Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Trinket Shopping (Part 3)

. The previous post dealt with metals. I want to cover the most popular stone in this one; diamonds. It has become a symbol of love over the years, thanks mostly to advertising by DeBeers. Everyone wants one.

Diamonds are composed of carbon, formed under very high pressure and temperature. The are found anywhere near a volcano was once located. It is also one of the hardest stones known to man. The arrangement of the atoms is what gives it that characteristic. That being said, diamonds are not indestructible like most believe. They can be cleaved, hence the ability to shape them. With sufficient force in the right location, it is possible to crack, chip or split the stone. Knowing how the jewelry will be worn will help prevent damage or lost of the stone and understanding how they are set into jewelry will aid in choosing a piece that can be enjoyed.

Most assume that diamonds are "white" or clear, in reality diamonds come in every color of the rainbow with exception of deep green. The resulting colors are from carbon being contaminated with another element while the diamond is being formed with in the earth's crust. The most rare color and most expensive is red. Black diamonds aren't horrible expensive. Blue and pink diamonds are mid range price. Yellows and browns are reasonable.

The other factor in diamond price is the clarity. This refers to what's on the inside of the cut and polished stone for the most part. Anything inside and the rare flaw that extends to the surface will have a huge impact on the price. Flawless is very rare and usually out of the price range of most. Diamond clarity is graded on a scale. SI1,SI2,SI3 which means Slight Inclusions denotes flaws and inclusions which are visible to the naked eye. Most multi stone pieces contain these because it gives higher carat weight without a higher price. Some very large solitaires also contain this grade of stone. The big rock without the high quality equals a lower price. VS1,VS2 means Very Slight Inclusions. There are still flaws or inclusions but visible only under 10x magnification. These are priced higher than the previous grade because of the rarity factor. Your better quality jewelry will contain these types of stones. The next level up is VVS1 and VVS2. These are very very slight inclusions that even under 10x are hard to spot unless trained or you do a lot of diamond shopping. Other than flawless diamonds which remain in the realm of collectors and the ultra rich, are the top tier in most every jewelry store. These stones are very rare and very expensive.

Next thing that effects price is the cut of the diamond. The picture at the beginning of this post is a brilliant cut, commonly called a round cut. The one most everyone is familiar with. There are many others. The heart shaped. The marquis. The oval, The princess cut or square. The pear. These cuts most stores will stock a few of each in their solitaires engagement rings. They are much harder to find in other types, though a special order or custom piece is available. They are also specialize trademark cuts associated with different diamond cutters. The Leo diamond and the Ascher cut are two examples. The trademark cuts are more expensive and higher quality that the more popular cuts. Each cut has its own advantage and disadvantage. Knowing how the piece will be worn will help keep the stone from being damaged. Marquis are easily chipped and cracked. Next would be the pear and the heart shape. The most durable cuts are the square, round and oval. But be warned, any stone can suffer damage if abused or heavily flawed.

Diamonds are measures by carat weight. It is the size of the stone that plays the largest part in the price. The bigger the more expensive. When you start varying the clarity and color you can see huge jumps in price. They are simply rare in huge sizes regardless. Most diamonds are quite small in nature. By the time it has been cut and polished, there isn't much left. Bigger isn't always better though. Consider the quality of the stone. A larger 3 carat diamond in a round cut with a clarity of SI will look horrible. All the flaws and inclusions will lessen the sparkle and make the stone look perpetually dirty. A better choice for the money would be a 1.5 carat round cut with a clarity of VS2. The best of both worlds for about the same price as the ugly 3 carat.

There are many variable that go into choosing the perfect diamond for that special someone. Too many to cover completely in this post. This should give you the basics to point you in the right direction. If you are spending any sum over $1,000 for a piece of diamond jewelry, ask for a certificate. This will spell out, in writing, by an independent lab, the exact characteristics of your stone. Some are more detailed than others, but the basic information about the cut, clarity and carat weight is the minimum it should contain. Any questions should be clarified to your satisfaction and understanding. Know what you are shelling out your hard earned money for and why the price is set at what it is.


Ray's Cowboy said...

A man afte my own heart. I love this. I collect stones. I have every color of diamond but red. black is full of carbon, I have 2 of those. I have Whites, Blues, Champagne, Cognac, Canaries, and a Peach looking one.
Love reading about these frorm someone else. It seems that you are a collector as well.

Ur-spo said...

Just ask Carol Channing.

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