Steve Duke: Yes. It’s a large bell curve on this one. For a quickie – let me see. I actually wrote some things down here, which is unusual, because I do this while I’m driving here.
Even though a diamond is the hardest known substance on Earth, it could be broken by dropping it less than two feet high. Yes or no?
Man: I would say, “Yes.”
Steve: And why would you say yes?
Man: Because his ex-wife threw the ring at him a couple of years ago.
Man 2: It shattered. Of course, it was cubic zirconia.
Steve: That’s why it was shattered.
Man: If it’s a cut diamond, and it’s pointed, it’s probably going to land on one of those points. It will chip and shard, or the vibration – the energy in the diamond creates a fracture.
Steve: You’re just babbling.
Man: I am.
Steve: The answer would be yes, you could drop it, and it just depends. I’ve talked about it, and I’ve said it before – it’s like an ice cube. If you hit somebody in the head with an ice cube, and give them stitches, you could take that same ice cube, because it’s crystalline, tap on it with a pencil, and it could cleave. It depends on the molecular structure – how the atoms are attached in a type of a crystal.
This is actually the way they go about forming a diamond. They actually will take it, and they look in there to see the grain inside of the diamond, and that’s the way they cleave it. I’ve actually taken a sledgehammer, believe it or not – I wanted to see how hard a diamond actually was. I laid it on its front, or what we call the table, with the tip up in the air, which is called the culet, and took a hammer and hit that thing, and not a thing happened. It was pretty funky.
Yet, I told the story years ago about a woman who had brought a diamond in. She wanted too much money for it. We couldn’t get together, and she said, “Would you take it on consignment?” The difference of what I could buy it for, and what she wanted was about $2,000. I don’t normally take consignment stuff, but I said, “Okay, I’ll take it.” When she left, I was holding the diamond over the top of the counter. It was loose. I was looking at it with my loupe, and it dropped out of my hand, hit the glass counter, and I heard this little, “Bink.” I picked it up again. It was less than two feet high that I dropped this diamond from on to a piece of glass, and it fractured. I had to get it recut, and lost about eight points off of the weight of the diamond, which changed it from over two-carat to less than a two-carat – a dramatic drop in the value of the diamond. I called her up a couple of days later and said, “Oh, good news. I sold your diamond.” I didn’t bother telling her that I sold it to me because I had damaged it. It was a learning lesson, and yes, even though it’s the hardest substance in the world, and you can hit it with a hammer, if it hits just right, they can cleave.
Lots of times people will come in with a diamond in their ring. I’ll say, “It’s a beautiful diamond. I’d love to buy it, but we have some chips in it.” – “How can you chip a diamond?” I explained to them, “It’s a crystal, and yes, it’s easy to chip a diamond. It depends on the cutter, and how nice a diamond he made. Lots of times, the edges of the diamond, which we call a girdle, are cut to a knife-sharp point, and when they set the prongs over the top of it, they push it down a little too much, and you can chip the diamond right there.”
You were talking about the points and things. What are the cuts on a diamond called? Are they called windows? Are they called reflectors? Or are they called facets?
Steve: Facets would be the right answer. The angles of the facets help reflect light, and make it a more brilliant diamond. How many facets would a standard round brilliant-cut diamond have? A lot – over one hundred? Around fifty-eight? No more than forty-four?
Man: No more than forty-four.
Steve: [makes buzzer sound] Want to try again? There’s only two of them left.
Man: It’s the next one up.
Man 2: It’s fifty-eight.
Steve: A standard round brilliant-cut diamond – which, when we say round brilliant-cut diamond, we’re talking about just a standard round-cut diamond – round shape from the top – it’s not a ball – has fifty-eight facets. When the math was done on diamonds – the way they were going to cut them, they found that the optimum brilliance of a diamond – if they were cut in proportion, would have been fifty-eight facets.
Later on, over the years, they’ve come up with different cuts on diamonds, as far as the positioning. Now with computers, they’re able to shoot beams into the diamond, watch the light actually reflect inside of the diamond, bounce around, and come back, and then what they’ve done is they’ve changed a little bit of the angles on the diamond. Not all diamonds will reflect light back to your eye the same way, even though they may have the same fifty-eight facets.
