San Francisco jeweler
CLASS IS IN SESSION: THE 4 C’S OF DIAMOND BUYING
Ah yes, summer is almost here and love is in the air. This time of year is famous for intimate proposals and big celebrations. If you’re thinking of popping the big question in the coming months, make sure you do your homework to educate yourself around what to look for when it comes to buying the perfect diamond.
If you can’t list the “4 C’s” of diamond buying off hand, that’s okay… check out our guide below and feel empowered the next time you step into a jewelry store.
So what exactly are the 4 C’ of diamond buying?
CUT- how the diamond is essentially shaped
CLARITY - A scale that determines how clear the diamond is, vs how many imperfections or how much cloudiness exists-- aka: how sparkly the diamond is
CARAT- The weight of the diamond
COLOR- A scale which measure how closely the diamond approach colorlessness
Bonus C: COST- A lot goes into determining this amount. This is an area jewelers get certified in and should be able to explain to you in detail.
Let’s being with CUT:
The cut of the diamond determines how well it reflects light. When a diamond is well cut, the light is reflected from one facet to another, and is then dispersed through the top of the stone, making the diamond dazzling to the eye. However, if a diamond is cut too deep some of the light escapes through the opposite side of the pavilion, brilliance is lost, and the center of the diamond will appear dark. If a diamond is cut too shallow, light escapes through the pavilion before it can be reflected, again brilliance is lost and the diamond will appear glassy and dark.
Cut is the hardest aspect for any diamond cutter or polisher to master, however modern day certificates assist you in making the right decision. GIA (gemological institute of america) is the most respected of all diamond certificates and assesses cut ranging from excellent as the best all the way down to poor as the worst. At La Bijouterie, we strictly work with excellent cut diamonds that have been hand picked to maximize brilliance. Hearts and arrows are a modern term commonly used by most industry workers as a way for the public to view and see eight hearts from the back of a diamond, and eight clearly viable arrows.
At La Bijouterie, we're Certified Diamond Graders from the Gemological Institute of America and the Diamond High Council in Antwerp. It is our duty to show you and explain to you why one diamond's cut is better than another.
Each and every diamond is one of a kind. No single diamond is absolutely perfect under 10× magnification (under a loupe), except for diamonds that have been graded 'flawless' by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). These are extremely rare, so much so that most jewelers have never even seen one let alone sold one! The GIA clarity scale contains 11 grades, with most diamonds falling into the vs (very slightly included) or si (slightly included) categories. In determining a clarity grade, the GIA system considers the size, nature, position, color or relief, and quantity of clarity characteristics visible under 10× magnification.The grades range from flawless to included as follows:
Flawless (fl) - no inclusions or blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification.
Internally flawless (if) - no inclusions and only blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification.
Very, very slightly included (vvs1 and vvs2) – inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10× magnification.
Very slightly included (vs1 and vs2) – inclusions are minor and range from difficult to somewhat easy for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification.
Slightly included (si1 and si2) – inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader under 10x magnification.
Included (i1, i2, and i3) – inclusions are obvious under 10× magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance.
Now that we’ve taken a deep dive into the first and second of the C’s, cut and clarity, let’s move on to carat weight, and no, we’re not talking about the kind you put in a salad. (wink!)
Diamonds and other gemstones are weighed in metric carats. One carat is equal to 0.2 grams. A carat is divided into 100 points. For example, a 50-point diamond weighs 0.50 carats. However, two diamonds of equal carat weight can have very different values depending on the other factors (clarity, color, cut and other dimensions).
Diamonds are valued by how closely they approach colorlessness – the less color in the white diamond, then the higher the value. GIA's color grading scale for diamonds is the industry and international standard.
The scale begins with the letter d, representing colorless, and continues with increasing color to the letter z, which is essentially light yellow or brown. Each letter grade isn't an exact color, but it is a range of color, meaning a diamond of d color at the top of the range will be whiter, while a diamond near the bottom of the range will look more like an e color.
It takes a diamond expert to distinguish these differences. White diamond engagement rings are the most sought after. If you are considering a white diamond, g-h color diamonds are most popular as they do not display a yellow tinge. i to j color diamonds could also look white under natural daylight (sunlight), and there are multiple ways that an expert designer can set the diamond in order to make any hint of yellow undetectable.
Although not an official C, we consider cost just as important as the rest. An experienced jeweler can help you prioritize what is most important to you and your significant other, (say diamond size perhaps), and find you the best options given your criteria and budget. Pricing a diamond is much more complicated than it seems.
We encourage clients, especially those considering the online route, to conduct a little experiment...
Go to a well-known online diamond retailer website.
