Steve Duke presents Tradio Gems: Enhanced Diamonds
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We’ve talked about all kinds of antiques, collectibles, jewelry fashion—what’s hot, what’s not. Last week we talked about diamonds, sort of indirectly, but we talked about all kinds of different substitutes out there on the market where you could possibly be duped thinking that it was a diamond.
And I’ve done this I guess probably once a year or something like this, talking about diamonds and what we call some of the enhancements to diamonds. And when I say enhancements what am I talking about? Well, probably the biggest, noticeable enhancement is the fact that they can now colorize diamonds.
And what does that mean? That means that a natural diamond is generally clear or white in color, but if you’ve noticed as you go to more of the jewelry stores now, and I guess after Thanksgiving everybody is going to start realizing that it’s almost Christmas and, believe it or not, it’s almost Christmas! It seems like we just had one last year.
But you’ll go out there to the jewelry stores, and you will see ads in the paper and things like that for colored diamonds. Now God, in his infinite wisdom, created all kinds of naturally occurring diamonds. Most of these are fairly expensive. Some colors occur in nature more readily and are easier to find. Their value isn’t quite as high as some of the other colors, but naturally occurring blue diamonds, naturally occurring green diamonds, and naturally occurring pink diamonds are probably some of the rarest colors you’re going to find out there.
To give you an idea, a purplish red diamond just under one caret, brought well over a million dollars at auction. And this was for a just under one caret diamond. And what happens with these diamonds? Believe it or not, there are people out there who collect colored diamonds. They buy these diamonds because they are rare.
As we talked before about collectibles, there are all kinds of things that you can collect. Again, at the end of the day, if you pick it up and you look at it, and you fondle it and touch it, and it makes you smile—then by all means—collect it! Now does it have to be a million dollar diamond? No. Could it be? If you are in that category of collector, yes; and that’s pretty cool.
Like I said, there are all kinds of naturally occurring colored diamonds, but these are very expensive. What man has been able to do is that we have learned to treat these diamonds by irradiating them. Without getting all scientific, we’ve changed their atomic structure somewhat and we are able to give that a different color, a different hue.
So we now find blue diamonds out there. Blue and white diamond jewelry is very, very popular. We have yellow diamonds out there. We have green diamonds. We have red diamonds. We have orange diamonds. We have green. I mean we have all different colors and hues of diamonds. Now some people out there are going, “Well what about black diamonds? I know about black diamonds!”
Black diamonds are actually a naturally occurring stone. It’s a naturally occurring gem stone. They don’t have to be irradiated to change the color of them. It’s just that what has happened is that a diamond is formed. Just quickly what happens is that eight million years ago we had this little dinosaur walking around the earth where a little plant had been growing, and it died. And over the years and years, different kinds of sediment came over the top of it. Rocks came over the top of it. Volcanoes erupted over the top of it. And under extreme heat and pressure, and basically, from the plates in the mantle of the earth moving–and these plates actually can compose the center of our earth, or layers of our earth–these shifted back and forth and that little animal was caught between these. We’re talking billions of pounds of pressure and heat that are generated when these things are moving that caused that piece of carbon, which had been either an animal or a plant, to crystallize. Then over the years volcanoes erupted. It brought it into rivers. It brought it to the surface. Miners found it, and it started its journey as a cut diamond.
Well lots of times what happens is the ingredients in that carbon or around that carbon when it was formed weren’t enough to change it to a real white crystal. Sometimes we find some gases in it, and these gases are also what cause the color in these diamonds when they crystallize. Black diamonds just didn’t crystallize into white. They stayed in that sort of crystallized carbon form and they remained black. These are not that expensive. I mean, because most people’s taste are for white diamonds. There are many people who love the black diamonds, but they’re much more plentiful than the white diamonds.
But what about these other colors: these blues, greens, real dark yellows? These have been changed by man. We’ve changed their atomic structure somewhat and been able to create these colored diamonds. Lots of them are still pretty expensive depending on the color because it started off as an off colored white diamond, but through irradiating them it was able to change the color.
