232 Carat Diamond Unearthed at the Cullinan Diamond Mine

Diamond Grading LabsAnother amazing diamond was discovered at the Premier Mine, renamed the Cullinan Diamond Mine, in South Africa. The mine is known for the famous Cullinan diamond discovered in 1902. When found, that diamond rough crystal weighed a whopping 3,106.75 carats and is the largest diamond ever discovered.

The announcement came on Tuesday, September 9, 2014 that another notable diamond was discovered at the Cullinan Diamond Mine. This diamond rough crystal weighs 232 carats and is D color with high clarity, consistent with other high quality diamonds found in this mine.

According to the press release from Petra Diamonds, owner of the mine: “Cullinan is renowned as a source of large diamonds and frequently yields diamonds larger than 10 carats. Furthermore, it has produced just under 800 stones weighing more than 100 carats, over 130 stones weighing more than 200 carats, and around a quarter of all diamonds weighing more than 400 carats.

In its history, the mine has produced four of the top 20 largest high quality gem diamonds: The Cullinan (3,106 carats rough), The Golden Jubilee (755 carats rough), The Centenary (599 carats rough) and The Cullinan Heritage (507 carats rough). The Cullinan Heritage was recovered by Petra in 2009 and sold in February 2010 for US$35.3 million, being the highest price on record for a rough diamond.”

Author: Michelle M. Rahm is a GIA-trained Graduate Gemologist and is President of Colorado’s Mile High Chapter of the GIA Alumni Association. She has been selling gemstones and jewelry online since 1997. Visit her websites JewelryImpressions.com and OurCustomWeddingRings.com

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Differences in Diamond Labs

Diamond Grading LabsI have discussed the issue of different diamond grading labs in the past and whether it is important to get a lab certificate for your diamond. There is an interesting article out today regarding two law suits against a jeweler regarding diamond grading. It’s important to note that a diamond grade is someone’s OPINION, it is not definitive. Two different very experienced, well respected appraisers can give two different grades for the same diamond. The grades should be close, but they may be slightly different.

Likewise, different labs will grade diamonds differently as well. Some labs, such as EGL noted in the article, are known for giving generous grades. GIA on the other hand, established the diamond grading system, so I trust their grades over other labs. Still others believe AGS, another respectable lab, is the most strict in terms of diamond grading.

The bottom line is, you will likely get what you pay for. If you get a “killer deal” on a VS2, GH diamond, it was probably graded by a lab that grades generously. If the diamonds noted in the article came with GIA Grading Reports, I’m sure the consumer would have paid a much higher price for them because the grading would be more accurate.

I am very careful not to sell any diamonds with EGL Grading Reports. I’m a GIA-trained Graduate Gemologist, so if I’m going to sell a diamond with a report, I want it to be a GIA report. Of course, I probably lose sales to people who don’t understand that some labs grade generously. I’ve had customers tell me they don’t care which lab grades their diamond as long as the report shows the quality specs they want. So they will pay less for an EGL graded stone because of what the grading report says. Even though in many cases GIA would grade the stone much lower on the quality scale.

In any case, I don’t think the jeweler should be held accountable for the grading report provided by an outside lab, unless there was some deliberate deception on his part. Besides, the stones were probably priced much less because they were graded by EGL. That’s my two cents.

Click here to read article

Author: Michelle M. Rahm is a GIA-trained Graduate Gemologist and is President of Colorado’s Mile High Chapter of the GIA Alumni Association. She has been selling gemstones and jewelry online since 1997. Visit her websites JewelryImpressions.com and OurCustomWeddingRings.com

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Now this is beautiful Colorado amazonite!


The above image shows what impressive amazonite looks like…beautiful rich blue or greenish blue color on perfect crystals etc. While our cyrstals from my previous post are much larger than these, the color is not as impressive…which is why we didn’t invest in removing the iron staining from our amazonite crystals.

Beautiful Amazonite from ColoradoThis pair of beautiful amazonite crystals were pulled out of the Confetti Pocket at the Smoky Hawk Mine in Lake George, Colorado. This pocket was featured on Season 2, Episode 5 of the Prospectors TV show.

The crystals were a gift from Prospector Joe Dorris who owns the mine. You see, our GIA Alumni Group was on a mining field trip at the Smoky Hawk when the Confetti Pocket was found. It was very exciting as the pocket was large and full of crystals!

Beautiful Amazonite from ColoradoJoe let each of us put our hand in the pocket a couple of times to pull out crystals. I pulled out an amazing and rare amazonite with twinned flourite crystals. Here I am with another sizeable chunk of amazonite I pulled out on my second go at it. You can see the difference in color between what I pulled out at Joe’s claim and what we found in our first pocket on our claim…Joe’s is clearly rich blue while ours is heavily iron stained. Now this is the stuff we’re looking for on our claim! I’m keeping our fingers crossed that this is our year.

