Frequently Asked Questions

Antique Gemstones and Contemporary Jewelry Settings

Where do you get your gemstones from?

Most of our vintage gemstones are “dismounts” from “recycled” jewelry – that is typically jewelry recycled for its melt value. Most of these gemstones come from India and Russia, some from Thailand and Sri Lanka (Ceylon). All four of these regions have been producing and cutting gemstones for generations (some even for millennia). Anya grew up in the Urals of Russia, not far from the fabulous mines and gemstone processing centers which have provided Europe and the globe with gemstones for generations.  Chuck has lived in and frequently returned to India.

Why aren’t the antique gemstones in antique settings?

Most of our vintage gemstones are from jewelry which has been melted down. By the time we “find” the gemstones, the jewelry is gone. Most countries also have restrictions against the export of antique jewelry or even bullion of precious metals. In Russia for instance, where the majority of gemstones come from, there are very few restrictions on the export of gemstones other than diamonds. However you cannot export gold or even silver for that matter, it is against the law.

Do you offer a guarantee of authenticity with your gemstones and jewelry?

We offer a Guarantee and Certificate of Authenticity with every gemstone and/or piece of jewelry. There is a small mailing fee of $3, as insurance regulations prohibit us from including any paperwork with a shipment which hints that the contents are valuable. We do offer gemological laboratory certificates, but not automatically. “Gem Lab” certificates are generally either fake, or alternatively, very costly ($150). We have a collection of perhaps 50,000 gemstones. To have every one of them pre-certified would cost millions of dollars. If a COA and Guarantee of Authenticity is not sufficient for you, you may order a certificate through us. It will take several weeks. The gem lab certificate must be prepaid and is not refundable.

What’s your refund policy?

You may return any item at any time for any reason, or no reason at all. Simply the fact that you do not like a piece or changed your mind is good enough for us. However we do not refund site commissions or fees (Ebay, Etsy, Amazon) unless they are refunded to us (Etsy does refund them). We do not refund payment processing fees (Mastercard, Visa, PayPal, eBay, etc.) unless they are refunded to us (Etsy does refund them). If this gives you pause, you are encouraged to make your purchases through our Etsy store and/or directly from us. You are welcome to pay by check if you wish to avoid the possibility of non-refundable payment processing fees. We do exchanges and/or store credits for free. We do not refund postage and insurance costs inbound or outbound.

Are your gemstones treated/heated?

This is an area of tremendous deceit and misinformation on the internet.  ALL gemstones are treated. They are cut, polished, and more often than not, faceted. These are all technically treatments which have been afforded gemstones for thousands of years. Some gemstones are routinely waxed. Oftentimes we’re asked if our gemstones are “heated”. Most gemstones are formed under tremendous heat and pressure within mother earth. When they formed they were heated. Mankind has routinely heated gemstones for thousands of years. It’s what brings out the orange in colorless quartz in to make carnelian. There’s nothing more uncommon or undesirable in heating most gemstones than to bake bread. We do see a lot of misleading advertisements, sellers either without scruples or without knowledge, loudly proclaiming that their gemstones are not heated. Almost all gemstones are heated, and in 99% of instances, it’s undetectable. Only in very rare instances can it be determined that a gemstone has actually been heated. In fact, gemstone laboratories will only tell you that there are no indications of a gemstone being heated – but then, there rarely are. So the statement that there’s no indication of a gemstone being treated means nothing. Very rarely a gemstone will have a liquid-filled inclusion which will turn to steam and explode leaving a tiny tell-tale scar within the gemstone. But that’s very rare. Most gemstones have no liquid filled inclusion, so there is no easily detectable signature of being heat treated. In fact, anyone honest with you will tell you that with a few exceptions (opals, alexandrite, rocks like turquoise or lapis lazuli) gemstones are routinely heated. “Google” it. Sorry. If you want someone to lie to you, you’ll find lots of other sellers out there who will be happy to oblige you. Unfortunately we’re scientists first, so we feel compelled to be entirely honest with you.

Why don’t you grade your gemstones?

