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  • 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.

    CLARITY

    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.

    CARAT

    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).

    COLOR

    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.

    Bonus: COST!

    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...

    1. Go to a well-known online diamond retailer website.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. 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

  • Colored Gemstones Are Taking Center Stage

     

     

    Don’t be like the rest of them darling.” - Coco Chanel. 

    In the wise words of Coco Chanel herself, being different and being daring is what gives life it’s luster. Although diamonds may be your best friend, colored gemstones are adding lots of sparkle when it comes to engagement rings, milestone jewelry and heirloom pieces. 

    Colored gemstones such as rubies, sapphires, colored diamonds and emeralds are some of the rarest and most precious stones to own. Check out this historic 6-carat Farness Blue Diamond to get an idea. 

    Today, Millennials are changing the engagement ring market quite a bit, as we are beginning to see a shift in engagement ring preferences. Although brilliant diamonds still reign supreme, more and more gemstone seekers are opting for colored stones and rings made out of unique materials. 

    A Bit of History

    Engagement rings originated in Rome and interestingly enough, did not originally include diamonds, but instead, colored gemstones. It wasn’t until the late 1940’s that diamonds gained popularity. As a matter of fact, pastel colored diamonds are quickly gaining popularity this year. Check out our Latest Trends for 2021 to learn more. 

    The Sapphire

    When it comes to adding color to your jewelry ensemble, there’s more that meets the eye than hue alone. Take Sapphires for example. Arguably, the gemstone of royalty, and often associated with a deep blue color, hello Kate Middleton, Sapphires actually come in every color, with the exception of red. Due to their hardness, sapphires are the second hardest (non-diamond) gem, as well as the most sought after. Their deep rich color and complex properties make them an excellent choice when it comes to creating an engagement ring, milestone gift, or simply as a way to say I love you to your Valentine. Check out this ocean blue Sapphire ring for inspiration.

     

    Emeralds

    It may not be easy being green, but if you’re an emerald, it sure is beautiful. Understood to be Cleopatra’s gem of choice, Emerald gemstones range in green shades from light to a deep dark color. Like Sapphire’s, Emeralds have a hardness of 8, though do require a little extra TLC. Their unique inclusions and fractures require a routine tune up of oil and filler, but their stunning color makes it all worth it. Check out this stunning Oval Emerald Engagement Ring with a Diamond Halo.

     

    Rubies

    A gemstone by any other name, wouldn’t look so sweet. It may come as no surprise the rubies are often associated with love and the heart, which make this gemstone the most universally romantic. When set in an engagement ring, it makes a striking statement. Like a Sapphire, it’s hardness and durability make it a great choice for an engagement ring setting.  According to GemSociety, “Pigeon blood red,” a slightly purplish red with a medium-dark tone and vivid saturation, is the most sought after ruby color. Check out this incredible Art Deco Ruby Ring or these Ruby Earrings with a Diamond Halo

     

    Colored Diamonds

    Did you know Roughly 1 in 10,000 diamonds exhibits natural color? Those with the most intense colors are prized more highly and, thus, cost more. Colored diamond options include bold canary yellow, sparkling pink, pastel green, eye-catching black, and champagne. Pink diamonds rank among the most expensive according to Gem Society due to their muted, yet sophisticated color. Perhaps this Yellow Oval Diamond Ring will make your heart beat a little faster. 

    Looking to give someone you love the gift of a lifetime? Book a no stress appointment today. We look forward to helping you create a one-of-a-kind piece. 

    Merci,

    Set F.

    Founder of La Bijouterie

  • From Clicks to Bricks- A Modern Day Tale of Consumer Buying

     

    Picture Source: Unsplash

     

    If you’ve ever considered the pros and cons of buying a diamond online versus in person, you may be interested to know that Blue Nile, one of the largest online retailers of diamonds, just announced  plans to grow its showroom presence from five to 55 locations within the next three years. Others are also dipping their toes back in the showroom waters, according to The International Council of Shopping Centers.

     

    This brings us to the question of why. As a company, we’ve always believed in the value of in-person shopping, especially as it relates to something as important and meaningful as an engagement ring. Ten years ago, when La Bijouterie was formed, we made the purposeful decision to open a brick and mortar location, not an online store, because we value the importance of helping customers in person, especially when making one the biggest and most emotionally charged decisions of their lives. It seems as though today’s consumers value the same.

