Celebrating a Special Occasion with Jewelry
Jewelry and gems The Buying Guide
The diamond has been one of the most coveted gems in history. Uncut diamond adorned the suits of armor of the great knights; cut diamonds have adorned the crowns of kings and queens throughout the ages. Today the diamond is internationally recognized as a symbol of love and betrothal and is the recipient of increasing interest as a source for investment.
The diamond has been credited with many magical powers, superior strength, bravery and courage. At one time it was considered the emblem of fearlessness and invincibility; the mere possession of a diamond would endow the wearer with superior strength, bravery, and courage. It was also believed that a diamond could drive away the devil and all spirits of the night.
During the 1500s diamonds were looked upon as talismans that could enhance the love of a husband for his wife. In the Talmud a gem that, from its description, was probably a diamond was worn by the high priest and served to prove innocence or guilt. If an accused person were guilty, the stone grew dim; if innocent, it shone more brilliantly than ever.
The Hindus classed diamonds according to four castes. The Brahmin diamond (colorless) gave power, friends, riches, and good luck; the Kshatriya (brown/champagne) prevented old age; Vaisya (the color of a “kodali flower”) brought success; and the sudra (a diamond with sheen of a polished blade, probably gray or black) brought all types of good fortune. Red and yellow diamonds were exclusively royal gems, for kings alone.
Diamonds have been associated with almost everything from producing sleepwalking to producing invincibility and spiritual ecstasy. Even sexual prowess has been strongly attributed to the diamond. There is a catch, however, to all the mythical powers associated with this remarkable gem. One must find the diamond “naturally” in order to experience its magic, for it loses its powers if acquired by purchase. However, when offered as a pledge of love or friendship, its potency may return, another good reason for its presence in the engagement ring!
– What is Diamond?
Chemically speaking, a diamond is the simplest of all gemstones. It is plain crystallized carbon, the same substance, chemically, as the soot left on the inside of a glass globe after the burning of candle, or the substance used in lead pencils.
The diamond differs from these in its crystal form, which accounts for the desirable properties that have made it so highly prized, its hardness, which gives it unsurpassed wearability, its brilliance, and fire. Nonetheless, while diamond is the hardest natural substance known, it can be chipped or broken if hit hard from certain angles; and if the girdle, the edge of the diamond that forms the perimeter, has been cut too thin, the girdle can chip with even a modest blow.
White (or more correctly, colorless) diamonds are the most popular, but diamond occurs in every color in the rainbow. When color is prominent the gem is called a fancy or master fancy diamond.
– How to determine the value of a diamond, the four Cs?
The factors used to determine the quality and value of a diamond are referred to as the “four Cs.” In terms of their effect on the value of a diamond, in order of importance, they listed as follows:
1. Color (body color)
2. Clarity (degree of flawlessness)
3. Cutting and proportions (often called the make)
4. Carat weight
– Finding the right combination.
Keep in mind, however, that the key to being happy with your diamond purchase is understanding how each of these four Cs affects beauty and durability, cost, and the stone as a whole. It may sound complicated at first, but when you begin looking at stones you’ll see it really isn’t. With a little experience, you’ll decide which Cs are most important to you, and know to look for to get the right combination, one that meets your emotional and financial needs.
The importance of Cut and Proportion.
It’s important to distinguish exactly what “cut” means when referring to diamonds and other stones. Cut does not means shape. The selection of shape is a matter of individual preference. No matter which shape is selected, its cutting must be evaluated. differences in cutting can affect a diamond’s beauty, durability, and cost, the latter by as much as 50%, or more.
The cutting and proportioning of a diamond, the stone’s “make”, is especially important because of its effect on the fire (the lovely rainbow colors that flash from within) and brilliance (the liveliness, the sparkle) exhibited by the stone. Proper cutting and proportioning release the full beauty that sets diamond apart from all other gems. A stone with an excellent make will be exciting, while a stone with a poor make will look lifeless, it will lack the sparkle and personality we identify with diamond. In addition, stones are often cut to make them appear larger. But a stone that looks much larger than another of the same weight will not be as beautiful as a smaller stone that is properly cut.