It’s also the material, and when we say material – diamond is diamond. A diamond is made out of carbon. It’s formed from carbon over millions of years of heat and pressure, but sometimes you also have different gases that were formed inside of that diamond. Not only will they affect the color and the clarity, but sometimes the diamond will be a little hazy, and that’s actually caused from gases inside the diamond.
Man: A little gassy?
Steve: A little gassy diamond action. So the fifty-eight facets won’t always affect each diamond exactly the same way, but basically a round brilliant-cut diamond will have fifty-eight facets.
How do we actually measure a diamond? How do we weigh it? Do we weigh it in ounces?
Man: At Jenny Craig.
Steve: Do we do it in pounds? Or do we measure it in carats?
Man 2: Carrots are a vegetable.
Man: Or a fruit, depending on who you ask.
Steve: That would actually be the correct answer. Carats are a derivative of the word “carob”, and what they would do is they would measure diamonds with carob seeds. They decided that one hundred carob seeds would be what a one-carat diamond would actually weigh, so, we measure them in carats. And if anyone had any of them that we have to measure in ounces or pounds, I would be happy to take a look at that diamond.
Man: Do you have a big bag of carob seeds at the shop?
Man: On a scale? Is that what you use?
Steve: That’s what we actually use – just one little one at a time, with a toothpick we put them on there.
Man: With tweezers?
Steve: In the old days, they used to use pennies for weighing gold. They actually used little seeds – the carob seeds, on a more intricate scale, to measure the diamonds. Now we use digital. When I first started, we had little pieces of metal that we would sit there and put it into a scale to measure, and there was a weight on those particular pieces of metal. We’ve come a long way from the . . .
Man: So you have technologically advanced in one area.
Steve: Well, yes, it was either . . .
Man: He didn’t say he was utilizing that technology. He’s just saying that technology’s available.
Steve: I misplaced all the little weights, so I had to go digital. What’s the easiest way to understand the weight factor of a diamond? Do we compare it to pennies to a dollar bill? Ounces to a gallon of water? Or how many Happy Meals you can get for a buck?
Steve: I would think that my portly friend over here would go with the Happy Meals. What would you go with, Aaron?
Aaron: I wasn’t paying attention to the question [laughs]. You kind of lost me. I heard Happy Meal, and pennies and . . .
Steve: You were in another world. Both of them – their eyes glazed over at hearing Happy Meals. It was like, “Boy, this dude’s talking about Happy Meals. I have to get out of here right now. No one would know, because he’s on the mic.
The Happy Meals – we’re going to phase that one out. How many ounces there are in a gallon would be a little difficult, but how many pennies are in a dollar bill – I use this a lot of times to try to explain to people. There’s a hundred pennies in a dollar. You’ll go to a jewelry store and they may say, “Your diamond is twenty-three points.” If you’re like most people, you don’t have a clue what that meant, but you’re not going to show that you’re ignorant about what they are talking about.
Man: Oh, twenty-eight? Come on, that’s thirty, all day long.
Man 2: I’m thinking it’s a little more than that.
Steve: I tell people, “There’s a hundred pennies in a dollar. There’s a hundred points in a carat, so if someone says to you, ‘This is a twenty-five pointer,’ then you can quickly do the math, and say, “Okay, it’s a quarter of a carat. There’s twenty-five pennies would make a quarter, and there’s four quarters in a dollar, so now you have a little bit of thing that you can sort of look and equate in your own mind and have an idea when somebody in the jewelry business is actually talking to you about.”
Man: Most people who have stones – especially engagement rings that have the jackets – those are five-pointers or ten-point stones that surround those.
Steve: Can you go get us a Happy Meal?
Man: It’s right out the back door. Great. Wonderful. They’ll still be serving breakfast.
Steve: It’s right over Ken’s desk.