Because grading is subjective, not objective.  We’d rather not engage in hyperbole. What’s lightly blemished to one person is heavily blemished to another. And that goes even for gemologists – all grading is a subjective statement. “Flawless”?  There’s no such thing as a flawless gemstone. All natural gemstones have blemishes, flaws, and inclusions. Some can be seen with the eye (depending on whose eye), some with a loupe. Sometimes you have to use a microscope.  But there are blemishes. Even synthetic gemstones have blemishes. It’s what helps experts determine whether a gemstone is synthetic or natural. Synthetic gemstones have “signature” blemishes.

Are your gemstones synthetic?

No. Unlike Costco, Sam’s Club, Wal*Mart, and virtually all your big name retailers and jewelers, we never, ever sell “synthetic”, “man-made”, “engineered”, or “laboratory produced” gemstones. Whatever you want to call them, we don’t offer them. It’s not that they’re not beautiful. But there’s no intrinsic value to them. Most synthetic gemstones, even diamond, ruby, emerald, sapphire…cost perhaps 10 cents a carat to produce. Why would you send hundreds of dollars on something that was produced for a dime or a quarter?

How long will it take to receive my purchase?

We generally ship out same or next business day. Look for our address confirmation email and reply immediately – this will speed things up. Most shipments within the USA are shipped first class mail or parcel post. Expedited shipping methods as well as UPS and Fed-Ex are available. Write us either immediately before or immediately after your purchase and we can accommodate your request for expedited mail service. Keep in mind once we have shipped your purchase we have no control over how long it takes to appear in your mail box.  We do not have any supervisory control over the USPS. International purchases are generally shipped via airmail. There are expedited shipping methods available, but they can be rather costly. The longest element in the processing of international mail is not transit time – it is how long your country’s mail customs takes to clear your purchase. This varies by country and can be a few days (in the case of most of Europe and Asia, including Australia) or a few months (in the case of Russia or South America). We have no control over your country’s customs clearance procedures, or the speed or efficiency of how they do their job. We are not responsible for duties or taxes, but we will do our best to minimize them.

If I buy more than one item, do I get a discount?

Yes, you will receive a discount on the shipping of multiple purchases. In the case of items shipping to the USA, this amounts to several dollars per item. If we’re shipping internationally, the discount can be anywhere up to $10 per item, more for pottery.  If you’re an international customer and want an estimate for the shipping of multiple items, please write us.

How do I see all of the gemstone (ring, pendant, earring) setting styles available?

By visiting here: http://www.csu-saaa.org/asort.php. You can either “browse” all of the setting styles available, or if you have a particular gemstone in mind, you can “search” for a specific setting by entering the size, shape, and cut of the gemstone. Or you can contact us, and we will reply via email with pictures and prices of the gemstone settings available.

Can I buy just a setting? Or can you set a gemstone I bought elsewhere?

Yes to both.  Just contact us.

Are there other setting styles available other than what you show on your settings page?

Yes, there are literally thousands of semi-custom mounts available. We cannot possibly show them all. But if you do not see something you fancy, write us, we’ll search for additional setting styles for you.

Can you mount my pendant on a leather cord?

Yes! We do have high quality leather cords available with a variety of clasps.

Do you have chains available?

We offer a free gold or silver electroplate chain with every pendant setting. We also have sterling silver, solid gold, and gold fill chain available at very reasonable cost:. See here: http://www.csu-saaa.org/chains.php.

Can you resize the ring I have selected?

Yes. Resizing and/or ordering a ring setting in a custom size is oftentimes free. However some producers do levy a charge of between $13.99 and $29.99 to resize or produce a custom sized ring setting. More often than not if there is a charge, it’s only $13.99.

Do you have more gemstones than what it shown in your on-line stores?

Yes, we have perhaps as many as 100,000 gemstones. Only a fraction of them have been photographed and descriptions prepared. If you’re looking for something in particular, perhaps similar to something you’ve already seen in our store but in a variation not show, write us.  Odds are we have what you are looking for. And if we don’t, we have extensive contacts in India, Russia, and Thailand. We can generally find most any gemstone in the world via those contacts.

Are all of your gemstones antique?

No. The vast majority are. But a few are more contemporary. However our gemstones are always clearly identified as either antique, or contemporary.

Can you find an antique setting for the stone I want?

Generally, no. Again, the export of precious metals from most of the countries where we source our vintage gemstones is forbidden. We can export the gemstones, but not settings of precious metals.

Do you do lay-aways?

