Balfour Class Rings

Balfour Rings

For generations, high school students, college students and military personnel have chosen to remember their school days with souvenir rings from Balfour. Balfour supplies rings to both men and women and create rings for high school, college, the military and championship rings.

 History of Balfour

It was the year 1913 when Lloyd Balfour launched his business selling commemorative rings at fraternities and sororities at U.S colleges. The first shots of World War I were taken the following year, and Balfour began producing rings for members of the military, making them a part of his business offerings even after the war was over in 1918. Over time rings for all college grads, not just members of the Greek system, were added, as well as high school rings. Alloy rings were added in the 1970s when the price of gold rose precipitously. The product list expanded to include yearbooks, invitations, key rings, pins and more.

High School

High school students purchasing a Balfour ring are given several options from which to choose, including several choices for the more budget-minded. The buyer can choose the color of the stone as well as the cut, and can opt for white gold, yellow gold, or a less costly alloy metal. The student can choose to have her name or a message engraved on the interior surface of the ring. The sides of the ring can be decorated with emblems representing the student’s favorite activities like drama club and soccer, special interests, flags, zodiac signs and more.

College

Like high school rings, college rings are available in a variety of metals, stone colors and emblems for interests and activities, as well as the student’s major, if desired.

Military

Balfour designs rings for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. Like high school and college rings, military rings are offered with a choice of metals and stone color. Ring buyers can personalize the ring with emblems for their military unit or branch as well as items like crosses, flags and helicopters.

Championship

From Stanley Cup winners to high school wrestling state victors, Balfour has provided rings for champions for over 60 years.

 

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Opal Rings

My husband surprised me on Mother’s Day with a beautiful antique, art nouveau opal ring with strong blue fire. It’s my first opal, and it’s lovely. I love it when he buys jewelry for me. I usually stick to my old faves – ruby, sapphire & garnet – but now I have a beautiful opal ring. I wanted to know more about opals.

Opal Ring Color
It is the play of colors within the opal that is so captivating. Unlike most gemstones, opals do not have a crystalline structure but are instead formed by a type of hardened jelly. As the stone cools fine films form with different refractive indices than the rest of the stone, so that light entering the stone is reflected in a array of color. While milky white opal is the most popular form, black opal is the valuable. Water opal is clear, and fire opal is red or yellow and does not always flash colors.

Opal Ring Cuts
Most opals are cut in the smooth, rounded cabochon style that best displays their iridescence. Fire opals are sometimes faceted.

Opal Ring Hardness
Opals measure a 5.5-6.5 on the Mohs scale of gem hardness in which talc is a 1 and diamond, the hardest known natural substance, is a 10. This means that opals are softer than many popular gemstones and special care must be taken to avoid damage like scratching and chipping.

Caring for Opal Rings
To avoid scratching or cracking opals, remove opal rings when doing housework, repairs or any other task that could cause your hands and ring to be knocked around. Also remove the ring when engaging in sports where the opal could be struck and damaged. When placing the opal ring in a jewelry organizer, use the ring slots provided so that the opal is not damaged by sharp metal prongs and clasps from other jewelry.

Because opal is porous, avoid immersing your opal ring in dirty or greasy liquid, such as dishwater. Exposure to heat can dry out the opal, and cold weather can cause it to shrink slightly, so make sure the opal is securely set in the ring.

Opal Ring Folklore
Ancient people believed that opals could free inhibitions, strengthen intuition and promote creativity in one who wore them.

Opal Sources
Opals have been mined in Czechoslovakia and Mexico, but most of today’s opals hail from Australia. In fact, a few months ago my son asked me to read one of his books from The 39 Clues series in which a couple of kids explored the opal mines in Coober Pedy. Sounded awesome.

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Blue Diamond Rings

blue diamond ringYou’re an unusual woman, why not opt for an unusual ring? While diamond rings are common enough, beautiful blue diamond rings are definitely out of the ordinary. Learn more about this special gem and decide whether it’s for you.