In his mining operations, Joe uses heavy equipment to dig further down into the earth. That’s where he’s been finding higher concentrations of amazing amazonite and smoky quartz specimens. We’re using our own elbow grease to dig on our claim, so we’re not going nearly as deep. But I’m still holding out hope we find some amazing things.

Tomorrow I’m leaving for 3 weeks in Madagascar so I will have some wonderful gemology tidbits to share with you from that trip in the coming months!

Author: Michelle M. Rahm is a GIA-trained Graduate Gemologist and is President of Colorado’s Mile High Chapter of the GIA Alumni Association. She has been selling gemstones and jewelry online since 1997. Visit her websites JewelryImpressions.com and OurCustomWeddingRings.com

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The Search Continues for Colorado Impressive Amazonite

Beautiful Amazonite from Colorado
This is one of my favorite pieces we’ve found on our claim because it indicates the potential our claim has to yield some beautiful specimens. And its from the very first pocket we’ve ever found. Not only is the shape of this piece really neat, it has a small flourite piece in it. The mineral is actually amazonite, the blue/blue-green variety of microcline feldspar. You might be able to see some of the blue in certain areas. The outer color of this piece is due to iron staining. Under that layer of iron staining is the powder blue colored crystals.

This piece is not of much value because the blue color is so pale, so we haven’t put much effort into cleaning off the iron. But the pocket had many different shaped crystals in it. This was the first real pocket we found so we made several mistakes out of ignorance. Fist, I only kept the pieces I thought looked cool. The other terminated crystals I set aside because they were boring. I didn’t realize it was amazonite because it was all so heavily colored with iron. I should have kept everything…in the event the color was better on some of the other pieces, we could have pieced the pocket together like a puzzle and repaired it. It may have been more valuable in that instance. Unfortunately, when we returned our next time out and the rest of the pieces were gone.

I discussed the fragility of flourite in my previous post. Well, because of my ignorance, I put all these crystals together on one bowl to remove the iron. I didn’t think about the nice little flourite piece attached and how it could get damaged by the other pieces. Not only did I damage the flourite, but I damaged several other crystals from banging them together. I’ll know better next time we find a pocket.

Thankfully, our claim is in a known area for finding amazonite. So we’re just waiting patiently to find our first pocket of value! We keep getting teased by finding small cleaved pieces of bright rich blue amazonite around our claim. So I know it’s there. We just need to find a pocket.

Amazonite is most valuable when collected as fine mineral specimens. But the specimens must be impressive for them to be valuable. However, some jewelry makers like to make beads and cabochons from amazonite for jewelry. Amazonite is quite fragile also and cleaves easily, so it’s not really appropriate as a gemstone ring…expecially one meant for every day wear. Earrings and necklaces are more appropriate pieces of jewelry for amazonite.

In my next post, I’ll show you some beautiful amazonite pieces from Colorado…

Author: Michelle M. Rahm is a GIA-trained Graduate Gemologist and is President of Colorado’s Mile High Chapter of the GIA Alumni Association. She has been selling gemstones and jewelry online since 1997. Visit her websites JewelryImpressions.com and OurCustomWeddingRings.com

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Colorful Colorado Flourite

Colorful Flourite from Colorado
Mining season is just around the corner and I’m getting anxious to get out there and mine for gems. You may know we have a gem mining claim in central Colorado. While we’re still beginners and haven’t found anything of great value, we have found some pretty neat things. Last year we found something cool every time we went out! I’m hoping 2014 is our year to find the mother lode!

Colorado has lots of flourite in a rainbow of colors! We’ve found several nice purple pieces. But this is one of my favorite pieces so far. This one is so beautiful because it shows so many colors: blue, purple, green, yellow, white and more! The other interesting thing about this piece is the secondary growth patterns on it. Flourites are often cubes, but this one has triangular grown patters that apparently occurred after the main crystal started to grow. I’m not going to pretend to be a mineralogist, but I have some friends who are and they thought this was a neat piece.

Flourite is very fragile and can scratch and abrade very easily. As a newbie miner, I made the mistake of putting my flourite cubes in the same Iron-out soak with my other stones and I damaged them. I also dropped a perfect cube of bright purple flourite and shattered it. So this year I’ll be a little more careful! It is because of the fragile nature of flourite that it is not generally used for gemstone jewelry…although I do occasionally see it in a pendant or earrings…jewelry that is less likely to get damaged during normal wear and tear.

Author: Michelle M. Rahm is a GIA-trained Graduate Gemologist and is President of Colorado’s Mile High Chapter of the GIA Alumni Association. She has been selling gemstones and jewelry online since 1997. Visit her websites JewelryImpressions.com and OurCustomWeddingRings.com

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Patriotic Colorado

Last night our GIA Alumni Association of Colorado got to visit the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum. It’s the second most visited university museum in the country full of amazing gems and mineral specimens.

