June 2017 Ad

Wow, time is flying! Our June 2017 ad is already out on newsstands, and we feature a lot of great jewelry. To get the scoop on the items featured, scroll down!

Bracelets (from top to bottom):

-B-1869, Yellow Gold Lattice Bracelet

-B-2008, Diamond Tennis Bracelet, available in many carat weights

-B-2070, Diamond Byzantine-style Bracelet

-B-2163, Golf Bracelet with Brushed Finish

-B-2112, Diamond Bangle Bracelet

Rings (from top to bottom):

-TSR-854, 3-Row, 3-Stone ring

-LFY020, Fancy Deep Brownish Yellow Pear Diamond

 

Diamond Misconceptions

April showers may bring us May flowers, but it’s also blessed to have diamond as its gemstone.  Ruby’s Sanskrit name of “ratnaraj” may loosely translate to mean “king of precious stones” and as a July man myself I’m not going to argue, but if ruby is king that makes diamond god. This post began as a bit of a listicle of my favorite diamond facts. As I Googled for funsies/research, I discovered there’s a lot of bad information out there. So instead of my favorite facts, I’m going to dispel the most offensive misinformation.

1) Diamonds are the hardest natural substance. This is true. What gets lost in the translation is how strong they are. Part of that is because the Mohs hardness scale is an ordinal scale; it’s not exponential but it’s kind of close… kind of. By some measurements, diamonds are 4 times harder than sapphires (10 and 9 on the Mohs hardness scale), by other measurements diamonds are 58 times stronger. Note: harder and stronger are two, somewhat arbitrary, units of measurements.  Think of it this way, diamonds are Superman and sapphires are the Hulk. Both are super strong, but Superman is stronger, how much is difficult to ascertain; this would be true even without the DC/Marvel impossibility of this question.

2) This comic/screencap:

 I’ll give him credit for crushing it already faceted, but that’s the worst proportioned diamond I’ve ever seen.

 I’ll give him credit for crushing it already faceted, but that’s the worst proportioned diamond I’ve ever seen.

This day and age it’s impossible to know what people believe. Maybe people think this actually works and is how synthetic diamonds are grown. It’s not; it’s not 100% wrong, but it mainly is. Still a cool image, I don’t know why every Superman movie doesn’t have this scene in it, if just to explain how a reporter that is working at most 10 hours a week (remember he’s a superhero in a crime ridden city) can afford such a nice apartment in downtown New York  Metropolis/a giant Ice Castle.

3) This one bugged me. “D, E and F are colourless diamonds. Since there is no colour found in them, there is no difference in colour. The only difference in these diamonds is the transparency. D is more transparent that E, E is more transparent than F.”
That is simply not true. There’s not really a relationship between transparency and color (insofar as diamonds go). If by definition D is the only colorless diamond, E and F color stones can’t be as well. E and F are in the colorless tier (by GIA standards) but they still have slight traces of color miniscule may they be. Batman might be in the same leadership tier in the Justice League, but without some Kryptonite infused weaponry, the coup against Superman is going to fail. There can be only one.

4) We bring this one up a lot in person; stones with identical certificates, same color, same clarity, same cut grades, do NOT always look the same. This is where shopping locally at independent stores can be so helpful. We live in an age of information being relatively available, but come on, do you really think it’s likely you can pick up as much knowledge as say, somebody that’s been looking and grading diamonds for 40 years opposed to 40 minutes of google research? Of course not. That’s where the expertise comes in. A good jeweler isn’t looking to milk you dry after one sale; the relationship should be more advisory and long-term. That’s service you can’t find online or say at certain membership wholesalers. Factoring in the advice, actual expertise, and long term commitment/maintenance, I don’t see how the argument for superior value found online exists.

Same paper, but pretty different results.

Same paper, but pretty different results.

5) The last major misconception is that diamonds are sold at a huge markup. At some point this was probably true, especially before the modern pipeline and cutting techniques. The truth, as in most industries, the internet vastly changed the diamond selling market. Costco and online middle men have undoubtedly lowered prices and margins, which is undeniably a benefit for the modern consumer. This misconception, coupled with the fact that every diamond is unique, has in a way lead to dangerous levels of confidence. Truth is, every diamond is unique, as I mentioned earlier; this is why you need the expertise of an actual jeweler. Especially for engagement rings, odds are outside of a car; this is going to be your biggest purchase to date, why wouldn’t you want an expert’s opinion? If it were as simple as lining up crown angles to the respective table percentage and making sure the pavilion angle is complimentary, everybody would do it. It’s more complicated than that, there’s an art to the science. We may not paint with paints over here (Gretchen excluded), but damn if we can’t put together a masterpiece with natures truest colors.

