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What’s the difference between carat and karat?

Carat is a unit of weight for measuring gemstones. One carat is equal to 1/5 of a gram. For example, a 5.00 carat sapphire would weigh exactly 1.00 gram. Each carat is divided into 100 parts, often called “points”. Karat indicates the purity of gold. Pure gold is 24 karat. 18 karat is 18/24 or 75% pure gold. Sometimes 18 karat is marked “750”. 14 karat is 14/24 or 58.3% pure gold and is sometimes marked “585.”

Are bigger diamonds always more valuable than smaller diamonds?

No. A diamond’s value is always determined by its rarity. While bigger diamonds are rarer than smaller diamonds, it is also necessary to consider three other attributes: cutting proportions, color and clarity. These qualities make it possible for a smaller diamond to be more valuable than a larger diamond.

How does a diamond’s cutting proportion affect its value?

Cutting to the highest standards and the finest proportion yields the most brilliant diamonds. In addition to the extra labor involved, more of the original diamond crystal’s weight is removed to yield the finest cut. So, naturally, the finer a diamond is cut, the higher its cost.

What is a fancy color diamond?

Quoting from the Gemological Institute of America’s Diamond Dictionary:

A fancy color diamond is one “with a natural body color strong enough to be attractive, rather than off color. Red, blue and green are the rarest; orange, violet, strong yellow and yellowish-green stones are more common. Brown and black are also included in the fancy category.”

What is a canary diamond? Why is it yellow?

The term “canary” is used to describe a naturally occurring yellow diamond whose color is deep enough to be attractive. The more accurate, less misleading term is “fancy yellow diamond.” A fancy yellow diamond gets its color from minute quantities of nitrogen within the crystal lattice. We love to work with rare natural fancy yellow diamonds and will be glad to discuss this subject further with you.

What size diamond should I buy for an engagement ring?

With diamonds, some people say, “The bigger the better.” But years of selling diamonds to many people reveals that there is a preferred size for each person. Some couples prefer to spend their honeymoon in a secluded cottage or hiking in the back country, while others choose a bustling resort or cityscape. Who are we to disagree? It’s such a personal choice! The best way to find out what that size diamond is right would be to come in to our store and decide for yourself. We see our role as one of educator, helping you to decide what size is best for you.

How does a diamond’s cut influence its value?

We believe that a diamond’s cut is the single most important aspect affecting its beauty and quality. A finely cut diamond balances both a high level of brilliance (intensity of reflected white light) and dispersion (rainbow of colors). Many of us have wondered why a larger diamond, worn by someone we know, failed to “talk” and sparkle very much. Chances are that the diamond cutter focused on retaining extra carat weight, rather than on releasing the gem’s inner beauty.

What diamond clarity is best for an engagement ring?

Clarity in a diamond refers to how clear it is and has an important influence on a diamond’s value. When choosing an engagement ring, people often tend to prefer clearer diamonds than those chosen for other jewelry. The best way to make a specific decision is to actually compare diamonds with different clarity, paying attention to what you see. All of the diamonds that we sell are carefully graded for clarity.

How does color in a diamond influence its value?

The color of white diamonds varies from colorless to light shades of brown and yellow. Colorless diamonds are rarer and hence, more valuable. The best way to learn about color is to look with your own eyes. It is important to only work with people who maintain a Master Diamond Color Grading set of real diamonds. Such a set is used as the standard for color grading.

In addition, very rare diamonds also exist in what are known as fancy colors including yellows, oranges, browns, greens, blues, pinks. Natural fancy color diamonds can be very valuable due to their rarity.

What should I know about Conflict, or Blood, Diamonds?

This issue is both important and complex. The term, Conflict Diamond, or Blood Diamond, was coined in the 1990’s. The term refers to diamond crystals, mined in the African countries of Sierra Leone, Angola, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Burkina Faso, that have been illegally traded and used by politically funded rebel forces and terrorist groups to obtain weapons and/or money to support their causes and to fund their movements against legitimate governments. Horrific mutilations, deaths and other atrocities were perpetrated by these forces as they attacked villagers, as well as miners, in their quest for the weapons and cash that the raw diamonds might fund.

In the late 1990’s, aided by the efforts of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Global Witness, jewelry organizations like the American Gem Society (AGS)Jewelers of America (JA)Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC), and other members of the industry became increasingly aware and alarmed by the grave human suffering being caused by rebel groups in their quest for weapons, power and funds. On November 5, 2002, fifty-two governments ratified and adopted the Kimberley Process. This joint initiative, begun in 2000 by governments, NGOs and the diamond industry, had been immediately supported by the United Nations General Assembly and was the first time a global industry of any kind had collaborated with the UN, governments, and NGOs to address an important humanitarian issue. The purpose of this initiative was to prevent any blood or conflict diamonds from entering our country and to stop the flow of such gems in other regions of the world.

Today sixty-eight countries adhere to the Kimberley Process, which requires that each shipment of rough diamonds being exported and crossing an international border must be transported in a tamper-resistant container. This container must be accompanied by a government-validated and uniquely numbered certificate and may only be exported to a country that is a co-participant in the Kimberley Process. The process also requires participant countries to institute internal controls so that from the point of first export, the rough diamonds are protected. Further, any rough diamond crystal being re-exported also requires a Kimberley Process Certificate.

Brown Goldsmiths takes the issue of Conflict Diamonds very seriously. We require the following statement of assurance from our diamond suppliers and on all diamond invoices: “The diamonds herein invoiced have been purchased from legitimate sources not involved in funding conflict and in compliance with United Nations resolutions. The seller hereby guarantees that these diamonds are conflict free, based on personal knowledge and/or written guarantees provided by the supplier of these diamonds.” Under this industry System of Warranties, records must be kept of all transactions involving rough or polished diamonds and an annual internal audit is required. These audits may be requested by an authorized government agency in order to verify compliance.

Brown Goldsmiths was recently accepted as a member of the Responsible Jewellery Council, an international organization founded to address areas of ethical, social and environmental concern at every level of the jewelry industry. Issues are complex. There is more work to be done. The international diamond industry employs some 10 million people directly and indirectly, many in developing and third world countries. Where good governance and appropriate laws, diamonds, like other natural resources, are a source for revenues. These revenues help build infrastructure and provide essential social services, often in regions where poverty and disease are prevalent. Despite our small size, we treasure the privilege of grappling with large issues and with complexity in our efforts to contribute to a safer and better world for all peoples.