wear and tear

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platinum wedding ringShould you choose white gold or platinum jewellery? What’s the differences between white gold and platinum? The first difference between white gold and platinum is the most basic and is the foundation of all the other differences. White gold and platinum are different metals. White gold jewellery are mostly plated. The plating of white gold, which is done using rhodium, is a practice that has been used in the jewelry industry for decades, it makes white gold bright and white. However, it is decorative so it’s not permanent; it’s used to event out the color and soften white gold’s yellow tint. Depend on the wear and tear of the individual, the plating could last several years, but eventually it wears off and needs re-plating.

Platinum is heavier and naturally white metal although a little grayish in color and has been used for hundreds of years. Platinum is harder to work with then white gold. The higher melting temperature makes it more difficult to cast. The platinum solders are also at higher temperature. These and other reasons make platinum more expensive to work with then white gold. It is the preferred metal when it comes to softer gemstones such as emeralds or to consumers who have sensitive skin or are allergic to nickel which is commonly used in white gold jewellery in North America.

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Read Part 1: Can Diamonds be Chipped?  and Part 2: Tips to Prevent Damaging Diamonds

Accidents happen. It’s hard not to get upset when your diamond gets chipped, but understand that it’s not uncommon. It is part of the risk you take when wearing jewelry; although diamonds sustain less damage in everyday wear and tear than other gemstones, they are not indestructible.

First of all, you need to evaluate the chip(s) in your diamond. How big is it relative to your diamond? Is it instantly noticeable? Is it something you can live with? Keep these questions in mind when you bring your diamond ring to a specialist for an in-depth appraisal. A Graduate Gemologist and/or certified Appraiser will be able to assess the chip(s) effect on the diamond’s structural integrity, value, and can suggest viable options based on their evaluation.

If the chip is small and lies on the girdle edge, you may be able to reset the diamond with metal covering the area of the chip. The purpose of this is two –fold: the metal will act as a barrier to protect the chip from further stress which can lead to more extensive damage, and it will also hide the chip from view. Styles such as Bezel, Half-Bezel, Bypass, or even the addition of new prongs can achieve this effect.

Another option may be to recut the diamond. This option should be considered if your stone is of high monetary or sentimental value, as the process is quite costly. Not all diamonds are good candidates for a recut however. If the stone has chips in multiple places and/or the chip is large, it may not even be considered for a recut. Similarly, a stone would not be recut if its internal inclusions pose a significant damage risk during the process. This is a very specialized area of jewelry repair that needs to be done by a diamond cutter with great care. Talk with your jeweler to see if this would be possible for your stone.

If all else fails, you may consider replacing the diamond. Depending on your insurance policy or jeweler trade-up policy, this can also be a cost-effective option.

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Diamond BoxWe finished off with Part 1: Can Diamonds be Chipped?

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In taking care of your diamond jewelry, this is especially important. For something that can last you forever, it does require some amount of maintenance to keep it in its best shape.

Routine checkups at your jeweler (recommended is about every 6 months) is key. They have the tools and expertise to evaluate your jewelry for any compromise in the structure or integrity. Checking settings for loose stones, worn prongs or metal can prevent diamonds being exposed or even falling out.

After that, it’s all up to you. Be slightly more cautious when wearing rings, diamonds can chip when coming in contact with any hard surface such as doorknobs, kitchen countertops, or car windows. Ideally you would want to take your rings off when doing any manual work with your hands: lifting heavy objects, doing chores, cooking, gardening, and more. The more your diamond jewelry comes into contact with other objects, the more likely it is to damage. That’s why rings are the most susceptible and show signs of wear more easily; bracelets are a close second followed by necklaces and earrings, which are relatively safe.

As diamonds are most easily damaged by other diamonds, take care in storing your diamond jewelry separately when not wearing them. Every piece should have its own compartment and not be touching another diamond piece. For necklaces, lay them out carefully and store them in a spacious box, not a pouch where it can move against itself.

Another factor that contributes to the risk of damaging diamonds is present in the diamond’s structure: inclusions. Inclusions are the naturally occurring “imperfections” in the molecular crystal of the diamond, and come in many forms. Not all inclusions increase the risk of damage; it all depends on the size, location, and type of inclusion present. Inclusions to pay particular attention to are feathers, twinning wisps, or cavities that reach the surface close to the girdle, where impact is the likeliest to happen. It’s best to consult with your jeweler or someone with formal diamond training such as a GIA Gemologist to discuss the role inclusions play in your diamond’s integrity.

Read on to Part 3: What to Do With a Chipped Diamond

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DiamondsThe short answer is yes, they can – and it’s not that uncommon.

Diamonds are the hardest material on Earth, however that doesn’t make them indestructible. To understand how and why they chip, we must first separate the concepts of hardness and toughness. These two terms are often confused for one another, but they are not related in any way. Hardness essentially is a measure of how resistant a substance is to being scratched. Hardness depends on the strength of bonds between atoms in the crystal, and also can vary depending on the direction (along the crystal planes) in which this property is measured. This is why, although much less likely, diamonds can be scratched; and they most definitely can be scratched when coming in contact with other diamonds.

