Diamond Education Center
IF YOU CAN IMAGINE IT…WE CAN CREATE IT
Before purchasing a diamond, you should expect to review a copy of its certificate as proof that it has undergone an unbiased, professional examination.
A diamond certificate is a report created by a team of gemologists. The diamond is evaluated, measured, and scrutinized using trained eyes, a jeweler’s loupe, a microscope, and other industry tools. A completed certificate includes an analysis of the diamond’s dimensions, clarity, color, polish, symmetry, and other characteristics. Many round diamonds will also include a cut grade on the report.
Cut is a diamond’s most important characteristic.
It has the greatest overall influence on a diamond’s beauty.
It determines what we generally think of as sparkle.
A diamond’s cut grade is an objective measure of a diamond’s light performance, or, what we generally think of as sparkle. When a diamond is cut with the proper proportions, light is returned out of the top of the diamond. If it is cut too shallow, light leaks out of the bottom; too deep and it escapes out of the side.
Color refers to a diamond’s lack of color, grading the whiteness of a diamond.
The color grade of D is the highest possible, while Z is the lowest.
D thru F are colorless
G thru J are near colorless
K begins to show slight color and becomes more noticeable thru to Z
Color manifests itself in a diamond as a pale yellow. This is why a diamond’s color grade is based on its lack of color. The less color a diamond has, the higher its color grade. After cut, color is generally considered the second most important characteristic when selecting a diamond. This is because the human eye tends to detect a diamond’s sparkle first, and color second.
Clarity is a measure of the number and size of the tiny imperfections that occur in almost all diamonds.
Many of these imperfections are microscopic, and do not affect a diamond’s beauty in any discernible way.
Much is made of a diamond’s clarity, but of the Four Cs (Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat), it is the easiest to understand, and, according to many experts, generally has the least impact on a diamond’s appearance. Clarity simply refers to the tiny, natural imperfections that occur in all but the finest diamonds. Gemologists refer to these imperfections by a variety of technical names, including blemishes and inclusions, among others. Diamonds with the least and smallest imperfections receive the highest clarity grades. Because these imperfections tend to be microscopic, they do not generally affect a diamond’s beauty in any discernible way.
Carat is specifically a measure of a diamond’s weight, and by itself may not accurately reflect a diamond’s size.
We tend to evaluate diamond size by viewing it from the top because that is how diamonds are presented to us when set into a ring.
To understand diamond size, carat weight should be considered in conjunction with two other criteria:
Distance in millimeters across the top of the diamond.
Diamond’s cut grade.
It is important to measure the distance across the top of the diamond as this is how we view a stone when set into a ring.
A diamond’s cut grade should also be considered because, as we noted in the cut grade section, when a diamond is cut with the proper proportions, the maximum amount of light (or sparkle) is returned out of the top of the diamond. Thus, when a diamond is well cut, the light reflected out of the top makes it appear larger. In addition, much of the weight of a poorly cut diamond, for example, may be “hidden” in the base of the diamond, making the diamond appear smaller than its carat weight would imply.
It is therefore possible to have a diamond of a lower carat weight, but higher cut grade, that appears larger than a diamond with a larger carat weight, but poor cut.
Engagement rings, like any other kind of jewelry, come in many different styles.
An engagement ring is a ring indicating that the person wearing it is engaged to be married, especially in Western cultures. In the United Kingdom, Ireland and North America, engagement rings are traditionally worn only by women, and rings can feature diamonds or other gemstones. In other cultures men and women wear matching rings. In some cultures, engagement rings are also used as wedding bands.
Conventionally, the woman’s ring is presented as a betrothal gift by a man to his prospective spouse while he proposes marriage or directly after she accepts his marriage proposal. It represents a formal agreement to future marriage. Rings can be bought by the man, the woman, the couple together, or by each partner for the other.
Before agreeing to marry, a couple may choose to buy and wear per-engagement rings, also called promise rings. After marrying, the couple may wear both engagement rings and wedding bands, or just their wedding bands, as they prefer. Some brides have their engagement rings and wedding bands permanently soldered together after marriage.
