Tagged: pink diamond

Are Irradiated Diamonds and Gems Safe to Wear?

Fancy colored diamonds have blown up in recent years.  Natural (meaning completely untreated) fancy blue, pink, red, and green diamonds have been hitting record highs at auction.  A 9.75 carat fancy blue pear-shaped diamond sold for US$32,645,000 (or US$3,348,205 per carat) this past November from the collection of Mrs. Paul Mellon at Sotheby’s; and in October, an 8.41-carat internally flawless pink diamond sold for nearly $17.8 million at the Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels sale in Hong Kong.  Now, for those of us civilians who don’t have ten or twenty million bucks sloshing around in our jewelry budget to throw down on fancy-colored natural diamonds, many jewelers and diamond companies are turning to irradiated diamonds and gems as an affordable alternative for consumers.

Are Irradiated Diamonds and Gems Safe to Wear?

9.75 carat fancy blue natural diamond from the collection of Mrs. Paul Mellon.Are Irradiated Diamonds and Gems Safe to Wear?

8.41 carat, internally flawless fancy pink natural diamond.

Irradiation is a process whereby radiation is used to alter a diamond or gem’s crystal lattice thereby creating color centers and changing the color of the gem.  Diamonds are irradiated to product fancy blue, green, or black diamonds and the diamond can further be annealed to produce yellow, brown, orange, or pink colors.  There are four ways diamonds are irradiated these days, all four involve bombarding a part of the atoms (protons, neutrons, electrons, or gamma rays) with radiation to change the diamond’s crystal lattice.  The most common gemstones to undergo irradiation as a form of color treatment are topaz (irradiated to become blue), quartz (irradiated to become amethyst), colorless beryl (irradiated to become golden beryl or heliodore) and pearls (to become a grey-blue or black).

We’ve all heard about the terrible effects of radiation on living things.  Long-term, low-level radiation has been shown to result in cancer and genetic mutations according to the EPA yet, humans undergo radiation therapy as a form of cancer treatment as well.  So how does this relate to jewelry?  Are irradiated diamonds and gems safe to wear?

Once a stone’s crystal lattice has been altered, the atoms are unstable and emit radiation.  Over time, the unstable atom decays and eventually becomes stable, this is called radioactive decay.  The decay of radioactive elements happens at a fixed rate and the amount of time it takes for a radioisotope to decay depends on the radioactive element.  Radioactive half-life is the time it takes for half of the unstable material to degrade into a stable material.  Cobalt 60 (Co-60), a common radioisotope that is used to produce fancy color irradiated diamonds.  It has a half-life of 5 years–which means you have to set it aside for five years for half of the unstable material to become stable.  But it sometimes takes several cycles in order for the radiation to reach low enough levels that are considered “safe” for humans–it all depends on how much radiation the gem is exposed to in the first place and what levels are considered “safe.”

Are Irradiated Diamonds and Gems Safe to Wear?

4k White Gold Earrings, Treated Pink Diamond Stud Earrings (2 ct. t.w.); available here.

So who is checking to make sure these irradiated diamonds and gems are within acceptable levels?  The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulates the distribution of irradiated diamonds and irradiated gems.  The NRC requires the stones to be set aside for a couple of months to allow any radioactivity to decay and distributors must conduct radiological surveys before selling any of the treated stones on the market.  While I am happy someone is attempting to regulate this, I am still a bit skeptical about how strictly the NRC enforces its requirements and it is unclear as to how stringent the NRC is about requiring diamond distributors to have a license.

Naturally, I am not a nuclear physicist so my opinion should not be taken as scientific fact.  However, given what I know about the jewelry industry and the possible dangers of prolonged radiation exposure would I wear irradiated diamonds and gems?  Irradiated gems, definitely not because they are a bit too accessible.  However, when it comes to irradiated diamonds…  I was trolling the AGTA booths yesterday during the Tucson Gem Show sourcing precious gems for private clients and sussing out new developments in gem cutting when I happened upon a swoon-worthy necklace made of irradiated blue diamond beads.  I will admit that I was about to throw down some cold hard cash and walk out with that baby glistening around my throat; but knowing what I know about the treatment process I thought I would sleep on it before making a purchase.  So my final verdict?  Would I wear irradiated diamonds?  Nope.  Especially not every day around my neck where many important glands reside.  However, the very instant I have ten or twenty million to throw down on a large natural fancy blue or pink diamond, you better believe I will be living, breathing and sleeping in that thing twenty-four-seven!