That’s true, because a lot of times, unfortunately, sometimes your advertising is very misleading. It’ll say, “One-carat total weight,” or it won’t say “total weight” – it’ll say “TW”, and the only thing that you’ve understood is “one carat”. You see it advertised for $499, and you’ll come into the store, and you’ll say, “Okay, I am an informed consumer. Steve, how much does a one-carat ring cost me?” You’ll say, “$2,000.” – “Well, you’re a thief. I’ve seen it for $499,” and you go, “Really? Do you have the ad with you?” They’ll pull it out, and it says, “One Carat – $499,” and right in back of it, it says, “TW”. You explain to them, “This is the total weight.” – “Well, yes, I want a total weight of one carat.” Unfortunately, there’s twenty diamonds that make up that one carat value.
When we get into a smaller diamond, the value is not as great as one stone that weighs one carat. One way to save money a lot of times – and I explained this to people – people come and say, “I want a two-carat diamond.” – “Well, you know what? It’s just a number. Why do you want a two-carat diamond?” – “Well, I think that would be a nice-sized diamond.” – “Well, there’s lots of diamonds that look like two carats. They could be a carat and eighty. They could be a carat and ninety and the difference between a carat and eighty- or a carat and ninety-sized diamond and a two-carat is dramatic, because a one-carat diamond might be $2,000. A carat and a half might be $3,000 per carat, so it went from a $2,000 diamond to a $4,500 diamond, but if you jump into a two-carat diamond, the carat weight doesn’t just go up double, lots of times it could go up triple or quadruple, because a two-carat diamond’s a much more difficult diamond to find.
When we talked about the four C’s, what are we talking about? When we talk about a diamond, are we talking about the carat, the clarity, the color, and the cut? Or can I afford it? Can I charge it? Can I score points with my wife? Can I drive it to work because it costs as much as a car? Which of those four Cs are we talking about when we talk about a diamond?
Man: It would be the first one. Cut and clarity.
Man 2: Can you repeat the question?
Steve: Okay, here we go again. We talk about how the four Cs, refer to the carat weight, the carat size, the clarity, the color, and the cut. We briefly touch on each of those. The carat stands for how large the diamond actually is – what does it weigh? We talked about that just a minute ago – how many pennies are in a dollar. When we talk about the clarity, we talk about what we refer to as internal characteristics inside of a diamond.
Man: No occlusions, no little . . .
Steve: Another way would be to say inclusions, and when I say the word “inclusions”, a lot of people still don’t want to say, “Well, what are you talking about when you say inclusions?” I say, “Internal characteristics – this would refer to an inclusion.” There’re different types of inclusions. There’re what we call “wisps”. There’re feathers. There’s carbon, which really is a misnomer. There’re crystals. There’re all kinds of little things to affect the internal characteristics of that diamond.
Man: Many of which are naked to the eye.
Steve: Exactly. You do not see them until it’s under magnification. When you’re picking a diamond, the fact that it has an internal characteristic or an inclusion in it makes it a less expensive diamond, but it doesn’t necessarily have to affect the beauty of the diamond. When you look at it, and you see a big black spot, yes, this is going to bother some people. Some people it’s not going to bother. They don’t care. They want the biggest possible diamond they can buy for the least amount of money. That’s why God put all of these diamonds on the earth in all kinds of different varieties.
When we talk about clarity, we’re talking about what that diamond looks like on the inside. Sometimes you’ll be able to see those problems or the internal characteristics with the naked eye – without magnification. Sometimes you’ll have to use extreme magnification – all the way up to sixty-power – to find any of these little pinpoints that might be inside of a diamond.
We talk about the color. We’ve talked about colored diamonds – black diamonds, blue diamonds, green diamonds. Lots of times these come as natural colored diamonds in nature. Man has learned how to change the atomic structures, somewhat, of diamonds, and change the color of them by either irradiating them – changing the atomic structure, or just by simply heating the diamonds and helping to change the color doing it that way. Ideally, when we talk about color we have a master scale that goes from the color D – which stands for diamond, all the way down to the letter Z. The further down we get on the scale, the darker yellow tint that diamond takes on.
Ideally, a D-color diamond would be a diamond you could drop in a glass of water and you won’t even see it. We get into a Z-colored diamond, this is a diamond has a lot of tint to it. It could be very hazy. It’s probably not as attractive a diamond as most people would like to have. It’s not to say that it’s a terrible diamond, because a lot of people like a diamond that has a little bit of a yellow tinge to it. It’s a warmer color.
