Learning Guide

Understanding Diamonds

It is necessary for you to understand diamonds before you begin shopping. Learning about diamonds is about learning the 4Cs – Cut, Clarity, Color and Carat.

Around the world, the 4C method is the standard practice used when classifying diamonds. As you can imagine, a diamond with the combination of the highest 4C rating is indeed a more beautiful, rare and more expensive item. Do take note that all the 4Cs are equally important and each of the 4Cs will not diminish in value over time.

Cut
Cut refers to the angles and proportions of a diamond. A well-cut diamond will reflect light from one facet to another on the inside, and reflect it outwards through the top of the stone resulting in a beautiful display of brilliance. A well-cut diamond stands higher on the Diamond Quality Pyramid than deep or shallow cut diamonds (diamonds that are cut too deep or too shallow loses or leaks light through the sides or the bottom of the stone, which make up for less brilliance and value).

Diamond comes in various cuts such as round, square, marquis, pear or heart shapes.

Clarity
Clarity refers to the presence of inclusions in a diamond. What are inclusions? Inclusions are natural identifying characteristics that form while diamonds are still in the earth. Inclusions can be minerals or fractures that look like tiny crystals, clouds or feathers in the diamond. A jeweler assesses a diamond’s inclusions by using a magnifying loupe. A magnifying loupe can allow a jeweler to view a diamond at 10 times its real size.

The presence of inclusions and (its position) in a diamond can affect its value. Inclusions are ranked on a scale of clarity. The clarity scale ranges from F, for Flawless, to I, for Included. These classes of scales are based on the visibility of inclusions at a magnification of 10 times.

Some inclusions in a diamond may be hidden by its mounting, thus minimizing the inclusions’ effects on the beauty of a diamond. Nevertheless, if the inclusion of the diamond is positioned in the middle or the top of a diamond, this could affect the dispersion of light in the diamond and render it less brilliant. The higher the diamond’s clarity, the more beautiful, rare and valuable it will be – and the higher it goes on the hierarchy of the Diamond Quality Pyramid.

Color
Colour refers to the degree to which a diamond is colourless. Diamonds range in colours – from icy winters to warm summer whites – and are graded through a colour scale. Colour differences in diamonds are very subtle to see with the naked eye; therefore colours are graded under controlled lighting conditions and are compared to a master set (something like a master key for stones) for accuracy.

Warm coloured diamonds, ranging from K to Z, are most suitable set in yellow gold. Whereas the icy winter white diamonds, ranging from D to J, are beautiful when set in platinum or white gold. The truly colourless diamonds are graded D and are famous for their rarity and rate the highest on the Diamond Quality Pyramid. Ultimately, the colour of the diamond comes down to personal taste.

Carat
Carat is a reference word to the weight of a diamond. Carat is often confused with size, when it actual fact it is a measure of weight. A carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams. A carat can also be divided into 100 3points.2 Therefore, a .75 carat diamond is the same as a 75-points or 3/4 carat diamond.

If we follow this guideline, then a 1 carat diamond should cost the same as 2 half-carat diamonds, true? The answer is no. Large diamonds are quite rare to chance upon, and this puts them in the rarest level of the Diamond Quality Pyramid. Following this guideline then, a 1-carat diamond will definitely cost more than 2 half-carat diamonds (assuming color, clarity and cut of the former is in line with the carat too). The cut and mounting of a diamond can effectively make it appear larger or smaller than its weight.

Certificate
The diamond certificate, also called a grading report is a complete evaluation of your diamond that has been performed by a qualified professional with the help of special gemological instruments. It is necessary for you to understand the importance of the certificate when buying a diamond as certification gives you the power to purchase a diamond with the characteristics you want at a fair market price.

Understanding Gemstones

Gemstones have delighted and inspired mankind for centuries. Same as diamonds, gemstone value and quality are evaluated based on the 4Cs – Cut, Clarity, Color and Carat. There is also the fifth element – Perception.