Toughness is the measurement of the ability of a material to resist fracturing, breaking, chipping, or cracking in general. The toughness scale ranges from: Exceptional, Excellent, Good, Fair, to Poor, in which diamond only ranks at a Good. A diamond has a cubic crystal matrix, in which there are four perfect cleavage directions. A cleavage direction can be described as a series of side-by-side straight grains running in one direction, such as the graining on a piece of wood. It is a plane of weakness in the molecular crystal of the diamond. Due to these points of weakness in the diamond structure, it is very possible for a diamond to chip and fracture in everyday wear and tear – it wouldn’t necessarily need a big impact for a diamond to chip, only enough of an impact at the right angle.

The shape of a diamond also factors into how likely it is to chip. Acute angles are much more chip-prone than obtuse angles. For example, in round diamonds the areas most likely to chip would be along the girdle edge or the culet (if pointed). However when round diamonds are set in a piece of jewelry the culet is almost always protected, so it is more common to see chips occur on the girdle. For fancy-shapes with pointed girdle edges, the risk of chipping increases. Princess, Marquise, Pear, Heart and to a slightly lesser extent Emerald and Radiant have a higher percentage of damage on the pointed girdle edge. This is why they are always set with prongs protecting the sharp edges.

If you are panicking because you have chipped your diamond or fear of doing so – read on to Part 2: Tips to Prevent Damaging a Diamond

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Ever since Mr. Big gave Carrie a stunning black diamond engagement ring in the iconic television series Sex and the City, black diamonds have gained much more interest in brides-to-be and fashionable women alike. These dark, opaque stones have a mysterious and provocative quality about them. Why black? As Big explained to Carrie, “Because you are not like anyone else”.

Colored stone jewelry can create a more personalized and unique look than the traditional diamonds. They can complement an outfit subtly, or pull together a look with a statement. With black stones, there are three main types that are made into jewelry: black diamonds, onyx, and spinel. Some very, very dark sapphires can also pass, but they will generally be off-black with hints of their base color. For truly black stones, opt for one of the three above.

Black StonesThe most common no doubt is onyx. Onyx is actually a type of quartz that is black in color and extremely opaque. Quartz is relatively inexpensive, which makes onyx the black stone commonly used in beading and costume jewelry – however, if made well it can also be incorporated into fine or fashion jewelry. Out of the three, onyx is the softest (least durable) rating a 7 out of 10 on the Moh’s hardness scale. That is not to say it is fragile, however, it would be best suited to a necklace or earrings instead of a ring or bracelet, which is exposed to more wear and tear.

Black spinel is not widely known, which makes it all the more unique. It also possesses qualities that make it great for use in jewelry – it has a hardness of 8 on the Mohs scale, uniform in appearance, high reflectance and lack of cleavage (mineral lines in the stone that makes it prone to chipping). Unlike onyx, sapphire, and black diamond, black spinel is rarely heat-treated for its color. Price-wise, it would be somewhere between onyx and our next option, sapphire.

As sapphires are prized for their vivid colors, very dark almost black sapphires are priced more favorably than their lighter counterparts. Dark sapphires and black diamonds will tend to be more included than not, so be sure to buy from a reputable, experienced jeweler who knows and can tell you the difference between stones. Some inclusions could have a negative effect on the stone’s durability – making sapphire’s 9 on the Mohs scale less important in regards to that stone.

Good quality, natural colored black diamonds are hard to find. Most black diamonds in the commercial market have undergone irradiation or heat treatment to get to that color. This treatment is permanent, and is done usually on “white” diamonds that are heavily included – which as stated previously may or may not affect durability, depending on the inclusion type and location. Diamond is the hardest material on Earth at 10 on the Mohs scale.

The appearance varies only slightly between these types of stones, but keep in mind 1) type of jewelry – a necklace, ring, earrings? 2) type of setting – does the stone stick out or is it protected by metal/other stones? And 3) budget. The general rule of thumb for engagement rings would be either diamond or sapphire, for fancier fashion or fine jewelry black spinel, and for costume jewelry opt for onyx.

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FancyEvery other cut other than a round brilliant cut is called fancy shape and that   includes princess cut, radiant cut, emerald cut, heart shape, etc. Due to the symmetry of   round brilliant-cut diamonds, it is much easier to formulate proportion criteria. There is currently no cut grades assigned to any fancy shapes. With that said, here are some  general guidelines:

  • Diamonds with pointy ends, such as marquises, pears, and hearts,   should be thick enough at the points to stand up to normal wear and tear. If these diamonds are cut too shallow, a point may be vulnerable to chipping.
  • The symmetry of fancy-shaped diamonds. Compare how well the two halves of a diamond look when seen from the profile view and the top view. Diamonds with mismatched halves may have been cut that way to save weight.The two halves should display very little differences, and ideally be mirror images of one another.
  • “Bowtie” effect (an obvious diminished area of brilliance appearing like a bowtie) occurs in certain fancy-shaped diamonds when the proportions are off and it is common. Well-cut, fancy-shaped diamonds show only a minimal bowtie effect.
  • The degree of brilliance in a fancy shape can be one way to tell whether it is cut within acceptable proportions or not. It shouldn’t suffer from too much light leakage through the pavilion.

In general, it is ideal to purchase a fancy shape diamond from an educated jeweller or a graduate gemologist. Fancy shapes aren’t just about color and clarity just because there is no universal cut grade. Some princes cuts are very pretty and some are very dull, some emerald cut are beautiful to look at and some just look like a piece of glass, buying diamonds off certificates is not a good idea because general public aren’t trained to pay attention to what’s important when it comes to fancy shapes and it’s best to get a professional’s help. A good jeweller should always show you stones especially it’s a fancy shape before they ask you to commit!

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