Steve Duke Presents Tradio Gems: The ‘Gift Giving Primer’
(Excerpts from Tradio)
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Normally, what I do is, we do what we call the “Christmas Primer.” And I’m going to give you a little bit of education, so when you go out there shopping this year, it’s not going to be quite as scary. And you’re going to hear about a lot of different products and things. So, what I’m going to do, what we’re going to talk about today is probably the most expensive item on a lot of those wish lists out there for Christmas.
And we’re going to talk about diamonds. And we’re going to give you a quick lesson in diamonds. And we’re going to start with just some basic things. A diamond originally was a piece of organic material. It could have been an animal, it could have been a plant, it could have been something that was alive at some point in time. And it probably died eight to fifteen million years ago. Because that’s about the newest diamonds you’re going to find.
I always laugh when people go, “Are these new diamonds?” I say, “Well, no, this one’s only about eight million years old. I’ve got some older ones in the back that are fifteen million years old.” But what happens, this organic material was around eight to fifteen million years ago. It died. It started to decompose. And through volcanic eruptions and various things, it was buried under millions and millions of pounds of earth. And we have what we call “plates” that move back and forth in the earth’s mantle.
Somehow this organic material got stuck between these plates, the plates move at an extremely small, low speed, but they create millions and millions of pounds of pressure and heat. And what happens is, organic material crystallizes. Then through volcanic eruptions, it’s made its way through the bowels of the earth, up to the surface and it was mined. And it’s become a crystal which we call “diamond.”
Now these diamonds are mined in various places. They’re mined out of water, what we call alluvial deposits. They’re found in kimberlite which is the pipeline that comes up after a volcano erupts and then sort of decomposes and goes back into the ground. And they’re found in the icy areas. They’re found all over the world.
But they’re mined. And this little diamond miner, he goes out there and finds this diamond. He turns around and he sells it to a wholesaler, and he sells it to him by weight. We actually weigh the diamonds. And this wholesaler in turn, he takes those diamonds and he looks at them, and he does what we call, he “polishes a window” in those things.
What it means is, most diamonds are octohedral crystals. They’re eight-sided crystals. And when we put a little window in there, we can actually look inside, because they have a frosted outside, the exposure, or what we call the “skin” of the diamond.
Now, he polishes a little window in there, so he can look inside, past the skin and see the internal inclusions, the internal characteristics inside that diamond. And he says, okay, I’m going to give this to my cutter and my cutter’s going to cut these diamonds, and I’m going to polish them and make finished product with them.
Now if a diamond was five carats originally in the rough stage, you’re going to end up with about two and a half carats of polished diamonds out of it. You’re going to wind up with two stones basically – you know, one could be a carat and a half, one could be a carat – but, basically they cleave that octohedral in half. And now they use that cleaved portion for the top of the diamond, or what we call the “table” of the diamond.
And then, depending on the shape of the crystal, this is going to tell us what the shape of the diamond is going to be. So it could be round, it could be a pear shape, more like a teardrop. It could be a marquis, which is a football shape. It could be round.
Now, what we have is, the miner sold it by weight. He sold it to the wholesaler, who cut it and polished it by weight. And he’s lost a lot of the weight after he polishes it. Now he in turn sells it to another diamond merchant, who is either going to make it into a piece of jewelry, or he may wholesale this large portion of diamond to another diamond house.
All of it’s sold by weight. So we find that the more weight the person can save when he’s polishing these diamonds, the more he’s going to get back on his return of money. So what we call the carat – the size of the stone is what we call the carat size or the carat weight of the diamond.
And we have what we call the four C’s. We have the carat weight, the color, the clarity and the cut. Now the cut is basically the shape of the diamond. And as I just told you, we’ve got your round brilliant, which is your most sparkly diamond. This is what we say has the most scintillation, or the most fire in it. We have what we call a Princess cut diamond, which is basically a square cut diamond, but the bottom of it is like a round cut. So it has a lot of fire to it.
We have an emerald cut diamond, which could be either square or rectangular. But the bottom of that cut isn’t cut like a round diamond, so it doesn’t have as much brilliance to it. It looks like just a big white ice cube. Back in the fifties and the seventies that was a very big look. The emerald cuts are starting to come back, but still the Princess cuts are a little bit more favorable.
