The Diamond Industry is currently whispering and trying to resolve their concerns & fears regarding synthetic diamonds (i.e. lab-grown). The drama started when recent parcels of synthetic diamonds were submitted to grading labs (in several countries) as natural diamonds. Most industry leaders, however, are calm and confident that detection systems and instruments are effective…and all is well.
Yet, as “officials” sourced-back to the suppliers of these covert and fraudulent submissions …there is evidence that even natural Diamonds are surrounded by disturbing fears. Remember the movie “Blood Diamonds”? This Oscar nominated movie told the horrific story of unimaginable human suffering due to diamonds mined in the conflict areas of chaos and civil war that enveloped 1990’s Sierra Leone. A blood diamond, also known as a conflict diamond, is rough diamond used by rebel movements to finance war against legitimate governments. Well, in 2000 The Kimberly Process (KP) began as a joint governments, industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of conflict diamonds. As of January 2012, KP members account for approximately 99.8% of the global production of rough diamonds and its important work continues throughout the world. In addition, every reputable jeweler in the US participates in the diamond industry’s “System of Warranties” to ensure their jewelry does not include even a single conflict diamond (aka blood diamond).
Yet, just a few days ago, a new episode of the TV series, “Covert Affairs” (USA Network) aired with conflict diamonds, again in the spotlight. When pop culture keeps blood diamonds in our conversation, all is not well (even in the US) from my point-of-view. To those of you who don’t follow the show: During a 36 hour assignment, Auggie (CIA) tells his friend and colleague (Annie) about his decision to propose to his new girlfriend (Parker). Now, never mind the “tension”/bond between Annie & Auggie….watch the show for that stuff. Simultaneous with the proposal-plan announcement, however, Auggie shows Annie the engagement ring he purchased. Auggie bought a Pearl Ring—not a Diamond Ring; YIKES, Auggie! He explains to Annie, “I couldn’t go the traditional route, because of the blood diamond trade.” Yes, I shed a tear for Diamonds & Covert Affairs.
Diamonds & Pearls are both classics within the world of fashion. Oh, how I love the old movies with Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn wearing their pearls! Yes, I have a strand (or two)…and sometimes I am in the mood to wear a pair of simple, elegant pearl stud earrings. Diamonds, however, are in another league. Only a Diamond is the ultimate symbol of beauty, because a set-diamond is more than a jewelry accessory. Diamonds become part of us as soon as these natural beauties touch our skin. (BTW, pearls can be damaged if they are not gently wiped after being worn or touching our skin.) More importantly, a Diamond remains the ultimate symbol of love. Diamonds communicate what many men cannot seem to get out of their mouths – LOL. So, as I delight in the fact that more and more confident women purchase diamonds for themselves, (refusing to wait for a man to buy them ), many of these same confident women (like me)ALSO remain moved, breathless or teary-eyed when a man pops “the” question with a Diamond Engagement Ring.
As the character on “Covert Affairs” chose a pearl stud ring for his engagement ring last week, I shed a tear, because I believe that most women (and some great men) feel the same as me. Above all else, a Diamond means love and publicly “says” love like no other gemstone or gift. My last post, “Changing the World with Jewelry Activism” also spoke of the good Diamonds do for so many throughout the world. In the US, an estimated 80% of engagements remain sealed with a Diamond Engagement Ring (DER), but I am obviously concerned that the DER may not remain the cultural imperative it is. The Diamond Industry must do a better job communicating the status of global Diamond trading. So, this article is my attempt to contribute to that discussion…and I’m not whispering!
The heart and soul of the luxury business is the understanding that luxury is inexpressible, because it is aesthetic based….captivating all of our senses. That is why a simulant or synthetic gemstone doesn’t make it. No matter how beautifully it is described and no matter how good it looks at first glance or on TV, a fake has nothing to do with luxury. The reason is simple: Natural gemstones captivate us emotionally, physically and mentally. If we know we are wearing a fake or if we see our faux gemstone next to the real thing…we will feel differently. In other words, the luxury experience will also be simulated and fall short.
If you love Diamonds, I bet you have heard more than once that “You can see the difference”! The reality is that most people (including many diamond jewelry sellers) can NOT see the difference between most diamonds. Watching people buy & sell diamonds is for me sometimes like a store performance of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.
People are also bombarded with grades of diamonds represented by letters, numbers and various “certificates”. You’ve seen them (VVS1, VS2, SI1, F, G, H, triple 0’s, etc.) By the way, did you know that if you read the back of 99.9% of certificates from the most prestigious gemstone labs in the country, they clearly say (in very tiny print), that the certificates are NOT guaranteed? Diamond Certs are just written and signed grading opinions; you should know that the range of differences-of-opinions is wide!
After 25 years in the Diamond & Jewelry industry, I want you to know that you need to learn how to trust your own eyes …and stop feeling like you have to agree when someone important says that you can see something that you can NOT! Remember, the 4C’s are just guidelines and someone’s opinion. Two Diamonds with the exact same grades will look different…& not just because every diamond is different. Some diamonds have a Sparkly Personality that dances with the light and some do not…. no matter how great the Diamond grade on a certificate!
