Steve Duke Presents What You Need to know about Diamonds
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Steve: Well, at Westchester Gold and Diamonds we sell a lot of diamonds, and we’ve got a tremendous inventory as far as diamonds.
And all I can say, if you’ve looked on the Internet and you’ve bought diamonds on the Internet, or you’ve gone to the Mall and you thought that you could save money by buying it from them, at least stop by and see us before you spend your money on diamonds.
Usually, it’s one of your larger purchases in life, and you probably want to get the best you can — the most bang for your buck — and at Westchester Gold, like I said, we buy diamonds. I buy parcels from Israel, we get some in from Belgium, I know a lot of the Indian cutters: we buy parcels from them.
We buy from the public. We buy from estates. We’ve got sources all over the world that we deal with, and people will constantly come in with either a diamond that they bought, or that they’re looking to buy, and they’ve got questions.
The only reason I’m talking about diamonds — we’ve talked a little bit about diamonds over the years — and the one thing that I bumped into yesterday was somebody walked in with this synthetic diamond, and they had purchased it from a friend who had told them it was a great deal, and da, da, da, da, da…
And I looked at it and said, “What did you pay for this?” and they told me, and I said, “You know, do you realize this isn’t a real genuine diamond?” and he said, “What are you talking about? You know, they guaranteed it was a diamond.”
I said, “Fine. You take it around and see what you’re offered for this particular stone, and see how many people would want to buy it for a diamond.” And he said, “Okay,” and came back about two hours later and said, “You know, you were trying to rip me off.”
I said, “What do you mean?” he said, “You know, all three of these people made me offers on this diamond.” I said, “Well, if I were you I would run back and sell it to the highest offer.” Then he said, “Well, what do you mean?”
I said, “The stone that you’re showing me is a Moissanite, and it’s a synthetic stone. It’s not a diamond, and anybody who made you offers like that are idiots, and you can tell them that I said so, but make sure you get their money first
Ken: [Laughter] You can say it as you’re driving away.
Steve: And then, say to him, “You know, Steve Duke said you’re an idiot because you just bought a synthetic diamond,” and they said, “Well, how do you know that it’s synthetic?”
I said, “Well, there’s a lot of different things that tell me that, and I guess it boils down to the fact that, again, knowledge is something that’s extremely important to have — whether it’s a collectable, whether it’s a coin, or whether it’s a diamond — and there were certain things that told me that this was not a diamond.”
It was a round brilliant cut, which is, you know, what a normal diamond would normally look like, but for one thing, it gave off a little type of color. It gave back sort of a reddish flash to it, and this told me, number one, that it’s not a genuine diamond.
The coloration was the color that the synthetic stones come out. Generally, they don’t come out a very white diamond. They come out a medium range of color in diamonds.
We don’t have much time today to really get into the colorations and everything else, which I’ll probably do with you next week when we talk about diamonds again, but I wanted to explain to you that there are a lot of synthetics out there.
When you looked at the girdle, which is the edge of that particular stone, it was polished, and some diamonds will have a polished girdle or polished edge on it, some of them won’t. There are various reasons that diamond cutters do this.
If it’s a very white diamond, they will polish the edge of that girdle because it lets more light in to show the color of the diamond. Now if it’s a yellower diamond or has a brownish or yellow tinge to it, the cutter will leave the diamond girdle “frosted” or unpolished, and what does this do?
It keeps some of the light out of the stone, and it doesn’t really show the darkness or the coloration in that particular diamond, so this is something else that we look at. We look at the facets on a diamond, and the facets are all those little cuts that you see on a diamond.
And, you know, most round, brilliant cut diamonds will have 58 facets. They’ll have 58 different cuts, and all these cuts are done in certain angles and proportions to give the diamond its optimum amount of brilliance.
Now sometimes they won’t have the most perfect cuts on them because what they do is when a cutter is polishing a diamond, or faceting a diamond or any kind of a gemstone, that gemstone is bought in it’s natural state by weight.
