U.S. Mint’s New Curved Commemorative Coins

Posted on April 08, 2014 by Brad Bilsten | 1 Comment

      five dollar gold coin                                     silver dollar

Late last month, the U.S. Mint issued three new commemorative coins to honor The National Baseball Hall of Fame’s 75th Anniversary… and they’re curved!  This has never been done before with a U.S. coin (although the U.S. did produce a curved congressional gold medal to honor Roberto Walker Clemente in 1973, and both Australia and France have minted curved coins).  To top it all off, the design for the front of the coin came from one of our very own local artists, Cassie McFarland of San Luis Obispo.  Ms. McFarland’s design is called “Hand Full of Gold”, and won the national competition by beating out the other 177 entries!


The three coins are:

  • A $5 Gold Coin 
    • This coin consists of 90% gold and 10% alloy
    • 50,000 will be minted
    • Price of a proof coin: $424.75
    • Price of an uncirculated coin: $419.75
    • Weighs 8.359 grams
  • A Silver Dollar 
    • This coin consists of 90% silver and 10% alloy
    • 400,000 will be minted
    • Price of a proof coin: $51.95
    • Price of an uncirculated coin: $47.95
    • Weighs 26.730 grams
  • A Clad Half-Dollar 
    • This coin is plated with 8.33% nickel and has a 91.67% copper core
    • 750,000 will be minted
    • Price of a proof coin: $19.95
    • Price of an uncirculated coin: $18.95
    • Weighs 11.340 grams
The U.S. Mint has a special policy and pricing schedule for gold and platinum coins.  Each week, the U.S. Mint calculates the price of gold based on the London Fix weekly average gold price.  Consequently, the pricing of the $5 gold coins can vary as often as weekly in an effort to keep pace with the constantly fluctuating prices of precious metals.  The prices of the coins include fees and surcharges, a portion of which will help fund the non-profit National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museums.  Happy collecting!

Posted in 2014, alloy, baseball glove, Baseball Hall of Fame, Cassie McFarland, clad, coin, Coins, Commemorative, concave, convex, curved, gold, half-dollar, hand full of gold, local arist, money, numismatic, San Luis Obispo, silver, silver dollar, U.S. Mint

Sochi Winter Olympic Games Gold Medals

Posted on February 21, 2014 by Brad Bilsten | 1 Comment

The closing ceremony for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games is scheduled for Feb. 23, but there are still plenty of medals to be won in the meantime.

In fact, by the time the Olympic torch is extinguished, 1,300 medals will have been awarded, the most in Winter Games history.

But who really cares about who won gold in figure skating and silver in the decathlon? The jewelry industry wants to know how the medals were designed and what each one is composed of!

Sochi’s gold medal design (photo courtesy of Sochi 2014)

The medals weigh in at 531 grams, which means that a gold medal would be valued at $583, according to NBC’s Today. Appraisers might up the value after taking into consideration the 18 hours it takes to produce one medal on average (it should also be noted that gold medals contain 525 grams of silver with a 960 hallmark and 6 grams of gold with a 999 hallmark).

How much is a bronze medal worth? Less than $5.

The quilted design featured on each medal is meant to reflect “a mosaic of national designs from the various cultures and ethnicities of the Russian Federation,” according to the Winter Games’ official website. The design is applied with a laser inside the transparent polycarbonate material.

Oh, did we happen to mention some gold medals will feature small fragments of a 10-ton asteroid that crash-landed in Russia’s Chelyabinsk region last year?    

According to Sports Illustrated, officials in the Chelyabinsk region struck 50 medals and would hand 10 out to athletes who won gold on February 15, the anniversary of the strike.

Unfortunately, Olympic officials spoiled the fun by ruling that the winners would have to wait to receive their special medals until after the Olympics, according to CBS News.

While you wait for your meteorite medal, here are some other fun facts:

  • The precious alloys for the gold and silver medals, as well as the copper and zinc for the bronze medals, were mined in Russia, and the medals were manufactured by Russian medals producer Adamas.
  • The thickness of each medal is 10 mm, and each one has a diameter of 100 mm.
  • The Paralympic Olympic Games medals contain inscriptions in Braille.

