Tagged: diamonds

Diamond Color Scale

 

It seems like everyone is coveting and talking about fancy yellow and pink diamonds these days but I am always appalled at how few people know about the color scale of white diamonds.  This is a basic building block of jewelry connoisseurship my darlings that one cannot overlook.  White diamonds fall in a D to Z color range with D being the most colorless and Z having the most color–Z diamonds are obviously yellow or grey to the naked eye but keep in mind that such diamonds are not considered fancy colors.  Fancy colored diamonds are those that have more color than Z and have their own color scale.

Diamond Color Scale

D color is the most coveted because it is the purest and most crisp diamond color.  Diamonds in the D-J color range look white from their face-up position.  One can detect yellow in the G-J color range only face down (with the pointed end, called the culet, facing up) looking through the pavilion (looking at a perpendicularly through the longest edge of the diamond).  K, L and M diamonds are yellow or grey face up and face down; any diamond color below M is unmistakably not white.

For the engagement ring buyer, it is always wise to go for the highest color that your budget allows for without sacrificing the size you have your heart set on.  So many of the celebrity engagement rings, the 20 carat whoppers, are H-J colored and it always makes me wonder why they didn’t just go for a stunning 5 carat D flawless?  There is nothing wrong with H-J colored diamonds mind you, but if it’s within your budget, who  in their right mind would want 20 mediocre carats when you can have 5 pristine carats of diamond for the same price?  Warped priorities make for bad investments.

For those who are looking to simulate the look of a yellow diamond on a restricted budget, look for an X, Y or Z color but make sure the clarity is VS1 or better.  It’s a sneaky little loop-hole.  You are buying a diamond that looks yellow to the naked eye and if you have an excellent jeweler, he or she can make it look more yellow with a clever setting thus giving you the look of a fancy colored diamond for considerably less.  Keep in mind though that an X, Y or Z color is not a fancy colored diamond so while it may look marvelous after it’s set, it is not going to retain value as well as an actual fancy colored diamond.  Why VS1 clarity or better?  Because a diamond in the lower color ranges that also has poor clarity is just a shoddy diamond.  If you are going to sacrifice color for an intended effect, you have to make up the difference in clarity and symmetry in order to retain some aspects of the diamond’s fire and brilliance, otherwise you’re just buying an unattractive diamond.

Diamond Color Scale

Jean & Alex, yellow diamond ring.  Available by private order.

For a quick tutorial on diamond shapes, read “Diamond Shapes 101.”  Have a question? Leave me a comment or contact me at blog@delivermediamonds.com.

Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,

JZP

Jewelry Styling: On Mixing High and Low

 

Growing up, my father would gasp in horror if ever I wore costume jewelry.  Having a jewelry designer for a father made for some interesting scenarios.  It was commonplace for me to run home in anticipation of this months W or Vogue and find it in tatters and holed away in his study already.  Was I destined to never hear the crackle of a fresh magazine binding?  Similarly, rather than being reprimanded for the usual offenses of an adolescent (not doing dishes etc.), I would get sighs of exasperation when I wore costume jewelry.  Keep in mind, the costume jewelry back then was nowhere near as fun as it is now.  Nevertheless, I would get lectured thusly, “Meimei, why do you wear that garbage when you have real jewelry?”  My poor mumsy would get in trouble for her jewelry styling choices, “Dolly, that’s not how you’re supposed to wear it!”  Head shaking.  I know, there are worse problems to be had.  Thanks jewelry tyrant daddy for training my eye but now I’m a grown ass adult and I can do whatever I want.  Mature delivery right?  I know.  Let’s turn jewelry styling on its head.  Lets go one step further than wearing costume jewelry–lets mix costume jewelry and fine jewelry together!  Gasp!  The horror!  Oh rebellious me!

Jewelry Styling: On Mixing High and Low

Somebody please tell me what is the point of owning fabulous jewelry if it’s tucked away in a safe all the time waiting for special occasions to see the light of day?  I first stumbled upon the idea of mixing real and faux together when I felt that wearing all real diamonds in broad daylight seemed a bit too formal.  My solution was to mix the real jewelry with some costume pieces to give everything a more of a playful quality.  Jewelry tyrant daddy would say something along the lines of, “But then everyone is going to think all your jewelry is fake!”  To which I respond: 1) costume jewelry is not “fake” jewelry, it’s real jewelry too; 2) great, no stranger will mug me because they will assume it’s all fake; 3) people who do know me get to play a super fun game of “find the real diamonds” and 4) if this is a way to get more wear out of my fine jewelry, it’s a win-win in my book.  Which pieces in the photo above are fine and which are costume?  Wouldn’t you like to know. . .