Enter in the a carat size, color, clarity, and cut into the provided filters (the 4 C's). If you're unsure where to begin, we recommend entering in a carat weight of 1.00, color G, clarity VVS1, and excellent cut. Press search.
Notice the results they give you are vast. Even though the diamonds you are seeing have the exact same specifications, their prices range by the thousands.
Decide which one you should choose and why.
Of course this is easier said than done.The idea of this exercise is to simply show you how complicated it is to choose a diamond. At La Bijouterie, we love helping our customers find the exact diamond that fits any budget and any style, and one that will impress the person on the receiving end.
When it comes to customer experience, you can rest assured that your satisfaction is our utmost concern and that your happiness is our singular focus. Curious to learn more? Book an appointment today and check out our reviews on Yelp. We can’t wait to serve you!
~ The LB Team
The Diamond Industrys Quest To Reduce Its Carbon Footprint and Protect Biodiversity
A few years ago, lab made diamonds made their mark on the diamond industry and shed light on different aspects of the naturally occuring diamond world.
From blood diamonds, or diamonds mined in a war zone and sold to finance an insurgency, to environmental concerns around carbon footprint with mining diamonds and biodiversity, consumers quickly wanted information around the integrity of the naturally occurring diamond they were purchasing and rightfully so.
So what is the natural diamond industry doing to be on the right side of history, especially with many online retailers positioning lab made diamonds as an “ethical choice,” versus natural diamonds? To start, diamond mining is generally less harmful to the environment than other types of mining. Additionally, the orebodies used in mining are vertical not horizontal, ultimately affecting less of the surrounding area. Many companies have established protected habitats adjacent to their operations, often times larger than the mining operation itself.
Over the last few years, the natural diamond industry has set out on its journey to decarbonize in line with global climate targets. As part of their carbon reduction strategies, NDC members are developing renewable energy projects, often in developing countries where it is harder to source energy, as well as engaging in carbon offsetting projects and investing in programs to sequester carbon. (Source)
As much as 99% of the waste from diamond recovery is rock and 84% of the water used in diamond recovery is recycled. The natural diamond industry abides by global environmental standards and stringent national laws. Before a single diamond is recovered, environmental permissions must be granted by governments with a legal obligation for ongoing monitoring, reporting and closure plans.
There are many contributing factors to the difference in carbon emissions recorded by the industry. These include mainly the availability of clean energy at mine locations, the production or yield capacity of a mine and exactly which stages of mining are included in methodologies.
Leaders like De Beers Group have set a goal of becoming carbon neutral across their operations by 2030 and are making progress. This process is broken down into three categories called scopes, each with a different level of goals. The first category titles Scope 1 & 2 includes improving operational efficiency, increasing the use of sustainable fuels, and switching to sustainable drive trains (the components of a motor vehicle that deliver power to the wheels), for vehicles and machinery.
Electrification of mining processes as well as the adoption of hydrogen fuel cells and battery electric vehicles are promising developments for the diamond industry.
Industry leaders have taken strategic steps to develop fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) haulage trucks, and the world’s first fully electric mine at Borden in Canada. Additionally, in Canada, industry leaders are designing a mine which incorporates low-carbon energy and uses only renewable sources and exploring the use of synthetic fuels and biofuels. Switching to more sustainable biofuels for trains has the potential to decrease carbon emissions by over 70% according to McKinsey.
For the emissions that the company cannot mitigate or replace with alternative energy sources, they are engaging in offsetting projects like the Wonderbag initiative, which reinvests carbon offset financing back into communities and is verified by numerous carbon standards and protocols.
As far as humanity is concerned, the isolated nature of prominent diamond mines means the workforce lives close by and develops a community spirit, which the diamond industry supports by investing in hospitals, schools, training and bursary programs.
For example, 33% of Botswana’s GDP comes from diamond mining, and an estimated five million people globally have access to health care thanks to diamond revenues, according to diamondfacts.org.
Today’s mining is not done by hand but is quite automated with miners moving millions of tons of rocks per year. Miners operating large earth loaders in open pits or underground would never even see a diamond. (Read more on this topic)
At La Bijouterie, we never work with conflict diamonds. We strictly work with ethically sourced GIA certified diamonds, and you will receive a GIA certificate and appraisal with your jewel. We want you to know that we’ve worked in the diamond wholesale business for generations and only work with trusted and ethical sources that take pride in where their diamonds are sourced.
Although we love naturally occurring diamonds and pride ourselves on the sourcing of them, we also work a lot with Lab Made diamonds. We feel both play an important role in the diamond industry and do not see one as better than the other. We’re simply here to help educate you, and demystify the sales of naturally occurring diamonds, marketing aside. Consider us your partner in transparency so that you are able to make the best purchasing decision.
We’re always at your service,
Founder of La Bijouterie