Why Are Diamonds So Valued By Everyone?
The mere mention of a diamond inspires thoughts of luxury, love and beauty. But why? The answer is in a combination of the diamond’s natural characteristics, the expense of mining diamonds and mankind’s customs and legends involving diamonds.
Although diamonds are simple in composition-they’re made of carbon, just like pencil lead or charcoal-they are the hardest mineral on earth. They formed billions of years ago under great heat and pressure many miles below the earth’s surface. Volcanic eruptions have pushed diamonds closer to the earth’s surface. Mining diamonds can be incredibly expensive. The ratio of earth that must be processed to find a gemstone-quality diamond is 250,000,000 to one. Of all the diamonds mined, only twenty percent are gem quality. The rest are used for industrial purposes.
After being mined, diamonds must be cut and polished before they can be used in jewelry. To unlock a diamond’s hidden beauty a skilled cutter must correctly decide the final shape that will best fit the stone and then cut with incredible precision. Often 50 percent of the stone is lost during the cutting process. Even as far back as the ancient civilizations diamonds were believed to be symbols of good fortune and true love. The Greeks saw the light in the center of a diamond as the eternal flame of love. In the 15th century, European royalty started the custom of presenting their betrothed with a diamond ring to celebrate marriage, a ritual that has been carried on through western culture to the present.
How Do I Choose A Diamond?
When you shop for a diamond ring, keep in mind that you are buying for the future as well as for the present. A diamond is ageless. The value of a well-chosen stone endures because it is based not only on its beauty but also on its rarity. If fashion or your taste changes, your diamond can be reset in a new setting or even traded up to a different stone. To properly judge a diamond, take into consideration "The Four C’s," that is, the diamond’s carat weight, color, clarity and cut. Determine which "C’s" are most important to you and shop with them in mind.
What Does Carat Weight Mean?
A carat is equal to .20 grams. About 142 carats equal one ounce. Carats can be divided into points; 100 points equal 1 carat. The carat weight directly influences price. The heavier the diamond, the rarer it is and the more it will cost. Of all diamonds mined, one in a million will produce a one carat gemstone. A larger carat weight does not necessarily mean a larger stone. A diamond’s size is more dependent on its cut. Certain cuts can give an appearance of greater size.
What Do I Look For In Terms Of Color?
Grading a diamond for color means deciding how closely the stone is to colorless. It’s the only gemstone whose lack of color makes it more valuable. However, almost all diamonds show some yellow or brown.
How Do I Judge A Diamond’s Color?
Instruments do exist to measure diamond color but it is still a very subjective business. When judging color, remember that diamonds are graded for color by viewing them against a non-reflective white background through their side rather than the top. The store lighting should be bright and white. If you are judging the color of a diamond set in jewelry, remember that the stone’s color is influenced by the color of the metal setting.
What About A Diamond’s Clarity?
Most diamonds contain very tiny natural birthmarks known as inclusions. Inclusions can be fissures, bubbles, black carbon specks and other impurities that are revealed by a detailed examination. A diamond is usually considered to be flawless if no inclusions are visible to the trained eye when the diamond is magnified ten times.
In many cases inclusions do not affect the beauty of the stone as seen by the naked eye, but they DO affect the price.
Why Is The Diamond’s Cut Important?
The cut of the diamond generally refers to its shape and proportions. A well cut diamond with the correct proportions and angles appears bright and sparkling. Light seems to dance and bounce out from within the stone. Poorly cut diamonds can look dull and glassy and too small for their weight. The round brilliant cut is also the most widely used cut. Its proportions, angles and number of facets have been calculated and standardized to produce the maximum amount of reflection.
Other cuts, such as oval, marquise, pear, and heart are used when the uncut stone is not suited to the round brilliant. Step cut diamonds such as emerald and baguette cuts are rectangular and use rows of four-sided facets that resemble steps of staircases. Each cut has its own charm, especially for those who are looking for something a little different.
What’s The Best Cut For Me?
It’s really a matter of personal preference, but the round brilliant cut has the most to offer. It delivers the most brilliance and is best at hiding flaws and yellow color. Other points to remember when choosing a cut are:
Diamonds larger than 3 carats cut in round brilliant are often viewed as pretentious - many people feel the fancy shapes look more elegant with large diamonds. Elongated shapes like marquise and pear can make a small diamond look bigger than round diamonds of equal weight.
Take hand size into consideration. Long shapes set lengthwise make a short hand look longer; when set horizontally they make a long hand look shorter. Try various shapes to see which is most flattering to your hand. Emerald and baguette cuts generally have less sparkle and are poor at hiding flaws but many like their elegant shape. If you really prefer them, consider square stones in quadrillion and radiant cuts. These cuts use brilliant-style facets instead of square facets to increase a square stone’s brilliance.
How Do I Clean And Care For My Diamonds?
Diamonds attract grease and quickly become grimy when they come into contact with dishwater, moisturizing lotion, and even natural skin oils. It’s not unreasonable to clean a diamond ring worn daily on a weekly basis.
Soak the jewelry in warm sudsy water or a commercial jewelry cleaner for a few minutes, rinse and dry with a soft, lint free cloth. Unlike with some other gemstones, ethyl alcohol, ammonia and jewelry cleaning solutions are fine for diamond jewelry. Ammonia is particularly good for brightening the gold as well. Chlorine substances should never be used on jewelry. Chlorine pits and dissolves gold. You shouldn't even swim in chlorinated water with gold on.
If dirt does not come off using the methods above, don't take drastic measures that may damage your jewelry. Go to a jewelry store and leave the cleaning to the experts.
Jewelry inspections should also be scheduled several times a year to verify that the stone and mounting are in good shape. The prongs that hold your diamond in place are of particular importance. Should the prongs wear down or get damaged, your diamond will become loose and may be lost.
Any store in the Finlay Fine Jewelers family of stores will gladly clean diamond jewelry purchased at Finlays as often as you like at absolutely no charge.
What’s The Best Way To Store My Diamond Jewelry?
There are two concerns with storing diamond jewelry; damage and theft. To protect against the possibility of jewelry getting scratched by the other jewelry you may be keeping in your jewel box, store each piece individually in its own padded slot, pouch, box or drawstring jewelry bag. To protect against theft, find a secure place in your home for jewelry storage. The box on your bureau or vanity counter is the first target of thieves. Valuable jewelry that is seldom worn should be kept in a safety deposit box.
Can Men Wear Diamond Jewelry?
Of course! There are many wonderful ways to include diamonds in a man’s wardrobe of jewelry and accessories: cufflinks and tie-pins are often accented with brilliant diamonds; Men’s rings with diamonds set on black onyx or gold bands are particularly striking; and we've all seen a big rise in popularity of men wearing diamond stud earrings.
How Much Should I Spend On An Engagement Ring?
Everyone has heard of the "two-month salary" guideline that says you should spend as much on the engagement ring as two month’s worth of paychecks. Other people say you should determine an amount within your budget and shop to that amount. We feel buying an engagement ring is an important and emotional event and should be approached without a set amount in mind. Shop with the idea of pleasing your fiancé and finding a ring that’s special to you both. While you don't want to put yourself in financial hardship, any jewelry store in the Finlays family of stores will work hard to make it possible for you to get the ring both of you want at a credit plan and payment terms you can afford.