We have Marquis, which are shaped like a foot ball. We have pear shapes, which look like a teardrop. And then we have some different modified cuts. We have a cushion cut, which is sort of like a square, but the edges bulge out on it. And since then they’ve come up with a lot of different cuts: the Leo cut, the Ideal cut – there’s just a whole bunch of different ones. The idea is that they put more cuts on the diamond to make it sparkle a little bit more.
Now, we’ve talked about the cut. We want to talk about the carat weight for you, so you have an idea. We measure diamonds by size. One carat is what we call a hundred points. Or a half carat would be fifty points. The easiest way to remember this would be: there’s a hundred pennies in a dollar. So if you talk about a half a dollar, there’s fifty pennies. Just transform that word “dollar” into “carat.” So a half carat diamond would be fifty points. A quarter carat would be twenty-five points.
So this gives you an idea how to figure out…Because you might have a salesman say to you, “Well, this is a thirty-three point diamond.” And it makes a lot of sense then, because they deal with it every day. You as a novice don’t do that, so to equate what size it is, it would be a third of a carat. You know, thirty-three cents would be the equivalent of thirty-three points.
So that’s your weight. We talked about the cut. We’ve talked about the carat weight. Let’s talk about the color a little bit. Because color’s something I want to get into with you today.
We grade diamonds on a color scale of D to Z. It starts with D, and the easy way to remember that is, it’s D for Diamond. If you take a D colored diamond and you drop it in a glass of water, you basically won’t see it. That’s how colorless that diamond is.
So what we say in the industry is, you want that diamond to be as white as you possibly can. And what we’re referring to is the body color of the diamond. So if you drop it in a glass of water and you look at it from the side, a D color diamond – you can’t really see it. Now, how rare is a D color diamond? If they mine seven thousand tons of material, dirt and rock and things like that, they’ll get one D flawless diamond. So it’s a pretty rare diamond. So D is your best color.
Now if you look around the room while I’m telling you about this, and you look at the color white, get that in your mind. You can look at a geranium – a geranium’s white. Look at a piece of paper – a piece of paper’s white. A Styrofoam cup is white. Your picket fence could be white. But do you notice how each of these has a different grade of whiteness? Some are whiter than others. And this is exactly what we look at when we talk about the color scale for grading diamonds.
D would be colorless, the whitest diamond you can find. And then we have E, F, G, H, I, J, all the way down to the color Z. And as we get further down in the scale, they start to take on a little bit more of a yellow tinge. So a D, E, F, G colored diamond is extremely, extremely white. An H colored diamond is nice and white. An I, J diamond you may start to see a little bit of a tinge of color. K, L, M – you start to see a little bit more yellow. Then from there it starts to darken again in more yellow tones.
We get into the letter Z – this is a diamond that you can really see the yellow on. Now what happens after Z, it jumps into another whole scale, because it’s what we call “fancy” colors. We find that the yellows become much more yellow, and they become what we call a “light fancy” color. If it gets a little more darker, it becomes a “fancy yellow” color. And when it gets to what we call – and you’ve heard it before – a “canary” colored diamond, a “canary yellow” diamond.
This is a diamond where we have what we call an “intense colored” diamond. These colors are very, very vivid, very yellow. And at that point, they become extremely expensive again. So this is your color scale on diamonds. But this Christmas, you’re going to see a lot of diamonds that you haven’t seen before or that you’re not familiar with. You’re going to see blue diamonds. You’re going to see what people call “chocolate” colored diamonds. You’re going to see black diamonds. Now where do these come from?
Well, the blue diamonds – and you may see blue, you may see green, you may see pink, you may see orange – started out life further down in the color scale. They were M, N, O, P colored diamonds. They had a yellow tinge to them. Or they may have a bit of a brown tinge to them. They are put into an oven and they’re irradiated – they’re cooked. And by changing the isotope structure, the atomic structure in these stones a little bit, they change color. And they’ll change to blues, they can change to pinks – which are actually the most expensive color in diamonds – they become vivid yellow, they become orange, green. And you will see these a lot this year. Colored diamonds are in.
Now the irradiated diamonds are much less expensive than a naturally occurring yellow diamond. I happen to have a necklace at the shop that has seventy-five carats of natural colored fancy, fancy colored diamonds in it. And I just bought a bracelet that’s got thirty-some carats of all yellow diamonds that these are all certified. These are natural colors that weren’t irradiated. These colors, when they’re not irradiated, become much more expensive – when they occur in nature in these natural colors. We also have a pink diamond which is a naturally occurring stone, which is very expensive compared to one that was irradiated.
