How did you become a valuer?

HOW DID YOU BECOME A VALUER?

As an integral part of the service I offer I frequently find that I spend several hours with clients.  During the course of which I am often asked how did I begin my career?

The simple answer is that it wasn’t my initial path.  I left school and spent a year in banking.  The bank thought, and so did I, that a year was long enough for all concerned.

I had since childhood had an interest in history, geology and horology.  I was a geek before the word had been invented.  So I was delighted to be accepted by a local independent jeweller. It was 1973 and in those days there was very little educational structure for the jewellery industry.  My education came via three older gentlemen in the shop. Amongst the many pockets of wisdom I learnt to strip down and reassemble a watch, identify a diamond (long before there were digital devices for the task) and recognise fake hallmarks.  This intense and unstructured education has stood me in very good stead in my valuing career. I carried out my first valuation in 1974, I recall it well. It was a gold charm bracelet.

Being ambitious I joined another local company where I had heard that the proprietor, Edward Cox, was a keen gemmologist. Edward’s contagious enthusiasm for the subject spurred me on to further my studies.  The formal study of gemmology is crucial to anyone who desires to become a jewellery valuer.  I could do more than recommend The Gemmological Association of Great Britain. Gem-A are based in Hatton Garden and run world renown courses on gemmology and diamond grading. The courses have in recent years been extended to include a Batchelor of Science degree in conjunction with Birmingham City University.

There followed further years in a variety of managerial and valuer roles.  I eventually found myself working for the Hopper family in Lincolnshire.  The manging director, Gerry Hopper, was keen for myself and his son Tim to qualify as Registered Valuers.

We both attended a one day course run by the late David Wilkins and the late Michael Norman. Both of whom were great ambassadors for the newly created National Association of Goldsmiths Registered Valuers scheme.  The scheme, over the past two decades, has developed into the highly regarded Institute of Registered Valuers, of which I am honoured to say that I am a Fellow.

In March 1993 I decided to go independent. I appreciated there was a gap in the market for a service visiting retail jewellers. At that time there were very few independent valuers around and the majority were office based.

The first few months were extremely difficult.   I relied initially on advertising and press releases. The response was minimal.  Therefore I decided to go ‘cold calling’, a practise somewhat frowned upon these days.  There was no internet, no social network platforms, no LinkedIn to promote my business.  I had to do it the hard way.  But I was determined to make it work. I’ve always lived by the ethos ‘just get on with it’. So I did.

I visited over seventy businesses in a two week period. Mainly retail jewellers and auction houses to offer my consultancy service.  Unceremoniously I was manhandled out of one shop.  Took a deep breath, brushed myself down and entered the next shop.

My first break came when Steve Thompson of Eric A Bird Jewellers of Lincoln said they thought a visiting specialist valuation service would be an ideal addition to their customer services.  It just takes one person to say ‘yes’.

Within a few weeks I had a portfolio of five shops in Lincoln and an auction house, Neals of Nottingham.  From that moment on the business and my reputation grew steadily.

However I realised that if my business was to expand further I needed to move further south.  At the invitation of my good friends John Carter and Peter Hering of Cellini jewellers in 1996 I opened an office in Cambridge.

The office gave me a good platform not only to offer businesses a visiting service but also a secure postal service. During this period I came under the radar of one of the major retail jewellery groups. Within a few months my fledgling business began to fly.  Working twelve hours, six or seven days a week was the norm.

I wasn’t satisfied.  There was a gap in my education. I had studied gemmology, diamond grading, horology, jewellery history, silver.  I had qualified as a gemmologist, a diamond grader and a Registered Valuer. I even attend jewellery and silver making courses in order that I can appreciate how items are made. However it was the fleeting experience in the auction field that made me realise that I needed to handle, examine, determine and appreciate the finer jewels.  It was one thing to visit exhibitions and auctions to view these items. It was another to appraise them.  To be a consummate jewellery valuer I felt that a more in-depth experience of the auction world was crucial.