For more jewelry styling tips, click here.

Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,

JZP

Christie’s Magnificent Jewels Auction Results

 

Many people falsely assume that all items put to auction are priceless jewels of legend and antiquity.  It is true that a few of the more sought after pieces will receive more fanfare and press– thus, resulting in the general public’s perception that all items at auction are equally rare and similarly priced.  But in general, there is a range of items sold at auction that have all been inspected and vetted to ensure provenance and quality, but many pieces are quite contemporary.  Take Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction earlier this week for example, the piece everyone was swooning over was a 50.52 carat pear-shape diamond pendant suspended from a 2.28 carat diamond that sold for approximately US$9.5 million dollars.  The media was so taken with news of this sale that  no one reported on the diamond, coral and lapis lazuli ear clips by Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co. that sold for a song at US$25,000.  Here is a selection of my favorite items from the auction:

Christies Magnificent Jewels Auction Results

50.52 carat D flawless pear-shaped pendant suspended from a 2.28 carat round diamond.  Sold for US$9,490,500.

Christies Magnificent Jewels Auction Results

A pair of diamond, coral and lapis lazuli ear clips designed by Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co.  Estimated at $20,000-$30,000 and sold for US$25,000.

Christies Magnificent Jewels Auction Results

10.52 carat fancy light pink pear-shaped diamond ring, by Galt.  Sold for US$2,210,500.  Swooning?  Read my post about investing in pink diamonds.

Christies Magnificent Jewels Auction Results

Pair of diamond ear pendants: 52.78 carat pear-shaped fancy yellow diamond to the surmount set with a 6.93 carat circular-cut diamond; the other ear pendant suspending a 50.31 carat pear-shaped diamond to the surmount set with a circular-cut 7.02 carat fancy yellow diamond.  Estimated $4.6 to $6.5 million sold for a song at US$4,674,500.

Christies Magnificent Jewels Auction Results

Two-strand natural pearl necklace with 3 carat cushion cut diamond clasp.  Sold for US$3,666,500.  Remember my post about pearls and the statement that natural pearls are so rare these days that they are usually seen only in museums and in rare instances at auction?  Yup, that justifies the price tag.

Christies Magnificent Jewels Auction Results

Pair of pink sapphire, yellow sapphire and diamond ear pendants, by Oscar Heyman & Brothers.  Sold for $16,250.

Christies Magnificent Jewels Auction Results

Ruby and diamond ring, by Verdura.  Sold for $25,000.

Magnificent jewels indeed!  One cannot help but feel a bit light-headed from all the swooning that an auction entails.  Christie’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels takes place on November 13th, I will have caught my breath by then only to fall all over myself yet again.

Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,

JZP

In Defense of Diamonds: Why Ira Weissman is Wasting His Time

 

There are times in one’s life when selfishness needs to be cast aside, when instincts of self-preservation are subjugated in order to defend one’s beliefs against a bully.  I came across diamond industry veteran, Ira Weissman’s, article “7 Reasons Why Diamonds are a Waste of Your Money” via Huffington Post Blog this week and felt an overwhelming need to right a wrong–to come to the defense of something that cannot defend itself from the inaccurate statements and sweeping generalizations made in Mr. Weissman’s article.

Reason #1

According to Mr. Weissman, “The most common misconception about engagement rings is that they’re some kind of ancient tradition that’s deeply embedded in human history in societies around the world. This is completely false.”  Well. . .actually, around the 2nd Century AD, the Romans first used rings as tokens of betrothal.  During that time, diamonds and colored stones were extremely popular and though diamond cutting techniques were not sophisticated, there is evidence showing that solitaire rough diamond rings did exist (See Black, J. Anderson, A History of Jewelry: Five Thousand Years (Park Lane 1981)).

I will acknowledge the fact that De Beers did propel the popularity of the engagement rings to its current height with some excellent marketing and ad campaigns, but let’s not make sweeping generalizations about “human history and societies around the world” without researching said histories and societies first, shall we?  History aside, assuming that the practice of presenting engagement rings to symbolize love, betrothal, and commitment, is a tradition that was developed over the last century, I still fail to see what Mr. Weissman is taking issue with.  America is a young country, and just like older civilizations before us, the creation of traditions and practices that hold sentimental significance is an integral part of the evolution of any culture.

