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Monday 25 November 2013

Why it pays to buy a certified diamond.

Diamonds represent the epitome of luxury, decadence and absolute excess. Diamonds have long been held in high esteem by humanity for their, beauty, radiance and unbridled sheen. When diamonds are bought and sold however, some diamonds are more expensive than others, and this happens solely because some gems are of a higher grade than others. These grades include, but are not restricted to the 4Cs (Cut, Color, Carat and Clarity), and pre-determined tests that are conducted by a 3rd party laboratory to determine the grade of the stone in question.

The history of Diamond Certification:

We all know that by the late 1800s, De Beers was the world’s largest diamond miner and supplier. The stones mined from De Beers’ mines were bought and sold the world over. In the 1890s, the London Syndicate, a collaborative syndicate of buyers and sellers of diamonds mined in De Beers’ mines came up with a grading system for the merchandise they were purchasing.

Now the earliest system (i.e. the London Syndicate’s grading system) was quite rudimentary and basic, they based their decisions about a diamond on a loose color grading system. This meant that they would sort through rough diamonds and assess their grade based on an inconsistent color allocation system. Some of the earliest ‘certified’ diamonds therefore had vague grading like brown, yellow and almost transparent ascribed to the stones graded.

It wasn’t until 1931, when Robert M. Shipley, a former diamond retailer, founded the Gemological Institute of America, that the diamond industry got its first formal system of evaluating a diamond. The institute’s journey into being the foremost authority on gemstones the world over was one that saw it give the world a series of ‘firsts’, the most prominent among them were the 4Cs. Grading a diamond on its cut, color, clarity and carat weight, revolutionized the way diamonds have been bought and sold.

How diamonds are graded…

As stated earlier, the diamond is graded on its cut, clarity, color and carat weight. Now how are each of these determined is the next question.

Cut: A diamond’s cut isn’t just the natural shape of the stone or the shape in which it is cut. The term ‘cut’ represents the proportions, polish, and symmetry and facet uniformity. A diamond’s certificate lists these aspects under a grading system.

Clarity: Clarity of a diamond is determined through a battery of tests designed to tests the way light passes through the stone. Clarity tests also look for things like fracture filling, and would also evaluate if the stone is natural or synthetic (simply because synthetic stones can be made in a laboratory and are much less expensive as compared to a natural diamond.)

Color: The color of a diamond is determined against graded stones of a pre-existing color. Later microscopes with up to 10X magnification will check the diamond for flaws and blemishes.

Carat Weight: The carat weight of a diamond is checked on a very precise and sensitive weighing scale. This scale is specially formulated to make sure that the diamond’s weight is as precise as possible.

Diamond Certification: Advantages

Diamonds that are graded always fetch a higher price than their non-graded counterparts. Think of buying a non-certified diamond as akin to taking a trip without a map, it is ill-advised. A lay person buying a diamond isn’t always aware of whether the diamond is natural or synthetic, as to the untrained eye, both would look similar, a certificate vouches for the authenticity of a diamond and therefore simplifies the buying decision for the customer. 

Sunday 17 November 2013

Know your Diamonds!

“When the night was finally done,
The day shone its bright light,
One thing reminded us of the night,
A diamond, with moonlight sparkling through!” Author Unknown

Words cannot do justice to the splendor and majesty of a diamond. In any shape or size, a diamond always sets the wearer a cut above the crowd. Call it nature’s miracle or the jeweler’s craft, a beautifully cut diamond, worn simply as a solitaire pendant, or ring, simply elevates the most mundane outfit, into a style statement. So whether you possess the Hope Diamond, or a single diamond ring as a sign of your significant other’s unyielding affection, with a diamond you possess a piece of eternity.

The shape that a diamond is cut in makes it suitable for a particular type of jewelry. Be it a ring, a pendant or a pair of earrings, certain cuts of diamonds are better suited to a particular kind of jewelry than certain other cuts.

In this, the final part of our series on the world’s most desirable diamond cuts, we will take an in-depth look at the Heart Shaped Diamond. We will understand its uses, examine it vis-a-vis other diamonds and learn a bit about its history.

