Carat is the term used to measure the weight of a diamond.  Karat is the unit of measurement used to express the purity of gold.

Although the terms are often used interchangeably, any gem called “synthetic” is supposed to have the same physical and chemical properties as the genuine stone.  So a “synthetic sapphire” would have the same readings in various gem lab tests as a genuine sapphire, and there are very subtle differences a gemologist has to look for to separate the natural stone from the synthetic.  An “imitation stone” only imitates the real one; it basically looks like the genuine stone, but its hardness, chemical structure, weight, etc. are different.  In general, a true “synthetic” will cost more than a simple “imitation.”  For example, synthetic blue sapphire will cost more than blue glass.

Many earrings are just too heavy for the average ear lobe.  There are several possible solutions a jeweler can recommend, usually involving different types of earring backs and stabilizers available.


Most jewelry is not made in gold’s pure form, 24K, because it is too soft.  Alloys are added to gold to add strength and/ or color.  14K has approximately 58% gold content; 18K has 75% gold content.

Palladium is a precious gray-white metal that is part of the platinum family.  It will never tarnish or change its natural color; it is a hypoallergenic metal.

Platinum is precious metal that is used in jewelry at 90-95% purity. Platinum is extremely long wearing and naturally white. It is very dense and heavy, so a platinum ring will feel heavier than a gold ring.

White gold is an alloy of gold and some white metals such as silver and palladium. White gold can be produced at various karat levels; 14K and 18K are the most common.

When gold comes out of the ground it is yellow.  In order to get white gold or rose gold, alloys are added to change the color.  You can be allergic to one color gold over another because of the different alloys used to make different colors.

Yes, gold filled has a layer of gold bonded to the base metal’s surface. It will last much longer than plated jewelry and can usually be cleaned the same way as real gold jewelry.  Many gold filled items have been known to last 20 years or more if worn with care.

Gold plate is much less expensive to make, and has only a “wash” of metal over a base. Some platings are heavier than others, but under moderate use, the gold can wear off easily.  Almost all costume jewelry is gold plated.

Other countries often use the metric system instead of the “karat” system to denote metal purity.  18kt is considered 75% pure, which Europeans write as “750”.  In the metric system, 14kt gold is noted as “585” and sterling silver is often labeled “925” because it is 92.5% pure silver.

This is usually called “gold filled”, even though the gold is on the outside.  This means it has a bonded layer of gold on the outside and some sort of base metal on the inside.  Sometimes it is also called “gold overlay”.

Although platinum is extremely durable, its surface does change over time. The durability of platinum is actually due to its density, meaning the molecules are tightly compacted.  The surface will wear, but platinum jewelry will not easily break. This makes platinum a premier metal for engagement ring mountings and prongs.  Actually, many people like the darker “patina” that platinum gets over time as it visually identifies this most distinctive of precious metals.  If a brighter finish is desired, polishing will restore platinum’s shine.

Sometimes when people wear jewelry, they notice it turns their skin a dark color or makes a black mark on their clothing.  This is commonly referred to as “gold smudge,” and it most often occurs when the discolored area has been exposed to some sort of cosmetic.  Face powders, creams, blush, lipstick and some lotions contain compounds (such as zinc oxide, ferric oxide, titanium oxide or calamine) which are harder than the jewelry metals they come in contact with.  These compounds act like sandpaper on the jewelry, depositing a very fine, dark metallic residue on skin or clothing.

There is a popular misconception that gold smudge indicates poor quality or low karat jewelry, but actually the opposite is true.  Often the higher the precious metal content, the more discoloration produced.  Pure 24kt gold is the softest, and readily smudges, whereas 14kt gold (58.5% pure gold) has been mixed with other alloys, which make it more durable.

To avoid gold smudge, remove rings and other jewelry while applying cosmetics, and clean all areas touching jewelry before putting it back on.  Avoid exposing hands to salty foods, or remove rings and thoroughly wash hands and rings after exposure.  Gold smudge stains on clothing can be removed with soap and water, or by dry cleaning if necessary for the type of fabric involved.


A natural pearl is formed when a microscopic foreign object finds its way into a mollusk. The mollusk secretes a calcium carbonate substance called nacre. The secretion process is repeated many times over, thus producing a pearl. Round natural pearls are extremely rare.

Cultured pearls are formed when a round bead is inserted into the mollusk. The mollusk goes through the same secretion process as a natural pearl, but since the bead is usually much larger, it takes a shorter amount of time to create a finished pearl. Good cultured pearls are usually left to deposit nacre for at least 2 years, while lower quality pearls are harvested in shorter time periods. The longer a pearl is left inside the mollusk, the longer the finish will last.

Faux pearls are fake, plastic beads.

Pearls can be cleaned with a mixture of mild soap and water or a prepared “delicate” jewelry cleaner. After cleaning, lay pearls on a clean towel to dry in order to avoid stretching the cord. Never clean your pearls with solutions that contain ammonia or harsh detergents and remember never to put pearl jewelry in an ultrasonic cleaner. Also, don’t use abrasive cleaners or rub pearls with an abrasive cloth. Both can wear away the nacre coating, leaving you with a plain looking bead.

Keep pearls away from other jewelry, particularly metal items that can scratch the soft surface of the pearls.  Keep your pearls in a cloth or plastic baggie in your jewelry box at home or when you travel.  Never sleep in your pearl strand or bracelet.  Sleeping puts a great deal of strain on the silk cord and will stretch or break it much faster than usual.  Also check them often to make sure they do not need to be restrung.  If the pearls can move at all between the knots, your strand needs to be restrung.  This can be as often as once a year or every several years depending on pearl size, the length of the strand and how often they are worn. In addition, always apply your makeup, perfume, lotion and hairspray before putting on your pearls.  Chemicals in those products can eventually ruin the luster of your pearls.


Although it is possible for someone to change their own watch battery, it is best to leave it up to the professionals. There are extremely fragile parts inside a watch and without the proper tools an inexperienced person can permanently damage a watch.  Also, each watch can take a different battery, most of which we have on hand.


Watches that are highly water resistant have lock down crowns and screw-on backs with gaskets to seal the watch.  Check out the Swiss Army or Raymond Weil brands available in both Braunschweiger locations.

A Quartz movement in either a clock or watch uses electricity from a wall outlet or a battery and applies it to a quartz crystal which in turn resonates at a precise frequency and keeps accurate time. Simply put: It is a specific type of movement that requires electricity to run. Other types of movements include automatic and kinetic.

Automatic watches are automatically wound with the movement and motion of your wrist.  When you put it down and it is not moving for a few days, the watch will run down and stop.  It will re-start when you put it back on your wrist or when it is in motion again.

Usually, a battery can last between 1 and 4 years.  How long a battery lasts depends on the movement in the watch.  If a watch has many extra features like a stopwatch or a light, the battery life can be drastically reduced.