     

    According to CBRE Retail Services Group Senior Vice President Danny Jacobson, “all retail is reimagining their store experience, and showrooms are a way to draw more people into their space or to supplement their online offering.” Consumers are wising up to the uncomfortable at best, rules around buying a diamond online, and companies like Blue Nile, implementing the rules, are taking a hit because of it. 

     

    For instance, did you know that online diamond stores do not offer any quality guarantee? If something is in fact wrong with the diamond you purchased, (say an imperfection you weren’t expecting, or the color is off), it would result in you overpaying for a diamond you thought was a great deal. The truth is there is a lot to consider outside of the 4Cs that someone who isn’t in the diamond profession would have no way of knowing. 

     

    This brings us to quality. A diamond should be inspected top to bottom with a magnifying glass by both the jeweler and the buyer, so you have a clear understanding of what you’re actually purchasing. An online website has no pressure to offer you a top quality diamond at a reasonable price since there is no official face to the brand. No one person's name or livelihood is on the line.

     

    Although the customer experience may be at the forefront of why mega online retailers are opening brick and mortar stores, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the need to offset the monetary ramifications of the Tax Lawthat was recently implemented for online diamond retailers. 

     

    More than anything else, placing trust in the establishment you’re buying your diamond from is of utmost importance as it goes hand in hand with the customer experience you hope to receive. 

     

    Buying a diamond online means making one of the biggest financial purchases of your life completely blind. As you might imagine, it takes years to understand and learn how to evaluate a diamond, which is why buying online can be so tricky and unforgiving. 

     

    Do you really want an AI bot determining the future ring or earrings your partner will wear for the rest of their life? Do yourself a favor and go with a jeweler that prides themselves on the customer service they offer, and has many repeat customers. Having a tangible location allows us to meet you in person (safely), and help you every step of the way. 

     

    Have questions? Leave them below or book a no stress appointment to get your questions answered in real time. In the meantime, check out our reviews on Google and Yelp

     

    We can’t wait to see you!

     

    ~ LB 

  • GIA: Fake Certificates Accompanied Lab-Grown, Treated Diamonds

     

     

    Take our word for it, no one likes a dishonest jeweler more than an honest one. Recently, an article was published stating that a jeweler outside of the US who was known to sell lab-grown and treated diamonds had been charged with selling diamonds that had fake GIA inscriptions.

    According to JCKonline, “The inscriptions were linked to GIA grading reports that indicated the accompanying diamonds had higher-quality characteristics than they actually did, '' the publication stated. The accused allegedly “targeted comparatively less-experienced businessmen,” a police inspector told the newspaper.”

    But this wasn’t the only recent report of fraudulent certifications. Another Diamond With Fake GIA Inscription Surfaces, this time in Antwerp. According to the article, “During testing, lab graders discovered the diamond had indeed undergone high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) treatment even though the GIA grading report that corresponded with the inscription number made no mention of color treatment. Upon detailed microscopic investigation, graders noticed that even though the stone’s carat weight, cut and final clarity grade (VS1) matched the report, the clarity characteristics, while “quite similar,” did not match up exactly.”

    If these findings weren’t unsettling enough, these fake certifications tend to happen mostly with lab-grown diamonds. But what does this mean for potential consumers?

    These news articles bring to light some important topics relating to the circulation of fake stones, as well as the legitimacy of the jewler you decide to work with, and the overall integrity of lab grown diamonds.

    As with most things nowadays, the internet is used in the beginning stages of the sales cycle, meaning, individuals start their research there. There are many online websites that promise you a great deal and premium quality, but it’s important to do your own research. 

    At La Bijouterie, we encourage clients to do online research of their own, and then come to us with questions in order to talk through the pricing, certification process, and guarantees you found online. You may be surprised at what you learn, which brings us to our next point-- finding a jeweler you can trust. 

    When it comes to avoiding fake stones, this is where going with a trusted jeweler is imperative. It’s more important than ever to know who you’re working with. But how to find one you ask? We suggest starting with their Yelp and Google reviews. 

    Some questions to ask yourself as you’re browsing include are the reviews mostly positive, and does it seem like this company has a lot of repeat clients? Next, check out their social media pages… are they active, do they engage with those commenting? Do they promise a no stress appointment and are geared towards educating? If not, it’s probably best to keep looking. 

    Remember, when it comes to online shopping, less expensive doesn’t always point to a good deal. Make sure you do your due diligence and understand your 4 C’s of diamond buying and come to the initial meeting with questions. 