Phillips auctioneers, subsequently absorbed into Bonhams, advertised for a jewellery specialist. The post was a one year contract, based in Oxford and London. To be responsible for the appraisal, collection and cataloguing of jewellery for (fifty !) Fine Art, Regional, London and International auctions.

My interview was with Director John Benjamin (of BBC Antique Roadshow fame).  Part of my interview involved the determination and valuing of a tray of, soon to be auctioned, items. I recall a Sri Lankan sapphire and a Carlo Guilliano brooch. Both of which I must have gauged correctly as I was offered the position, having seen off the other forty-three candidates.

I returned to Cambridge to close down my business and relocate to Oxford. Not an easy choice as I had to halve my income for the year.  The year was intense. However I achieved what I set out to do.  I handled some very fine items and made a contribution on the way in increasing the sales figures for the department.

After the contract I returned to Cambridge, rekindled Hawksworth Valuations, but now concentrated on the High Net Worth market.

In 2009 I was awarded the National Association of Goldsmiths’ Institute of Registered Valuer’s highly prestigious David Wilkins award for ‘outstanding skill, dedication and service in respect of jewellery appraisal and valuation’.

Today my business is primarily based around London HNW clients.

So what advice can I offer?  It takes one person to say ‘yes’.  Find that person. Have a goal, not a plan.  Be determined, even if you do get man-handled. Continued professional development is key, never stop learning.  Identify your USP.   The best boss in the world is yourself.

Just get on with it.

Steven Jordan FGA DGA FNAJ FIRV

Jewellery, watches and silver valuer

MD Hawksworth Valuations Limited

www.hawksworth-valuations.co.uk

 

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Diamonds & diamond grading ; Gemological Institute of America recalls 424 diamond grading reports

The GIA have issued an alert for 424 diamond reports.

The diamonds had received a previously unknown temporary colour enhancement treatment prior to certification.

The treatment could improve the colour by three grades.

The GIA are yet to discover the exact enhancement process.

For more details, including recalled certificate numbers, see link below.

http://www.gia.edu/gem-lab/laboratory-alert-may-2015

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Lost Treasures

The Regale of France
Like most amateur historians I love a mystery. ‘The Three Brothers’, ‘The Great Mogul’ and the many other jewels and gemstones whose current whereabouts is unknown. One such mysterious gemstone is the ruby cabochon ‘The Regale of France’. From repentant Kings to a particularly non-repentant King, the ruby is embroiled in the bloody history of this country.
The first occurrence of the gemstone appearing on these shores is as a gift of King Louis VII to the Shrine of St Thomas á Becket at Canterbury. In August 1179 King Louis, who was in very poor health, visited Becket’s Shrine as part of a five day pilgrimage. He was accompanied by the repentant King Henry II of England, whose conflict with Becket had led to the Saint’s murder by his knights in 1170.
‘After his penance King Henry offered at this tomb four marks of pure gold and a silk hanging to adorn it ; also £40 annually for lights to be kept burning around the shrine. Louis VII., the first French king to set foot on this island, came to implore St. Thomas’s intercession for the recovery of his son, and presented to the shrine the celebrated jewel known as the “Regale of France,” his own golden goblet, and many other gifts.’ (1)
The Regale de France became an important feature on the Shrine. However the ruby’s nature has often been debated; confirmed as a ruby by a the account of visiting Venetian in 1500;
‘The account of a Venetian who visited the shrine about the year 1500. “The tomb of St. Thomas the martyr, arch- bishop of Canterbury,” he says, “exceeds all belief. Notwithstanding its great size, it is wholly covered with plates of pure gold ; yet the gold is scarcely seen because it is covered with various precious stones, as sapphires, balasses, diamonds, rubies and emeralds ; and wherever the eye turns something more beautiful than the rest is observed. Nor, in addition to these natural beauties, is the skill of art wanting, for in the midst of the gold are the most beautiful sculptured gems both small and large, as well such as are in relief as agates, onyxes, cornelians and cameos ; and some cameos are of such size that I am afraid to name it ; but everything is far surpassed by a ruby, not larger than a thumbnail, which is fixed at the right of the altar. The church is somewhat dark, and particularly in the spot where the shrine is placed, and when we went to see it the sun was near setting and the weather was cloudy ; never- theless I saw the ruby as if I had it in my hand. They say it was given by a king of France.’ (2)
Described as a diamond in 1554;
‘The oft-mentioned jewel given by the King of France and called a ruby by the Venetian pilgrim, is described by the Bohemian Ambassador, in 1446, as “a carbuncle that shines at night, half the size of a hen’s egg” ; but it was described as a diamond when it came unto the possession of Queen Mary in 1554. This gem, the “Regale of France,” was too well known to be confused with any other jewel, and it was probably owing to the prismatic colours given forth from this exceptional diamond in the gloom of the chapel that we have these discrepancies in name. When fastened to the new shrine the figure of an angel was made in gold, pointing to the stone to attract special attention.’ (1)

