When you are planning on purchasing a diamond it is important that you know as much as possible about how diamonds are classified. There are four topics you need to become familiar with? Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat Weight.
How well does your diamond dance in the light? The answer lies in how it is cut. Cut is arguably the most crucial of the 4Cs when it comes to fire, sparkle and brilliance; it refers to the diamond’s proportions (how the diamond’s angles and facets relate to one another), symmetry (the precision of its cut) and polish (the condition of your diamond’s surface). Cut is also associated with the shape of your diamond.
All diamonds have five basic components. The table is the uppermost facet, or the flat surface on the top of the diamond. The crown is the section of facets between the table and the midsection of the diamond. The girdle is the horizontal midsection and widest part of the diamond. The pavilion is the section of facets between the girdle and the bottom tip of the diamond. The culet is the bottom tip of the stone. A traditional round brilliant diamond consists of 58 facets, 33 in the crown and 25 in the pavilion.
In a well-proportioned and symmetrical diamond, light will enter and exit through the crown to the eye. A poorly cut diamond, however, allows too much light to escape through the sides and bottom. As a result, a diamond with a poor cut will appear dull, even if it has good color and clarity.
Most diamonds are cut in three basic styles: Brilliant-cut diamonds include round, oval, pear, heart, and marquise-cut diamonds. Step-cut diamonds feature rows of facets positioned in a step-like fashion. Most step-cut diamonds have four sides and a rectangular shape, such as emerald-cut and baguette. Mixed-cut diamonds combine the qualities of the brilliant and step-cuts. The most popular is the princess-cut (or radiant-cut)
Choosing a shape is truly a matter of personal style, although there are some basic guidelines:
Round Brilliant-cut: For those who are traditional by nature. Round is by far the most popular shape. Its design has been developed over the last hundred years. The round brilliant-cut best features a diamond’s fire, sparkle and brilliance. For those who favor contemporary style, princess-cut diamonds are a good choice. Princess-cut diamonds are quickly gaining in popularity. Marquise diamonds are especially flattering for women with slender fingers. Heart-shaped diamonds are a truly romantic and unique choice. Emerald-cut diamonds are excellent for women whose taste runs more to the classic. Pear-shaped cut (or teardrop) offers a unique way to express yourself. Oval-shaped diamonds have an original beauty and are preferred for women who want to break with tradition.Clarity
Clarity is the measure of a diamond’s flawlessness. When light is able to pass through a diamond uninterrupted, the result is a beautiful sparkle. Nearly all diamonds have tiny imperfections known as “blemishes” (externally) or “inclusions” (internally). This is not surprising, considering the journey that diamonds have taken during their lifetime. Over a billion years ago, diamonds formed in the mantle of the earth. During this time, trace elements often became trapped inside, lending a unique personality to the diamond’s appearance.
Even diamonds with inclusions and blemishes can be among the most beautiful, especially those with good color and cut. Many inclusions are difficult to see with the naked eye, and some may be minimized by the setting you choose. Experts measure clarity with special equipment. A classic jewelers’ tool is the loupe, a small 10-power (10x) magnifying glass. This is the standard magnification when determining diamond clarity. Jewelers will also use gemological microscopes to show you the characteristics of your diamond.Color
The body color of a diamond can range from colorless to yellow. The scale for determining a diamond’s color was developed by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Color is largely a matter of preference. Their breathtaking purity and radiance make colorless diamonds a must for some people. Others have a preference for slightly yellow diamonds and a warmer look. A diamond’s color is determined by its chemistry. While a diamond is made up of pure carbon, other natural elements may have been incorporated into the carbon during the diamond’s development. This causes a chemical reaction that changes the color of the diamond. For example, small amounts of nitrogen cause yellow diamonds, while blue diamonds are caused by boron. Diamonds never change color over the years. However, a diamond’s setting can often influence its appearance. A yellow diamond will appear whiter in a yellow gold setting, while platinum and white gold settings may make the yellow color more apparent. In the same fashion, a colorless diamond set in yellow gold may reflect the setting’s yellow tint.
