Monday, April 2, 2012

April Birthstone: Diamond

The name Diamond is derived from the Latin word diamas meaning the unconquerable and this dazzling stone has proven it's right to the name time and time again.

In addition to being April's birthstone, Diamonds are also the favored gift of the 10th and 60th wedding anniversary (ladies you deserve another diamond if you have been married to him for 60 years...very impressive)! Throughout history it has maintained its position as the icon of marriage. It symbolizes lasting love and friendship in a way that few other things can. Diamonds were believed to inspire loyalty, arouse romance and encourage a joyful life. As the gem of character and spirit, diamonds radiate the dazzling personality of those who wear it.

Unique in the world of gemstones, diamond is the hardest of all materials (10 on the Mohs scale), which is one of the reasons they are treasured as a symbol of lasting devotion. This also makes them a practical choice for engagement rings and bridal sets because they are safe for everyday wear.

Diamonds are mined in over 20 countries around the world, however, main production comes from Botswana, Russia, South Africa, Canada and Australia. In general terms, only about 20% of the volumes of all diamonds mined are good enough quality to be used in jewelry. Every pipe in the world produces different qualities and quantities but generally even a profitable mine removes over a tonne of host rock to produce one carat of gem quality diamond.

Diamond values are based on 4 C's: Carat, Color, Clarity and Cut.

Diamonds and other gemstones are weighed using metric carats with one carat weighing 0.2 grams (about the weight of a paperclip). Just as a dollar is divided into 100 pennies, a carat is divided into 100 points which means a diamond of 50 points weighs 0.50 carats. A 0.50ct diamond would be called a "fifty pointer". Diamond weights greater than one carat are expressed in carats and decimals. For
instance, a 1.08ct diamond would be described as "one point oh eight carats" or "one oh eight". Carat is the most intuitive of the 4C's - you expect a larger diamond to be worth more when assigning diamond values. But two different diamonds of equal weight can have very different values depending on the other three characteristic (clarity, color and cut).

Cool fact about carats:
The modern carat system started with the carob seed. Early gem traders used the small, uniform seeds as counterweights in their balance scales. The carat is the same gram weight in every corner of the world.

This may surprise you, but the color of the diamond is all about what you can't see. Diamonds are valued by how closely they approach colorlessness - the less color the higher value. Most diamonds found
in jewelry stores run from colorless to near-colorless with slight hints of yellow or brown. The only exceptions are the fancy-color diamonds that lie outside of this range. GIA's (Gemological Institute of America) diamond color grading scale is the most widely accepted grading system in the industry. The scale begins with the letter D, representing colorless, and continues with increasing presence of color, to the letter Z. Many of these color distinctions are so subtle that they are invisible to the untrained eye. But these slight color differences make a very big difference in diamond quality and price.

Why does the GIA color grading system start with a D?

Before GIA universalized the D-Z Color Grading Scale, a variety of other systems were used loosely, from A, B and C (used without clear definition), to Arabic (0, 1, 2, 3) and Roman (I, II, III) numbers, to descriptive terms like "gem blue" or "blue white," which are notorious for misinterpretations. So
the creators of the GIA color scale wanted to start fresh, without any association to earlier systems. Thus the GIA scale starts with D. Very few people cling to the other grading systems and no other system has the clarity and universal acceptance of the GIA scale.

A note about fancy-color diamonds:
Although colorless Diamonds are the most common, diamonds actually come in a variety of colorful hues. Some Diamonds are heated and/or irradiated to induce fancy colors. Others may undergo high-pressure, high-temperature, enhancement to improve color and brilliance. Fancy yellow and pink diamond
s have become popular choices for bridal rings commanding high prices for vivid hues in fine quality. Naturally occurring fancy colored diamonds are typically more rare than colorless varieties, with red being the most uncommon, and therefore most expensive, followed by blue and then green. Value is not only based on the availability but on all 4 C's.

Diamond clarity refers to the absence of internal inclusions or external blemishes. Diamonds are celebrated for their purity of brilliance. Yet because diamonds are created de
ep within the earth most diamonds contain imperfections called inclusions (internal) and blemishes (external). These imperfections deflect light, distracting our eye from the radiance we so value. Every diamond is unique. Diamonds with very few birthmarks are rare and, of course, rarity affects a diamond's value. The diamonds that come close to perfect under 10x magnification, known as flawless diamonds, are exceptionally rare, most jewelers have never even seen one. Using the International Diamond Grading System, created by GIA, diamonds are given a clarity grade that ranges from flawless (FL) to diamonds with more prominent inclusions (I3). There are 11 grades on the GIA clarity scale. Most readily available diamonds fall into the VS (very slightly included) or SI (slightly included) categories.

Cut fuels the diamond's fire, sparkle and brilliance. Without a doubt, the allure of a particular diamond depends more on cut than anything else. Diamonds traditionally have 58 tin
y facets, each is precisely cut and sharply defined. Although they are extremely difficult to analyze, the cut of a diamond has three attributes: brightness (the total light reflected from the diamond), fire (the dispersion of light into the colors of the spectrum), and scintillation (the light flashes - or sparkle - when a diamond moves). An understanding of diamond cut begins with the shape of a diamond, with the standard brilliant dominating the majority of diamond jewelry. All other diamond shapes are known as fancy shapes or fancy cuts and include marquise, pearl, oval and emerald cuts. Hearts, cushions, triangles and a variety of other new shapes are also gaining popularity. As a value factor, cut refers to a diamonds proportions, symmetry and polish.

In case you didn't know, because we are members of the IJO (Independent Jewelers Organization) Spectrum gets exclusive access to diamond buying trips to Antwerp, the diamond cutting capital of the world. Star goes to Antwerp where she handpicks diamonds from the cutters themselves! This ensures that we get the highest quality diamonds at the best price. We can take care of all of your Diamond and colored stone needs!

We have a wide range of diamond jewelry including colored diamonds along with loose diamonds.

Check out the diamond jewelry from a few of our artists:

LinkMichael Sugarman
Barbara Heinrich
Conni Mainne
Susan Barlow