Rainy Day Gemstones

What do rainy days and gemstones have in common? Many of the finest gems in the world come from what are known as alluvial deposits. Over time, water erodes bedrock material and washes gems away, naturally tumbling them for long periods of time in rivers and streams until they finally come to rest in a valley or stream bed . Gems found in alluvial deposits are typically very high in clarity, having been put to the test by the crushing force of water and glaciers. Tourmaline is a gem often found in these types of deposits. This red tourmaline is one of the finest we’ve seen, being both high in clarity and very saturated in color. Perhaps a rainy day long ago washed it all the way to us!

red tourmaline ring
See this and many other gorgeous gems in our showroom!

Incredible Craftsmanship from William Henry Studios

The renowned William Henry Studio creates bold works of functional art. Their writing instruments, golf tools, and money clips are produced only as limited editions, made from aerospace grade titanium and contain the finest materials such as exotic hardwood, fossil ivory, mokume, damascus, aerospace grade titanium, and inlaid gemstones. Each one is finished entirely by hand to the same exacting standards they have developed for their pocketknives. William Henry creates pieces that enhance your life, everyday, from the frontier to the boardroom; it’s the perfect gift for the most discerning men and women.

William Henry creates the most unique and artful knives imaginable. These heirloom quality pieces are a blend of modern technology, fine craftsmanship, and exotic materials like mammoth tooth, mammoth bone, fossilized brain coral, meteorite, dinosaur bone and snake wood. Their cutting instruments offer unmatched performance as daily carry tools and are found among the finest collections in the world. Every knife is a one of a kind limited edition, comes with a lifetime warranty and is made in the USA by skilled artisans.

Anyone who owns a fine Swiss watch will also appreciate the craftsmanship of a fine knife or pen.  Although knives are traditionally thought of as something men would be attracted to, men also give them as gifts to women, and women even buy knives for themselves. The pens and golf tools appeal to both men and women, and more women are using money clips than ever before.

William Henry masterpieces are gifts that the recipients will enjoy owning for years to come, and then passed on to heirs to be treasured for their lifetimes too.

Why Choose a Ball Watch for your Next Timepiece?

By Leo Hamel

Ball Watch is one of the most respected and established watch companies in the United States. They continue to update and innovate there product to keep pace with shifting consumer patterns and demands. Despite changes in appearance, the founding spirit of the brand – industrial function – is never compromised. It is upheld in Ball’s original details, such as the watch dial that faithfully follows the original design guidelines. Every detail, from the shape of the hands, to the style of the numerals, was laid down by founder Webb C. Ball in his quest for accuracy in timekeeping. Come in to Leo’s today and see for yourself why Ball Watch has become a top name in the timepiece business!

Here is the fascinating story of the Ball Watch Company from their own website:

To a large extent, the development of the watch industry in America can be attributed to the advent and subsequent development of American railroads.

Prior to the advent of trains as a means of transporting people and goods, there was no real need for precise timekeeping or uniform time. Even after the railroad system in the United States had reached significant proportions following the Civil War, communities continued to maintain their local times.

By the end of 1883, the railroad industry had agreed, at least among themselves, to divide the nation into four time zones and had adopted Standard Time. The public soon followed suit, although it is interesting to note that the Congress did not officially sanction the concept until 1918.

Webb C. Ball was born in Fredericktown, Ohio on October 6, 1847. When Standard Time was adopted in 1883, he was the first jeweler to use time signals, bringing accurate time to Cleveland. On July 19, 1891, the General Superintendent of Lake Shore Lines appointed Webb C. Ball as Chief Inspector for the lines. His early inspection system was the beginning of the vast Ball network that would encompass 75% of the railroads throughout the country and cover at least 175,000 miles of railroad. Webb C. Ball also extended his system into Mexico and Canada.