I learned something new last night. Colorado is the only state in the union that has red, white and blue for it’s state mineral, rock and gem.

Rhodochrosite Crystal from ColoradoI’ve mentioned before in my blog that Rhodochrosite is our Colorado state mineral. This amazing rhodochrosite crystal specimen comes from the famed Sweet Home Mine in the Alma District of Colorado. It’s beautifully red, but it’s very delicate rating only 3.5-4.5 with poor toughness. So Rhodochrosite is not very appropriate for gemstone jewelry. Rhodochrosite comes in many forms, I wrote all about it last year at this time. Put Rhodochroiste in the search bar to the right to learn more.


White Marble from ColoradoMarble is the Colorado state rock! It comes from Marble, Colorado, a small town in Gunnison County Colorado that was first incorporated in 1899.

The white marble from Colorado is said to be of exceptional quality. It was used for the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery and parts of the Lincolin Memorial in Washington D. C.


Aquamarine from Mt. Antero ColoradoAquamarine is Colorado’s state gemstone and the birthstone for the month of March. It can be very valuable. The specimen here is from one of the most valuable pockets ever found on Mt. Antero in Chaffee County. Mount Antero has one of the highest concentrations of aquamarine in the country.

As you can see here, aquamarine makes a beautiful mineral specimen, but it is also commonly used for jewelry. Aquamarine rates 7.5 – 8 on the moh’s scale of hardness, so one must be careful when using aquamarine for pieces of jewelry meant for every day wear, such as an engagement ring. Aquamarine is most ideal for necklaces, pendants and earrings.

Interestingly enough, aquamarine is the same mineral species, Beryl, as emerald, yet there are no emeralds in Colorado…at least not that I know of.

In my next few posts I’ll talk about other Colorado gems and minerals.

Author: Michelle M. Rahm is a GIA-trained Graduate Gemologist and is President of Colorado’s Mile High Chapter of the GIA Alumni Association. She has been selling gemstones and jewelry online since 1997. Visit her websites JewelryImpressions.com and OurCustomWeddingRings.com

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Beware of “Manufactured Product” Written on your Gem Report

Chatham EmeraldIn my previous posts I discussed my continuing education lesson on Emerald Enhancements. There was one classification that I have yet to explain: Manufactured Product.

When GIA classifies an emerald (or any other stone) as a Manufactured Product, this doesn’t mean it is lab-grown, that’s not a clarity enhancement classification. It means there is so much filler in the stone that the filler is actually holding the stone together. The filler is serving more as a glue than a filler. I spent two weeks a couple years ago discussing this problem as it relates to rubies, which is becoming quite prevalent. But now GIA and other labs are spotting this problem in both blue sapphires and emeralds as well.

It’s important to know what you’re getting into if you buy one of these Manufactured Product stones. Special precautions need to be taken when taking a piece of jewelry with one of these stones in to be cleaned or repaired. They can literally fall into pieces if a cleaner or repair method damages the resin.

Even if your stone isn’t labeled a Manufactured Product, it’s important to know what processes can affect the stone. Over 90% of emeralds are fracture filled with oil or resin, which makes it very risky to clean with steam or ultrasonic cleaner as the oil or resin can seep out of the fracture. Any stone with filler can loose its filler with certain forms of cleaning. A jeweler’s torch can also cause fillers or resins to seep out. In addition, a stone’s color can be affected by a jeweler’s torch. For these reasons, jewelers will often remove a colored stone before performing any repair work on a piece of gemstone jewelry.

The bottom line is, it’s important to be aware of the different treatments of colored stones before you buy. A reputable jeweler will disclose any treatments to you. If you take a piece of jewelry in to be repaired or cleaned, be sure your jeweler is aware of different things that can affect the color or integrity of the stone. If you’re unsure about your stone, I recommend cleaning the stone with warm mildly soapy water and a gentle toothbrush.

My personal opinion is: If you send your colored stone in to GIA for identification and the report comes back with Manufactured Product written on it, send the stone back to the dealer who sent it to you. And consider going elsewhere for your purchase.

Author: Michelle M. Rahm is a GIA-trained Graduate Gemologist and is President of Colorado’s Mile High Chapter of the GIA Alumni Association. She has been selling gemstones and jewelry online since 1997. Visit her websites JewelryImpressions.com and OurCustomWeddingRings.com

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Select Your Loose Emerald Wisely

Chatham Emerald Engagement Ring
In my previous post I discussed my continuing education lesson on Emerald Enhancements. It was quite interesting learning how GIA judges clarity enhancements in emeralds.

I mentioned that because emeralds are type III gemstones and are almost always included, most all emeralds are enhanced to improve aparent clarity. It’s amazing the difference fracture filling can make in the apparent clarity and beauty of an emerald. Fracture filling can make a train wrek of an emerald look relatively clean after enhancement.

