Stop Buying and Selling Blood Diamonds

The Kimberley Process and World Diamond Council are a sham.

Severe human rights violations, including murder, rape and forced labor, have taken place in the diamond fields of Marange, Zimbabwe. Recent reports from Human Rights Watch (HRW) indicate that these horrific conditions continue to take place.

Blood diamonds from Marange, Zimbabwe, have been issued Kimberley Process (KP) certificates and imported into the cutting centers, where they were cut and polished and then sold to dealers, jewelry manufacturers and retailers. Tens of thousands of carats of blood diamonds are now in dealers’ inventories and jewelers’ showcases — and are being actively sold to consumers.

The jewelry trade’s purchase and distribution of blood diamonds is funding a continuing cycle of horrific human rights violations. Our industry is providing money and distribution to those who murder, rape and enslave. Every time we buy or sell a blood diamond, we are sending a message of encouragement to the perpetrators of these inhuman crimes. We are legitimizing their dirty business. We become their partners in crime.

We must face the fact that the KP has been issuing certificates for Marange blood diamonds. The KP has made these “certified blood diamonds” perfectly legal. Customs officials did not — and do not — have the right to stop Marange diamonds with KP certificates. Instead of eliminating blood diamonds, the KP has become a process for the systematic legalization and legitimization of blood diamonds. When you get right down to it, the KP has become a blood diamond laundering system. The KP is not just a sham; it’s a scam.

To understand how this could happen, we must define “blood diamonds” and compare our definition to the KP definition of “conflict diamonds.”
Rapaport definition:“Blood diamonds are diamonds involved in murder, mutilation, rape or forced servitude.”

KP definition:“Conflict diamonds means rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments, as described in relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions insofar as they remain in effect, or in other similar UNSC resolutions which may be adopted in the future, and as understood and recognised in United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 55/56, or in other similar UNGA resolutions which may be adopted in future…”

The KP definition of conflict diamonds does not address human rights violations and does not include blood diamonds. It is a legal definition established by governments to limit the scope and authority of the KP. The KP is a highly politicized process controlled by governments for governments. Its primary function is to protect governments and their revenue — legitimate or not — from rebel forces and consumer boycotts. The KP is essentially agnostic when it comes to human rights. As HRW concluded in its November 6, 2009, report: “This diamond monitoring body has utterly lost credibility.”

In spite of the above, there is a common misconception in the jewelry trade that diamonds with KP certificates are free of human rights abuses. Trade organizations, under the misguided leadership of the World Diamond Council (WDC), have promoted and continue to promote the KP as an acceptable standard for ensuring human rights compliance, even though they know that the KP has been issuing certificates for blood diamonds that have penetrated the diamond and jewelry supply chain. The WDC refuses to inform the trade that the KP cannot be relied upon to ensure human rights compliance and that polished blood diamonds are in the supply chain. The WDC has lost its moral compass. Its primary loyalty is now to the KP and not to the diamond industry or even the basic principles of human decency.

“Our narrative could end here, but I have a much broader definition for a blood diamond. Here is my definition:
  • Any diamond that was mined using oppressed labor in unsanitary working conditions.
  • Any diamond whose oppressed labor force was victimized in the form of rape, mutilations (loss of arms or legs), beatings, verbal abuse, unconscionable working hours, and below poverty wage structure.
  • Any diamond that the company who mined it or controls its tariffs is part of a monopoly.
  • Any diamond that funds wars or corporate greed where profits supersede human life.
  • Any diamond that is used to oppress any human life or the extinction of any race, tribe or sub-culture.
  • Any diamond that is purposely graded incorrectly and marketed for corporate profits instead of consumer satisfaction.
  • Any diamond that is sold at a price above its secondary market resale value forcing the consumer to take a significant loss if it was to be resold.”
  • -Fred Cuellar

What To Do?

• Raise Consciousness. We need to raise consciousness within the jewelry industry about the problem of blood diamonds so that people will stop trading them. Industry organizations that should play a role need to be awakened. I suggest sending emails to Terry Burman, chairman of Jewelers of America (JA), director of the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) and the WDC, at tburman@jewels.com; Matt Runci, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of JA, chairman of the RJC, director of the WDC, at matt@jewelofam.org; Cecilia Gardner, president and CEO of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC), director of the WDC and CIBJO, at clgjvc@aol.com. You might want to cc the email to other leaders and send a copy to us.

Ask these leaders to confirm that polished blood diamonds are in the distribution system and ask what you or they can do about it. Ask them to use their organizations to inform the trade about the problem. If you know anyone on the board of these organizations, give them a call and ask them to have their organization let people know about blood diamonds.

Email us at fairtrade@rapaport.com if you would like to help us raise consciousness. We will be holding conferences to discuss the issue at BaselWorld on Friday, March 19, 2010, at the Basel Congress Center from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and the JCK Vegas Show, Monday, June 7, 2010, at the Sands Convention Center from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. We need new ideas and solutions. We need your help to get organized.

• Stay informed. Visit diamonds.net/zimbabwe for background information and google Marange diamonds to stay up to date. Help us stay informed. If you know about people or companies that are selling Marange diamonds, email us. While we don’t have the resources to investigate all claims, if a name comes up enough or the case is compelling, we will quietly notify relevant investigative authorities.

• Return diamonds that you suspect may be blood diamonds. Pay careful attention to diamonds that have a green hue. Unless you are absolutely sure of where the diamond came from, it is probably a good idea to return all diamonds with a green or green/gray hue in the D to Z and light green color range, not fancy green colors. While there are green diamonds from other places, about 60 percent of Marange’s cuttable diamonds are green and tens of thousands of carats have come onto the market over the past year. Furthermore, we are getting reports that the color of some green Marange diamonds is unstable and may worsen.

While many in the industry are opposed to the idea of returns, the hard fact is that you are going to have to make a personal decision about what to do. Thanks to the KP, blood diamonds are perfectly legal and you have no right to return them. On the other hand, do you really want to be selling what may be blood diamonds? It’s a financial and ethical issue with a high dose of uncertainty. There may be no clear answers. You might want to talk to a spiritual or ethical adviser.

• Ask Before You Buy. As noted in the HRW campaign*, “Zimbabwe’s Blood Diamonds, Ask Before You Buy,” asking is probably the most important thing you can and should do. Recognize that you are responsible for what you buy and that someone’s life may be at stake. Make sure you know who your suppliers are and ask them serious questions to ensure that the diamonds you buy are not from Marange nor involved in other serious human rights abuses. Err on the side of caution. Tell your supplier you really care about where your diamonds come from. If they know you care, they also will care. Make it a point to personally talk to every diamond supplier about human rights issues and how important they are to you.

You will also want your supplier to sign a document promising to refund payment for any diamonds that turn out to be associated with human rights violations. But don’t rely solely on the paper; remember to have the talk.

Conclusion

It’s time to transcend Kimberley and the WDC. One wonders how many lives will have to be destroyed before the demonstrations begin — before victims come marching down Fifth Avenue, as they did a decade ago. What will it take to get our trade to stop buying and selling blood diamonds?

I know that there are many good and decent people in the diamond and jewelry trade. And I know that many of you care but are frustrated and feel the situation is hopeless. I urge you to reconsider. I urge you not to give up.

We can and will beat this problem. It will take time and unprecedented levels of cooperation. But I do believe that there are enough people in our industry who really care about human rights and that we can make a difference by working together. There is so much good that we can do. I am confident that when the right people come together, we can and will build a more fair and ethical diamond market. We can and will create solutions that will make the world proud of us and our diamonds.

By Martin Rapaport

January 29, 2009

Click here for original article.

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Blood Diamonds

“Certified”: A Dirty Word in Today’s Market

You see or hear the ads all the time—we sell only GIA, AGS, EGL etc “certified” diamonds with a “certificate” to back it up. Thanks for telling me—RUN! “Certified” is a word that is supposed to put you at ease, make you relax, so you put your guard down. But it is meaningless.


The lab “certificates” are riddled with disclaimers that specify it is strictly a bought opinion and in no way guarantees anything, making the “certificates” worthless. The jeweler will pretend he bears no responsibility because someone else graded it, so who or what “guarantees” the diamond? Nothing and nobody! Guess who is left holding the bag? Any jeweler who doesn’t tell you that “certified” does not guarantee anything, belongs in the same cell as Bernie Madoff. Look up the definition of certify (verb: certified) which includes “to guarantee as meeting a standard or to confirm formally as true, accurate or genuine.”

Do you know where the safest country in the world to buy a diamond is? Well, it’s not the United States anymore! It’s India where jewelers are buying back the diamonds they sell to customers who aren’t happy! “They’re not just selling diamonds, they’re selling security and trust”, said Marc Goldstein from Rapaport.* India is the first country whose jewelers stand behind the merchandise they sell with a lifetime buyback policy!

Currently only about twenty percent of jewelers in the U.S sell fully bonded diamonds! (Diamonds with a lifetime buyback policy). Disgraceful! I’m sick and tired of seeing a young couple down on their luck and being forced to sell their diamond to find out that it is only worth an average of 19.7% of what they PAID! Their usual response when they find out that they have been taken to the cleaners? “But it was “certified”?! Buying a “certified” diamond is about as safe as jumping out of an airplane without a parachute and told to flap your arms! I can’t be more serious about this pandemic that is destroying the integrity of diamonds. Please DO NOT buy a diamond from anyone who even whispers the word “certified”. Let 2010 be the year that we banish the dirty word “certified” from the diamond business forever and replace it with a fully bonded appraisal (F.B.A). That leaves you 100% in the driver’s seat! By refusing to buy any diamond that is misrepresented and only comes with a 30-90 day return policy you will never find yourself with a diamond you don’t want and no where to turn. Don’t buy “certified” diamonds from anyone! Fairness has to mean something again in the diamond industry!