In the United States, where engagement rings have been traditionally worn only by women, diamonds have been widely featured in engagement rings since the middle of the 20th century. Solitaire rings have one single diamond. Archetype of this modern form is the solitaire Tiffany Setting which was introduced by Tiffany & Co. in 1886 and featured the first mount which holds the gemstone with six claws (so called Tiffany mount). The traditional engagement rings may have different prong settings and bands. Another major category is engagement rings with side stones. Rings with a larger diamond set in the middle and smaller diamonds on the side fit under this category. Three-stone diamond engagement rings, sometimes called trinity rings or trilogy rings, are rings with three matching diamonds set horizontally in a row with the bigger stone in the center. The three diamonds on the ring are typically said to represent the couple’s past, present, and future, but other people give religious significance to the arrangement.
A wedding set, or bridal set, includes an engagement ring and a wedding band that match as a set. In some cases, the engagement ring looks “incomplete”; it is only when the two halves are assembled that the ring looks whole. In other cases, a wedding set consists of two rings that match stylistically and are worn stacked, although either piece would look appropriate as a separate ring. Although the wedding band is not to be worn until the wedding day, the two rings are usually sold together as a wedding set. After the wedding, the bride may choose to have the two pieces welded together, to increase convenience and reduce the likelihood of losing one ring. A trio ring set includes a ladies engagement ring, ladies wedding band and a men’s wedding band. These sets often have matching rings and are lower in price.
In Nordic countries, engagement rings are worn by both men and women. Traditionally they are plain gold bands, although more ornate designs and other materials are gaining popularity. The engagement rings resemble the wedding bands sold in the United States, whereas women’s wedding rings often resemble US engagement rings.
In North America and the United Kingdom, it is customarily worn on the left hand ring finger. Similar traditions purportedly date to classical times, dating back from an early usage reportedly referring to the fourth finger of the left hand as containing. This custom may have its origins in an ancient Egyptian myth that the finger contained a vein leading directly to the heart, or it may simply be because the heart lies slightly to the left side of the body. In Ukraine, it is customary for the ring to be worn on the right hand. In Germany the ring is worn on the left hand while engaged, but moved to the right hand when married. In Poland, the engagement ring and wedding band are traditionally worn on the right hand but modern practice varies considerably.
Platinum is a rare precious metal that’s used to create fine jewelry. Its heavy weight and durability make platinum a metal that will not wear away with constant use. Platinum holds fine gemstones firmly in place for the life of the jewelry when used as prongs and other setting components.
Jewelry can contain different percentages of pure platinum. The US Federal Trade Commission, FTC, publishes guidelines for acceptable marking standards for platinum jewelry sold in the US.
Platinum content is usually expressed as the amount of pure platinum the jewelry contains in parts per thousand. Think about it like this… you mix up a huge bucket of fruit tea that contains 1,000 ounces–900 hundred of the ounces are plain tea and 100 are fruit juice. That makes the tea 900 parts per thousand of your mix. Another way to express that is to say that tea makes up ninety percent of the mix–900 divided by 1000.
Jewelry that contains at least 950 parts per thousand of pure platinum may be marked or described as “Platinum”
Jewelry that contains 850, 900 or 950 parts per thousand of pure platinum may be marked “Plat” or “Pt” if a number is used in front of the term to disclose the amount of pure platinum in the mix, such as
“850 Plat” or “850 Pt”, or
“950 Plat” or “950 Pt”
Jewelry that contains at least 950 parts per thousand of platinum group metals, with at least 500 parts per thousand of the total pure platinum, may be marked as platinum as long as the numbers of each metal are disclosed. For instance,
“600 Pt. 350 Ir.” or 600 Plat. 350 Irid.” for 600 parts pure platinum and 350 parts iridium
“550Pt. 350Pd. 50Ir.” or “550Plat. 350Pall. 50Irid.” for 550 parts pure platinum, 350 parts palladium and 50 parts iridum
The Platinum Groups of Metals
Six related metals belong to the Platinum Group of Metals, or PGM:
Soaking platinum in a mild solution of soap and warm water and gently scrubbing it with a soft-bristled brush is usually all that is required to maintain the metal’s luster.
