Clarity Enhancement of Diamonds – Part 1 – Laser Drilling

 

diamond-education-titlesmall

Hi Again,
I am going to discuss the important subject of Clarity Enhancement of Diamonds. It is a long but important discussion and well worth your time to educate yourself on this issue.

The clarity, or purity, of a diamond — the relative or apparent severity of flaws within the stone — has, like the other “four Cs”, a strong bearing on the evaluation of a diamond’s worth. The most common flaws, or inclusions, seen in diamonds are fractures (commonly called feathers, due to their feathery whitish appearance), and solid foreign crystals within the diamond; such as garnet, diopside, carbon or even other diamonds. The size, color, and position of inclusions can reduce the value of a diamond, especially when other gemological characteristics are good. Those who prepare diamonds for sale sometimes choose to reduce the visual impact of inclusions through oe or more of a variety of treatments.

This discussion will focus on the two major forms of “enhancements:” Laser Drilling and Fracture Filling. There is a big difference between these two methods of improving the look of a diamond as will be described. In this post I will discuss Laser Drilling of Diamonds. In my next post, I will discuss Fracture Filling of Diamonds.

Laser Drilling of Diamonds

The development of laser drilling techniques on a microscopic scale, has enabled diamond manufacturers and cutters to selectively target and either remove or significantly reduce the visibility of crystal or iron oxide-stained fracture inclusions. Diamonds have been laser-drilled since at least the mid-1980s. Most often it is used to whiten a black carbon crystal which is prominently visible in the diamond to the naked eye. Since the development of the laser drilling technique, and until more recently, laser drilling was an accepted part of the diamond manufacturing process. It is still used today on diamonds which have a significant presence of black carbon crystals imbedded in the diamond.

The drilling process involves the use of an infrared laser to bore very fine holes, or tubes, into a diamond to create a route of access to an inclusion. Once the included crystal has been reached by the drill, the diamond is immersed in sulfuric acid and the acid travels down the tube to dissolve the carbon crystal or iron oxide staining.

Several inclusions can be thus removed from the same diamond, and under microscopic inspection the fine bore holes are readily detectable, usually when the diamond is viewed from the side or bottom of the diamond.

Unlike fracture-filling (to be described in my next post), a laser drill hole is considered by the Gemological Institute of America’s Diamond Trade Laboratory to be an internal inclusion which is marked on their certificates just like other inclusions such as feathers, clouds and crystals. This is because the process of laser-drilling is a permanent process. In contrast to fracture-filled diamonds, the GIA does issue their certificates (called “Diamond Grading Reports”) for diamonds which have laser drill holes in them. The following is a direct quotation from GIA’s website concerning the range of diamonds for which the GIA Laboratory will and will not issue certificates.  

“GIA Diamond Grading Reports are not issued for synthetics, simulants, mounted diamonds or those that have undergone unstable treatments, such as fracture filling or coating. And while reports may be issued for diamonds that have been laser drilled or HPHT* processed, these stable treatments are prominently disclosed on the report.” [Emphasis added] *HPHT is a synthetic process designed to artificially improve the color of a diamond.

A diamond which is certified but which has a laser drill hole as one of its inclusions is not as valuable as another diamond of the same grade which does not have a laser drill hole. At A. Fishman & Son, we do not sell diamonds with laser drill holes.

My next post will cover Fracture Filling enhancements, a much more controversial method of enhancement, and what you, a diamond purchaser, should do when you go to buy a diamond.

So, in the meantime, until next time, Mind Your Diamonds!

Josh Fishman

www.afishman.com

Caring for Your Jewelry

Hi Again,

Take a good look at your hands. Think about all the wear and tear you put them through on any given day. If you’re like most people, you don’t even notice your rings are slowly losing their luster or that your diamond is losing its brilliance. It’s not until you take a few minutes to clean them up that you remember just how breathtaking your rings can be. Here’s how to bring back the “razzle dazzle” to your fine jewelry.

Generally, most jewelry can be cleaned with mild ammonia mixed with water. (Some exceptions include pearls, emeralds and opal.) It’s important to clean your jewelry with a soft brush to prevent any scratches. It is also a good idea to separate your jewelry to avoid nicks and scrapes.

