Dangerous Metals: The Truth About Tungsten and Cobalt Wedding Bands

Fred Cuellar, The Diamond Guy®, and Dr. Mark Mehaffey discuss the truth about removing wedding bands–including gold, platinum, silver, titanium, stainless steel, cobalt, and tungsten. The equipment to remove or cut tungsten and cobalt wedding rings are not as readily available as some have lead you to believe. Fred shows you how to remove these tungsten and conbalt rings.

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.

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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®

Dirty Diamonds

A dirty diamond knows no class.

Regardless of what anybody tells you, the maximum weighted light return (also known as flux density) for any diamond, in any shape, is 91 Brisance Luminosity Rating (or BLR)—Class 1; A.G.S.000; American Ideal; Kaplan; 8-Star; or Hearts on Fire, 91 BLR is all you get. In the end, mathematician Tolkowsky’s numbers for rounds hold up and mathematician R.W. Ditchburn, PhD, proved in his monumental book Light that the same concepts could be applied to any shape diamond. In simplistic terms, you need three things to appreciate the sparkle of a diamond:

1. An observer
2. A diamond
3. A light source

Remove any one and you’re left pondering, “Does a tree that falls in the forest make a sound if there is no one there to hear it?”, or better said, “How much beauty can a diamond possess in the dark and how well-received can a diamond be if it is never viewed?”

I’ve spent the better part of my adult life helping people critique, evaluate, and eventually choose the best diamond for them. With each passing day, the diamond buying public is becoming savvier. However, many of you are buying magnificent diamonds cut from full-term rough (NOT macle or flat rough) and allowing them to gather so much soot, dirt, oil, hand lotion, soap, hairspray, and grease that any benefit from buying a well-proportioned, white, eye-clean, gigantic rock is negated. Please remember this fact: A dirty diamond knows no class! Repeat it again: A DIRTY DIAMOND KNOWS NO CLASS! It doesn’t make a difference whether you have a well-proportioned Class 1 or a poorly proportioned Class 4 if you don’t keep it clean. If you as the wearer of a new diamond aren’t prepared to religiously clean your diamond every day, day-in and day-out, then throw my book away or anybody else’s book that you have read on diamonds! It won’t make one bit of difference what clarity or color grade you have if you don’t keep it clean! And I’m not talking once-a-week clean or clean-it-when-it gets-dirty clean, I’m talking EVERYDAY clean! Take 60 seconds of your day to drop your ring in an ultrasonic cleaner or clean it with an ultrasonic toothbrush. If you’re not willing to do that, you’ve flushed a lot of money away.

If you’re a man reading this and you’re about to plunk $15K down for a 1 carat diamond and you know your fiancé to be a person who can’t keep her own car clean much less a new diamond clean, then stop!! Re-evaluate your purchase. If the only benefit of a good diamond is amplified light return (when clean), then don’t purchase a good-quality diamond if the diamond can’t be properly maintained. At the end of any given day, even the 91 BLR diamonds will drop to 61 BLR due to the oil and dirt that accumulates from normal wear. Within a week, the diamond will look as if a tropical depression has moved in, hazy and foggy with poor visibility. For off-makes (or poorly proportioned stones) the effect is more rapid; within 2 weeks it’s lifeless city! But in the end, if neither the cheap, half-price from a macle or flat Class 4 nor the expensive, sparkly dynamo is cleaned, they will look the same!

I tell my clients every day that a great diamond is like a battery-operated toy at Christmas: it’s fun and exciting as long as you’ve got working batteries in the toy. Allowing a diamond to get dirty is like removing the batteries from the toy. Please keep your diamonds clean, and if not, trade them in for crummy ones and pocket the savings.

Remember: A dirty diamond knows no class.

The Diamond Guy®

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

Parts of the Stone


  • The crown (top)
  • The girdle (around the middle)
  • The pavilion (the bottom).

CROWN The crown consists of a large flat area on top called the table, and a number of facets. As the diamond catches the light, the job of the crown is to split the light entering the diamond into white light, which gives the stone its brilliance, and colored light, which gives it fire, or dispersion.

GIRDLE The girdle is the thin, unpolished band around the widest part of the diamond. The function of the girdle is to protect the edge of the stone from chipping (even though diamond is the hardest natural substance on earth, it can be chipped!)

PAVILION The pavilion has the most important job, which is to reflect the light that passes through the crown back into your eyes. Think of it as a cone lined with mirrors. The light enters the diamond through the crown, splits into white and colored light, bounces off the facets of the pavilion back up through the crown, where you see it as sparkle! But to achieve the maximum sparkle — that magic combination of brilliance and fire — the diamond must be well cut and cut in the proper proportions.


TABLE The size of the table, as a percentage of the crown, is important because it determines the amount of brilliance, or white light, the diamond will reflect. For example, if the table is 60% of the diameter of the crown, 60% of the light you see will be brilliance and 40% will be fire, or dispersion. Avoid a diamond with a table area of 65% or higher. It will give the diamond too much brilliance, and not enough fire–and the diamond will look fuzzy or foggy. (The only exception to this rule is emerald and rectangular cut diamonds that can have a 65% table. This includes all princess cuts, quadrillions and radiants.) HERE’S THE FORMULA: Table area 53-60% = GREAT! Table area 61-64% = GOOD! Table area 65%+ = except emerald and rectangular cuts.

FACETS The typical diamond is cut with 58 facets, 33 on the crown and 25 on the pavilion. On a well-proportioned stone, these facets will be uniform and symmetrical. If they are not, the diamond’s ability to refract and reflect light will suffer. Furthermore, a poorly-cut diamond just won’t look right to the eye. The sad fact is, 75% of all rounds and 88% of all other shapes on the market are poorly proportioned! Poorly proportioned stones are more profitable for the dealer, because they retain more of the weight of the rough or uncut diamond.

GIRDLE You don’t want a diamond with a girdle that’s too thin, or one that’s too thick — you want one that’s just right! The whole purpose of the girdle is to protect the edge of the stone from chipping. A girdle that’s too thin doesn’t give enough protection. A girdle that’s too thick does protect against chipping, but it doesn’t look so good. So you want a diamond with a medium girdle, neither too thin nor too thick. How do you tell? Look at the diamond from the side. If it looks like there’s a white chalk line around the middle of the stone, the girdle is too thick. If you don’t see any girdle at all with the naked eye, look at the same area of the stone with a 10X loupe. If you can’t see a girdle with the loupe, it’s too thin.

PAVILION The job of the pavilion is most important of all: to reflect light. The light enters the diamond through the table and the facets of the crown, passes through the diamond, and is reflected back by the facets of the pavilion. Here’s the important part: The angle of the pavilion for a round diamond must be between 40-41.5 degrees. 40.75 degrees is perfect. For marquise, pear, and ovals, the perfect angle perfect angle is 40 degrees, but an acceptable range is 39.25–40.75 degrees. For emerald and rectangular cuts, perfect is 45.05 and an acceptable range is 43.3-46.8 degrees. If the pavilion angle is not exactly right it will not reflect the light properly, and the diamond won’t have the sparkle it should. In a round diamond, there’s a dramatic loss of sparkle if the angle is even a tenth of a degree above 41.5 or below 40 degrees. In marquise, pear, or oval, maximum sparkle is achieved with a 40 degree pavilion angle, but the angle can be increased or decreased by as much as three-fourths of a degree with only a 10% loss of sparkle. Emerald and rectangular cut diamonds have the widest allowable variance of 1.75 degrees. Each extreme will also cause a 10 percent loss of sparkle.

CROWN ANGLE The angle of the crown is also important, but it doesn’t have to be quite as precise as the pavilion angle. The angle of the crown should be 32-35 degrees. If it’s smaller than 32 degrees, the diamond is what we call spread-cut. This makes the table area too large and the girdle too thin, and we already know what problems that causes. If the angle of the crown is above 35 degrees, it makes the diamond “top heavy.” This results in a smaller diameter, making the diamond look smaller than it really is. The last thing you want is a one-carat diamond that looks like a 3/4 carat!

CULET Finally, at the very bottom of the diamond–the base of the pavilion–there may be a small facet called the culet. If this facet is too large, when you look straight down through the table it will look like the diamond has a hole in the middle. Make sure the stone has no culet or a very small culet.

TWO OTHER IMPORTANT DIAMOND MEASUREMENTS Two other measurements to consider are: total depth and length-to-width ratio.

TOTAL DEPTH is a simple, straightforward measurement: take the height of the stone and divide it by the diameter of the stone. For a fancy stone, the diameter is measured at its widest part. The answer should be in the 56%-61% range. If it’s not, it means there’s something wrong with the crown angle and/or the pavilion angle, or the girdle thickness. (The only exception to this rule is emerald or rectangular cut diamonds that can have a total depth of 65%.)

THE LENGTH-TO-WIDTH RATIO is used to determine if a fancy-shaped diamond (anything other than round) is well-proportioned. For example, we don’t want to buy a marquise that is so skinny it looks like a banana, or one that’s so fat it looks like a football. Pleasing proportions aside, the length-to-width ratio also affects a phenomenon known as the bow-tie. Let me explain.

Fancy shapes are not symmetrical —  only a round is. And because fancy stones aren’t symmetrical, they all have a bow-tie — two triangular shadows in the middle of the diamond where light leaks out the bottom. If the length-to-width ratio is off, it will intensify the bow-tie in the stone! For a marquise diamond, the length should be no less than 1.75 times the width, and no more than 2 times the width. For pear shapes, the length should be no less than 1.5 times the width, and no more than 1.75 times the width. For emerald and oval shapes, the length should be no less than approximately 1.3 times the width, and no more than 1.75 times the width.

PROPORTIONS MADE EASY GIA has made it easier to determine if a diamond is well-proportioned by dividing all cut diamonds into four classes. Essentially, Class One and Class Two diamonds are well-proportioned; Class Three and Class Four diamonds are not. Class One diamonds are investment-quality stones, beautifully proportioned and priced to match. If your objective is to buy a beautiful diamond to wear, Class Two is fine.

FRED’S ADVICE: Don’t go below Class Two. And if the jeweler doesn’t know what the GIA classes are, move on!

PROPORTION AND PRICE A poorly proportioned diamond is worth as much as 40% less than a well proportioned stone. One reason for the difference in worth is that it takes a 3-carat rough, which is a diamond as it’s found in nature, to produce a well proportioned 1-carat cut stone. But it only takes a 2-carat rough to produce a poorly proportioned 1-carat stone. A poorly proportioned diamond will not sparkle nearly as much as a well proportioned diamond. If a diamond is poorly proportioned, only 35-40% of the light that enters it will reflect back up into your True Love’s eyes, while a well proportioned diamond will reflect close to 90% of the light. A woman wants a diamond to be “big, clean, white and sparkly,” and it won’t sparkle unless it’s well proportioned.