Yes. But only on our website store (eBay, Amazon, Etsy, etc. have no such capability). We send you an invoice via PayPal. You pay it. When you’re ready for another invoice (regardless of how infrequently or in whatever amount), write us. When you finish all of your installments, we’ll ship your purchase.  If you for some reason don’t finish your purchase, we’ll refund all of your installments except for payment processing fees (PayPal, etc.).

Do you have a store where I can look at these offerings?

No, we have no brick-and-mortar location. Anya and I spend different parts of the year in different locales. We have more than one home. We frequently travel internationally. Our lifestyle in retirement is too variable, and the fixed costs of a brick-and-mortar store are simply unrealistic given our retired status.

How do I know I’ll actually get what I pay for?

First, we suggest anyone who is uncertain about purchasing anything on the internet pay with a debit card, credit card, and or via PayPal. We always use PayPal to process our orders. Banks offer guarantees that you will receive what you pay for when you use a credit or debit card. If you do not, they have a very pro-consumer dispute process. Likewise with PayPal. And the Paypal guarantee is on top of that offered by credit and debit card processors.  Second, we’ve been selling on-line since 1997.  You can view our public feedback (see below). Yes, there’s always a nut case here and there who leave negative feedback because they “thought” or “expected” they were going to receive something other than what was described. We once had someone leave us a negative feedback because they expected a very rare gemstone measuring 2mm round to “at least cover the palm of my [their] hand”. Others use public feedback as a tool to attempt to extort free merchandise. But there are tens of thousands of pubic positive feedbacks stretching back decades. If we were going to run away with someone’s money, we would have done so long ago. And if we were ever tempted to do so, the temptation would have taken millions of dollars, not merely hundreds or thousands. Our eBay feedback:

https://www.ebay.com/fdbk/feedback_profile/ancientgifts?filter=feedback_page:All. Our Etsy feedback:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/timelesstreasureorg#reviews.

How can you tell the origin of a gemstone?

A really experienced gemologist particularly when dealing with a gemstone species they have enhanced expertise with, can generally determine the origin of gemstones by their optical qualities, i.e., the shade, tone, color, and the character of the blemishes.  However if in doubt, gemologists then perform a spectralanalysis (also known as "spectroscopy) and/or analysis of the trace elements within a gemstone, either of which help determine the makeup of the gemstone.  Gemstones or different origins will provide characteristic spectral and trace elelemt signatures that allows a gemologist to identify origin.  It's the same techniques used by archaeologists to determine the origins of obsidian (knapped into tools and weapons) in the ancient world, and show that even tens of thousands of years ago there were extensive trading networks throughout Europe, and that obsidian traveled thousands of miles between source and user.  Obsidian (also considered a gemstone variety) from different origins possesses different chemical and spectral properties, and by measuring them, archaeologists (or gemologists in similar circumstances) can determine where a particular sample of obsidian came from...likewise with gemstones of other varieties.

How can you tell how long ago a gemstone was cut?

There are many clues. The best are the character of the faceting and the age of the mounting it came from. But there are also other clues, such as the region of the world where the gemstone originated (specific gemstone cutting techniques varied over time and locale). If you’re really knowledgeable of the gemstone trade in a particular region (in our case Russia), knowledge of what gemstone varieties were in production (being produced and/or imported and/or cut) during what time periods can also be helpful. As well, what gemstone varieties were popular as jewelry during what periods of time can also be a good indicator.

Antiques and Antiquities

If this ancient artifact is real, why is it not in a museum?

Most ancient artifacts are much more plentiful and much less rare than Americans assume. In Europe where populations have lived on top of the remains of earlier cultures for thousands of years, it is not uncommon to see school children and collectors combing areas with metal detectors. Romans oftentimes wore rings on both joints of a finger, and often on each hand (that’s 20 rings per person). Roman coins are likewise plentiful. The most common Roman coin is the Constantine (the Great) Campgate (reverse). There are 31 million known surviving examples of this specimen in public collections alone (not counting in private hands). Ancient peoples tended to bury valuables, often in clay vessels, for safekeeping. Though there were door locks and locking chests in the ancient world, for most, putting valuables in a sealed clay pot and then burying them was their best option. If something "unplanned" happened to them...well, that pot might still be there 2,000 years later. Sometimes coins and jewelry were buried as offerings to the gods. Buried hoards found millennia later by farmers plowing a field or metal “detectorists” oftentimes run into tens of thousands of coins and even hundreds of pieces of bronze jewelry, etc. (see below). Museums can only hold so many artifacts. In fact they oftentimes “unload” duplicates and donations in a process known as “deaccessioning” – and offer surplus antiquities to the public.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/uk-treasure-hunter-finds-52000-roman-coins/

https://coinweek.com/ancient-coins/hordes-hoards-recent-classic-finds-ancient-coins/

Isn’t it illegal to own or sell antiquities?

