Thursday, October 28, 2021

The Dog Days of Summer


4.50 ct emerald cut emerald from Chivor.

I have often wondered what exactly the “dog days” of summer meant, and anyone owning a retail business on Marco I’m sure has a pretty good idea.

I discovered that the Romans called the hottest and most humid summer days, “dog days.” I can attest to this fact after spending a couple of weeks in Italy during the month of August. Another reason was because of the brightest star in the sky during their summer was Canis Major meaning large dog, plus the fact some overheated canines would sometimes go mad in the intense heat.

There has to be some truth to this, my dachshunds don’t like staying out in the yard right now, especially if there is an air-conditioned house with a comfy couch inside.

A good thing during the summer is that the crowds are gone, and so is the waiting time. I’m even available until the end of August for one-on-one consultations to discuss new custom made purchases or redesigning old out-of-date jewelry. Summer is also good time to pull out all that broken jewelry and rings that no longer fit properly and get it done, and most importantly have valuable pieces reappraised or evaluated at current retail prices. If your important pieces have not been appraised since Nixon (or worse, Eisenhower) was president you are dreadfully under-insured.

Summer is also a good time to have your fine jewelry cleaned and checked, you’ll be amazed by how beautiful your diamonds will look after we remove months or even years of skin and suntan lotion from under the stones. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have some piece of mind that your valuable diamonds and gems are safe and secure.

I have to admit since the Island Plaza received it’s new facelift, the repair shop has been busier this summer than it has in the past, by the fact I’m spending less time playing with my toys or working on the “Honey do list.” I can thank my loyal island clientele for that.

I’m currently working on several commissioned pendant/pin pieces for ladies clubs and island organizations and a few V.I.P. customers that would be impossible during the busy season.

I recently received an email from a concerned reader who claimed that her emerald ring had either faded or had lost its deep color, and what in heaven is going on?!

Though I cannot fully ascertain without seeing the ring, I asked her if she cleans the ring with harsh chemicals. She admitted that she cleans her ring quite often with ammonia and warm water. This could be the problem. If she used a cleaner that contained bleach or worse swims with it in a chlorinated pool that could also be the reason for the stone fading or losing its brilliance.

Most emeralds are heat treated or oiled at the source or where mined. This process has gone on for centuries and improves the color and brilliance of the rough emerald. Submerging the gem in strong cleaning chemicals can remove the oils making the gem lifeless and pale. Inclusions or flaws may become more noticeable.

I told her to bring in the patient and I will try to recoil and rejuvenate the color the best I can. There should be a noticeable improvement after I’m finished.   

Many gems require professional cleaning to avoid damage. They include: corals, cameos, turquoise or lapis, and especially pearls or mother of pearl jewelry.

Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of The Harbor Goldsmith at Island Plaza and welcomes your questions about all that glitters. Contact him at 239-394-9275 or, or visit his informative website at

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