Everything you always wanted to know about diamonds, but were afraid to ask

Diamond is a solid form of the element carbon with its atoms arranged in a crystal structure called diamond cubic

Most natural diamonds have ages between 1 billion and 3.5 billion years. Most were formed at depths between 150 and 250 kilometres (93 and 155 mi) in the Earth's mantle, although a few have come from as deep as 800 kilometres (500 mi). Under high pressure and temperature, carbon-containing fluids dissolved various minerals and replaced them with diamonds. Much more recently (hundreds to tens of million years ago), they were carried to the surface in volcanic eruptions and deposited in igneous rocks known as kimberlites and lamproites.

Diamonds have been found in more than 30 different countries located in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, but only 10 of these countries stand out for the volume of diamonds that they produce.

During the middle ages and afterwards, Jewish diamond trade bloomed. Jews were forbidden to buy land or engage in agriculture, therefore driven to other professions like banking, trade and diamond and gemstones polishing and trading. Polishing does not require much space or equipment.

That changed though in the late 1980s and early 1990s when Ramesh Mehta, one of the pioneers of Antwerp’s Indian community, helped almost fifty families from India set up their businesses in Antwerp, resulting in the fact that today there is an Indian hand in more than 90 per cent of the world diamond trade.

The Jains in those days quickly took advantage of two key factors to enter the closed world of Antwerp. They specialized in smaller, lower-value stones, using cheap labour and the excellent skill of Surat’s diamond cutters and polishers to -today- cut over 90% of all diamonds worldwide. In short, the Gujaratis were able to polish in rupees and sell in dollars. The Indians also offered longer buying periods on credit in order to undercut the competition, and furthermore, almost all Gujaratis trying to gain a foothold in Antwerp could speak English, the global language of diamonds. No one could stop the Indians.

‘When you know, you know’ said a father to his son on the eve of his wedding.

Not sure what movie it was in, but I remember the words and how much truth they carried.

So then and only then will you know that you are ready to pop The Question (link to proposals)

Now first start thinking about your budget that many believe should still be a two month’s salary.

Then choose from the next four options:

  • Old school
    no risk; the 4 prong simple Tiffany-style solitaire with whatever round brilliant-cut diamond size that fits your budget. Be sure what colour gold she prefers; yellow, pink or white. Or maybe she likes Platinum?
  • Old school
    some risk; involve her best friend or mother to find out what shape of diamond or what ring-design she most likely prefers
  • Semi-old school
    no risk; Buy the diamond, make sure it is nicely presented in a special see-through box, and tell her she is free to choose any design she likes. Make sure to select the right shape, be it round brilliant or a fancy-shape.
  • New school (and I personally hate this)
    give her a check with a number on it and tell her she can buy any diamond and any design she likes.

Kills the magic though.

Make sure you have done some research about who you go to. Avoid shops that try to lure you in and that give discounts before you have even said a word. As a matter of fact, avoid all shops that grant you a 30+% discount. Why? Because I’m telling you. With 40+ years of diamond-mileage, I have come to understand how many in this industry operate.

Avoid shops that will give you vague answers about their return policy; not only about the next 14-30 days, but also when the engagement failed to be a success, say a year from now.

Avoid shops that will only sell you diamonds or diamond rings with their own personal ‘certificates’. That is a conflict of interest.

Make sure the diamond is accompanied by an independent report issued by HRD, IGI (when <1.00ct) or GIA. No others, that’s it.

Make sure the diamond is laser inscribed on the girdle with the report’s number. Ask the shopkeeper to show this number to you on his microscope.

When still in doubt, sleep on it.

A diamond’s value is based in USD(!) on its Carat-weight, Colour, Clarity, and Cut; the so-called 4 C’s.

And if only it were that easy.

See, many other facts will have a sometimes substantial impact on the diamond’s value, such as:

  • Is it ‘mined’ or man-made
  • The level of fluorescence inside the diamond, and when ‘Medium’ or ‘Strong’; does it show or not?
  • The exact weight (avoid 1.00ct-2.00ct, etc)
  • The lab, issuing the certificate
  • The age of the certificate
  • Any ‘comment’ on the certificate
  • The geographical origin of the diamond (for insiders only I’m afraid)
  • The nature and position of the inclusion (especially when Si1 or Si2) A black centred Si inclusion may sell at 20% discount compared to a white ‘feather’ Si on the side of the stone. The first is visual to the naked eye whereas the latter will not show.
  • When Fancy-cut; the shape of the diamond. Regardless what the certificate says. To our experience, 8 out of 10 fancy-cut diamonds are cut to maintain maximum weight, hence effecting the what could have been nice shape of the diamond.

They may.

  • Diamonds trade in USD. Greenback goes up, your investment goes up. Goes the other way too.
  • It all depends on who you bought the diamond from and what sort of return-policy you both agreed to. Have no fear to discuss this with seller. I know you enter a love-story with high hopes, but numbers unfortunately show that not all couples stay together.
  • A brand will cost you well, the brand, and gives you no guarantee for a money-back when putting it up for sale again.