In a few countries, yes. In most countries, no. Most countries follow the British model. If you find buried treasure you must first take it to the public coroner. If they believe it to be of unique cultural value, they send it on to the British Museum. If as in 99% o the cases it is just ordinary, routine ancient artifacts (including jewelry and coins), your find is “registered” and you are allowed to keep or dispose of your find. If it is sent on to the British Museum, they have the right to keep it, but they must compensate you by paying you the appraised value of your find. See: https://finds.org.uk/.

Isn’t it “bad” to clean ancient coins or artifacts?

It is “bad” if the patina is removed and the artifact is not stabilized. But keep in mind, “patina” is just a fancy word for corrosion and dirt. Museums and other institutions clean and stabilize artifacts, they do not put them on display all corroded and covered in dirt. But they stabilize the artifact after cleaning it. This process can take years, as has oftentimes been demonstrated on “The Discovery Channel” and in televised National Geographic documentaries. We clean and stabilize all of the ancient artifacts we offer.

Where do you get your ancient artifacts?

Anya and Chuck have a total of 60 years of experience in the area of ancient history, archaeology, and antiquarian pursuits. Most of our artifacts are sourced from reputable dealers through Europe, the Middle East, and India. The balance comes directly from institutions which have deaccessioned collections.

How do you ship your ancient artifacts?

All of our shipments go first class mail or parcel post if within the USA. Internationally they ship airmail or Priority Mail. All shipments are insured against loss or damage and are trackable. Mail upgrades to Priority Mail or Express Mail, UPS, and Fed-Ex are available at extra cost. Ancient Pottery and Glass are packaged extremely heavily. In 25 years of shipping ancient pottery around the world, we’ve only had one damaged statuette (and Fed-Ex paid to repair it).

How long will it take to receive my purchase?

We generally ship out same or next business day. Look for our address confirmation email and reply immediately – this will speed things up. Most shipments within the USA are shipped first class mail or parcel post. Expedited shipping methods as well as UPS and Fed-Ex are available. Write us either immediately before or immediately after your purchase and we can accommodate your request for expedited mail service. Keep in mind once we have shipped your purchase we have no control over how long it takes to appear in your mail box.  We do not have any supervisory control over the USPS. International purchases are generally shipped via airmail. There are expedited shipping methods available, but they can be rather costly. The longest element in the processing of international mail is not transit time – it is how long your country’s mail customs takes to clear your purchase. This varies by country and can be a few days (in the case of most of Europe and Asia, including Australia) or a few months (in the case of Russia or South America). We have no control over your country’s customs clearance procedures, or the speed or efficiency of how they do their job. We are not responsible for duties or taxes, but we will do our best to minimize them.

Do you offer a guarantee of authenticity with your gemstones and jewelry?

We offer a Guarantee and Certificate of Authenticity with every ancient artifacts. There is a small mailing fee of $3, as insurance regulations prohibit us from including any paperwork with a shipment which hints that the contents are valuable.

What’s your refund policy?

You may return any item at any time for any reason, or no reason at all. Simply the fact that you do not like a piece or changed your mind is good enough for us. However we do not refund site commissions or fees (Ebay, Etsy, Amazon) unless they are refunded to us (Etsy does refund them). We do not refund payment processing fees (Mastercard, Visa, PayPal, eBay, etc.) unless they are refunded to us (Etsy does refund them). If this gives you pause, you are encouraged to make your purchases through our Etsy store and/or directly from us. You are welcome to pay by check if you wish to avoid the possibility of non-refundable payment processing fees. We do exchanges and/or store credits for free. We do not refund postage and insurance costs inbound or outbound.

