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Monday, March 25, 2013

Settings! They are more important than you think!!!!

We all know the stone is the centerpiece of the ring or piece of jewelry.  The whole purpose of the setting is the showcase the stone – whether it is a diamond or other gemstone – in the most beautiful way possible.  Although the setting is the frame to the masterpiece – if we are going to make analogies here – which we are, since I just did, the quality and beauty of the setting can make or BREAK the piece.

So, “how do I ensure I have a beautiful setting?” you ask.  Here is your answer: make sure it’s handmade, NOT factory made.  This is not to say that all jewelry that is machine or factory made is bad – I have seen beautiful pieces made from wax molds, just beware of the mass produced settings. This can be more challenging than you might think.  Stores often say they make “custom” settings when really they just solder together different pieces of pre-made settings.

There are three different types of factory made settings: CAD/CAM (Computer Assisted Design/Computer Assisted Manufacturing), die struck (metal molds), and wax molds. Setting made this way can turn out bulky looking.  In the process of making the settings bubbles can form in the metal. To cover up this eyesore these settings are often heavily engraved. Also, since these settings are made in bulk, the diamond or stone for the ring is chosen AFTER the setting is complete.  The jeweler then just solders a top onto the setting that will fit whatever size stone is chosen.  The result can look fragmented and the flow of the piece is sacrificed. Also, depending on the top the jeweler chooses the integrity of the ring can be compromised and the possibility of your diamond falling out increases...yikes!

Handmade settings – real handmade settings – have a cohesive look.  Bubbles do not develop in the metal when it is hand stretched and formed so the settings are denser, yet much more refined and elegant.  The level of detail that can be involved is on a whole different level.

A wise jeweler knows that, “you can tell how well made a piece of jewelry is by looking at the back of it.”  If the detail and beauty of the back of the piece is as nice as the front, someone put work, time and love into it. You should be able to see the back of your stones from the back of the piece – these little holes let the light shine through your stones.

Choose the setting you love, just make sure you give yourself time to look around and explore.  Once you have seen a handmade setting you will be able to see a major difference between factory and handmade.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

White Gold vs. Platinum: The Battle of the White Metals

When buying jewelry there comes a point when you ask yourself what is “worth it” and what is “not worth it”? The answer often boils down to personal preference, but there is one aspect that is just plain smart to spend a little more for: get a platinum setting, not a white gold one. 

For rings- especially rings that you will wear everyday- white gold is the pits. THE PITS. Here is why: gold is naturally GOLD (duh).  To make white gold, natural yellow gold is rhodium plated (this process makes it white). As you wear your ring and it rubs against your other fingers, the white rhodium plating wears off and your ring starts to turn yellow.  You will have to get it re-rhodium plated every year or so FOREVER, or until you get wise and get a new platinum setting.

Platinum is a white metal.  It will always be white, it will never change color.  It is also the strongest and purest metal. This is important for those with allergies to certain metals.  Since gold is always alloyed with other metals (unless it is 24 karat gold- which jewelry isn’t usually made of because it is way too soft) if you have an allergy to those metals, platinum is the way to go. 

Yellow gold is a different story. Since that is its natural color, it will always remain yellow- so if you are a yellow gold kind of person- go for it! The only thing I recommend is that you if you are getting a white diamond in your yellow gold setting- have just the diamond set in platinum to keep it looking as white/colorless as possible. See a yellow gold and diamond ring here.

The price difference between platinum and white gold for something like an engagement setting is miniscule in the scheme of things- so it is WELL worth it to go with platinum and save yourself the money and trouble of re-rhodium plating.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

True or False: Diamonds are all the same...

For anyone buying a diamond I am about to lay some basic, MUST HAVE, knowledge on you:

