Learn the Four Cs
|Learn the Four Cs
When purchasing a diamond, It is important to become an informed buyer. No two diamonds are alike – each has its own unique glamour, its own sparkle, and its own value. How can you tell what a diamond is worth? It all starts with ‘The Four C’s’. Diamonds that possess the best combination of ‘The Four C’s’ have the highest quality and are the most valuable
|Learn how to recognize excellent diamond
and how to balance these quality grades within your preferred carat weight
|It is the cut of a diamond, above all other properties that will determine the stone”s fire and brilliance. Through manipulation of a stone”s facets, a diamond cutter can enhance a diamond”s natural ability to reflect and refract light.
When light enters a well cut diamond, it is reflected from one facet to another and then dispersed through the top of the stone. Each facet acts as a light dispersing mirror and it is this light that when reflected out of the stone, gives a diamond its sparkle.
|Too Shallow:Light is lost out the sides causing the diamond to lose brilliance.|
|Too Deep: Light escapes out the bottom causing the diamond to appear dark and dull.|
|Aswell as referring to the quality of craftsmanship of a diamond, cut also refers to a diamond”s shape.
Diamonds can be cut in many different shapes and will all handle light differently. The longer shapes tend to have a slight “bow tie” effect. This means they have a small zone in the centre where light leaks out of the bottom of the stone. This creates a darker area in the shape of a bow tie. This is especially true for the Pear, Oval, Marquise, and Heart shapes.
The Round Brilliant Ideal Cut will provide the maximum fire and brilliance due to the positions and angles of its facets. It will reflect the most light will therefore provide the most sparkle.
Ideal cut diamonds command a slight premium due to a number of reasons. (1) the extra care and skill needed during cutting, (2) more of the rough is usually cut away, and (3) they are scarce and in high demand.
Because cut is so important, several grading methods have been developed to help consumers determine the cut of a particular diamond. In general, these grades are Ideal, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor.
|Ideal cut: Represents roughly the top 3% of diamond quality based on cut. Reflects nearly all light that enters the diamond. An exquisite and rare cut.|
|Very good cut: Represents roughly the top 15% of diamond quality based on cut. Reflects nearly as much light as the ideal cut, but for a lower price.|
|Good cut: Represents roughly the top 25% of diamond quality based on cut. Reflects most light that enters. Much less expensive than a very good cut.|
|Fair cut: Represents roughly the top 35% of diamond quality based on cut. Still a quality diamond, but a fair cut will not be as brilliant as a good cut.|
|Poor cut: This includes all diamonds that do not meet the proportion standards of a fair cut. These diamonds are deep and narrow or shallow and wide and tend to lose most of the light out the sides and bottom.|
|The most important thing to know about color when it comes to diamonds is, in general, the less color a diamond has, the more valuable it is, all other factors being equal. Diamonds are found in nature in a wide range of colors, from completely colorless (the most desirable trait) to slightly yellow, to brown. So-called ?fancy color diamonds? come in more intense colors, like yellow and blue, but these are not graded on the same scale.
Diamonds are graded on the basis of color. The Gemological Institute of America uses the letters “D” through “Z” to rank diamond color. Blue white diamonds, considered absolutely colorless, carry a top rating of “D”. At bottom, diamonds with a yellowish caste carry a “Z” rating. To the untrained eye, variations among the leading grades are almost impossible to detect.
|D: Absolutely colorless. The clearest diamond color grade, which is very rare.|
|E: Extremely colorless. Trained gemologists can detect slight color. A high-quality diamond.|
|F: Colorless. Only trained gemologists can detect color. Lowest of colorless grades.|
|G-H: Near-colorless. When compared to better color grades, slight color detectable, but is a much better value.|
|I-J: Near-colorless. Color slightly detectable. An excellent value.|
|K-M: Faint yellow.|
|N-Z: Very light to light yellow.|
Related to, but not affecting diamond color, fluorescence is a unique effect that causes a diamond to produce a slight blue glow when exposed to intense, direct ultraviolet light. Some people seek diamonds that produce this unique effect, while others definitely avoid it – it”s purely a matter of taste.
|What Color Grade is Best?|
|For the purest, look for a colorless diamond with a grade of D-F and a fluorescence rating of none, faint, or slight.|
|For an excellent value in a diamond with no noticeable color to the unaided eye, look for a near-colorless grade of G-I, and a fluorescence grade of medium or strong blue.|
|Or, if you”d rather not compromise on color but would like to stay on budget, choose a diamond with a good cut and SI1- SI2 clarity and consider going with a strong fluorescence. It will still be beautiful to the unaided eye and you may prefer the unique effect of a strong fluorescence.|
Karat / Carat
|However, for a given quality of diamond, the price will rise exponentially as the stone gets larger. For example, a 4 karat stone is worth far more that double that of a 2 karat stone of the same quality.
