Saturday, April 10, 2010

Diamonds are a girl's best friend.

I recently went to the gold souk in Jeddah for jewelry shopping. Even though I am a clothing designer, the fashion industry requires some basic knowledge of jewelry. My knowledge and association with jewelry has thus included both personal and professional experiences. For example, as a product manager at SPG both gifts and jewelry were under my jurisdiction in addition to the the men, women and children’s wear categories. While at SPG I learned a great deal about jewelry; which paid off with a successful jewelry line that had to be re-ordered twice after the inventory was fully bought by our retail customers.

I remember my first visit to a diamond factory. After graduating from high school I spent the summer back packing around Europe with my cousin. Our travels included a stop in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Amongst the historical sites and museums in the town we decided to visit a diamond factory. It was so interesting to learn and see how diamonds are made first hand. The tour ended in the showcase gallery of the manufacturer where diamonds were sold at wholesale cost, quite the savings. Especially since most retailers ridiculously mark up their jewelry items above the wholesale cost.

So following my summer adventures in Europe, where I learned about diamonds first hand, I went to college to study Fashion Merchandising. I remember we had to study jewelry as part of one course. I’ll never forget my professor’s lesson on diamonds and the 4 C’s. If you are planning to buy diamond jewelry make sure you are knowledgeable about the 4 C’s so you can pay a fair price at the sales counter.

Clarity-Refers to the clearness or purity of the diamond-perfect clarity is rare. There are internal characteristics that are not visible to the naked eye. The attributes may look like feathers, dark spots, clouds. The size, quantity and location of these inclusions affect the value of the diamond. While at the jewelers, make sure you look with a magnifying loupe and examine the diamond for clarity. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for you can always engage the services of a diamond analyst, who will give you a full report and estimated value of the diamond you are considering to purchase. These services may well be worth the fee if you have are making a fairly large investment.

Cut-I’m not talking about if the diamond is cut into the shape of a heart. Rather the diamonds proportions-depth and width and the uniformity of its facets. Facets or tiny polished faces are cut with precision into a rough mined diamond. There are 58 total facets on the round brilliant diamond. If the diamond is cut to shallow the light will fall out on the other side and not reflect back to the top. If a diamond cut is too deep the light will get lost in the pavilion (lower part) and be unable to reflect back to the top. Therefore the cut determines the brilliance, durability and other qualities of the diamond.

Carat-Most people know to ask what the carat is of the diamond because it’s one of the most important factors that affect the appearance and price of the diamond. Of course there are ways to make a diamond look larger than its true weight, so you can always find a diamond that is within your budget and still achieve the look that you want. Remember the carat refers to the weight not the size of the diamond. Of course, the heavier the diamond is the higher the carat and value. Keep in mind that cost increase expontentially rather than arithmetically for diamond weights. Remember, ou may have two identical diamonds that are the same carat but the worth will be determined by the other 3 C’s.

Color-Colorless diamonds are the most valuable and rarest. Though your diamond may appear colorless chances are it has a subtle yellow or brown tone. If shopping in the USA, you can ask for the color grade of the diamond you’re interested in. The standard is set by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) and along with the grade will be a description. For example you may have a Grade “D” diamond that is described as “Colorless”. The appearance of the diamond would look absolutely clear, with no hint of color to the eye in color grading or mounted. The other end of the scale is the Z+ grade that is described as “Fancy” with the appearance being bright and a remarkable color-usually blue, pink or yellow.

Most people will purchase at least one one piece of diamond jewelry during their life time-most commonly the wedding ring. Before making an investment in a diamond make sure you have a thorough understanding of the 4 C’s so what you pay at the jeweler matches the actual value. And, if you ever get a chance to visit Amsterdam, make sure you visit a diamond factory and buy at wholesale! (Even better South Africa where most of the world's diamonds are mined).

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