Synthetic Diamonds: Part 1

I’ve been on the fence about writing this for a little while now. On one hand I believe this is an important issue and deserves attention; on the other I’ve had a little bit of difficulty being completely objective. Whether I succeed or not is up to you. Either way, let’s talk about synthetic diamonds.

A few facts to begin. Synthetic gems are not a new novelty. The first synthetic ruby was made in the late 1800's (exact dates a little tricky to determine), and the process was refined enough for commercial purposes by 1902. Emerald and quartz were right behind. You might be surprised to hear about quartz given its natural abundance and relative low value; it’s extremely useful for a few technological purposes (holds a hell of a current) and even more so when it is devoid of inclusions.

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Nowadays, most (or at least a lot) of watch faces are made of synthetic colorless sapphire, a material much stronger and scratch resistance than glass. I remember I got super excited because Apple bought a large synthetic sapphire manufacturing plant and there were rumors abound that the next iPhone would have such a face. It didn’t and my phone looks worse for it (Tim Cook I know you’re a regular reader, take the hint). In any case, synthetic gemstones are nothing new; more precise, synthetic diamonds are old news as well. GE has been making industrial synthetic since the 1950's. The difference is with other gemstones there wasn’t a big period between the products looking good enough to be gem quality, with diamonds it’s taken close to 70 years.

The easiest and first step in determining whether a ruby or an emerald is natural is to look at it for a second; if it looks too good to be true it most likely is synthetic. I know it’s a tired adage, but applicable nevertheless. The lifecycle of synthetic gemstones is pretty cyclical; the process starts off expensive, and is quickly refined to being cheap. The gemstone being manufactured is soon brought to the highest possible standard conceivable in the stone; you’ll have the reddest rubies, the brightest emerald and the most vibrant sapphires, all without inclusions. Realistically these gemstones don’t exist and they look “off” despite the seeming perfection. By this point though, they hold no real value (especially on the secondary market), and get put in a category that’s above costume for sure, but below fine jewelry. Synthetic diamonds aren’t quite here yet, but if they follow observed and historical trajectory, they will be sooner than later.

The question I get asked all the time is whether synthetic diamonds in an engagement ring would be a good investment. I don’t particularly think that’s a question people should be asking about engagement rings in general (you’re not investing in a 401K, you’re getting a little assistance writing a love letter), but that’s beside the point. I’ll write about it later, because certain diamonds exist that are fantastic places to store your money, but you do not see them in engagement rings. The short answer is a resounding no. Synthetic diamonds of gem quality are a fairly recent phenomenon, and at this point are essentially the same price as equal quality natural diamonds. They are not yet ubiquity flawless as in synthetic colored stones, but I’m confident they will be soon. I suspect by that point, the price will plummet as seen in every single other example of synthetic gems we have to date. If you bought a synthetic diamond today, I predict you’re going to be seriously upset if you try to sell it back in 5 years. The cool part about what we make is we’re using natural treasures. I believe this whole heartedly, and I think our customers think the same thing. You lose the romance when you have to present something lab created opposed to forged with the heat/life of the Earth. You may be thinking I missed something, don’t worry; this topic will have a part 2!

Tuscon Gem Show Recap - 2017

Legend has it, the Tucson Gem Show started off as a collection of amateur rock hounds and fossil enthusiast meeting in the Arizona desert once per year to trade and sell. Overtime (and prior to the internet mind you), this evolved into the month long city take over it is today. If you’ve never been, it’s difficult to understand. Each room in the cities vast collection of motels gets transformed into a pop-up shop. Some sell gold nuggets, some dinosaur heads, there’s a least 15 dedicated simply to meteorite specimens.