On the color scale, there is a category of “fancy” color diamonds that fall into the range of . These gems are very unusual and therefore highly prized. Colors include yellow, violet, orange, blue, pink and red (the most rare). Among the most famous fancy color diamonds is The Hope Diamond, displayed in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Although, at 45.52 carats, it is not the largest diamond, the Hope Diamond is admired for its dark blue hue.Carat Weight
Diamonds are measured in “carats.” The carat is the weight of the diamond and is evaluated on a point system. 100 points equals one carat; 50 points equals one-half carat, etc. To think of it another way, one carat equals 200 milligrams, and 142 carats equals one ounce. “Carat” is not the same as “karat,” the unit that measures the purity of gold. The term “carat” comes from the carob seed, a unit of measure for diamond weight that dates back to ancient times. As technology improved, jewelers started using mechanical balances and electric scales to ensure accurate carat weight measurements. Most diamonds today are weighed using electronic gem scales.
As you would imagine, larger diamonds are found in nature less often than smaller diamonds and are therefore more costly. A one carat diamond costs far more than two one-half carat diamonds (provided they are equal in terms of cut, color and clarity). You will want to take several factors into account when choosing the right carat weight for you. Diamonds on small hands appear larger. And the setting you choose can make a difference in the diamond’s appearance. Did you know¦the Cullinan Diamond is the largest ever discovered, weighing in at 3,106.75 carats (the equivalent of 1 1/3 pounds). It was mined in 1905 in South America and was then cut into several smaller diamonds. Some of the pieces from the Cullinan may be found in the British Crown Jewels.
While a diamond is the hardest mineral known to man, it still requires special care. Regular cleanings are a must to maintain a diamond’s brilliance. A solution of half-ammonia and half-cold water works just fine. Let your diamond soak for 30 minutes, then dry it with a lint-free cloth. There are those who say you can place your diamond in a glass of vodka to restore its sparkle. Everyday activity can be pretty rough on your jewelry, so be sure to have it checked every six months to ensure your diamonds are secure in their settings.Metal Care
Different metals can require very different levels of care. While both tungsten and platinum are very durable, for example, tungsten needs little attention, while platinum is susceptible to scratches. It is recommended you have your platinum buffed every six months. You can remove build-up with jewelry cleaner or mild soap and water. And regular polishing can keep your silver from looking tarnished. Silver jewelry from Jared is sterling silver, which is damaged less easily than regular silver. Gold is another metal that needs gentle care. Soap film easily builds on the surface of gold, so it’s best to remove your gold jewelry before showering or using household cleaners or chemicals. Chlorine has also been known weaken gold, causing it to break more easily. Placing your gold jewelry in a solution containing a few drops of ammonia, mild detergent and warm water will bring back its shine. Rubbing alcohol can also be used to remove grease and body oil from gold jewelry.Cultured Pearl Care
Cultured pearls are especially soft and vulnerable. They should be the last item you put on and the first item you take off. Makeup, hair spray, perfume and other chemicals are very harmful to cultured pearls. It’s a good idea to wipe them with a clean, damp cloth after each use to remove build-up, dirt and oil. Also, make sure your cultured pearls are completely dry before putting them away. Hot water, steam, extreme temperatures and ultrasonic cleaners should be avoided as well. Upon inspection, some jewelers may also recommend restringing your cultured pearls.Color Stone Care
Every color stone has its unique colors and qualities, and therefore, care is different for each one. Natural gemstones may have been color and/or clarity treated by: heating (generally); oil/wax/resin (emeralds); diffusion (sapphires, rubies, topaz); or fissure-filled with a glass-like byproduct (rubies, sapphires). Although most treated gemstones are stable, some may require special care in jewelry repair. Our trained professionals are knowledgeable in repairing jewelry that contains treated gemstones. Gemstone jewelry should only be gently cleaned by rising in warm water and drying with a soft cloth. Tanzanite is 6 1/2 on the Moh’s Scale, making it a very brittle stone.Â Delicate washing in warm water with mild soap is suitable, but it should never be exposed to vigorous activity, ultrasonic cleaners and excessive temperatures. Extreme temperatures can actually change the color of some stones. Also, unlike other color stones, opal is not internally solid but rather gelatinous. It ranks about a six on the hardness scale and is very susceptible to scratches and cracks. Impacts should be avoided as well as ultrasonic cleaners, excessive heat, hot water and steam. It is recommended to clean opals with baby or olive oil to prevent them from drying out. Steam cleaners should also be avoided for garnet, amethyst, peridot, tourmaline and citrine. If you are uncertain about the right care for your stone, please contact our representatives at anytime.