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

Myths About Diamonds 2


I can’t even count how many jewelry stores I’ve gone in to and asked a jewelry salesperson if a particular diamond is good, only to hear, “Sir it must be good it has been graded by Laboratory XYZ! And only the best diamonds in the world can come with this lab grading report!” Give me a break, any lab anywhere in the world will grade and any diamond sent to them. Pure bred or rabid dog it doesn’t make a difference to them. The labs just want their fee.


In the 1960’s jewelers would toss around the term “perfect” like they were passing out candy: “Sir, this is a perfect diamond.” “Ma’am, this is a perfectly fine diamond.” Or, “Heck, this diamond is just plain perfect!” The FTC eventually stepped in and said the term was just plain misleading. Jewelers argued that they should have the right to call anything perfect that was perfect in their opinion.

They were overruled; the FTC passed a guideline that said only a D Flawless well cut diamond could brandish the label of “Perfect”. The jewelers changed their pitch. Forty years later we are hearing the same thing: “Sir, this is an ideal cut diamond.” “Ma’am, this is an ideally fine diamond,” and finally, “This diamond is exactly cut, it is ideal!” Only one problem, FTC hasn’t stepped in yet. And until they do there will be over 100 interpretations of ideal. But don’t be fooled, it’s easy to identify the scammers. They are the ones that insist that total depths can exceed 61% for rounds and non-rectangular fancies.

They are the ones that insist on tiny tables for Rounds and giant tables for Emerald Cuts. They insist that these measurements are ideal, and I guess in some respects they are ideal in increasing the weight of the diamond so their bottom line goes up. Want Ideal? Be more specific and ask what class of cut a diamond is. In that arena there are hard and fast rules.


For the most part symmetry refers to the arrangement of the facets on the diamond, length to width ratios, out of roundness and inline culets. Symmetry excellent or otherwise does not infer great proportions or the relationship between crown and pavilion angles. If any salesman tries to imply that just because the symmetry on the lab grading report is good or better means it must be a well-proportioned stone it’s time to leave.


There are a numerous of things that can cut glass. From synthetic diamonds to glass itself. Anyone who suggests that the best way to prove a diamond is real is to rub it against glass should have their head examined. This wives’ tale should stay just that.


On the contrary, a jeweler will always premount his worst diamonds in settings. That way he can hide any chips under prongs and make it impossible for you to get an exact color and weight measurement. Always remember a jeweler’s best diamonds are in his safe and the only way to see them is to ask for them to be brought out.

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

Myths About Diamonds 1


A diamond will only be forever if you take care of it. If you don’t a diamond can chip, fracture, or break. Even a diamond should come with a care instruction tag.


Nope! There is more of a man-made shortage than a natural shortage. The distribution of the number of diamonds put on the market each year is highly regulated. There are really enough diamonds to give each man, woman and child in the United States a whole cupful.


This one is almost true, but not quite. Even though most women believe that bigger is better, there are still quite a few women out there that will sacrifice size to get a better quality diamond.


The truth is there are quite a few more expensive gemstones on the market. For example, a top quality ruby can be worth over thirty thousand dollars a carat.


Size is only one criterion by which a diamond can be judged. A small, high-clarity, high-color diamond can cost more than a large, low-clarity, low-color diamond.


Usually there are no shavings, only dust. Most diamonds are ground down and there aren’t any little pieces left over to cut anything else. Most people believe a diamond is whittled, not ground down. This is another myth.


All diamonds, to a certain degree, are difficult to cut, and some very large diamonds take more time and effort to cut than smaller diamonds do. But one diamond is not harder to cut than another just because of the shape.


Webster’s dictionary defines investment as “an outlay of money for income or profit.” Since most people purchase diamonds to be worn and not to be resold, diamonds are not a good investment. Only through proper education and training could diamonds become a good investment. For the average Joe, I would recommend buying a diamond for the enjoyment and prestige it brings and don’t be too concerned about making a buck.


A lot of people believe “what I can’t see can’t hurt me!” Well, we all know that blind ignorance will only lead to disaster. Practically any diamond looks good in a jewelry store. The jeweler spends quite a bit on spotlights to make any quality diamond sparkle. But unless you plan on carrying a spotlight with you everywhere you go, you’d better check the four C’s or you might purchase a diamond that only looks good in a jewelry store and is lifeless everywhere else.


I don’t know why some people believe this. I constantly have clients tell me that they like emerald cut diamonds but know that they are the most expensive and can’t afford them. This is crazy! The emerald cut diamond is the least expensive of all the shapes. You see, it is the shape that is most like the natural shape of the rough, so there is a little bit less waste during the cutting process. If you like emerald cut diamonds, enjoy them, don’t avoid them; they are not any more expensive.


Diamonds may not be a good investment for the average person, but they certainly aren’t a bad investment. If a diamond is purchased at the right price, it will most certainly hold its value. Since the diamond crash of 1979, when D flawless diamonds fell in value from $75,000 to under $15,000, the price of diamonds has been increasing constantly.


The definition of a perfect diamond would be a diamond free from inclusions and blemishes when viewed under 10X loupe (flawless), with no trace of color (D-color), and perfectly proportioned. Even though they are rare, there are such diamonds around.


Any good jeweler can tell the difference immediately. A cubic zirconia has more of a plastic look. There seems to be a light-blue cast throughout the entire stone. One sure way to determine the difference is by weighing the cubic zirconia. A cubic zirconia will weigh approximately 55 percent more!


Some are; some aren’t. It depends on their quality. Believe it or not, it’s possible to get a one-carat diamond for as low as $300 if it’s junky enough.


This one would have stumped me, too. I’ve always believed that all women like diamonds. It wasn’t until recently that I learned there are some women out there that very much dislike diamonds and think they are a waste of money. I guess for them maybe a dog is their best friend.

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

GIA’s Bribery Scandal

By Martin Rapaport
Posted: 11/4/2005 7:54 PM 

(Rapaport…November 1, 2005) The diamond industry has the right to know: What has been going on inside the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) laboratory?

Have diamond graders and/or supervisors been taking bribes to upgrade GIA diamond grading reports? How long has this been going on? When did it stop? How many graders and stones have been involved? Who are the bribers? What is the GIA doing to clean up its mess?

Before going on, we at Rapaport have a few full disclosure statements of our own to make. Rapaport Group Companies in Israel, Belgium, and India operate GIA take-in windows whereby we accept diamonds for grading by GIA. We handle shipping to and from GIA laboratories, customer service and payments for lab services as well as marketing and promotion of GIA laboratories. The scale of our operations with GIA is large and financially significant for the Rapaport Group.

Furthermore, this writer firmly believes in the values that GIA has supported these past 74 years. GIA’s implementation of diamond grading standards, supported by a grading laboratory and educational system, has done more for diamond quality and pricing transparency, fair trade and consumer confidence than anything else in the history of the diamond industry. GIA’s education and research protects the industry from fraud as it raises the technical, professional, ethical and moral standards of our community. The GIA I respect, “calls it like it sees it” no matter where the chips fall. It is more interested in “doing the right thing” than protecting its money or saving its reputation.

I believe in the GIA, not because of the buildings, the laboratories or our business with them, but because of the shared values that it supports. This belief in the GIA and our relationship with the GIA is not unconditional. Should the GIA move away from its core values, then we will no longer support or represent them.

So let me make it clear. We at Rapaport define integrity as an unconditional commitment to core values. Our core values include honesty, full-disclosure transparency, fair trade and meeting commitments. Our Group’s commitment to integrity means that we are willing to lose money, reputation and everything or anything else in support of our core values. Therefore, dear reader, we are biased in this report — because we admire the GIA for its history and values. We are, however, not going to pull any punches and, in true GIA tradition, we will “call it like we see it,” no matter what the consequences — for Rapaport, the GIA or the industry.


Max Pincione’s April 2005 lawsuit against Vivid Collection LLC, Moty Spector, Ali Khazeneh and the GIA included a charge that Vivid made payments to the GIA to “upgrade” the quality of diamonds submitted for grading. Pincione presented Exhibit “F,” a handwritten page showing details of alleged payments and upgrades (Click to view this document in a new window.) Exhibit F, which appears to be from the year 2000, contains numerous initials and includes the text “To Alina $3,500 For August in Full,” “To Alina for September $3,500 paid.”

Although the handwritten page allegedly provided to Pincione by an “informant” could have been written by anybody for any reason and may never hold up in court, in my view it looks authentic and like a listing of upgrades and payments for them. Upon information and belief shortly after the lawsuit was delivered to GIA, a GIA employee with a name very similar to “Alina” was suspended. As far as we can tell it looks like “Alina” was allegedly bribed to upgrade the quality of diamonds on GIA grading reports. Obviously, further investigation and disclosure are necessary.

Rapaport News became aware of the lawsuit in August and published a brief article about it. In September, we began hearing false rumors of an FBI bribery investigation obviously driven by GIA’s own internal investigation. Finally, on October 18, the first day of the Succot holiday, the GIA issued a press release announcing the completion of their internal investigation and organizational changes that included replacing GIA laboratory head Tom Yonelunas with Tom Moses and firing four employees.

Following the release of the GIA press release and the conclusion of Succot, I immediately traveled to New York and spoke with a number of people before writing this article.

While I do not have access to GIA’s investigative report, I was able to develop a limited opinion of what is going on. As far as we can tell, the current situation is as follows: No one knows or can guarantee exactly how many, the type, or which lab grading reports may have been affected by the bribers.

What we do know is that after a very thorough independent — and I believe honest — internal GIA investigation, only a handful of bribers have surfaced and the number of stones known to be affected are in the tens, possibly hundreds, and certainly not thousands. The bribing activity appears to be limited to large stones graded in the New York lab and submitted by just a few firms. GIA is expected to provide all details of its investigation to law enforcement agencies.

Furthermore to the best of our knowledge and based on our own investigation, no diamonds submitted through Rapaport Group offices have been tainted in any way or were subject to any improper grading. Our policy is that we submit all stones with unique Rapaport numbers and the identity of the actual owner of the diamonds is never disclosed to any laboratory employees. While a highly confidential list identifying our numbers and the owners is provided to GIA management on an occasional basis, to the best of our knowledge, this list was kept entirely confidential and not shared with any lab employees or supervisors who would have an opportunity to change any grades.