This exponential increase is for the simple reason that larger the stone gets, the harder it is to find.
|Diamonds that are absolutely clear are the most sought-after and therefore the most expensive. But many diamonds have inclusions – scratches, trace minerals or other tiny characteristics that can detract from the pure beauty of the diamond. The GIA and AGSL use a detailed system of rules and standards to summarize the number, location, size, and type of inclusions present in a diamond.|
|F: Flawless. The diamond shows no inclusions or blemishes of any sort under 10X magnification when observed by an experienced grader. Note: Truly flawless or internally flawless (F or IF on the GIA?s grading scale) diamonds are extremely rare.|
|IF: Internally Flawless. The diamond has no inclusions when examined by an experienced grader using 10X magnification, but will have some minor blemishes.|
|VVS1, VVS2: Very, Very slightly included. The diamond contains minute inclusions that are difficult even for experienced graders to see under 10X magnification.|
|VS1, VS2: Very slightly included. The diamond contains minute inclusions such as small crystals, clouds or feathers when observed with effort under 10X magnification.|
|SI1, SI2: Slightly included. The diamond contains inclusions (clouds, included crystals, knots, cavities, and feathers) that are noticeable to an experienced grader under 10X magnification.|
|I1, I2, I3:Included. The diamond contains inclusions (possibly large feathers or large included crystals) that are obvious under 10X magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance|
|What Clarity Grade is Best?
We recommend that you select an “eye-clean” diamond – one that has no inclusions visible to the unaided eye. An excellent value, diamonds of this clarity are much less expensive than IF- or FL-grade diamonds and typically do not contain visible inclusions that detract from the beauty of the diamond. If you”re considering an SI2 grade diamond, call to speak to a diamond and jewelry consultant who will review the diamond to ensure the inclusions are not visible with the unaided eye. But, if you”d rather not compromise on clarity yet are budget conscious, choose a diamond with a good cut and G or H color.
|Emerald Emerald, May”s birthstone, is among the most revered and expensive of all gemstones. The greenest of the green, emeralds were cherished by the Romans above all other gems.
When judging an emerald”s value, its color is of paramount importance. The more vivid the green, the more valuable the stone. There are also attractive lighter green emeralds that are lively and vivid when set in jewelry and darker green gems that make up in rich green color what they lose in brightness. Generally speaking, however, very light or dark emeralds are less expensive.The fewer fissures, the more expensive the emerald. Cut natural emeralds of top quality weighing more than two carats are extremely rare and costly. A large deep green emerald with minor blue or yellow secondary coloration that is relatively free of inclusions may cost tens of thousands per dollars per carat.Clean emeralds with a soft, damp cloth, warm water and a soft brush. Do not use mechanical cleaners. Avoid chemicals and heat that may dissolve oils used during cutting and processing to conceal inclusions. Have a jeweler re-oil your emerald every few years. Although emerald is harder than quartz, its crystal structure makes it brittle. Avoid impacts.
Opal, October”s birthstone, is sometimes considered the “Queen of Gems,” because it encompossed the colors of all other gems. Opals are the gem world”s silvery mirrors, reflecting back every color in a flash of pastels or a streak of fire.
In determining value, the brilliance and pattern of the play of color on an opal are very important. Generally speaking, opal with an abundance of red fire is the most highly prized. Those strong in blue and green are equally beautiful but not as rare, so they”re priced less. On the other hand, fine black opal, which is the loveliest and rarest, therefore most expensive of the opal varietiesUse a soft dry or damp cloth to clean your opal. In fact, Rub the gem periodically with cloth moistened with olive oil to help preserve it. Do not soak your opal in place in chemicals or use mechanical cleaners. Avoid heat and dry conditions that could dehydrate and crack your opal.
Ruby, July”s birthstone, is aptly named the King of Gems. The color of courage and blood, rubies are even more precious per carat than diamonds. Its color varies from purplish and bluish red to orange-red in medium to dark hues. It is considered very durable, a great choice for rings and bracelets that are prone to knocks.
Color is of paramount importance when judging the value of a ruby. Prized colors–which can command high prices–are pure reds with no overtones of brown or blue. Very light or dark shades are usually less valuable, but not necessarily less appealing.Of course, clarity, cut and carat weight factor into the cost of a gem. Better quality rubies are usually eye-clean with some inclusions under magnification. Ruby is more available under two carats, gems over five carats have become scarce. In ruby”s finest quality, any size is rare.You can clean rubies with soapy water or a gentle commercial solvent and a brush. Mechanical cleaners are also safe, except with heavily included gems.
