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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Founder of La Bijouterie
Despite A Third Covid Winter, US Retail Sales Are Jumping
It would have been impossible to predict the ripple effect the Covid-19 virus and global pandemic has had on the retail economy. What the world initially thought would be the demise of brick and mortar businesses, ended up being an opportunity for them to pivot and get to the core of what their consumers were looking for.
For many consumers, it was a moment of realization-- that when it comes to buying something as personal and monumental as an engagement ring, in-person is always the best option.
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), "US retail sales rose in September 2021 as consumer fears over the Covid-19 Delta variant redirected spending toward goods rather than services. However, it’s possible September spending could have grown even more if not for the shipping bottleneck at US ports. Overall, the September report is very promising for a strong finish for the year. In September alone, sales increased year on year in all nine of the categories the US Census Bureau monitors. The clothing and accessories segment — which includes jewelry — had the highest growth, up 23%.”
This data tells us that people are choosing to celebrate major life milestones now more than ever. If nothing else, being caught in a pandemic has forced each of us to realize the fragility of life, and why spending it and celebrating with those with love should never be taken for granted.
Even during the height of lockdown, when people were hesitant to see family, we found that our customers still opted to come in person in order to learn about the diamond buying and ring creation process. Our incredible customers still wanted to see and touch and purchase in person. They wanted to get to know our team and build a level of trust. These are the reasons why in-person diamond shopping can never be replaced by a website’s algorithms or AI bots.
Logistically speaking, 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. A much different scenario for local retailers.
Last March, Blue Nile, one of the largest online retailers of diamonds, 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, as some things just don’t translate well to an online shopping experience.
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.
Want to learn more about our thoughts on purchasing a diamond online? Check out our previous blog post, “5 Reasons to Think Twice Before Buying a Diamond Online”.
There is no denying the retail industry is alive and well. 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,
Founder, La Bijouterie
How to Buy The Perfect Diamond To Last a Lifetime In 4 Simple Steps
So you’re thinking of buying that special someone in your life a piece of timeless jewelry, or more specifically, a diamond ring, but where do you even begin?
This is a question we love to simplify for potential buyers because let’s face it, diamond buying can get overwhelming. Typically speaking, having an initial meeting with your jeweler 4 months before you’d like to propose is what we would recommend. With that said, there are certain rings that need far less lead time.
Below we’ve broken down “How to Buy the Perfect Diamond” into four simple steps for consideration:
Step 1: Play Detective
It’s important to have an idea as to what style jewelry your partner typically wears. Are they into bulky style jewelry or more minimal, dainty jewelry? Do they like gold, white gold or platinum? What about diamond shape, have they ever mentioned a style or pointed to a ring they like? Having a general understanding of these answers will help you when making your decision.
When it comes to size, this can be tricky. If you want to keep everything a surprise, you can try to measure by “borrowing” a ring they typically wear and getting it sized, or having them try on one of your rings to get a general idea. Also, never underestimate their friends. Who knows, their BFF might already be prepared for this question.
Ring Design Pro tip: Search their name on Pinterest to see if they’ve pinned any engagement ring styles, as this could be your north star. Otherwise, check out our list of Engagement Rings Trends for 2021 for a little inspiration.
Step 2: Search out some reputable jewelry stores
From Yelp to Google, spending a little time finding a local store that has good reviews, (and plenty of them), is important. You want to find a jeweler you feel you can trust and ask questions to in-person or over the phone. This will likely be the most important part of your shopping experience.
Any jeweler worth your time should have no problem sitting down and educating you on the GIA and AGS grading scale of the 4 C’s, (Cut, Clarity, Color and Carat), as well as how their process typically works.
Do they custom create the ring for you or do they have rings available to buy off their display, or both? We often get asked our thoughts on buying a diamond online, you can read our full post on why we think local connections are so important.
Step 3: Start creating a plan
You definitely don’t need to have it all figured out, as a matter of fact, we hope you don’t, but it is important to have a general understanding of how much you would like to spend, and a list of questions or concerns you’d like to address. Your budget will help determine things like diamond carat size, clarity and color. Check out our Diamond Education Page for more information, specifically the 4 C’s of Diamond Buying.