Buyers are encouraged to carefully examine all large, expensive diamonds from all sources and to insist on a verification procedure if they doubt the grading standard. While grading reports are, and will continue to be, an excellent basis for trading diamonds they do not replace the need for independent examination and the need to know and trust your supplier.


When an important organization like the GIA makes a mistake, the best and most honest way out of the problem is for the management of the company to take responsibility and make full disclosure of the mistake. Management should also apologize for the damages caused and carefully explain what they are doing to make sure that the mistake never happens again. Full disclosure is not only good public relations in that it enables the reestablishment of trust in the company and its products, it is also good therapy for management. From then on management realizes that they will have to operate in a fishbowl with their actions and reactions scrutinized by their board, the public and even their competitors.

While GIA’s press release provides important information, it is highly disappointing and problematic. It also raises a number of complex ethical issues.

First of all, GIA does not provide full disclosure of what happened — they do not straightforwardly admit that any employees have been caught taking bribes.

They do not name the people taking or giving bribes. While the diamond trade is being concerned, confused and misled about the number and types of grading reports illegally upgraded, the GIA does not disclose the extent of damage even though it seems likely that only a very limited number of large diamonds graded in the New York lab are known to have been upgraded.

The GIA’s refusal to name the bribers is highly problematic. By firing graders and acknowledging the existence of clients who are “implicated” in “improper attempts to influence the outcome of grading reports,” the GIA is telling us that members of our trade have bribed the GIA, but they are not telling us who they are.

The GIA is inadvertently casting aspersions on their honest clients, implying that some unknown number of clients are bad apples, but not informing us of how many, who they are, or the types of diamonds that they deal in.

Why isn’t the GIA disclosing the names of the bribers? Could it be that when there is a conflict of interest between the financial interest of the GIA and the integrity of the diamond industry, the GIA protects itself at the expense of our industry? Is this how the GIA fulfills its mission statement of “ensuring the public trust in gems and jewelry by upholding the highest standards of integrity?”

When a conflict of interest arrives, is it the mission of the GIA board to protect the interests of the GIA or the public?

GIA undoubtedly has “good” reasons not to practice full disclosure. The threat of damages from the Pincione lawsuit obviously encourages GIA’s lawyers to limit public disclosure. On the other hand, the GIA is asking for the diamond industry’s trust, and one wonders, what else would the GIA hold back? If bribes were taking place in Carlsbad (California) — would this be disclosed by the GIA or would management, after taking legal advice, take care of it quietly? Can or should the diamond trade trust the GIA?

But what about the GIA board? If the public interest is being damaged and the board knows it — don’t they have an obligation to inform the trade and public?
Is this to be done through leaks to people that have agendas? Is GIA’s board to be exempted from the new zero tolerance policy?

Who makes decisions when there is a conflict of interest between the public, trade and the GIA? Who has the right to keep secret activities that violate the public trust and/or information that enables the trade to defend itself and consumers against fraud? Are the ethics and morals of the GIA to be governed by well-intentioned lawyers seeking to protect the GIA?


Now that we have provided perspective, communicated our strong words and made our impassioned pleas, let’s take a less emotional, more rational and realistic look at the situation. Other than a possible leaker or two, the GIA board consists of excellent people who really care about the GIA and its public trust mission. They and the GIA are currently in a tough situation. In some instances, whatever they choose is bad and it is extremely difficult to discern the lesser of the two evils.

Frankly, this is not a good time for us to attack the board and insist on idealistic, simplistic solutions to extremely complex problems and situations. Full disclosure is ideal and fair, but it is not a panacea. Applying a full-disclosure policy that is highly damaging to the GIA when appropriate alternative action can prevent abuse may be the wrong course of action. We must recognize that the GIA board has the right and obligation to make decisions that impact not only the GIA, but the industry and the public. We must give the GIA board space to operate and time to do what is right. Heaven knows, they have a hard enough mission as it is.

Having said the above, we emphasize that it is important for the board to carefully consider the full ramification of their decisions on all stakeholders, particularly the diamond trade. As a public trust entity, the GIA’s responsibility must be inclusive and sensitive. While a knee-jerk, full-disclosure policy may not be appropriate in the current situation, alternative solutions for the problems generated by partial disclosure must be provided. Ultimately, the GIA must recognize that, with rare exception, what is good for the trade is good for the GIA and what is not good for the trade is not good for the GIA.

Let us now consider the issue of identifying the bribers from a different perspective — a purely GIA self-interest perspective. By now, it is clear that bribers pose a threat to the integrity of the GIA grading report. If bribers are allowed to go on bribing, they will destroy the credibility of the GIA and eventually force the closing of the GIA laboratory and the GIA activities supported by profits from the laboratory.

If a grader specializing in large expensive diamonds gets paid $X per year, he can be making decisions over the year that directly impact the value of say, one thousand times X. Therefore, dishonest diamond dealers will always have an incentive to bribe graders/supervisors and graders — unless they are angels in heaven — are going to find it hard to resist the persistent and innovative offers of bribers. The more employees in a lab and the closer they are to the dealer community, the more likely it is that the lab will have graders or supervisors taking bribes.

Fortunately, there is a natural way to stop the bribing — deterrence through disclosure. Consider the game theory. If a briber does not get caught, he wins. If he gets caught and the GIA — in order to protect its assets and/or reputation — settles the case in a way that the briber ends up being penalized less then he has gained, the briber wins again and will continue bribing because he is in a win-win situation. By “protecting” its reputation, the GIA is attracting those that seek to destroy its reputation. The greater the GIA’s reputation and the more “protected” it is by the GIA, the greater incentive for bribers to attack.

On the other hand, if the GIA — through full disclosure, civil lawsuits, publishing the numbers of suspected reports or any other way — discloses or causes to be disclosed the identity of the bribers, a different game develops.
The briber suffers huge loss to reputation. The long-term monetary loss from such reputational damage far outweighs the short-term benefit of bribing.

Bribing goes from being a rational, though illegal, activity to an economically irrational activity. The lesson is simple. If we publicly ruin someone’s reputation, the potential monetary loss is so great that it just does not pay to bribe, i.e., deterrence. If we don’t ruin the reputations of bribers, they will continue to operate and eventually beat the GIA into the ground.

Our goal is not to provide the GIA with specific solutions to all problems, but rather to encourage and plead with GIA’s board, management and lawyers to come up with their own innovative solutions. We recognize that the GIA is in a difficult situation. However, sometimes what we think is a solution creates an ever bigger problem. Sometimes our biggest nightmare is when our dreams come true. The bottom line is that GIA’s board must consider and take responsibility for the unintended consequences of their actions.

Actions taken with the best of intentions are often the most dangerous.

The trade must also recognize that the GIA is going through a very difficult transitional period. Optimal long-term solutions to the problems at hand will take time to implement. Quick-fix solutions, although apparent, may be unsustainable and nonoptimal.

We in the trade need to make our points, turn down the hysteria, and work together with the GIA to help solve the problems at hand. We must recognize that the GIA will have to take a series of steps as it develops new processes for improving the integrity of its grading reports. The trade should expect and support a process of change that will ensure and enhance the credibility and integrity of GIA’s grading reports.


The only amusing statement in the press release is that when dealing with the bribers, the GIA tells us “rest assured, they will be dealt with swiftly and decisively.” Now I mean no disrespect to GIA, but having grown up in New York, I imagine that these bribers are pretty tough guys. “Swiftly and decisively”? – we are, of course, waiting and wondering. What is the GIA going to do, have their lawyers throw paper airplanes at the bad guys?

Seriously speaking, I doubt that the GIA, who is unable to name the bribers, is capable of “dealing” with them. While we can expect the GIA to forward their investigative report to the appropriate legal authorities, such authorities rarely act swiftly or decisively. Perhaps the GIA could initiate a civil lawsuit that would enable the disclosure of the bribers names and then the diamond dealers could “deal” with them.

The real issue here is why isn’t the diamond trade taking responsibility for the rotten apples in our midst? The GIA is the well from which all of us drink.

The New York laboratory provides the 47th Street community with unique opportunities that employ hundreds of people. The GIA enables the entire diamond world to legitimize premium prices for the best diamonds. Bad people are poisoning our well. Clearly, our trade must take immediate proactive protective measures.

The press release issued by the Diamond Manufacturers and Importers Association of America (DMIA) on October 25, 2005, is a good step forward.

We believe that the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) and International Diamond and Manufacturers Association (IDMA) should develop a joint resolution at the upcoming Mumbai conference that provides the following:
  • Make it a violation for any member to bribe any laboratory employee.
  • Make it a violation for any member to knowingly trade in any diamond whose diamond grading report has been improperly upgraded due to bribery.
  • Require a five-year suspension for any member found to have bribed any laboratory employee or knowingly dealt in any improperly upgraded diamond.
  • Require all organizations to post, and/or, give notice to all members, the individual and company names of all those found to have bribed any employee of any diamond laboratory.

Such findings should be based on the conclusion of due legal process by the WFDB, IDMA members or national court systems. Furthermore, we encourage the WFDB and the IDMA to establish a joint investigative committee that will collect information from members about any irregularities at any recognized laboratories. The committee should also consider publishing advisory guidelines as to the measures that laboratories may take to ensure the integrity of their grading reports.


The Rapaport Group is deeply concerned about “improper attempts to influence the outcome of GIA grading reports.” It is our intention to use our available resources to fully investigate all aspects of diamond grading reports and bribery attempts. To that aim, we encourage members of the trade who have information about any improper behavior related to GIA grading reports to contact the GIA directly and/or their local Rapaport offices.

We recognize that some firms may not wish to contact the GIA directly or may want to present information anonymously. Such firms are encouraged to contact Moily Spiegel in Israel, moily @ diamonds.net, +972-3-613-3330; Lea Retter in Belgium, lea @ diamonds.net, +323-232-3300; Ofira Gutman in India, ofira @ diamonds.net, +9122-5637-6633; Gastin D’Aquino in Hong Kong, gaston @ diamonds.net, +852-2805-2620 or Martin Rapaport in New York and worldwide, rap @ diamonds.net, +1-212-354-9100.

Dear friends, what is going on now is not acceptable. Our information indicates that Pincione is planning a more aggressive legal approach and it is only a matter of time before the current controversy is picked up by the general media and the credibility of our industry is put to severe test. Grading report and certificate issues have now captured my personal attention and I will try to write more on this subject next month.

The fundamental foundation of the diamond industry rests on our integrity as a community committed to honesty. This foundation is now under attack. Hopefully, the GIA problem will be limited, but these events and this story must serve as a clear warning that we are in danger of losing the integrity of our industry and our products. Make no mistake about it, if we ignore this problem, it will not go away. Now is the time for all of us who care about our industry to work together and find ways to ensure the security of our grading systems and the integrity of our diamonds. 