*Goldstein, Marc. Rapaport. December 2009. Vol. 32 No. 12. Pg 49.

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

The Health of Your Jeweler

In the last two and a half years one out of every seven jewelers has gone out of business! Generations of jewelers have been wiped off the face of the map because they were ill-prepared for the next tidal wave of consumerism—Twitter, text message, Facebook, etc. connected consumers that don’t care what the old way to do business is because they want to buy their way on their schedule! Jewelers who had legions of fans have been left in the Sahara Desert as their fast track-spending baby boomers are off searching for the meaning of life and have put away their pocket books and wallets! Of the remaining jewelers, half are on life support betting on Christmas! If Santa appears, they may squeak by with their lives. If not? It’s Sayonara! Arrivederci! After the next 3 months, we will have a pretty good idea of which jewelers are going to survive and which ones will join the Tyrannosaurus Rex!


As a consumer here is what you have to be on the look out for:

1) Promises that seem too good to be true! If the jeweler keeps lowering the price until you buy he’s not going to be around tomorrow!

2) The lack of non-bonded diamonds; the bonding of commercial diamonds. If the jeweler is offering a lifetime buyback guarantee on crummy diamonds, it’s because they are just dynamiting the pond to get the most money in their pocket before they go out of business. Of course, they don’t have to worry about keeping a promise if they close up and leave town after the sale.

3) Over-stocked Cases! Desperate jewelers bring in a lot of jewelry on consignment that they haven’t paid for yet hoping to make a quick sale! If they sell it to you and they go out of business with out paying their bills you are in possession of stolen merchandise!

4) How long the jeweler has been in business now is irrelevant! Legacy jewelers are dropping like flies. Look for the little things like small repairs that haven’t been made, lights out in cases or outdoor signs that haven’t been replaced. Out of date décor. Does the place have a current minimalism look or old fashion iron stands behind the cases approach?

5) Look at the age of the jewelers. If everyone serving you is older than dirt there is a good chance there is a hole in the desert six feet deep that the company is going to be dropped into.

Are the sales people a little eager like their life depends on it or do they give you room to breathe? If they crowd you it’s because they are missing the crowds!

6) Flat out ask them if their diamonds come with “certificates” guaranteeing the diamond? If they say yes run for the hills! The FTC has deregulated lab reports to not be responsible for the exact accuracy of their grades as long as disclaimers are present! If the jeweler is telling you a piece of paper stands behind their diamonds and not the jeweler himself, you are talking to a dinosaur.

7) Does the jeweler have a social media director? If they don’t they are in the dark ages and will soon be left in the dark.

8) Do they try to make the sale today vs. giving you time to make your decision? If they’re rushing you they are hunting for cash.

9) And finally, who do you know of your friends that have recently bought from the jeweler? If you can’t quickly Facebook your friends and find at least a half a dozen happy customers it’s because they don’t have any!

The health of the “business as usual” jeweler is critical. They are on life support and if they are on life support, how are they going to be around to support you?


by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

Don’t Force It! (Pre Fab Isn’t Fab)

Ninety percent of all jewelry sold in the United States is prefabricated. Let’s see what Webster has to say. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word Prefabricate as follows:

Function: transition verb

Date: 1932

1: to fabricate the parts of at a factory so that construction consists mainly of assembling and uniting standardized parts.

2: to produce artificially

Think about it! Ninety percent of all the settings that hold our diamonds and gemstones are manufactured PRIOR to knowing what diamonds or gemstones are going to go in it! That’s life in the 21st century—picking out a frame for a newly discovered DaVinci without bothering to ask the exact dimensions. That’s Crazy! But, I’ll keep going! All this Prefab jewelry is mass produced in such great quantities, (#1 goal being profit) that any decent quality control to insure against under-carating of the quality of the gold or precious metal is thrown out with the baby and the bath water! Prongs that should be hand rolled for durability and strength are plucked out of an assembly line machine losing an incredible amount of tensile strength (that’s what keeps your rocks in place)! Of course even under the most optimal conditions, using a Master Craftsman & Master Stone Setter, damage is possible but why would we want to increase the odds of an accident by over twenty times?! We might as well text and drive with an open container in the car! All right, don’t get me started! Here are the facts:

1) Prefab jewelry is a lot less expensive upfront but will cost you more on the back side with costly repairs.

2) Prefab jewelry is ordered out of a catalog so you may get it quick and fast but you aren’t buying something meant to last.

3) Prefab jewelry serves a place in our society the same way a place holder does. It’s a good band-aid until you know exactly what you want your dream piece of jewelry to look like.

4) Custom made jewelry is more expensive (but not unaffordable like some jewelers want you to believe) but will more than pay for itself when it lasts generations not
months!

Here’s how you protect yourself:

1) Ask the jeweler if the ring was Prefabricated by him or anyone else.

2) If the ring was Prefabricated and you are willing to roll the dice with prongs that have been FORCED out of place to fit stones that were jammed into them, what guarantees does the jeweler provide when the little sparkly beauties start jumping ship?

3) If they say the ring is custom made will they put it in writing and guarantee any stone loss (Large main stones must be covered under a personal floater policy) as long as you bring it in for scheduled maintenance?

4) Did the jeweler attempt to show and sell you a setting first and then ask you to pick out the main stone? * Never put the cart before the horse!

5) And finally, how long did the process take from start to finish? If it took days and not weeks with several visits, I’m sorry my friend, you just bought a Prefabricated piece of jewelry and as the story goes “Prefab aint Fab!”

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

Diamond mining is not forever, SAfrica learns

By Fran Blandy (AFP)

KLEINZEE, South Africa — The glittering diamonds are almost gone and as the lustre fades on South Africa’s Diamond Coast, desperate ghost towns are left clinging to the last signs of life.

The heyday of diamond mining may be over, but the restoration of a once-pristine landscape along the country’s west coast should turn this wasteland of scarred earth into a tourist paradise.

Isolated under strict security for 80 years of mining, towering mine dumps reach hundreds of metres into the air along the coast, the site of one of the most ambitious mining restoration projects to date.

It’s hard to believe it by looking at the area now. The sole customer in a supermarket on a recent day in one of the mining towns, Kleinzee, said the industry has left it looking as if a “nuclear bomb was dropped on it.”

Since 2007 the world’s leading diamond company De Beers has drastically cut operations at its Namaqualand mines as the precious gem runs out, reducing staff from about 3,000 to 250.

Globally, known diamond reserves are expected to run out in 30 years.

Kleinzee, located about 600 kilometres (370 miles) north of Cape Town in the country’s biggest and most sparsely populated province of Northern Cape, is entirely owned by the diamond giant.

Schools, recreation centres and houses stand mostly empty.

Its mine has already shut down and residents wait desperately for officials to proclaim an end to its life as a privately owned mining town so individuals can buy homes themselves and try to breathe life back into business.

“All my friends lost their jobs. This is a mining town, what must they do here?” said local supermarket owner Ann Engelbrecht, whose sales have dropped 60 percent with only a trickle of tourists and locals sustaining her.

She took over the Spar in 2007 after working for De Beers since 1984, and says she has already had two heart attacks from the stress, making opening hours ever later and shutting down completely over weekends.

“It is just not worth it anymore. Business is so bad but I really believe if the town is proclaimed it will get better.”

De Beers, grappling with how to leave the town, is partnering with conservationists to reinvigorate the area through tourism, fish farming and other industries.

The project highlights increasing concerns about the environmental footprint left by mining and the responsibility of companies to mitigate it.

Gert Klopper, De Beers Namaqualand spokesman, says the company hopes the project will improve the image of the diamond industry, long blighted by conflict and violence.

“I think it’s the first time anywhere in the world that it (restoration) has taken place on such a large scale,” he tells AFP of the 463 million rand (56 million dollar, 40 million euro) project.

De Beers owns some 10 percent of South Africa’s 2,500-kilometre coastline, much of which has been extensively mined.

Conservation experts are now busy filling gaping holes and transplanting sensitive plant species to restore the vast plains to their former glory.

“The succulent Karoo is one of only two arid hotspots in the world with more than 4,500 plant species. The whole of Europe doesn’t have the same number of plant species,” says environmental officer Werner Nel.

Klopper notes that while some 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) have been mined, a total of 90,000 hectares were restricted from the public for decades, meaning “huge tracts of land have been pristinely preserved.”

Thick and varied vegetation which comes alive with wildflowers in spring stretches for miles to sandy white dunes and idyllic beaches ideal for surfing.

With the rest of South Africa’s coast overdeveloped, it is hoped a new tourist attraction will be created along with hundreds of jobs in the most isolated corner of the country.

Sea water pumps designed for mining are now helping fill the pits, which are being turned into oyster and abalone farms.

Already exposed bedrock is being eyed for nearly 100 wind turbines along the wind-blown coastline — to create much needed renewable energy in the power-strapped country.

Other plans are underway to create land art, a marina, seawater greenhouses and hiking trails, and even to turn one massive pit into a concert venue.