Fancy Diamonds
While white and off-white diamonds are the best known, diamonds are found in nature in a rainbow of colors, including brown, lavender, green, yellow, red, pink, black and blue. These colored diamonds are called fancy diamonds. While some colored diamonds – some of the yellows, for instance – are worth less than white diamonds of comparable quality, others are worth more, due to their rarity. Blue diamonds are some of the rarest, and therefore good quality blue diamond rings can be quite valuable.

Why the Diamonds are Blue
The blue color of the diamonds are due to impurities, specifically boron. While the diamond is forming, boron gas is trapped in the crystal structure, creating a diamond with an arresting blue color.

Shades of Blue Diamond Rings
Most blue diamonds are a pale or light blue, but some have a deeper blue color, though not so deep as a sapphire. Generally, for two diamonds of similar size and quality, the deeper the color, the more valuable the diamond.

Synthetic vs Natural Blue Diamond Rings
The prevalence of synthetic diamonds had brought the price of blue diamond rings into reach for some who might not have been able to afford them before. While synthetic blue diamonds appear quite similar to natural blue diamonds to the naked eye, under ultraviolet examination a good jeweler can easily tell them apart.

White Diamonds with Blue Fluorescence
Some jewelers might try to use the fact that blue diamond rings are so costly to make a little extra money off a white diamond with blue fluorescence. In a white diamond, the blue fluorescence should make it less expensive, not more.

The Hope Diamond
Perhaps the most famous blue diamond is the Hope Diamond, a 45 carat stone that is currently displayed at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. Its deep blue color and large size make it one of the rarest diamonds ever found. Historians believe that the Hope Diamond was first unearthed in Indian during the 1600s. The Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Tavernier obtained the uncut stone and carried it back to France, where it was cut into a 115-carat diamond known as The Tavernier Diamond, which he sold to King Louis XIV. The stone was recut to a 67 carat diamond known the Blue Diamond of the French Crown, or the French Blue. After the King and Queen were killed during the French Revolution, the stone disappeared for decades, reemerging as the 45 carat Hope Diamond. While it was long suspected, researchers have recently verified that the Hope Diamond was in fact cut from the French Blue. The stone spent some time in England before traveling to the United States and finding its way into the collection of the Smithsonian when famed American jeweler Harry Winston donated it.

Russian Blue Diamond
I once read an account of a wealthy Russian Émigré who had been given a valuable jewel in a convent by one of the Grand Duchesses before escaping the Bolsheviks. For years she believed it to be a large sapphire, only to discover much later that it was actually a much rarer blue diamond. Unfortunately, a quick search of Google didn’t turn this story up, so I’m not sure where I read it – is anyone familiar with this story? If so I’d love a link to it – please use the contact form to get in touch with me – I had to turn off comments due to spammers.

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Expensive Engagement Rings

Throughout history, an engagement ring has been a symbol of love and eternity, a couple’s promise to spend the rest of their lives together. The ring can also be an investment, and may well be the most valuable piece of jewelry a woman owns. Those interested in purchasing expensive engagement rings should take several factors into account.

Diamond Value in Expensive Rings
The diamond is the most important component of an engagement ring’s value, and expensive engagement rings should have top notch diamonds. Four things determine the diamond’s quality and worth. While some assume that size, or carat weight, is the primary factor, that is not the case. The color of the diamond, its clarity, its cut and proportion and then, carat weight are the four factors that decides the diamond’s value. Experts refer to these as “the four c’s.”

Many, many factors within these four categories can affect the price of the diamond. For example, if the diamond has been cut so that the symmetry of the facets isn’t perfect, the value is lower. If the diamond has been cut too shallow, it can bring down the value. Blemishes mar the clarity of the stone, resulting in a lower quality diamond.

Diamond Reports
An expensive engagement ring with a high quality fine diamond should come with a diamond grading report or certificate. Knowing what to look for in this report can help you make an educated decision about which diamond engagement ring is your best choice.

