Friday, 14 June 2013

A little trick to finding even more value.

Every individual diamond is unique.

Every individual person is unique.

Diamonds are graded by individuals.

So it could easily be assumed that the same diamond, if graded by two different people, would receive two differing grades.

This can be the case, though some more widely recognized laboratories have a greater degree of consistency across the board than smaller laboratories.

In June 2013, the Rapaport Diamond Trading Network (RapNet)  got back the results from 10 diamonds graded by half a dozen different brands of diamond grading laboratories. The degree of variance between grading laboratories was not always extreme though one thing was clear: some laboratories are stricter. The GIA labs ranked as the ones demanding the highest quality for a diamond to receive a high grade. An article on RapNet's analysis was published here:

There was a surprise, though, in that IGI labs were almost on par with GIA and ranked higher than labs in the EGL USA network. However HRD, fell below EGL USA, followed by EGL Hong Kong and EGL Israel.

As the name on a diamond's grading certificate will affect the pricing, RapNet calculated how pricing had factored into the mix based on the reputation of grading laboratories. The result was that IGI diamonds are suffering from an unwarranted besmirched image. According to this report, two diamonds with an equal grade from GIA and IGI should be seen as fairly equal.  Yet the IGI diamond will invariably be listed with a lower price than the GIA graded diamond with an identical grade.

The RapNet analysis concluded that it is inadvisable for a diamond shopper to simply get sold on a particular brand of certificate, but to buy the diamond, not the certificate. This would mean establishing a good line of communication with the jeweler and getting a clear understanding of the qualities of the stone.

My conclusion is that looking at diamonds with an IGI certificate could turn up some very nice bargains.

Here is one jeweler who does stock both GIA and IGI diamonds: Melrose Visit

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

The "Sparkliest" Diamond Shape

What shape diamond are you going to get for the engagement ring? Round? Square? Oval? Pear? Heart?

They're all so nice! It can be difficult to choose. You could be after a shape that is popular or maybe you want to try something a little different.
If you look at the statistics on a site like mega diamond seller Blue Nile you'll see that most people end up choosing round diamonds.

The reason that round shaped diamonds, (technically called round brilliants) are such good sellers is because they are known to be designed in such a clever way that a larger proportion of light bounces back through the top of the diamond giving it a superior sparkle. Because it is so cleverly engineered to make the light bounce and disperse so nicely it is possible to have a very sparkly stone even in lower clarity diamonds. So you can get away with choosing a "J" stone which has been cut into a round shape. As a result the "J" round diamonds are the best sellers.

If you do choose this option it would be important to get a stone whose grading report says it has an "Excellent" cut grade.  Actually I recommend to always go for  an "Excellent" cut grade. Excellent cut can also be referred to by some grading labs as an "Ideal Cut" .

 The "cut grade" is something separate from the "cut".  "Cut grade" would be mentioned on a grading report and this refers to how well the diamond is cut to achieve that perfect sparkle. Scientific ways to plan and predict light performance were introduced by The Gemological Institute of America in 2005 which helps jewelers create the best possible diamond.

It's always a challenging task for cutters to create an "Ideal" or "Excellent" cut as they are working not only with the hardest mineral on earth, but they have to work out the best way to accomplish this without losing too much of the diamond. After all, the bigger the diamond the rarer it is. Imagine being a diamond cutter and lopping off $20,000 from the stone in one stroke. I'm sure it's happened. Hopefully not too often.

I am constantly surprised at the high quality stones people are buying online. Most people going into the local jewelers are actually quite happy with a "Very Good" cut, and rarely go for the clear diamonds, or those whose grading report says are Very Lightly Included. When you look at the stones on a site like James Allen you'll see a highly magnified diamond. At a jewelers you don't get as good a look as you would at James Allen. Also most people when buying from the local mall jeweler don't bother to ask about the grading report.

This is how the online retailers have captured a huge slice of the market place: by giving people the chance to look at the diamond's grading report, as well as offering a large selection.

Which brings me back to the topic I started with. The selection of shapes available is also quite vast.

Technically the "shape" is referred to by diamond jewelers as the "Cut". But they'll understand it if you say "shape".

The round brilliant cut has become the standard diamond shape due to its excellent light performance. Every other shape is called a Fancy cut.

The round brilliant has been around since the 1700's, so other shapes certainly preceded it. Mentions of oval shaped diamonds occur in 1304, and pear shapes were known in the 1400's.

The round brilliant's current design is the accumulation of many centuries of work, contributed to by people like Henry Morse (of Boston) in the 1860's, and later a few slight enhancements were introduced by Marcel Tolkowsky in 1919.