“It will take 10, 20, 30 years to get to the point that you can’t see mining happened here,” says Andre Meyer of the Nurture, Restore, Innovate project which is restoring the land for De Beers.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.

Click here for original article.

Bonded Diamonds: Diamonds for the “Conceptual Age”

It’s April 7th, 10:40AM. Good morning or good _________(fill in the blank) wherever you are right now in the future. I say future because as I write this newsletter, it dawned on me that these words will not be received, heard, or read until sometime in the future, if ever! But I’ll press on anyway.

We do this all the time—talk, write, create, destroy hoping and praying to be noticed; hoping to be heard. When others give us compliments, we feel good; ignored we feel bad. Why do we give that power to others, the ability to affect us? Employed we have self-worth. Lose our jobs, we feel worthless. Why is our happiness dependent on others? How well do you treat yourself? You can be kind to yourself, you know? Some people say “I’ve been really beating myself up over ________ (fill in the blank). Really? Beating yourself up? Worrying? Complaining? As Doctor Phil would say, “How’s that working for you?” The solutions may be found in the new “Conceptual Age”.


The “Conceptual Age” is defined as an era of creativity, innovation and design. As Daniel Pink says in his book, The Whole New Mind,“Answers need more problems!” That’s what the “Conceptual Age” represents! It’s about being able to see the book, not just as a source of knowledge, but as a paperweight, a source of energy (burn it to stay warm), a hat, a bullet-proof vest or even a door stop. We need our answers to solve more problems. We need to see the book as more than just a book. A diamond can no longer be just a diamond—not in this day and age. We expect more from things. A toaster can’t just be a toaster! Any toaster can do that! It has to be a thing of beauty! Heck, it spends 99% of its time just sitting around doing nothing. It might as well look beautiful while it sits on your counter top! If you can’t see a toaster as art and art as toaster, you haven’t joined the “Conceptual Age”. You are still stuck in the “Information Age”, where everything was safe and linear. A problem had one solution. Very, very safe. Don’t want to get hit? Stop moving! Want to be safe? Be perfectly still! Quite the paradox. Static was the old safe. Momentum, frequency, vibration, sound, harmony and symphony are the new. Creating chaos to find order and center. This is the new reality. Our “Conceptual Age” fully bonded diamond now is beauty, durability, symmetry, meaning, value, story, safe haven, flexibility, liquidity, nest egg, college fund, retirement fund, rainy day fund, get-out-of-jail-free card, life saver, new car, new job, starting over, upgrade, downgrade, save a life, define a life, make a life, and more. Now quite simply a fully bonded diamond isn’t just carbon from the earth. A fully bonded diamond doesn’t just make a connection; it defines it. It expands it! It grows with you. It goes with you! It is a part of you! A fully bonded diamond, like true love, doesn’t come with rules, regulations, or limits! It is endless, indefinable, and unpredictable—it flows! Any diamond can take you from A to B. That’s yesterday’s Newtonian diamond. Only a fully bonded diamond can take you anywhere you want to go!


Yesterday’s diamond could only be a diamond—one that depreciated with time like a used car. Today’s fully bonded diamond is ready to be whatever you want it to be. As time goes by, maybe it will be a bigger diamond, or maybe you will transform it into a down payment on your dream home! Only a fully bonded diamond can be anything you want it to be because it is the only diamond in the world that is liquid!


Anybody can own a diamond. Not everyone can own the future!


P.S. Remember, “you are the master of your fate; the captain of your soul.” Invictus by William Ernest Henley.



by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

Show Me The Love: Falling Diamond Prices Equals Big Opportunity!

March 6, 2009


They say that there are no atheists in foxholes. Well, I got news for you, there are no atheists or single men in foxholes! When bullets are flying, like the collapse of our economy, loss of wealth, rise of unemployment, women having octoplets (come on did you really need to complete a baker’s dozen plus one?), more and more couples are tying the knot! You can lose your job, your home, your pension, your life savings, but nobody, and I repeat, nobody wants to lose love! We can learn to live without a lot of things but love will never be on the list!

 

The good news is that for the first time in 28 years the price of “good” diamonds (defined as a diamond that will hold its value and/or appreciate over time) has DROPPED almost 6% over the last four years! This may not seem like a lot, but let me give you an example. The average “good” diamond sold in the United States in 2005 was a little less than half a carat and normally sold for $1700.00. This diamond would have traditionally appreciated in value/cost 6 ½% to 8 % per year. Translation to buy that diamond in 2006 would cost you not $1700.00 but a maximum of $1836.00! Then in 2009 it would cost $2312.83! That’s where the powers that be get you! “You’d better buy a diamond today because tomorrow it’s going to go up!” And, for “good” diamonds (not crummy ones) they were telling the truth! You can pay a little now or a lot more later. Your choice! Since the diamond market is not a free market (more of a monopoly) the dealer (Diamond Cartel) is holding all the cards! They wanted to raise the price and they did! Just like when the oil cartel kept manipulating the market to get oil to $147.00 a barrel-before it collapsed! Well, guess what? Supply super-exceeded demand! For the last few years diamond prices for the bread and butter sizes-1/3 carat to ¾ carat-have been flat! Then, the sky-rocketing prices of the one carat and larger stones that were being bought up as “safe havens” by investors, exiting the stock market are falling back to earth. Investors are now trying to dump their stock piles realizing cash is king!

 

What does it mean to you the average young man that wants to buy an engagement ring? It means the diamond you would have paid $2312.83 for this year is selling at 2004 prices! Or $1581.00! That is a $731.83 savings! Almost 50%! So when I say diamond prices are down 6% and you want to yawn, I am talking about 6% off of 2005 prices!! If you are looking for a big diamond, the savings are off the charts! If you followed my advice from May of last year when I recommended to hold off on making your diamond purchase (reference the Great Diamond Crash) you are in the money now!! You can actually buy a good beautiful, sparkly, gorgeous diamond without going to the poor house! Don’t get me wrong, good diamonds aren’t being given away; in fact they are still 300% more expensive than commercial grades (crummy diamonds). But they are at least affordable in dream sizes! So if you are like most couples these days and realize that it’s better to stay together and work as a team, now is the perfect time to buy your rock! Mark my words you will never see diamond prices like this again in your life time! People can live with a lot of things but regret isn’t one of them. Sometimes love means letting go but right now isn’t one of those times! Don’t let your love go, it may not come back!

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.”
More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

Reference:


NBC Nightly News April 19, 2009

Independent Jewelry Appraisers

Let’s start by defining what an Independent Jewelry Appraiser is. Here we go! An Independent Jewelry Appraiser is anyone who decides to call themselves one. No laws prohibit anyone from hanging out a shingle that they are qualified to appraise jewelry. Doctors and lawyers need licenses to practice. Not jewelry appraisers. Now, there are appraisal associations, schools you can go to, fancy looking plaques you can hang on the wall saying you are qualified to appraise the burial site of King Tutankhamun but wishing or saying something doesn’t make it so. Only in the movies can you click your heels together three times and say “there’s no place like home” and be transported where you want to go. A lot of jewelry appraisers couldn’t cut it in the jewelry world.  So, they became critics who take hush money from jewelers they secretly work for to sandbag the quality or value of an item from a competitor to undermine a sale!

 

Your typical predatory jewelry appraiser looks like your favorite uncle or like Barry Madoff. He’s nice, looks professional, compliments you, tells you how long he’s been in business, and says he is qualified to appraise anything. “It’s Appraisal Depot!” Coins from a sunken treasure chest? No problem. Antique silver, diamond encrusted butter knives that were owned by King Louis? Piece of cake! The predatory appraisers will always over value parts of what you bring in to gain your confidence, then under value or bury something else that they know will make you question your purchase.

 

So, how can you tell the honest appraisers from the dishonest ones?

  • 1.) They won’t ever tell you that they know exactly what a piece of jewelry is worth. The best they can do is to give you a broad range. To be exact the stones have to be pulled from the setting.
  • 2.) They will never offer to buy your jewelry or recommend a jeweler to you (even if you ask).
  • 3.) They will not have any disclaimers on their appraisals saying they will not be held responsible for any action that is taken with the appraisal. If they don’t stand behind their work, what’s the point!
  • 4.) They will never charge you a percentage of the appraised value as their fee. This will lead them to over value the merchandise to make more money.
  • 5.) They will up front ask if you want the Dump, Wholesale, Retail (fair market), or Premium value of your merchandise. Anyone who picks an exact number out of thin air without explaining it is incompetent or worse–a crook! Pure and simple.
  • 6.) They will always appraise the merchandise in front of you. If it needs to be cleaned they will ask you to join them.
  • 7.) They will never, never, never ask to pull a diamond that they are trying to appraise!!! Only switch-out artists do this. If you are only there for an appraisal and not a sale there is no reason for them to pull it unless they want to switch it!
  • 8.) If the stones are mounted he should only give you ranges in weight, clarity, and color. Investment grade quality cannot be determined or mounted merchandise. The highest grade for a diamond that is mounted is VS1 clarity, G in color. The appraiser may say that the quality could be higher but will never put it in writing. Off-makes (poorly proportioned stones) are easy to spot in a setting.
  • 9.) An appraiser will always weigh a loose stone FIRST & LAST in front of you to prove the stone has not been switched.
  • 10.) No honest appraiser will ever ask you to leave the merchandise with them to appraise unless you are reunited long lost buddies.