I disagree with the above. There is a considerable difference in appearance between a ruby and a diamond. I feel that there is a good possibility that the gemstone in Queen Mary’s collar was not the Regale of France, but a diamond of a similar title.
So satisfied that the gemstone is a ruby one has to next trace its journey, picking through the minefield of historic journals, many biased and inaccurate.
Evidence is assigned to the ruby’s journey to the Royal Treasury when Becket’s shrine was destroyed in 1540 under the orders of King Henry VIII, in vengeance for his ancestor Henry II. Henry VIII appears to have worn the ruby mounted in a ring.
‘During the month of September the Royal Commission for the destruction of shrines, under Dr. John Layton and a strong military guard, arrived at Canterbury to carry out the work of sacrilege. The spoil of jewels and gold of the shrine were carried off in two coffers on the shoulders of eight men, while twenty-six carts were employed to remove the accumulated offerings to God and St. Thomas, and the noted Regale of France was mounted in Henry’s thumb ring.’ (1)
Further evidence comes in the seventeenth via a reliable and diligent source; The Life and Reign of King Henry VIII.: Together with a General History of ..Edward Herbert Baron Herbert of Cherbury wrote ‘Among which, there being one Stone eminent, which it was said, Lewis (sic) the Seventh coming hither from France, Anno Dom. 1179, bestowed; our King (Henry VIII) wore it in a Ring afterwards ‘ (3)
Did Henry VIII wear the ring to his grave in 1547?
J Dalton of Norwich wrote in Notes & Queries (1863) ‘With respect to the large carbuncle or diamond given by Louis VII., which is said to have been worn by Henry VIII in his thumb-ring, it was probably buried with him. If so, this fact may account for George IV, when Prince Regent, having ordered the tomb of Henry to be opened, and the coffin searched for some ring or rings), which he supposed were still to be found therein.
Some years ago, when visiting the Royal Chapel at Windsor, an old man told me that he assisted at the opening of the tomb of Henry VIII, the Prince Regent and a few others being present, and that he heard the Prince speaking about a valuable ring (or rings, I forget which), that he hoped to find in the royal coffin. Nothing however was found, except some large bones.’ (4)