Some diamond cutters have created their own improvements and sell these diamonds directly. This is called a Signature Cut, and one such diamond is made by Brian Gavin Diamonds. The way these diamonds look are pretty impressive and very dazzling. Diamonds are already quite hypnotic, but the ones Brian Gavin cuts are just unbelievable.

Monday, 6 August 2012

The Diamond Fluorescence Advantage

Fluorescence in diamonds is one of those things that can be confusing.

Does it make the diamond glow in the dark? How does fluorescence affect the brilliance of a diamond in regular light? And if so, how?

Fluorescent diamonds

To answer the first question, a fluorescent diamond may glow a little in the dark, but it will more likely glow under black light (UV light).

And to answer the second question there are a few points which might help cut through some of the confusion surrounding fluorescence.

There are two seemingly contradictory things about fluorescence.

1. Strong fluorescence can give the diamond a milky look.

2. Fluorescence does not always give the diamond a milky look.

How can both of these things be true?

Here's why: One in 50,000 diamonds with strong fluorescence will look milky, but even then it will only be in certain lighting.

As a result of this slight risk, jewelers don't try to push the fluorescent diamonds. They even discount them. Diamonds whose Grading Report says: "Strong Fluorescence" will be priced just below diamonds with other features which are exactly the same.

So, how we can use this information to get a better deal when shopping for a diamond?

After all, even at a jewelers we won't see the diamond in all different types of lighting (tube light, natural daylight, fire light, candle light) and won't know if it has any issues.

And if we are looking to buy a diamond online we certainly won't be able to see the diamond.

So here's the solution.

I recommend calling the diamond vendor and speaking to them directly. Ask them to look at the diamond you want and describe it to you. Any jeweler worth his salt will know a good diamond when he sees one. It's going to be hard for them to hide their enthusiasm when looking at a good stone. They've seen hundreds of diamonds and know which ones are going to be the "magical" ones.

You'll have an advantage by doing this as the majority of online shoppers don't bother to pick up the telephone, or even bother to click the call button on their smartphone.

And you'll stand a good chance of picking up a bargain by doing so.

Since it is only possible to judge how fluorescence affects the brilliance of a diamond by having eyes on the diamond most people stay away from the ones which show strong fluorescence when buying diamonds online.

The savings we get by buying a diamond which has strong fluorescence come with a risk of the diamond not looking as brilliant as one would wish. However as this is not the case with every single diamond which has a strong fluorescence some people are willing to take the risk. This is actually pretty smart because the risk is in fact extremely small. Some diamonds with strong fluorescence are actually very beautiful. The fluorescence makes some diamonds look fantastic when exposed to UV light, and they will look even brighter than their grading report suggests.

The last thing you can do to make sure you do not end up with a diamond which is not to your liking is to inspect it when you get it and return it if it does not suit you. Jewelers are used to this and are perfectly happy to exchange it for another diamond when this happens. If you're lucky you might even be given one without fluorescence at no extra charge. But don't hold your breath on that one. 

Still, I hope these few points will give you an idea of how to use diamond fluorescence to your advantage.

Here's a meticulous diamond jeweler, who is also an incredible diamond cutter, that checks fluorescent diamonds before buying them at wholesale and makes sure they are the sparkly variety and not negatively affected at all by diamond fluorescence. I've been pretty impressed by his world class workmanship too. As well as decent prices. Worth checking out when you get a chance.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Diamond Clarity and What it Means.

Clarity is an important characteristic of a diamond if it is to be used in jewelry, particularly in an engagement ring, and it is important to know the clarity of a diamond before you buy one. Understanding what clarity means will give you an idea of how it affects the look of a diamond. It is actually quite easy. 

We can divide this up into two categories:

1 Diamonds with visual inclusions and blemishes,

2 Diamonds that are ‘eye clean’ meaning that there are no inclusions or blemishes that can be seen with the naked eye.

From there, the clarity of a diamond is further broken down into subcategories.

Many people mistakenly think that diamond clarity refers to how clear it is. This isn’t so. Clarity actually refers to the internal and external imperfections of the diamond. The best diamonds, of course get a grade of FL or IF – Flawless or Internally Flawless – meaning that it is perfect. A grade of I-1, I-2 or I-3 means that the diamond has inclusions, with a grade of I-3 being the worst which online dealers are willing to carry. In local malls you may get even more included than that. Inclusions are tiny specks, possibly crystals that were "included" in the carbon when it was forming into a diamond. They aren't necessarily bad, but too many can prevent the diamond from looking as sparkly as it could and it's best if they aren't visible from the top, which is the most visible part of the diamond when it is set in a ring.

