Frequently Asked Questions
can Topiary & ashe resize my ring? How much will it cost?
Yes, generally it would not be a problem. However it might depend on the design of the ring - some rings just do not lend themselves to be resized. This is a process based on the individual piece and has to be quoted accordingly.
in which metals does Topiary & ashe produce jewellery?
Topiary & Ashe can produce jewellery in most precious metals, namely:
- 9ct Yellow, Rose or White gold
- 18ct Yellow, Rose or White gold
- Sterling Silver
- Some designs in Titanium
We will off course recommend a metal that is best suited to the client's budget as well as the specific design.
what are conflict diamonds?
The United Nations defines conflict diamonds as "...diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council." These diamonds are illegally traded to finance conflict in war stricken areas, particularly in central and western Africa. When diamonds are purchased from Topiary & Ashe, Topiary & Ashe gives the assurance that the diamonds have been purchased from legitimate sources and are not involved in funding conflict and are therefore in compliance with United Nations Resolutions.
can Topiary & ashe help me to choose the right diamond at the right price?
Yes, we can work within your budget to give you best quality diamond. We are able to source diamonds from various suppliers to ensure you can get the best possible stone within your budget.
what do i need to know about diamond grading and certification?
Firstly, it is important to trust the jeweler from whom you are buying. With all the technical information surrounding diamonds and their grading systems, you have to be sure that you are getting that which you are paying for. Most reputable jewelers will only sell certified diamonds which mean that each diamond comes with its own ‘passport’. No two diamonds are the same and this document or certificate describes the stone’s uniqueness through its technical data. This ‘fingerprint’ allows you to at any time have the stone in your possession compared to the information on the certificate. Apart from the very basic classification system of the four C's namely: clarity., cut , color and carat, there are many other finer aspects of diamond classification or grading. But in my experience many people get completely caught up in these finer points, without even looking at the diamond and seeing if it is beautiful to them. It has to be remembered that this is not a man made item, produced to specifications. It is a miracle of nature which it utterly unique. For this reason I would not recommend buying a large significant stone over the internet, based on its certification alone.
Certification can also be tricky... Not all agencies that certify diamonds give he same grades, and it is therefore very important to use a reputable and well known testing agency. Do not buy diamonds with obscure certificates.
Without a certificate, issued by a reputable agency a buyer relies on a jeweler’s integrity that the diamond is actually the quality that say it is. There are grading agencies in the United States and Europe have high reputations:
- Gemological Institute of America (GIA)
- American Gemological Society (AGS)
- European Gemological Laboratory (EGL)
- Diamond High Council (HRD, which is an abbreviation of the Dutch “Hoge Raad voor Diamant”)
- International Gemological Institute (IGI)
- International Confederation of Jewelry, Silverware, Diamonds, Pearls, and Stones (CIBJO)
The GIA is considered to be the industry standard and is the most widely used and trusted name in the diamond trade. AGS is well-known for its in-depth scientific research into diamond color grades. Some jewelers tend to think that the AGS’s color grading is considered to be superior to GIA’s.
can Topiary & ashe get hold of any type of gemstone?
Topiary & Ashe is able to source most gemstones, even rare and unique gemstones.
why are diamonds generally the chosen stone for engagement rings? can i choose any other type of gemstone?
These days there are no rules when it comes to the conventions of having a specific type of stone in your engagement ring. However if it is a ring that is to be worn everyday one has to take into account the general durability of the gemstone. Gemstones are judged according to the Mohs scale of hardness - from 1 -10 (10 being the hardest). This means that the softer the stone is, the faster it will wear down and lose its luster. Diamond is the hardest (10) and is therefore most suitable for this purpose for engagement rings. Sapphires or rubies are also a good choice as they are both at 9 on this scale. Sapphires come in almost all the colors and has a beautiful luster, so you do not have to be bound by color. Diamonds also come in beautiful colors. And by this I do not mean the very rare, hugely expensive colors such as blue and pink, but the more available less expensive colors such as cognac, champagne and black diamonds.
which gemstones are suitable for rings?
Many different gemstones may be used for occasion jewellery or dress-rings that are worn rarely. However if a ring is to be worn everyday one has to take into account the general durability of the gemstone. Gemstones are judged according to the Mohs scale of hardness - from 1 -10 (10 being the hardest). This means that the softer the stone is, the faster it will wear down and lose its luster. Diamond is the hardest (10) and is therefore most suitable for this purpose for rings. Sapphires or rubies are also a good choice as they are both at 9. Sapphires come in almost all the colors and has a beautiful luster, so you do not have to be bound by color. A good example of a gemstone that is not a good option for a ring that is worn frequently is Tanzanite. It is soft and brittle and rates 6 -6.5 on the Mohs scale. It is the jeweler's responsibility to educate its client of the suitability of gemstones and their general durability.
can diamonds crack or chip?
Gemstones are judged according to the Mohs scale of hardness - from 1 -10 (10 being the hardest). This means that the softer the stone is, the faster it will wear down, scratch, chip and lose its luster. Diamond is the hardest (10) and is therefore most suitable for this purpose for rings. However, just because it is such a hard material and resistant to abrasion, does not mean it is resistant to chipping and cracking due to normal wear. Diamonds can chip or fracture from hard impact along 'cleavage planes'. This is in fact used in the process of the cutting of diamonds.
does yellow / rose gold plating come off with time?