On April 19, 1891 the Fast Mail train known as No. 4 was coming west on the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad in Kipton, Ohio. At Elyria, 25 miles from Cleveland, the Engineer and the Conductor of the Accomodation were given orders to let the fast mail train pass them at Kipton, a small station west of Oberlin, the University town.

As the Conductor of Accomodation admitted afterward, from the time the train left Elyria until it collided with the Fast Mail at Kipton, he did not take his watch out of his pocket. He said that he supposed the Engineer would look out for Fast Mail No. 4. But the Engineer’s watch stopped for four minutes and then began running again, a little matter of life and death of which he was unconscious. There were several stations between Elyria and Kipton, but the Engineer pounded slowly along in the belief that he had time to spare.

Leaving Oberlin, the Engineer supposed he had seven minutes before reaching the meeting point. Of course he only had three minutes. Had the Conductor looked at his own watch he could have prevented the accident. The trains came together at Kipton, the Fast Mail at full speed and the Accomodation under brakes, because it was nearing the station. The Engineers of both trains were killed, and the dead bodies of nine clerks were taken from the kindling wood and broken iron of the postal cars.

The Kipton Disaster prompted the Lake Shore officials to enlist Webb C. Ball to investigate Time and Watch conditions throughout the Lake Shore Line and develop an inspection system for their implementation.

Webb C. Ball set about immediately and put in place fortnightly checks on the watches worn by all railroad workers. The checks were carried out by approved watchmakers. Ball set strict standards, forbidding variations more than 30 seconds among the watches.

It is important to recognize and applaud Webb C. Ball, for his system was the first successful one to be accepted on a broad scale. It was his system that set the standard for railroads; it was his system that helped establish accuracy and uniformity in timekeeping. It was his system that resulted in railroad time and railroad watches being recognized as STANDARD, whenever accuracy in time was required. In general, it became accepted that when the average person asks a railroad man the time, he is assured a correct answer.

Today, BALL Watch is one of the most respected and established watch brands in the United States. We continue to update the product range in the 21st century to keep pace with shifting consumer patterns. But, despite changes in appearance, the founding spirit of the brand – industrial function – is never compromised.

It is upheld in Ball’s original details, such as the watch dial that faithfully follows his design guidelines for the standard railway watch. Every detail, from the shape of the hands to the style of the numerals, was laid down by the founder in his quest for accuracy in timekeeping.

It is a vision that the Ball family remains faithful to. For legions of men and women today whose split-second decisions keep the world ticking, it is a shared commitment.

BALL Watch – Since 1891, Accuracy Under Adverse Conditions

How To Make Your Fine Swiss Watch Last a Lifetime

The IWC Portuguese is one of the most desirable Swiss watches, a true classic.

By Leo Hamel
Follow @leohamel

A fine Swiss watch can last for generations and still be running strong 100 years from now. Everyone considers cost, especially in this economy, but in the long run it can be more economical to buy a good Swiss watch that will last for years rather than buying cheaper watches again and again.  Swiss watches are crafted with exacting care and subjected to rigorous quality control measures before being presented for sale. A fine watch is a wonderful heirloom to pass on to your children.

However, proper care is necessary for a fine timepiece to stay in optimum working condition and hold its value. Just like a car, a Swiss watch needs to get a tune up for its best performance. A full service is recommended every 3-5 years for maintenance. Our master watchmaker performs a full clean and overhaul, dismantling the timepiece to examine the movement and all parts. We provide an estimate for any worn parts that need to be replaced. The movement will be lubricated and pressure tested, and the time-keeping adjusted and regulated. We also include a full exterior refinish, buffing and polishing the watch case and bracelet to look as new again.

A Wolf Design watch winder will keep your watch running smoothly.

Once your watch is in tip-top condition, keep it on a watch winder whenever you’re not wearing it.  A Wolf Design watch winder moves the watch in a circular pattern to approximate the human motion that keep the self-winding mechanism working while the watch is being worn.  Using a watch winder protects the longevity of your watch because it keeps the mainspring at its optimum tension and disperses the oils used for lubrication evenly while the watch is not on your wrist.