For this reason, one should take care when chosing the right natural emerald for a particular piece of jewelry. Natural emeralds often have large fractures that can hinder their durability. For example a large fracture across the corner of a stone could cause a chunk of the stone to fall off during setting. After filling, the fracture may look almost invisible, but the filling doesn’t make the emerald any less vulerable to damage.

Heavily included emeralds are commonly used for pendants and earrings. But I advise my customers to be a bit more picky when it comes to using a natural emerald for a ring…especially an emerald engagement ring meant for every day wear. In this case, I suggest finding an emerald with relative high clarity and minor enhancement to minize the risk of breakage due to trauma. And if a higher quality natural emerald isn’t in the budget, I suggest Chatham-created emeralds. They are real emeralds, just grown in a lab with top color and clarity.

The bottom line is, if you’re searching for the perfect emerald for your piece of jewelry, select your stone carefully…don’t just go for the best price. I have so many customers who tell me they will buy their stone from whomever gives them the best price. That’s not the best way of thinking when you’re considering natural gemstones. Generally speaking, you’ll get what you pay for. You should get the nicest stone possible for your budget not just the cheapest stone you can find.

Author: Michelle M. Rahm is a GIA-trained Graduate Gemologist and is President of Colorado’s Mile High Chapter of the GIA Alumni Association. She has been selling gemstones and jewelry online since 1997. Visit her websites JewelryImpressions.com and OurCustomWeddingRings.com

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Clarity Enhancement In Emeralds

Fine EmeraldI just finished my GIA continuing education program for the year…talk about waiting until the last screaming minute. The final assignment was about clarity enhancements in emeralds.

One of the well-respected researchers at GIA, Shane McClure, was showing examples of clarity enhancements and demonstrating how GIA judges the level of enhancement: Minor, Moderate, Significant or Manufactured Product.

I found the session to be very interesting. Shane mentioned that the majority of emeralds on the market would fall into the significantly enhanced category. However, at the GIA lab the majority of stones they see are moderately enhanced. This is likely because most people wouldn’t bother with the expense to get a report on a significantly enhanced stone.

Because emeralds are type III gemstones and are almost always included, most all emeralds are enhanced to improve aparent clarity. One thing to note, however, is clarity enhancement classification isn’t an overall clarity grade of a stone, but rather an indication of how much enhancement has changed the apparent clarity of a stone. So a heavily included emerald can still have a minor clarity enhancement grade if there’s not much fracture filler in the stone. Surface-reaching fractures are filled, fully contained inclusions are not…so if a stone is full of inclusions, but has few surface-reaching fractures that are filled, the enhancement will be minor.

One thing Shane kept stressing is that the enhancement report is based on the stone at the time it is submitted to the lab. That makes perfect sense. However, some dealers will send a stone to GIA with only minor clarity enhancements, then after the report is issued, fill more fractures in the stone. Shane suggested if you notice a difference in the stone’s appearance in the report photo vs. how it looks now, you should consider re-submitting the stone to GIA for another evaluation, as the stone may have been further enhanced after the report was issued.

As with everything, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. The emerald shown here is an extremely fine emerald. It’s incredibly rare to find an emerald of any size without eye-visible inclusions and an emerald of such clarity would command top dollar. If you get a great price on a natural emerald that looks really clean, it’s likely clarity enhanced. A reputable dealer should disclose this treatment to you.

The bottom line is, if you’re in the market for a natural emerald (or any other gemstone), talk to a reputable Graduate Gemologist to help you find the perfect stone for you.

Author: Michelle M. Rahm is a GIA-trained Graduate Gemologist and is President of Colorado’s Mile High Chapter of the GIA Alumni Association. She has been selling gemstones and jewelry online since 1997. Visit her websites JewelryImpressions.com and OurCustomWeddingRings.com

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Diamond simulants vs. synthetics: What’s real, what’s not?

Diamond RingsMy previous posts comparing Forever Brilliant Moissanite and Chatham white sapphires made me want to revisit the topic of other diamond alternatives that can create some confusion. If you’re in the market for a real lab-grown diamond or high quality diamond alternative, like moissanite or white sapphire, beware of tricky wording leading you to believe some diamond simulants are actually real lab-grown diamonds.

The confusion lies in the terminology. Synthetic diamonds are REAL diamonds grown in a lab. Diamond simulants, or simulated diamonds, are diamond imitators. They are not real diamonds but rather something that is used as a diamond substitute, such as CZ or cut glass.

There are lots of diamond simulant companies out there who write crafty wording to trick you into thinking they are selling real “man-made” diamonds for $200 per carat, when they are really inexpensive diamond simulants…in most cases, coated cubic zirconia.

Don’t get me wrong, many of these coated cubic zirconias do have a place in the market. But the website wording should be clear and truthful rather than confusing. A reputable diamond simulant company is honest and upfront about what a product is so you can make a well-informed buying decision.