I was hoping for visual evidence for Henry VIII wearing the ruby cabochon ring in portraits, for example that by Hans Holbein in 1540. To date I have found no such evidence.
Did it find its way back to France?
What did it actual look like? Size of a thumb? Big as a pigeon egg? Was it a ruby at all? Gemmology was in its infancy. Misidentification in historic gems is not unknown. For example The Black Prince Ruby set in the Imperial State Crown is actually a spinel.
So where is it now? France? England? Buried with Henry VIII? or was it burnt with the bones of Thomas á Becket?
References:
(1) PRELATES AND PRIESTS, Wall, J. Charles, Shrines of British Saints, Methuen & Co., London. 1905. Chapter Four.
(2) State Papers (ed. 1830), Part ii. p. 583. Polydore Vergil, Relation (Camden Society, 30).
(3) https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Yc9CAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA376&lpg=PA376&dq=Cherbury%27s+History+of+King+Henry+VIII+ring&source=bl&ots=xOG7bvPbpV&sig=B0rfOXy3f7RBbk3QfZoZOIZA_VI&hl=en&sa=X&ei=DPGzVMCKC8nqaKfWgLAM&ved=0CDIQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=Cherbury’s%20History%20of%20King%20Henry%20VIII%20ring&f=false
(4) http://www.mocavo.co.uk/Notes-and-Queries-Jul-Dec-1863-Volume-4/877270/475

Steven Jordan

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So what’s selling well in the high end auction field?

1) Coloured diamonds (preferably with no modifying tint), 3.00 carats and above
2) Type IIA D flawless, triple ex stones above 10.00 carats
3) Natural pearls of good shape, colour, lustre and size
4) Signed period jewels by all the great houses
5) Antique jewels in superb condition, preferably with historic provenance
6) Sapphire and rubies with no heat treatment
7) Old mine emeralds with minor or no oiling

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THE CURIOUS LORE OF PRECIOUS STONES (1913)

THE CURIOUS LORE OF PRECIOUS STONES (1913)

By George Frederick Kunz

 

From time to time, in a quiet moment, I select a book to read.  I particularly like Victorian and early twentieth century adventure tomes.  It’s the boy in me that has led to a small collection of the H Rider Haggard adventures for example.

In the gemmological field there are a number of heroes whose escapades would give Allan Quatermain  a run for his money, or gold.

Jean-Baptiste Tavernier comes immediately to mind. The modern version double volume of his travels in India I have in my collection.

Kunz frontipiece

However today I reach for my 1913 copy of The Curious Lore of Precious Stones by George Frederick Kunz.  Tattered, bruised, falling apart it still offers an insight into the state of jewellery history and gemmology over a hundred years ago. For me it is a tangible link with the past with two of my favourite subjects.

Kunz was born in New York City 29th September 1856. He had a very keen interest in minerals from an early age and by his teens had a collection of over four thousand items. He did not attend college but taught himself mineralogy from books and carried out field research.

kunzneck

It was his expertise in mineralogy that secured him a position with Tiffany and company.  His knowledge, dedication and enthusiasm saw him become vice president by the age of just twenty-three.

 

His name continues in the world of gemmology today due to his discovery of a variety of Spodumene now known as Kunzite.

The book covers a myriad of subjects. From superstitions associated with particular gems, religious uses and therapeutic properties.

 

To quote from the text, ‘Rock crystal also was found to possess a strongly stimulating influence, for if put in the hand, it aroused the subject from half slumber, and if placed on the pit of the stomach, it had the power to awaken the seeress from a somnambulistic trance, while at the same time an aromatic odor (sic) was diffused around’.

 

Of amulets he wrote much, ‘One of the special uses of amulets was for seafaring people…all who went down to the sea in ships were greatly in need of protection from the fury of the elements…’.

 

Kunz continues to list the seven amulets describe by a Greek lapidary.  Carbuncle and chalcedony, to protect a sailor from drowning. Rock crystal, associated with ice. Aquamarine, to banish fear. A type of agate with a white centre, to protect against the evil eye.  Coral attached to the prow of the ship, to protect against the wind and waves. A type of banded agate, known as ophiokiolus, it’s snake like appearance protected against the surging ocean. A type of Jet, known as opsianos, was said to protect all that journeyed by sea or river.

zodiac

The book is full of truly bizarre images.  One of my favourites is that of a type of mythical airship ‘..above the figure were to be set coral-agates (sic) , supposed to possess such magnetic powers as to keep the craft aloft’.