 

Very simple: Take appraisers’ word with a grain of salt. They are looking out for themselves. If they are honest they will explain their limitations; if they are dishonest they will act like God. Finally, if you are lucky enough to have bought a Fully Bonded Diamond the quality is 100% guaranteed so you have nothing to worry about. If you like it, keep it. If you ever don’t, get your money back! The only reason you ever get an appraisal anyway is when the seller puts an expiration date on the “Lifetime Guarantee”. If the jeweler backs the quality and purchase (no ifs, ands, or buts) then the only test any piece of jewelry needs to pass is the “It takes my breath away” test. If a piece of jewelry does that then put it on! None of us can last very long without our breath!

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

De Beers to Reduce Diamond Supply 50% on U.S. Slump

By Carli Lourens for Bloomberg

Jan. 21 (Bloomberg) — De Beers, the world’s largest diamond producer, will reduce the amount of rough gems offered to customers by about 50 percent until April after U.S. retail sales slumped over Christmas.

Retail sales in the U.S., the world’s largest diamond market, dropped by as much as 20 percent over Christmas and “underperformed” the company’s expectations, said Varda Shine, head of Johannesburg-based De Beers’s marketing unit. The drop in full-year U.S. sales was in “the high single digits,” Shine said in a speech yesterday, a copy of which was e-mailed today.

Consumers in the U.S., which accounts for about half of global retail sales, are reining in spending as the economy shrinks. ZAO Alrosa, Russia’s diamond monopoly, said last month it expects fourth-quarter sales last year to drop 31 percent below average quarterly levels. Toronto-based BRC DiamondCore Ltd. said last week it will extend a shutdown at its South African operations and start talks with labor unions over job cuts because of “depressed” diamond prices.

Global demand contracted marginally last year and will do so again this year, Shine said. Diamond prices fell about 11 percent in the last six months according to an index compiled by Polished Prices, which tracks prices.

“The diamond market will worsen before improving, simply because the chill of global recession is going to become increasingly evident in the form of accelerating job losses,” Des Kilalea, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets in London, wrote in a report yesterday. “People don’t rush out to buy luxury goods in a recession.”

‘Limited Market’

Generations have seen “world wars, a depression, and too many booms and busts to remember, but none of us have ever seen anything quite like this,” De Beers managing director Gareth Penny told customers at a function late yesterday. “There is no point in producing or trying to sell it when there is a limited market for it.”

De Beers has already started reducing capital expenditure, cutting discretionary spending and reviewing staffing levels across all operations, Penny said. The company’s production cuts will be “significant,” he said.

Market reports estimate De Beers will reduce annual output “well in excess of 30 percent,” RBC said in its report.

De Beers’ sales of rough diamonds, or gems that have yet to be cut or polished, climbed 10 percent to $3.3 billion in the first half. Demand growth in China, India and the Middle East helped counter lower gem sales in the U.S.

Anglo American Plc, which is based in London, owns 45 percent of De Beers with the rest owned by the Oppenheimer family and the government of Botswana.

Original Article on Bloomberg.com.

The Great Diamond Crash

May 14, 2008

If I had to take a guess, I would estimate that there are over one billion carats of diamonds in the hands of consumers. That is over 100 times the annual consumption gobbled up for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and even Super Bowl rings. The diamond markets for consumers exist in two categories; commercial grade (bluff stones) and non-commercial (the good stuff). A good diamond is defined as a “diamond that will hold its value and/or appreciate in value over time.” The current “cut rate” (distribution of commercial to non-commercial diamonds) is 49 to 1. For every good diamond that is sold in the US there are 49 crummy (commercial) ones. The average resale value of a commercial grade diamond is 19.7% of the original dollars paid; the average resale value of a non-commercial grade diamond is 85%– worst case, 60%; best case, 100% or better. Diamonds have never been considered an investment instrument after one billion dollars was lost by consumers buying diamonds as a hedge against inflation in 1980.

But, it appears some lessons aren’t easily learned. For anyone who has been paying attention, you would have noticed that large, investment grade (IF, VVS1, VVS2 & D, E, F) diamonds have been sky rocketing in prices! Currently a 5ct D,IF is selling for over 3/4 of a million dollars. That’s about double what it was just a few years ago. However, we don’t have to look hard to see other commodities mimicking the same exponential, unrealistic growth. Oil, gold, platinum, rice, wheat, etc… everything is up! Way up! The question is this: is this the new reality or have we fallen down the rabbit hole? The prices people are paying for some diamonds is reflecting a market mania. The current diamond climate is creating a craze very similar to the tulip mania in the early 1600s in Amsterdam. Believe it or not, back then, at the height of the mania, a tulip went for $76,000 a bulb! Six weeks after smart money got out, the price had fallen to a dollar!

Within 12 months there are going to be a lot of sad people sitting on a lot of big investment grade diamonds that will be worth a fraction of what they paid. My advice is this: for the next year, stay away from 2ct+ investment grade diamonds unless you are willing to be a statistic in the great diamond crash of 2009. If you are going to buy a 2ct non-commercial rock that isn’t investment grade, you will still have to pay at least 20% more than what its cash liquidity is worth! That said, if the world ever wakes up and realizes that nobody really needs a diamond and everyone goes to the market to sell at the same time, tulips and diamonds will have more in common than being pretty; they’ll both be a cautionary tale.

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.”
More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

Reference:


NBC Nightly News April 19,2009

Blood Diamonds

Blood diamonds are synonymous with conflict diamonds. The term is designed to dramatically emphasize that behind the glamorous image of diamonds lies a web of corruption, influence peddling and brutality in some parts of the diamond-producing world.
Consumers began clamoring for assurances that the diamonds they desired were not being used to finance conflicts. To that end an alliance of government, civil and industry groups created the “Kimberley Process” to clean up the trade in rough diamonds.
First, in 1998 the United Nations (UN) initiated action that culminated with the establishment of the “Kimberley Process.” However, the UN’s definition of the term blood diamond or conflict diamond is very narrow and was designed to get everyone on board. The definition reads as follows:
“A blood diamond (conflict diamond) refers to a diamond mined in a war zone and sold in order to finance an insurgency, invading army’s war efforts, or supporting a warlord’s activity.”
Next, in July 2000, the World Diamond Congress in Antwerp passed a resolution blocking the sale of blood diamonds. The resolution installed an international certification system on the export and import of diamonds. Countries could only accept sealed packages of diamonds with an official seal, and criminal charges would be levied against anyone and everyone trafficking in blood diamonds.
Six months later, in January 2001, the top elements of the diamond industry formed a new organization—the World Diamond Council. They drafted a process whereby all know diamond rough could be “certified” as coming from a non-conflict zone. Thus, the “Kimberley Process” was created and approved by the UN in March 2002. The United States followed with the Clean Diamond Act in April 2003, and the “Kimberley Process” became law in the United States.
According to the “Kimberley Process” website, there are now 46 members blessed by the Kimberley experts. Only the Ivory Coast (Africa) has rebel forces that control diamond production, but less than 0.2% of the industry.
Our narrative could end here, but I have a much broader definition for a blood diamond. Here is my definition:
  • Any diamond that was mined using oppressed labor in unsanitary working conditions.
  • Any diamond whose oppressed labor force was victimized in the form of rape, mutilations (loss of arms or legs), beatings, verbal abuse, unconscionable working hours, and below poverty wage structure.
  • Any diamond that the company who mined it or controls its tariffs is part of a monopoly.
  • Any diamond that funds wars or corporate greed where profits supersede human life.
  • Any diamond that is used to oppress any human life or the extinction of any race, tribe or sub-culture.
  • Any diamond that is purposely graded incorrectly and marketed for corporate profits instead of consumer satisfaction.
  • Any diamond that is sold at a price above its secondary market resale value forcing the consumer to take a significant loss if it was to be resold.
So, what percentage of diamonds sold in the world today are blood diamonds? Well, maybe the question should be what percentage of diamonds are NOT blood diamonds.
 
by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

Building Noah’s Ark & Joining Lucy

Genesis 6 (New International Version)
1
When men began to increase in numbers on Earth and daughters were born onto them,2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of whom they chose.3 Then the LORD said, “my spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

4
The Nephilim were on the Earth in those days- and also afterward- when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children with them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

5
The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the Earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only on evil all the time.6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the Earth and his heart was filled with pain.7 So the LORD said, “I will wipe mankind whom I have created, from the face of the Earth- men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air- for I am grieved that I have made them.”

