Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Diamonds are a hunk of pretty carbon....

This is an excerpt from a private e-mail to a customer who is interested in a trillion (triangle) shaped diamond. But there is some pretty good basic diamond info in there if you want to read it.
So its my response to "Hey I want a big Triangle cut"
"Nothing wrong with them, I like'm, but I want you to be able to make an informed decision. I'm not sure how much you know about diamonds, but some shapes reflect more light/sparkle than others.Best sparklers, are Round and Square, followed by oval and Marquise (football shaped) then Triangle, followed by Emerald cut and last is Baguette.Round diamonds are cut from double pyramid shaped diamond crystals. (as though someone glued a second pyramid to the bottom of the first) Triangles are cut from Macles, that's a crystal that has grown all wonked - a pyramid that has gone wrong, triangle is the only shape that can be cut from macles and still be financially viable, and since most people aren't interested in triangles the price is often better than a round. But not as sparkly, macles usually come with lots of wispy stuff inside, so its a trade off.
There are 4 C's to diamond grading Clarity. Diamonds of course come in super perfect for a stupid price all the way down to ugly frozen spit quality. Personally I try and push people towards the points on the graph where 'best price for you' meets 'still a pretty stone'.
Lowest I will sell is Si clarity because anything lower has inclusions visible to the naked eye, all the higher grades are the same unless viewed through 10 power magnification. (that is overly simplified, as little specks to effect the return of light but this is the best 'bang for buck' grade)
Colour. I prefer to steer people towards G - H in colour. Anything lower starts to look yellow and all the higher stuff looks like G-H once it is set into claws.
Carat size - bigger is not always better. If you have a set budget its best to go a little smaller and keep the other C's at a good level. No use having a big diamond that looks awful. And there is also a status thing that happens, the price per Carat on a .98C stone is less than a 1.02C stone because people want to say they own a One Carat stone. I will try to make sure that we stay below the jump up points because I see no reason to pay the extra price for .2mm more stone.
Cut is the last C, and it is very important, because this C thing is a balance game, a badly cut diamond doesn't sparkle so it doesn't matter how clear or clean it is."
That was the end of our e-mail. At a later date I will probably get into more detail but its time to go to work! Making 18k Palladium white earrings today to fit a cute pair of pink diamonds.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Jewellery photography

Wow is it ever hard! This is a picture of a ring I made for my friend Jenn. 18K White gold and set with the 3 stones from a ring she didn't like and some little diamonds from a broken pendant. So we used the sentimental stones in something she did like. She has long fingers with large knuckles - we made something that would look nice as it spun on her finger , and be wide but not look too heavy.
Anyway, back to photography - its hard! You must show the shine but not hide the detail. Show the smooth surfaces without showing your body reflected there (never photo in the nude). It gets even harder - show a diamond without just seeing sparkles! In this picture I have the ring sitting on a piece of non glare plastic, nice reflection eh! I should only have one light source showing but I have two, and either I have to learn to photo a ring straight or learn how to turn it 5 degrees because right now it lists to the right.....

White Golds and Platinum.