Don’t get me wrong, the real fun is sifting through the main areas to find the brightest emerald or the deepest tourmaline, a glowing ruby or fascinating opal. But there’s something to be said about just wandering the random motels, embracing them with the giddiness only tourists obtain. I saw the prettiest Alexandrite I’ve ever seen and wouldn’t be surprised if I never see a prettier one. The color was vivid, the change extreme, and at 5.56 carats it has a nice heft to it. Ultimately though, it was under lock and key and I wasn’t permitted to have an extended photoshoot with it.

Look at this geode. It’s huge, a good foot taller than Gordon (who is 6’1’’ish). The scale picture doesn’t show the crystals well but look at this.

I know I’ve always skewed nerdy, but these fossils (below) are awesome. I dare you to find me a cooler paperweight or a desk piece. Not going to happen. We actually picked up a few select pieces (not pictured above) this year; I highly recommend coming by the store and checking them out.  Nature can do wondrous things. It can preserve history into rock so we can get an inkling of how the world worked eons ago. Under needlessly difficult circumstances it can even gift us with diamonds. That’s the real treat of the Tucson show; you get to explore those endless bounties of nature. It’s a show I look forward to each year, and I’m already counting down the days till the 2018 event!

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The Mystery of the Pink Sand Beaches

Last month, I had the good fortune of spending some time in Bermuda. In a word, it was lovely. The fields of gemology and geology are related to say the least; not that I wasn’t a believer before, but if you look at the locations of gemstones found throughout the world, it presents a convincing argument for plate tectonics/continental drift and Pangaea. In any case, learning about the geology of an unfamiliar location is one of my favorite parts of traveling.

Bermuda is a bit on an oddity, a chain of over 100 islands in the middle of nowhere (really), all formed volcanically (which is more normal). The country is also famous for its’ Pink Sand beaches. I’ve seen black sand beaches, and know that they’re generally caused by volcanic basalt rock. That’s why you find them in tropical islands; most islands are volcanic in nature. It’s not often I get a chance to show off my GG knowledge outside of work so I got excited when we visited one of the legendary pink beaches. Much of the rock in Bermuda that you see is sandstone, which is a rock made mostly of quartz, one of the most prominent minerals in the world. You might be familiar with the most common gem version, Amethyst. As it were, there is also a reddish pink variety called Rose Quartz. For a number of technical reasons, you tend not to see it polished as a gem, but I digress. Most of the beach sand worldwide is quartz based, so I assumed for whatever reason that Bermuda must be rich in magnesium, the element that can cause reddish tones in quartz. I wasted no time informing my girlfriend/family. Confident and basking in my self-assured worth and intelligence, I smugly returned to my similarly colored Raspberry Daiquiri.

In a shockingly cruel turn of events, it turns out I was wrong, much to my chagrin. Bermudian sand is pink for the same reason you can’t find a good surf spot on the island to save your life; Bermuda is surrounded by an extensive coral reef. It’s my understanding the Coral jewelry was huge in the 80s. I’ve seen enough classic (bad) movies to know that the same pastel shades were fashionable in every article of clothing. You’ve seen the look; odds are we’ll be back to it in another ten years or so. Bermuda happens to be in hurricane alley and coral in shallow seas (such as the seas around the island) are vulnerable to those sorts of stresses. Given adequate time, enough coral will break away and down, providing beaches with a subtle rosey, Vice City-esque, hue. It may be a little grainer than some beaches, but the beauty is breathtaking!

 

Garnets in January

At the risk of sounding cheesy I have to admit that I love the birth stones. This is an easy sentiment for me to acknowledge, I’m born in July and rubies are the best gemstone around (maybe I’m a little biased). I got lucky, I like red and rubies are strong. If I didn’t love red though, I’d be out of luck. That’s why January birth date holders are a uniquely lucky bunch. Outside of blue, Garnet (January’s birthstone) occurs beautifully in every color. 

This fact confounds many people; most expect an almost murky, burgundy red color. Admittedly most garnets are found in that condition; on the same hand most diamonds are brown and too included to cut and polish. The epitomized natural beauty possessed by gems is defined by the select few, not the majority. Garnets are no different. Emeralds are beautiful there’s no sense denying that, but for my money there’s no green like what’s possible with a Tsavorite garnet.  They’re dynamic and pure, an undiluted forest green. 