There are some fantastically colourful plates throughout the book, particularly emphasizing the diversity of gemstones.

For those interested in the science of gemmology there are some interesting, and slightly frightening experiments noted.  The phosphorescence of a diamond exposed to ultra violet light comes to mind. I can’t imagine that the eye safety procedure that we adhere to today was ever followed then.

gempic

One outstanding colour plate, and one I refer to in talks, is that of the Maharaja Runjit Singh, Ruler of the Punjab, 1791 to 1839.  The Maharaja is seated against a large red cushion, around his neck and at his waste are rows of large natural pearls. In his hand he holds a necklace of emerald beads, said to protect against poison.  Sadly it is believed that he, and his successor, died of poisoning. The Maharaja was the founder of the Sikh Empire and at one time the possessor of the Koh-i-Noor  diamond.

Singh

The book is full of intrigue and mystery.  The principal mystery for me is who owned the book in 1935.  Whoever he was his friend called him the ‘Uncrowned King of Cyphers’. And signs off with a sentiment that I agree with ‘Friendship is more worthy than many jewels’.

 

 

cypher

Steven Jordan FGA DGA

 

MD Hawksworth Valuations Limited

 

www.hawksworth-valuations.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

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THE CHEAPSIDE HOARD exhibition at the Museum of London

http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/london-wall/whats-on/exhibitions-displays/cheapside-hoard-londons-lost-jewels/

The Cheapside Hoard….London’s Lost Jewels

 

Finally last week I managed to schedule a visit to the London Museum’s exhibition of the Cheapside Hoard.

For the first time ever the hoard could be viewed in one location. The exhibition was timed to coincide with the one hundredth anniversary of the hoard’s first public showing.

 

The history of the hoard and its subsequent loss in the cellar of premises in Cheapside is open to discussion. It is likely to be the stock of a goldsmith, Cheapside being the area for gold smithing during the Elizabethan and Stuart period. Its modern history dates to 1912 when a gang of labourers in the City of London unearthed the cache of gemstones and jewels.  It is thanks however to the legendary figure of Stony Jack (George Fabian Lawrence) who, with his familiarity of the City navvies (and the public houses they frequented), was able to retrieve the hoard.

workshopchains

The current exhibition begins with the history of gold smithing in the City, with a representation of a Stuart period workshop. Many of the tools on display would be familiar to the goldsmiths of today.

Displays of chests, similar to which the jewels had been found in, Grimm’s illustration of the coronation procession of Edward VI (1547) through Cheapside showing the goldsmiths’ windows full of treasure and displays of gold testing equipment complete the first section. If I hear someone say again “…that’s where the expression ‘up to scratch’ comes from”  I shall go mad.

The exhibition follows around to reveal the main room with cabinets full of wonderful Elizabethan/Stuart period jewels.

My favourites;  the enamel long chains, the salamander brooch and of course the emerald watch.  The watch is set into a complete emerald crystal. No mean feat today let alone four hundred years ago!

emeraldWATCH

Hazel Forsyth, Senior Curator of the Medieval and post-Medieval Collections at the Museum of London, must be congratulated on bringing together this incredible exhibition of the art of renaissance gold smithing in England in such an informative and interesting way.

I was very fortunate a few years ago to attend a private talk by Hazel at Goldsmiths Hall, I was Senior Valuer London Assay Office at the time.  Hazel demonstrated the fantastic scope of items in the collection and the various analytic processes that were being used. It was a good insight into the steps that are involved and the effort that’s involved in putting on such an exhibition. Of particular interest was the scanned images of the Ferlite watch.

The exhibition ends on the 27th April 2014. I can do no more than heartily recommend a visit before the Cheapside Hoard is returned to its various homes.

I would also recommend purchasing Hazel’s wonderfully illustrated book of the exhibition.