If I buy more than one item, do I get a discount?

Yes, you will receive a discount on the shipping of multiple purchases. In the case of items shipping to the USA, this amounts to several dollars per item. If we’re shipping internationally, the discount can be anywhere up to $10 per item, more for pottery.  If you’re an international customer and want an estimate for the shipping of multiple items, please write us.

Do you do lay-aways?

Yes. But only on our website store (eBay, Amazon, Etsy, etc. have no such capability). We send you an invoice via PayPal. You pay it. When you’re ready for another invoice (regardless of how infrequently or in whatever amount), write us. When you finish all of your installments, we’ll ship your purchase.  If you for some reason don’t finish your purchase, we’ll refund all of your installments except for payment processing fees (PayPal, etc.).

Do you have a store where I can look at these offerings?

No, we have no brick-and-mortar location. Anya and I spend different parts of the year in different locales. We have more than one home. We frequently travel internationally. Our lifestyle in retirement is too variable, and the fixed costs of a brick-and-mortar store are simply unrealistic given our retired status.

How do I know I’ll actually get what I pay for?

First, we suggest anyone who is uncertain about purchasing anything on the internet pay with a debit card, credit card, and or via PayPal. We always use PayPal to process our orders. Banks offer guarantees that you will receive what you pay for when you use a credit or debit card. If you do not, they have a very pro-consumer dispute process. Likewise with PayPal. And the Paypal guarantee is on top of that offered by credit and debit card processors.  Second, we’ve been selling on-line since 1997.  You can view our public feedback (see below). Yes, there’s always a nut case here and there who leave negative feedback because they “thought” or “expected” they were going to receive something other than what was described. We once had someone leave us a negative feedback because they expected a very rare gemstone measuring 2mm round to “at least cover the palm of my [their] hand”. Others use public feedback as a tool to attempt to extort free merchandise. But there are tens of thousands of pubic positive feedbacks stretching back decades. If we were going to run away with someone’s money, we would have done so long ago. And if we were ever tempted to do so, the temptation would have taken millions of dollars, not merely hundreds or thousands. Our eBay feedback: https://www.ebay.com/fdbk/feedback_profile/ancientgifts?filter=feedback_page:All. Our Etsy feedback:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/timelesstreasureorg#reviews.

Ancient History Books

How do you ship books?

All books regardless of destination are heavy padded so as to arrive safely. We do NOT ship books in unpadded plastic baggies. We ALWAYS used extra bubble wrap inside of a box or padded mailer. Domestic shipments go Media Mail – but Priority Mail is available at extra cost. Please contact us. International shipments go airmail or Priority Mail depending on weight and size. They too are padded heavily.  All shipments are insured against loss or damage.

How do you grade books?

We grade books very conservatively, and we provide a detailed condition statement for every book we offer. We strictly abide by the grading criteria promoted (but oftentimes not used) on Amazon. Our only note would be that many vintage books otherwise new might have faint shelfwear. In that instance any shelfwear is always noted (“new…albeit...”). Most out-of-print books which are decades old will show some storage wear. We always note that.

How long will it take to receive my purchase?

We generally ship out same or next business day. Look for our address confirmation email and reply immediately – this will speed things up. Books sent within the USA ship media mail (“book rate”) unless otherwise specified. Media Mail tends be rather slow (3-10 business days). Priority Mail is generally an extra $6.99. Write us either immediately before or immediately after your purchase and we can accommodate your request for expedited mail service. Keep in mind once we have shipped your book, we have no control over how long it takes to appear in your mail box.  We do not have any supervisory control over the USPS. Internationally books are shipped either airmail or Priority Mail, depending on size and weight. Generally there are expedited shipping methods available, but they can be rather costly. The longest element in the processing of international mail is not transit time – it is how long your country’s mail customs takes to clear your purchase. This varies by country and can be a few days (in the case of most of Europe and Asia, including Australia) or a few months (in the case of Russia or South America). We have no control over your country’s customs clearance procedures, or the speed or efficiency of how they do their job. We are not responsible for duties or taxes, but we will do our best to minimize them.

If I buy more than one book, do I get a discount?

Yes, you will receive a discount on the shipping of multiple books. In the case of books shipping to the USA, this amounts to several dollars per book. If we’re shipping internationally, the discount can be anywhere up to $20 per book.  If you’re an international customer and want an estimate for the shipping of multiple books, please write us.