Rare varieties of garnet prove to be one of the rare gems where you can encourage inclusions (pictured above); a demantoid garnet without the signature “horsetails” inclusions is a Lynch-less Seahawks; pretty in the right light but lacking substance nevertheless. Mandarin garnets represent the very best available in orange. Whatever color or look you are searching for (even if it’s color changing), there’s a good chance there’s a garnet with your name on it. 

 

*All images from GIA

 

-Matt Raine

January 2017 Ad

We love getting requests about which rings are featured in our magazine ads and wanted to share with you all! Scroll below to get all of the details about our January 2017 ad, out now!

From top to bottom:

Asscher Eternity Band (Also available in Carre Half-Eternity Band)

Bead-set Eternity Band

Triple Row Eternity Band (Also available in 18k Yellow and Rose Gold)

Channel-set Carre Eternity Band (Also available in Half-Eternity Band with smaller diamonds)

Cut-set Eternity Band (Also available in varying diamond sizes)

Shared-prong Eternity Band (Also available in 5-stone version)

Yellow Diamond Eternity Band (Also available in 5-stone version set in platinum)

Emerald Cut Diamond Half-Eternity Band (Also available with Baguette Diamonds)

College Football National Championship Rings

Last Sunday (the 4th) Seattle collectively exhaled a sigh of relief as the selection committee did the honorable thing and found the Huskies fit to compete in the playoffs. Whether we got cheated out of 3rd is an entirely different discussion, but one thing at a time.  Recent traditions have had the winning team receiving 3 rings; one for the conference championship, the next for the bowl game they win en route, and a third for the national championship. Incidentally the first ring suggests that Ohio State shouldn’t be in the playoffs. Per NCAA guidelines, players can only receive up to $415 of gifts*; ad space starts at $1,000,000 for the championship game. I’m not sure how many ads are sold, but safe to say more than one. That’s a lot of money for the NCAA, not a lot for the actual athletes.

The last few teams that won feature red as a school color. Red typically means rubies, which means it’s going to be expensive to not use enamel (shout out to all my other July birthdays). A “W” with emerald cut amethysts, not so much.  Bezel set that with yellow gold and surround those bad boys with small colorless diamonds and you have the flyest sports championship ring this side of the first Olympics. That’s ballin’ on a budget**.  You could get extra fancy and switch the gold and diamond colors, but let’s keep this fantasy somewhat realistic.

I haven’t itemized it exactly, but I can safely say it’s going to cost a bit more than $415. Nick Saban is getting paid 7.09 million dollars for coaching football, Chris Petersen a paltry 3.6 million. The Patriots spent the most money per ring in 2015 at $36,500, spending a little over 5 million in total; worst case scenario that’s 5 commercials. Assuredly there’s a little wiggle room that we can hook up our student athletes. I sure wouldn’t mind making them :-).

 

-Matthew Raine

 

*you get a little extra money for winning additional games but we’re talking a couple hundred here

**as in life, everything is relative

Disclaimer: Most of these numbers have been found using pretty rudimentary Google searches.

A Brief History of Diamonds: Part 1

In today’s modern environment, it can be pretty difficult to deny the association between diamonds and love. The epitome of the beauty is undeniable in nature, the light and fire in diamonds reflect those same characteristics in our hearts when we see a loved one. The wide spread availability consumer’s enjoy is a modern phenomenon. Diamonds are found in two primary ways: mined from deep within the earth, or alluvially, typically in a riverbank. The classic example of alluvial mining would be prospectors sifting for gold during the California gold rush.

The earliest records of diamonds being discovered originate from India in the 4th century BC, and were almost certainly alluvial. Lacking the technological advancements we enjoy, the diamonds of old were in many ways unrecognizable to the unparalleled brilliance experienced today. Diamonds are the hardest material found in nature, cutting and polishing them requires the utmost skill, concentration, and the correct tools. For centuries, this was done exclusively by hand, using tools coated in diamond dust (the only material that can cut a diamond).  Accordingly, many of the early jewelry featuring diamonds were merely polished surfaces of the shapes naturally occurring, the most desirable being an octahedral.

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While the cutting technology did evolve, it took sourcing much longer. Until the 18th century, India was the only reliable/commercial source of diamonds. Due to India’s location in the center of the Silk Road, diamonds were still able to propagate amongst the wealthy of Europe and Asia.

All of this would change one fateful day in 1866, but that’s a story for another time.

-Matthew Raine