Step 4: Book an Appointment
We believe the only way to truly understand what you’re looking for and provide you with the attention you deserve is through an appointment. This enables us to talk through a budget you’re comfortable with and show you some of our many designs. We see the appointment phase in 3 easy steps:
First, we sit down and get to know you. Unlike other stores, we pride ourselves on the relationships we build with our customers. Ask us any questions you may have or share any concerns that might be lingering and let us show you what being part of the La Bijouterie family is all about.
Second, we find your diamond. No matter your preference on cut, color, clarity, carat size and cost, we can find you the perfect diamond at prices that work for your budget.
Lastly, together we design your ring. From sketches and Pinterest pictures, we have seen and heard it all. Let us help guide you to create the perfect ring to last a lifetime.
Founder of 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,
Founder of La Bijouterie
The Benefits of Private Labels in the Diamond Industry
When it comes to buying jewelry around the holidays, the number of retailers to consider may seem endless. From those claiming to have fair trade diamonds or lab made diamonds, to big name brands with striking store fronts, or that friend of a friend jeweler who will give you a great deal. Figuring out a jeweler to move forward with is no small feat.
So where to begin? Starting from what’s most important to you and your partner will be key. Then, find a jeweler who compliments those areas – quality, customer service, etc.
Recent studies have shown that the majority of Millennial and Gen-Z consumers enjoy on-trend jewelry, but don’t want to pay the name brand prices. Thanks to this wide growing population of customers, private labels are having quite the moment.
In the jewelry world, private label jewelry manufacturers are companies that make jewelry on behalf of a partner business. Private labeling means the jeweler has complete control over product specs such as design, pricing, size, packaging and distribution. Put in simpler terms, private label jewelry translates to great products at a more reasonable price, with more room and budget left for innovation. Best of all, jewelers are able to make custom products for far less than big brands, ultimately passing those savings onto customers.
Still not convinced a private label jewelry store is the way to go? Then check our Top Four Reasons to consider it:
Cost- Private labeling means jewelers have autonomy over the creation process and are able to cut out the middle man.With lower operating costs, this leaves your private label jeweler room to provide the price discounts directly to you.
Trust & Stability- Today’s consumers choose private label jewelry products for quality, consistency, and affordability. Even in economic downturns, private label goods enjoy steady sales thanks to lower price points which means you don’t have to worry about them going out of business and needing to find a new jeweler for future purchases. You can feel confident in the products you choose to buy from private label jewelers because jewelers must be subject-matter experts and industry innovators in order to create products that meet customers’ needs. In order for a private jeweler to be successful, they would have had to have done the research and developed the best quality products. Read our article, The Diamond Industries Two Truths and a Lie.
Customization & Variety- Private label jewelry enables jewelers to customize their product line to fit the needs and wants of you, their valued customer. These small batch capabilities allow them to produce store-brand products that are unique to your design specifications, while also providing a wide variety of possibilities, a far cry from cookie cutter engagement ring settings.
Quality & Consistency- Being able to offer a signature product line comes with exclusivity and the ability to design a one of a kind piece of art. Unlike other big name brands, smaller jewelers provide the best possible customer service in the industry. They can articulate where their diamonds come from, help educate you, and work with your unique budget. Smaller jewelry retailers are typically in it for the long haul and rely on you sharing your positive experience with others, as they are determined to earn your loyalty.
So the next time you’re in the market for a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry, consider the many benefits of choosing a private label jewelry store like La Bijouterie.
To book a stress free appointment and learn about our unique three step design process, click here.
Founder, La Bijouterie
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About The Diamond Industry
You’re about to make the biggest purchase of your life, yet wish you could clarify a few questions and clear up a few rumors you have heard about the diamond industry as a whole. Well look no further because we’re debunking some of the common misconceptions in hopes you breathe a sigh of relief.
Myth: Diamond mining is terrible for the environment
Reality: Considering little to no chemicals are used during diamond mining, (which would otherwise be harmful to the staff’s health), 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.
Myth: There is a high chance that you could buy a conflict diamond
Reality: One of the most popularized myths of all is the issue of conflict diamonds — or “blood diamonds”. During the brutal civil wars in Sierra Leone and Angola in the 1990s, the diamond industry has made great strides given what this time unveiled. Since the introduction of the Kimberley Process (KP) certification scheme and the World Diamond Council (WDC) System of Warranties, more than 99.8% of the world’s diamonds are certified conflict-free, with the support of 81 countries.
Today the industry is mostly self-regulated, and various countries have additional layers of government regulation in place. The UK’s Government Diamond Office, for example, works closely with HM Revenue & Customs, the European Commission and civil groups to combat illicit diamonds.