A diamond is a precious investment that needs to be properly cared for in order to allow light to shine through, creating brilliance and sparkle. Regular, everyday activities such as washing your hands, cooking dinner and natural skin oils all combine to create a dirty, filmy diamond that lacks radiance and sparkle. Products such as powders, makeup, lotions, and soap can all contribute to a soiled diamond, and chemicals in the air can actually discolor the jewelry’s mounting. You should get into the habit of removing your rings when you do any type of household chores that would subject your jewelry to stress or dirt. Place your rings in a small dish (like a small ashtray or covered case) and put it in a safe place where you will always know where it is.

Be especially careful around garbage disposals at your kitchen sink. Believe it or not, I have already had two cases of women losing their engagement rings into the disposal and, while the diamond was not damaged (a nick or two which was easily polished out), the ring was mangled beyond repair. So, a word to the wise!

Diamond and Diamond Jewelry Care
Diamonds are the hardest minerals known to man, but even they require delicate care. To maintain its brilliance, a diamond should be cleaned regularly. It can be cleaned in a solution of half-ammonia and half-cold water. Soak your diamond for 30 minutes and dry it with a lint-free cloth. Gently brush the diamond with a soft toothbrush while it is in the suds. Then rinse it under warm running water. Pat dry with a soft lint-free cloth.

You can also use a brand name liquid jewelry cleaner and follow the instructions given on the label.

Please note that you should never use toothpaste to clean your jewelry. Toothpaste and other abrasive substances can scratch your jewelry.

Everyday activity can loosen a diamond setting so be sure to have your diamond jewelry checked every year.

Metal Care
When it comes to caring for your metal, it’s important to remember that every metal is different. While little maintenance is needed for durable metals such as tungsten, other metals require some attention. For instance, platinum is a strong metal but is susceptible to scratches. Getting your platinum buffed every six months is recommended. You can also remove build-up with jewelry cleaner or mild soap and water. Also, silver is prone to tarnishing. Regular polishing is a simple way to solve this.

Gold is another metal that needs gentle care. Soap film easily builds on the surface of gold, so it’s best to remove your gold jewelry before showering or using household cleaners or chemicals. Chlorine has also been known to weaken gold, causing it to break more easily. Placing your gold jewelry in a solution containing a few drops of ammonia, mild detergent and warm water will bring back its shine. Rubbing alcohol can also be used to remove grease and body oil from gold jewelry.

Cultured Pearl Care
Cultured pearls are especially soft and vulnerable. When getting dressed, your cultured pearls should be the last item you put on and the first item you take off. Makeup, hair spray, perfume and other chemicals are very harmful to cultured pearls. It’s a good idea to wipe them with a clean, damp cloth after each use to remove build-up, dirt and oil. Also, make sure your cultured pearls are completely dry before putting them away. Hot water, steam, extreme temperatures and ultrasonic cleaners should be avoided as well. Upon inspection, some jewelers may also recommend restringing your cultured pearls.

Colored Stone Care
Every colored stone has its unique colors and qualities, and therefore, care is different for each one. A good reference is the Moh’s Scale of Hardness, which measures durability of materials with 10 (diamonds) being the hardest. In some cases, the more durable a stone is, the less likely they are to become damaged in daily activity or regular cleaning. Most colored stones can be cleaned in soapy water, but special care is required for certain stones.

Emeralds especially less expensive ones, are often treated with oils and waxes to improve clarity. This enhancement is not permanent, and long exposure to soapy water can remove the protective coating. Also, emeralds should not be exposed to hot water, steamers and ultrasonic cleaners. Emeralds, which are soft stones, are also susceptible to damage easily and it is not recommended for everyday wear. Rubies and Sapphires are harder and less susceptible to damage.

Tanzanite is 6 1/2 on the Moh’s Scale, making it a very brittle stone. Delicate washing in warm water with mild soap is suitable, but it should never be exposed to vigorous activity, ultrasonic cleaners and excessive temperatures. Extreme temperatures can actually change the color of some stones.

Also, unlike other colored stones, opal is not internally solid but rather gelatinous. It ranks about a six on the hardness scale and is very susceptible to scratches and cracks. Impacts should be avoided as well as ultrasonic cleaners, excessive heat, hot water and steam. It is recommended to clean opals with baby or olive oil to prevent them from drying out.

Steam cleaners should also be avoided for garnet, amethyst, peridot, tourmaline and citrine.

Provided you follow directions exactly for all methods of diamond cleaning, your beautiful jewelry will retain its fire and brilliance for many years to come.

In the meantime, until next time, Mind Your Diamonds!