GIA Goes to Court

By Jeff Miller
Posted: 10/18/2005 1:01 PM 

(Diamonds.net, Rapaport News – October 18, 2005) The following press release from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) details results of its internal investigation and action, following charges filed against GIA by Max Pincione. (*Read the court case below) The GIA stresses that they have “zero tolerance” for misconduct and have made some organizational changes, one of which was to appoint gemologist Thomas Moses as the new head of the GIA Lab, with the title of senior vice president, GIA Laboratory and Research.

GIA Completes Independent Review, Announces Organizational Changes

Carlsbad, Calif. – Oct. 18, 2005 – The Board of Governors of The Gemological Institute of America, Inc. (“GIA”) announced today that a Special Committee of the Board has completed a comprehensive review of the policies and practices currently in place at the GIA Laboratory. The review was initiated as a result of a lawsuit filed in the spring of 2005 by Max Pincione, which named GIA as one of four defendants. GIA is continuing to defend itself vigorously in that litigation.

Ralph Destino, Chairman of GIA’s Board of Governors, said, “The Board was deeply disturbed by the claims asserted in the complaint, and we felt that we had a responsibility to ourselves, our clients, and the public to not only look into them but to also thoroughly examine all lab practices. That is precisely what we have done.”

Four-Month Independent Review

In May, the Board formed a Special Committee to investigate the allegations in the lawsuit and any related business practices. The Special Committee, in turn, engaged the law firm of DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary US LLP (“DLA Piper”) to conduct the review under the leadership of Thomas F. O’Neil III, a partner based in Washington, D.C. who chairs the firm’s Government Affairs practice group and who served as an assistant United States Attorney for the District of Maryland.

“Tom O’Neil has an outstanding reputation as a thorough and tough investigator. We knew we were in good hands,” said Mr. Destino.

Mr. O’Neil said, “We conducted an extensive four-month review, during which we interviewed dozens of witnesses and reviewed tens of thousands of documents, including thousands of diamond grading reports. From the outset, the Board embraced the important guiding principles of self-policing and zero tolerance of misconduct.

“The investigation revealed that, although GIA had undertaken to fortify various facets of the grading process during the past decade, additional measures are warranted. Accordingly, we have presented for the Board’s consideration a number of possible enhancements of, and supplements to, existing policies governing the grading process and compliance in general.
“The Board already has decided to implement a number of our recommendations, including the appointment of a Compliance Officer in the laboratory who will report to the general counsel and will oversee the enforcement of the Institute’s compliance policies,” added Mr. O’Neil.

Board Action

The Board has appointed an Operations Review Committee to assess, and implement as appropriate, the recommendations of DLA Piper.

Mr. Destino said that, “As a consequence of the investigation, GIA has made a number of key personnel changes including:
  • Four employees of GIA’s New York lab have been terminated;
  • Thomas M. Moses, G.G., a distinguished gemologist with a stellar reputation around the world, has been named the new head of the GIA Lab, with the title of Senior Vice President, GIA Laboratory and Research; and
  • Thomas C. Yonelunas, former head of the GIA Laboratory, while not implicated in any violations of GIA’s Professional Ethics and Conduct Compliance Statement, has tendered his resignation, effective December 31, 2005 to ensure a smooth transition of leadership.”

Zero Tolerance Policy

Mr. Destino said, “We have zero tolerance for any misconduct by employees of the laboratory. They undermine confidence in GIA’s ability to serve the diamond industry and ensure the public’s trust in gems and jewelry. Going forward, all GIA employees will be obligated to report all suspected violations of the Institute’s compliance policies to the new Compliance Officer.

“At the same time,” added Mr. Destino, “our policies apply with equal force to lab clients. We, therefore, will not tolerate any violations of our code of ethics by clients of the lab, most particularly improper attempts to influence the outcome of our grading reports. We have identified a small community of lab clients who are implicated in such actions and, rest assured, they will be dealt with swiftly and decisively.”

GIA Must Be ‘Beyond Reproach’

GIA President William E. Boyajian said, “I want to thank the Board of Governors for their strong leadership in this sensitive matter. Because of GIA’s important position in the industry and in the public eye as the leading authority in gemology, we take very seriously the need for our practices, procedures, and employees to be beyond reproach.”

Mr. Boyajian continued, “That is why we are so pleased with the appointment of Tom Moses to oversee the laboratory. Tom Moses is a man of unquestioned integrity and professionalism, as he has demonstrated over his 23 years of outstanding service to the Institute. His leadership will be essential in bringing a serious, systematic approach to our efforts to strengthen our organization even further. At the same time, I want to thank Tom Yonelunas for his many years of service to GIA and the entire industry.”


Court Case: Pincione VS. Vivid, GIA

By Jeff Miller
Posted: 8/26/2005 3:57 PM

(Diamonds.net, Rapaport News – August 26, 2005) Judging from the e-mails and phone calls into Rapaport this past week, there is great concern within the diamond industry about a pending court case related to alleged payments in exchange for upgraded diamond certificates dating back to year 2001.

What follows in this article is a summary of the full court documents in the case of Max Pincione (a New York diamond dealer,) vs. Vivid Collection LLC, and the Gemological Institute of America (GIA.) This information is provided as a courtesy to Rapaport readers. All parties continue to negotiate and those negotiations are not a matter of public record.

Furthermore, defendant responses are not part of this court document. Quotations are direct phrases from the plaintiff’s court filing. Other statements are paraphrased from the court documents to net-out the history and the pending case.

On April 21, 2005, attorneys for Pincione filed complaints against Moty Spector of Vivid Collection, Ali Khazeneh of New York’s Upper East Side, and Bill Farley acting agent for GIA in New York in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in the county of New York.

The Plaintiff:

Under oath, Pincione established that he is the plaintiff and is a dealer in fine gemstones, including “extremely rare and valuable diamonds.” He states that he earned an international, “unparalleled, untarnished, and enviable” reputation for “dealing and honesty in the diamond and rare gem trade” whose principal client is listed as the “Royal Family of Saudi Arabia.” Through an agent [Medad] for the Royal Family, orders were placed with Pincione.

The Defendants:

Vivid Collection engages in the business of selling diamonds. Spector (as officer of Vivid) and Khazaneh are in the business of dealing and or selling diamonds. GIA is an expert business in evaluating the quality of diamonds presented for evaluation.

The Complaints:

Pincione says that he received two pieces of jewelry from Vivid, both of which were certified by GIA. The first piece was a platinum round shape diamond ring of 37.01 carats, H-VS2; the second piece of jewelry was a diamond pendant with a 103.78 carat Pear-shaped, D-F.

On May 22, 2001, Shaer & Spector shipped to Cimabue of New York City, a diamond ring and cufflinks, green emerald earrings, and a necklace for $16,930,000 on memo. The diamond grading report dated October 3, 2000, shows a Pear Modified Brilliant, 103.78 carat, 56.3 percent depth, 48 percent table, medium to thick faceted, large, excellent (polish,) good (symmetry,) flawless (clarity grade,) D (color,) with No fluorescence. [The diamond ring certificate is not in the copy, only described by name in text.]

Pincione offered the ring to the Royal Family, and he said that the transaction was made with a “very good profit” to himself, Vivid, and Spector. The Royal Family had the ring inspected, and returned the ring to Pincione without explanation, but did ask for the return of payment. Pincione says it was the first time his client returned a purchase and demanded refund. He said he refunded the Royals their payment.

On March 23, 2005, Capt. Mohammad Hesham Ali Amin, general manager of Medad (a company owned by a member of the Royal Family) submitted a letter on behalf of Pincione “in lieu of my appearance.” He writes that in May 2001, Pincione hosted an exhibition of diamonds and jewelry “to which members of the Royal Family” and others attended.

Hesham Al Amin writes, “a member of the Saudi Royal Family purchased the 37.01 [carat] round diamond ring in the amount of” $1.2 million and “the diamond was inspected and was found not to be as purported and returned to Mr. Pincione.”

Later, Hesham Ali Amin negotiated the transaction of the diamond pendant for $14 million. The pendant was returned after purchase and Pincione said he was banished from doing business in the kingdom.

“After review by a member of the purchaser’s group, it was determined that the stone was not as purported,” Hesham Ali Amin wrote.

The plaintiff was told that the diamonds were not of the quality stated in the GIA grading reports. “That the plaintiff by offering said stones with grading reports containing falsified information unbeknownst to plaintiff at the time, risked by his innocent acts, incarceration and punishment in Saudi Arabia, in accordance with their laws,” the documents state.

He explains that in Saudi Arabia acts of fraud are punishable by imprisonment, and “I was forced to intercede into the matter so as to prevent Mr. Pincione from being incarcerated.”

“As we personally know Mr. Pincione for many years, we do not believe he was involved in any deliberate act to misrepresent the stones.” Hesham Al Amin states that Medad’s reputation “has been marred” and that no members of the Royal Family “or other related clientele can conduct business with Mr. Pincione, as reputation and trust are two characteristics that can never be restored when destroyed.”

In January 2005, Pincione learned for “the first time of the fraudulent actions and conspiracy of the defendants, from information and documents shown to the plaintiff.”

The quality of the diamond ring sold to the Royal Family was “not H-VS2 as represented to the plaintiff by defendant Vivid and certified to the plaintiff by defendant GIA, but was in reality of J-quality.”

The quality of the diamond pendant was “not D Flawless as represented” by Vivid and GIA, but “was in reality E-VVS2 quality.”

The 2002 Defamation Suit:

In 2002, Pincione charged that Vivid, Spector, and Khazaneh “had groundlessly accused” him of “theft of a diamond and communicated the false accusation to Harry Winston Inc.” Pincione’s former employer. Pincione took action (defamation) against Vivid and Spector, which was settled out of court with payment of $750,000 to Pincione along with letters of apology from Spector and Khazaneh.

Settlement agreement between Pincione, Spector, and Vivid was signed on December 20, 2002. Vivid agreed to pay Pincione $750,000 in total, in exchange Pincione “forever releases and discharges Spector, Vivid, Martin Klien, Abraham Klien, Julius Klien Diamonds Inc., Khazaneh, and Rima Investors Corp,” from claims, debts, demands, agreements, etc. And all defendants forever release Pincione from same. Each party also agreed to “refrain from accessing, discussing, copying, disclosing or otherwise using confidential information… concerning any of the parties.”