Reason #2:

“Diamonds are not an investment — they are a retail product like any other.”  Now, Mr. Weissman, assuming that we are discussing finished jewelry rather than diamonds, which are a commodity, there are retail products that depreciate in value the second they leave the store, and there are luxury goods that increase in value based on the basic principles of market economics.  A Chevy Impala will be worth less the day after you drive it away from the dealership, but a limited edition Aston Martin, however, will likely retain its value pretty well, if not appreciate in value, as long as it’s well cared for.  Another prime example of a retail good that not only retains value, but appreciates, is the Hermes Birkin bag.  Point made.

I assume you would retort with something along the lines of, “Limited edition, sure.  But diamonds are mass-produced and readily available.”  I beg to differ.  Diamonds are a limited resource.  The sheer fact that it took the perfect combination of temperature and pressure for carbon to transform into diamond’s unique crystal structure over billions of years, hundreds of millions of years for the diamonds to be transported by kimberlite and lamproite from the earth’s mantle, through the process of emplacement, to the earth’s crust where they can be mined by humans, renders the diamond a rare and awe-inspiring phenomenon indeed.

I am not claiming that all diamonds are investment-grade.  Just like some investments make money and others fail, one must invest well for a diamond to appreciate in value.  I would never buy shares in any old company and expect for a 15% return in one year, or ever.  Would I buy a 2 carat, L colored, SI1 and call it an investment?  Of course not.  However, with proper investment advice, certain diamonds will appreciate in value.

Diamonds, just like any other investment have to be bought low and sold high.  There must be demand in the market and a rare, high-quality stone will appreciate in value like any other commodity over time.  Given the recent demand for diamonds in China and India, diamond prices increased by 10-20% in the first half of last year alone.  Appraisers are quite familiar with the increase in diamond value, which is why most will automatically add 15% to the appraisal value in order to arrive at the replacement value of a diamond.

Reason #3

Mr. Weissman then cites integrity of the diamond dealers and their willingness to engage in unsavory behavior in order to turn a profit as his third reason why diamonds are a waste of money.  Diamond dealers like Mr. Weissman sell to manufacturers, designers, and wholesalers, not directly to the consumer.  The diamond dealers margins are absorbed by the manufacturer or wholesaler as their cost of doing business.  Every stage of the industrial process has a built-in margin, everyone needs to make some money along the way.  To argue that profits should not be made by suppliers in the production chain suggests a naiveté about capitalism that I would find alarming coming from a diamond investment advisor.  On the other hand, if reason #3 was an attempt at undermining the integrity of other diamond dealers in an effort to drum up business for himself, I’m afraid Mr. Weissman’s efforts fall short as well.  Do we really expect the public to believe that a disenchanted and slightly bitter diamond dealer is going to forgo any profits in his own business dealings?  I think not.

Reasons #4-7

If I wasn’t sufficiently appalled by the unresearched blanket statement about the history of engagement rings made by Mr. Weissman earlier in his article, please consider me fully horrified by his reasons #4-7, which range from unsolicited lectures on fiscal responsibility to sweeping statements about men and women’s motivations behind buying or wanting an engagement ring, respectively.  He supposes that men buy rings to “prove their manhood” or to keep their girlfriends “quiet for another year about marriage” and women are merely seeking a diamond as proof that they are loved.  Such unfounded stereotypes are about as insightful as those of a high school psychology student with a penchant for watching reality TV.  Perhaps reasons #4-7 clawed away at Mr. Weissman’s inner dialogue when he was proposing to his (poor) wife, but I have more faith in society than to assume they are all weak-minded sheep with inferiority complexes who can be herded en mass into the abyss in search of a little blue box.

For me, engagements rings remain a beautiful gesture.  If a man loves a woman enough to want to make her happy by purchasing a rare gem because she thinks its stunning, and if he is selfless enough to spend (whatever the amount) on a gift for her, rather than on himself, that is something worthy of praise, not ridicule.  As for the women, I doubt many of us would condemn ourselves to a lifetime with a horrid man we couldn’t stand purely for the sake of a diamond.  In case you didn’t get the memo, women are quite capable of funding their own diamonds nowadays.  So if the sparkly ring on our finger reminds us of how we fell in love and the man we fell in love with, I would say it’s money well spent.

I am a big proponent of loving what you do and believing in what you sell.  I left a career as a corporate lawyer in order to pursue my passions, jewelry, design, fashion and diamonds.  It is because I love what I do that I urge clients to make informed decisions by discussing things to consider before buying your first diamond, or the truth about conflict diamonds.  I would never sell something I felt resentment towards, nor would I hold my potential clients in such low regard.

