Archive for the ‘Jewelry’ Category

The Great Star of Africa

In 1898, Thomas Cullinan, a South African bricklayer turned prospector, discovered what would later become the legendary Premier diamond fields. Cullinan built his fortune in those fields, becoming the premier figure in the history of South African diamond mining.


He built the Premier mine, which was then, and is now, the most important and unique diamond mine in the world. This mine is still the only noted source of blue diamonds in the world. Most of the largest rough diamonds in the world were found in that mine.


In 1905, Thomas Evan Powell emerged from the Premier mine with a gigantic rock. About two thirds the size of a volleyball, the 3106.75 carat—that’s a pound and a half–diamond was quickly determined to be the largest rough diamond ever found. It was quickly named the Cullinan Diamond. At the time, it was twice the size of the largest diamond ever found.


The stone was later presented to England’s King Edward VII, possibly the most ridiculously overpriced birthday present in human history. Security for transporting the diamond to England was ingenious. A fake diamond was placed, with London detectives as security, on a boat to England. The real Cullinan was sent through the postal service with little fanfare or security.


Rumors and legends abound around this legendary stone. Mijnheer Asscher, the legendary cleaver who cut the diamond in two with one swift stroke, supposedly fainted after cutting it in half (though that story is widely disputed).


The diamond now rests in nine pieces. The largest, The Great Star of Africa (also called Cullinan I), rests in the Tower of London, a gleaming 530 carat masterpiece gem. The Lesser Star of Africa, at a still-massive 317 carats, also resides in the tower.


The Premier mine in Africa, which was purchased by Petra Diamonds from DeBeers in 2005, continues to be, arguably, the most valuable diamond mine in the world. Its blue ground also produced the Golden Jubilee, now the largest cut diamond in the world. That diamond’s history is equally fascinating—thought to be a nearly worthless test diamond, its value was discovered by accident. It ended up going from Thailand all the way to the Vatican to be blessed by Pope John Paul II.


With its fascinating origins, stunning clarity, and rich history, the Great Star of Africa remains one of the most legendary gems in the history of diamonds.


What Setting Do You Want On Your Diamond Ring?

If you’re about to purchase a diamond, you’ve got some big decisions to make. Since

you’re ideally going to keeping your ring for a long, long time, it’s important to get a

design that you want to wear and look at for years to come.


When it comes to setting diamonds, there are dozens of variations. Some are traditional,

others are formal and classical, and yet others are wild and potentially gaudy. With a big

purchase like a diamond, it’s important research all your options and pick the one that’s

best for you.



Prong – This is the everyday diamond setting. The diamond is mounted high off the ring,

allowing the eye to focus on the quality and beauty of the gem. While this setting is quite

popular, it’s for good reason: you can’t go wrong with this timeless look.


V-prong – The V-prong is a slight variation on the above setting. The diamond is still

mounted far above the ring, but slightly inset under notches in the prong. This setting is

still very popular, and a great setting that separates the diamond from the ring assembly.




Bezel – This setting integrates the diamond into the ring setting more than the prong or

V-prong. The diamond is inset into the mounting, and held in place by a rim that holds

the diamond in its place. While it may look like a modern design, the bezel setting has

been used for centuries.








Channel – The channel setting sets the stones in a groove within the ring, insetting them

within the ring. A unique, timeless look for multiple diamonds.









Pavé – Also designed for multiple diamonds, pave means “paved.” It’s designed to make

the ring look as if it’s covered, or paved, in jewels. This mounting technique is extremely

complex and often expensive. However, the final result is often quite stunning.






Bar – Visually, this multi-jewel setting is similar to the channel setting. The jewels are

mounted between bars, integrating them into the ring. The bars create a visual space

between the diamonds. Since the setting process can be hard on jewels, it’s reserved only

for hard diamonds.






Ballerina – Another multi-diamond design, the ballerina setting mounts smaller jewels

around a large central diamond. The effect resembles a ballerina’s tutu.




Tension – This setting places very hard gems within the ring assembly. The hardness

of the metal presses up against the jewel, holding it in place. Unique and beautiful, this

setting is a phenomenal design that features single jewels beautifully.







Flush – Modern and subtle, this setting insets the diamond into the ring until it’s flush

with the surface. This unique look often denies the ability to appreciate the diamond’s

light-reflecting qualities, however.