Vivid releases that “they are unaware and have no knowledge directly or indirectly of any misappropriation, conversion, or any sort of theft of any times of jewelry by Pincione” from any, “but not limited to Harry Winston Inc. Nor are said releases aware of any other business improprieties of which they participated in directly or indirectly.”

On July 8, 2002, Spector wrote in a notarized letter that…”you might have heard a rumor created by me whereby I wrongly accused Max Pincione of misappropriating a diamond from me, in excess” of $300,000 while “Pincione had been employed with Shaer & Spector.”

Spector apologized to Pincione and “fully retract my previous statements,” and declared that Pincione had “nothing to do with such a loss.”

Khazaneh wrote on December 20, 2002, that at “sometime during the year 2000 I, Ali Khazaneh, of Rima Investors Corp., communicated the following information to Harry Winston Inc.: ‘On August 27th 1999 Mr. Pincione presented an .83 carat Pink Trillion Diamond to Rima Corp'” and inquired if Rima was interested in having the diamond cut.

Khazaneh withdrew his remarks, saying “Pincione was never at my office on August 27, 1999,” and that the plaintiff “never approached me or my company in regards to re-cutting a Pink Diamond or any other diamond for that matter.”

New Charges in April 2005:

The decision to settle the defamation suit “out of court” was “part and parcel of an elaborate, fraudulent scheme, to have the plaintiff enter into a release which by its terms would, unbeknownst to the plaintiff, eliminate and prevent the discovery of additional, substantial and serious fraudulent actions of the defendants herein…”

In 2002, the agreement said that Pincione would “deliver to Vivid” any property in his custody pertaining to Spector, Vivid, or Abe [Abraham] Shaer of Shaer & Spector Inc., or documents give him by Mark Blickman.

This agreement, Pincione says, was drawn to “conceal a conspiracy between the defendants herein, to make money illegally, by obtaining from the defendant GIA false records, thereby attempting and succeeding to sell lower quality diamonds falsely certified as higher quality…”

Pincione states that due to prior “untarnished” reputation of GIA, he had every reason to “rely on the material representations made by the defendants, jointly and severally, about the quality of the gems and the diamond grading reports relating thereto.”

Had Pincione been aware of the “falsification of entries in the diamond grading reports” he would “never have settled his defamation action or signed the release set forth herein,” the court documents report.

The suit argues that the 2002 defamation suit agreement is null and void “because of said fraud, and said actions were made with actual intent to hinder and impede existing and future claims by the plaintiff.”

Six Causes of Action in 2005:
  1. The 2002 case settlement was “drawn” with the intent “to conceal their [defendants] conspiracy and their procuring false diamond grading reports from the defendant GIA.” For “bad faith” Pincione requests a declaratory judgment wherein the “release should be declared non effective and non operative as to any causes of action against the defendants arising out of their fraudulent actions.”
  2. The plaintiff’s reputation was ruined and the good will between Pincione and his clients was destroyed. By offering the diamonds to his clients “with falsified entries in the diamond grading reports, risked by his innocent acts, incarceration and punishment in Saudi Arabia…” and seeks $50 million in damages.
  3. Vivid “breached its contract” with Pincione by supplying “gems of quality certified honestly by defendant GIA.” Subsequent loss of business is set forth in damages of $50 million.
  4. Defendants “jointly and severally breached their fiduciary relationship with the plaintiff by misrepresenting to him the value of gems submitted…” for sale to Pincione’s clients, “thereby injuring the reputation and destroying the good will developed by the plaintiff after years of hard work.” For this, the plaintiff has been damaged in the sum of $50 million.
  5. The court document says that Khazaneh executed the 2002 settlement agreement and release along with “a letter of apology, said defendant has been and continues to slander the plaintiff, by stating to various friends and customers of the plaintiff, that: ‘I cannot understand why Pincione is not in jail, in that he has stolen so much’ (paraphrased).” It is stated that Khazaneh was “warned” to cease and desist “in his slanderous statements.”

    The court is asked to void the settlement agreement and release between Pincione and Khazaneh due to “slanderous statements.” The plaintiff has been damaged in the sum of $50 million.

  6. Khazaneh has “caused the plaintiff to be threatened,” in that the plaintiff states a man “who has identified himself as defendant Khazaneh’s brother to make telephone calls to the plaintiff threatening the plaintiff with statements including but not limited to: ‘If I were you, I would sleep with an eye open,'” and “Dr. Nuchbacker a friend and spiritual advisor to (Khazaneh) has many followers and they would kill for him in a blink…” Cited as “malicious acts” in the statement, the plaintiff says it was “part of a plan of action by defendant Khazaneh to put the plaintiff in fear of his life, and were acted upon with malice,” has caused emotional distress, and in so seeks damage in the sum of $50 million.

Pincione demands judgment against the defendants of “rescinding the release in full” and demands five “cause of action” complaints in the sum of $50 million each; and “altogether with punitive damages against the defendants, jointly and severally, in the sum of $150 million, and the costs and disbursements of this action.”

GIA Classifications

CLASS I American/Tolkowsky Cut

Table: 53-60% of diameter of stone for round, marquise, pear and oval; 58-64% of diameter of stone for emerald and rectangular

Total depth: 59.3-61% of diameter of stone for round, marquise, pear and oval; 58-64% of diameter of stone for emerald and rectangular

Crown angle: 34-35 degrees for round, marquise, pear and oval 33-35 degrees for emerald and rectangular

Crown height: 13.5-16.2% of diameter of stone for round, marquise, pear and oval and 11.7-16.2% of diameter of stone for emerald and rectangular

Girdle thickness: .7-1.7% of diameter of stone (medium)

Pavilion angle: 40.20 to 41.20 degrees for rounds; 39.25 to 40.75 degrees for marquise, pear and oval; 43.8 to 46.8 degrees for emerald and rectangular

Pavilion depth: 42.52-43.57% of diameter of stone for round, marquise, pear and oval; 47.6-53.1% of diameter of stone for emerald and rectangular


Table: 53-64% for round, pear, marquise and oval; 53-65% for emerald and rectangular

Total depth: 56-61% for round, marquise, pear and oval; 56-65% for emerald and rectangular

Crown angles: 32-35 degrees for all shapes

Crown height: 11.2-16.2% for all shapes

Girdle thickness: Thin to thick for all shapes (medium preferred)

Pavilion angle: 40 to 41.5 degrees for rounds; 39.25 to 40.75 degrees for pear, marquise and oval; 43.3 to 46.8 for emerald and rectangular

Pavillion depth: 42.31-43.89% for rounds; 41.51-43.1% for pear, marquise and oval; 47.1-53.1% for emerald and rectangular

Polish & symmetry: Good


Table %: 65-70% for round, marquise, pear and oval; 66-70% for emerald and rectangular

Crown angles: 30-32 degrees for all shapes

Girdle thickness: Very thin or very thick for all shapes

Pavilion angle: Any measurement other than 40 to 41.5 degrees for rounds or 39.25 to 40.75 degrees for marquise, pear and oval; any measurement other than 43.3 to 46.8 degrees

Polish & symmetry: Fair to good

CLASS IV (50-60% below cost)

Table %: 70% and above for all shapes

Crown angles: 30 degrees and below for all shapes

Girdle thickness: Extremely thin to very thin or very thick to extremely thick for all shapes

Pavilion angle: Any measurement other than 40 to 41.5 degrees for rounds or 39.25 to 40.75 degrees for marquise, pear and oval; any measurement other than 43.3 to 46.8 degrees

Polish & symmetry: Fair to poor


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

Exposé 1: The Rock Talks

He’s been described as a girl’s best friend, socialite, movie star, tough guy and the subject of over 600 books. He has been known to hang around royalty from Queen Elizabeth to as far back as Henry the VIII. His list of friends past and present are the who’s who of not only Hollywood (Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Julia Roberts, to name a few) but to professional athletes like Ruth, DiMaggio, Jeter and Chamberlain. His movie credits include, The Pink Panther, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Diamonds are Forever, Marathon Man and hundreds more.

He’s been described as the silent type but insiders have told this reporter that he loves to talk to women. We’ve finally been able to corral Mr. Diamond in this once in a lifetime exclusive interview where he talks with such clarity and honesty, this reporter had to dry his eyes more than once.

Reporter: Mr. Diamond thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to talk to me today.

Mr. Diamond: Please call me “Ice.” My friends call me “Ice.”

Reporter: Thank you, “Ice” it is. Tell me “Ice,” what was your first big break?

Mr. Diamond: Break is probably a poor choice of words but I dig where you’re coming from. But never the less let’s call them opportunities. Without question there isn’t a success story that would happen without people who stuck their neck out for you. Friends that support and believe in you, like Agnes, Charles the VIII, Mary of Burgundy, Duke of Burgundy, Oppenheimer, DeBeers, Gerald and so many others, too many to name in this interview.

Reporter: “Ice,” I’m familiar with a few of the people and organizations you mentioned perhaps you could give our listeners a run down of how these select few deserve a name mentioned.

Mr. Diamond: I’d be glad to. Agnes Sorel was literally the first person ever to believe in me. In the 15th century when she hung around Charles the VIII she became the first woman to wear diamonds in public. I had been a shut in till then. I wasn’t very good with people, a little shy.

Reporter: Shy? You? “Ice” I don’t believe it!

Mr. Diamond: Yes it’s true. Agnes believed in me enough to push me out my nest into the public’s eye.

Reporter: What about Mary of Burgundy, daughter of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. What’s your connection here?

Mr. Diamond: Agnes taught me to believe in myself and face the world and not be afraid to be me. Mary, oh sweet Mary taught me about love. How nothing in this world matters if you have love. She was the first person to wear a diamond engagement ring.

Reporter: And Oppenheimer, DeBeers and Gerald. I’m assuming you’re referring to Gerald M. Lauck past president of N.W. Ayer Advertising agency in New York?

Mr. Diamond: Of course I am but let’s start with Oppenheimer, chairman and CEO of DeBeers. Oppie, even though not my first agent he was my best. He represented me like my father. He knows everybody and put me in the right circles. It was through Oppie’s effort in 1939 that lead to the introduction to Gerald Lauck. It was Oppie and G that hatched the plan to introduce me to movie stars and literally put me in the movies.

Reporter: Were you nervous?

Mr. Diamond: Maybe a little but when Marilyn Monroe sang, “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” any butterflies I had went away.

Reporter: How do you account for the fact that in the 1920’s less than 10% of women in the U.S. wore diamonds to the almost 70% today?

Mr. Diamond: Because they didn’t know me, not the real me. Before Oppie and G started their publicity campaign people thought I was aloof. I guess I deserved that since I only hung out with royalty but I wanted the world to know that there was something more to me. That I had something to offer everybody.