Josh Fishman
josh@afishman.com

www.afishman.com

What Makes a Diamond Pretty – Part 4

 

diamond-education-titlesmall

Hi again,

Let’s continue our discussion about what makes a diamond pretty.  Again, a Pretty Diamond is not a scientific definition, it is a collection of factors which make a diamond worth owning. 

4. There are other characteristics which cause a diamond to appear to be priced as a “bargain” but which are undesirable.  For example, some diamonds which  have great “labels” are also undesirable because of their medium, strong or very strong fluorescence.  Stay away from these diamonds.  They will be undesirable in the future if you ever want to trade in the diamond.  Other diamonds are undesirable because of significant extra facets or naturals.  The polish and symmetry and cut grades of such diamonds can be “labeled” very good or even excellent and still have these characteristics.  You can’t tell from the certificate.  You have to speak to someone who can look at the diamond for you and tell you about it. 

So, let’s recap the four major factors that contribute to making a diamond “pretty;” that is, a diamond worth owning and putting your money into.

1. The diamond has to have a dimension that is appropriate for its weight;

2. The diamond has to have full brilliance;

3. The nature of the inculsions in the diamond has to be pleasing under magnification; and

4. There are other characteristics, such as strong fluorescence, which cause a diamond to appear to be priced as a “bargain” but which are undesirable. 

There are also some diamonds which have been “enhanced” to make them appear to the eye as better than they really are. In my next post, I will discuss the two primarily forms of “enhancements” which make a diamond very undesirable but which may make them appear to be very inexpensive for their grades.  These enhancements are very different from each other and shouldn’t be confused:  (1) laser drilling of certain types of inclusions, and (2) fracture filling open fissures in a diamond.  More on this important issue to come.

In the meantime, until next time, Mind Your Diamonds!

Josh Fishman

josh@afishman.com

www.afishman.com  

What Makes a Diamond Pretty – Part 3

 

diamond-education-titlesmall

Hi again,

Let’s continue our discussion about what makes a diamond pretty.  Again, a Pretty Diamond is not a scientific definition, it is a collection of factors which make a diamond worth owning.  Once you have this understanding, you will know what to look for.

3. The inclusions in the diamond have to be pleasing to the eye when looked at under magnification.  Even in VS clarity diamonds, and especially in SI clarities, the character and type of inclusions have a tremendous impact on the desirability of the diamond.  I don’t mean just as an investment; I mean desirable for purchase for the purpose which most buyers intend- to express love and romance to the partner of their choice.

All diamonds with the same clarity grades are not equally desirable.  An SI1 with some small white feathers on the side is a more desirable (and less expensive) diamond than a VS2 which may have a single black inclusion in the center.  When you look inside the diamond, you have to feel that the inclusions are pleasing and don’t shock your eye.

So, let’s recap what we have up to now:

1. The diamond has to have a dimension that is appropriate for its weight;

2. The diamond has to have full brilliance; and

3. The nature of the inculsions in the diamond has to be pleasing under magnification.

There is more to come in order for you to understand the type of diamond which is worth putting your money into.

Coming soon…more of what you need to know in order to buy a Pretty Diamond.

In the meantime, until next time, Mind Your Diamonds!

Josh Fishman

josh@afishman.com

www.afishman.com

What Makes a Diamond Pretty – Part 2

 

diamond-education-titlesmall

Hi again,

Let’s continue our discussion about what makes a diamond pretty.

2. The diamond has to be brilliant.

Not only must the diamond look its weight (see Part 1), it must be brilliant and scintillating.  Just because the diamond has an “excellent,” “very good,” or “ideal” (or “Signature-Ideal”) cut label, does not mean that it was cut properly.  Many diamonds whose dimensions are too small have such labels.  Some diamonds which don’t “measure up” can be very brilliant.  But these diamonds are very thick in the girdle, thereby allowing the angles of the diamond to still reflect light pretty well.  However, the diamond still looks too small and is not something which you should consider.

Coming soon, Part 3 of What Makes a Diamond Pretty.

Until then, Mind Your Diamonds!

Joshua Fishman

josh@afishman.com

www.afishman.com

What Makes a Diamond Pretty – Part 1

 

diamond-education-titlesmall

Hi again,

Are you are looking for that special diamond and want to be sure that not only does it have a good grade and certificate, but also that it is a Pretty Diamond? 