Cut
A gemstone’s cut refers to its proportions and symmetry and is essential in making a gemstone look appealing. A well-cut, faceted gemstone reflects light evenly across its surface area when held face-up. A good-cut gemstone can add or subtract quite a lot of beauty to a stone. If the stone is cut too deep or narrow, the areas will be dark. If the stone is cut too shallow and wide, the light will leak from the stone causing it to look lifeless or washed-out.

Clarity
A flawless gemstone is rare and usually extravagantly priced. As with diamonds, most gemstones have inclusions, or tiny mineral flaws, that can be seen under magnification or by the careful eye.

Color
Colour is the most important factor when it comes to selecting coloured gemstones. It is often misinterpret that the darker the colour the better the stone.

Colour can be too dark for instance some sapphires look more black than blue. If the coloured gemstones are overly dark, it tends to be subdued and lifeless. The rule of thumb is the brighter, richer and more vivid the colour, the better. Within each gemstones variety it is the clear, medium-tone, very intense and saturated basic colour that is most preferred. Muted colours or colours between hues are usually less expensive.

The conclusion is, always remember to look at the colour of the gemstones in different kinds of light, since the light spectrum can affect gem colour greatly.

Carat
Gemstones are generally sold by weight instead of size. Some stones are denser than others, the same weight stone may be of a different size. The carat weight also affects the price. Large gemstones are rare, therefore it is more valuable.

Perception
The better the final visual of all the quality factors of the stone the more valuable the stone is. However, different varieties of gemstones have different prices. This what we called perception.

The cheaper coloured gemstones are those that are readily available as well as the lower demand coloured stones (brown and yellow stones). There are many beautiful, rare gemstones that cost less than gems that are common – simply because they possess an uncommon name. People tends to relate them to an inexpensive item.

The more common gemstones are ruby, sapphire and emerald. They are often termed as “precious stones”. Other coloured gemstones are called “semi-precious stones”.

Understanding Pearls

Pearls, June’s birthstone is an organic gem, created when an oyster covers a foreign object with beautiful layers of nacre. Shopping for pearls involves paying attention to a few important elements. High quality pearl jewelleries should consists a few factors, for example, high luster, good surface quality as well as matching colour, shape and sizes.

Luster
Luster is defined as the shine and glow of the pearl and it is the most important factor when deciding the value of the pearl. The quality of pearls is judged by the orient, which is the soft iridescence caused by the refraction of light by the layers of nacre – the layers of calcium carbonate that make up the pearl.

The longer the pearl is left in the oyster, the thicker the nacre. The thicker the nacre, the more lustrous the pearl. Though there are exceptions to that rule, the amount of nacre determines the reflective quality of the pearl’s surface. And luster is the most important factor determining the quality of a pearl. It is especially important that the surface be without blemish, because luster is more often seen on a smooth surface without ridges that deflect the light.

A good quality pearl should be bright and not dull.

Surface Quality
Pearls are organic gems and natural. When a pearl is look closely, they tend to have flaws such as tiny spots, bumps, or wrinkles. Pearls with fewer or lesser surface markings are rare and valuable.

Color
Pearl comes in various colours, ranging from silvery white, to pinkish, to black. The consistency of the colour affects the value of the pearl. In some cases, fashion trends as well as colour demands will also affect the price of the pearl.

Shape
Pearls comes in many shapes, depending on how they are formed within the mollusk. Pearls usually comes in round, perfectly round. Round pearls are rare, not to mention, pearls that are flawless is even rarer. For this matter, pearls that are round and flawless are valuable and expensive.

Size
Pearl’s size is the diameter of the pearl measured in milimeter. Round pearls are measured according to their diameter while oval-shaped pearls are measured by their length and width.

The size of the oyster greatly affects the size of the pearl it creates. The larger the mollusks the larger the pearl. It is very rare and valuable to find large pearls.

To culture a large pearl, a large nucleus needs to be implanted into the oyster that will increase the chance of the mollusk rejecting the nucleus or died before a pearl is developed. On the other hand, a large nucleus can also affect the formation of the pearl. It is more likely that a large, mature pearl have greater surface defects.

Pearl size does not indicate its quality. However, the pearl size does affect the price. The large the pearl, the more expensive it is.