I once called a company to ask what exactly it was they were selling. I was told it was a “man-made diamond grown in a lab.” When I asked if it was a real synthetic diamond, he danced around his wording a bit, admitted there were some differences, but didn’t specify what they were. I could feel my blood beginning to boil as I heard this man deliberately trying to deceive me. This company continues to be one of the biggest offenders I’ve seen on the web. I feel sorry for the people who have fallen for this scheme.

So how can you avoid falling victim to these tricksters? Read carefully between the lines of crafty advertising copy. Watch out for bold phrases such as ”hybrid diamond,” “lab diamond” “created diamond” and “man-made diamond.” Look for the word “simulant” or “simulated” scarcely mentioned throughout the page, but not obvious. If you’re confused, call the company directly and ask for a straightforward answer of what exactly it is they are selling. What is it made of? etc. If you’re still confused or don’t feel comfortable with the answers you’re getting, hang up and move on.

If you want a genuine real diamond grown in a lab, look for common brand names such as Chatham and Gemesis. Call those companies directly for a list of reputable online retailers. And realize, a true synthetic diamond will cost thousands per carat. So if you’re buying what you think is a REAL lab-grown diamond and it’s $200 per carat, or $400 per carat…think again! If the price is too good to be true, it probably is.

Author: Michelle M. Rahm is a GIA-trained Graduate Gemologist and is President of Colorado’s Mile High Chapter of the GIA Alumni Association. She has been selling gemstones and jewelry online since 1997. Visit her websites JewelryImpressions.com and OurCustomWeddingRings.com

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White Sapphire vs. Moissanite Price Comparison

White Sapphire Vs. Moissanite

In my previous post I compared the visual differences between two diamond alternatives: Forever Brilliant moissanite and Chatham white sapphire. Now that you know the visual differences, let’s compare prices.

Chatham white sapphires are only available as small as 1.5mm without being custom cut. Moissanite is readily available as small as 1mm, although Forever Brilliant moissanite is available in sizes of about 4mm and larger. In these small sizes, moissanite is the better bargain than Chatham white sapphires. However, at about 4mm and larger, moissanite is more expensive. For example, a one-carat size diamond is 6.5mm round. This size in Forever Brilliant moissanite is about $500, while a Chatham white sapphire will run you about $400. Of course, prices will vary depending on where you get your stone.

The bottom line is, if you’re looking for a beautiful diamond alternative stone for your engagement ring semi-mount, consider Forever Brilliant moissanite or Chatham white sapphire. Only you can compare the visual, gemological and price differences between the two and decide which is best for you.

Author: Michelle M. Rahm is a GIA-trained Graduate Gemologist and is President of Colorado’s Mile High Chapter of the GIA Alumni Association. She has been selling gemstones and jewelry online since 1997. Visit her websites JewelryImpressions.com and OurCustomWeddingRings.com

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Eco-friendly, conflict-free diamond alternatives

White Sapphire Vs. Moissanite
Lately I’ve been receiving quite a few questions about diamond alternatives for our selection of diamond and gemstone engagement rings. My customers tend to prefer real stones that are lab-grown rather than simulants such as CZ. They want something that is both conflict-free and eco-friendly. Lab grown stones satisfy both…

The two lab-grown diamond alternatives that I recommend most are Chatham white sapphires and Forever Brilliant Moissanite. Both are good choices for durability…moissanite is 9.25 on the Moh’s scale and white sapphire is 9.

More important than the gemological differences between the two, the visual differences between them are shown above. The cut on Chatham white sapphire that gives them the most brilliance is German cut. It is different from the round brilliant cut of the moissanite shown here. The other visual difference is that the white sapphire, while very brilliant and sparkly, doesn’t have a lot of flashes of color, like the moissanite does. Again, you can see the difference here. The brown spots in the white sapphire are simply reflections of me taking the photo that day.

If you like the moissanite, be sure you’re getting the Forever Brilliant rather than standard moissanite. Standard moissanite tends to have a slightly yellowish-green undertone. But the new Forever Brilliant is grown much whiter than standard moissanite. Since the introduction of the new, whiter Forever Brilliant moissanite, I recommend moissanite a lot more frequently than I used to.

Between the two of them, in my opinion, the Forever Brilliant moissanite looks more like a diamond. So if you want a diamond alternative that looks like a diamond, I’d suggest a Forever Brilliant moissanite engagement ring. BUT if you want a diamond alternative that is beautifully brilliant, sparkly and really white, then a Chatham white sapphire engagement ring is an excellent choice.

The bottom line is, you should get the stone that best suits your needs. Both are premium quality beautiful eco-friendly, conflict free lab-grown stones.