Metals in Jewelry Making
Metals play a critical role in the creation of contemporary jewelry by affecting appearance, durability and cost. With such a dramatic impact, it’s important that anyone interested in wearing or purchasing jewelry develop a basic understanding of the metallurgy as it relates to jewelry. In an effort to give you a sound foundation, let’s review the basics of metals in jewelry making that include a brief history of metals in jewelry making, a review of the types of metals used in today’s jewelry and conclude with a glossary to familiarize you with terms that you may encounter during your search for the perfect ring, bracelet, necklace or other item.History of Metals in Jewelry Making
Metals are as old as human civilization and their history in jewelry making can be traced back thousands of years. As early as 6000 BC, metals were used by ancient peoples like the Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans for a variety of uses, only one of which was jewelry making. The source of the term “metal” is unknown, but it’s widely regarded that it could have come from either a combination of the Greek words metallin (“to search after) and metallon (“mine” or “metal”), or the Latin word metallum (“mine” or “metal”). Over time, jewelry making continued to evolve as new metals were discovered starting with Gold (6000 BC) and continuing with Copper (4200 BC) and Silver (4000 BC). Generally speaking, there are several ways in which metal can be classified and it’s helpful to understand the differences. These include Ferrous vs. Non-Ferrous, Base vs. Noble and Precious vs. Non-Precious metals. Let briefly look at each:
Ferrous vs. Non-Ferrous Metals A Ferrous metal is one that contains Iron, while a non-ferrous metal does not. Since these forms of metals tend to rust, most jewelry is created with non-ferrous metals. Normally, most jewelry is made from non-ferrous metals with the exception of steel jewelry. Base vs. Noble Metals The terms Base and Noble as applied to metals refer to the chemistry of metal. Base metals are relatively abundant and tend to oxidize or corrode relatively easily; some examples include iron, nickel, copper and titanium. Noble metals, on the otherhand, are rare, possess a high surface luster and are resistant to corrosion. Examples of Nobel metals include gold, silver and platinum. Understandably, most jewelry is made with Noble metals. Precious vs. Non-Precious Metal The difference between Precious and Non-Precious metals is primarily one of rarity and value. Precious metals include Gold, Silver and the Platinum family while Non-Precious metals include all others. In addition to having a higher value, Precious metals are particularly desirable for jewelry because they are less reactive than most elements, possess a higher luster and are easier to work with.Common Metals in Jewelry Making
Today jewelry is created using a wide range of material, however the number of metals that can be used is limited; there are only 86 known metals and of those, relatively few are commonly used in contemporary jewelry. However, the majority of jewelry crafted today tends to use only a handful of metals. Here, we’ll look at the metals that are the most popular. Gold Jewelry Perhaps no other substance on earth has captured the hearts and minds of man more than gold. Popular for its rarity and luster, gold quickly became a method of payment and a key component used in the manufacture of jewelry when it became fashionable during the times of Alexander the Great. After a temporary decrease in status, gold regained its popularity as a jewelry staple often seen used inÂ gold ringsÂ during the 15th century and continues to be popular today. Gold is the most easily worked of all metals and ranges in softness based on its purity. Generally pure gold is too soft for use in jewelry, so it’s commonly mixed with alloy metals such as copper and zinc. Below is a breakdown of the percentage of pure gold in each of the popular karat weights:
24 Karat: 99.9% Pure 22 Karat: 91.7% Pure 18 Karat: 75% Pure 14 Karat: 58.3% Pure 12 Karat: 50% Pure 10 Karat: 41.7% Pure
When selecting jewelry like gold necklaces or bracelets, it’s important to balance gold purity with the durability. Jewelry items like rings and bracelets often take more abuse and are much likely to become deformed if softer gold is used; as a result, 18 Kt or 14 Kt Gold may be a better selection for those types of items. In addition, there are a number of other forms of gold that must be considered when shopping for jewelry. They include:
Gold Vermeil Jewelry uses sterling silver which has been gold plated. The highest quality Gold Vermeil is 24K, but it can be made with varying qualities. For those considering a piece of Gold Vermeil jewelry it’s wise to look for a Karatage label. Gold-Filled Jewelry employs a process in which gold is bonded to a base metal alloy such as nickel or brass. Commonly, the amount of gold used must make up at least 5% of the total weight and all exterior portions are solid gold. Most gold-filled jewelry pieces tend to be 18Kt, but every piece of Gold-Filled jewelry should be labeled with its Karatage. Gold Plated Jewelry employs a base metal which is then electroplated with gold. Usually a steel or brass item dipped into a bath of electroplating solution that deposits a thin layer of gold on the jewelry. The gold layer is less than gold filled, quite thin and will wear off faster than gold-filled. White Gold Jewelry combines pure gold with other white metals, such as zinc, nickel, platinum and silver. Durable and resistant to tarnish, White Gold jewelry is brittle and requires platinum or rhodium plating. Generally produced to be a more cost effective than platinum, White Gold can cause allergic reactions once the plating wears off. Rose Gold is an alloy that combines gold with copper to create a golden metal with a reddish hue. While it normally uses a gold to copper ratio of 3:1, rose gold can be found with varying percentages of each. Based on the addition of copper, the intensity of rose gold will be lighter or darker and will patina over time.Silver Jewelry
Silver has been used by man in jewelry nearly as long as gold. Mentioned in the Christian Bible’s book of Genesis, Silver is also one of the only jewelry metals that’s permitted to be worn by men of the Islamic faith, since the Prophet Muhammad wore aÂ silver ring. Mention of Silver also appears in Greek mythology, where both Apollo and his twin sister Artemis carried silver bowls they had been given at birth. Clearly, the creation and use of Silver jewelry has an ancient tradition. Like Gold, pure Silver is very soft and easily damaged, so it’s commonly mixed with other metals to improve durability for use in jewelry. Silver is normally mixed with Copper and there are several levels of purity that indicate the quantity of pure Silver contained in the metal. For example, Sterling Silver must contain at least 92.5% pure Silver, however it’s also found in varying purity levels including 958 and 999 Sterling Silver. Those interested in Silver jewelry should be able to determine the quality of the Silver used by looking for a stamp that indicates the metal’s purity level.