Well, let’s see. In the last couple of weeks Bear Stearns got bought out by JP Morgan Chase for $2.00 a share; oil broke past $110 a barrel; the dollar dropped to an all-time low against the Yen and the Euro; the housing crisis is still out of control; gold passed $1,000.00 an ounce and platinum past $2,200.00 an ounce. The president is telling us the check is in the mail.
Now I have an idea how Noah felt before the Great Flood. I also have an idea how he must have felt after it started raining. Having built his ark he must have felt relieved! (If there was rain with no ark, he would have been kicking himself!). In the current economic climate, anyone who has jewelry, is thinking of getting jewelry, or is trying to unload jewelry, needs to build a financial Noah’s Ark to get them through the storm that is currently upon us. Here’s what you need to know.
Contemplating on buying jewelry? Diamonds- yes! Metals- no!
Diamond prices are up over 40% in the last two years, and in certain sizes and qualities, prices are expected to double by 2010. If you’re thinking about getting an engagement ring, thinking about upgrading for your anniversary, looking to buy your dream rock, DO IT NOW! Not tomorrow, or this Christmas, NOW! You can thank me later! Diamonds are hot since DeBeers closed their last three underground mines in September 2005 and the prices are going to get very, very, very expensive before they level off. They won’t go down. Read my lips, the prices are in the process of doubling and tripling; they won’t go down. Okay, now let’s say you just bought a new diamond and now want to pick out a gorgeous platinum or fancy white/yellow gold setting… STOP! Keep the setting simple. If you have an old setting you can use over the next 15-18 months, do it. Metal prices have risen as far as the secondary market will allow. Tons of scrap gold and platinum are flooding back into the primary market that is extinguishing the scarcity. The “hot” metals market is ending and you can thank the greed of consumers who are taking all their old jewelry and cashing it in. Within the next year to year and a half, platinum will be back to under $1,000.00 an ounce and gold will be sitting comfortably around $500.00 an ounce (where it should have been years ago). The point is, don’t buy an expensive setting now that will be half-price next year!
Have jewelry you want to unload? Go to you local jeweler and ask about cashing out any old piece of jewelry while you still can. While I write this article gold has already dropped -$61.00 an ounce! The chance to forget eBay and sell all your old baubles and beads will soon be over!
A smart jewelry portfolio is like Noah’s Ark. In the Ark should be one or two of your favorite things that you love to wear and everything else should be liquidated. If you are a true connoisseur of diamonds, you’re going to need all the cash you can get from the stuff you don’t wear anymore so you can immediately buy the diamonds of your dreams before the prices are out reach!
Don’t let Lucy be the only one in the sky with diamonds!
Happy buying/selling!

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

The Blue Nile Blues

A little over a year ago, Blue Nile stock peaked at $106.16. As of close of market today, the stock was at $22.90. What a difference a year makes! One might ask if the stock was over priced or the business model is unraveling, or is it just bad timing?

 

For those of you who don’t know about Blue Nile, let them, in their own words describe what they do.

 

“The company is built on a unique idea: choosing an engagement ring doesn’t have to be complicated. Diamonds can be simple to understand. Making the right choice can be easy.”

 

A few years ago, Bear Stearns, AIG, Fannie May, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, Wachovia, Ford, G.M., IndyMac, American Express and countless others said to us with a very similar drum beat, “Buying is easy, credit is easy, credit default swaps and derivatives aren’t complicated, come follow us to the land of riches. Follow us to easy street with cars and homes and diamonds. You deserve a McMansion. You earned a Mercedes Benz. Life is short; buy now! It’s easy! Just charge it! That’s the American way! Want to start a war or two to feel better about 9-11? No problem! Just charge it! Put it on the tab! Pay for it later! Bills? Just pay the minimum. You don’t want to miss the Grand Old Party!

 

Well America, “Easy come, Easy Go.” On the world stage, all the developed nations took the short cut and are shocked that we stabbed ourselves in the back.

 

Buying should never be easy. It should be hard. It should be thought out. It should be complicated enough to stop our impulse buying reptilian brains from stockpiling more crap that we could use in ten life times. Half the world doesn’t have clean running water and depends on fire as the main source of energy, and we want easy?

 

Blue Nile believed they could build a company with no assets. No skin in the game; use other companies’ inventory, play middle man and walk away with an Ebay broker commission. Did it work? Kinda—until customers found out they couldn’t return merchandise they didn’t need after 30 days—until customers found out that they couldn’t exchange mistakes after 30 days—until customers found out that all those precious “certificates” that Blue Nile proudly tout with every diamond sale don’t guarantee the quality or authenticity of what they bought.

 

How would you feel about buying a refrigerator and getting home and realize you got a trash compactor? A little crushed?

 

Sadly, in the end Blue Nile, if they survive will be remembered not for top quality at the best price but as a consolidator of ground round that has passed its expiration date. Is it still safe to consume? Don’t ask me; I like to buy things with my eyes wide open from someone who stands behind their product and is there for me if anything goes wrong.

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

The Truth Behind BLING: Science or Gimmic

By Fred Cuellar and Diep Doan

What is the #1 requirement we have of a diamond? Hint: see title of article….Very good!! It’s bling–aka sparkle! We expect—heck we demand—that our diamond must sparkle. But let’s stop for a second, and ask ourselves what exactly is sparkle anyway? To answer that question we have to understand light. More precisely we have to understand “visible light”. (See footnote.)

Visible light is our fluid energy, and a diamond is our spectral container. A diamond can take light traveling in excess of 186,000 miles a second and bring it to a crawl at 77,000 miles a second before kicking the sliced and diced light back up into your face. The science of light works together with the diamond to give you sparkle! So what is sparkle? It is white light (brilliance) and colored light (dispersion) that is combined and returned back up to your eye. What a diamond does with light while it is the proud owner will determine how much is spilled/leaked (either out the bottom or sides) and how much will be returned to you, the viewer.

For quite a few years now, diamond cutters have known three things: 1) If the table %, crown angles, girdle thickness, and pavilion angles of a diamond are cut correctly, the interior of the pavilion (the ice cream cone part of the diamond) will respond like mirrors and return light back up to the viewers’ eyes. 2) The diamond cutters also know that depending on the shape and position of the outside facets (the ornaments that decorate the Christmas tree) could create intensity kaleidoscope patterns like hearts and arrows. 3) If you shoot enough light into any diamond of any proportions you could make it look decent as long as it stayed in a well-lit environment.

Where the charlatans took over was when they could take the longest visible wavelength (red), isolate it, increase its magnitude, and give a dead Christmas tree (poorly proportioned diamond) life. First, they put pretty Christmas lights and tinsels on the tree (arrange the facets to create the marketable heart-and-arrow pattern that Madison Avenue could sell to the consumers via Cupid). Others have also tried this lights-and-tinsels trick by creating dozens more facets. As light gets broken up more and more, consumers confuse the difference between more decoration and more sparkle! Do you create more pizza by slicing more pieces on the same pizza? It’s just the same amount of pizza with more SLICES!!! Second, they shoot the dead tree with a bath of red light to influence buyers that it is well-cut because of the presence of a manipulated pattern. Somehow the fact that the appearance of this predetermined pattern can theoretically appear in diamonds regardless of proportions is accidentally omitted in all marketing materials. No one tells you that you can get this with warped diamonds. No one tells you that you can get this with an off-make. Having the presence of this pattern does not ensure your diamond is well-proportioned! Finally, they would turn on a red light, stick it in a heavily lighted box with an instrument sounding name like “Brilliance Scope”, and pretend to measure the sparkle efficiency of the diamond by snapping photographs. Here’s a little question for all who use this equipment as a selling tool. How does this thing work? Apparently, this report is a relative comparison of one diamond to a number of other mystery diamonds. If we have a beauty contest between an ogre, a one-eyed Cyclops, and the wicked witch of the West, the witch may come out on top almost every time! Does this mean that the witch is beautiful? How can we be sure that the mystery diamonds are not ogres or Cyclopes? In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king.

Principles of physics and mathematics have not changed—only marketing strategies. Let’s go back to the basics. Tolkowsky and Ditchburn proved to us a diamond’s light can be maximized with correct universal crown angles, universal pavilion angles, total depth percentage, table percentage, etc. (See proportions chart on pages 45-47 in 6th edition of “How To Buy A Diamond”.) A diamond with all the correct proportions does not need any special lighting to tell you it sparkles. Under the right conditions, we can all take a good head shot, but we don’t have to take a shot to the head to realize that any diamond that needs an entourage of red lights and lighted boxes are not going to sparkle on a candle-lit dinner and a long walk on the beach under a silvery moon. Stop letting gimmicks mislead you. Let true science guide you to the light!

Footnote:

Visible light hides in a very small region in the electromagnetic field. At one end of the field, we find Gamma rays that travel at wavelengths 10^-6 nanometers (nm) to 10^-2 nm, X-Rays traveling from 10^-2nm to 10nm, and ultraviolet radiation from 10nm to 300nm. On the other side of visible light, we find infrared radiation, microwaves and radio waves. Their wavelengths start at 1nm and extend to 100km. Visible light is a very thin slice of ham squeezed together by two very large pieces of bread. The sun gives us white light (visible light) and a mixture of all the colors. Remember ROYGBIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet)? Each travels at its own wavelength—violet at one end, 400nm, and red (the longest) at 700nm on the other. Indeed, the butcher slices the ham we see very thin!