Not all certificated diamonds are pretty, including  diamonds with “ideal,” “excellent,” or “very good” cut grades.  The certificate is only the place to start from.  There is much more to understand.  Let me briefly explain, but please do not hesitate to call me if you would like to discuss this most important issue in greater depth.

What do we mean by a Pretty Diamond?

As you probably are aware, prices for diamonds of the same size and grade can vary substantially, sometimes by 20% or more.  Some of the best known on-line diamond retailers have many diamonds listed with the same grade and cut with substantially different prices.  When comparing a grade and a price it can often seem as if the lower priced “ideal” or “very good” cut diamond is a better “deal” than the higher priced diamond.  A closer examination will usually reveal that this is not the case.

When you consider purchasing a diamond you should be looking for a Pretty Diamond!  If the diamond is Pretty (as I am about to define that term for you), all the other factors of the certificate’s statistics will fall into place within the appropriate ranges.  But how can you tell if a diamond is pretty?  You can’t if all you have to rely on is the bare bones of the certificate.  You need expert guidance. 

Let me describe the the first of four major characteristics of a diamond which must be met  to consider the diamond a Pretty Diamond worthy of your investment and consideration.  (If you would like to read about these issues in greater detail, please go to Beyond the Four C’s: What you  should really know before you buy a diamond!)

1. The physical size of the diamond in millimeters has to reflect what a well cut diamond should look like.

For example, a 1.00 carat round diamond should measure approximately 6.5mm in diameter, a 1.50ct should measure around 7.5mm, a 2.00ct should measure around 8.1-8.2mm, and so on.  If you see a diamond listed on line in the 1.00ct size which only measures 6.2-6.3mm (or smaller), you should not buy it!  That diamond doesn’t look any larger than a well cut 0.80-0.90ct diamond.  This also applies to 1.50ct diamonds which measure 7.2 or 7.3mm.  These diamonds may have a good grade on paper, even a terrific cut grade and a “great price” but it is not a diamond I would ever recommend to my private customer.  The same factor applies to fancy shaped diamonds with the additional requirement that the diamond’s shape has to be right, not just its dimensions. Below is a photograph which will highlight for you what I am talking about.  A picture is worth a thousand words.

BlueCutComparison

Coming soon: More factors which make a diamond Pretty.

In the meantime, until next time — Mind Your Diamonds!

Josh Fishman

josh@afishman.com

www.afishman.com

Is a Diamond Just a Commodity? Is it really an E-commerce item?

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Hi again!
 
There is so much diamond “education” available today that, after reading it, you may think that all diamonds of the same grade and size are identical and that diamonds are just like any other commodity. The lowest price is the best buy. “A rose by any other name…..”
 
It would be a mistake to purchase a diamond based solely on a certificate and place it in a “shopping cart.”

I don’t consider the purchase of a diamond to be an e-commerce item and I don’t recommend anyone just selecting a diamond and putting it into a shopping cart for purchase.

A certificate and statistics are only a clinical description of a diamond, and they do not necessarily reflect the beauty or desirability of a diamond. For example, two diamonds may have the same certificate grade of, let’s say, F color and SI2 clarity. However, they can, and often do, differ in the “quality” of their grades. One may be a strong F color — close to an E color — and the SI2 clarity grade close to an SI1, while the other can be much weaker in both categories. In fact, the nature of a diamond’s actual clarity, as opposed to its clarity “grade” may make a lower graded diamond more desirable than a higher graded diamond and save you money. This may be true even if both diamonds are graded by the same gemological laboratory (for example, both GIA) and especially true with diamonds graded by different laboratories (for example, GIA vs. EGL). Although cut measurements may also be similar, the intrinsic brilliance and beauty can, and often do, differ since each diamond has its own individual identity and character. The value and investment desirability will therefore vary.

The idea that a diamond is a “commodity” and that all you have to do is find the best grade at the lowest price to assure yourself of a great deal, is a recipe for the purchase of an undesirable diamond. In addition, the current wave of “branded” diamonds is nothing more than an advertising attempt to sell a diamond at a higher price. What counts is what the diamond really is, not what name you give it.

For generations, before the internet and grading laboratories, and still today, those who invest their own money in diamonds, understand what makes a diamond a pretty and desirable diamond worth investing in, and what diamond is not worth owning, despite what the statistics or advertising brand name may say.
 
Only a trained, experienced professional who invests his own money in these decisions is suitable to guide you. If that source also has an on-line presence, he/she should not be encouraging you to purchase a diamond without speaking with you and describing the diamond to you.
 
