Despite the sluggish economy, St. Valentine's Day is inspiring a steady stream of shoppers to visit J.Michael Jewelers, located at 370 Springfield Ave., in Berkeley Heights, NJ.
"Business has been steady, and the activity around St. Valentine's Day began about a week ago," said Owner Michael Bernardo.
“Necklaces and earrings have been big for the last couple of weeks," said Bernardo, a graduate of the Gemological Institute of America, who purchased the shop in 1996 from the previous owner who established it in 1970.
While one might think that gold would be the most sought after item, Bernardo said the reality is the exact opposite.
He said, "There's been a lot of interest in color stones and diamonds."
Bernardo said that for him, jewelry is a 'thing of beauty' and it is meant to be worn and adorned. It is not necessarily an investment.
He said, for instance, if one were to buy gold as an investment, then a buyer would more likely purchase bullion or coins.
Bernardo said his shop takes pride in offering individualized attention and keeping prices in line with the 'Truth in Pricing' act.
"We don't mark an item up 100 percent and then offer a sale, we offer a fair and reasonable price for our jewelry," Bernardo said.
When it comes to the item that Marilyn Monroe referred to as ‘a girl’s best friend,’ J.Michael’s Jewelers offers a wide selection of 14-karat, 18-karat, and platinum pieces, as well as naturally occurring colored diamonds.
If you’re thinking about purchasing a diamond for this holiday or later this year, according to Bernardo, there are five criteria that should be considered known as the ‘Five C’s’, Certification, Carat, Clarity, Color and Cut.
Bernardo provides a wonderful in-depth tutorial about diamonds on his Web site. Here is a high level overview:
Certificate -- One must obtain a diamond certificate when shopping for loose diamonds. The certificate is the only way you can be assured you are getting the best quality diamond for your investment.
Carat – Diamonds are measured in carat weight. One carat is the equivalent of 1/5 of a gram. The larger the carat weight, the more you are likely to pay even if diamonds are of the same color and clarity.
Clarity – What is the visual impact of the diamond? That’s the question to be asked when it comes to assessing a diamond’s clarity. As Bernardo points out on his Web site,, almost every diamond will contain some blemishes, and inclusions formed during the course of its crystallization, but the GIA Clarity Grading Scale is utilized to determined the inclusions found with a diamond.
Color – Did you know that the whiter the diamond, the more valuable it is? According to Bernardo, the color of a diamond refers to the presence or absence of ‘inherent coloration’ in a white diamond.
According to Bernardo, the whiter the diamond, the greater the value since a colorless diamond will allow increased light to pass through it and therefore it will have greater brilliance.
Cut – According to Bernardo, cut is the most misunderstood characteristic of a diamond. In his Web site tutorial, Bernardo said, “Cut is properly referred to as the ‘make’ or quality of the way the diamond has been crafted.”
He said the cut should never be confused with the shape of the diamond.
To learn in greater depth about the characteristics one should consider when purchasing a diamond, visit J. Michael Jewelers Web site for a thorough diamond education.