Reporter: And what is that?

Mr. Diamond: That if something grown from carbon can make something of himself then the dream is alive in all of us. Nothing is impossible. We are capable of grand things. If a rock can make it, so can you.

Reporter: Nice message.

Stay tuned for part two of the exclusive interview with “Ice,” Mr. Diamond.

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

Diamond Terms

Speaking the jeweler’s language:

BLEMISH: A flaw on the exterior of a diamond, such as a scratch, abrasion, nick or chip.

BLUE-WHITE: Refers to a diamond that glows (flouresces) blue under ultraviolet light.

BRILLIANCE: White light reflected back from a diamond.

BRILLIANT: A round diamond with 58 facets.

CARAT: A unit of weight, equal to 200 milligrams. In ancient times one carat was equal to one carob bean or four grains of rice.

CARBON: The raw material of which diamonds are made. Occasionally a diamond will contain tiny pockets of carbon which can be seen as black spots within the stone.

CLOUD: A cluster of small inclusions, or internal flaws, within a diamond.

CROWN: The top of a diamond. Everything above the girdle.

CULET: The bottom facet of a diamond, usually very small.

DISPERSION: Colored light reflected from within a diamond; also called fire.

EYE-CLEAN: Refers to a diamond that has no inclusions or blemishes visible to the naked eye.

FACET: A polished surface on a diamond. A round, full-cut diamond usually has 58 facets.

FLUORESCENCE: A diamond’s reaction to ultraviolet (UV) light, causing the stone to glow in various colors.

FULL-CUT: A diamond with 58 or more facets.

GEMOLOGIST: A person who has been trained and accredited in diamonds and colored stones.

GIA: Gemological Institute of America, an independent, non-profit organization which sets and upholds standards for grading diamonds and other precious stones.

GIRDLE: The narrow, unpolished band around the widest part of the diamond; the girdle separates the crown and the pavilion of the stone.

HEAD: The prongs which hold a diamond in its setting.

INCLUSION: A flaw within a diamond, such as carbon spots or fractures.

KARAT: The measure of the purity of gold; 24-karat being pure gold. Jewelry is made from 18K and 14K gold, which contain other metals for strength.

LASER-DRILLED: A diamond that has been treated with a laser to remove carbon spots.

LOUPE: A small magnifying glass used to view gemstones

OFF-MAKE: A poorly proportioned diamond.

PAVÉ: A method of setting diamonds very closely together, giving the illusion of one or more larger diamonds.

PAVILION: The bottom of a diamond; everything below the diamond’s girdle.

POINT: One-hundredth of a carat. A diamond weighing one-and-a-half carats weighs 150 points.

SEMI-MOUNT: A setting which is complete except for the main stone, which will be selected separately.

SINGLE-CUT: A diamond with only 16 or 17 facets.

SPARKLE: The liveliness of the light reflecting from a diamond; the sum of the brilliance and the fire (dispersion).

TIFFANY: A simple, elegant 2-3mm ring setting with a head that holds a single diamond.

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

Diamond Slang

Defining the Industry

In the jewelry industry we throw around a lot of slang terms like, “Chubbies, four grainers, off-makes and glow worms” to name a few. Some of this slang terminology is derived from decades of usage and other terms are technically correct definitions to describe a diamond like the “65/65 Rule.” What I tried to do in this article is give definitions of the most popular slang terms that jewelers, dealers and cutters have been using for years. Hopefully, it will make it a little easier for the consumer to understand the secret language we jewelers use on a day to day basis.


65/65 Rule

A rectangular diamond whose table and total depth percentage does not exceed 65% of the diamonds width.

As Is

A diamond that comes with no bonding or warranties. Its sale is final, no exceptions after the buyer takes possession from the vendor.
Back AlleyA diamond that has had at least one previous owner and is being purchased on the secondary market. Example: Joe has purchased a Back Alley diamond. Translation: Joe has bought a used diamond.


A marquise shaped diamond whose length to width ratio exceeds 2.25 to 1. The diamond appears to have been stretched to look like a banana.
Big BrotherDiamond Trading Company a.k.a. DeBeers.
Bling BlingA sparkly valuable diamond or diamond jewelry.
Blue BookedThe dollar value placed on a diamond at time of purchase that the seller agrees to purchase the diamond back at some time in the future.
BondedSynonymous with warranty. All diamonds are either fully bonded, partially bonded or not bonded. A new subcategory that has been popularized of late is the fully bonded diamond with an expiration date i.e. a limited lifetime warranty. The diamond is warranted not for the life of the diamond or person but for the life of the warranty itself. Most of these bogus warranty packages (breakage guarantee, buyback, exchange) run 90 days. A true fully bonded diamond has no expiration date or restocking fee.
CanariesA canary diamond is yellow in color due to the fact it is saturated with nitrogen. The four main categories of canaries are light fancy, fancy, intense fancy and vivid.
ChubbiesDiamonds that are poorly proportioned. Typically, diamonds that have over-sized girdles or deep pavilions that cause the diamonds to appear smaller than they should when viewed from the top for any given weight.
CognacA brown diamond dramatized as attractive and valuable with an appealing title.
Decorate the
How the facets are arranged on a diamond.
DoubletA diamond or gemstone that is made of two pieces. Example: The crown is diamond but it is epoxied to a pavilion made out of cubic zirconia.
DupingThe con of selling a diamond with a Lab Grading Report or GIA appraisal that does not match the diamond being sold but rather matches a diamond that was shown loose to make the initial sale and later switched for the understudy.
EstateA diamond or piece of jewelry that has been previously owned and is up for sale.
FanciesHas two meanings. 1.) Any shape other than a round diamond or 2.) Any diamond of any particular color of the rainbow but white. These would include: blues, pinks, violets, and yellows to name a few. The most famous fancy in the world is “The Hope Diamond,” which is steel blue.
FisheyeThe circular centrally dark light pattern that appears in the table of a round diamond when it is cut shallow. It derives its nickname due to the fact that the light leakage through the pavilion creates the look from the crown of that of a fish’s eye.
FootballsThe opposite of a banana shape marquise which is too long. Rather a football is a marquise that closely resembles the shape of a football. A marquise could be described as a football if its length to width ratio is less than 1.75 to 1.
Fully WarrantedCan be synonymous with fully bonded. A diamond that has a breakage, buyback, exchange and market crash guarantee. When it comes with no expiration dates, it is considered fully bonded, otherwise it is a limited lifetime warranty
Glow WormsA diamond that exhibits fluorescence in the presence of ultra violet light. Fluorescent diamonds are 20% less valuable than non-fluorescent diamonds.
Grade BumpingA diamond whose clarity or color grade has been raised by one or more grades by a lab, appraiser or salesman to enhance the value of the diamond.
GrainersIn the orient, diamonds were weighed using grains of rice. (4 grains = 1/5 of a gram which = a 1ct diamond on a counter balance) Example: a 6 grainer = 1 1/2ct diamond
GrandfatherAn old diamond (Old Miners, Old European) or a diamond whose paperwork is outdated. A Lab Grading Report is considered a grandfather when it is over six months old and an appraisal is considered a grandfather at two years old.
Hot RocksDiamonds whose country of origin (South Africa, Sierra Leon, etc.) is linked to fueling wars and oppression with the funds acquired from the sale or barter of diamonds.
Illusion SettingThe placement of a diamond into a mirrored high polished plate of metal to give the illusion that the diamond is larger than it appears from a distance.
Laser DrilledA diamond whose carbon has been drilled out with a laser.
MeleeSmall diamonds, usually used to describe diamonds under 1/4ct in size.
Off-makesGenerally speaking, a poorly proportioned diamond that is either cut too shallow, too deep or warped. All Class 3 and Class 4 cut diamonds are considered off-makes.
Old EuropeanA round diamond popularly cut in the early 1900’s for the public from European cutting houses. These diamonds had the same characteristics as an Old Miners (small table, high crown, open culet) with the exception that they were not squarish round but round in diameter.
Old Miners

A squarish round diamond typically 75 years or older whose facet arrangement is highlighted by a small table, high crown and open culet. Old Miners are also referred to as heavy makes.
OrphanA diamond that is being sold at an auction and has no current owner that is wearing it. Orphan can also be used to describe a diamond that does have an owner but the owner no longer wears it. Example: Mary owns a beautiful 2ct orphaned diamond. She should rescue it from her safety deposit box.
PaddedSee spreads and chubbies. The cutter kept extra weight on the stone that does not optimize the optics of the diamond. Only goal is to increase revenue.
P.B.’sNot peanut butter, but “Partially Bonded.” A diamond with some warranties.
Pegasus, Monarch or BellataireBrand names for annealed (heated, baked) diamonds introduced into the market by General Electric and Lazare Kaplan in 1998.
Pick PocketingA salesman has been said to be “pick pocketing” a customer when he uses the two month salary guideline in order to get as much money from a client in order to make a larger sale.
PlotThe mapping of inclusions and blemishes on a paper diagram of the facet arrangement of any given diamond for identification purposes. Similar to a fingerprint.
River RockA diamond that is so heavily included (I2 and I3’s) that they deserve to be thrown in the river. River rock is synonymous with a bad diamond of little or no value.
RovalsA poorly proportioned oval diamond that has a length to width ratio under 1.2 to 1 causing the diamond to look not quite round and not quite oval. Hence “Roval.”
SandbaggerAn appraiser who misgrades an appraisal to sabotage a sale in order to recommend that the client purchase somewhere else.
Single CutsRound diamonds that have less than 16 facets.
SpreadsA diamond that is purposely cut wide to give the impression that the diamond is larger than its corresponding weight when viewed from the top. All spreads are also shallow with less than 38% light return.
WarpedA diamond whose crown height percentage + maximum girdle thickness percentage + pavilion depth percentage doesn’t equal the total depth percentage within .5%.


(In honor of Mark Osborne)

Question: Can a diamond whose crown angle is within tolerance of being a Class I or II, whose girdle thickness is neither very thin nor very thick and whose pavilion angle is also within tolerance of being a Class II actually be a Class III?

Answer: Yes, it is possible for the parts of a diamond to meet Class II tolerances but whose total exceeds the “61% Factor”. The 61% factor is when the crown height, girdle thickness and pavilion depth exceed 61%. Mathematically, 61% is the magical total depth percentage that a round, pear, marquise or oval must not exceed in order to remain a Class II (Class I and Class II diamond are well proportioned diamonds and Class III and Class IV are not). Once the total depth percentage exceeds 61%, it can be proven very easily by taking the tangent of the crown and pavilion angles and their corresponding crown heights and pavilion depths to show how light enters critical angles in the pavilion of the diamond and leaks out to create a fish eye in a round and deep bow-tie shadows in pears, marquise and ovals.

