Jewelry Design

New York’s Diamond District is a hub of world-renowned talent and quality-craftsmanship. In this section of our blog, we write about jewelry design ideas and feature local NYC jewelry designers to get their input on hot topics in jewelry design and the jewelry industry. If you want to be featured, please use our contact page to tell us a little about your background and proposed topic.

Crafting a Marketable Return Policy

If you work in a fine jewelry store, it can be disappointing for a customer to return something you spent a lot of time helping them pick out. However, product returns are not something you should actively discourage in your store. For many customers, even a small jewelry purchase can feel risky. A tedious or punitive returns policy can scare off potential new customers, or create problems for loyal customers who need to return something. Conversely, a hassle-free returns policy can be used to increase sales, build customer trust, and improve your store's reputation. When reexamining your jewelry store's returns policy, make sure you do the following.

Use customer-friendly language

If your business requires a returns policy with lots of exclusions or fine print, that's perfectly fine. However, you'll want to avoid spelling out those exclusions in a punitive tone. Instead, use positive language that considers the customer's point of view and makes them feel like their purchase is appreciated and protected, rather than threatened.

Give enough time

Shorter return periods can create a counterproductive sense of urgency. If you give customers a longer period of time to return something, they're less likely to experience this pressure.

Cover replacement costs where you can

If your margins are enough to allow for it, or if the return meets certain requirements, keep your customers from paying additional return costs - like restocking or shipping fees. Showing that you are willing to cover those expenses can improve a customer's confidence in their purchase decision.

The running theme here is: don’t penalize the customer who needs to return something. Most people check the return policy before committing to an expensive purchase, like jewelry. If it looks like they could be “punished” by the hassle created by your returns policy, there’s a greater chance they'll look elsewhere.


Quick Checks to Suss Out Fake Gold

As a refinery, we deal with high volumes of gold in all manner of shapes, weights, and purity levels. We're able to leverage several types of assays to authenticate the melt-value of anything a customer may bring us. However, if you plan on purchasing gold, the types of assay equipment we'd recommend may not be available. Fortunately, there are several quick and easy ways to catch fake gold before you commit to a purchase.
   
Discoloration: Pure gold does not tarnish, so carefully check for any discoloration. Even slight shade variations can reveal fake gold.

Magnets: Gold (and other precious metals) are not magnetic. If the piece in question reacts to the magnet, it can only mean two things: 1) the piece is completely fake, or 2) the piece contains a lot of magnetic impurities (such as nickel or tungsten) and may be a lower karat than advertised. Make sure to use something stronger than a refrigerator magnet.

Scratching: Even without acid, a simple scratch test is enough to uncover many types of fake gold. Most counterfeiters don’t have the time or resources to plate a counterfeit thicker than what a scratch can uncover. The streak left behind by a scratch can also tell you something. For example, fool’s gold will leave behind a greenish grey streak, but gold will leave a shiny and bright streak of yellow. For best results, scratch against basalt or unglazed ceramic.

Float test: Check the buoyancy of the item by dropping it in a glass of water. Real gold is dense and will sink, but many counterfeits will float. Of course, this test is more effective on small samples, such as jewelry or alluvial flakes. Be aware that many metals designed to look like gold are still dense enough to sink, so even if the piece passes the float test, you should still try additional assays.


How Diamonds could Revolutionize Battery Technology

Ever increasing in popularity, lab-grown diamonds have a number of features that appeal to the jewelry market. But thanks to new scientific developments, they may soon find a new appeal among several new areas of industry. Scientists from the University of Bristol Cabot Institute gave a presentation of their research (which is still being prepared for publication) of converting dangerous nuclear waste into safe, electricity-generating synthetic diamonds.
   
To learn how this is possible, it helps to understand a few things about the source of nuclear waste the scientists intend to use. In the early 1950s, the UK began building nuclear power plants designed to use uranium as fuel, housed inside a core of graphite blocks to help sustain nuclear reactions. After enough use, the graphene blocks become radioactive and generate an unstable carbon isotope, carbon–14. The last of these types of reactors was decommissioned in 2015 - but decades of using them has left the UK with an estimated 95,000 tons of dangerously radioactive graphite blocks.

The scientists from the Cabot Institute devised a method to put this nuclear waste to use. Heating the graphite blocks causes much of the carbon-14 to be released as a gas - lowering the radioactivity of the graphite block to a less hazardous level. Meanwhile, the carbon-14 gas can be used in place of methane to grow a synthetic diamond. Diamonds grown from carbon-14 have a interesting property: they generate an electric current in the presence of a radioactive field. Because the diamonds are made from radioactive carbon-14, they actually provide their own radioactive field to generate electricity.

To make a practical battery, the scientists encased the radioactive diamond inside of another, non-radioactive diamond to absorb the radiation and make it safe to handle. Because the extra layer of diamond contains the radioactive field, it helps the carbon-14 diamond generate even more electricity, making it nearly 100% energy efficient.

The amount of energy generated is low a mere 15 joules per day. But since carbon-14 takes almost 6,000 years to degrade, the diamond batteries could function for just as long, giving them an estimated energy storage rating of 2.7 trillion joules. This longevity could make the diamond batteries useful in applications where charging or replacing conventional batteries is difficult or impossible, such as in satellites, spacecraft, and implantable medical devices.