and licensed appraiser for appraisal at our expense.
If an item is priced below $1800USD, and a customer feels more comfortable making a purchase by having a certificate or appraisal on the item, we can bring the item to the appraiser/gemologist for an additional charge $60USD.
An appraisal is technically a legal document with all the information that is contained in a certificate, and it also provides an estimated retail replacement value of the gemstone or finished jewelry piece. Appraisals are an accepted form of valuation for insurance purposes. In regards to jewelry, an appraisal is prepared by a trained gemologist and licensed appraiser.
To use Paypal credit you just need to have a Paypal account and select “paypal credit” at check out. It is very simple. Fore more info, visit https://www.paypalcredit.com/index.html
We do not offer financing
It is such a common practice that it is the only treatment of sapphires that is not required to be disclosed, as it is just assumed heat treatment is present. All other known treatments must be disclosed.
It is when a sapphire has not been heat treated that it is noted, and often a premium is charged for such a stone. Heat treatment is very difficult to confirm even by a trained gemologist. The only way to be absolutely certain about whether or not a sapphire has received heat treatment is by testing and certification by the main GIA or GRS lab. We believe there are the only two labs in the world that have the multi-million dollar equipment for such testing. Basically, if a vendor claims to have a non-heat treated sapphire, there is only one way to be sure, as just described. Otherwise, you can assume heat treatment has occurred.
Please find more important information on sapphires and treatments in our sapphire blog:
NOTE: The various types of gemstones have different masses, so a 1 carat diamond does not necessarily have the same dimensions as a 1 carat sapphire.
Refractive index is the angle on the culet (bottom) of the gemstone, which compensates for the refraction of light passing through the stone in order to reflect 100% of the light back.
Grading clarity alone can be very subjective. Also there will be more tolerance in regards to inclusions for type II gemstones (ie .sapphires) and type III gemstones (ie. Emeralds), which are rarely free of inclusions.
Rather than completing one job at a time, for efficiency reasons, most jewelers will complete their orders with other orders in their various stages of production. As an example, all of the casting work for several orders is done at the same time, all of the finishing work for several orders is done at the same time, all of the stone setting for several orders is done at the same time, and so on. Not to mention, each of the stages are specializations and are often done by different craftspeople. It is not common knowledge, but it takes years for a goldsmith to master stone setting. Therefore; many goldsmiths actually don’t set their own stones and will send their stones to be set by a master stone setter.
Also, out of fairness to customers, orders are addressed on a first-come, first-serve basis. A jeweler can easily have two weeks’ worth of work queued by the time a new order comes through.
As you can see there are many reasons for the length of time required to create, maintain, or repair fine jewelry. The schedule of each member involved in the process also has to be considered in the time it takes.
IMPORTANT NOTE: It is never wise to rush a piece of fine jewelry. Sometimes there are problems with casting material and a mount needs to be recast, a stone setter may be having difficulty setting stones, etc. Quality work on fine jewelry requires the proper time and attention, so please be patient with the process and the craftspeople.
Thank you for your interest in working with us and for taking the time to read our frequently asked questions.
Rogerio Graca and Andrea Van Wilgenburg
Pristine Gemstone Jewelry