Saturday, June 30, 2007

Shedding light on the subject...

To be beautiful a diamond must be bright, colorful and sparkle like crazy - period the End.

The best cut diamonds balance all three factors. If one predominates, then the other two will suffer or simply go away in our visual perception. When all three are equal, then and only then - we'll see them all. That's the nature of the human eye.

We can isolate and feature any factor by controlling the light source. Whether our lighting is by candle, bulbs or the Sun, the visual impact depends entirely on the focus and intensity of that light.

Candlelight is superb. Its low-level "pinpoint" flicker highlights all three of the factors of diamond beauty at the same time. It dramatizes diamond's capacity to return more light than anything else in the room - brightness. Its tiny flame fuels distinct separation of light into highly visible spectral prisms - colorfulness. Its motion excites sparkle.

It may seem counter intuitive, but a great way to show-off brightness is actually on an overcast day - intense very highly diffused light. The diamond will appear bathed in soft light - reflected back to your eye in a bright and soothing manner. Such lighting masks both prismatic effect and sparkle.

It's equally ironic that my favorite place to reveal all the colors of the rainbow in a diamond is under a shade tree on a clear and sunny day - intense multiple pinpoints of light. Each drop of light that rains between the leaves, will display its own visibly distinct rainbow in the diamond. As the wind blows, the dancing leaves stimulate dramatic sparkle.

As for direct sunlight, I've been taught to avoid it like the plague – it’s too intense and obnoxious. Direct sunlight causes overexposure. That's why they invented sunscreen and Ray Bans!

Put a diamond in direct sunlight and it'll hit your eye with the intensity of a flashbulb. I'm not lying. Don't stare or your eyes and brain will go ape. Close-up the glare will block a clear and distinct view of your diamonds performance. But I guarantee you, at arms length you'll catch amazing flashes of color and brightness that can be overwhelming.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Solid Performance...

“Performance” is the newest buzz word in diamonds. Literally, it's what the diamond is supposed to do. It should come as no surprise that it already means different things to different people.

Does performance matter to you? It certainly should. To me, that’s what it’s all about.

Cutters and connoisseurs have been trying to quantify diamond beauty for a long time. It's not easy - perhaps next to impossible. Quantity and Quality don't generally share the same axis on any of the graphs I've ever seen.

After years of research, the GIA developed a very complex set of metrics to simply define the building blocks of beauty in a round brilliant diamond – brilliance, dispersion, and scintillation. The AGS continues to advance their performance-based methodology by also modelling the variants of beauty in fancy-shaped diamonds.

Both of these labs independently discovered that any given diamond’s “performance” is not constant. Significant changes occur just by moving the diamond or by subtle shifts in lighting conditions. Even the pupil-size, shoulder-width and clothing of the viewer can make a noticeable difference.

Not to be out-done, entrepreneurs have already brought to market various counter-top machines designed to analyze and compare diamonds based on their “performance”. Computerized snapshots delivered by these sales tools are still subject to interpretation. Despite their obvious g-wiz factor, there is honest disagreement over the validity of each tools ability to accurately define diamond beauty.

Lucky for us that beauty isn't purely scientific – it’s still an expression of art. Mere words and pictures may never convey the full magic of diamonds. To prove it to yourself, simply go look at some diamonds!!!

You will discover that diamonds do indeed “perform”! They are natural light shows. The best cut diamonds are dynamic works of art – literally 3D motion pictures. They are marvels to behold.

When you put such a diamond on its proper stage – adorning her – it will brighten up her life. It will dance in every light! It will twinkle like a little star! It will radiate all the colors of the rainbow! If you open up your heart and mind, it may even sing your special song of love!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Real Values...

Rule #3 - If you want to buy a diamond you should apply the following two rules.

Rule #1 - To appreciate the value of diamonds, you have to actually look at them.
Rule #2 - To understand the full value of a diamond, you have to know what to look for.

I've devoted my professional life to adding-value to that precious and uniquely mysterious gemstone called diamond - first as a cutter and teacher, then as a brander of superlative craftsmanship and performance.

It literally breaks my heart whenever I think that short-term greed might seriously undermine the value of the collective efforts of an entire trade.

On-line sellers are clearly not adding-value to diamonds! The prevailing “internet model" of selling diamonds is far from being new; it's probably one of the oldest and simplest forms of business behavior we know. Its called taking a free ride.

After the creators, innovators, entrepreneurs and other honest hard-working folks have made a product and brought it to market; they are very often blind-sided by disingenuous free-loaders who proudly proclaim an ability to do the "same thing cheaper".

How hard is that? Especially after a large supporting cast has already done the real job of creating desire: supplying, educating, romancing, selling and satisfying the customer. I finally have to call it like I see it… BS!

The Internet rewards unfair competition. Caveat emptor, "similar to" is not the "same as"!! Most on-line diamond sellers do not research, produce, or build new standards, products, or markets.

Diggers literally sweat diamonds out of the ground. Cutters and manufacturers develop the newest technologies and practices. Jewelers maintain necessary inventories, showrooms and professional staff to properly show and sell diamonds to an otherwise under-served public. The major gemological labs, supported by independent retailers and their customers, verify the highest standards of quality.

On-line sellers that do not maintain "bricks and mortar" businesses are merely padding their pockets by riding the coat tails of all the "middlemen" listed above and then cutting them out of the equation.

If you ask me, the cyber-bandits are syphoning off an unearned portion of the market’s wealth. They don’t own the diamonds they list for sale, nor do they share other typical costs of business such as bearing an equal burden of taxation.

The bottom-line is that every diamond they discount directly devalues all existing and future diamonds.

No one benefits but them.

We are all in the diamond business together... diggers, cutters, jewelers and consumers alike. That's right. It's precisely why every time the value of diamonds is threatened it's a disservice to all of us. We are collectively robbed of the fruits of our labors and investments. Quite simply, when the price of diamonds goes down, everyone who already owns one suffers and those who may wish to find more diamonds or create prettier diamonds are further discouraged.

I firmly believe that diamonds are still too cheap! Think about it, those controversial "blood diamonds" might never have emerged if revenues from legitimate trade in diamonds were large enough to support adequate and sustainable jobs, governance and services in the world's diamond-producing countries.

Understanding value. The pricing of diamonds has long been commoditized, based on the 4C's - color, clarity, carat weight and cost. These are all the factors that tell you the features of what a diamond is. And that’s the information that goes on most certificates.

But, now we know it’s all about what a diamond does. The latest buzzword is "performance". That's the benefit of exceptional cutting. Think about it this way – no horse trader would ever buy a thoroughbred sight unseen and then only by the pound! No way. He’d want a horse that he can see winning the race!

The only reason to cut a diamond at all is to make it look more beautiful!!! If that weren't so, we'd all just buy our diamonds in the rough because that would be the biggest bang for our buck. Wouldn't it?

Its now perfectly well understood that the best cut diamonds make the color look better, the clarity look better, and the size even look bigger because they shine from edge-to-edge with the most brightness and fire.

How can anyone properly judge a diamond's value without seeing it first as well as comparing it - up close and personal - to others?