How Your Diamond Gets to You

The diamond industry is fascinating from every angle, just like the minerals themselves. Still one of the rarest and most prized substances on earth, the industry itself is storied, multifaceted, and exciting.


So how did the diamond on your finger get to you? What’s the process for turning ice into the precious item you wear so proudly? Read on to find out.


Out of Africa

While diamond mines are truly spread throughout the world, most diamonds (about 65%) still come out of Africa. De Beers is probably the most famous name in the diamond industry, and while their size and hold on the market has fluctuated in recent years, they’re still the most important figurehead in the trade.


Diamond mines can be found throughout the world, with notable non-African diamond mines located in Russia, Australia, and Canada.


The controversy in recent years over blood diamonds, or conflict diamonds, received a lot of attention. Diamonds mined in war zones, where oppressed peoples were used to mine diamonds against their will in fear of their lives, became a source of outrage. The U.N. made sanctions, which were then implemented by the diamond trading industry.


Once diamonds are mined, they’re sorted according to value, and then sent for cutting and polishing.


On to Asia or Europe

Most of the great diamond cutting centers are in Europe and Asia—especially Antwerp, Thailand, Mumbai, and Tel Aviv. New York is also a large diamond cutting center. Diamantaires, specialists in diamond cutting, cut the diamonds into the shapes in which they’re sold at diamond exchanges around the world.


The most famous diamond exchange is the DTC. The DTC network hosts ten sales of rough diamonds every year, which occur in London, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia simultaneously. At these sales, the DTC ‘sightholders’ inspect their allocations of rough diamonds, and they can either purchase them in their entirety or they can reject them. Customers literally have “SIGHT” of the rough diamonds, and that is why these selling meetings are called “SIGHTS”. De Beers never sells rough diamonds other than at these “SIGHTS”


After purchasing rough diamonds at “SIGHTS”, the sight holders will cut and polish the rough stones into highly polished and valuable gems that will eventually be sold into the open market


Then to you

After that, once the diamonds are purchased by distributors, they’re sent to be manufactured and integrated into the pieces of jewelry they were destined to occupy. Once complete, the jewelry is sent to retail stores and dealers.


The endlessly complex diamond industry is now, as it has always been, in a constant state of flux. Changing economic times have challenged the worldwide demand for diamonds (especially for industrial purposes). Scientists are now able to synthesize diamonds in a way that’s nearly perfect and indistinguishable from the naturally occurring mineral. The De Beers Empire, while still healthy, has seen better days, as evidenced by the 2005 sale of the Premier Mine. However, the process that brings your diamond to you, that brings the rarest of all minerals and transforms it into jewelry, hasn’t changed in over 150 years.


Buying Diamonds as an Investment

As investors worldwide flip the panic switch, many are looking for investments with long term value. The common refrain is, “buy gold!” The value of the popular precious metal is often seen as a key determinant in the health of an economy, and is seen by some as a benchmark for measuring inflation.


What about gems? We don’t hear a lot on the news about investing in gems. Careful investors might find investing in diamonds a rewarding long term experience. However, it’s less of a ‘sure thing’ than investing in gold or real estate, as you’ll see below. Preparation and research is key when considering this investment. It’s key to get the right appraisal, make the diamond investment for the right reasons, and purchase a cut of diamond that will stand the test of time.


Selecting a qualified appraiser

Finding a qualified diamond appraiser can be a minefield. Strangely, there’s no “Official Diamond Appraiser’s Association.” It’s important to ‘interview’ appraisers, ensuring that they have credentials worthy of determining the value of your diamond. Many organizations may be acceptable. Question your appraiser, do your homework, and ensure that they’re qualified.


Buy the Right Shape

Diamond values can be more fluid than you think. Fashion is still a large determinant in the value of a gem. A particular diamond cut that’s popular this year might not be popular in a few years. Of the ten common shapes we often see in diamonds, the ‘fancy’ cuts tend to hold the least value. An Asscher cut, due to its rarity and difficulty, is among the most highly prized, along with the round brilliant.


Insure It

You’d feel like an idiot if you lost your iPad and it wasn’t insured. Imagine how miserable you’d feel if you lost a diamond worth thousands—perhaps tens of thousands—of dollars. Now imagine how you feel if it wasn’t insured, if you were solely responsible for its loss? With a diamond, losing one of the priciest investments you ever make could be as simple as dropping it down the sink. There are tons of jewelry insurers that will adequately cover your expensive diamond investment. It’s absolutely vital that your jewel be covered against theft, loss, or damage.