Diamond reports are issued by a number of different gem laboratories. While GIA is perhaps the best known, there are also labs like EGL, AGL, HRD and IGI. Things to look for on the report are
• Dimensions – make sure the dimensions in the report match the dimensions of the actual diamond, or else a switch may have been made
• The exact carat weight – make sure it matches the diamond
• Finish is the stones symmetry and polish and should be listed as “good” or better.
• Proportion – Check the figure for depth percentage. The best is 58 to 60%, very good is 61 to 62%, acceptable is 62 to 64%, and over 64% is poor.
• Proportion – Check the figure given for table percentage. The best value is in the 53 to 57% range, 57 to 60% is a very good number, up to 64% is acceptable. Over 70% is a poor choice for expensive engagement rings.
• Clarity gradings vary amongst gem labs. For GIA, they are, from best to poorest, FL, IF, VVS1, VVS2, VS1, VS2, SI1, SI2, I1, I2 and I3.
• Color grades also vary amongst gem labs, and should be listed on the report.
• The girdle, or edge, thickness – a diamond with a very thin girdle is more likely to chip. A diamond with a very thick girdle looks smaller.
• Fluorescence – Stones may have either a yellow or blue fluorescence. However a “very strong yellow” fluorescence can make the stone appear yellower in daylight, while a “very strong blue” fluorescence can give the stone a cloudy appearance in daylight.

Metals of Expensive Engagement Rings
Expensive engagement rings are typically crafted from platinum, white gold or yellow gold. Keep in mind that white metals like platinum or white gold can enhance the whiteness of the diamond, while yellow gold can make it appear more yellow. However, if the stone is slightly yellow, yellow gold can actually make it appear whiter.

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Amethyst Rings

With lovely violet hues, beautiful amethyst rings have long been admired by jewelry lovers. While amethyst stones, also known as purple quartz, are not unusual, most amethyst stones are not of sufficient quality to be set into amethyst rings or other jewelry. These lower quality stones are the ones you see used as bookends or knickknacks on a shelf.

 

Amethyst Rings and Color
The shade of amethyst rings can be the softest lavender or deepest purple. Amethyst can actually turn yellow when subjected to high heat – very high, like 800 degrees Fahrenheit.

Amethyst Ring Folklore

Ancient people often attributed metaphysical qualities and healing powers to gemstone jewelry. The ancient Greeks believed that amethyst could cure and prevent drunkenness, and it is said that they even imbibed alcoholic drinks from amethyst cups in order to avoid drunkenness. (Authors note: when I read that I can just picture those amethyst vessels in my mind – can you imagine how beautiful they must have been?) The ancients also believed that amethyst cured poisoning and made the person wearing it more intelligent.

Amethyst Mining Locations

While amethyst is mined at locales all over the world, the majority of the amethyst rings we see today feature amethyst mined from South America, particularly Uruguay and Brazil. The discovery of huge amethyst deposits there during the 19th century lead to an increase of amethyst on the jewelry market, and a consequent devaluation of the stone.

Cuts of Amethyst Rings
Stones in amethyst rings are usually cut into round shapes in order to best display the amethyst’s depth of colors. While amethysts can be found in smooth, unfaceted cabochon shapes, jewelers usually cut them with facets, to better take advantage of light to enhance the stone’s color and sparkle.

Amethyst Birthstone Rings

Amethyst rings are ideal gifts for those born in February, because amethyst is the birthstone associated with February. They’re also perfect in mother rings or grandmother rings for women with a child or grandchild born in February.

Synthetic Amethyst Jewelry

It is best to visit a jewelry store with a good reputation when purchasing amethyst rings. This is because the synthetic amethyst that is on the market right now looks so similar to genuine amethyst that it can be difficult for laymen to distinguish between the two. On the other hand, if you want the look of amethyst without the prices, synthetic amethyst might be just right for you.

Caring for Amethyst Rings

Amethyst can be cleaned with warm, soapy water or jewelry cleaning solution available at your favorite jewelry store. Ultrasonic cleaners are another option for cleaning amethyst rings. Because heat can affect the color of amethyst, avoid heat and cleaning methods that employ heat, such as steam cleaning.

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