Other grades are VVS1 and VVS2, which means that the diamond is very, very slightly included; VS1 and VS2, meaning the diamond is very slightly included; SI-1 and SI-2, which means that the diamond is slightly included.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

How the Price of a Diamond is Determined

Pricing many products for sale is generally quite easy. It goes something like this:

Determine the costs of manufacturing, then the costs involved to market that item, and then mark it up by 15 – 30% or whatever the market can sustain.
Simple, right? Well, pricing diamonds isn’t nearly that simple. Not at all. This is because there are so many additional factors that come into play when diamonds are priced.

Diamond prices are determined first by adding the cost of the rough diamond, the cost of cutting the diamond, and all other costs necessary to turn the rough diamond into a something suitable for use in jewelry. Depending on the importance of the diamond, an independent company may be called in to certify the grade of the diamond based on color, cut, clarity, and weight.

As every stage involves professionals who are paid for their work the diamond becomes more expensive each time it changes hands. When it finally reaches a retailer the price will as expected be raised still more. Before reaching the retailer, however, the diamond must travel from the mine, to the cutter and polisher, to the independent grading company, and then to the primary market. Once it has reached the primary market, it will be purchased by diamond dealers and wholesalers, and from there it will be sold to retailers.

As you can see, the earlier you can purchase a diamond in the process, the lower the cost of the diamond will be – but not the value. The value is based on what the diamond will sell for in the market place – through a retailer.

If you own a diamond, and you have no idea how much it is worth, you can have it appraised. Just be aware that the appraisal may not be accurate. You will be better off obtaining a certificate through GIA – Gemological Institute of America. With the information on this certificate, you can use a cutter’s guide to accurately determine what your diamond is worth.

There are also many diamond price calculators available. These can be found on the Internet, and many diamond dealers use these as well. You must realize, however, that before you can accurately price a diamond, without a Diamond Grade Report, you need to know quite a bit about diamonds, such as different cuts, clarity, color, and weight and how each of those aspects adds to the value of a diamond, or decreases the value of the diamond as the case may be. 

Again, you will be better off if you get a Diamond Grading Report on the diamond, and use that information to look up the price in one of the guides that the diamond cutting industry uses. This will give you the most accurate value of the diamond in your possession, or of the diamond you are considering purchasing. 

How Big is One Carat?

I found this great resource on the Gemological Institute of America's website.

It has a slider which allows you to check the size of a diamond and you can even compare it to second stone to compare the difference.

This slider only shows the size of round cut diamonds, but these are the most popular cut,

here it is:

Princess cut diamonds and other fancy cuts are nice for variety, but the round cut diamond has been engineered in such a way to get the best light performance. Occasionally you may get similar shininess from other cuts if they are signature diamond cuts.

But back to diamond sizes: A 1 carat round cut diamond, when cut well, will be about 6.5 mm across.  

It's difficult to see this if the diamond is in a setting particularly if it is in a setting which has a lip around the entire diamond (a bezel setting). The prong settings are popular as they display more of the diamond and this allows the light to reach the diamond and bounce around inside it and flash back at the eye of the beholder.

Diamond "Magic Sizes"

Diamond price increases almost exponentially with diamond carat weight. Larger diamonds are simply more rare and it follows that they are therefore more desirable. It is still possible that two diamonds of equal carat weight can be sold at completely different prices. This is because the value will be based not only on size but on three other factors: Clarity, Color, and Cut. Together with the weight in Carats these make up the four defining  characteristics of diamonds, referred to throughout the diamond trade as the 4 C's.

Magic Sizes.

Some weights are referred to as "magic sizes" : half carat, three-quarter carat, and carat. Visually, there's little difference between a 0.99 carat diamond and one that weighs a full carat. But the price differences between the two will always be much greater than the one percent difference in size. 

They are called "magic sizes" because the price "magically" jumps once it gets to 1 carat and other large fractions, mainly every quarter of a carat. Why is this? It comes down to the law of supply and demand. People love 1 carat diamonds, and it's also easier to refer to diamonds as 1 carat, or half a carat. This popularity makes these diamonds with weights of half, three quarter, or one carat sell faster and as a result more rare. 

It is a comfort to know that diamond vendors and wherever you buy diamonds the sales people are prohibited by law from referring to a 0.92 carat diamond as a 1 carat diamond. And if a dealer refers to a diamond as "About half a carat" they are still required by law to tell you exactly how many hundredths of a carat it weighs.  If they say 47 points, then this is correct, even though they should know better than to confuse customers with diamond jargon. When they say "47 points" a jeweler is referring to how many hundredths of a carat the diamond weighs. The correct way to describe a diamond is "zero point forty-seven carats"  as this makes sense to someone who is not familiar with the jewel and diamond trade lingo.

A jeweler may describe the weight of a diamond below one carat by its 'points' alone, though if you don't know what they are talking about make sure you have them clarify.