Understanding Precious Metals

Platinum and gold are one of the rearest precious metals in the world. Nothing shines a good as gold, platinum and silver.

Gold
Gold is durable, sturdy, dependable and make an ideal setting for diamond jewellery.

Gold’s purity is measured in karats. “Karat” originates from the ancient bazaar where “carob” beans were used to weigh precious metals. 24 karat is pure gold, but its purity means it is more expensive and less durable than gold that is alloyed with other metals that can provide greater strength, durability and colour range. The karatage of gold will specify the percentage of gold, for example 24 karat is 100 percent, 18 karat is 75 percent and 14 karat is 58 percent of gold. The higher the value of karat the higher the value.

Always look for the karat mark when purchasing gold items. 18 karat gold is 18/24ths or three-quarters pure gold. It will be marked as 18k or 750 meaning 75% gold. Always look for the karat mark or “k” that appears at the back of the piece.

There are 3 types of gold, namely gold filled, gold plate and gold leaf. Gold Filled, also called Gold Overlay refers to a layer of at least 10-karat gold that has been premanently bonded by heat and pressure to one or more surfaces of the support metal, then rolled or drawn to a prescribed thickness. The karat gold must be at least 1/10 of the total weight. Gold Plate means a layer of plating of 10-karat gold or better has been bonded to a base metal. The karat gold content may be less than 1/20, but it must be properly identified by weight in terms of total metal content. Gold Leaf is just gold plating that’s been pounded and applied by hand.

There are 3 types of gold – Yellow Gold, White Gold and Rose Gold. Yellow gold is alloyed with silver and copper. It is the most frequently used type of gold there is. Malleable, ductile, and generally non-corrosive, it has a high melting point and is not susceptible to compression. White gold is alloyed with a large percentage of silver or a selection of other white metals. The percentage of gold naturally varies, according to the amount of other metal used. White gold is highly reflective and not subject to tarnish. Rose gold is alloyed with copper and some silver. The proportions are one part of copper to three parts of 24-karat gold.

Gold pricing is based on karatage, gram weight, design and craftsmanship. The karatage and gram weight indicates the amount of gold in a piece of gold jewellery. Other important factor to consider is it’s construction and design. The techniques of construction can make a piece more durable and flexible. Gold jewellery is mainly produced by machine. Therefore, for hand finishing or additional textural interest will increase the price.

Silver
Silver – the “Queen of Metals” is desribed as gleaming and elegant, cool to the eye and sensuous to the touch.

Silver jewellery is a classic gift that remains close to a woman’s heart. It is used not only for decorative, it often carries with it the appeal of a tender sentiment or a lovely memory. And it possesses a sophistication that every woman understands. For men, the perfect gift in silver might be a pair of sterling silver cuff links, a tie pin, a bracelet or even a ring. Silver is definately a gift of distinction.

Before purchasing silver jewelleries, also check that there are no physical blamishes or imperfections. Make sure that the fasteners, clasps and catches work fine and are secure. When purchasing pins and earrings, remember to check on the posts for strength and durability. Lay silver chains flat to make certain their links don’t kink or bend.

Platinum
Platinum is the most durable of fine jewellery metals. It does not chip or splinter easily, making it perfect for diamond and gemstone settings.

Platinum in jewellery is alloyed the the group of 6 heavy metals, namely platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and osmium. Today, platinum is alloyed with copper and titanium.

Platinum is the only precious metal used in fine jewelleries that is 90 to 95% pure, largely hypoallergenic and tarnish resistant. Platinum are marked with 900pt, 950pt or Plat.

Jewellery Care – How Do I Take Care Of Jewellery?

Jewellery needs some care though it is made from some of the world’s finest substances, gemstones and precious metals. By following a few easy guidelines will definately make the shine on your jewellery lasts for years.

Always remember to keep your jewellery clean from lotions, powders and soaps. Natural skin oils can build up on your jewellery therefore reducing brilliance of the gems. Rings tend to collect dust and soap behind the stone, particularly if you wear them all the time. To clean transparent crystalline gemstones, soak them in water with a tinch of gentle soap or ammonia. If necessary, use a soft toothbrush to scrub behind the stone. After brushing, rinse with lukewarm water and allow them to dry. Grease can be removed from plain karat gold jewellery by dipping it into ordinary rubbing alcohol. Rubbing with a soft chamois cloth is an effective way to keep gold jewellery shining.