Let’s say the cutter paid $1,000 for a particular gemstone, now he’s going to sell that polished or cut gemstone by weight as well. Now if it weighed, let’s say a pound when he got it, and after he’s polished it and cut it, it only weighs a half of a pound and he’s lost 50% of the weight, but he still paid $1,000 for it. Then he’s got to be able to sell it to a retailer, like myself, or to an individual like you, and now it only weighs as half as much as it did.
And it’s cut, and it’s polished, and it’s more beautiful, but now he’s got to add more of his profit to it. He’s also got to compensate for the fact that he lost 50% of the weight, so sometimes they won’t cut it to the best proportions.
They won’t cut it so that it has the optimum amount of brilliance for the simple reason that if it weighed a pound and after he’s done cutting it, it still weighs three-quarters of a pound, he doesn’t have to put as much profit on it to still make his money back plus a profit for his labor.
So when a cutter tries to shape a stone — or the diamond — they want to maintain as much weight as they possibly can, so they won’t always have an optimum amount of brilliance; they won’t have a perfect cut.
So when I look at the facets on a diamond, where they come together — and this is where the joint comes together: one facet touches another facet — and we have a little, basic sort of like a little line all around that stone.
A diamond being the hardest gem or item in the world, when a cutter cuts these where it comes together, these junctions are very, very sharp. You know, if you looked at the edge of a piece of paper, you know, it’s a very sharp line right there.
And if you look at, under high magnification, where the junctions come together, if it’s not a diamond — if it’s a simulant, if it’s a synthetic — number one, the hardest synthetic is like a 8.5 hardness.
There’s actually what we call a Mohs scale, which is what we grade minerals with as far as their hardness: 10 being the highest, 1 being the lowest. A simulant could be an eight, it could be an 8.5, but it can’t be a 10, and the difference between that 8.5 to a 10 is dramatic.
It’s not just 1.5 points, it’s a big dramatic change. So when we look at the facets on a diamond, if they’re rounded then that’s going to tell us it’s a simulant. It’s a simulated stone.
Even a synthetic diamond themselves, which are diamond, those junctions will be pretty hard, but a simulant that’s not a diamond — a Moissanite or a cubic zirconium, something like this — those junctions will be rounded, and the stone that they happen to bring in was a Moissanite.
And Moissanite has a lot of dispersion. It has a lot of fire to it. It actually has more fire than a diamond, and this is another telltale sign to the fact that it’s not a genuine diamond, so we look at that and we know that this is not a genuine stone
So when I put under magnification, and I showed the fella what he had, it sort of made a little bit of sense to him, but then he turned around, and he went around and three different people said, “You know, this is a diamond and this is how much money we’ll give you for it.”
And he turned around and he sold it, and when he came back to tell me that I was trying to rip him off, I pulled out a Moissanite out of my safe, and I showed him all these things and all these characteristics.
If you turn a diamond over on its top, and you look at the backside of a diamond, diamonds aren’t cut to really send you back a lot of light from the backside of that diamond. They’re cut to reflect light back to your eye from the front of the stone.
And if you put it over on a piece of paper and you look through it, you can sort of see through it, but because of the material itself you still can’t read through the back of it.
If you turn a simulant over on it’s top and you look through the back at a piece of newspaper, you’ll be able to see those letters very clearly coming through the back of it — and this is something that you’ll see coming through the back of a Moissanite or a cubic zirconium — and I showed him this.
And by the time I was done, he sort of realized, “You know what? I did pretty good, because this really wasn’t a diamond that I turned around and sold,” and he said, “What do I do if these people call me back and say, ‘You know, that wasn’t a diamond?’”
I said, “You know what? A lot of these people who’ve opened up these stores recently because gold was high and silver… you know, they could have been selling shoes last week. It’s the old adage, ‘Buy it low and sell it high,’ and a lot of these people were in there strictly to buy it as cheap as they possibly can.”
They really don’t have the knowledge. They don’t have the wherewithal to know what they’re doing, and they’ve turned around, and when they put that shingle up that says, “Dealing in Gold and Silver and Diamonds,” and they bought it, and you didn’t represent it as a diamond.
You know, you said, “I’ve got this ring that I want to sell, and I’ve got offers on it already.” And they said, “Okay. Well, I’ll beat their offers,” and they bought it, that’s their problem.