Big Kiss and Bigger 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,


Mid-Week Delivery From Jean & Alex: Wish I had 6 ears!


Oh no big deal, just a mid-week delivery from our offices in NYC.  A pair of yellow diamonds jackets and a pair of white diamond jackets for my studs.  Makes me wish I had 6 ears. . .now THAT would be a useful deformity!Mid Week Delivery From Jean & Alex: Wish I had 6 ears!

Travel: What Jewelry to Bring to an Urban Jungle


I’m leaving for Shanghai tomorrow and no, of course I haven’t started packing yet!  I usually start planning for any trip by making lists of things I want to bring and then waking up at the crack of dawn to place everything in a suitcase.  In light of my insane travel schedule, I thought it would be fun to pen a travel section.  In upcoming posts I’m going to cover what to bring to which destinations, how to pack the jewelry so it doesn’t get lost/stolen/broken, and what jewelry to buy while abroad!  GASP!  So fun!

Let us start today then shall we, with packing for an urban jungle. . .Shanghai.  Shanghai, for those of you who have never been is just like NYC except more colorful, more densely packed with people AND with better Chinese food!  When I’m in Shanghai my day ranges from meetings with clients (we don’t actually produce in China, all our jewelry is designed and made in NYC so my meetings in Asia are generally client development), marketing firms, yoga with my dear friend “Tang Tai Tai” (Jewish UES New Yorker who graduated Spence, had a career in law and is now a yoga teacher–go figure), drinks dinner drinks dinner dancing with my “Eddie” (best friend, if you follow AbFab, I’m Pats, she’s Eddie, you get the picture) and somewhere in there I inevitably find myself dressed to the nines, dangling off the back of a gypsy peasant motorcycle decked in diamonds and trying to keep my stilettos from getting caught in the wheels (I sit side-saddle as ANY lady would).  I will try to get a pic of that one.  So, there is a whole slew of situations for which I have to accessorize.  Lets begin with the necessary evils:

1) Diamond Stud earrings: These are my every day earrings, they are conservative and truly go with everything.  Heaven forbid I should leave the house without earrings!  These are for business meetings with service providers, marketing, branding, etc. etc. where I don’t want to be too flashy–people tend to overcharge you when you’re too flashy and we can’t have that!  These are on my ears, so not in the photo.

2) Pink Diamond Earring Jackets: to give the studs a little more oomph! in case I’m meeting with a client.  Never outshine a client but we are taste-makers and trend-setters so we must dress the part.

3) Pair of diamond statement earrings: elegant, slightly decadent for “work dinners” but not enough to get me mugged or kidnapped by the gypsy motorcycle driver.

4) Pair of Statement Designer Costume Earrings: Here the motto is GO BIG OR GO HOME!  For nights out with the girls, parties, dancing so you can have a proper rager without worrying about losing bajillion dollar earrings.  Slap these on and have at it!  The ones shown here with multicolored rhinestones and pearls are vintage Hobé.

5) I don’t tend to pack rings when I travel because rings are very particular to an outfit.  I just stick to my wedding band and my three J&A bubble rings in white, yellow and pink diamonds/gold which I stack if I want to be conservative or wear as knuckle dusters for a little more emphasis.  I would suggest, bring the rings you wear every day and stick to that.  Rings are also notoriously easy to lose on hotel room side tables if you’re not weary so save yourself the fuss.

6) Necklace: I go for two statement necklaces one gold and one silver the two shown here are both from J.Crew.  This will generally cover me for most situations and give any outfit that little extra.  I used to pack my Sent Murano glass necklaces but I decided it’s not worth risking breakage since mine is the old version with GIANT size glass bubbles which has been discontinued and the one sold now has significantly smaller bubbles.

7) Bracelets: I don’t think I can live without bracelets.  In my arsenal I always have by J&A Star bangles (19 of them), some sort of Hermes leather bracelet, I’ve been wearing my J&A 20k gold elephant charm necklace as a bracelet these days (his name is Moe my lucky elephant) so that’s on there, a white vintage Monet enamel bracelet and a new Murano glass bracelet from the Sent sisters.