Author: Michelle M. Rahm is a GIA-trained Graduate Gemologist and is President of Colorado’s Mile High Chapter of the GIA Alumni Association. She has been selling gemstones and jewelry online since 1997. Visit her websites JewelryImpressions.com and OurCustomWeddingRings.com

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Addicted to TV Gem Shopping

Tom Oval Citrine
Recently I’ve been chatting with a gentleman about various different gems. He hasn’t ordered anything from me but I’ve enjoyed our conversations. In all honesty, I don’t really want to take his money and I’ve told him that. You see, this nice southern gentleman is bipolar and literally addicted to the shopping channels, particularly one that sells loose gems. He calls me a couple times a week to share his new knowledge and to pick my brain about his most recent gemstone “score.”

Remember the movie Romancing the Stone? Well, this particular show he watches successfully romances their stones big time. They put a wonderful spin on the stone, maybe mentioning the locality or rarity etc. To the consumer it sounds awesome…like a steal of a deal. Tom is convinced he’s getting such a great deal, after all, he paid only $85 for a large citrine. But I have to explain to him that citrine is a quartz, and no matter what color it is, it’s a relatively inexpensive stone. Yeah sure, $85 retail for a 12x10mm oval citrine is a decent price, but it’s not a great price. I’m confident I could send him something equally as nice for the same price or better.

Tom sent me the photo above and while the stone has a nice cut and, according to him, beautiful orangish color face up, it has significant color zoning. The cutter was very skilled to be able to pull just the right face-up color out of the stone to hide the zoning…and that’s a good thing. If a cutter can originate the stone so a color zone is at the bottom of the pavilion of the stone, that color will reflect up and give the stone a good face-up color. I once read that some pink colored diamonds were reported to be simply a dab of nail polish on the culet of a colorless diamond.

Since I don’t have this stone in front of me, I really can’t comment about it’s quality and value too much. I really need to see it, and I’m sure the photo doesn’t do it justice. I’m not suggesting this TV channel is being dishonest about what it is selling either. Consumers just need to be aware that gemstones can easily be marketed to sound a lot more amazing than they really are. We’ve all been caught up in marketing hype at some point in our lives.

No matter which way you slice it, Tom’s stone is still a citrine and will be relatively inexpensive. My biggest concern for Tom is that he believes he’s getting something far better than he is at an amazing price…and he can’t seem to stop his buying addiction.

Knowing how much money my new-found friend has spent on gems recently (to the frustration of his wife), my advice to him was to save his money and take GIA courses to become a Graduate Gemologist. Then he will know himself what he is buying and if he’s getting a good deal. He needs something to divert his attention and I think he’d do well with the coursework.

My advice to anyone would be to do your own gemstone research or take classes. Don’t just take the word of someone you don’t know on a shopping channel or website or even in a jewelry store trying to convince you to buy this rare and valuable stone. Some good reputable sites to visit for gemstone information include AGTA.org and GIA.edu

Author: Michelle M. Rahm is a GIA-trained Graduate Gemologist and is President of Colorado’s Mile High Chapter of the GIA Alumni Association. She has been selling gemstones and jewelry online since 1997. Visit her websites JewelryImpressions.com and OurCustomWeddingRings.com

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GIA Visits our National Gem & Mineral Collection

Dom Pedro AquamarineMany of you followed my posts a couple years ago after I was blessed with a private tour of our National Gem & Mineral Collection. Now you can have the next best thing to a private tour…GIA has recently published photos, videos and information documenting a recent visit they had to the collection. This is a wonderful presentation of our National Gem and Mineral Collection. See my friend, Jeff Post show some of the more fascinating pieces in the collection. Some of the specimens may look familiar as I presented them in the past.

You can find this wonderful presentation at:
http://www.gia.edu/gia-news-research-smithsonian-gem-mineral-collection.

Hopefully after watching this, you’ll be anxious to head to Washington DC and visit our National Gem & Mineral Collection.

Author: Michelle M. Rahm is a GIA-trained Graduate Gemologist and is President of Colorado’s Mile High Chapter of the GIA Alumni Association. She has been selling gemstones and jewelry online since 1997. Visit her websites JewelryImpressions.com and OurCustomWeddingRings.com

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Pavilion as a Design Element

Pavilion CutContinuing with my discussion about the pavilion of a stone, the pavilion cut in both diamonds and colored stones is often a design element to consider. Particularly in colored stones we see more variation in fancy cut pavilions for design purposes.

One should consider the pavilion cut when choosing a stone for a particular piece of jewelry. This image shows two blue sapphires. Both have the overall shape of an emerald cut, rectangular with clipped corners. But the one on the top has the more contemporary radiant cut pavilion with angular facets. The bottom blue sapphire shows a traditional emerald cut with a step cut pavilion. I describe the step facets as looking like steps going into a pool.

