When referring to diamonds, what does ideal mean?
Originally "Ideal" was to mean the balance of brilliance and dispersion in a diamond. This came about because a mathematician named Marcelle Tolkowsky came up with two formulas for the cut of a diamond. One was for maximum fire and the other was for maximum brilliance. He published his findings in 1920. Then a committee of cutters used "Ideal Cut" to describe their compromise of his formulas. The compromise which considered the abilities and technology of the cutters at the time, became a standard in the industry.
In 2005, after a 10 year study, the The American Gem Society used "Ideal" as their highest grade in the cut grading system. Modern technology was used to tighten the grade by using computer simulations of light moving through a diamond for "best light performance in all conditions." They found that their grading ended up very close to Tolkowsky's formulas. The term "Ideal" itself without it being assigned to an AGS grade can still be very loosely used or very restrictive depending on the view of the user.
How do you chip a diamond?
A diamond is the hardest naturally occurring substance on earth. It is not by any means the toughest. A diamond is brittle and can be chipped by a sufficient blow. The point to remember is that a diamond, just like a piece of wood, has a grain and can be chipped at any angle to the grain more easily than against the grain.
What is fluorescence?
Fluorescence is caused by trace elements in a diamond. Most diamonds fluoresce blue, though some have been known to fluoresce orange, green and yellow. The effect of blue florescence on the price of a diamond varies, while the other colors are always a negative. Generally, high colors subtract for medium fluorescence while lower colors add. Light fluorescence only affects very high colors such as D, and that only to some dealers. Strong fluoresce and stronger is negotiable.
How can you tell if it's a real diamond?
You may not be able to tell. Many imitations such as a cubic zirconia (CZ) can fool most non-professionals, even most jewelry salespeople. An Imitation is not made from the same material as the natural. A Synthetic is made from the same material, but made by man. The current debate in the industry is whether some methods of creating a synthetic should be advertised as cultured instead of synthetic. Though detecting a CZ is simple if you know what to look for, detecting it yourself is extremely difficult even when tutored. You need a professional or professional detection equipment. Unfortunately, the old scratch test is worthless, as even glass can scratch glass. If you do not know for sure, get an expert opinion.
What is gold?
Gold is an element with the symbol AU. Elements are created in stars and not very much of this heavy element fell to this planet. I believe that all the gold mined thus far (and concentrated efforts have extended over 2000 years) would fit well within an Olympic sized pool. For me, the important point is that most of the gold ever mined has been mined in my lifetime.
What is Platinum?
Heavier than gold and rarer by over 30 times, it is an even harder to find element. Its beauty as a jewelry metal is that it lasts so long. It's durability and hardness depend on its alloy. Surprisingly, durability depends on it's ability to move aside rather than wear off, so hardness is what makes it wear faster. It is hypo-allergenic, as is its lightweight sibling, palladium, which in today's allergic world is an important factor.
Can you be allergic to jewelry?
In 1979 study found that 4.5% of Americans are allergic to nickle. That was a high enough percentage for further studies. Today 15% are allergic. In 2004, England called it an epidemic and banned all nickle in jewelry and wardrobe. Children's jewelry can also contain lead. Since children are more likely to chew their jewelry, lead is considered a great danger. In the United States both these issues are huge, because we have passed no laws banning lead or nickel in jewelry. Be aware that white gold in the U.S. is still mostly made white by adding nickle. Good white metal alternatives are Platinum, Palladium and Palladium White Gold.
What's the difference between precious and semi-precious?
Until the mid 1800's there was no difference. At some point jewelers decided to call major five stones that were hard to get "precious" stones. These were Ruby, Emerald, Diamond, Sapphire and Amethyst. Soon amethyst was dropped, as Brazil produced enough to make it easier to get. Today, all gemstones are precious. We know that there is a limit to what the earth can provide and no limit to what may be desirable at any time. Demand also creates rarity.
Why does custom design cost more?
True custom design isn't just taking parts and moving them around. For instance, when I was young you could take a car and chop it lower, add lights and tuft it. You might have to look up what I meant by all of that, but it was called "customized" at the time, not "custom". With true custom design, every job is started from scratch with your ideas being dominant. Rather than creating a thousand, or a hundred, or even 30 of a kind, all that imagination and labor is focused on what you want. That cost is not amortized over many jobs, it's all for you. Usually the people doing custom work do mostly custom work and are proficient enough that the cost is not prohibitive. It's often to your benefit to have a one-of-a-kind jewelry piece.
Whats the difference between Carat and Karat?
Carat is the scale of weight in a gemstone. 100 points equal one carat. The carat term is supposedly derived from the carob seed, which is surprisingly uniform in weight from one seed to another, and was used in ancient times as a unit of weight for barter. Karat is the purity of gold in the United States and a few other countries. 24K or 24 karat is pure gold so 14k would be 14/24ths or 58.3% gold by weight.