Pure gold is known as 24K gold, but most jewelry is made from either 18K gold, 14K gold or 10K gold. When most people think of gold, the image that comes to mind is of a metal with a soft, yellow glow. Indeed, the incomparable golden hue of this precious metal has been part of its appeal for centuries. But for the gold jewelry connoisseur, there are more shades of gold available than just yellow – and in a spectrum of different hues. The tint the gold takes on depends on the metals it is mixed, or alloyed with.
Colored gold alloys are just as “real” as their golden colored counterparts. Pure gold is generally too soft to be used for jewelry, so other metals are nearly always added to it, no matter which color of gold is being prepped for jewelry making.
The color of gold is determined by two factors:
The type of metal alloys included The percentage of each metal alloy
White Gold Alloys
Nickel can be mixed with gold to create a white (or gray) color; it can cause dermatitis in people who are sensitive to nickel.
Palladium is another metal used to create white gold alloys. Related to platinum, it is more expensive than nickel, but is less likely to cause allergic reactions than nickel.
In order to make the gold white, it is combined with metal alloys that are white in nature and plated with an extremely hard element called rhodium. Although strong, rhodium may wear away over time. Re plating is a simple process that can be done to restore whiteness to your jewelry.
Black rhodium is plated to white gold creating a rich black appearance that is extremely hard and strong. As with traditional white rhodium, black rhodium may wear away over time. Re plating is a simple process that Blue Nile offers to restore your jewelry’s black finish.
Rose & Pink Gold Alloys
Copper is added to make gold-colored alloys, but additional copper creates pink and rose tones — the more copper, the deeper the effect.
Greenish shades are created by adding silver to gold.
Making alloys isn’t as simple as it might sound. Before they make an alloy, metallurgists have to consider how the metals will react with each other. Adding too much of one metal or another can make the mixture brittle, too hard, or difficult to work with. Some ingredients could make the mix too soft. Metallurgists fine-tune their recipes to produce combinations that are attractive, durable and can be successfully worked into pieces of jewelry.
Gold Karat Markings
24K gold is pure gold.
18K gold contains 18 parts gold and 6 parts of another metal(s), making it 75% gold.
14K gold contains 14 parts gold and 10 parts of another metal(s), making it 58.3% gold.
12K gold contains 12 parts gold and 12 parts of another metal(s), making it 50% gold.
10K gold contains 10 parts gold and 14 parts another metal(s), making it 41.7% gold. 10K gold is the minimum karat designation that can still be called gold in the US.
Since gold is a natural element, it is affected by harsh chemicals such as chlorine or other cleaning products. We recommend that you remove your jewelry when using chemicals to reduce daily abrasions and prolong the luster. To clean gold jewelry, use a solution of warm water and detergent-free soap with a soft-bristled brush. When not worn, store your gold pieces in soft cloth bags or the original box to protect them from the elements of daily exposure.
SAY… I DO
A wedding ring or wedding band is a metal ring indicating the wearer is married. Depending on the local culture, it is worn on the base of the right or the left ring finger. The custom of wearing such a ring has spread widely beyond its origin in Europe. Originally worn by wives only, wedding rings became customary for both husbands and wives during the 20th century.
In several traditions, the best man or maid of honer may have the duty of keeping track of a couple’s wedding rings and to produce them at the symbolic moment of the giving and receiving of the rings during the traditional marriage ceremony. In more elaborate weddings, a ring bearer (that is, part of the family of the bride or groom) may assist.
The double-ring ceremony, or use of wedding rings for both partners, is a relatively recent innovation. The American jewelry industry started a marketing campaign aimed at encouraging this practice in the late 19th century. In the 1920s, ad campaigns tried introducing a male engagement ring, but it failed due to the necessity that its advertising campaigns make secret appeals to women. Marketing lessons of the 1920s, changing economic times, and the impact of World War II led to a more successful marketing campaign for male and female wedding bands, and by the late 1940s, double-ring ceremonies made up for 80% of all weddings, as opposed to 15% before the Great Depression.