SO TRUE: Diamonds are all same- there is nothing better about the Joe Schmoe Jewelry store diamond than the John Doe Jewelry store diamond. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are getting a special diamond at their store that you can’t get anywhere else….unless it is an extremely rare diamond, like a red diamond or a 20 carat diamond, for example.
ring-bandAll those gimmicky, specialty diamond cuts are either exactly the same as any other diamond (cut-wise) or that gimmicky cut that you are paying extra for will only get you LESS money when you go to trade it in or sell it, because they are less desirable and therefore harder for a jeweler to sell second hand.
SO FALSE: While diamonds of the same, carat, color, clarity and cut are technically all the same and should be treated as such in the cash money department, every diamond is also unique. For that reason, YOU SHOULD NEVER BUY A DIAMOND WITHOUT SEEING IT IN PERSON FIRST. If you were to go on a hunt for a 1.5 carat round diamond with a color grade of G, a clarity grade of VS2, and a cut grade of Triple Excellent, you would likely find a plethora of stones to choose from online. Any jeweler has access to a huge database with hundreds of stones likes these available at their fingertips. All those stones are technically the same, but the funny thing about diamonds is, they all have their own “personality”. You might look at 3 of those identical stones and find that one is more sparkly than the other, one might seem a little darker, and the list of differences can go on and on. So if you are going to drop some serious cash on a stone that will adorn the finger of your one-and-only for eternity- you should see it first!! Remember, as DeBeers always says, “A diamond is forever,”….so don’t eff it up (excuse my edited French).
In the end, get whatever diamond you love, not for investment purposes, for enjoyment. Odds are you will never make money on your diamond, again, unless it is extremely rare.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Let's start with the basics...The 4 Cs

The reason this jewelry blog is for girls and guys is because guys are usually the ones buying the diamonds.  Therefore they are the ones who really need an education on what they are about to spend their paycheck on.

The 4 Cs you always hear about are the 4 categories by which a diamond's value is measured: color, clarity, cut and carat.

A white diamond's color is measured on a scale that goes from D-Z, just like a alphabet but without A, B and C.  White diamonds are more valuable the less color they have.  Diamonds with a color grade of D, E or F fall into the colorless category.  This means there is no yellow color at all in the diamond, it is as colorless as possible.  Diamonds with a color grade between G-J are in the near colorless category.  This means there can be slight yellow in the diamond.  Diamonds with a color grade of J and above are usually considered good quality.

NOTE: Yellow diamonds have a completely different color scale.  Colored diamonds will be in another post later on so stay tuned.

A diamond's clarity is measured on a scale that goes from Flawless to Included 2.   As you can see in the scale on the left the grades start at Flawless and Internally Flawless, this means the diamond has absolutely no imperfections within it.  An imperfection can be a tiny black speck or smudge or a myriad of other tiny blemishes, they form naturally within most diamonds which is why a Flawless or Internally Flawless diamond is rare and expensive.  Following the Flawless grades are VVS1 and 2 which stand for Very Very Slightly Included.  These diamonds have inclusions but they are so slight and tiny that even a gemologist with his loop (magnifying tool) can barely see them.  The next grades down from VVS1 and 2 are VS1 and 2, which stands for Very Slightly Included.  VS stones also have inclusions, they are more apparent to a gemologist looking through his loop, but are still invisible to the naked eye.  SI1 and 2 grades are next, SI stands for Slightly Included.  These SI diamond have obvious inclusions when looked at through a loop, however, these inclusions are also invisible to the naked eye.  Lastly, the scale ends in the I category with I1 and I2.  These diamonds are heavily included and you can see the inclusions with the naked eye.  For the most part, these are not pretty diamonds, they can look almost like broken glass.  As long as you stay in the SI1 clarity range and above your diamond will be considered a good quality stone, and more importantly, will look beautiful.

The only cut of diamond that has a cut grade is a round brilliant diamond.  The cut grade is made up of ten factors. It also correlates with both the symmetry and polish grades.  If all are perfect the diamond will get three Excellent grades.  The grades continue down from there to Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor.  Remember, each aspect of the cut is graded, so while the cut might get a grade of Excellent, the polish might get a grade of Very Good.  As long as your diamond has a cut grade of at lease Good, you have a good quality stone.

For fancy shaped stones such as marquise, pear shapes, ovals, hearts, etc. the proportions of the cut are up to the diamond cutter.  Since this is the case it is best to decide how you like your fancy shape and tell your jeweler what you are looking for.  For example, ovals can be fatter (more round) or longer and thinner, it is up to you to decide what look you like best.

The last of the 4 Cs, and the most well known, is carat.  Carat  is simply the weight of the diamond.  The bigger the diamond, the higher the carat and the more the money, honey.  Diamonds come in literally every size, from .02 carats to 30 carats and beyond, and everything in between.  To decide what size diamond is right for you, like anything else, you have to try them on!  Also, obviously, budget/price will come into play, but looking never hurt anyone.

Photos in this post courtesy of