from The Daily Coin:
Forget coin roll hunting. Get out in the sunshine at the local flea market. Do your homework first! Learn about jewels, get a jewelers loupe, a scale and be prepared to look at a lot of rocks. None of what I am about to say is financial advice. Just so you know, I have been burned twice–both times were my fault. Greed got in the way of making a good decision and I paid the price. Fortunately, I have not repeated these errors so, we simply move on.
You may already have a loupe and understand the basics of using this invaluable tool. I know a lot of people use a loupe to review coins, which is a great idea especially if you are a true coin collector. Scratches and scares are the enemy of coins.
Much more subtle damage can be seen through a loupe and you may be able to tell if an old coin has been cleaned or not; which is something that I am not concerned with as I do not collect that type of coin. Too expensive and speculative. The gambler in me likes to speculate with rocks! Rocks are cool, beautiful and they can store a ton of wealth in a very tiny package.
Jewels and jewelry can be a great way to begin diversifying your portfolio. You have precious gems, like diamonds, rubies and emeralds [in that order of rarity and expense]. Then you have semi-precious gems like sapphires, topaz and tanzanite. Somewhat rare and come in a variety of hues and saturation. We could discuss other stones as well, like my favorite and very elusive, Alexandrite, but that would take up way too much time for this exercise. This is where you need to a little understanding of what you are purchasing. As a suggestion take your jewelers loupe and go to a variety of pawn shops and jewelry stores. It’s important to use your own equipment so that you learn your equipment and not the one someone happens to have on hand. Review the various stones. Make sure you have good lighting, even if you have to move toward a window in order to have a good light source. Look at each stone from various angles. Move the jewelry around so that you get to see the stones in a variety light refractions. This will allow you to see what is inside the stone.
As you are reviewing the stones look at the color. Is the color even throughout the stone? This is important. In colored stones, like rubies and emeralds, this is a key factor in value and worth. These two stones, in particular, can have lighter saturation in areas. This will hurt the value. Does the stone have carbon (black spots or streaks)? Does it have, what appears to be cracks, but are in fact called fissures or feathers. Fissures are fairly common in diamonds. How severe? How do they impact the overall beauty of the stone? How well defined? All of these questions will become part of your hunting skills. This is a factor in determining the four C’s.
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