Here at Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers, we have a broad selection of heirloom-quality Swiss watches for every taste and budget and the know-how to make them last a lifetime and beyond.


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Our expert watch refinisher makes timepieces look brand new.

Why Hearts On Fire is The World’s Most Perfectly Cut Diamond

Hearts On Fire is a diamond of such unparalleled perfection that it stands out from the crowd. That Hearts On Fire is known as The World’s Most Perfectly Cut Diamond® should come as no surprise. Each diamond is chosen from the top 1% of the world’s raw diamonds and then is cut and polished at 100X magnification, 10 times more than the industry standard. Only a handful of master diamond cutters are allowed to cut Hearts On Fire diamonds. A Hearts On Fire diamond takes up to four times longer to cut than other diamonds and this microscopic precision results in a diamond of unequalled brilliance.

Hearts On Fire Diamond Ring


The Hearts On Fire name was inspired by a natural phenomenon of light caused by a perfect round brilliant cut – each Hearts On Fire diamond displays a perfect ring of eight hearts when viewed from the bottom, and a perfectly formed symmetrical Fireburst® when viewed from the top.

Cutting a diamond to ideal mathematically-determined proportions allows the stone to sparkle more brilliantly as the maximum amount of natural light is refracted and reflected.   The brilliance that is displayed by a Hearts On Fire diamond is so intense that even in a dimly lit restaurant it can be seen sparkling from across the room. Our customers always tell us that their Hearts On Fire diamonds get noticed everywhere they go.  Even when Hearts On Fire diamonds are not perfectly clean, they sparkle more than other diamonds.

Not all “ideal cut” diamonds are created equal.  Come to our store and compare ordinary ideal cut diamonds with Hearts On Fire.  You can see for yourself why Hearts On Fire is the ultimate expression of love.

By Leo Hamel // info@leohamel.com

Follow @leohamel .

Entrancing Emeralds

Emeralds have been treasured gems for thousands of years

Emerald is one of what industry insiders call the “Big Three,” referring to the three most expensive and sought after precious colored gems: emerald, ruby, and sapphire. It has been worn in jewelry for more than four thousand years and is believed to bring its wearer the benefits of wisdom, persuasive speech, and the power to see into the future.

The birthstone of May and the color of springtime, emeralds range on the green spectrum from yellowish to bluish and can vary from a delicate mint to deep forest hues. Some emeralds appear sharp and brilliant, while others look soft and “sleepy.” Pliny the Elder, a Roman statesman who lived in the first century A.D., said that emerald was the one gem that delighted the eye without fatiguing it. Early gem engravers kept emeralds on their work tables to gaze upon from time to time to rest their tired eyes. 20th century color psychologists agree with Pliny; they say that green is the most restful color for the human eye.

Columbia is the most famous source for fine emeralds, with the Muzo mine producing the most stunning jewels in terms of both color and clarity. Brazil produces stones that are typically a little darker in tone. Emeralds of very fine color can be found in parts of Africa, but typically only occur in small sizes.

Most emeralds contain eye-visible clarity characteristics called “inclusions” because of the way they form in the earth; they give each gemstone its individual personality. They are part of the stone’s character, and an everlasting witness to the natural history of the gem. When a single stone contains a wide variety of inclusions, gemologists call it the “jardín” effect, which is French for “garden,” because they can resemble flowers and foliage.  Because of their inclusions, emeralds are delicate despite their relative hardness.  Never put emeralds into an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner, and avoid steam cleaning. Ring sizings or re-tipping of prongs should only be performed by an accomplished jeweler.

Here at Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers, we have wide variety of luscious emeralds to fit every budget and master jewelers on staff to ensure that your precious jewels last a lifetime and beyond.

This emerald has excellent clarity.

Edwardian Jewelry

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Edwardian jewelry is characterized by high-quality gemstones and very fine workmanship.