Now, if you went in there and you represented it, and said, “Look, I got this diamond I want to sell,” you — as an unknowledgeable owner of that particular ring — are really not responsible, but you never really represented it as a diamond.”
So, you know, they’re big boys and girls. They have to take their knocks and that’s part of the lesson of learning, and I’m certainly — after doing it for 30-something years, I’m not here to say I’m the smartest guy in the world.
Ken: You were… probably been burned yourself.
Steve: When I first started one of the biggest purchases I ever lost money on were three, what I believed, were diamonds, and it was back in the late 70s when cubic zirconia had just come out about 1978. I wasn’t really aware of what it was — and Cubic zirconia first came out in 1976.
Moissanite was actually discovered — it was part of… a doctor by the name of Moissan who was examining a meteorite and found natural Moissanite in the meteorite but very, very small quantities.
What they did was able to simulate what they found in that meteorite and begin making these Moissanite stones for jewelry. The other thing I mentioned about color — Moissanite because of its constituents.
The colors of a diamond go from the color D, which is the best color — which stands for diamond. It’s a white clear stone, so if you dropped it in a glass of water you probably really wouldn’t see it. That’s basically the color, the body color of that particular stone.
Moissanite is what we call somewhere in the mid-range between an I and J color, which means it has a little bit of a tinge of yellow to it, and this is because of some of the constituents that make up that particular simulant.
So, you know, we look at that, and that tells us that it certainly could be a diamond, but we do a lot of these other tests that if you’re knowledgeable, you know what you’re looking at. If you’re not knowledgeable, you’re not going to know what you’re looking at.
It’s what we call doubly refractive, and like I said before, a diamond has a lot of fire to it. Moissanite even has more fire to it, and if you sit there and put a light on it against a black background, you’ll see that it disperses light even more light than a diamond does, and that’s because of the material that it’s made out of itself.
So when we see a stone that’s just too bright, too shiny, again, this tells us that it’s probably Moissanite as opposed to a diamond. Now there’s cubic zirconia out there, and cubic zirconia is always going to be beautiful color. I mean, the white cubic zirconias are decolor: they’re the perfect color.
The easiest way for us to distinguish cubic zirconia from a genuine diamond would be to put it on a scale, and if it looks like a one carat diamond, it’s probably going to weigh somewhere around a carat and a half to almost two carats.
Cubic zirconium is heavier than diamond material, so it’s real simple if we have a lose stone and we put it on a scale and it weighs too much for the size that it is, we automatically know that it’s cubic zirconium.
Now there are diamond testers out there that we can also use. Some of them will test for Moissanite, some of them won’t. Some of them will test for cubic zirconia, some of them won’t. So if you use a diamond tester on cubic zirconia, most of the time it’s going to show that it is a simulant.
Again, with a cubic zirconia, and it’s a loose stone, and you put it over on its table or on the front of the stone and you look through it, you’ll be able to look right straight through that stone.
You know, and I had people come in all the time with cubic zirconias, and they’ll say, “Is this a diamond? I found it. You know, it was in the trash, and I found a jewelry box,” and I say to them, “You know, let’s test this real quick,” and all I do is I flip it over and I say, “Okay, can you see through that?”
And they go, “Yeah. Yeah, I can!” and then I’ll go get a diamond the same size, and I’ll put it over on there, and I’ll go, “Can you see through the back of this?” and they’ll go, “No, I can’t.”
And I’ll go, “Well, this is a diamond, and this is a cubic zirconium, so the easiest test for the next time you find a clear, bright white stone, is just flip it over and see if you can see through the back of it. If you can see through the back of it, then it’s going to be a cubic zirconium.
“If you can sort of see through the back, it could be a Moissanite. But, again, on the Moissanite you’re going to have to do a lot of other testing to determine what it is. If you can’t see through the back of it, then it’s probably going to be a diamond.”
So these are some real easy tests that you can perform to find out what you have. Or if you’re not sure, bring it by Westchester Gold and Diamonds. We’re always happy to take a look at that.
We’re in the Baers Plaza behind ABC Liquors, and we do deal in diamonds, and we’ll tell you what you’ve got. With that I’m going to say, thanks for listening to us on Tradio today, and goodbye 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