But you’ll see a lot of this jewelry out there with blue diamonds and they’re accompanied by white diamonds. The reason being, the blue diamonds are beautiful stones, but if you put them next to a white diamond, you can really see that contrast. You’ll see, “Wow, that’s a really vivid blue.” or “That’s a nice light blue.” The darker the stone, the more expensive it becomes, in general, when we talk about diamonds. Unless you can’t see any color coming through it.
This is something that we’ll talk about next week, when we talk about different color gemstones. But you want to be able to see that color and you want it to be pretty vivid. That will be your most expensive diamonds.
Now you’re going to see a lot of black diamonds out there. And black diamonds have been around for quite a while. As a matter of fact, in the Taj Mahal, one of the rulers in India decided that he liked black diamonds so much that there was one wall that was made out of gold, and he had the entire wall set with black diamonds in the gold. Now, you’ll see black diamonds from the size of the head of a pin all the way up to five and six and seven and ten carats. The larger that diamond, the more expensive it becomes.
But black diamonds, they occur naturally in nature. How do we tell the quality? Well, on a white diamond, when we look at it – and this is something we didn’t get into – the clarity. We talked about internal characteristics. When you look at a diamond, if you can see a big black spot in it, that could be a piece of carbon or it could be a crystal from a garnet, because we find that a lot of garnets are formed the same time that diamonds are. This is what we call an inclusion – an internal characteristic.
Now what do you look for in a black diamond? How can you tell if it’s got any inclusions in it? Well, ideally, a really good black diamond is solid black in color. If you look at it and you happen to find some white specks in it that you can see immediately, thee are internal characteristics. These are inclusions in the black diamond.
So again, as in a white diamond, the less internal characteristics, the less inclusions you can see in a black diamond, the better the quality of that particular diamond. Now you’ll see some black diamonds that sort of look grayish in hue. And you’ll see some that are really a nice dark, shiny black. The nice dark, shiny black is the ideal color for a black diamond.
You know, you’re going to find these again – most of the jewelry that you’ll find with black diamonds are going to be smaller black diamonds. They’re mounted against the white diamonds, because this gives you a nice contrast. Here’s a ring with some black diamonds in the center of it and nice white diamonds around the edges of it. Now the black diamonds look even blacker. It’s a really, really nice contrast.
So again, when you see these colored diamonds, you’re probably going to find them mounted with white diamonds so that you’re going to have more of a coloration, more of a contrast.
Now, what’s the deal with these chocolate diamonds? I mean, is Hershey’s putting these things out? No, chocolate diamonds aren’t from Hershey’s. And you can’t lick them. They’re diamonds. But they’ve got a chocolate hue to them. They’ve got a brownish hue to them. And you’ll see a lot of variation in chocolate diamonds. Now some of the less expensive pieces of jewelry that you’ll see out there, generally, it’s ten carat gold as opposed to fourteen carat gold, because the ten carat gold runs a little less money.
You’ll see what we call “brownies” or “chocolate” diamonds or what we call “top light browns.” These are your browner diamonds that don’t exhibit enough dark color to be called chocolate. They’re just a darker hued stone, and they’re less expensive in this kind of a shade. And you’ll find a lot of your less expensive jewelry made with nice looking diamonds, but they’re a darker shade. They’re further down on that color grade that we talked about.
When they become chocolate, this shows a nice brownish tinge to it, and we have from that tinge all the way up to what we call cognac. If you’re a cognac drinker, you know that cognac has a nice rich copper-ish hue to it. Now where do these diamonds come from? Are they irradiated? No, these are naturally occurring colored diamonds. Most of these come from the Argyle Mine, which the name of the mine – it’s the area in Australia where they’re mined. For some strange reason, that mine – about ninety percent of the chocolate brown diamonds in the world are mined out of the Argyle Mine in Australia.
Now something that’s unusual is, pink is actually a hue of brown. And most of the pink diamonds that we find naturally occurring in the mines are actually from the Argyle Mine. Now, what would the difference be? You could have a one carat, nice chocolate colored diamond, and it could be a thousand to two thousand dollar stone. If we had that same diamond coming out of the Argyle Mine, but it was in a pink color, it could be anywhere from ten thousand dollars to one million dollars, depending on the shade of pink.