The Edwardian period began at the start of the reign of King Edward VII in 1901, and lasted until about 1915. His court put a strong emphasis on fine, feminine jewels, to be worn under the shine of electric lights for the first time in history. This period is often called “La Belle Époque” meaning “The Beautiful Era.”

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Lacey garlands of platinum and diamonds typify the height of chic for the Edwardian period.

Edwardian jewelry places a strong emphasis on delicate, lacelike platinum tracery. The fashion of the day featured light pastels, and pure white, and so platinum became the precious metal of choice.  Many new techniques were developed to take advantage of the strength of this precious metal, as it was relatively unknown previously. Milgraining was especially popular; an engraving technique that adds minute texture to soften the lines of a design. In the very early stages of the period, platinum was still backed with gold, as had been the silver and gold designs of the past. A breakthrough in 1903 gave rise to a new type of jeweler’s torch that allowed jewelers to use the much higher levels of heat necessary to work platinum all on its own. It was then that the white metal really came into its own.

Diamonds, particularly those of fine color and clarity, were the most featured gem in Edwardian designs. Because of this emphasis, new techniques in diamond cutting allowed for new shapes to emerge, such as the marquise, emerald cut, and briolette. Jewelers set the diamonds to be light and ethereal, in contrast to the heavier styles of the Victorian and Art Deco eras.

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Sapphires were a popular choice for center or accent stones.

Colored gems such as sapphire, aquamarine, pearl, amethyst, and demantoid garnet were also popular in jewelry. Typically the piece would predominately feature diamonds with just a touch of color. For example, fashion favored the sky blue of Montana sapphires over the richer, deeper blues from other locales.

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Ladylike bows were one of the most fashionable motifs of the day.

Popular motifs in Edwardian jewelry include bows, garlands, lace, and drapery. Necklaces such as sautoirs, a long rope with tassels, became popular. Other styles include the asymmetrical double pendant negligee and the simpler pendant lavalier. Chandelier earrings swiftly overtook simple studs with their gossamer openwork. The finest of the gentry wore incredible tiaras festooned with diamonds. Rings remained popular, often stacked with several to a finger, and elongated designs featuring a center gem with intricate filigree and multiple side stones were very common.

The Edwardian era came to an end with the beginning of World War I, when suddenly precious metals became scarce and times grew tough.

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These and many other jewels are available at
Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers

Following the Runway Jewelry Trends of 2014

As models walked fiercely down the catwalks this past fall in New York, Paris and Milan, designers gave us a preview of the newest jewelry trends to kick off the 2014 spring season.

Here are the jewelry crazes of the season and our favorite designer looks that can easily translate into everyday life to become a part of anyone’s jewelry collection.  Continue reading Following the Runway Jewelry Trends of 2014

Start the New Year with a Garnet

Vintage garnet jewelry at San Diego's Leo Hamel showroom.
Vintage garnet jewelry at Leo Hamel’s San Diego’s showroom.

Start 2014 off with a symbol of commitment, friendship and positive energy with the garnet gemstone.

The six families of garnets are silicate materials of different chemical composition, although they retain a similar physical appearance. Garnets range in hardness from a 6.5 to a 7.5 on the Mohs scale (1 being the softest and 10 being the hardest), making them suitable for daily wear in rings and other jewelry pieces. Continue reading Start the New Year with a Garnet

The Mystery Behind a Black Diamond

New and vintage pieces in our Leo Hamel showroom showcasing black diamonds.
New and vintage pieces in our Leo Hamel showroom showcasing black diamonds.

Be spooked by the intensity of a black diamond this year and enchant your jewelry collection with a true gemstone rarity.

Similar to white diamonds, black diamonds are crystallized carbon and are evaluated by the 4 Cs: color, carat, cut and clarity. Along with the appearance of a glossy surface, a black diamond is higher in density than a white diamond, so that stones of the same carat weight have different relative measurements.  Continue reading The Mystery Behind a Black Diamond