First of all, Lab grown diamonds are as real as diamonds mined from the earth. Lab grown diamonds are identical to earth mined diamonds in every way, except that they are grown in a lab. They have the same chemical, physical, and optical properties as mined diamonds and when cut, they exhibit the same fire, scintillation, and sparkle.

One thing is for sure (which it wasn’t some five years ago); they’re here, and here to stay for two reasons:

  • Take on average 50% of a mined diamond-price. This will convince some to consider a lab-grown diamond. Others, whose budget would otherwise never allow them to consider purchasing a diamond, will now enter this marketplace.
  • A 13x smaller ecological footprint when compared to a mined diamond. Very much appealing to Millennials, and probably even more appealing to the next Gen-Z. Although, when I do one of my surveys, most women still choose ‘the real thing’.

There are two principal methods of production for laboratory-grown diamonds.

  • HPHT (High Pressure High Temperature) process, which simulates the growth environment of natural diamond using a large press, generating temperatures of around 1400 degrees C and pressures reaching 6 GPa.
  • CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition) which breaks down carbon rich gases using a microwave plasma, forcing the free carbon to crystallize as diamond on substrates at the bottom of the reactor.

Keeping your diamond ring clean is essential if you want it to sparkle to its fullest. Film from lotions, powders, and your own skin oils will dull stones and reduce their brilliance. As we said earlier, you will be amazed at how much a slight film can affect the sparkle of the stone, and it can also affect its colour, making it look dingy.
It’s easy to keep your rings clean. To clean your rings, wash with warm, sudsy water. This is perhaps the simplest and easiest way to clean any kind of jewellery. Prepare a small bowl of warm, sudsy water, using any kind of mild liquid detergent (avoid harsh detergents). Soak your ring for a few minutes and then brush gently with an eyebrow brush or soft toothbrush, keeping the piece submerged in the sudsy water. Rinse thoroughly under running water (make sure the drain is closed -some prefer to place jewellery in a wire strainer before placing under the running water) and pat dry with a soft, lint-free cloth or paper towel.

Note that it is also important to not leave it unchecked.
Even if you don't wear your ring while exercising, normal daily activity — fabric snags, say — can loosen prongs, putting your stone in danger of falling out.
We recommend regular checks to make sure the settings are secure.
We would therefore like you to come back at least once every 12-18 months for us to service the ring and restore it like new – we will check that the diamonds are still secure, clean and re-polish the ring to restore it like new as all metals wear with use – platinum gets scratched and develops a dullish grey patina so the yearly maintenance restores the finish like new. There is no charge for this – the only downside is that you will be without the ring for ca. a week
At the same, we will also make sure that your valuation report is still up to date. If needed, we will be happy to issue a new one.

  • Yellow gold is usually a combination of pure gold, silver and copper. When 18kt, 75% is pure gold, 20% is Silver and 5% is copper
  • white gold is an alloy combined with metals like palladium, nickel, or silver. Nickel has been banned though since quite a few years now due to many women who experienced allergies.
  • Rose gold contains a copper (12.5%)  and silver alloy (12.5%). It’s sometimes referred to as pink gold.
  • Red gold contains 5% silver and 20% copper.

Getting down on one knee: 23 Creative Marriage Proposals!

A marriage proposal will (hopefully) only happen once in your lifetime, so you'll want it to be memorable and perfect. After you've worked up the nerve to ask, you'll want a creative and romantic way to pop the question.

To help you out, here are 23 unique marriage proposal ideas that are sure to make a big impression.