An avid reader of my book, “How to Buy a Diamond” pointed out that I did not send this point home well enough to my readers and visitors of my website. It is with his encouragement that I correct any omissions or explanations on this very point. With so many laboratories stating that total depths can exceed 61% my lack of emphasis on the importance of the “61% Factor” might have left too many question marks in the minds of some of the readers of my book, website and columns. The importance of the “61% Factor” can now be placed in the limelight that it rightfully deserves.

In closing, someone once asked me how important not going over the 61% really was in terms of total depth percentage? My response was short and to the point. Imagine that you are 61 steps from the edge of a cliff, how big a deal is that 62nd step?

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

12 Little Facts

Twelve Little Facts: You Probably Didn’t Know

The Dirty Dozen

1. The average person in the United States pays twice what they should for an engagement ring.

2. 1 out of every 3 diamonds sold in the United States is laser-drilled.

3. 1 out of every 20 diamonds sold in the United States is fracture-filled.

4. 1 out of every 3 diamonds sold in the United States has been treated to some degree, including doublets, coating, and irradiation.

5. 75% of all round diamonds are cut poorly to salvage weight, resulting in diamonds that lose 2/3 of their potential sparkle.

6. 88% of all fancy diamonds (pear, marquise, emerald cut, etc.) are poorly cut to salvage weight, resulting in diamonds that lose 2/3 of their potential sparkle.

7. The average diamond sold in the United States has been over graded in quality by two grades to enhance its salability.

8. 2 out of every 3 diamonds have fluorescence (a diamonds reactyion to ultraviolet light) that causes the diamond to look oily and milky in sunlight.

9. 3 out of every 5 diamonds are weighed incorrectly to increase the profit margin of the jeweler.

10. The average diamond sold in the United States is tinted yellow and will probably never appreciate in value.

11. The average diamond sold in the United States has cracks, breaks, or carbon that you can see with your own eyes.

12. If we define a good diamond in general terms as a diamond that is big, white, clean, sparkly, and will appreciate in value over time; less than 20 out of every 1,000 diamonds sold in the United States would classify as good.

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

The Flanders

A name rich in diamond history, but does this diamond deserve it?
It wasn’t too long ago that I started receiving questions about the Flanders cut diamond. “What did I think? Was it the same thing as a box radiant? How did it handle light? Did I like it?” My first thought (before I had even seen it) was regarding its stately name. Flanders, a region in Belgium (one of the diamond capitals of the world) is a name rich in history and tradition. In the early 1900s quite a few Americans gave their lives on the Flanders countryside back in World War I in a fight for freedom. Any diamond with such a well thought out name deserved my attention. This last week the creators of the Flanders cut gladly loaned me a stone to review. These are my results.
Before I lay any diamond down on a sarin or megascope machine or under the microscope I like to get a first impression on how it interacts with me. All I knew of the candidate was it was loose and weighted .48 carats. Before I snuck a peek I let the rock slide out of the parcel paper into an awaiting gem diamond cloth. After I gave it a few good rubs I locked it into my tweezers to see if this little fella was going to dance or sit this one out. My first impression was positive. The diamond was lively and scintillated quite well. After I turned on the spot lights the intensity magnified. There was very little light leakage that I could perceive. I continued to adjust my light source from intense (direct sunlight) to faint (a darkened room with one candle being lit). It was important for me to know how it performed in different arenas. While the diamond more than easily held its own where there was sufficient lighting it underperformed where there was scarcity of light. This gave me my first clue that this diamond might be packing a little unneeded weight. What was confusing however was how small the diamond looked for being a half carat. When I turned the diamond to its side for a profile, I could see it had a towering crown height and an extra thick girdle. I knew at that moment why the diamond looked smaller. Another thing I noticed was it had some heavily cut corners. Not that it was shaped like a stop sign but it wasn’t too far off. Most of the box radiants I had seen in my life only had slightly cut corners. This seemed strange to me. Why would someone chop off perfectly good corners to that extent? All it did was make the stone look smaller! However, these extra large cut corners are part of the secret to this Belgium named diamond.
The cutter must have figured out that by bringing in the corner walls and increasing the crown angle to an unheard of 42.2° they would create an almost pinball effect with the light to increase dispersion (colored light). While the magic trick did work, since the pavilion angle was not manipulated, I believe it came at a high price (making the stone look so small). To further the effect in the Flanders the cutter kept an unimaginable 10.4% girdle thickness. This was required so light that enters through the table doesn’t prematurely exit out the pavilion. The end result again was sufficient light return when properly lit but it seemed negated by the shrunken look of the rock.
Smudge Test
While the diamond broke all the rules (65/65 rule) and still managed to look respectful even enchanting under most lighting it crashed and burned when it got dirty. During the smudge test, I roll the diamond between my fingers and perform all the same tests as I did with it clean. A great diamond needs to look good not only when it’s clean but hold its own as it gets dirty. The extra thick girdle and bowl-like effect on the crown promptly flattens and fogs the instant light is forced through unwanted soot. While it is true any diamond will eventually die when covered with enough dirt, this one failed at the first sign of a smudge.
While I have to hand it to the creators of this Octagon like shaped diamond on the inventiveness of their Cyclops crown it eventually fails because it cannot handle everyday grit and grime. If I was a collector of gems this would certainly make the final cut. It is beautiful when clean and well lit, and definitely shows there is more than one way to skin a cat.

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

Apollo Has Landed?

Foreword: On September 9, 2003 Wired magazine broke an incredible story about a new type of synthetic diamond that would, in theory, revolutionize the way people buy diamonds and at what price.

Assertion: Mr. Bryant Linares, (President of Apollo Diamond, the company that has invented the technology) stated in his interview that Apollo has patented a process to grow diamonds. The tag line for this new product is the C.V.D. diamond. C.V.D. stands for Chemical Vapor Deposition. The idea, according to Mr. Linares, is “you must first determine the exact combination of temperature, gas composition, and pressure—a ‘sweet spot’—that results in the formation of a single crystal.” Apollo states that they have discovered that “sweet spot.” The Wired magazine article goes on to paint a picture of $5.00 per carat, non-detectable, synthetic diamonds soon to be on the market. The article continues, this could potentially break the iron grip that DeBeers has had on the diamond industry for over a century and awake us from our slumber to affordable diamonds for everyone! Happy ending? End of story? Not quite.

Reality: Not mentioned in the article by Joshua Davis from Wired magazine is that the product they are producing is averaging only 2 millimeters thick! That’s the exact thickness of a nickel—a far cry from the typical size diamond preferred by the diamond-buying public. Unless you’ve got a craving for a 1/20th of a carat engagement ring, there is no Utopia here or expected any time in the near future. Another thing not widely reported is that when they are able to get slightly larger crystals, they tend to be brown. The American buying public is primarily a buyer of whites. Apollo’s solution to the brown color is to anneal (bake) the diamonds after step one and bake the nitrogen and boron right out like a ring around the collar. Apollo also likes taking credit for discovering the “sweet spot,” when in reality chemical vapor deposition of carbon atoms from hydrogen-rich, carbon-containing gas was invented in the 1980’s. The process has been used to deposit thin polycrystalline diamond films on cutting tools. One of the last claims to fame for Apollo’s C.V.D. rocks is the potential that they will be undetectable from the naturals. Not hardly. Natural diamonds occur in nature, forming paired nitrogen atoms. Synthetics have only single nitrogen atoms. Also, all the samples examined so far fluoresce a very weak yellow-orange under long-wave UV (ultra-violet) light; moderate yellow-orange in short wave UV and strong red fluorescence under high energy UV light. It’s true that man (just like in the 50’s) has the capability to grow diamonds, but they are nowhere near the time when they will be able to mount said white diamond into a Tiffany setting and sell it to the public on a widespread commercial level.
If that day ever comes, you’ll be the first to know.

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

The New Synthetic Diamonds

The Final Frontier

“Space……the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its five year mission:…to explore strange new worlds…to seek out new life and new civilizations…, to boldly go where no man has gone before”. Those were the opening words spoken by William Shatner from his 1960’s hit “Star Trek”. Anybody who is old enough will remember how exciting it was when Star Trek came on. Even though I was just a little kid I still remember running through the house screaming at the top of my lungs “DAD..!, DAD! STAR TREK IS ON, STAR TREK IS ON!” Together we would sit in our living room and explore those new worlds. It almost felt like we were on the Starship Enterprise ourselves, one of its 430 officers or crew.
I’ve always been fascinated with the unknown; with new ideas, new inventions, new discoveries. Every day I marvel at mankind’s ingenuity. For example, who would have thought 30 years ago we’d actually be holding a cordless hand-held device that allows us not only to speak but see each other from great distances? Not me! Maybe Gene Roddenberry the creator of Star Trek had some idea. How else would he show Captain Kirk conversing with Scotty or Mr. Spock back on the Enterprise from a planet he was just beamed down to. (P.S.  To all you inventors I’m still waiting for the transporter).
In 1954 General Electric produced the first synthetic diamonds. A synthetic diamond is a rock that has all the properties (durability, hardness, refractive index, etc) of a natural diamond but was made by man. Not to be confused with simulants (those that look similar to a diamond but don’t have the same properties) like glass, cubic zirconia, moissanite. Think about it, man was able to create in a laboratory what it took Mother Nature 100 million years (minimum time required for a natural diamond to incubate) to do. WOW! But as much as that blows your mind I’ll tell you something more incredible! What didn’t happen in 1955? Can you guess? That’s right, no synthetic diamonds in the market place! Not in 56, 57, 58, or in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s or early 90’s! Man figures out how to make diamonds then man doesn’t do anything with the discovery? Why? Let’s look at the facts. Right after General Electric learns how to synthesize a diamond (which by the way wins a Nobel Prize for P.W. Bridgeman of their company) G.E is interviewed about the details and they say “We’ve only learned how to grow industrial quality (not sufficient quality to be cut into a gem for a piece of jewelry but rather to be used for drill bits, semi-conductors, and such).”  It would be 16 long pain staking years before man would not only walk on the moon but create a gem quality diamond the likes of Mother Nature.  G.E is interviewed again and I quote “We’ve conquered the next hurdle; we can now produce transparent gem quality diamonds in an attractive size.  There’s only one problem.  They cost more to grow than to find, cut and polish.”  End of story?  Not hardly!  Another quarter century would go by when a little company called Gemesis Corporation would raise their hand and say “I think I can do it. I think I can figure out how to grow a diamond cheaper than it costs to find one.”  The problem was very few people were listening and those that did just scoffed.  “If General Electric in partnership with DeBeers can’t figure out the secret to growing diamonds at a profit there’s no way some little start up company is going to figure it out!”  Know what?! THEY WERE WRONG!  Flash forward to present day.  Not only has Gemesis figured out how to grow white diamonds but they’ve figured out how to grow the tremendously expensive fancy colors–the blues, canary yellows, and oranges and even the million dollar per carat reds!  I know what you’re probably saying, “Fred, if this is true why isn’t it in all the newspapers, on TV and radio?”  Well, the reason is only now have companies like Gemesis grown enough raw diamonds to be able to meet the inevitable demand onslaught!  It makes no sense to go public when you don’t have enough supply to meet the demand.

