Friday, January 30, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Scientists have now discovered a way to find diamonds in space using an infrared telescope.
Diamonds from space are actually quite common, but they are very small. Approximately 25,000 could fit in one grain of sand.
Space diamonds are made of carbon like those on earth, so studying them could assist scientists in discovering how molecules made of carbon develop. Carbon is the building block of life on earth.
Space diamonds form in a very different way than on earth, where they are created through high pressure and temperature. In space they form through very low pressure and temperatures that drop to -400 Fahrenheit.
The place to seek space diamonds are in some meteorites that have fallen to earth. About 3% of the carbon inside is in the form of nanometer-sized diamonds.
In some cultures, a extraordinary long neck is seen as a symbol of beauty. In these cultures, the definition of a long neck is 10 to 15 inches. These mysterious women can be found in certain societies of Africa and Asia, practicing an ancient tradition that has been going on for thousands of years. How do these women’s necks achieve such startling lengths? The answer: neck rings.
A neck ring is a metal ring, typically brass, that is worn around an individual’s neck. Most of these tribes start with one ring on a young girl’s neck at the age of five and stack on more as they get older. The rings are actually an optical illusion. The actual vertebrae do not elongate, just the muscles. The rings are designed to push the collarbone and ribs down and then stretch the neck muscles several inches. This process takes several years to create the desired length.
Padaung Woman by Elisabatiz
The Padaung tribe of Burma has been practicing neck stretching for centuries. They are traditionally called Kayan women but many of the locals started calling them Padaung; a Shan term for ”long-necked Karen hill tribe”. Not only was this done as a symbol of beauty but it also displayed how wealthy the family was. The more metal rings worn around the neck, the wealthier the family is. A woman could wear up to twenty pounds of rings on her neck once the desired length has been reached. Padaung women start wearing the rings when they are five years old and add more rings periodically until they are 20. At that point, she will be wearing approximately 23 rings that can weigh up to 15 pounds.
Pandaung Woman by Jane is the Paparazzi
There are many theories as to how this tradition got started with the Padaung. One legend says that the tribe started putting coils around the girls’ necks so that they would be unattractive to slave traders. Another legend asserts that the tribe began this practice to keep their young safe from tiger bites. Many anthropologists believe that the coils are placed on the women to look more attractive sexually. The coils help the women’s necks appear drastically slimmer than her male counterparts. The Padaung women themselves say they do it to look beautiful.
Although this practiced is shunned by many in Burma, many women still practice this tradition of wearing the neck rings as a way to make money. The Padaung tribe has become a tourist attraction for people visiting Burma and Thailand. There is even an entrance fee before you can enter the village where the woman are making baskets and will pose for pictures. Local business men who oversee the tribes can charge 250B per person. Other tribes, such as the Karenni National People’s Liberation Front, have invited the Padaung tribe to live in their Kayah state in an effort to set up their own tourist villages. Many people, locals and tourists, find this exploitative and are calling for a stop to this practice.
Ndebele Women by Stefani Anitei
The South African Ndebele tribe, part of the Nguni people, has also been wearing neck rings for centuries. In earlier times, the Ndebele women would start wearing the neck rings once she was married and her home was built. They called these rings iindzila and they were believed to have intense spiritual power. The husband’s liked their wives to wear many of these rings to show their tribe how wealthy they are. Traditionally, the rings were a sign of a woman’s bond with her husband and she would only remove them upon his death. Over time, many doctors started advising the women to remove the rings when they would go to the hospital for other issues. The difference between the Ndebele neck rings and the Padaung neck rings is that theirs are individual and does not put pressure on the collar bone. There are still Ndebele women who wear the neck rings, but it is no longer a common practice among the tribe.