One of the most expensive diamonds out there was an eighty-three point – and again, this is over three-quarters of a carat, remember how I taught you about how many pennies in a dollar – this was a purplish-red diamond. It came from the Argyle Mine and that diamond sold for over one million dollars. It’s actually the most expensive diamond that was ever mined, per carat weight.
So your chocolate diamonds – let’s talk about these. What’s nice about these is that they come in so many different hues, so many different colors of chocolate or brown. Again, you’ll find them mixed with white diamonds. And again, that will show the contrast, or the color of the diamond. So, what’s the best color to get? That’s what’s so nice about it. You get to go out there and choose your piece of jewelry. You may like that cognac color diamond. That nice rich, orangey, coppery colored brown. You’ll find that’s a little bit more expensive because it’s rare to find that dark color.
But you might get that nice pleasant, almost milk chocolate look in your chocolate colored diamonds, and again they’re going to be mixed with white diamonds. You’re going to find them in a lot of different pieces of jewelry. You’re going to find them in bracelets, you’re going to find them in earrings, you’re going to find them in rings. And guess what? At Westchester Gold and Diamonds, we’ve got all three of those out there in all kinds of jewelry. We’ve got bracelets, we’ve got rings, we’ve got earrings. And it’s really just a gorgeous type of jewelry to give. If you’re looking for something special, stop by and take a look at those.
If you want something really wonderful, we’ve got yellow diamonds as well. And most of these yellow diamonds you’ll find are naturally occurring in color. We do have some of the yellow diamonds that have been enhanced by what we call “cooking” them, or they’ve been irradiated to make them much yellower.
So in a naturally occurring yellow diamond, you’re going to find, usually they’re going to be a little bit lighter in color. When you get to a really dark yellow – we’re talking about an intense yellow color – these become more expensive. Especially if they’re naturally occurring.
You’ll find a lot of the earrings and bracelets done with the irradiated yellow diamonds. Usually you don’t see those mixed too much with the white diamonds for the simple reason that they’ve got such a rich, pleasant color to them that they don’t need any help, they don’t need that contrast.
But you’ll find we do have yellow diamonds and we have some earrings that are mixed with white and blue and yellow! So it’s really kind of a cool looking design with these different colored diamonds.
But this is something that you’re going to experience this year when you’re out there shopping and what you want to ask the salespeople, “Are these irradiated diamonds, or are they naturally occurring diamonds – are these natural colors?” Because if they’re natural colors, you’d expect to pay a lot more money than you would if it’s an irradiated diamond. Your blue diamonds are going to be irradiated. If somebody sits there and says to you, “These are natural colored blue diamonds,” and it’s less than a hundred thousand dollars, then you’d better jump on it! As long as they’ll certify that and put it in writing that this is a natural blue diamond. It’s not happening.
We had a seventy point blue diamond that we sold for two hundred thousand dollars. It was a natural occurring color. It was a light blue. It was a greyish-blue. It was not a dark blue like the ones that you’re going to find out there when you’re shopping this Christmastime.
So if someone sits there and says to you, “This is a natural blue diamond,” and it’s really, really less expensive than you thought it should be, you make sure they put in writing that it’s a natural blue diamond, and not an irradiated stone.
Your black diamonds again, they’re going to be naturally occurring. Your chocolate diamonds, they’re going to be natural stones. But when you get into more expensive colors – your greens, your blues, your pinks – check and ask them, “Are these irradiated or are these natural colored diamonds?”
And if you bump into something and you’re not quite sure whether it’s a good buy or not, you know what? Whether you bought it from Westchester Gold and Diamonds or not, I’m always happy to look at that particular piece of jewelry for you and I’ll give you my unbiased opinion. If it was a good deal, I’ll be more than happy to tell you that. If you paid too much, I may hurt your feelings, but I’ll tell you that also.
I’m Steve Duke, owner of Westchester Gold and Diamonds and we’re starting our Christmas Primer for you.
Stop by and see us. We are in the Baer Plaza behind ABC Liquors. Westchester Gold and Diamonds is located at 4200F Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte, FL 33952.
Call (941) 625-0666.
Westchester Gold and Diamonds provides services including custom jewelry design, repairs, appraisals and other jewelry and antiques related services. Westchester Gold and Diamonds is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday and by appointment at your home or bank.
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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