Pavilion CutCustomers often ask my opinion on which style to select for a particular engagement ring. Of course, it’s always a matter of personal preference, but my advice is, if the ring style is vintage then go with a standard emerald cut with a step cut pavilion. The step cut is an older style cut that was common in vintage rings. The radiant cut pavilion is a more contemporary cutting style and will look somewhat out of place with a vintage style ring because the ring style out-dates the cutting style. For a contemporary ring style, either cut will work… In either case, the radiant cut will have more sparkle than a step cut, but the step cut offers a unique elegance to the stone.

Stone clarity can also play a role in pavilion style preference. A step cut is great for stones with high clarity because you can see through the stone better. The brilliance of a radiant cut pavilion can help hide clarity characteristics in stones.

So next time you’re looking at a stone, look through it and see if you like the cutting style of the pavilion. Does the style go well with the jewelry design you’re considering?

Author: Michelle M. Rahm is a GIA-trained Graduate Gemologist and is President of Colorado’s Mile High Chapter of the GIA Alumni Association. She has been selling gemstones and jewelry online since 1997. Visit her websites JewelryImpressions.com and OurCustomWeddingRings.com

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A Little Bulge Is Beneficial

Cutting Colored StonesIn my previous post I discussed how the pavilion of a diamond can affect its beauty. Today I want to talk about how pavilion can affect the beauty of a colored stone.

As I mentioned, fire and brilliance are the most important factors in a diamond. But a colored stone is purchased primarily for its color. To achieve the best color, stone cutters must take into consideration the depth of color, color zoning, refractive properties etc.

The image above shows two stones with the same face-up size, 6.5mm round, but you can see the difference in the pavilion shape and size of the Chatham-created padparadscha compared to the colorless stone. The padparadscha, while cut nicely symmetrical, has a larger pavilion with a slight bulge. This cutting style is common among colored stones because it can add depth of color to otherwise lighter colored rough material. Likewise, if the rough material is darker than desired, a colored stone may be cut with a shorter pavilion to lighten the color of the stone.

I remember when I was studying for my Graduate Gemologist degree, I was learning about colored stones and there was a particular blue sapphire that was highlighted as being top color and very valuable. The pavilion of the stone was very lopsided making it not-so-attractive from the bottom. But from the top-down view, the stone was amazing…beautiful blue with no indication of its strange pavilion shape. It was a perfect example of how a cutter can maximize the stone’s color and beauty by avoiding standard diamond cutting styles. Despite it’s oddly shaped bottom, the stone was extremely beautiful and valuable…something that would not have been achieved had it been cut with a round brilliant cut designed for a diamond.

Author: Michelle M. Rahm is a GIA-trained Graduate Gemologist and is President of Colorado’s Mile High Chapter of the GIA Alumni Association. She has been selling gemstones and jewelry online since 1997. Visit her websites JewelryImpressions.com and OurCustomWeddingRings.com

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How A Diamond’s Pavilion Affects Its Beauty

Diamond RingsPreviously I discussed the role and effects of the girdle on a stone. Now I’d like to touch on the pavilion. The pavilion is the bottom of the stone under the girdle. The size and shape of the pavilion can have a significant effect on the beauty of both diamonds as well as colored gemstones.

Diamond’s popular round brilliant cut is based on mathematical calculations of the relationship between crown angle, table size and pavilion angle taking into account diamond’s refractive index. These calculations are said to produce the best fire and brilliance in diamond. The pavilion plays a crucial role here…a pavilion cut too shallow or too deep on a diamond can cause light to pass through the pavilion without reflecting back to the eye, thus making the stone look dull. A pavilion cut to the desired proportions of a round brilliant cut will cause much of the light to bounce through the diamond and reflect back to the eye in the form of fire and brilliance.

While fire and brilliance are the probably the most important characteristics of a diamond, colored stones are purchased primarily for their color. I sell mostly colored stones and I often receive calls from customers requesting a colored stone with a round brilliant cut because they have read that round brilliant cut is the best cut. Since the round brilliant cut is based on the properties and refractive index of a diamond, it is not the most ideal cut for a blue sapphire, for example. In fact, it would likely negatively impact the beauty of a colored stone.

In my next post I will show how the pavilion of a colored stone can affect its beauty.

Author: Michelle M. Rahm is a GIA-trained Graduate Gemologist and is President of Colorado’s Mile High Chapter of the GIA Alumni Association. She has been selling gemstones and jewelry online since 1997. Visit her websites JewelryImpressions.com and OurCustomWeddingRings.com

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Do I Need A Diamond-Grading Report?

Diamond RingsThere’s an upsurge of articles urging consumers to avoid buying diamonds UNLESS they come with diamond grading report from a reputable diamond lab. While I do agree with the general concept of this there are some problems with this blanket statement that should be addressed.

Diamond grading reports are good to have, but they’re not necessary for all diamonds. One of my customers purchased a gold locket with a small diamond accent. He insisted the diamond accent should come with a lab-grading report. He had read a recent article in which someone had made that blanket statement without expounding. I explained to him that this statement does not apply to the small diamond in his locket.