More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

Palladium VP (The New Palldium)

Readers will recall that when platinum prices started spiking a few years ago, that manufacturers were quick to tout alternative metals that could offer all the benefits of platinum (strength, durability, rarity, beauty) at an affordable price. White gold, while always a good stand-by, still couldn’t fill platinum’s shoes due to discoloring problems associated with mixing pure gold with pot metal alloys such as copper, nickel, and zinc.
The industry’s “knee jerk” solution was to sell diluted platinum or palladium (a platinum metals group; cousin to platinum) to hit consumer price points that platinum could no longer meet. Doped platinum (585 platinum) had a short life when consumers and consumer advocate groups stood up against the inferior product, and the huge manufacturing plants that invested millions in doped platinum, quickly went out of business.  Mexican palladium as it has been so eloquently nicknamed, has proved resilient through vendors such as Kay’s, Zales, and online discounters looking to make a quick buck without informing the consumer of the downside of manufacturing palladium in an unsterile environment with poor quality control. Consumer complaints of rings breaking, cracking and just falling apart within the first couple of years are piling up by the thousands.
In my articles “Platinum Doping I & II” and “Palladium is not your pal”, I pointed out the pitfalls of using inferior metals or quality metals poorly melded together. All that said, the top manufacturers of wedding bands have developed a palladium product called Palladium VP (which stands for vacuum poured and vacuum pressed.) These gurus found a way to take a mixture that is 95% palladium and 5% ruthenium and iridium and vacuum pour it in a sterile environment so neither air or foreign contaminants could enter the mix. Then the product is vacuum pressed to create the tightest sub-atomic bond possible to produce one tough band! The Palladium VP products are only available in men’s and some ladies wedding bands but from my vantage point they have hit a home run! The old palladium problems of being too soft, pitting, and cracking, have all disappeared with Palladium VP! They have literally created a product that is hypoallergenic, durable, beautiful, and rare, just like platinum, at half the price! Palladium VP also comes with all the guarantees you’d expect–lifetime sizing guarantees and 100% destruction guarantees! You can run it over with a truck and they will still replace it for free (guarantees vary from vendor to vendor). Palladium VP fits the gap between $600-$800 white gold gents’ wedding band and the $2000-$3000 gents platinum band, coming in at a comfortable $1000-$1400 price point for an average 6mm heavy comfort fit band!
The question I keep getting asked is “how do I know if I’m getting sold Palladium VP vs. it’s inferior, south of the border counter part?” Well, it’s simple! Here’s what to look for:
  • All Palladium VP is stamped Pal-VP
  • All Palladium VP products come with a life time destruction guarantee and sizing guarantee

And finally, look at the price! Counterfeiters could take Mexican Palladium and stamp it VP but they won’t be able to sell it at white gold prices ($600-$800). If the vendor you’re thinking of buying from says they can sell you a 6mm half round heavy comfort fit Palladium VP ring for under a grand, they are probably trying to pull the wool over your eyes. As long as platinum prices are overly inflated, I think it’s only natural to look for an alternative. Palladium VP is to platinum what Ethanol is to fossil fuel gasoline. It’s just a smart way to go!

 
by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

Prostituting Green

If you go to the “Going Green” website, you will find the following list of things to do to help the planet from A to Z.

 

  • Adopt something
  • Avoid fast food
  • Bike instead of ride
  • Boycott a product
  • Buy products made of recycled paper
  • Change a light bulb
  • Clean up a stream or park
  • Close the refrigerator door
  • Collect aluminum cans
  • Contribute to a good cause
  • Create a compost pile
  • Cut down on packaging
  • Donate your toys to a worthy cause
  • Don’t buy aerosols
  • Draw up a petition
  • Eat organic produce
  • Elect “green” candidates
  • Feed the birds
  • Find out how to dispose of hazardous waste
  • Go to the zoo
  • Grow a garden
  • Have a “green” picnic
  • Hold on to balloons
  • Identify energy wasters
  • Insulate your home
  • Invite a speaker
  • Join an environmental group
  • Keep the car at home
  • Learn about your community
  • Look at labels
  • Make scratch pads
  • Notify the authorities
  • Observe the three R’s (Refuse, Reuse, Recycle)
  • Organize your friends
  • Plant a tree
  • Pro test animal cruelty
  • Quit throwing away batteries
  • Recycle everything
  • Reuse a bag
  • Spend your money wisely
  • Stop a leak
  • Support green companies
  • Take a hike
  • Talk to your parents/children
  • Turn off the lights
  • Use recycled paper
  • Visit a recycling center
  • Work for the environment
  • Write a letter
  • Exercise your rights
  • Yell at a litterer
  • Zero in on specifics
Whew! It’s quite a list! If you are like most people, you had a difficult time just reading the list much less actually trying to do everything on it! But if all of us just did a few of these things, there is no doubt our earth would be a better place. My beef, however, is with companies that stamp themselves green or eco-friendly and are just using “green” as a way to line their pockets with green!  Recently there is talk about buying an eco-friendly or “green” engagement ring. This would be a diamond that came from Canada, making the buyer feel confident its a conflict-free diamond. It would have a setting that was cast from recycled gold or platinum so the earth doesn’t get re-injured or scarred with the waste that is incurred during mining. The term “dirty gold” is being thrown around to describe anybody who uses new gold versus recycled gold! Let me tell you, I have seen a lot of scams in my life, but hustling people out of their good, hard earned money, to buy an inferior product that isn’t actually better for the environment, is nuts! For starters, not everyone agrees that buying Canadian is all green because the mining in Canada is displacing Polar Bears. In recycling gold, even if it is processed correctly, it will still be cut with new copper, nickel, zinc, palladium, etc, which isn’t recycled and strips the ground in the identical manner that mining for precious metals and coal does.
Look, I’m the first person to agree with the idea of loving our Earth like we love ourselves. But the second someone uses a good cause to rip people off, I have a problem accepting its sincerity.  There is no such thing as an environmentally friendly engagement ring. New gold, old gold, Canadian diamond, Botswana diamond; it doesn’t make a difference! If the goal is to not hurt the earth at all, do not buy ANY jewelry. And while you’re at it, don’t buy any vegetables because it, too, damages the earth. Don’t buy any clothing because of the sweatshops and working conditions overseas.  In fact, if you really want to help the earth, stop consuming anything. The longer you live the more you will affect the environment. Should we outlaw old people? My point is we are consumers. As long as we are alive we will consume something. Once we consume it, we take it away from someone or something. That’s life! If we just used our common sense, we can adopt a balance between nature and ourselves. It may be practical for you to sell your car and bike everywhere but it probably isn’t. Doing what we can, even if it is just small things, can make a world of difference.  But the minute we let snake oil salesmen try to sell us gold that has a five-times higher likelihood of falling apart and diamonds that may or may not have come from a particular country under the guise of being “green” is just taking our common sense and throwing it away. And as everyone knows, you always want to recycle common sense. 
by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

Clarity Spotting

Believe it or not, clarity grading a diamond is easier than learning your ABC’s. There are two main categories we want to be concerned with: The diamond with inclusions1 and blemishes2 we can see with our own eyes, category I, and those that appear to be “eye clean,” category II. Once we’ve determined which category a diamond falls in, we can break it down into sub-categories.

Category I: The Imperfects – SI2, I1, I2, I3 (a.k.a., River Rocks, Bluff Diamonds, Commercial Grade and Drill Bit Dodgers) While the easiest way to determine the clarity grade of a diamond is just to ask the seller, this assumes he’s telling you the truth. But since these four grades are the bottom of the barrel, I’m met very few vendors who will brag about how bad their diamonds are. The vendor is also aware that even if you’re farsighted and they could misrepresent these dogs, it’s not very likely your fiancé or independent appraiser will fall into the same trap. Therefore, if a jeweler tells you your diamond is an SI2, I1, I2 or I3; know you’ve gone as low as you can go. These grades tend to be popular with people who want size over quality. In pictures 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 you can see some great examples of the “bull in the china shop” kind of damage you can expect to find in these moon rocks.

imperfects 1, 2 and 3imperfects 4, 5 and 6imperfects 7, 8 and 9
Category II: “Eye Cleans”

A. The Investments – Flawless, Internally Flawless, VVS1, VVS2 (a.k.a., Bentleys, Rolls, Safe Deposit Rocks)
When you look at pictures 10A, 10B, 10C and 10D, you’d swear you’re looking at the same diamond, but you’re not! You’re looking at four different round diamonds viewed under 10X magnification. Which one is the Flawless, which one is Internally Flawless and which ones are the VVS? If all four grades look identical under magnification to the average bear, or are indistinguishable to gemologists without the aid of a loupe3 or microscope, then don’t worry about it. What makes these rocks distinguishable from the rocks in the first category is their LACK of inclusions, not the presence of any.

Click on any of the images to view an enlarged image.
B. The Street Legals – VS1, VS2 – appropriately named due to being the highest grade recommended to wear or mount into jewelry (a.k.a., Mercedes, The Benz, The Lambs [short for Lamborghini]). This category is my favorite for a variety of reasons; not only are they practically microscope clean and totally “eye clean,” they allow the purchaser to get good to exceptional quality without sacrificing too much on size. In pictures 11A and 11B the diamonds appear flawless, until we zoom in (11C) and easily find pinpoints and small crystals (smaller than a grain of salt) caught in the diamond’s lattice.
Click on any of the images to view an enlarged image.
C. The Slights – SI1 – named because they have slight problems but nothing that will effect the beauty. The SI1’s are easy to grade. They always look great to the eye, but the minute you pick up a loupe even a novice can locate the imperfections. Because all the inclusions are typically larger than a grain of salt but small enough to stay under the “eye clean” radar, SI1’s become a popular choice for maximum size but above average quality. In pictures 12A, 12B 12C and 12D we see classic crystals, feathers, abraded girdles and pinpoints one might expect to see in an SI1.
Click on any of the images to view an enlarged image.
1Inclusions – imperfections inside a diamond (carbon, feather, crystal, pinpoint, cloud)
2 Blemishes – imperfection on the outside of a diamond (chip, scratch, fracture, polishing lines)
3Loupe – a small magnifying glass used to view gemstones.
(All photographs were taken by acclaimed photographer and artist Ricky Fernandez)

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

What’s in a Name?