Posted in Gold, Medals, Sochi, Winter Olympics

Eco-friendly custom engagement ring

Posted on January 22, 2014 by Brad Bilsten | 1 Comment

Matt Ford and Jamie San Andres were both wanting to create an eco-friendly engagement ring.  They have Ecuadorian ancestry and are very sensitive to the way mining is carried out in their country.   Matt and Jamie wanted a moonstone and moissanite stones, and for their ring to be made from recycled gold to avoid any conflicts with diamond and gold mining.  Following several discussions with Jeff Foster, our resident jeweler, the ring was created and we are happy to say that Matt and Jamie are very pleased with their custom ring!

Posted in 14K, custom, eco friendly, engagement, gold, moissanite, moonstone, recycled, ring, yellow gold

The most valuable diamond ever offered at auction - the "Pink Star"!

Posted on September 25, 2013 by Brad Bilsten | 1 Comment




At its Magnificent Jewels auction in Geneva on Nov. 13, Sotheby’s is selling the "Pink Star," a 59.6 ct. oval cut pink diamond it calls the “most valuable diamond ever offered at auction.”

The auction house estimates the sale price will be “in excess of $60 million.” 

As with the 118 ct. D flawless it is selling in Hong Kong, Sotheby’s clearly has its eye on the record books with this stone. It is more than double the size of the “Graff Pink”—the 24.78 ct. fancy intense pink diamond that established an auction world record for a diamond or jewel when it sold for $46.2 million at Sotheby’s Geneva in 2010.

The current record price per carat for a pink diamond ($2.1 million), which this stone could beat, was set by a 5‐carat fancy vivid pink diamond at Christie’s Hong Kong in 2009.

The Pink Star is notable because it has received the GIA’s highest color and clarity grades for pink, but it also an ultra-rare Type IIA diamond, meaning it is more chemically pure than other stones and has greater optical transparency. It is also the largest internally flawless fancy vivid pink diamond that the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has ever graded.

“The occurrence of pink diamonds in nature is extremely rare in any size,” said Tom Moses, GIA senior vice president, in a statement provided by Sotheby’s. “It’s our experience that large polished pink diamonds—over 10 carats—very rarely occur with an intense color. The GIA Laboratory has been issuing grading reports for 50 years, and this is the largest pink diamond with this depth of color [vivid pink] that we have ever characterized.”

The stone originated from a 132.5 ct. piece of rough mined by De Beers in 1999. It was cut and polished by Steinmetz Diamonds over a period of two years. It was eventually dubbed the “Steinmetz Pink,” and then sold and renamed the Pink Star.

The stone has already appeared in two museum attractions: the 2003 "Splendor of Diamonds" exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.; and the 2005 "Diamonds" exhibit at the Natural History Museum in London. 

Sotheby’s plans to showcase the stone on a worldwide tour, taking it to Hong Kong, New York City, London, Zurich, and Geneva.


Posted in Diamond, Fancy, Flawless, GIA, Pink, Sotheby's

The Amazing Ruby - A "Tectonic" Gemstone

Posted on September 11, 2013 by Brad Bilsten | 0 Comments

Robert Stern, geoscientist at the University of Texas, is the lead author of the scientific proposal to call ruby and jadeite "plate tectonic gemstones" as they have been linked to the gemstones being created when tectonic plates collided.  Scientists want to officially link precious gems to their geological setting and this will help researchers and the general public recognize the special conditions that create rare gems.

Recognition of the PTG's links modern concepts of plate tectonics to economic gemstone deposits and ancient concepts of beauty, and may aid in exploration for new deposits.

The rare ruby featured above is the 23.1 ct Carmen Lucia gemstone that was donated to the Smithsonian Institute.  Ruby, the red gem variety of corundum, forms when melting of mixed aluminium-rich and silicon-poor protoliths.  (A protolith is an original, unmetamorphosed rock from which a given metamorphic rock is formed).  

Most ruby deposits formed during collisions with tectonic plates in East Africa, the supercontinent Gondwana (Gondwana included most of the landmasses in today's Southern Hemisphere, including Antartica, South America, Africa, Madagascar and the Australian continent, as well as the Arabian Peninsular and the Indian subcontinent which have now moved entirely into the Northern Hemisphere),  or in South Asia and the ruby gemstone is therefore a robust indicator of continental collision.

(Courtesy of and

Posted in aluminium, Australia, continent, gemstones, geologists, Gondwana, India, rare, ruby, silicon, South America, South Asia, tectonic plates

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