In the 50s, the emerald cuts were very big – the shape that people liked. That’s what the designers showed. It looks like a cube almost – like a block of ice on your finger, because it didn’t have a lot of cuts to it. It didn’t have a lot of facets. It didn’t reflect a lot of light back to your eye. It was generally very white, and we find that a lot of the older diamonds were very, very high color, as opposed to the yellower stones that we get today. The more facets on it, the more light comes back to your eye, and it masks the color. If you don’t have all those facets, you can really pick up the fact that it has color or more of a yellow tinge to it.
Now we talk about the cut of the diamond. When you look at a round brilliant cut from the top, it looks like a circle. This is probably your most popular cut of any diamond. It’s been around forever. We have what we call an emerald cut, which is a rectangular-shaped diamond. We have a princess cut, which is sort of a square-cut diamond when you look at it from the top. We have the old standby – a pear shape, which looks a little bit like a tear. We have a marquis cut, which is sort of like a football. And we’ve come up with all kinds of different cuts – modifications, of an emerald cut. They’ve lopped off the corners. They’ve put more facets, or more cuts, on the bottom of the diamond. It gives you a little bit more light coming back to your eye, and they’ve turned this into what we call a radiant cut.
Then there’re other cuts. They’ve learned how to put as many as one hundred facets on a diamond. Some of them have actually been branded. One of the stores that sell diamonds has what they call a Leo cut. This is what we call branding. Is it a much better diamond? Not really, but it’s cut a little bit differently so that they can branded and sell it and say, “This diamond is a much better cut. This is our Leo cut,” and it sounds great. It sounds romantic. It sounds like, “I’ve got to have it.” It’s not always going to be a better cut.
But when we talk about those are the four Cs, and don’t be afraid to walk into a jeweler and say to him while you’re looking at a diamond, “Can you explain the four Cs and the way they’re related to this particular diamond?” They should be able to tell you, and if they can’t you probably need to say, “Well thank you. Have a nice day. I’d like to go someplace where they know what they’re selling me.”
Man: Most of them won’t be able to tell them, on a particular diamond, if I had to guess.
Steve: I use this phrase quite a few times, and I’m not knocking anybody’s profession. Don’t get me wrong here, but one week a seller could have been selling shoes, and the next week he got laid off and now he’s selling diamonds. He can’t give you any information. He can’t tell you about it.
I’m going to tell you that I’ve been doing this for forty years, and my staff alone – the combined amount of years that everybody’s got working is probably about a hundred years’ worth of combined knowledge. I’ve always told my people, “If you don’t have the right answer, don’t sit there and try and BS somebody. Come and get me. I’ll give them the right answer, whether it’s good or bad.” I’m going to give you the right answer. I’m going to give you the knowledge that I’ve imparted and I’ve learned over the years.
I would rather lose a sale by telling somebody the truth about what I’m selling them then sit there and make the sale and have somebody in another store is less knowledgeable tell them something completely different, and it comes back on my store. It took too many years to get where we’re at, and our reputation is important to me.
Who is usually credited with cutting the first brilliant-cut diamond, and when was it done? Was it Darwin in 1883? Was it Einstein in 1920?
Man: Oh, boy, here we go. C!
Steve: Or Tolkowsky in 1919?
Steve: What? Through the process of elimination? Oh, aren’t we smart [sarcastic]?
Steve: And it is Tolkowsky in 1919. He was actually not a diamond cutter. He was a mathematician. He’s the one who computed that fifty-eight facets and the direction that they’re put would give a diamond the most scintillation – where the fire comes back to your eye.
Man: I thought it was Liberace.
Steve: That was number four, but I was in a hurry, and I forgot to include him.
Where are the most diamonds cut? In Israel? In Belgium? Or in India? Would you go on with that one?
Steve: [makes buzzing sound] India actually cuts about ninety percent of the world’s diamonds. That doesn’t mean that . . .
Man: It used to be Israel, but it now cheaper in India.