The Interview

Two weeks ago I had the honor and privilege to talk to Carlos Valeiras (the President and CEO of Gemesis).  Here is a portion of my interview.

Question:        Mr. Valeiras how exciting it must be to be at the forefront of technology.  How did you get involved?

Answer:          “First and foremost I want to thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to let me share with the world what our little company has been up to for the last few years.  The initial ground work for synthetic diamonds began for us with trials that had been done in Russia and the University of Florida in 1996.  It was a short time after that I was approached with the opportunity to be an investor.  It was only recently that I was offered the position of CEO.

Question:        Mr. Valeiras I know you’ve unlocked the secrets to growing diamonds that encompass all the colors of the rainbow, so what will you serve up as a first course to the diamond buying public?

Answer:          While certainly there is a strong demand for the whites, the canary diamonds (yellow) are easier to grow and will offer the best price point to the public.  Using your words, that will be our first course along with the oranges.

Question:        What kind of price breaks will you be able to offer from the naturals?

Answer:          The canaries and oranges will be offered at about 1/3 the going price of the naturals.

Question:        You said that you can grow the whites.  What’s keeping you from offering the whites right now?

Answer:          We can currently produce about 600cts of rough a month and we’re moving every piece!  Since the canaries are more profitable for us and offer the best savings to the end consumer we’re not going to add the whites till we can fulfill the demand for the yellows.

Question:        When do you see that happening?

Answer:          We had originally projected this summer but we’re only scratching the surface on the yellow and orange demand.  I don’t think we will be able to turn our attention to the whites till next summer (2004).  But we’re also looking at the blues.  There is a strong demand for them which must be filled before we go white on a commercial scale.  We know the success of our company depends on being able to offer anything the public wants.

Question:        How big is the finished product you’re ending up with?

Answer:          We can currently offer anywhere from _ct. to 1 3/4ct.  In the future we’ll be adding larger core areas (device needed to grow the crystals) so we could theoretically grow any size.

Question:        Final question, how would anybody know they are looking at a synthetic versus a natural?

Answer:          All of our synthetics will most likely be laser inscribed identifying them as lab created. The diamonds will be marketed under the brand name Gemesis Cultured™ Diamond.

The Synthetics Arrive

After my interview with Carlos Valeiras he promptly sent over a parcel of yellows and oranges for me to view (see photographs below). When I opened the packages all I can tell you is I was overwhelmed! These synthetics are beautiful! I looked at them in different lighting conditions and ran the usual tests*. When I was done I set up an unscientific study where I asked people around my office what they thought. Their responses ranged from “oh my, how gorgeous” to “wow what are those?” Everyone I talked to had their breath taken away!

In closing, I want to congratulate the folks at Gemesis for their wonderful work and for taking us to a place no man has gone before!

Note: All photographs were taken by world renown designer and photographer-Jose Garcia

*For all you scientists out there who want all the technical studies I suggest reviewing the article “Gemesis Laboratory-created Diamonds” by Gems and Gemology winter 2002.

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

A Platinum Primer

Common questions about the world’s most precious metal

1. Are platinum and white gold the same or similar metals?

Platinum is a precious metal and gold is a different precious metal. They are completely different. When platinum emerges from the ground, it is naturally white. Platinum stays naturally white throughout the years with no added maintenance. White gold, on the other hand, is simply yellow gold that has had other alloys added to it to make it appear white. Then, white gold often must be rhodium-plated. Rhodium is a member of the platinum group metals family, and it only covers the surface of the jewelry item. Often white gold jewelry tends to “yellow” with wear. Platinum is also approximately 60 times more rare than gold.

2. How can I tell if the jewelry I’m buying is platinum?

It’s relatively easy to check to see if the jewelry you’re buying is, indeed, platinum. All platinum jewelry sold in the U.S. must be stamped with a common quality mark that shows the percentage of platinum used in the alloy. These marks are, most commonly: Platinum, Plat, or Pt followed by the percentage of platinum used, for example: Pt1000 (pure platinum), Pt999 (999 parts per thousand platinum and one part other metal).

Other common platinum alloys are: 950Pt (or 950Plat or Pt950) which is 950 parts per thousand platinum and 50 parts other metals; 900Pt (or 900Plat or Pt900) which is 900 parts per thousand platinum and 100 parts other metals; and 850Pt (or 850Plat or Pt850) which is 850 parts per thousand platinum and 150 parts other metals.

3. Does platinum scratch?

Like all precious metals, platinum does scratch. If a platinum piece has a high-polish finish, scratches are actually easier to spot, because of the high contrast between the polish and the scratch. Platinum’s surface, when scratched, will actually separate and make room for the scratch without loss of metal. This means that platinum does not lose the minuscule amount of metal that disappears when other precious metals are scratched. This explains why surface finishes such as florentine, engravings, and such last almost indefinitely on platinum, while the same finishes in gold will be worn off in a relatively short time.

Over time, platinum develops a natural patina that many people prefer over the “just polished” look. This patina is one factor that makes platinum very special; at any age, platinum has a very distinctive look that is all its own. Platinum will never tarnish and will never wear out. Jewelers can always repolish your platinum jewelry if you prefer a high gloss look.

4. I’ve heard that platinum is harder to work with than gold or silver. Can our rings be sized if we buy them in platinum?

Platinum, like other metals, can be worked on or altered by a qualified jewelr. Platinum can also be sized. Platinum is different to work on than gold or silver, but not more difficult for a qualified and skilled craftsman. Platinum has a much higher melting point than other precious metals and it can be easily contaminated if mishandled.

5. White gold is less expensive than platinum. It’s the same color. Why shouldn’t I buy it instead?

If you look closely at both white gold and platinum, you will see that the color and the look are not entirely the same although they both have a white appearance. The platinum piece will have a whiter color, whereas the white gold might have a faint yellowish tinge, or could be plated with another metal such as rhodium to achieve a whiter look.

Besides the look, platinum also has a very different feel than gold or silver. Platinum jewelry manufactured from 900Pt alloy weighs 60 percent more than the same piece if manufactured in 14-karat gold. This is a huge difference, one you can feel immediately when the ring of the same size made from platinum is compared with one made of gold. Remember, when you’re considering bridal rings, it’s important to keep in mind that you will wear this jewelry every day. Platinum is very durable, more so than any other fine jewelry metal, and will not wear down over time, as do other metals.

6. Why does platinum cost more? Is it worth it?

Yes, platinum does cost more but for good reason: It is the ultimate precious jewelry metal. Platinum is a purer metal (90 or 95 percent pure in most cases) than either 14-karat (58.5 percent gold) or 18-karat (75 percent gold) gold. Platinum is more rare (there is less platinum in the world and it takes more effort to get it out of the ground and refine it) and platinum is heavier (90 percent platinum weighs 60 percent more than 14-karat gold) than any other precious metal.

With platinum, you get what you pay for. There is more precious metal in a piece of platinum jewelry. Platinum wears longer and needs less maintenance over the years, a fact that will give you peace of mind. Platinum also holds gemstones securely in place and “lights up” a diamond in a way no other metal can. All these factors make it the perfect choice for everyday wear.


Article courtesy of Platinum Guild International, 620 Newport Center Drive, Suite 800, Newport Beach, CA 92660 Phone: (949) 760-8279, Fax: (949) 760-8780

For more information about platinum jewelry, log on to www.preciousplatinum.com.


Last Christmas the top brass at Bodyjewels.com asked me to evaluate a few of their products: some of their hand-cut CZ’s; a celebrity diamond imitation (Elizabeth Taylor’s Krupp Diamond) and a non-Bodyjewels-created product that they inventory from another vendor (Signity Star).  On my own, I evaluated how the product was shipped, packaged and my first impressions.

Out of The Box

Emerald Cut in Plastic CaseRadiant Cut in Plastic CaseUnopened Celebrity Jewelry Box
Opened Celebrity Jewelry BoxLoos Signity Star C.Z.'s in Case and BoxLoos Signity Star C.Z. in Case and Box

After I took all the little goodies out of their shipping box, I was impressed that everything was very nicely packaged (especially the celebrity imitation—see photos 3 and 4). However, as I opened each ring box, in most cases the interior plastic stone holders had popped open in transit (see photo 5) and stones were strewn everywhere. This is a major concern. Allowed to free-float inside their box, the probability that the stones would scratch and chip each other skyrockets. (I’ve been assured since my evaluation that the problem has been eliminated with custom stone holders to assure no movement of the stone.)

The first item that I inspected closely was the Liz Taylor imitation. As you see in the photos, it came in a very nice purple leather box. It was held very securely during shipment and displayed magnificently when opened. (See photos below for close-ups.)

Top ViewSide ViewAngled View

The ring makes a powerful first impression! While the original Krupp Diamond weighed in at 33.19 cts., and this one weighs in at 8 cts., you’d need two hands to lift it if it had been any bigger! For $500.00 you get much more than you bargained for. My only criticism, and it’s very small, is that there was some small porosity on the undercarriage of the setting and the metal isn’t as heavy as I would expect with a real diamond. That said, I agree with the slightly lighter setting to keep an affordable price point. Bodyjewels says they are moving to a heavier shank with no change in price.

The in-house Bodyjewels products (emerald cut and radiant) were good performers. In some areas I found rolled facets, but for the most part the polish and sharpness of the faceting was excellent. For the money, I rate Bodyjewels a “best buy” in the competitive world of simulants.

The last five stones I evaluated were from the Signity Star collection (not  Bodyjewels products). The samples that I received had such an array of problems that it’s impossible to list them all. The major flaws include heavy scratches, abraided facet junctions and culets; and a clear disregard for proportioning. The Signity Star collection should only be purchased for fun or a gag gift. If you’re looking for a true imposter, pass on these machine-cut stones.

In closing, I was impressed with most of what I saw and would recommend any of the Bodyjewels manufactured pieces as long as they uphold the standards of the samples I examined.

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