Pure Gold is yellow. Always is, always will be. So where do we get white gold?? Usually when we alloy for yellow gold (which is when we mix other metals into the pure gold) we add a mix of (mostly) silver and copper, this makes it harder, polish better and less expensive. When we want white gold we add either Nickel or Palladium instead. Neither is perfect.
Nickel white gold is actually a very light yellow colour, usually it is rhodium plated for a true white colour. As the rhodium, a member of the platinum family, is just a thin coating on the surface of the gold, eventually it gets worn off in spots leaving your jewellery blotchy looking. Some people are allergic to nickel, and might react immediately to their new jewellery, or in a few weeks/months when the rhodium starts to wear off. Nickel gold is a very hard, very finicky metal, sometimes it cracks.
Palladium is a member of the Platinum group of metals, its expensive. This means palladium white gold costs more than nickel white gold. It is slightly grey in colour and softer than nickel white, so it scratches faster and deeper. It is also a great metal to build jewellery out of - very flexible and malliable. It is unlikely you would be allergic to palladium white gold.
Platinum is a separate family of metals, platinum, iridium, palladium... there are 7 total, I cant remember the others off the top of my head....these are the 3 jewellers use. So when I alloy metal for a piece of gold jewellery, I add inexpensive stuff to the expensive gold, 18k gold is 75% gold 25% cheap other stuff. With platinum usually we use 90% platinum, and 10% Iridium, so Ive added expensive stuff to really expensive stuff - that's one of the reasons platinum is so....expensive. Another is that it is much denser than gold, so an ounce of Platinum is smaller than an ounce of gold, a ring that weighs 6 or 7 grams of gold would weigh 10 grams if I made it in platinum. Platinum jewellery has a nice colour, very white, but the metal is very soft so if you have a big smooth shiny band it will mark up much faster than a gold band. Platinum is best used for claws, whether on a single stone or pave work because unlike gold, Platinum does not work harden quickly. Work hardening makes the metal springy, so when the jeweller pushs the gold claws over a diamond they spring back slightly, and then with the every day wear on a ring - all the little dings and whacks it harden the gold more, eventually the stone comes loose. With platinum the claws stay soft, so all the little dings actually push the claws tighter around the stone. In a nut shell, with time gold claws slowly loosen and platinum claws slowly tighten.
So which metal is best? sorry no easy answer. If I was getting a wide shiny plain band my first choice would be nickel white gold. If I was having a handmade eternity diamond ring made? palladium white gold. Am I having a pave dinner ring put together? definitely platinum!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Finger shapes and how they should effect ring shopping.

We were not all created equal! As there are many body shapes, there are also many finger shapes. You should know what kind of fingers you have and styles of rings that best suite you.
I'm going to list the shapes I know well, sorry but I haven't come up with flattering names for the them!

Skeleton fingers - that's when the knuckle is wider than the area of the finger where the ring sits, this means that the ring will always spin. This can be very irritating in a signet or traditional engagement style ring, because the heavy top slips down and bothers the neighbouring fingers.
Try to pick ring styles that have a continuous pattern, if there is no bottom your ring is never upside down. Try a soft square or stirrup shaped ring, these ring shapes hold onto the finger better and feel less irritating between the fingers. You should wear wide rings, they will look great on you! Do not get a ring that is comfort fit or that tapers from the front to the back.

Sausage fingers - that's when the fingers look tight and tubular, sometimes they bulge out on either side of the knuckles. Its hard to fit rings to these fingers, they always look like they were stuffed on!
Try a narrower band, less than 5mm wide, and thin - 1.5mm thick. Comfort fit bands look less tight, but must be thicker, which may not be comfortable if the fingers have no space between them. If the fingers are close together than get a low dome ring, that way you have no edges to irritate the neighbouring fingers.

Swelling sausages - you do not have ring fingers. I should not wear spandex. We must both deal with these things. IF you feel you must get a ring, or your future spouse insists you have one then buy 3 silver ones first, all within a 1/2 size of what the jeweller says your finger size is. Try them each for a week. Then retry the first one. The correct size will feel too loose on a cold day and not turn your finger blue after exercise. Best bets are soft squares and comfort fit bands, try a tapered band too. Assume that you will wear this ring only for special occasions.

Carrot fingers - that's when the finger tapers towards the knuckle, most people's pinkie fingers are carrots. You can wear any style, but you must wear it tighter then you want because otherwise it may slip off.

Ring fingers - you won the lottery, you have the perfect fingers for wearing rings! Nicely tapered, the knuckles dont stick out, the the skin is firm but not tight so it sticks slightly to the metal, you dont swell....now just dont age!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


I was planning on being the last person alive without a blog. Once again I am proven wrong!
I have decided to put my Jewellery Ramblings on line, I got this info from working in the business for 12 years. I have listened to Goldsmiths, Stone setters Engravers, Gemologists and Casters ramble on about what they do, and now I am going to try and put it all into basic English and let you read it.