Steve: No. [crosstalk] It’s always been India. It was always cheaper in India. They had more of a labor force, and when we talk about cutting the diamonds, you have to realize, too, we’re only talking about large diamonds, we’re talking about all these little, small diamonds that we call “melee”. When we talk about a hundred points in a carrot, the one-pointers or the half-pointers that are just fill-in little holes for accents. The Indian diamond cutters have done this forever. They cut ninety percent of them. We’re not talking about the larger, more precisely cut diamond. We’re talking about labor-intense cutting. When you sit there and you can barely see a diamond, and they’re putting eighteen facets on this little diamond, it’s pretty labor-intensive. So because labor was much cheaper in India, this became one of the larger diamond-cutting centers of the world.
Diamonds are assigned different colors when grading them, using a universal scale that we’ve talked about. It was developed by the GIA, which is the Gemological Institute of America. What would a perfect-colored diamond be? Would it be an A-color, an X-color, or a D-color?
Steve: Correct. I’ve tried to tell people that the easiest way to remember that is, “Why doesn’t the scale start with A?”
Man: I don’t even know.
Steve: I say, “It starts with D for diamond, and then it goes down to Z,” like we talked about before.
Man: Do you want to talk about the difference in GIA and some of the others? I’m sure some people bring things in . . . No?
Steve: That’s actually a good point.
Man: I was selling shoes last week. Now I’m a diamond seller. I’m a diamond salesman for Westchester Gold!
Steve: Actually there are a lot of different grading laboratories out there, and people will come in with all kinds of different pieces of paper that their diamonds have been graded. I go through this with people all the time. They’ll say, “I’ve got a certificate, and I know what color my diamond is, and you’re not going to try to rip me off.” I look at it. I am GIA-certified. I’ve looked at thousands and thousands of diamonds, because unlike a lot of jewelry stores, if they need a diamond, they call up a diamond house that has a huge stockpile of diamonds. They call them up and say, “I need a G-color diamond.” The diamond house has all these G-color diamonds or diamonds that they have graded in-house, and they’ve said, “These are Gs.” If you looked at a hundred of them next to each other, some of them are going to be darker than a G, but they are selling them. They send you to a jeweler and they say, “This is a G-color diamond.” – “Does it have any certification?” – “No, but it’s an in-house G.” Most jewelers get that stone. They add their profit to it. They sell it to their customer who’s not knowledgeable, but depending on someone out there to tell them what they’ve bought.
Man: And they put it on a piece of paper from that store that says it’s a G. That’s what they do, even though it didn’t go to GIA and get certified at GIA.
Steve: It didn’t go to an independent lab. There are other labs out there. There’s what we call EGL – European Gem Lab. There’s AGS. There’re five or six big labs out there that grade stones. Some of them grade stones pretty closely. They’re not GIA, but lots of times they’re pretty close to being exactly what GIA would grade that particular diamond at. The difference is, on a GIA stone, it could be sold on the phone to anybody in the world because everybody understands exactly what that is.
I’m Steve Duke, the owner of Westchester Gold & Diamonds, giving you another quiz today. Talking to you a little bit about diamonds and all kinds of things. Please stop in and see us. We’ve got graded stones. I’m knowledgeable. My staff will help you. If we can’t answer your question, we’ll get you an answer. Or we’ll sell you diamonds.
Man: Or sell you some shoes.
Steve: We’ll sell you shoes, and if we don’t have the diamond, I will get it in, and we will stand by it.
Man: But go see him. Don’t e-mail him.
Steve: Exactly. Come on in. I’d like to say thanks again for listening to us. We appreciate all the years you’ve put up with us. With that I’m going to say goodbye to everybody until next week.
Have Questions about your antiques, estate jewelry, collectibles or old treasures?
If you have questions for Steve Duke to answer about your jewelry, antiques or collectibles, just send a photo of the item and your question directly to Steve Duke at WGDiamonds@HotMail.com and Steve will research it for you and you may be contacted to participate in an upcoming Tradio episode. Be sure to include your name, email and phone number along with your question and email it to: WGDiamonds@HotMail.com
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Westchester Gold and Diamonds is one of the largest buyers of gold, silver, diamonds, Rolex watches, antique and estate jewelry in southwest Florida.
As the premier jewelry store in Port Charlotte since 1974. We do custom design and we are able to duplicate many designs that you may have seen in your travels; often at a fraction of the price.
We accept your old diamonds and jewelry in trade, the same as cash.