The problem is, a lot of them don’t have that initial gas inside of them, or that gas ion inside of them to change it to a really rare color, so it’s a little bit tougher to find. Pink seems to be one of the more popular colors, but it’s also one of the more expensive colors.
If we turn the page and we go from colored diamonds to regular diamonds—white colored diamonds—this is going to be what we are going to talk a little bit more about today: the different kinds of enhancements we have.
Last week we talked about what I called HTHP diamonds. These are diamonds that man has actually created from carbon under extreme heat and pressure. Since you have high heat and high temperature, so HTHP—that’s the initials for those.
Now what else they have been able to find is that there are different types of diamonds, and they are all white diamonds, or they are brown colored diamonds, but they have a different type of atomic structure. Like I said, we are not going to get real complex or real scientific with you, but there is one form of off colored diamond—and when I say off colored, it tends to be more of a brown tinge to it—that when it’s put under extreme heat and extreme temperature, they are able to change the color of that particular diamond. Number one, that diamond cannot have any inclusions in it. Now, when we talk about an inclusion, inclusions are the internal characteristics inside of a diamond.
What do we mean by internal characteristics? Internal characteristics would be that when that diamond underwent its change from a piece of carbon to a crystal, sometimes it could have been laying next to a garnet and that garnet may have grown into the crystal or been encapsulated into the crystal. It might not have been enough heat or pressure at the time to completely crystallize it. Then we have what we call feathers. To give you an example, what would a feather look like? If you take a piece of paper and you hold it up in front of yourself and you look at the edge of it, you will see just a very, very faint line. Now, if you turn around and hold that paper and just put in on a 45 degree angle—just turn it slightly–now you can see much more of that paper.
Basically, a feather inside of a diamond is a small crack–for lack of a better term we’re going to call it a crack. It might come to the surface, and if it does come to the surface and breaks the surface, then what we have when a feather breaks the surface this is going to affect the integrity of the diamond.
So, is this a great diamond for you to buy? It’s going to be a very inexpensive stone. It’s going to be a much less expensive diamond than one that has a feather that doesn’t come to the surface, the reason being that a jeweler who is selling that should, hopefully, realize that that breaks the integrity of the stone. If that stone is hit in the wrong way, even though a diamond is the hardest item that we have in the world, because of that structure of the crystal and because it now has an inclusion or a feather that breaks the surface, if it is hit the wrong way, it can cleave that stone.
Now, is there a market for it? Yes, there is a market for it, but if you are dealing with someone whom you trust, they’d going to disclose to you the fact that, you know what—this diamond does have an inclusion; it does break the surface. I don’t think that it’s going to fall apart on you, but there is that possibility. That’s why it’s this much money instead of the other diamond that you were looking at that is three or four times the price of that.
If the inclusion doesn’t break the surface, and that feather is in there, it will break the way that light come back to your eye. So when you look at that diamond, it may not have as much brilliance as it would if it didn’t have that feather.
There is a scientist by the name of Yehuda.who studied diamonds’ refractive index. He realized that if you could drill into a diamond and could get to that feather and inject a liquid into it under extreme heat and pressure, it would fill that feather and then what he did is let that liquid solidify and it would be the same refractive index as a diamond and that would mask that feather; it would mask that inclusion and the diamond would have more brilliance to it.
Now people will say to me, “So, you’re saying that this diamond is not a real diamond?”
And I’m saying, “It is a real diamond. What they’ve done is enhanced its clarity.”
Which means, for example, if you didn’t like your nose and you went to a surgeon, and he clipped off a little piece of your nose, they’ve enhanced your appearance.
Well, since diamonds don’t have noses, they’re not able to clip those, but if they do have feather or they do have a certain type of inclusion, by injecting this liquid into it, they are able to enhance the clarity, enhance the appearance of that particular diamond.
A lot of people might say, “Well, you know, if it has a feather in it you said that it could fall apart; it could cleave.”
What I’ve said to you is that if the inclusion breaks the surface of that particular diamond, it affects the integrity of that diamond. It affects the strength of that diamond. I’m saying to you that if it had a feather and they’ve gone and injected this fluid into that feather, then they’ve masked the feather, they’ve given that diamond a lot of brilliance, and it really does not affect the integrity of that diamond.