    Lastly, when it comes to lab-grown diamonds, here are some things to consider. 

    Although their chemical structure is the same as a natural diamond, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) a lab-created diamond cannot be called “real” because it does not come from the Earth and it is not a gemstone. (Source)

    In trying to differentiate natural diamonds from the lab grown alternative, the Natural Diamond Council quite truthfully underscores natural diamonds' rarity.

    “Natural diamonds are finite and rare. Diamonds are becoming rarer every day because no new significant deposits have been discovered in about 30 years,” it states. However, lab-grown diamonds can be manufactured in potentially unlimited quantities similar to any manufactured product, thus they are not finite and cannot be considered rare.”

    To which, the NDC adds, “Natural diamonds obtain their value from their scarcity as a natural, billion-year-old precious gem and have shown over decades to grow in value as they become more rare.”

    It’s important to consider Price vs Value. When it comes to value, you can’t put a price on rarity. As basic economics states, once demand goes up, and inventory goes down, price goes up. So where does this leave us, as each claims they are better than the other for different reasons? More importantly, how does one ensure they are not getting taken advantage of? In our optionion, it all comes down to trust and transparency.

    At La Bijouterie, our sole purpose is to help couples achieve a milestone moment in their lives any way we can. We believe in integrity, only working with distributions we have a personal relationship with, quality over quantity, and educating always. Before pulling the trigger on such an important decision, book a no stress 30 minute 1:1 appointment.

    At Your Service,

    Set F.

    Founder, La Bijouterie

     

  • Opening Pandora's Box 

     

     

     

    If you happen to keep a pulse on diamond industry latest news, it’s likely you heard about Pandora, a jewelry charm company’s latest announcement regarding their “honorable” venture to only use lab made diamonds for environmentally friendly reasons. 

    At a first glance these headlines make this decision seem responsable, even honorable, but in further unearthing the claims Pandora makes, it’s quite evident that the only thing they have successfully done is fooled the mainstream media, lost the trust of future customers, and made a mockery of themselves. 

    Are Lab Grown and Naturally Occurring  Diamonds Really The Same?

    The first claim they make is that lab made diamonds have similar properties to that of a naturally occurring diamond. In actuality, a lab-grown diamond is a man-made product that shares the chemical and optical properties of natural diamonds, but whose origin and value differ greatly. 

    Lab-grown diamonds are produced in factories in approximately 2-3 weeks using one of two methods originally developed in the 1960s for industrial purposes – HPHT and CVD. These methods artificially replicate natural conditions found in the Earth, forcing carbon atoms into a crystal structure. In more recent years, technology improvements have allowed factories to produce lab-grown diamonds in qualities that allow for uses beyond industrial. (Source)

    Although their chemical structure is the same as a natural diamond, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) a lab-created diamond cannot be called “real” because it does not come from the Earth and it is not a gemstone. (Source)

    Only a natural diamond has the rarity that supports its economic and emotional value. Consumers use diamonds as a symbol of love for that very reason. We all want to feel special, unique and rare, especially in our relationships, and a diamond communicates that message.(Read more on this topic)

    But people buy diamonds because they know they are literally buying a piece of the earth- a precious gem that was fostered over the course of millions of years, and then transformed by artisans and professionals into a beautifully shining stone. This is the value and the magic carried out by natural diamonds, and purchasing a diamond means respecting the way nature intended it to be formed. 

    Alternatively, what value does a man made diamond carry? The rough material is made in machines and machines can transform them into polished stones like cookie cutters because not a lot of work is needed around a pattern similar to that of a waffle- and you already know what it’s composed of.

    Man made diamonds carry the same value as any other machine made products, while diamonds carry an almost priceless value. Something that can be cherished for generations. (Read more about this topic)

    Are Lab Grown Diamonds Better For the Environment?

    Pandora wastes no time positioning lab made diamonds as an “ethical choice,” versus natural diamonds. It’s quite ironic that they should bring ethics into what could be considered the diamond industries greatest marketing ploy in quite some time, especially considering Pandora used mined diamonds in about 50,000 of the 85 million pieces it created in 2020. 

    This misleading narrative has conveniently left out the fact that 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.

    The isolated nature of 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)

    What About The Future of the Diamond Industry?

    We’re reaching a point in our industry where lines are being drawn in the hypothetical man made versus lab made diamond sand. Customers will have no choice but to decide if they’re for or against the marketing manufactured narrative relating to lab made diamonds, and the type of impermanence they offer, or if they believe in the true value of a man made diamond. 