I am not saying that you should not search for and buy your diamond on-line. To the contrary, on-line sellers definitely do work on a lower mark-up than brick and mortar stores. What I am saying is that you have to find the right on-line seller to work with — one that puts their own money into their inventory and who can explain the differences in various diamond — so that you can assure yourself that you are not only getting a “good deal” but a desirable diamond as well. A fair price (not the lowest price) for a great diamond IS a great deal!!
 
More to come. In the meantime, Mind Your Diamonds!
 
Josh Fishman

 

Before You Purchase a Diamond-Part 2

Hi again,

What should you be looking for in choosing who to buy a diamond from? It isn’t easy since there are so many places to choose from. There are the local retail stores as well as hundreds of on line sources who are all looking for your business. How do you choose who to work with and who to trust?

There are several ways to narrow down your decision.
1. How long has the seller been in business? A diamond source who has been in business understands diamonds much better than one who is new in business. Not that many years ago people had to trust their diamond source to explain to them what a nice diamond was and what wasn’t so nice. Today, with gemological laboratories, diamond certificates and so much education for buyers to read, the impression is that you only need to compare the certificate and the price and you don’t need any help. That means that “anyone” can sell a diamond. But this is NOT true. All diamonds are not created equal, even if they have the same grade and the same certificate. You need expertise to guide you.

2. Does the seller have his own inventory of diamonds or is he just borrowing diamonds from the real owner? If the seller is on line, does he have a real business with real inventory or does he just download other people’s inventory to offer to you? These are questions you should ask. Obviously, the seller who sells his own diamonds can speak to you with first hand knowledge about the diamond and not just recite chapter and verse from the diamond certificate. If the seller owns his own diamonds he can photograph them for you to look at and he can describe in detail the pros and cons of any diamond he has.

3. Do you get to speak to the owner or just some sales associate trained to recite statistics to you?

4. If your potential seller is on-line, do they have a real office where you can go to see the diamonds?

These are some of the factors which will allow you to decide with whom to do business. In the end, from whom you purchase is almost as important as what you purchase because you want someone who will stand behind what he sells you.

Experience does count and you want someone who delivers what they promise as well.

Think about it.

More to come. In the meantime, Mind Your Diamonds!

Josh Fishman
josh@afishman.com
www.afishman.com

Before You Purchase a Diamond- Part 1

Hi again,

Before you purchase a diamond, you have to establish several things in your mind. The most important of these is your budget. De Beers advertises that one should spend two months salary on the engagement ring you are thinking about buying. I think that you have to make your own decision on how much you can afford to spend. No one can tell you what is a comfortable amount of money to spend on a ring. I certainly can’t and I won’t. It is a very personal decision. But you have to have a budget!

Within your budget, you will have to make compromises. You have to decide how much money you will devote to the diamond itself versus the ring you will set the diamond into. After that, you have to deal with the Four C’s: Carat size, color, clarity and cut. [For more on the Four C’s, go to Diamond Education]. You can compromise on the first three C’s (carat size, color and clarity). But there is one thing you should not compromise on; the cut-you have to buy a pretty diamond. And that doesn’t mean just the cut grade on a certificate. It means that you have to buy a pretty diamond.

More on what makes a pretty diamond coming soon.

In the meantime, Mind Your Diamonds!

Josh Fishman
josh@afishman.com
www.afishman.com

Welcome to Mind Your Diamonds

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Hi,
My name is Josh Fishman and I welcome you to Mind Your Diamonds, our new blog designed to help you, the consumer, navigate the Ps and Qs of buying diamonds and fine diamond jewelry. I have been in the loose diamond and jewelry manufacturing business for almost 30 years and I have learned almost everything I know from my father who has been in business for over 60 years.

I hope to transmit to you some of what I have learned over the years and have put into practice in my own experience so that you can avoid the mistakes which I have seen other consumers make countless times.

If you find my information useful, and you feel you would like to take advantage of our long experience in the diamond business for your own needs, I would welcome your calls and interest.

In the meantime, purchasing a diamond is much more complicated than simply looking at a diamond or a grade and comparing prices. It takes a lot of experience to determine whether the diamond is desirable or not and worth spending your money on. I hope to convey to you the important factors that you should be considering.

So, until next time, don’t forget to Mind Your Diamonds!

Josh Fishman
josh@afishman.com
www.afishman.com