Four Things You Need to Consider Before You Buy an Engagement Ring

She’s the one. Now all you need to do is pop the question, right? But before you get down on one knee, you’ll need to find the perfect engagement ring. It’s not as simple as walking into the jewelry store and deciding which ring catches your fancy. Let’s take a look at four essentials you need to consider before you buy.

Stone Quality

Diamond quality is determined by the four C’s: cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. Let’s take a closer look at each of these four characteristics.

●      Cut—Cut refers to the angles and proportions of the diamond. A quality cut causes the diamond to reflect light off its various facets, giving the stone its sparkle and brilliance.

●      Color—Diamonds range in color from completely colorless to light yellow. The more nearly colorless a diamond is, the more expensive it will be.

●      Clarity—The clarity of a diamond refers to how many inclusions, or imperfections, the stone has. The fewer inclusions, the more expensive the stone.

●      Carat weight—The weight of the stone also plays a significant role in its cost. You can compromise a little bit here, however, by sacrificing slightly on the quality in order to get a larger stone. Many diamond imperfections are not visible to the naked eye and will never be noticed by your special lady, while the size of the stone is something that will be judged by all her friends and family.

Diamond Shape

Diamonds can be cut in a wide variety of shapes, from traditional (round, oval, princess) to more unusual (pear or heart shapes). If possible, find out your lady’s preference before you buy, since shape is largely a matter of personal choice.


The setting of the diamond not only showcases its shape, but can also affect its brilliance. No matter what color band you choose, it’s often a good idea to choose a silver or platinum setting so as not to lend a yellow tinge to the diamond. You should also consider whether you want smaller diamonds or other gems to surround your primary stone.

Band Metal

The final consideration in your engagement ring choice is what metal the band will be. Gold, silver, platinum, and rose gold are the most popular metals used for engagement rings. Each one has benefits, but again, this is largely a matter of personal preference.

There’s no better feeling than seeing your special lady’s eyes light up when you pull that velvet box out of your pocket. Make sure she’ll never forget that feeling by choosing an exceptional engagement ring that will dazzle her family and friends.

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Choosing the Perfect Diamond

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Diamonds are forever. Whatever cliché comes to mind when you think of diamonds, the fact is that they remain one of the most romantic—and expensive—stones on the market. That makes them a perfect gift for just about any woman. Whether you’re buying for a special lady in your life or treating yourself, choosing the perfect diamond requires a working knowledge of the four C’s: cut, color, clarity, and carat weight.


When jewelers speak of cut, they’re not talking about the shape of the diamond necessarily. They’re referring instead to the angles and facets of the stone after it has been handled by the cutter. A well-cut diamond sparkles because the various surfaces reflect light back and forth, giving the stone that brilliant quality that takes your breath away. If the diamond has been cut too deep or too shallow, it will not reflect light as well, leaving even a quality stone looking dull.



A perfect diamond is completely colorless. It is also quite rare and therefore, quite expensive. From colorless, diamonds progress in color all the way to light yellow. While white or colorless diamonds are the most popular, those with a slight tinge of color will be less expensive. Often, the color is not pronounced enough to be noticeable, especially when paired with the setting.



A diamond’s clarity refers to whether or not it contains “inclusions” such as other minerals or tiny imperfections. Clarity is gauged on a scale, with SI1 and SI2 referring to diamonds with no inclusions visible to the naked eye. The higher the clarity, the more expensive the diamond will be. Clarity can also affect a diamond’s brilliance, especially as you progress further down the scale, so try to stay in the SI1 or SI2 range if at all possible.


Carat Weight

The final consideration for your diamond purchase is its carat weight. The heavier a stone, the larger and more expensive it will be. How important carat weight is depends on your budget and whether you are more interested in a big flashy diamond or a nearly perfect diamond. If you are limited in how much you can spend, you may be willing to sacrifice quality for size or vice versa, a choice that is entirely personal.

The next time you purchase a diamond, having a working knowledge of these essential diamond characteristics will prepare you to understand what the jeweler tells you about the stone you’re interested in. You’ll also be a more satisfied customer as you come to appreciate the true value of the stone you buy.