Yes, unfortunately it generally does. Gold plating is not only sensitive to physical scuffing but also to the chemicals in many types of perfume and cosmetic products as well as oil and sweat produced by the skin. Many of Topiary & Ashe's heavy Sterling Silver pieces are plated with a heavy gold plating. This makes it possible for Topiary & Ashe to make bold pieces at an affordable price, while still working in precious metal. This heavy gold plating is much thicker that the customary yellow / rose gold plating used commercially. This ensures that the plating will not wear down as fast as other gold plating options. However Topiary & Ashe cannot guarantee that it will not abrade over time as it is only a surface layer. This is especially true in the case of rings where the jewellery piece is exposed to a great deal of contact with other surfaces. Please feel free to contact Topiary & Ashe when this happens. Topiary & Ashe can re-plate your piece for a small fee or otherwise recommend somewhere in your area which offers this service. Gold plating is readily available at most jewelers worldwide.
is all white gold jewellery plated with rhodium? why is this?
Yes, generally we plate all white gold jewellery with Rhodium. This is done to give white gold, which has commonly more of a grey tone , a whiter appearance. It is also done to cover the solder seems, because the solder cannot ever be of exactly the same color as the metal itself.
Rhodium is a member of the platinum family. It has a white silver color, is hard wearing and is also hypo-allergenic. Rhodium also prevents any form of tarnishing. This plating can unfortunately wear off over time, especially on items of jewellery that is repeated being exposed to physical abrasion (such as rings) as well as coming in contact with strong chemicals such as cosmetics and perfumes. For this reason it is customary to take your jewellery to your local jeweler once a year to be re-polished and re-plated. This way your jewellery will always look at its best.
can any gemstone become damaged?
Most certainly, yes. The durability of gemstones has 3 considerations:
- Hardness: How well a gemstone resists scratches and abrasion
- Toughness: How well a gemstone resists breaking and chipping
- Stability: How well a gemstone resists chemicals and thermal shock
All gemstones should be treated with respect and with the acknowledgement of each gemstone's hardness and durability. Topiary & Ashe cannot be held liable for chips and damages to gemstones after a piece has been delivered. It is however the jeweler's responsibility to educate the client of the suitability of gemstones and their general durability. Many gemstones can only be cleaned according to specific restrictions. Ask your jeweler if you are uncertain.
is platinum better than white gold?
For a while Platinum carried more 'status' than white gold and a lot of people felt it to be more exclusive. When it comes to the practicality of the metals there are a few fact to consider.
Platinum is a natural white metal, which means it will not have to be plated in Rhodium as we jewelers do with most white gold pieces. White gold will always possess a yellow undertone, because it is basically yellow gold which is allowed with white metals such as Palladium and silver to make it white as well as harder. White gold is therefore plated with Rhodium to make it whiter and to cover solder seams which can never be quite the same color as the piece itself. This Rhodium plating wear off with time and has to be redone every now and again depending on how 'hard' the wearer is on his / her rings.
When it comes to hardness and durability as well as scratch resistance, Platinum is in actual fact softer than 18ct white gold and is therefore more likely to scratch. Platinum is however more brittle and will therefore not bend that easily. Therefore it is excellent to use for the prong settings of diamonds as it is not likely to bend open. Both metals are suitable for everyday wearing rings.
what is the different types of gold available?
Types of gold (therefore also the purity of gold) is calibrated according to a system out of 1000. If a piece of jewellery is stamped with for example 375 then the gold alloy contains 375 part out of a 1000 of fine gold. The other system used is called the caratage of the gold. This means that 24 is fine gold.
- 375 - 37.5% fine gold, or 9ct Not more durable than 18ct. Has a greater tendency to tarnish, corrode and react with its wearers skin than gold alloys with a greater % of fine gold. But a lot more affordable.
- 585 - 58.5% fine gold, or 14ct gold.
- 750 - 75.0% fine gold, or 18ct gold. Much more pure with a wonderful balance in purity, strength and beauty. It is durable and does not tarnish, corrode or react with its owners skin.
- 916 - 91.6% fine gold, or 22K gold. This is probably the softest and most pure gold that could be used for jewellery production.
- 999 - 99.9% fine gold, or 24K gold. This is the purest that you can buy, but not suitable for jewellery manufacture - too soft.
Pure gold is combined or ‘alloyed’ with other metals to add strength, and hardness . The amount and type of other materials (alloys) added determines the final carat (gold content) of the gold alloy. There are many different recipes for gold alloys. 9ct, 14ct and 18ct can all be alloyed to be yellow, white or rose gold. Other metals mixed in with fine gold to produce these metals can be silver, copper, palladium, nickel and zinc.
can I have my pearls re-strung with Topiary & ashe?
Yes, off course. Precious strings of pearls are proficiently re-strung with care. This is a process based on the individual piece and has to be quoted accordingly, but is normally dependent on the amount of knots made between pearls.
can i give my old gold jewellery to Topiary & ashe to melt up and make into something new?
I get this question very often. Some jewelers will take a client's old jewellery and melt that up to make something new, but I prefer not to do this. There might be a lot of contaminants in the 'old' gold in the form of solder. When the gold is then melted it will not have a pure consistency, which might make it very difficult to work with. Also, some gold is stamped incorrectly and alloys are used which are of an inferior quality. For these reasons I can give cash back on the gold or deduct the price of the gold given from the quotation. The gold has to however be tested before a final price can be ascertained and the price given varies with the daily gold price. Unfortunately the price that can be returned on the 'old' gold is considerably less than that of new gold purchased.