Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Shine On You Crazy Diamond

I used to work in the jewelery industry and as a result I know a lot about all that glitters, all that holds that which glitters, time keepers and flatware.

Obviously, the most talked about thing when I was working in the sales portion of jewelery was diamonds. I was lucky enough to start my career with one of Canada's most reputable jewelry stores, Henry Birks & Sons. So the vast majority of clients that I dealt with were shaky young men wringing their hands at the counter looking for the perfect ring to offer his girl so they can spend the rest of their lives together.

I'd always start with the 4 C's

  • Cut (being the most important and often most neglected when looking for a stone outside of a high end, reputable jewelry store)
  • Color
  • Clarity
  • Carat

The Cut of a diamond is what truly makes a diamond come alive under almost any light. It requires meticulous precision of a highly skilled artisan to ensure that proper proportions and polishing are created to maximise brilliance and scintillation. To really appreciate the importance of  cut one would need to look at two different cut stones side-by-side within similar color, clarity and carat of each other. One being of an "ideal" or an "excellent" cut and the other being a "Good" or "Fair" cut you'll notice an immediate difference in brilliance.

Often, diamonds are cut with focus on maintaining as much of the carat weight of the store as possible. This can often result in stones that are cut too deep or to shallow not allowing the diamond to reflect as much light as it potentially could. I believe that there should be more focus on the cut of the stone rather than the carat size. Who cares if you have a 3.00 ctw stone on your finger. If it's cut poorly it's just going to look like a piece of beach glass anyway.

EX (excellent of ideal)
VG (very good)
GD (good)
FR (fair or poor)

A good rule of thumb should be to stick with excellent/ideal or very good especially when buying a stone over 0.25 ctw.

Color. It's the second most important feature of a diamond you should be aware of when purchasing. The concept of color in a diamond is actually referring to the absence of color (with the exception of fancy color diamonds but we don't get into that) which represents the rarest and highest quality diamond. The less color in the diamond the better. Naturally diamonds tend to be on the brown/yellowish side however most diamonds found in a jewelry store setting tend to be a close to the colorless range as possible.

The scale begins with the letter D and works its way all the way down to Z

a rule of thumb when buying a colorless diamond is stick above am I/J. Anything below that the untrained eye is actually able to pick up color in the stone making the stone look as though it has been sitting in a cup of strong tea. Color is a huge indicator in price of a stone. Though "D" is a very rare and special stone color to find you can usually get a "G" or an "F" that visually looks the same and is much lower in cost.

Clarity is the third most important thing to consider when looking for a diamond. It is the extent in which a diamond is free from inclusions. Though a diamond is said to be flawless when no inclusions or surface blemishes can be seen under a 10x magnification a truly flawless diamond is extremely rare. Of course rarity effects the value of the stone.

Carat represents the gemologist's measure of diamond weight. This is the part of diamonds that gets the most attention but I believe has the least amount of importance when buying a stone. Of course, the larger the stone the more rare it becomes (especially if you are not willing to compromise quality) but a side from that it's all personal preference just as the shape of the stone is as well.

So that's the basics on diamonds. I'm rusty having been out of the industry for so long. I was reminded again of how much I enjoyed working with fine, beautiful things when I saw that Tiffany's & Co. was opening at Chinook mall today (they had a breakfast I believe). A good friend of mine will be working behind the scenes in operations and I think she's really going to enjoy it. I'm excited for her, they paid for her to go to New York for training a few weeks ago. That's fantastic... a week long trip in New York city learning all about Tiffany's. Such a dream!

Now,  maybe next week I'll talk about watches or flatware (table setting 101)

[resources: Pictures borrowed from Birks]


Calvin said...

I hope your future fiancée has the good sense to give you a cigar band and a Birks gift card. ;)

amourissima said...

I'd keep and wear that cigar band till it fell off my finger and forget about the Birks gift card.

amourissima said...

I remember dealing with a couple a few years. They had this fantastic engagement story which was actually selected for publication.

They had gone away to Thailand together and on the last night of their perfect trip they sat on the beach and watched the sunset. She noticed that he was fiddling with the grass behind where he was sitting and a few moments later he grabbed her hands. He looked her in the eyes, asked him to marry her and slipped a ring made of knotted grass on her finger.

She said yes.

But what people didn't know was this woman was a crazy woman. When she came to see me she scoffed at this little grass ring he had made her. She wanted diamonds, she wanted big and she wanted something that was worth more than a house and a car combined. They were young and he was just starting out with a small law firm. He had money but they were just starting out. I remember one day she came in with just her girlfriends and looked at the molds I had made for her. She said she wanted a larger setting (it was already built for a 5.00 ct diamond) and her friend was like "well, can he afford it?" and she said "I don't care."

I'll never forget that. Disgusting. If that had been me I would have kept that little grass ring and had it dipped in gold so I could wear it for the rest of my life.

Not that this really has anything to do with diamonds but I guess there is an association between diamonds and romance.

I guess most of my working life I've just gotten a lot of flack about knowing so much about diamonds and how that must intimidate anyone who wants to buy me jewlery.

It shouldn't.

But now we all know about diamonds so I will have a test next week on which diamond is best after we learn about table settings!

amourissima said...

after reading this post the caption under the picture for this article should make more sense to you:

Carly said...

Can always appreciate a beautiful diamond!
Thanks for the lesson...I just know when I think they are

THanks for stopping in on my blog..following along w you now:) Be back soon.

amourissima said...

Thank YOU Carly! :) welcome!!