The Brand Naming of Diamonds

Whether most people realize it or not the diamond industry has been going through a revolution over the past few years. From Baked Diamonds1, Bonded Diamonds2, to Color Typing3, the diamond industry is going through a major face-lift. And it isn’t over yet. It won’t be long before the slogan “A Diamond is Forever” will be replaced with ” A DeBeers Diamond is Forever” or some other name brand or stamp to segregate themselves from the pack.

No longer will any large diamond conglomerate do generic advertising that will benefit the new competitors on the block. With DeBeers strangle hold of the world’s diamond market barely at 60% from their good old days of 85%, their long held monopoly is over.Other players like Argyle Diamond Mines from Australia, Ekati from Canada and the Russian United Syndicate are staking their claim to a piece of the polished diamond pie.

What this means to the consumer is, each diamond syndicate will be stating why their diamonds meet a higher level of excellence then their competitors. Soon you’ll be doing the “Pepsi Challenge” but with diamonds. I can just see the ads now. Let me set the stage. A dark candle-lit restaurant; cherries jubilee have just been served, the Dom Perignon has been poured; then you’ll see a dark haired man with chiseled good looks say “Darling, you are the light that engulfs my life. Would you make me the happiest man in the world and be my wife”. At that moment he’ll pop open a little black box and reveal a beautiful diamond engagement ring. The next thing you’ll see is her closing the box and handing it back and say “Listen baby, if I’m not good enough for an original DeBeers diamond, the King of Diamonds, then I’m going to have to say No!” At that moment the narrator will say “Why would you take a chance on a copy cat when a DeBeers original is where it’s at. A DeBeers diamond when our one of a kind meets your one of a kind!” Oh, brother!!

The thought of this sickens me but I know its coming. With the breakup of the DeBeers monopoly, DeBeers has no choice but to start marketing their diamonds as the first, the best, the original. Whether they will use their famous DeBeers name or market under another name remains to be seen. Through a massive media campaign which has already started in the U.K. DeBeers will try to intimate that they choose only the purest ripest, most succulent diamonds in the world. (Maybe they’ll team up with Sunkist) That their standard of excellence supercedes the Canadians, the Australians or the Russians.

Listen folks, regardless of where you dig up a diamond or who mines it, a diamond is a diamond. Slick advertising campaigns may have convinced women from here to Japan that a diamond deserves to be on their wish list but to say that one brand name diamond, like the Millennium diamond, is better than another of the same quality just because of who is selling it is ridiculous.

Every diamond syndicate will be selling great diamonds, good diamonds and crappy ones, Don’t let the new advertising onslaught that is to come convince you otherwise. Every consumer will still have to go over the 4 C’s and warranties on any diamond they might consider buying regardless of what label is stuck on the rock. Is Coke better than Pepsi? You decide, but is a DeBeers diamond better than an Argyle diamond? The answer is No!

Footnotes

1. A Baked diamond is a diamond that has been heat treated to remove nitrogen or boron from a diamond to improve its color. Baked diamonds are brittle and less valuable.

2. A Bonded diamond is a diamond that is fully warranted by the jeweler and covers breakage, buy back, exchange and authenticity.

3. Color typing is the divisioning of individual color grades into types to more accurately assess the diamonds nitrogen context.

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

Warping

One more thought on crown & pavilion angles for the perfectionist

Is it possible for any single round or fancy shaped diamond to have more than one crown angle or pavilion angle? You bet! In fact a round diamond can be checked anywhere on its circumference and fancy shaped diamonds, usually checked at the 3 and 9 clock positions, can also be measured slightly off those positions to render multiple crowns and pavilion angles.

Now here is the million dollar question. When a lab grading report appraisal is done, which crown and pavilion angle are you given? Are you given the best one? Probably. The worst one? Not likely. In an ever competitive race for your dollar, the cutter, the jeweler, and even the appraiser can be caught up in “warping.”

Warping is the placement of accurate pavilion and crown angles on the diamond but solely in one location. The rest of the crown and pavilion angles are off to the benefit of weight retention. There are two types of warped diamonds – inward and outward. An inward warped diamond may have the side of the pavilion slightly curved to pickup the correct measurement. In an outward warped diamond there is a slight bulge in one location above or below the girdle. Warps to a good cutter can make that cutter many more dollars. Knowing that most labs and appraisal services check for the best measurement or an average lets a cutter push through a diamond as a class 1 or 2 when in actuality it is a class 3 or 4 (a poorly proportioned diamond).

In purchasing your diamond don’t be afraid to ask the question, “Is the crown and pavilion on my diamond based on a single measurement, an average or on the worst?”

If a diamond’s worst crown and pavilion angles are acceptable then surely the rest will be as well. You can also ask for minimum and maximum pavilion and crown angles to see the extremes in both directions. If a jeweler doesn’t know how the angles are derived then I would not put much faith in the numbers he tells you.

PS: The only two pieces of equipment that can accurately check for warping are Sarin and Megascope machines. Also see Diamond: Parts of the Stone.

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

Tricks of the Trade

BLUE DIAMOND BLUES

Some jewelers may try to market a “blue-white” diamond as though it were a white diamond with a hint of blue, and more valuable than a plain white diamond. It’s not! It’s a diamond that fluoresces blue and is therefore less valuable. Avoid it!

THE “50% OFF” SALE

Browsing through your Sunday paper you spot an exciting ad: a local jeweler is having a “50% Off” sale on diamonds! Wow! You jump into your car, drive to the store, and you make what you are sure is an incredible buy on a one-carat diamond.You’re still patting yourself on the back a week later when you happen to walk past another jewelry store where you see the same size, same quality diamond selling for less than what you paid and it’s their regular price! What happened?

You were taken in by a fake sale. Many jewelers run these sales. They’ll take a diamond that is worth, say, $1,000 wholesale and instead of marking it up 100%, which is standard practice, they mark it up 400% and tell you that $4,000 is the regular price when in fact the regular price for such a stone would be $2,000. Then the jeweler takes 50% off the inflated price and sells it to you for full retail, $2,000.

The way to know if you’re really getting a sale price is to compare the jeweler’s price with the wholesale price list in the book. If the jeweler’s regular price is more than double the wholesale price, you’re not getting any bargain.

For example: Joe’s Jewelry Store has a one-carat VS1-G on sale for $12,400, marked down from $24,800. You look at my price list and see that a one-carat VS1-G wholesales for $6,200. Therefore, full retail should be $12,400. Joe has artificially inflated the “regular” price to trick you into believing you’re getting a bargain.

“BAIT AND SWITCH”

This is a term that’s been around for a long time, and it’s not limited to the diamond business. Bait and switch refers to anyone who runs an advertising special on a particular item just to get you into the store. When you go to the store, however, you’re told that the advertised item is sold out. Then they try to sell you something else – invariably, something more expensive. The jeweler hopes that since you’ve already made the trip to the store, you won’t want to go home empty-handed.

Don’t be impatient! Many people arrive at the store determined to buy something and get talked into something they don’t really want. Take control! Grade the jeweler using the Jeweler Questionnaire Sheet in my book, and if he or she passes the test, stick around and look at some diamonds, using a scratch sheet to check each one. Compare the prices to the wholesale prices in the book to see what kind of deal you’re being offered, and for an exact updated price on a particular stone, call my HelpLine.

“IS WHITE REALLY WHITE?”

Jewelers love diamonds that fluoresce blue, and will sometimes install special lighting to enhance the fluorescence of their diamonds. The blue masks the yellow color that might be in the diamond and makes it appear to be a higher color grade than it really is. Always take the loose diamond you’re looking at and place it on a white background to check the color, and make sure there are no spotlights shining on it. Always take the loose diamond you’re looking at and place it on a white background to check the color, and make sure there are no spotlights shining on it.

“GRADE BUMPING”

The Federal Trade Commission requires that a diamond be within one clarity and one color grade of what it is originally sold as. Because of this, jewelers tend to “bump” the grade. For example, if a jeweler buys a stone as a VS1-G, he’ll bump it up and sell it as a VVS2-F. If you buy it as a VVS2-F and have it appraised as a VS1-G, the dealer is legally covered, because he sold it within one grade of what it really is.

“THE FRACTION SCAM”

Some jewelers will list the weights of their diamonds only in fractions, such as 3/4 of a carat. Your next question should be, “Well, is it 75 points are not?” Many jewelers will call anything from 65 to 75 points a 3/4 carat diamond. These same jewelers will call anything from 90 points to 100 points a full carat. This is illegal. A diamond must weigh within half a point of its stated weight. You’ll notice a jeweler will never round a diamond down they’d never call an 85-pointer a 3/4 carat stone. Ask the jeweler to weigh the stone, in front of you, on an electronic scale. If he says he can’t because it’s in a setting, you shouldn’t be looking at it anyway. Only buy loose diamonds.

“THE OLD SWITCHEROO”

You’ve shopped around, rated the jewelers, graded the diamonds, and finally found the stone you want. You lay your money down and order a setting. When you get the ring, you have it independently appraised – only to discover that the diamond in the ring isn’t the same stone you purchased! The jeweler has pulled a switcheroo. You go back and confront him, and he accuses you of switching stones. What now?

Well, sad to say, you’re stuck. There’s really nothing you can do, no way to prove a switch was made. You must prevent the switcheroo before it happens.

