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Diamonds For Dummies – The Many Facets Of A Girl’s Best Friend

April 17th 2013

 

Those that were born in April are lucky enough to claim diamonds as their birth stone. The concept of birth stones – which sees a different gemstone associated with months in the Georgian calendar – is thought to have emerged when 1st Century Jewish historian Titus Flavius Josephus claimed a connection between the 12 stones in the Priestly Breastplate from the Book of Exodus and the months of the year.

According a poem penned by an unknown author and first published in a pamphlet by Tiffancy & Co in 1870:

She who from April dates her years,
Diamonds shall wear, lest bitter tears
For vain repentance flow; this stone,
Emblem of innocence, is known

But while diamonds may well be an April girl’s best friend, picking the right stone for the right woman is not exactly crystal clear. In this handy Diamonds For Dummies Guide, bought to you in conjunction with bespoke fine jewellery maker Haywards of Hong Kong, we talk you through the many facets of the dos and don’ts of diamonds.

Haywards’ Top Tips

Founded by father and son team Paul and David Nazer in 2006, Haywards of Hong Kong has become one of the leading bespoke jewellers in the city, bringing customers friendly and practical advice from a background of more than 40 years of experience.

Speaking from the Haywards office on Hollywood Road, Central, David said, “Shopping for diamonds can be a mine field, but the key thing to remember is that you need to actually look at the stone and not just a chart to appreciate its unique characteristics. With any diamond, the beauty is entirely determined by the relationship between three elements; the stone, the light and the eye of the beholder.”

Learn The Shapes

The most popular shape for diamonds is the round brilliant cut. About 80% of diamonds sold today are round, with every other variation being collectively known as ‘fancy shapes’. The more popular of these fancy shapes include emerald, princess, pear, heart, oval, marquise, cushion and radiant cuts.

Know Your Audience

There are no generic right or wrongs with diamonds, but it is absolutely crucial that you know the tastes of the person you are buying for. If you are buying a diamond as a surprise gift, bear in mind that fancy cuts are very much to taste. A large heart-shape diamond is certainly not every one’s cup of tea, so don’t allow your own preferences to dictate your choice of jewellery. A few discreet polls of close friends and family are a good idea.

The Four Cs

Diamonds have four main grading criteria that determine the quality of the diamonds and therefore the price. These are known as the four Cs: Carat, Cut, Clarity and Colour. Most diamond engagement rings come with a certificate from an independent gemmologist that documents the diamond’s unique properties and grades. In Hong Kong, the majority of the diamonds are graded by either the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or the IGI (International Gemological Institute).

A basic grasp of the four Cs will give you a very good indication of a diamond’s quality and help you navigate around the prices. Some ladies prefer size over quality, while other prefer the prestige of high-grade colour and clarity. Again, this is where knowing your audience is paramount!

Carat: is a measurement of weight that gives an indication of the size of the diamond. There are 100 points to one carat, so a half-carat diamond can also be described as 50 points. The higher the carat weight, the more money you will be spending.

As diamonds are products of nature, the bigger the diamond, the rarer it is – and therefore the prices increase exponentially with size. A two-carat diamond, for example, can cost as much as three times more than a one-carat diamond of the same quality.

Cut: is the quality of the proportions and finish of the diamond that give it maximum lustre. Just as people of the same weight have different body shapes, diamonds come in many forms. A diamond that is too shallow in depth, for example, may look bigger from above because the surface area will be wider, although the stone will also appear flat and lack sparkle.

Some diamonds may be top-heavy or lack symmetry between the facets. Gemmologists refer the lustre of a diamond as the personality of the stone. Sometimes a diamond may just ‘speak’ to you in way that you can’t quite put your finger on, so don’t assume that a more expensive diamond is always better.

Colour: The less colour, the greater the price tag. This grading is represented in letters, starting from D and going all the way down to Z. The grades from D to H are usually referred to as white, however there is a considerable premium on the very high grades (D,E and F) because they are much rarer.

As a rule of thumb, the price for the diamond increases by around 5-10% each time you go up a grade in colour. If you are looking to maximise a budget, G is a very good option as there will be no hint of any taints or off-white properties. The colour grade is something that can be appreciated with the naked eye, so unless you know your girl has taste for coloured diamonds, it’s best to stick to white.

Clarity: Diamonds are the product of pure carbon gas exposed to intense pressure and extreme heat for millions of years, so it’s not surprising that they can develop imperfections, known as inclusions, along the way. It is important to note that the grades given to diamonds are based on the critical inspections of trained gemmologists in laboratory conditions and under a 10x magnifying glasses. It is also worth noting that most inclusions are very difficult to see with the naked eye.

Flawless diamonds are rare and therefore significantly more expensive. And although there is of course prestige attached to clarity, this is a characteristic that can only be appreciate with a trained eye and a jeweller’s magnified loupe at the higher end of the scale. However, if you go too far down the clarity chart you can end up with cracks or dark spots that will detract from the beauty of the stone. We advise you to compare diamonds in a range between VS1 and SI1.


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