So when should you buy a diamond grading report?

Grading reports cost money…sometimes several hundred dollars. So many diamonds are sold without them, especially small diamonds. It simply is not cost-effective to obtain an official lab report for accent diamonds. Diamond grading reports are commonly issued for diamonds .50 carat and above, especially if they have very high color and clarity.

But lots of jewelers sell large diamonds without grading reports. If you trust your jeweler is knowledgeable and can accurately represent the diamonds they sell, then diamond reports are not necessary. Many jewelers employ GIA-trained Graduate Gemologists who can accurately grade diamonds just as well as GIA without the added expense.

The bottom line is, if you love the diamond and you feel you got a good price, that’s all that really matters. There can be some good deals out there on diamonds without reports and if you plan to keep your diamond forever, then a report is not as important. But if you wish to have a diamond grading report, expect to pay a little more and make sure the report is from a reputable lab, such as GIA. And most importantly, buy from a jeweler you trust.

Author: Michelle M. Rahm is a GIA-trained Graduate Gemologist and is President of Colorado’s Mile High Chapter of the GIA Alumni Association. She has been selling gemstones and jewelry online since 1997. Visit her websites JewelryImpressions.com and OurCustomWeddingRings.com

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Inconsistent Diamond Grading Among Labs

Loose diamond grading
As the president of the Mile High Chapter of the GIA Alumni Association, I tend to sell only GIA-graded diamonds in my business. It’s a documented fact that other labs are known for their generosity in diamond grading. And I feel if GIA established the guidelines, then they would be the best at enforcing them.

I’m always amazed at how many of my engagement ring clients will tell me they want a specific color and clarity grade on a diamond, and tell me that lab documentation is important, but then proceed to tell me they don’t care if it’s GIA-graded or not! In fact, if they can get it cheaper by using another lab, then they’re fine with that. But then I have to explain that a cheaper lab may grade a diamond as better than what GIA would grade it, then they’re not getting the color and clarity they expect. I’m all for industry standards to minimize confusion among consumers.

This article caught my eye this week because it touches on this very topic. Rapaport sent 10 diamonds to different labs and received reports up to 3 color grades off from GIA’s grade. To read the article, visit: http://www.jckonline.com/2013/06/10/diamond-grading-labs-using-different-standards-survey-finds

So next time you’re shopping for a diamond, consider the lab documentation that comes with it. While diamond grading is an opinion, some labs are known to be more generous than others. In the end, the only thing that truly matters is that you love the diamond when you see it.

Author: Michelle M. Rahm is a GIA-trained Graduate Gemologist and is President of Colorado’s Mile High Chapter of the GIA Alumni Association. She has been selling gemstones and jewelry online since 1997. Visit her websites JewelryImpressions.com and OurCustomWeddingRings.com

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Judging the Girdle

parts of a diamond: girdleSo I’ve been talking about diamond girdle thickness in my previous couple of posts, so you may be wondering, how to judge the girdle thickness of your diamond. Well, most diamonds sold at large online diamond sites give the girdle thickness in the details of a diamond report. But if you are buying a diamond without a report or if you’re suspicious you might want to check it yourself.

Often girdle thickness is judged by a visual assessment of the stone. Sometimes it’s quite obvious if the girdle is extremely thick or extremely thin or if it’s pleasing. But there is a more scientific way to measure girdle thickness. In simple terms, the girdle thickness percentage is the thickness of the stone’s girdle expressed as a percentage of the average girdle diameter…or the face-up diameter of the stone.

The diamond diagram above has a thick girdle because the girdle thickness percentage is about 5.5%. For a diamond to still receive an Excellent cut grade, by GIA standards, the girdle thickness must be between 2.5% and 4.5% Here’s how it works:
Extremely thin <2%
Very thin 2%
Thin 2.5%
Medium 3.5%
Slightly thick 4.5%
Thick 5.5%
Very thick 7.5%
Extremely thick >10.5%

So next time you’re considering a diamond, be sure to consider girdle thickness to help determine how nice the diamond will be. I had a customer who was looking for a .75ct. round brilliant diamond. My vendor had 3 diamonds that met his criteria for me to choose from. I asked my rep to pull all three stones and compare them visually. On paper one stone looked nicer than the others with higher clarity and color grades etc. But my rep confirmed this stone looked more dark in the center, likely due to a thicker girdle. We chose one of the other diamonds and the customer absolutely loved it. If you’re considering a couple of different stones, call the company and see if a staff gemologist can give you a visual comparison of the stones. This could save you a lot of time and hassle.

Author: Michelle M. Rahm is a GIA-trained Graduate Gemologist and is President of Colorado’s Mile High Chapter of the GIA Alumni Association. She has been selling gemstones and jewelry online since 1997. Visit her websites JewelryImpressions.com and OurCustomWeddingRings.com

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