After marriage, the ring is worn on the hand it had been placed on during the ceremony. By wearing rings on the fourth finger, a married couple symbolically declares their eternal love for each other. This has now become a matter of tradition and etiquette.
Sterling silver is the standard for beautiful high-quality silver jewelry. It’s over 90% pure silver, mixed with alloys to add strength and durability. And it won’t wear down, as silver plating can.
Pure silver, also called fine silver, is relatively soft, very malleable, and easily damaged so it is commonly combined with other metals to produce a more durable product. The most popular of these alloys is sterling silver, which consists of 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent copper.
Although any metal can make up the 7.5 percent non-silver portion of sterling, centuries of experimentation have shown copper to be its best companion, improving the metal’s hardness and durability without affecting its beautiful color.
The small amount of copper added to sterling has very little effect on the metal’s value. Instead, the price of the silver item is affected by the labor involved in making the item, the skill of the crafts person, and the intricacy of the design
Sterling silver is most often used for jewelry and household accessories because of its combination of beauty and durability. Acceptable quality marks for sterling silver include:
With proper care, your fine quality silver will last a lifetime. To minimize scratches and other damage, store your silver jewelry either in a cloth pouch or in a separate compartment in your jewelry box. Avoid exposing your silver to household chemicals when cleaning with bleach or ammonia, or when swimming in chlorinated water, as these chemicals can damage silver.
Clean your silver regularly
Care should also be taken to prevent silver tarnish build-up, a dulling that naturally occurs when silver reacts with sulfur or hydrogen sulfide in the ambient air. To clean your silver, use polishes formulated specifically to remove tarnish. You can find fine silver polishes, solutions, or cloths appropriate to remove tarnish at most hardware stores or specialty craft stores. Tarnish is most easily removed when it first becomes visible.
Although wearing your silver jewelry often is the best way to prevent tarnish from building up, regular cleanings of all your silver items will prevent tarnish and keep your silver bright and sparkling.
Palladium, Titanium, and Tungsten are all becoming more widely used in recent years.
One of the rarest metals in the world, is a member of the Platinum Group Metals. These metals are also referred to as “Noble Metals” due to their superior ability to withstand corrosion and oxidation.
Palladium, which is listed on the Periodic Table of elements, is lighter in weight than its sister metal, Platinum.
A naturally white metal, Palladium is hypoallergenic, will not tarnish and remains white forever. Palladium is 95% pure when used in jewelry, is extremely durable and does not require alloy metals and/or plating for protection, which ensures that it will remain white as long as you own your jewelry.
Titanium is a unique and strong metal with incredible value for men’s wedding bands. With a solid foundation in the engineering and aerospace industries, titanium has a proven track record as an enduring metal.
Since titanium is a natural element, it will be affected by harsh chemicals such as chlorine or other cleaning products. We recommend that you remove your jewelry when using chemicals to reduce daily abrasions and prolong the polish. To clean titanium jewelry, use a solution of warm water and detergent-free soap with a soft cloth. When not worn, store your titanium pieces in soft cloth bags or the original box to protect them from the elements of daily exposure.
Titanium is softer than tungsten and is moderately prone to scratches. If scratched, the jewelry piece can be polished
Unique in appeal and strong by design. Tungsten Carbide is a forged metal 80% Tungsten and 20% Carbide Alloy, qualities that will last forever.
Since tungsten and carbon are natural elements, this jewelry will be affected by harsh chemicals such as chlorine or other cleaning products. We recommend that you remove your jewelry when using chemicals to reduce daily abrasions and prolong the polish. To clean tungsten carbide jewelry, use a solution of warm water and detergent-free soap with a soft cloth. When not worn, store your tungsten pieces in soft cloth bags or the original box to protect them from the elements of daily exposure.
The tungsten alloy used in jewelry is extremely hard, so it does not scratch easily. If scratched, the jewelry piece will need special reconditioning.