When Birthstone Jewelry Makes the Perfect Gift

A birthstone jewelry piece can be the perfect choice to let someone know just how special they are. As a symbol of individuality, it offers just the right personal touch, especially when given at milestone occasions. Wondering when is the right time to buy a piece of birthstone jewelry for someone special? Consider these ideas that will be sure to communicate the message you want.

Milestone Occasions for Birthstone Jewelry

Because birthstones commemorate a person’s entrance into the world, they can also be ideal gifts to make subsequent milestone occasions special.

●      Special Birthdays—Is someone you love turning 16? 21? 30? Give them a gift they’ll always treasure with a birthstone pendant necklace.

●      Graduations—High school, college, and graduate degrees all deserve something special to recognize the hard work that went into achieving that goal. Congratulate the special graduate in your family with a birthstone graduation ring.

●      New Baby—Moms love gifts that remind them of the birth of their children. Present new moms with a lovely birthstone necklace or bracelet to welcome the new arrival.

●      Anniversary—Wedding anniversaries, dating milestones, and professional anniversaries are all excellent opportunities to present someone you love with a birthstone ring or earrings.

Creative Birthstone Ideas

Rings, necklaces, and earrings aren’t the only options when it comes to birthstone jewelry. Because birthstones are so versatile, you have many opportunities to be creative when it comes to selecting the perfect piece of birthstone jewelry. Here are some ideas to get you started.

●      Grandmother Charm Bracelet—Give Grandma a special reminder of each of her grandchildren by presenting her with a charm bracelet and adding birthstone charms for each grandchild.

●      Mother Necklace—Moms love to showcase their children as well, so consider purchasing a mother’s pendant necklace that includes a birthstone for each child.

●      Memorial Jewelry Set—When a loved one has passed away, it’s important to keep tangible mementos that keep their memory close. A birthstone jewelry set that includes earrings and a necklace, a necklace and a ring, or a ring and a bracelet is a beautiful and sensitive way to pay tribute to lost loved ones.

As you select a piece of birthstone jewelry to give as a gift, remember that it’s important to deal with a jeweler you trust who can direct you to quality stones in beautiful settings. The birthstone piece you buy will undoubtedly be worn by the recipient for years to come, so take the time to choose jewelry that reflects the esteem you hold for the loved ones in your life.


4 Must Have Jewelry Trends

Jewelry trends typically take their cues from the red carpet, and fashions for 2011 are no exception. This season’s jewelry is big, bold, and beautiful, making a statement that demands attention in any setting. If you’re looking to add some Hollywood glam to your jewelry box, consider these popular choices for fall.

Cuff Bracelet

A cuff bracelet works well with a variety of styles, from chic and casual to evening glamour. Choose your bracelet based on the setting in which it will be worn. For an evening of cocktails and romance, choose a flirty piece in gold or silver with an intricate design. If you’re looking for a bracelet to wear at the office, a more structured piece may fit the bill. Cuff bracelets come in a wide variety of styles and textures, so start shopping to find one that complements your style. You can also stack cuff bracelets with bangles, making an even more personalized statement.

Fashion Ring

Large gold or silver cocktail rings with flower and animal designs add a bit of bling to a night on the town. Choose rings that include semi-precious or precious stones if your budget allows, since these color options can really make your ring stand out. For a less expensive alternative, copper and bronze rings can also make a beautiful statement.

Statement Necklace

The right necklace can eliminate the need for other jewelry altogether. You can also complement your statement necklace with an understated pair of stud earrings. Necklaces for this season showcase intricate designs, chunky styling, and multiple layers. Another way to achieve this beautiful effect is to layer several smaller necklaces together, creating your own unique look.

Diamond Earrings

If you like long dangly earrings, this trend will be the perfect choice for your jewelry statement. Jewelry trends this season include chandelier earrings that just graze the shoulder. Choose from rounded shapes or hoops as well as a variety of styles including gold and silver, gemstones, beads, and feathers.

If there’s anything worse than wearing the wrong trend at the wrong time, it’s wearing too many trends together. Remember that each of these options will make a beautiful statement on its own, but piling on too many can look vastly overdone. If you want to wear additional jewelry, keep it small and understated, seeking to complement the statement piece you’ve chosen rather than competing with it.

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