Heart Shaped Diamonds:
The modified brilliant-cut heart shaped diamond is a unique and unmistakable symbol of love. Heart shaped diamonds are very popular in solitaire pendants as well as rings. When choosing a heart, symmetry is a very important characteristic, since it is critical that the two halves of the heart are identical. The cleft (between the two lobes) should be sharp and distinct, and the wings (the sides as they curve down to the point) should have a very slightly rounded shape.
Heart Shaped Diamond Ring

Heart shaped diamonds of less than .50 carats may not be a good choice, as the heart shape is more difficult to perceive in smaller diamonds, especially after they are set in prongs. For smaller hearts, a bezel or three prong setting (one prong on each lobe, one prong at the point) will better preserve the heart shape outline of the diamond after it is set.

Heart shaped diamonds come in a variety of silhouettes, from narrow to fat. The choice of a particular silhouette should be dictated by personal preference, though the length to width ratio of a classic heart shaped diamond is approximately 1.00. For hearts that are to be set in pendants, buyers may prefer a slightly narrow cut (1.05 - 1.15), while for hearts set in a solitaire ring, a slightly wide cut (.85 - 1.00) may be most appealing.

Glossary of terms: Things to remember when reading this series

There are certain recurring terms in this series that need to be understood in order to better comprehend both shapes and uses of the various cuts of diamonds.

Brilliant-Cut: Generally refers to a cut of diamonds of any shape with facets that are triangular or kite-shaped and that radiate from the centre. The most brilliant cut is round with 58 facets.

Fire: The light that reflects out of a diamond can appear in brilliant white flashes, or in a rainbow of color, referred to as fire.

Brilliance: Brilliance refers to the brightness of a diamond, created by the combination of all the white light reflections from the surface and the inside of a polished diamond to the eye.

Length to Width Ratio: The length to width (L/W) ratio is calculated by dividing a diamond's length (the longer measure) by its width (the shorter measure that runs perpendicular to length).


Monday 11 November 2013

Various shapes of diamonds

Diamonds are forever. A girl’s best friend. A gift for someone you love. These are all timeless statements that extol the virtues of a hunk of ever humble carbon, that withstands millions of years of pressure, and then crystallizes into a statement of luxury, extravagance and sheer class.

In the first part of our series, we catalogued some of the world’s favourite cuts or shapes of diamonds. This part will further explain why the world is gaga for some particular, diamond shapes. We will try to understand a little bit about the history of these particular cuts and also their use in a particular item of covetousness, i.e. their use in specific pieces of jewelry. So without further ado, here’s the next set of the World’s most favourite shapes!

Oval Diamonds:

Created by noted jeweller Lazare Kaplan in the 1960s, oval diamonds are a modified brilliant-cut , which means they have facets that are mostly triangular or kite shaped, and that radiate from the center.

They possess a fire and brilliance and fire very similar to round diamonds and are a real favourite among jewelers, who use them to craft exceptional  rings, solitaire pendants and the like. Stunning diamond solitaire rings are a unique statement of love and have adorned the ring fingers of celebrities like Blake Lively, Sandra Bullock and Salma Hayek.
Oval Diamond Ring

Preferences vary on how narrow or fat an oval cut diamond should be, though the accepted length to width ratio is generally 1.35 to 1, by the rule of thumb say most craftsmen.

Marquise Diamonds:

The story of the Marquise Diamond is a romantic, if slightly twisted one. It is said that King Louis XIV of France was in love with a noblewoman, the Marquise of Pompadour. The lovestruck monarch is said to have commissioned a diamond that was shaped after his beloved’s exquisitely perfect mouth! The rest as they say is history… cute or bizarre ? You decide!Either way the Marquise Diamond has become a firm favourite with diamond connoisseurs the world over.
Marquise Diamond Ring

A rugby football shaped, brilliant cut diamond, that tapers sharply at its extremities, is said to be a perfect Marquise diamond. Because marquise diamonds are long and narrow, they can also create the illusion of greater size. Carat for carat, the marquise diamond has one of the largest crown surface areas of any diamond shape, making it a good choice when trying to maximize the perceived size of a diamond. Like the oval diamond, the marquise cut diamond's elongated shape can make the finger of the wearer appear longer and slimmer. This is very same reason why engagement rings made with Marquise diamonds are so much in demand.