Always store your jewellery in a clean, dry place. A fabric-lined jewellery box with compartmets and dividers is perfect. However, if you prefer to use an ordinary box, wrap each piece individually in soft tissue paper. Store each piece of gemstone jewellery seperately so that harder stones do not scratch softer ones. Almost every gemstone is much harder than the metal it is set in. Gems can scratch the finish on your gold, silver or platinum if you throw your jewellery in a heap in a drawer or jewellery box.

Do not use chlorine to immerse your jewellery. It is a good idea to remove jewellery before entering a chlorinated pool or hot tub or putting your hands into water with bleach. Chlorine, especially at high temperatures, can permanently damage or discolour your gold jewellery.

There are many types of small machines on the market that will clean jewellery using high-frequency sound. These ultrasonic cleaners can be a convenient way to quickly clean your jewellery at home. However, ultrasonic cleaners can damage some jewelry, particularly pieces set with pearls or coloured gemstones.

Even the hardest gemstones can be vulnerable to breakage if they have inclusions that weaken the crystal structure. Always remember to remove your jewellery during strenuous work or exercise. Diamonds are the hardest substance on earth but they can shatter in two with a single well-placed blow. Rubies and sapphires are the toughest gems but even they can chip if hit sharply. Take particular care if you have a ring set with a gem variety with a hardness less than 7 or an included stone. Treat each piece of fine jewellery you own with respect and you will enjoy it forever.

Cultured Pearls
To clean cultured pearls, apply cosmetics, hair sprays and perfume before putting on any pearl jewellery. When you remove the pearl jewellery, wipe it carefully with a soft cloth to remove trances of these substances. You can also use mild soap and water to wash your pearl jewellery. Do not clean cultured pearls with any chemicals, abrasives or solvents. These substances can damage your pearls. Do not toss your cultured pearl jewellery into a purse, bag or jewel box. A pearl’s surface is soft and can be scratched by hard metal edges or by the harder gemstones of other jewellery pieces. Place cultured pearls in a chamois bag or wrap them in tissue when putting them away.

Sterling Silver
To clean your sterling silver jewellery, use a mild soap and water solution and allow the water to bead up before patting dry with a soft cloth. For more stubborn dirt, use a jewellery cleaner designed for silver use. Take not that if you do use silver cleaner, make sure you keep it away from any gems set in the silver. Store your silver jewellery in a cool, dry place preferably in a tarnish-preventive bag or wrapped in a soft piece of felt or cloth. Store pieces individually so that they don’t knock together and scratch. Do not rub silver with anything other than a polishing cloth or a fine piece of felt. Tissue paper or paper towels can cause scratches because of the fibers in these products. Make sure your silver is not exposed to air and light during storage: this can cause silver to tarnish. Do not wear sterling silver in chlorinated water or when working with domestic cleaners.

Gemstones
Due to the softer nature of opals, it require special care. Never user an ultrasonic cleaner, amonia and avoid heat and strong light that will dry out the water in the opals. Opal rings should not be worn during strenuous work or exercise. They will chip if accidentally hit with a sharp blow. Organic gems like coral and amber should only be wiped clean with a moist cloth. Due to their organic nature, these gems are both soft and porous. Be careful about chemicals in hairspray, cosmetics, or perfume: they can damage organic gems. Opaque gemstones like lapis lazuli, turquoise, and malachite, require special care. Never use an ultrasonic cleaner, ammonia or any chemical solution. These gem materials should just be wiped clean gently with a moist cloth. These gemstones can be porous and may absorb chemicals, even soap as they may build up inside the stone and discolour it.

These gemstones are essentially rocks, not crystals of a single mineral. Think about it: when you put a rock in water, it absorbs the water and is moist all the way through. A single crystal gem like sapphire will not absorb water: all the molecules are lined up so tightly in the crystal that there is no room for water to enter.