When you decide on a diamond, get the jeweler to put in writing the exact weight, and the clarity and color grades of the stone. Before he diamond is mounted, have the jeweler show you where the blemishes and inclusions are, and plot them on a drawing. Keep this drawing with you, and when you return to pick up the mounted diamond, check it again, looking for the same flaws that are on your drawing. If they match, you have the right diamond.

“THE SANDBAGGER”

If you’ve purchased a diamond by following all my instructions, you shouldn’t feel the need to go to an independent appraiser to double-check your purchase. But if you do, watch out for the sandbagger! The sandbagger is someone who lies to you and tells you that you’ve been taken, that your diamond isn’t worth what you paid for it. Why would he do that? So that he can recommend where you should buy your diamonds – no doubt at a place which gives him a kickback! Or he may tell you, “You should have bought from me.”

Fred’s Advice: If you ever want to have the diamond checked, don’t take a chance. Send it to GIA for an unbiased opinion.

“THE VANISHING ACT”

Now you see it – now you don’t! Carbon, that is. There is a laser beam process for removing carbon from inside a diamond. It’s called laser drilling. A diamond that contains black carbon, visible with a 10X loupe, is zapped with a fine laser beam which vaporizes the carbon, removing the black spot.The problem is that the laser beam creates a tunnel from the surface of the diamond to where the carbon used to be. You might not be able to see this tunnel with the naked eye, but you’ll see it under a loupe. And if a stone has been drilled several times, it can be weakened.

Laser drilling can make a diamond more attractive to the eye, but it can also lower the resale value. Beware! The Federal Trade Commission no longer requires jewelers to disclose to consumers whether a diamond has been laser drilled.

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

See No Evil

My job is to talk about diamonds. How to get a good one, how not to get ripped off, how to get the most for your money. But, I’m seeing a society where the “truth” belongs to the one who can tell the best story, not the one based on the facts.

For example, every year 5,000 people are indicted, convicted and sentenced for a whole list of horrific crimes. From petty theft, to rape, assault and even murder. What is even more horrific is all these crimes hold three special things in common; the men and women that are convicted were primarily incarcerated on eye witness testimony, spend an average of ten years in prison and oh, one more thing all of these criminals are eventually set free because they are later proven to be innocent. How must it feel to spend a decade of your life telling the whole world you didn’t do it, to lose your family, friends, livelihood all based on what some one else believes they see. As it turns out magicians knew it a long time ago, that the hand was quicker than the eye.

The eye can be fooled! It happens everyday. In our streets, in automobile showrooms, to tires we’re told are safe enough to drive our families around. Now I’m not here to talk about how our justice system is broken (I think all but the most naïve of us already knows that) or about slick car salesman who try to sell us the virtues of undercoating or who roll back odometers to give us the perception of more value. It’s not even to pick on Firestone who felt profits superseded the quality of a tire and the lives that trusted those tires not to explode when driving 65mph. For me it’s still about diamonds.

“Seeing is believing”, you might say. But does believing constitute the truth? Does it constitute a fact? Well try this on for size, for the last few years the diamond industry has been fighting the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to not have to disclose laser-drilled diamonds. The industry felt it was an insult. For starters, to require disclosure of a treatment that alters the value or durability by changing the FTC guidelines would be paramount to announcing to the world that jewelers are dishonest. Jewelers can’t be trusted to tell the truth.

For God’s sake, the industry can police itself. But every year over 5,000 complaints are registered at the Better Business Bureau, FTC and Jewelers Vigilante Committee that this system of the fox guarding the hen house wasn’t working. People were and are buying diamonds every day based on who has the best story to tell and with a constant reminder “See for yourself, isn’t it a beautiful diamond?” Even in the casinos with no clocks and free liquor you know what your odds are. But in a jewelry store with its hundred canned spotlights, its very good stories, its lab grading reports and its appraisal documents, we lay our money down. Is it worth it? It must be it’s an AGS000. Is it worth it? It must be, it’s been graded by GIA. Is it worth it? It must be, it’s 100% natural. Is it worth it? It must be, just look how pretty it is. And that is where they get you. That is where they set the hook. Then to reel you in, the jeweler says, “How can you put a price on something that lasts forever?” The love card.

So you forget about the months or years it took you to save your money or the loan you have to take out or even the VISA you’re going to max out at a 22% interest rate because how can you put a price on love? The illusion is complete. Like the frog that turns into the handsome prince. The rock becomes the magical diamond. Seeing is believing or maybe better said believing is seeing. That’s where any good salesman will get you. If he gets you to believe; you will see. Last month the FTC changed their guidelines and made it mandatory to disclose laser-drilled diamonds or for that matter any form of treatment that would give you the impression that something is better or more valuable than what it is.

The convict gets released, the automaker gets fined, the tires get recalled. Is that the lesson here? The end justifies the means until you get caught. The poor go to jail, the rich go free. If we see no evil than, everything’s okay. Good always triumphs in the end. Let me ask you this, if 5,000 men and women are convicted for crimes they didn’t commit, if there are over 5,000 complaints each year about non-disclosure in treatments, how many people are still in jail that are innocent and how many diamonds are on the fingers of our loved ones and are worthless?

Here’s one more thing to chew on; it has just been announced (to the jewelry industry not the public of course) that a company by the name of 3-Beams Technology (a separate division of Norsam) has created a process called Focus Ion Beam Technology. FIB for short. Apparently taking ideas from Los Alamos National Laboratory, FIB instruments can focus a beam of ions down to a diameter of 7 nanometers (that’s .000007 millimeters, or .00000028 inches). Using this technology they can drill a diamond to remove carbon leaving a drill hole 1/1000th the size of the current technology.

According to 3-Beams’ CEO, Jayant Neogi, with a special modification a gas can be injected into the void which will solidify making the drill hole practically invisible.

FTC makes a law that treatments must be disclosed then the industry we were supposed to trust announces a new way not to get caught. What’s the moral of this story? Seeing is not believing, take everything with a grain of salt and please cut the deck before you’re dealt a hand.

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

Royal Asscher Diamond

The Royal Asscher Diamond

It’s not very often in one’s life you can hold magic in your hands that all at once reflects the magnitude of the past and the promise of the future. The Royal Asscher diamond is that magic. Cut from an octahedral shaped piece of rough to a 74 facet step-cut octagon, this diamond exhibits all the punch of a hurricane without sacrificing its quiet sophistication and regal temperament. Quite simply, lightning has struck twice for the Royal Asscher diamond company that first introduced its predecessor, the Asscher, back in 1902 and now the Royal Asscher at this summer’s Las Vegas Jewelry Show.

With just a glance one is pulled into this masterpiece like a fish to water, drawn deeper and deeper into its trance and pond-like effect that can only be described as a pebble tossed into a lake that ripples and reverberates its cinematic impact upon the fortunate viewer.

When I interviewed “Joop” Asscher for this article (his friends call him Joe). I was immediately put at ease by his soft-spoken demeanor. A man of 51, married with two children, he is descended from a line of cutting royalty dating back to 1854. His grandfather, Joseph Asscher, was entrusted by King Edward VII of England with cutting the largest diamond ever found, the Cullinan weighing in at 3,015 carats. Asscher’s clients read like a who’s who of royalty from Emperor Hirohito and Emperor Akihito of Japan; Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain; Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands; King Carl-Gustav and Queen Sylvia of Sweden; King Constantine and Queen Annemarie of Greece and Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus of the Netherlands.

When I asked Joe why the new Asscher he simply said, “It’s a diamond whose time had come! With the mass marketing of a new brand or style practically every single day it was time for the old guard to take its rightful place in history.” And I couldn’t agree with him more. Every Tom, Dick and Harry with a cutting wheel thinks they can invent a new standard overnight, which isn’t going to happen. What impresses me so much with the new Asscher is its attention to detail and symmetry. Without it you’d just have a lifeless block of ice. More good news is the marketing arm Asscher has chosen to deliver their new baby and that’s by making veteran M. Fabrikant & Sons the sole North American distributor.

Recently, I put the new Royal Asscher through its paces measuring every angle, facet and percentage. This is how it performed:

 Royal AsscherTraditional Emerald Cut
Brilliance:52% to 55%70% to 80%
Dispersion:45% to 48%20% to 30%
Light return:67% to 91.3%38.8% to 54.78%
Bow tie:NoneMedium to strong

Summary

Where the Royal Asscher appears to get its magic is from its carefully sculptured pavilion. By removing the keel line and replacing it with a small or pointed culet and slightly bowing out the step cut pavilion main facets, the pavilion is transformed more into a mirrored bowl than an ornamental cone. Opposing pavilion main facets are precision cut to twin themselves in order to not disrupt the fluidity of the “Pond effect” created upstairs from the nucleus of the table to the octagonal-faceted girdle. Practically from any vantage point the diamond appears to be poetry in motion always desiring to reflect and redirect a kaleidoscope of bar flashes back to the eye.

In closing, I think the thing to remember here isn’t we’ve got another traditional cut diamond with a new brand name, because we don’t. Brand names don’t sell diamonds, it’s the fire from the ice that will determine the success or failure of any new cut. This diamond isn’t breath taking because it’s called The Royal Asscher, its beauty lies in its cut and facet arrangement. That is true today as it will be true a thousand years from now. Quite simply you’ve got to see it to believe it. Mere words do not suffice. To find a retailer near you call (800) 432-8895.

Please note that Royal Asschers are no longer on the primary market since 2005. The only way for one to purchase this cut is through the secondary market—aka used diamonds.

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®