Sapphire, September”s birthstone, has been the pre-eminent blue gemstone for centuriesBlue as the perfect sky, sapphires have been used as protective talismans for centuries. While sapphire has become the ultimate blue stone, it actually comes in virtually every color except red (red sapphires are rubies), including colorless and white, and such fancy colors as yellow, peach, orange, cognac, pink, violet, purple and green and all their many shades. In fact, white sapphire has become a popular natural diamond substitute for many people.Color is of paramount importance when judging the value of sapphire. The purer the blue of a natural sapphire, the greater the price the gemstone can command. Gems that are too dark or too pale are usually less valuable, but not necessarily less appealing.A gem”s clarity and cut also factor into its cost, as well as carat weight. Better quality sapphires are usually eye-clean with some inclusions under magnification. Sapphire is more available in sizes under two carats, but gems of 5 to 10 carats are not unusual. Sapphire reaches a far greater size than ruby.You can clean heated (and non-enhanced) sapphire with soapy water or commercial solvent and a brush. Mechanical cleaners are also safe, except for heavily included gems (filled with fissures).
The appeal of platinum is in its appearance. Its white luster is unique. It is also the strongest precious metal used in jewelry, and is almost twice as heavy as 14-karat gold. This weight is one of platinum”s strongest selling points, because it gives “heft” to fine jewelry, which people naturally equate with value.
In recent years platinum has rapidly grown in popularity. It”s become the new choice for many diamond engagement rings because its luster brings out the brilliance of diamonds far better than gold.Platinum in jewelry is actually an alloyed group of six heavy metals, including platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and osmium. These other metals are so similar to platinum in weight and chemistry that most were not even distinguished from each other until early in the nineteenth century.Today, it is often alloyed with copper and titanium. It”s the only precious metal used in fine jewelry that is 90% to 95% pure, largely hypoallergenic, and tarnish-resistant. Look for platinum jewelry marked 900Pt, 950 Plat, or Plat.Soaking platinum in a mild solution of soap and warm water and gently scrubbing it with a soft-bristled brush is usually all that is required to maintain the metal”s luster.
Gold is durable, sturdy, dependable, and makes an ideal setting for your precious diamond jewelry
Gold”s purity is measured in karats. 24 karat is pure gold, but its purity means it is more expensive and less durable than gold that is alloyed with other metals. Different alloys are used in jewelry for greater strength, durability and color range.The karatage of the jewelry will tell you what percentage of gold it contains: 24 karat is 100 percent, 18 karat is 75 percent, and 14 karat is 58 percent gold. When comparing gold jewelry, the higher the number of karats, the greater the value.
|Yellow gold is alloyed with silver and copper. It is the most frequently used type of gold there is. Malleable, ductile, and generally non-corrosive, it has a high melting point and is not susceptible to compression.|
|White gold is alloyed with a large percentage of silver, or a selection of other white metals. The percentage of gold naturally varies, according to the amount of other metal used. White gold is highly reflective and not subject to tarnish. The ancient term for it was Electrum. Its use predates that of Palladium and Platinum.|
|Rose gold is alloyed with copper, and perhaps silver. The proportions are about one part of copper to three parts of 24-karat gold.|
The price of gold jewelry is dependent upon the purity of the gold used or karat weight, as well as the design and construction of the piece of jewelry. When the karat weight or the gold percentage of the jewelry is high, the yellow color of gold is brighter, raising the value of the jewelry.
Keep your gold jewelry away from harsh chemicals such as chlorine and cleaning fluids. This will reduce daily abrasions and prolong gold”s luster. To clean gold jewelry, use a solution of warm water and detergent-free soap and wash gold gently with a soft-bristled brush (a dull tooth brush works well). Store gold pieces separately in soft cloth bags or original boxes to protect them from the exposure to harsh daily elements
Consider 18k gold for jewelry and ring settings because it is rich in color and durable. White gold is also an affordable substitute for platinum.
Silver is the queen of metals: gleaming and elegant, cool to the eye, sensuous to the touch. Silver jewelry is a classic gift that remains close to a woman”s heart. More than merely decorative, it often carries with it the appeal of a tender sentiment or a lovely memory. And it possesses a sophistication that every woman understands.
Pure silver, also called fine silver, is relatively soft, very malleable, and easily damaged so it is commonly combined with other metals to produce a more durable product. The most popular of these alloys is sterling silver, which consists of 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent copper. The small amount of copper added to sterling has very little effect on the metal”s value. Instead, the price of the silver item is affected by the labor involved in making the item, the skill of the craftsperson, and the intricacy of the design.With proper care, your fine quality silver will last a lifetime. To minimize scratches and other damage, store your silver jewelry either in a cloth pouch or in a separate compartment in your jewelry box. Avoid exposing your silver to household chemicals when cleaning with bleach or ammonia, or when swimming in chlorinated water, as these chemicals can damage silver.