With a variety of purity levels and uses, there are a number of different types of silver jewelry. Here are just several: Fine Silver has a .999 level of purity, so it’s also known as pure Silver. While particularly lustrous, Fine Silver is normally not appropriate for jewelry that’s worn regularly, because it’s not durable and bends easily. Sterling Silver jewelry is an alloy that contains a mixture of 92.5% pure Silver and 7.5% of another metal, usually Copper. In order to be called Sterling Silver, the metal must possess at least 92.5% pure Silver, but the other components can vary. When mixed with copper, Sterling Silver will tarnish and may firescale. Regardless, Sterling is considered a standard among Silver grades and provides strength to ensure that pieces likeÂ silver bracelets, rings and necklaces can withstand regular use. Silver Plate is a thin layer of Fine Silver placed over a base metal. Also known as Silver Tone, Silver Plate is often considered the most cost effective alternative to the more expensive forms of solid silver jewelry. That said, this form of silver is very thin, wears off easily and degrades in appearance quickly. Nickel Silver is actually not silver at all! Despite its name, Nickel Silver is an alloy that combines Copper, Nickel and Zinc and contains no Pure Silver. As one of the precious metals, Silver is among the most popular metals for the creation of jewelry. While there are many possible reasons for this preference, most people cite the following reasons: 1. Silver is Lustrous and Outshines Gold 2. Silver is More Adaptable to Casual and Formal Wear 3. Silver Flatters All Skin Tones 4. Silver is AffordablePlatinum Jewelry
Platinum is a silvery, white metal that’s extremely rare and considered more precious than gold. Priced significantly above Gold, Platinum is among the heavier metals used in jewelry. Despite this increase in cost, platinum jewelry has become increasingly popular especially inÂ platinum engagement ringsÂ and wedding rings. Like most other metals used in jewelry, Platinum has an interesting history. Naturally occurring platinum and platinum-rich alloys were first used by ancient Egyptians, however it was not identified as an element until the 18th century. Spanish silver miners first named the metal “platina” or “little silver” when they first encountered it in Colombia, South America. Eventually, the Spaniards dismissed platinum as an ‘undesirable impurity’ in their mined silver, and often discarded it as a worthless by-product. Needless to say, that has changed today. As with other metals, Platinum is commonly mixed with other metals. However, for a piece of jewelry to be labeled as “platinum” it must have a minimum level of purity of at least 95% pure platinum. A purity level of less than 95% would require the metal be identified as a Platinum alloy. Normally, Platinum jewelry pieces can be identified by a stamp with “PLAT”; a different stamp for the Platinum alloy would be “IRIDPLAT”Stainless Steel Jewelry
Stainless steel jewelry has become increasingly popular in recent years due to changing tastes and style trends that lean toward a more industrial look. Commonly used in a variety of industrial applications, Stainless Steel has found its way to fashion where it’s used in everything from necklaces to earrings. Invented by Harry Brearley of the Brown & Firth Research Laboratories in 1913, Stainless Steel was developed to be impervious to staining or corrosion and was adopted by heavy industry. Today, Stainless Steel jewelry is a favorite of both men and women that want an industrial, street look with a touch of flash. Departing from tradition, Stainless Steel jewelry can be found in the use of machined pendants, dog tags and more experimental pieces of jewelry.Less Common Metals in Jewelry Making
Although the majority of jewelry is created using more popular and main-stream materials, there is still a diversity of metals that continue to be used to create some truly unique pieces of jewelry. Here we’ll take a brief look at several: Palladium is a rare Silver-white metal of the Platinum family. Rhodium is a rare Silver-white metal of the Platinum family. It is particularly hard and is the most expensive precious metal. Titanium is a natural element which has a Silver-white color. Titanium is the hardest natural metal in the world. It’s three times the strength of steel and much stronger than gold, silver and platinum but yet is very light weight. Pure titanium is also 100% hypoallergenic which means that it if safe for anyone to wear. Tungsten is a steel-gray metal whose strength and high melting point makes it a favorite of the arms industry. Metallic tungsten is harder than gold alloys and is hypoallergenic, making it useful for rings that will resist scratching, especially in designs with a brushed finish. Copper is a reddish gold metal that patinas to a warm brown but can also take on a green patina with oxidation. The oldest known metal, it was associated with the Greek goddess Aphrodite and her Roman counterpart, Venus. In addition, Copper jewelry is often considered to have healing properties. Brass is a copper and zinc alloy that’s gold color. It will tarnish and turn brown overtime Nickel is a white metal that looks like silver but can cause allergic reactions in some.