Pear shaped Diamonds:
The best way to describe a Pear shaped diamond would be to  call it the love child of an oval and Marquise diamond. Quite simply because a pear shaped diamond combines in it the shapeliness and characteristics of both the oval and Marquise diamonds.

Broad on one end, with a tapered opposite end, defines these brilliant-cut diamonds. This characteristic makes this diamond quite a versatile shape to use in the creation of exquisite rings or solitaire pendants.

A handy tip to remember when choosing such a diamond shape would be to remember that  a pear shaped diamond should possess excellent or very good symmetry. The point should line up with the apex of the rounded end. The shoulders and wings (the upper and lower curves on the right and left side of the diamond) should form uniform, symmetrical curves, with no straight edges. That’s when you know you have a ‘real gem’ on your hands!


Tuesday 5 November 2013

Diamond Shapes: Knowing your diamonds

Diamonds can captivate, spellbind and express emotions that cannot otherwise be put into words. Whether it is the ramp walks of the fashion capitals of the world, or somewhere more intimate, like a one-on-one proposal after a home cooked meal, a diamond is equally at home in any setting. A must-have for your beloved, a great investment and a status symbol for those who want to display their wealth and status, diamonds fit many roles and many needs, with equal aplomb.

From the 2nd century B.C Rome, when they were first put into rings and other ornaments to embellish them and create statements of perfection, diamonds have been cut into various shapes, to both enhance their appeal, and to make them suitable for use in various pieces of jewelry.

In this part of our series of the world’s favorite shapes in diamonds, we will take a closer look at Cushion cut, Emerald Cut and Radiant Cut Diamonds. We will examine their distinct features, explore their differences and discover the kinds of jewelry they fit best into. So without further ado, let us begin our exploration…

Cushion Cut Diamonds:

Cushion cut diamonds, often referred to as ‘old mine cut’ diamonds, combine a square cut with rounded corners. This gives the finished diamond the appearance of a cushion or pillow, lending to its name. These diamonds are amongst one of the oldest cut of diamonds still in use, with their history dating back nearly two centuries. So popular were they, that until the opening decades of the 20th century they were often the de-facto cut of diamonds, which simply meant that compared to other shapes, they were the preferred shape/style of a diamond.

While other shaped diamonds like Asscher, Oval and Marquise have been significantly popular in the 20th century, steady research in improving the grade and standards of Cushion Cut diamonds, see their resurgence today.

Based on research by Marcel Tolkowsky in the 1920's, refinements to cushion cut diamonds over time (such as shrinking the culet, enlarging the table, and improving cut angles for increased brilliance), have led to resurgence in popularity. Many buyers are attracted to the antique feel combined with modern performance offered by the cushion cut.

Perfect for both solitaire pendants and chunky engagement rings, Cushion Cut diamonds lend an old-world charm and nostalgic flair to any piece that you may pick out.

Emerald Cut Diamonds:

An elegant if somewhat offbeat cut of diamond is the Emerald Cut. The unique look of the Emerald Cut diamond is created by the step cuts of its pavilion and its large, open table. Instead of the sparkle of a brilliant-cut, emerald cut diamonds produce a hall-of-mirrors effect, with the interplay of light and dark planes. 
Emerald Cut Diamond

While the individual ‘fire’ and brilliance of an Emerald Cut diamond isn’t comparable to any of the other cut of diamonds, the long lines and dramatic flashes of light give the emerald cut an elegant appeal. The shape was originally developed for the cutting of emeralds, thus the name. Emeralds cut diamonds vary from nearly square to a narrow rectangle. The classic emerald cut diamond has a length to width ratio of around 1.50.

Wildly popular for making pendants and rings for men, the Emerald Cut is a unique and beautiful, albeit dramatic and not for everyone option, when considering buying a diamond for your loved one!

Radiant Cut Diamonds:

The radiant cut diamond is the first square cut (the second being the princess) to have a complete brilliant-cut facet pattern applied to both the crown and pavilion, creating a vibrant and lively square diamond. Form factor aside, this type of diamond, has a radiance which is unique to square cut diamonds!
Radiant Cut Diamond

First popular in the 1980's, the cropped corner square shape of the radiant is a nice bridge between a cushion and a princess cut, and for that reason looks beautiful set with both rounded or square cornered diamonds.

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