Some people ask, “Well, how big is a feather? How thick is it?” It’s thinner than a human hair. It’s minute. But because of the way that it refracts the light in a diamond, this is why you are able to see it.
There is another type of enhancement we find in diamonds. This is what we call laser drilled. They actually go in and you may have a small, black spot in a diamond. This is a type of garnet crystal that you are seeing. A lot of times people think that it’s a piece of carbon. Sometimes it is some carbon, but generally it’s another form of mineral, and generally it is garnet. They will go in with a laser and actually drill through the top or the bottom or the side of that diamond to get to that little piece of inclusion and blast it out. Now what you have is a little white pocket or a little white dot. Most of the time you are not even going to see this unless you are using a loop.
We have talked about a loop as a magnifying device. Generally when we look at diamonds, we use a 10 power loop. This should be enough magnification to see any kind of internal characteristics inside of that diamond. When it is sent to a diamond grading lab, they generally look at diamonds under a 60 power. So that means it’s six times what you are using to really look at a diamond with, because they want all of the magnification they can get to be able to put any type of internal characteristics inside of that diamond, if they are writing a certificate to grade it.
Now, going back to the laser, when we look at a diamond that has been lasered, we have what we generally call a worm hole. No, they don’t use a worm to get inside of that diamond. They use a laser. But what happens is that laser will burn a little trail into the diamond through the crystal into that black spot that we are trying to eliminate. When you look at it very carefully you will see that it looks like a thread down to where you will see a little white pocket where that particular inclusion used to be.
I’ve talked about clarity enhancement before this where we have injected a liquid into a feather or an inclusion in a diamond to mask it. To give you an idea of how small a feather is compared to a laser, a laser worm hole, a laser worm hole is probably about the thickness of a human hair. A feather is so much thinner than that, they are not even able to use that liquid to fill a laser hole up. That will give you some kind of comparison, like trying to fill the Grand Canyon. That’s the difference in size between a laser hole, which is extremely minute, and that feather that they are actually covering up with the clarity enhancement.
Now, the reason I’ve talked to you about these different types of enhancements is that at Christmastime Westchester Gold & Diamonds, we sell a lot of diamonds. If you walk into our store I can pretty much guarantee we are going to have a larger inventory than any store you’ve walked into. I don’t care if you are walking into Sam’s or if you are walking into one of the stores that advertises in the malls and things like that, we just have a large selection of much larger diamonds in stock as well as pretty much any size diamond you’d want. And if we don’t have it, we have the ability after 37 years to pick up the phone and get the diamond that you are looking for into my store pretty quickly for you.
But you are going to walk in and you will find, in some of these other stores, diamonds. And they will be beautiful. And they will be really inexpensive. When I say inexpensive that’s kind a general term because what might be inexpensive to one person would be a fortune to another person. But to give you an example, you might see a one carat diamond that is a beautiful color. It has great sparkle to it. And it’s $1500-$1600. You could walk into another store and see a comparable diamond and it’s $4000 or $5000 or $6000. And you are thinking, “Man, this guy is ripping me off. I’m going back and buy that other diamond for $1500-$1600; I’m getting a great deal.”
Unfortunately, this person that you spoke with never bothered saying or explaining to you what is on your receipt: it said CE; one carat diamond CE for $1500-$1600. What did the CE stand for? The CE stood for clarity enhanced. Is this a terrible thing? No, it’s not a terrible thing. These clarity enhanced stones are beautiful. It’s a great way for somebody on a limited budget to get two or three times their money’s worth.
I have clarity enhanced diamonds at the shop. I’ve sold them for years. We put two different tags of them. One is our price tag, and another one says clarity enhanced so there is no chance that our sales people will ever mix these up. We constantly check to make sure that the any diamonds we’ve bought are not clarity enhanced.
Like I said, there is certainly nothing wrong with that. We sell many large diamond studs, diamond earrings that are clarity enhanced, because a ring you are going to hold your hand out and your girlfriends are all going to look at it. Diamonds—larger diamond studs—no one is going to walk up there with a loop and grab you by the ear and start staring at those diamonds.
