Knowing About & Caring For Your Diamonds
The Four Cs of Diamond Quality
At Cook's Jewelry, we understand the its importance of your diamond buying decision and our staff is here to your experience a memorable and enjoyable one. The most important criteria that a jeweler uses while grading a diamond are Cut, Clarity, Color and Carat weight. It's commonly known as 4 C's of a diamond. These four properties will determine how much a diamond is worth.
Carat is the unit of weight for all gemstones. One carat is subdivided into 100 "points". Therefore a diamond measuring 75 points is 3/4 carat in weight, or 0.75 ct. There are five carats in a gram. The word "carat" comes from the seed of the carob tree pod which is found in tropical climates. These seeds were used until this century to weigh precious gems.
A diamond's clarity is determined by the number, nature, position, size and color of internal characteristics called "inclusions" and surface features called "blemishes". These irregularities occurred in the liquid magna (volcanic rock) within which the diamond was created. Diamonds are mostly pure carbon, however, during crystallization other minerals nearby, or even other bits of carbon forming more quickly may have become trapped within the cooling mass. These show themselves as the various characteristics which make up the clarity of a diamond (included crystals, feathers, clouds etc). Clarity is measured on a scale ranging from pure (flawless) to heavily included (I-3). The clarity of a diamond is graded by using 10X magnification under good lighting by an experienced grader. The final clarity grade is usually determined by how easy the inclusions and blemishes are for the grader to see.
Ideally, a diamond should have no color at all, like a drop of spring water. Increasing degrees of body color are measured on a scale ranging from no color at all (D) to deeply colored (Z). Beyond "Z" is the range where the diamond's color is vivid and rich, called "fancy colors". Diamonds of known color are used as comparison stones for color grading. Grading is done by comparing the diamond to be graded against these "master stones" under either artificial or natural north daylight ( in the Northern Hemisphere). A machine called the "Colorimeter" can be used for color grading but there is no substitute for the trained human eye.
Cut, sometimes the forgotten "C", ensures that a given stone has maximum brilliance and sparkle which would not be the case were the stone cut for weight alone. Simply put, when looking at a diamond, if it doesn't catch your eye or if it doesn't flash in the light, it's probably not well cut. Good cutting is what brings fire to the ice. In its natural state, a diamond’s beauty is generally concealed. While nature determines a diamond’s color, clarity, and carat weight, the hand of a master craftsman is needed to release its fire and beauty. What draws out its brilliance is the cut of the diamond, which under ideal circumstances maximizes the optical properties within the diamond, particularly its ability to refract light and disperse color.
This is the shape that has set the traditional standard for all diamond shapes. Over 75% of the diamonds sold today are Round Brilliant. Its 58-facet cut, divided among its crown (top), girdle (widest part) and pavilion (base), is calibrated through a precise formula to achieve the maximum in fire and brilliance.
Fancy Cut Diamonds
Oval — This is a symmetrical design which is even and appeals to many small handed women seemingly elongating hands and fingers.
Marquise — This shape is elongated with pointed ends. The smile of the Marquise de Pompadour inspired this shape which was then commissioned by the Sun King, France's Louis XIV, who wanted a diamond to match it. It is beautiful as a solitaire or when matched with smaller complimentary diamonds.
Pear — This cut combines the oval and marquise shapes. It is the hybrid shape that looks like a sparkling teardrop. It beautifully compliments the average size hand and fingers. It is gorgeous for pendants and earrings.
Heart — A pear shaped diamond with a cleft on the top. The extraordinary skill of the cutter determines the beauty of this cut. Look for a stone with an even shape and a well-defined outline.
Emerald — This shape is known as a step cut because its concentric broad, flat planes resemble stair steps. A rectangular shape with cut corners. Inclusions and inferior color can be more pronounced in this particular cut. So clarity and color should be looked at carefully and time taken when a choice is made.
Princess — This is a square or rectangular shape with many facets. This is a relatively new cut and often finds its way into solitaire engagement rings. It is attractive with longer fingers. This cut requires more weight to be directed toward the diamond's depth in order to maximize brilliance. Depth percentages of 70% to 78% are common.
Trilliant — This is the spectacular wedge shape. This was first designed in Amsterdam. This design can vary depending on a particular diamond's natural characteristics and the cutter's personal preferences. The shape may look like a traditional triangle with pointed corners, but more rounded shapes can be found.
Radiant — This is a square or rectangular shape. The elegance of the emerald and the brilliance of the round shape marks this cut. 70 facets maximize the effect of its color refraction. Depth percentages of 70% to 78% are common.
Cushion Cut — Late 19th and early 20th style antique type shape. Remnants of the "Old Mine Cut", a deep cut with large facets.
Asscher Cut — This cut was made popular in the 1920's by the Asscher Diamond Company in Amsterdam. Its art deco feeling was very popular at the time. The company went out of business during the Depression and Asscher cuts disappeared from the market. Recently this shape has come back into style.
Caring for Your Diamonds
Don't store your diamond jewelry next to other jewelry pieces as this can cause scratches. A fabric-lined jewelry case with separate compartments is Ideal. You can also individually wrap jewelry in soft tissue paper or use jewelry pouches for each piece.
Regularly inspect your diamond jewelry to make sure the setting is secure. Promptly bring it to a professional jeweler such as Cooks Jewelry if you notice any signs of damage or loosening of the prongs. It's a good idea to have your diamond jewelry examined at least once a year by a professional jeweler. In addition to performing any necessary repair work, your jeweler can expertly clean your jewelry.
Everyday exposure to creams, skin oils, hairspray, household chemicals and other substances can cause buildup that will dull your diamond's brilliance and sparkle. Use a solution of warm water mixed with a few drop of ammonia in which to soak your diamond jewelry. Gentle scrubbing with an old, soft-bristled toothbrush is useful for more extensive cleaning. Rinse and dry with a clean soft cloth.
The Basics of Keeping Your Diamond Clean
So how can you keep your diamond looking its very best?
Handle your diamond sparingly, as your fingers provide enough oil from your skin to alter the way your diamond looks. Clean your diamond regularly. A simple plan to keep your diamond jewelry always looking beautiful is to soak the diamond in an ammonia-based household cleaner (such as window cleaner) overnight, once or twice weekly. In the morning, remove the diamond from the cleaner and brush it with a soft, clean toothbrush to remove any leftover dirt. Take extra care to brush the back of the diamond as this will be the area that has collected the most oil and dirt.
Be aware that fragile settings and estate jewelry won't take kindly to being scrubbed with a toothbrush, so use a soft touch. Then, just rinse the diamond with water and wipe with a soft, lint-free cloth. Don't use harmful solutions. Chlorine or abrasives should never be used when cleaning diamonds, especially those set in jewelry. These erode some of the metals often used in diamond settings, and may loosen prongs, or even dissolve the metal completely.
Regular cleaning will keep your diamond jewelry in gleaming condition and ready to sparkle on that special occasion.
Even though you may wear your diamond engagement ring 24 hours a day, you should still give thought to its care.
Don't wear it when you're doing rough work. Even though a diamond is durable, it can be chipped by a hard blow.
Don't let your diamond come in contact with a chlorine bleach when you're doing household chores. It can damage and discolor the mounting.
Bring your diamond jewelry to Cooks Jewelry at least once a year and have us check your ring and other precious pieces for loose prongs and wear of mountings. We'll give them a professional shine!