Travel: What Jewelry to Bring to an Urban Jungle
My Shanghai Travel Arsenal. There's Moe, my elephant in the top left corner. He has diamond eyes.

Alright my DMD darlings.  I will be posting on the road with loads of pics from the Hai so until the next one. . .

Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,




Buying One’s First Diamond Earrings


Good morning-ish my darlings!

I received a question yesterday from a reader that I thought was absolutely brilliant and I feel it is my moral obligation to address it in a post.  The question was, “At what age should I have my first diamonds and what should my first piece of fine jewelry be?”  Brava my dear!  Excellent question.

You should have your first diamonds when you can afford to buy them for yourself!  Now, I have no problem with accepting gifts if a certain wonderful friend, boy, or family member decides to bestow you with diamonds.  By all means accept them graciously and write a thank you note.  However, barring the above situation, you should buy your first diamonds when you’ve been earning a steady income, have no credit card debt and are able to put a bit aside for savings AND save up for a pair of diamonds (thank you Suze Orman).  My darlings, one should be decadent and fabulous but lets all keep in mind that we should, above-all, be self-sufficient and responsible so that as we get older we can become MORE decadent and MORE irreverent.  Cheers!

Next, what piece of jewelry should you invest in?  Oh, a pair of diamond stud earrings of course!  Here is the reasoning.  You don’t want to buy yourself a solitaire diamond ring because if you’re single you don’t want to scare away the boys; and if you’re already engaged or married then you already have a solitaire and you should be looking for something with a bit more character.  Diamond studs are a very elegant staple piece.  They are also the perfect low-maintenance accessory–I sleep in my diamond studs so if I ever forget, or am too lazy to change earrings, my ears are adorned by default.

How big/how much/what color/clarity? GASP! So much to decide.  For diamond earrings, here is how the thought process should play out:

1.  Are you a size or substance girl? If push comes to shove do you care more about how big (i.e. carats) or clarity?  Decide and use that as your jumping off point to set your budget.

2. What’s your budget?  Keep in mind that one wouldn’t want one’s earrings to be bigger than one’s engagement ring until after one is engaged.  Why? Don’t intimidate the poor boy!  If he has a heart attack every time you wear your 2 carat studs how, much longer is it going to take him to propose?!?!  Yeah, thought so.  You’re welcome.  After you’re already engaged then you don’t have to worry.  Although I would say that even then, if your studs are bigger than your engagement ring, something went wrong.  My DMD darlings know that if one is faced with a decision to either upgrade one’s diamond earrings or one’s engagement ring, we always upgrade your engagement ring first because then you can match your old stone from the engagement ring with another and make a pair of studs!  It’s a sneaky way to upgrade both.

3.  Clarity is not as important as size or color when it comes to earrings!  No one is going to have their nose against your ear staring at your diamonds!  When looking at quality considerations for earrings, here is the order of importance: color, then cut, then size, then clarity.  What does that mean?  It means that you get the best color that fits into your budget and then see what clarity your budget allows for.  The end result is that you have a pair of white sparkly gorgeousness that are large, impressive and within your budget.

4. Don’t fret if your first pair is small. You can accessorize them or use the diamonds for something else when you upgrade them in a couple of years.  What you probably don’t know (yet) is that you have a lot of room to work with diamond studs.  Using a basic pair as a jumping-off point, you can later go to a jeweler and have him/her make jackets for your studs.  What is a jacket pray tell?  A jacket is a little accessory that you slip around your diamond studs to dress them up.  Jewelers can custom-make them (and they must be custom-made in order to fit around your particular pair of studs because every diamond is different) in all shapes, colors, stones.  I have a pair of rose gold jackets with pink diamonds that go around my white diamond studs.  It changes the look, gives you more accessories to play with and stretches your budget until you’re ready for your next upgrade.

Buying Ones First Diamond Earrings
These are my rose gold and pink diamond jackets that fit around my diamond studs. The post goes into the center hole you see there.
Buying Ones First Diamond Earrings
The studs with the jacket. SWOON!

As always, feel free to click on the “Ask JZP” button on the right if you have questions.  Until the next one my lovelies.

Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,