Now for some Diamond Sparkle that everyone will see easily! There is a new cutting method (NOT a Diamond treatment or an enhancement – which I hate as much as synthetics and simulants!) and it uses nano-technology to create really tiny facets on a diamond. The tiny facets are microscopic prisms….which increase the FIRE of a Diamond. When a diamond moves or the person looking at a Diamond moves, the flashes of COLOR is called FIRE. Fire is technically referred to as Dispersion, while Brilliance refers to the return of WHITE light. All diamonds have brilliance (return of white light) and some Fire (flashes of color)…but never before could anyone improve a Diamond’s Sparkle…or Fire with a natural cutting method! Ask to see a Fire Polish Diamond & YOU WILL DEFINITELY SEE THE DIFFERENCE. The bigger the better ; )
Natural Diamond WITH Fire Polish nano-facets
Natural Diamond WITHOUT Fire Polish Nano-Facets
Many marketers feel that Quality is all about perceived value. In fact, it is “value” that is perceived… when the quality of something is thought to be worth its price. There are true standards of Quality …that have little to do with price and nothing to do with perception. In the past, when a fine jeweler sold a Diamond, it was real, natural and untreated…NOT necessarily today. In the past, the words “Fine Jewelry” distinguished real, quality jewelry from the fake….but NOT today. I have worn and promoted quality diamond jewelry valued in the millions of dollars …and I also promote sterling silver jewelry that is under $50. Quality is not about the price, but it is based on reality!
I remember wearing a beautiful $100,000+ diamond necklace and matching $25,000 diamond ring for an important industry gala….and they both scratched my skin and constantly tangled my hair (OK, my hair is always a bit long). I personally own and often wear another expensive diamond ring that never scratches my skin and never catches my hair or any fabric of my clothes…I don’t even feel it; it is part of me. Most recently, I promoted and wore a Sterling Silver Necklace with diamond accents, which was so well crafted and manufactured that it felt like silk on my fingertips. It was quality. Quality jewelry is first and foremost about craftsmanship!
Quality, like Luxury also has an aesthetic and an emotional component… both quality and luxury can engage us emotionally. A home, a car or an item of jewelry are some of the most emotionally loaded purchases we can make. I think it is funny, that people commonly say we should never buy a home based on emotion, but diamond sellers and jewelry sellers generally agree that they are selling emotion. Well, I love that I am emotional about what I buy …. I love to “feel” right about a purchase. That does NOT mean that I do not need expertise and experience to validate the quality of which I am emotionally drawn. And therein lies the rub.
I am motivated to share my expertise and inside information on this site to:
1. Help those that want real quality jewelry…so they don’t settle for less.
2. Demonstrate that quality jewelry is available for everyone, at every price point.
3. Honor those jewelry sellers & manufacturers that offer real quality gemstones and jewelry.
By now, you all know that I believe every woman deserves REAL Quality Jewelry …No Imitations, No Simulations & No Synthetics! Most importantly, we all deserve to know what we are buying! The challenge is to look beyond any Marketing Spin…which I call “Marketing SPAM”.
If you are a Jeweler who hides some facts and has not yet stopped the spam, learn from brands in other industries. For example: The Four Seasons website integrates customers’ comments (all the negative criticism, as well as the positive reviews; & BTW I had a great stay in Vegas during Jewelry Week.) My favorite example this week is Miracle Whip: their campaign boasts about “not being for everyone” …. It does not pretend to be real mayonnaise, LOL.
So, back to the jewelry industry:
All of my girlfriends out there who love jewelry and are contemplating their next purchase, you need to look at the information carefully, while you listen to your jewelry sellers… and most importantly, ASK QUESTIONS!
If a seller says a gemstone is GENUINE, he does NOT necessarily mean it is Natural and Untreated. For example: lots of jewelry sellers are offering Blue Diamonds at bargain prices…without telling the whole story. Natural Color Diamonds are even rarer than Colorless Diamonds. Natural Blue Diamonds are extremely rare and can be priced in the millions of dollars. Genuine Blue Diamonds set in Jewelry offered at Bargain Prices…are likely BROWN DIAMONDS or faint yellow Diamonds that were first Irradiated and then given a high heat treatment,which turns the browns/yellows into colored diamonds, including: greens, vivid yellows, blues, purples and reds! This created color is usually permanent, but could possibly change during Repairs or Re-settings that require high heat.
Is there something wrong about buying treated gemstones? Not necessarily, but you should know what you are buying! For example: one of my friends is a manufacturer and seller of beautiful affordable Blue Zircon gemstone jewelry. Blue Zircon is a real gemstone (not to be confused with Cubic Zirconia; Zirconia is Synthetic & Fake). ALL Blue Zircon gemstones are heat-treated, yet the lively light blue color and refraction can be appealing. Now, if you are an investor or among our elite affluent who can own a Natural Blue Diamond…then go for it; a Blue Diamond is on top of my list for you…right after a Natural Pink Diamond 😉 As for the rest of us, let’s buy, wear or sell beautiful, rare, gemstones, but nothing fake or simulated; if you have an urge to get close to a natural blue diamond … go visit the HOPE DIAMOND, the most famous Natural Blue!
Sotheby’s Hong Kong – 10-5-2011; 6.01 carat vivid blue & pink diamond ring; Sold for $10.1 million ($1.68 million per carat)
Hope Diamond – 42.52 Carats; Most visited object in the world; Smithsonian’s Geology, Gems & Minerals Exhibit (Harry Winston Gallery)
Working as a business consultant that supported the DEBEERS GROUP for over ten years, the words “A DIAMOND IS FOREVER” continue to make me realize how lucky I am to work with my best friend for so long. Yes it is true: “Diamonds are my best friend—LOL.” I also have come to believe that ALL JEWLERY should be up to diamonds…and last FOREVER!.
Quality is important, not just for an engagement ring or a wedding band… quality is important for all jewelry that is given, received or purchased to celebrate our life! Working in the wonderful jewelry industry for decades, I am known world-wide as the educationalist, who tells it like it is …and helps educate the jewelry industry to do the same. Today, as I work with Diamontaires, Jewelry Manufacturers, Jewelry Designers, Jewelry Retailers or women everywhere, I continue to only support and promote jewelry that offers the best possible quality for the price…and it should last forever!
Follow me and I will be your and curator for all that sparkles!