So, clarity enhanced diamonds for us, we have diamond solitaires, but we also have a lot of clarity enhanced diamonds that we use for diamond studs. Again, you are able to buy two carat total weight diamond studs that look like $8000 or $10,000 diamonds for $3000 or $4000, so you can save 50%-60% easily with these clarity enhanced stones. Again, there is nothing wrong with buying these. It’s in your budget. It gives you a great look. Make sure that the people you are dealing with tell you that they are clarity enhanced.
Now the first thing that I talked about was the HTHP treatment, which changes a darker diamond, or a browner colored stone, to a much whiter diamond. Why would somebody want to do this? Let me give you an economic example of this.
A friend of mine bought one of these machines, and he asked me to go in halfsies with him. I didn’t want to have anything to do with the machine. He needed some money. He turned around and bought a five carat diamond that had no inclusions inside of it. This is one of the drawbacks of the HTHP: it cannot have any inclusions because you put it under such heat and temperature and pressure that if it has an inclusion it, basically, will explode.
So the diamond you find has to be a particular isotope. It has to have a certain chemical makeup. It has to have no inclusions. And it has to have a certain brownish tinge to it. By treating a diamond like this—remembering that the diamond scale starts all the way from D all the way down to Z, and most of the diamonds you are going to treat with this are going to be down towards the bottom of the color chart because of the brown tinge to them—by treating this you can change that diamond as much as five to six color grades.
So you could take a diamond that is somewhere like an L or an M in color, which is a stone that when you look at it, it definitely has a yellow tinge to it or it has a strong brown tinge to it, and turn it all the way up to an F or a G color, which is a few shades off from perfect. Now what does that mean in a large diamond? Well, he treated a five carat diamond that he bought in the neighborhood of $75,000. He turned around and treated it, never disclosed to the dealer to whom he sold it that it was an HTHP diamond—that it had been color transformed—into an F colored stone. He sold that stone for $375,000.
Now, you’re saying, “Wow. Where do I sign up? How do I get a piece of this action?” the problem is one year later after that dealer sold that diamond, it was sent to an independent grading lab and the lab came back with the fact that it was an HTHP diamond; a heat treated, high pressure treated diamond. Now the consumer went back to the dealer who sold it to him, and that dealer went back on the dealer who bought the machine to change it. It’s not a pretty picture. It’s not a great thing.
So, again, if you are out there shopping for diamonds, and it’s easy to get on the internet and learn about color, it’s easy to learn about clarity. It’s easy to learn about the inclusions and the different cuts of a diamond. There are different proportions that a diamond should have to give it its optimal amount of brilliance. All these come into play, but the big things that come into play are: has this diamond been treated or enhanced in any way?
This is something that whether you are shopping at Westchester Gold or whether you are shopping down in Fort Myers or Sarasota, if it seems too good to be true and everybody has been quoting you $10,000 for a diamond that you are looking at and all of a sudden this guy says, “Oh, I can sell it to you for $4000.” Nobody is out there giving you dollar bills for 40¢. It’s not going to happen. Why would they sell it to you when you could sell it to any other diamond dealer, a big diamond dealer, for much more money? It’s not because he likes you. It’s because there is a problem there somewhere along the line with that particular diamond.
Now, not always is it going to be enhanced. It could be something that they took in on a trade and they want to dispose of it, but, believe me, if you are looking at a high priced diamond and all of a sudden somebody offers you that same quality, in their mind, diamond, then there has to be a reason. Don’t be afraid to ask. It probably has some sort of enhancement, and you want to know about it.
I’m Steve Duke, the owner of Westchester Gold & Diamond. We’ve been doing this for 37 years. I’m pretty knowledgeable when it comes to diamonds. If you are looking for a diamond or you have a diamond that you are shopping for or that you’ve found and you have questions about it, whether it came from me or not, stop by and talk to me. I’m more than happy to take a look at it for you and give you an idea of what you have and whether it was a good buy or not.
We have all kinds of stuff for Christmas. Come on in and see us. With that I’m going to say, thanks for listening and good bye to everybody until next week.
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