    It will likely come down to what feels right for you as an individual and what tangible legacy you’re hoping to leave behind. A family heirloom perhaps? 

    Coaching individuals through decisions such as these is what we pride ourselves on, and have been doing for the last 10 years. (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’ve worked in the diamond wholesale business for generations and only work with trusted and ethical sources.

    If you’re not sure where to begin in your quest for a diamond, come talk to us. What we pride ourselves on most is educating individuals and helping you make decisions in a no pressure environment. You can book an appointment today or read our client reviewson Yelp.

    We’re always at your service,

    Set F.

    Founder of La Bijouterie

  • The Future of Lab Grown Diamonds vs Real Diamonds

     

    “I do not believe you can do today’s job with yesterday’s methods and be in business tomorrow.”- Horatio Nelson Jackson, American Physician and Automobile Pioneer  

    At La Bijouterie, we believe in innovation, as it’s the key to success in almost any industry. When Lab Grown Diamonds (LGD) joined the greater diamond discussion a few years ago, we knew it was time to start educating our customers in new ways, and share the depth of knowledge we have about the diamond industry as a whole. It was time to focus on the future. Because of this, we have an obligation to be upfront and factual in the information we share, and present it in a way that is unbiased and educational as it relates to Lab Grown vs Real Diamonds. 

    Educating our clients brought up many questions, but one in particular we feel is worth a longer explanation...

    What place does a lab made diamond have in the future, especially compared to real, naturally occurring diamonds? 

    Our hope is this blog post will be part of that greater conversation for you. Know that the best way to find out the answer to this question is to book a virtual or in-person 1:1appointment to further the discussion in order to make your own educated decision. Then you will have the opportunity to ask as many questions as you’d like.

    What is a Lab Grown Diamond (LGD)?

    A lab-grown diamond is a man-made product that shares the chemical and optical properties of natural diamonds, but whose origin and value differ greatly. Lab-grown diamonds are produced in factories in approximately 2-3 weeks using one of two methods originally developed in the 1960s for industrial purposes – HPHT and CVD. These methods artificially replicate natural conditions found in the Earth, forcing carbon atoms into a crystal structure. In more recent years, technology improvements have allowed factories to produce lab-grown diamonds in qualities that allow for uses beyond industrial. (Source)

    So Are LGDs Actual Diamonds?

    Although their chemical structure is the same as a natural diamond, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) a lab-created diamond cannot be called “real” because it does not come from the Earth and it is not a gemstone. (Source)

    By this point, you may be feeling confused. How are you supposed to make a decision on whether to move forward with a naturally occurring diamond, (and which one?) vs one that is Lab Grown? Why is the word diamond in the title if they are not in fact diamonds? Do real diamonds hold their value? What about pricing? The environment? 

    Other Expert Opinions

    In trying to differentiate natural diamonds from the lab grown alternative, theNatural Diamond Council quite truthfully underscores natural diamonds rarity.

    “Natural diamonds are finite and rare. Diamonds are becoming rarer every day because no new significant deposits have been discovered in about 30 years,” it states. “However, lab-grown diamonds can be manufactured in potentially unlimited quantities similar to any manufactured product, thus they are not finite and cannot be considered rare.”

    To which, the NDC adds, “Natural diamonds obtain their value from their scarcity as a natural, billion-year-old precious gem and have shown over decades to grow in value as they become more rare.”

    There are a lot of things to consider here, and we’ve found one of the most important things to consider is Price vs Value. 

    Price vs Value

    In its 2019 report, Bain gave more specifics, noting the lab-grown market grew 15% to 20% in 2019, following a similar trajectory in 2018.

    That increase is credited to “the widening price differential of lab-grown diamonds versus natural ones and campaigns that leveraged the ‘green’ benefits of manufactured stones,” the report states.(Source)

    When it comes to value, you can’t put a price on rarity. As basic economics states, once demand goes up, and inventory goes down, price goes up. So where does this leave us, as each claim they are better than the other for different reasons? More importantly, where does the future of Lab Grown Diamonds lie? Well that answer is entirely up to you as the consumer. 

    At La Bijouterie, our sole purpose is to help couples achieve a milestone moment in their lives any way we can. We believe in quality over quantity, and educating always. Before pulling the trigger on such an important decision,book a no stress 30 minute 1:1 appointment.

    At Your Service,

    Set F.

    Founder, La Bijouterie