Quite frankly, Mr. Weissman, if you are so disenchanted with your profession, perhaps the more effective solution would be to pursue another trade, rather than trying to fashion for yourself a niche as the “diamond Cassandra.”  After all, in life as in the purchase of diamonds, it is not the money that matters in the long-run, it’s the joy that one derives from the process and the relationships that one builds, that make for a life of fulfillment.

Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,

JZP

In Defense of Diamonds: Why Ira Weissman is Wasting His Time


Interview with House of Lavande Owner, Tracy Smith

 

Good morning my lovelies,

I have a special treat for you all today, an interview Tracy Smith, owner of House of Lavande—an expertly curated collection of the most SWOON-worthy vintage designer costume (VDC) jewelry who boasts as its devotees Michelle Obama, Katy Perry, SJP and the list goes on!

 

Interview with House of Lavande Owner, Tracy Smith
Michelle Obama wearing House of Lavande earrings
Interview with House of Lavande Owner, Tracy Smith
Katy Perry wearing House of Lavande earrings
Interview with House of Lavande Owner, Tracy Smith
SJP wearing House of Lavande Necklace

JZP:  Tracy, congratulations House of Lavande is having a huge year!  How did you get into vintage designer costume jewelry and why did you create House of Lavande?

TS:  I have always loved accessories, but started personally collecting vintage about 10 years ago. I started House of Lavande out of a desire to build a vision around mixing vintage with current fashion. Every place I found vintage was interesting, but the common theme was that it was all vintage– jewelry, clothes, handbags, etc.  I wanted to have a jewel box filled with only the treasures and presented in a modern way.

JZP:  Yes, I am always amazed at the designing genius when I dig up vintage treasures that look so chic and contemporary even today.  How did you learn about vintage jewelry?

TW:  I don’t think I can remember a time when I didn’t know vintage. I probably started with vintage furniture. Picking up great finds that I would rework and freshen up.

JZP:  It always feels effortless when you truly are in love with something, I know.  But I’m sure a lot of work has gone into honing your eye and your curating skills.  What aspects do you consider before you buy a piece of vintage jewelry?

TS:  I consider the condition of it…how it fits on…this is very important. A necklace can look drop dead gorgeous, but if it fits funny on, forget it. A lot times those are hard fixes. I also look for the wear of it and also what would I wear it with. I used to buy pieces based only on loving it, but to include it in the House of Lavande collection, it needs to be easy for the client to wear. And at the end of the day…. certain pieces just speak to me and I have to have it.

Interview with House of Lavande Owner, Tracy Smith
House of Lavande vintage Miriam Haskell amber floral earrings
Interview with House of Lavande Owner, Tracy Smith
House of Lavande unsigned vintage 1960's necklace

JZP:  I feel like I have to have practically everything is see!  Clearly moderation is a learned skill.  What are your favorite vintage jewelry houses/designers?

TW:  I have soooo many. But for costume jewelry, I love Trifari from the 20-40’s, YSL 1970’s, Lanvin (any time period), Chanel (any time period), Napier, Boucher, Hobé.

JZP:  Oh I LOVE Hobé and Lanvin!  Certain design houses can practically do no wrong.  House of Lavande has its own line of costume jewelry coming out soon; we’re all waiting for its debut with bated breath.  Where does your inspiration come from for the pieces?

TW:  Our new original line for Resort 2013 will launch in May with availability in stores for November, so I can’t be too specific . . .I have a store full of inspiration though for many more collections to come. It’s a very exciting time for House of Lavande.

JZP:  It certainly is!  Is there a particular piece for spring that you’re absolutely obsessed with?

TS:  My husband gifted me with the coolest Edie Parker clutch for my birthday that I’ve been loving for both day and night. I feel like that one accessory instantly adds impact to any look. I love the collection’s modern take on a vintage inspired design, something I very much relate to and appreciate in other designers and style.

JZP:  Gorgeous!  Well thanks so much for speaking with me today, the DMD girls will be looking out for the launch of House of Lavande’s resort line.  Before you leave us, what advice would you give to someone just starting to collect vintage pieces?

TW:  I guess that depends on why someone is collecting. If they are collecting only book pieces or signed rare pieces then do the research. Those pieces are costly so make sure you can get some real provenance or authenticity. If someone is collecting for themselves to wear and enjoy, don’t get caught up in it being a signed piece. You can find many amazing pieces that are not signed.  Try to envision what you will wear it with or what it means to you. After all, its costume for a reason…to have fun with it.

Well there you have it my darlings.  Click here to check out other all the sparklies at House of Lavande.  As always . . .

Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,

JZP