Additionally, there are voluntary and self-regulation systems that are effective in maintaining the diamond pipeline. Like most jewelers, we want to ensure our customers have the confidence to know that our source of supply is conflict-free. Additionally, may jewelers subscribe to the Responsible Jewelery Council, De Beers’ Best Practice Principles, and the Signet Responsible Sourcing Protocol.
Myth: The diamond industry is a monopoly, owned by De Beers.
Reality: The good news is no one company has had controlled the market for decades. This myth dates back to the 1980’s when De Beers did indeed control over 90% of the supply chain and was almost wholly responsible for marketing diamonds, having developed its famous “A Diamond Is Forever” slogan in the 1940s. This also led to the perception that De Beers “invented” the diamond engagement ring, when in fact the first was recorded as early as 1477 byArchduke Maximillian of Austria, who commissioned the very first diamond engagement ring on record for his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy.
By the 1990s, the market for new mining companies opened, breaking the hold that De Beers and Alrosa had on the industry and ushering in a new wave of diamond discoveries in Angola and Canada, according to Pouroulis.
Today De Beers company share of the diamond market is closer to 35%, while five other companies divide the remaining 65% of diamond share.
Myth: Diamond mining individuals and communities are mistreated and at-risk
Reality: To first understand why this myth is so false, you must first understand how the mining process works and how much diamond mines actually help strengthen a community. 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.
Myth: The diamond industry is secretive and closed to outsiders and not to be trusted.
Reality: This myth simply stems from a place of fear. The high-value nature of diamonds may be to blame for the presumption that the industry is filled with inaccessible people and organizations, more comfortable with secrecy than transparency. The reality is there is a whole spectrum of hard-working people all at different levels of financial success. Just like any business, success in the diamond industry is all dependent on how a business has been built.
It’s not uncommon for society to expect to see businesses reporting on their social activities, financials and stakeholders to increase transparency and trust. This shift in societal expectation has created major changes in the diamond sector for the better - more transparency and more trust.
You might also be pleased to know that diamond retailers such as De Beers are not sitting on stockpiles of diamonds nowadays, but instead build up inventory before making a sale as any retailer would.
Have a question that wasn’t addressed above? Leave us a comment below!
The Rise of Local Connections
It’s an all too common misconception that purchasing a diamond online is cheaper than ordering one through a brick and mortar retailer. This misconception stemmed mostly from the lack of sales tax for online purchases. Did you know that as of December 1, 2018, online retailers began collecting and remitting sales tax for online orders placed by consumers, making the idea of a blind, online purchase, even less appealing.
The once financial benefit of buying a diamond online has drastically changed. Today more than ever, consumers are looking to have a local connection with a jeweler and build a level of trust before making such a large financial decision. The bond you build during an educational in-person visit is unmatched.
Take Blue Nile for example, a diamond retail company that was born online and built to disrupt the whole diamond/jewelry business. They have now been forced to open five retail stores just to stay relevant.
The idea of wanting human to human interaction isn’t something new. Today, consumers want to be educated and feel like they’re not getting taken advantage of, regardless of the industry.
When purchasing an engagement ring, they want to physically see the diamond they are purchasing and play an instrumental role in the process of designing it for their significant other.
The truth is, when it comes to diamond shopping, there’s a lot more to consider than just the listed price on the website.
For one, you want to ensure you’re being offered a quality guarantee. This means if something is in fact wrong with the diamond you purchased, (say an imperfection you weren’t expecting, or the color is off), you want to know that this can all be taken care of for you. With an online purchase, this type of quality guarantee just doesn’t exist. Buying a diamond with no guarantee could result in you overpaying for a diamond you thought was a great deal.
A second thing to consider is the Customer Experience. 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. Sure you can try to pawn-off a faulty diamond, but you will end up losing hundreds, if not thousands in the process. Do yourself a favor and go with a jeweler that prides themselves on the customer service they offer, and has many repeat customers.
Purchasing a diamond online means you’re not able to work with an experienced jeweler to come up with a diamond ring, (setting and all), that fits within your budget. It’s a common misconception that a shopping online will get you a better deal. 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.
At La Bijouterie, our goal is to find a diamond that makes sense for you by sharing our years of knowledge to help you make the best decision. The in-person shopping experience is here to stay, we are for it. As a matter of fact, we’re huge purveyors of it.