  1. Rent a horse and carriage and take her for a romantic ride. Propose the old fashioned way on bended knee before getting into the carriage and riding away together. One of our clients did this in Richmond Park in London.
  2. Cook and set an elaborate candlelight table (or get a professional caterer to deliver) for a quiet romantic dinner for two at home. Serve her a glass of champagne with the diamond ring in the bottom or ribboned to the stem.
  3. Arrange a romantic weekend away. After a perfect day of relaxing and pampering for her - surprise her with the ring and proposal.
  4. Create a treasure hunt for her on her birthday or other special occasion so that she is not necessarily expecting a proposal. Create clues that lead her to uncover one-by-one treasured memories of photos or past presents from your time together so far. The last clue should lead her to the ring box and a simple "Will you marry me" note.
  5. Take her for a romantic picnic or boat ride outdoors and have a plane sky-write your proposal. Be ready to present the ring when she sees your proposal.
  6. Hire a magician to entertain just the two of you. Have the magician make the box with the engagement ring mysteriously appear as the surprise ending of the last trick.
  7. Take her back to the first restaurant where you dined and surprise her with the ring. You can arrange for the waiter to present it to her with the dessert. Make sure you know the owner or the waiter.
  8. Decorate a Christmas tree with lights and only one ornament -- a ribbon or bow tied around the ring box. Ask her over for a Christmas celebration for just the two of you.
  9. For a very traditional approach, ask her father for her hand in marriage. When the approval is given, make plans for the next family gathering and make your proposal to her in private with diamond in hand. When she says yes, stand up and announce your engagement to everyone.
  10. Prime a friend with harmless little secrets about the two of you, and have him pose as a psychic when you dial. Be sure to ask the right personal questions to make it look authentic. Have the psychic predict a diamond in her very near future. Then make your proposal on the spot.
  11. If she likes sports, then take her to a local or professional sporting event and arrange to have your message displayed on the scoreboard after halftime..."Naomi...Will you marry me?" Have the diamond ready to present when she sees it.
  12. Arrange to have dinner together at your favourite Chinese restaurant. Have the waiter give her a special fortune cookie with "Will you marry me?" in it. Or you could have it say, "You will receive a diamond in the very near future." And present the diamond in a box.
  13. During dinner at your favourite restaurant, arrange with the waiter to have the diamond in a box as one of the choices on the dessert tray. Tell her she is the sweetest thing you know and you can't resist her any longer.
  14. Rent a limousine for the evening and be inside when they pick her up at home or work. Take her to an elegant restaurant for a romantic candlelight dinner for two, then present her the diamond on the way home in the limousine.
  15. For the chocoholic: Chocolate-dip the diamond box, and put it in the centre of a big box of chocolates when you are alone for the evening. She will always wonder what's in the largest piece of chocolate that she has seen. Pick it up for her and open it with flair.
  16. Invite her for some games at home. Use Scrabble letters and spell out "Will you marry me?" Have the diamond ring close by.
  17. Plan a romantic train journey (the Orient Express does day trips) and propose en route as you pass some beautiful scenery.
  18. Take her for a surprise picnic at the beach or in the woods. At the picnic spot, spell out "Marry Me" with stones, flowers or seashells. Put the diamond in her hand when she says yes.
  19. Take her to the highest local peak, get down on one knee and make the highest commitment possible with the highest quality diamond you can afford.
  20. Write her a song or poem especially for the occasion and sing/say it aloud or arrange for a professional singer/band.
  21. Buy your girlfriend the puppy she always dreamt about (my eldest son did this!) and attach the engagement ring to the collar of the puppy that you present to her in a carton box with a big red ribbon wrapped around it.
  22. Present her with a giant red heart and say to her "here is my heart, take good care of it". Then bend the knee and make your proposal.
  23. Do NOT attempt any scuba adventures, things can go terribly wrong. You can lose the ring underwater, and what if she is so excited that she loses her mouthpiece!

What about weight/feel?

950PT: Inch for inch heavier and denser metal so it feels heavier than gold
18k White Gold: Lighter than Platinum

Which one is more durable?

Whilst it may be true that platinum is harder than gold in its purest form, 18kt white gold is mixed with other metals, most commonly palladium, silver and copper to make it harder. This results in 18kt white gold being harder than platinum alloys, which are most commonly 95% platinum.

Both are durable as well as both are subject to wear and tear…

What about cost?

With the spot price of platinum and gold being very much the same nowadays and with Platinum even losing trade value, many people ask us why platinum is still more expensive that white gold. There are four main reasons for this:

  • Platinum is denser, and thus more material weight is needed to produce the same ring than from white gold.
  • Platinum alloys used in jewellery are purer. Since most platinum alloys are 95% platinum and 18kt white gold is 75% gold, less gold is require to produce an 18kt white gold ring.
  • Platinum is more difficult to work with, and often needs a jeweller with experience to produce a good job. Therefore, the labour cost is roughly 20% more than with white gold.
  • Platinum cannot be re-used and re-melted like white gold. Therefore, any scraps and filings must be sent to a refiner which is very expensive.   

What about maintenance?

Neither metal will always look new.  Both need eventual maintenance one way or another.
PT: Over time, long-term maintenance on platinum involves visits for re-polishing.
18k WG: Over time, maintenance on white gold rings can include re-polishing, re-plating (rhodium finish).

Both metals are subject to signs of use, such as scratches or loss of shine. Both issues can be addressed by bringing your pieces in for maintenance once every two years. This is done free of charge for DHJ customers.

What about scratching?

PT: Scratches more easily if set in a design where there are lots high polish areas. Before platinum made its comeback in the early 90's most platinum rings were finely hand engraved and/or set with pave diamonds. So there were very little high polish areas. With this type of design, platinum rings need little maintenance to keep their beautiful look as the pave diamonds continue to sparkle over time and even the inner portions of the engraved areas are beneath the surface and also maintain their polish. On the other hand rings with large areas of high polish are going to need constant refinishing to maintain their original highly polished look.

18k WG: Maintains its sheen longer than platinum

What about colour?

Some people like platinum whilst others feel that it can appear dull grey compared to the sheen of white gold

PT: Maintains the same colour forever. White is the natural colour of platinum

18k WG: May eventually tinge to a very light yellow though white gold is easily re-plated with rhodium

White colour is induced by alloying yellow gold with a white metal. We use palladium in our white gold. Palladium is in the same group of elements as platinum and is similarly valuable.