Chaepsidebook

http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/london-wall/whats-on/exhibitions-displays/cheapside-hoard-londons-lost-jewels/

UNTIL 27th April 2014

 

Steven Jordan

steven@hawksworth-valuations.co.uk

 

 

 

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Kalahari Valentine

When a young Kalahari bushman seeks a bride he skillfully makes a miniature bow, quiver and arrows. The bow not being much larger than a pencil!
When spying his intended bride he shoots an arrow at her, in front of his clan.
If she accepts this rather precarious proposal the girl picks up the arrow.
However she has the choice to refuse his advances by simply walking away.
As these miniature quivers have more than one arrow the young bushman has the option to pursue another.
This really is Cupid in action.
Happy Valentines day

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AMETHYST, the birthstone for February

Amethyst, that wonderful pale lilac to deep reddish purple variety of quartz, occur in vesicles in volcanic rocks as well as pegmatite and hydrothermal veins.
Its occurrence is vast, across much of the world. From Siberia to Europe, South America, Asia and Africa. Principal sources are Minais Gerais (Brazil), Zambia and South Korea. You can even find amethyst in the UK. Look for water worn pebbles on Scottish and Cornish beaches.
The name is derived from the Greek amethystos, meaning ‘not drunken’. It was believed that it protected the wearer from drunkenness. In mythology Dionysus sought revenge on mankind for an insult he had received. A young maiden, called Amethystos, became his intended victim. Dionysus created tigers to carry out the deed but Artemis intervened by turning Amethystos into a white quartz stone. Dionysus wept on seeing the beautiful statue, his wine charged tears turning the stone purple.
By coincidence some amethysts contain healed fractures called ‘tiger stripes’.
It was favoured by the clergy, roman emperors and medieval soldiers who believed that wearing an amethyst would enable them to remain cool headed.
Amethysts other attributes include piety, humour and wit. It is said to sharpen the mind and protect the wearer against magic.

The Science
Amethyst is a crystalline variety of quartz. Silicon dioxide, owing its colour to manganese.
Crystal system: Trigonal
Hardness: 7
Specific gravity: 2.65
Refractive index: 1.544 to 1.553
Birefringence: 0.009

Can be heated to light yellow, reddish brown, green or colourless.
The light yellow heat treated type that resembles the quartz variety citrine does not exhibit pleochroism, whereas true citrine does.

Want to learn more about Amethyst? Then visit the Gemmological Association of Great Britain website for available courses www.gem-a.com

Steven Jordan FGA DGA FIRV FNAJ
Fellow of the National Association of Jewellers Institute of Registered Valuers

For jewellery and silver valuations:   steven@hawksworth-valuations.co.uk

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London Fix Historical gold – result

During a recent jewellery valuation visit to a property I was confronted with a very recently purchased ring. The owner had been informed that as gold has dropped so dramatically recently it was a good time to purchase. Absolutely, for a bespoke ring or one that had been very recently obtained from a supplier. However it is not a general practice of UK jewellers to adjust stock prices daily to reflect the changing gold FIX.  The exception being UK Asian jewellers who some, but not all, adjust retail prices according to the gold FIX.

However gold is just one component of an item of jewellery. Gemstones fluctuate in price according to availability and trends too.

The quality of coloured gemstones are graded as commercial, good, fine or extra fine.  The grade is primarily associated with colour, cut and clarity grade for type.

The Gem Market News in the November/December 2013 edition of The GemGuide states the following:

An extra fine 3ct emerald would be as follows per carat: year 2000 $5,975, year 2005 $6,900, year 2010 $6,500, year 2013 $7,575

An extra fine 3ct pink sapphire would be as follows per carat: year 2000 $1,350, year 2005 $1,825, year 2010 $1,525, year 2013 $2,650

The value of jewellery is very fluid and is affected by a variety of aspects, from market trends, global economy and confrontations.

This is why it is so important to have jewellery valuations updated regularly to ensure full value replacement in the event of a loss.

Sources:

www.kitco.com

www.gemguide.com

 

 

 

 

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