Differences in cutting can also affect the durability of a diamond. Some cutting faults weaken the ston and make it more susceptible to breaking or chipping.
Fine cutting requires skill and experience, and takes more time. For all these reasons, a well cut diamond commands a premium and will cost much more than one that is cut poorly.
There are many popular shapes for diamonds. Each shape affects the overall look of the stone, but if the stone is cut well, beauty and value endure no matter which shape you choose
– Round brilliant cut (The most popular shape)
A modern round brilliant cut diamond has 58 facets, 33 on the top, 24 on the bottom, plus the culet (the “point” at the bottom, which normally is another tiny facet). Round brilliant cut stones that are small in are referred to as “full cut” to distinguish them from “single cut” stones that have only 17 facets, or “Swiss cut” with only 33 facets. Older pieces of jewelry, or inexpensive pieces containing numerous often contain these cuts instead of full cut stones. They have less brilliance and liveliness than full cuts, but with fewer facets are easier and less expensive to cut. Jewelry containing single or Swiss cut stones should sell for less than jewelry with full cuts.
When a round brilliant cut diamond is cut well, its shape displays the most liveliness because it enables the most light to be reflected back up through the top. This means that round brilliant cut diamonds will have greater brilliance, overall, than other shapes. However, shape is a personal choice, and other shapes can also be very beautiful. New shapes also appear, some of which compare very favorably to round stones for overall attractiveness.
As a rule of thumb, if the top portion (crown) appears to be roughly 1/3 of the pavilion depth (distance from girdle to culet), the proportioning is probably acceptable.
Types of diamond proportioning
The proportioning, especially the height of the crown in relation to the depth of the pavilion, and the width of the table facet in relation to the width of the stone, is what determines how much brilliance and fire the stone will have. Several formulas for correct proportioning have been developed for round diamonds. Stones that adhere to these very precise formulas are considered to have an “ideal” make an will cost more than other diamonds because of the extra time and skill required to cut them, and because more diamond “rough” is lost in cutting.
There are several slightly differing formulas for cutting an “ideal” stone, but each results in an exceptionally beautiful stone. Generally speaking, diamonds that are cut with smaller tables exhibit more fire; those with larger tables exhibit more brilliance. The latter seems to be more in fashion today. But, as common sense may tell you, both can’t excel in the same stone. A larger table can create greater brilliance but will cause some reduction in fire; a smaller table area can increase fire but may reduce brilliance. The ideal would be a compromise that would allow the greatest brilliance and fire simultaneously. No one has come to agreement, however, on what the percentages should be, since some people prefer fire to brilliance, and vice versa. This is why there are several different types of proportioning found in diamonds, and best is usually a matter personal preference.
When purchasing purchasing a round diamond, ask how the make would be graded: ideal, excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor. A diamond with a “fair” or “poor” make should sell for less than a diamond with a “good” make. A diamond with a “very good,” “excellent,” or “ideal” make will sell for more.
Your eye will be responsible for making the final determination. In general, when you look at a diamond that has a lot of brilliance and fire, the cutting and proportioning probably are acceptable. A stone that appears lifeless and seems to be “dead” or dark at the center probably suffers from poor cutting and proportioning. The more time you take to look at and compare diamonds of different qualities and prices, the better trained your eye will become to detect differences in brilliance and fire, lifelessness and dullness.
Diamonds exhibit somewhat different “personalities” depending upon the make. An “ideal” make will exhibit one personality, while another diamond with different proportioning will exhibit different personality. A diamond cut with an ideal make will cost more, but that doesn’t mean everyone will prefer stones cut to ideal proportions. A diamond does not have to be cut to “ideal” proportions to show strong fire and brilliance, to be beautiful or desirable. Many prefer a diamond with a wider table than is found in an “ideal.”
No matter what the proportions are, before making a final decision on a particular stone, ask yourself whether or not you think it is beautiful. If you like it, don’t allow yourself to be overly influenced by formulas.