Collectible Soda Pop Cans

You offer collectible soda pop cans??? Hahahahaha! What’s with that?

Don’t know if you’ve ever stopped to think about it, but Pepsi and Coca-Cola are probably the most instantly recognizable cultural icons anywhere on the globe. And for that reason, somehow, Cultural Anthropologists, Sociologists, Archaeologists, etc., and those enthusiasts of these sciences, are irresistibly drawn to them. Our studies and travels have taken us from the frozen tundra of Siberia to the deserts of India and the Middle East, to communist countries, democracies, and dictatorships. And bizarrely, you can always find machine or shop vending Coca-Cola and Pepsi (and Marlboro’s and Camels). When we used to travel every year to Russia and India, colleagues would ask us for Russian or Indian Coca-Cola or Pepsi cans. Christmas issues from various countries were always frequent requests (like a Russian Grandfather Frost and his Elves). We would put extras on our internet stores. Before long colleagues in Europe asked for cans from the USA. Not just iconic Pepsi and Coke cans. But limited edition Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper cans. We accommodated them too. And the extras went onto the internet stores. And suddenly, over 20 years, it grew to 500 offerings exclusively on our eBay store. They’re a complete money loser. Something only a cultural anthropologist would understand. But we have thousands of followers around the globe, and we can’t let them down.  And to be honest, it grows into a obsessive compulsion.

Why would people collect soda pop cans?

Why do people collect buttons? Cancelled postal stamps? Plates? Dolls? I don’t know, but they do. Perhaps a particular discontinued soda pop brand or flavor is somehow a keepsake of a special event in their lives. Certainly Coca-Cola and Pepsi cans are probably the world’s most recognizable cultural icon. I only know that there are hundreds of thousands of soda can collectors world-wide. On eBay USA alone there are typically in the range of 250,000 soda pop cans and other related soda pop collectibles listed on any given day:  https://www.ebay.com/b/Collectible-Soda-Advertising/36/bn_2311371.

If I buy more than one soda can, do I get a discount?

Yes, you will receive a discount on the shipping of multiple purchases. In the case of items shipping to the USA, this amounts to several dollars per item. There’s not a huge discount for the second can, but thereafter most additional cans (third, fourth, fifth) ship for an additional $1 due to the idiosyncrasies of USPS rates. If we’re shipping internationally, the cost for shipping even the second can is just $1. Thereafter it averages only a few dollars extra per can.  Write for a complete rate schedule.

How do you ship soda cans?

All soda cans regardless of destination are heavy padded so as to arrive safely. Empty cans are very fragile and so always ship boxed, and they generally ship via first class mail. Full cans are shipped via Priority Mail as that is the least expensive mail service, and they are heavily padded. International shipments usually go via air mail. They too are padded heavily.  All shipments are insured against loss or damage.

How long will it take to receive my purchase?

We generally ship out same or next business day. Look for our address confirmation email and reply immediately – this will speed things up. Expedited shipping methods as well as UPS and Fed-Ex are available. Write us either immediately before or immediately after your purchase and we can accommodate your request for expedited mail service. Keep in mind once we have shipped your purchase we have no control over how long it takes to appear in your mail box.  We do not have any supervisory control over the USPS. International purchases are generally shipped via airmail. There are expedited shipping methods available, but they can be rather costly. The longest element in the processing of international mail is not transit time – it is how long your country’s mail customs takes to clear your purchase. This varies by country and can be a few days (in the case of most of Europe and Asia, including Australia) or a few months (in the case of Russia or South America). We have no control over your country’s customs clearance procedures, or the speed or efficiency of how they do their job.

Do you offer 12 packs of soda?

No, we only offer single collectible cans. We never have 12 packs, they are simply too costly to ship.

Are you crazy? $10 a can for soda pop???

We lose money offering collectible soda pop cans. Please see: (https://ancientgifts.biz/auxiliary/soda.htm).

I can buy this soda at my grocery store!!!

Many varieties of soda pop are only available regionally. We what you buy at home may not be available to a collector elsewhere in the USA. And there’s a huge number of international collectors who obviously cannot buy USA varieties of soda pop in the country in which they live.