Pandaung Woman by Flappingwings
Although there is no serious danger for the women who wear the neck rings, there are some risky complications that can occur. The woman wearing the neck rings for years may experience trauma or infection. Over time, the muscles begin to weaken due to the weight of the rings. If they are to be removed, it must be done carefully to give the neck muscles time to heal. A woman could actually choke on her own tongue or the weight of her head could collapse the neck due to the weakened neck muscles depending on how long she has been wearing them. The skin under the neck rings can also become infected if the rings are not properly washed. Doctors advise these women to go to a hospital to have them removed. After having the neck ring properly removed, it typically takes months for the neck to recover and the damage to the bone structure recovers only minimally. These traditions may seem bizarre to those outside of the world of the Padaung and Ndebele but, to those women, they are actually beautiful expressions of culture and tradition.
Barbie, the famous 11.5 inch doll, was invented by Mattel in 1959. Through the decades, despite criticism from feminists, Barbie has remained a popular doll. She has evolved through thousands of versions and even more outfits and accessories. This March, Barbie will be turning 50, and Mattel is celebrating with parties, partnerships, and products.
In a recent interview for the New York Time’s Magazine, Lange talks about the process of creating her Barbie silver jewelry. She has a large Barbie collection, but most of the dollars are in pieces, arranged according to body part.
“The face is sort of soft rubber, so I can literally carve out, say, her eyes, her mouth,” Lange told the magazine.
Lange’s silver jewelry has been featured in numerous galleries, as well as in several books, magazines, and television.
You may be one of the many who receive a ring during the always-popular engagement season. If so, get ready for a flurry of questions.
"Survivor" all-star cast member Rob Mariano proposes to Amber Brkich in 2004. Brkich accepted.
Prepare yourself with this advice for the newly engaged from etiquette expert Peggy Post.
Hate your ring? Who comes to the engagement party? She's got you covered.
Sisters in September
Question: My sister got engaged about two months before I did and immediately set her date for next September. I've always wanted to get married in September; it's also ideal for my fiancé, due to his work schedule. Because many of my guests will be the same as my sister's, is it asking too much of people to attend two weddings in one month?
Answer: Having your wedding so close to your sister's could present some practical problems. So first talk to your fiancé and see if the two of you can come up with another time. If September truly is the best month for you both, speak to your sister and parents, especially if they'll be contributing to the day's costs.
You all might end up deciding that two weddings in the same month isn't a huge problem after all. However, it's incumbent on you (the second one to get engaged) to budge should things not pan out.
There is one more option: a double wedding -- once a very popular practice. This would allow both you and your sister to get married when you want to, and it would be easier for your guests. Plus, it would likely be less costly than two separate celebrations.
Q: My fiancé gave me a family heirloom ring for our engagement, but it's really not my style. What's the best way to convey this without offending him and his family?
A: Let him know what an honor it is to receive the family heirloom but also that you would like to add something to it so that it's a representation of your relationship. Together, talk to a jeweler, who has likely encountered this situation many times before.
You might discuss a new setting that could be a perfect union of the old and new. However, before you revamp the ring, talk to your fiancé's parents (if you're uncomfortable, he could do this alone). If they're opposed to altering the heirloom, you and your fiancé should choose another ring and ask his parents if they would like their piece returned.
They may want you to keep it, in which case you should wear it on your right hand occasionally as a sign of respect for such a generous gift.
Q: We just got engaged and decided to pay for the wedding ourselves. How much family input are we required to accept?
A: In short, none; however, there's always room for compromise. It's your day, but the experience will be more fun if your families aren't alienated by the process.
You and your fiancé should sit down with your families and discuss ideas. Give them a chance to tell you their vision, and then fill them in on what you'd like. After all, they're excited about your wedding too, so be sensitive to their desire to get involved.
For example, if your mom wants you to wear her wedding dress -- but you don't like it -- incorporate part of its fabric into your dress or veil. Or if you'd like to forgo a formal seating chart but the idea makes your parents uncomfortable, designate a few tables (perhaps for older friends and relatives) where seating is assigned and others that are open.
The bottom line is that after you have listened to your family's wishes -- and hopefully made some concessions -- the final say is up to you.
Q: To my surprise and delight, my fiancé gave me a large diamond engagement ring. I absolutely love it, but it has led to awkward moments. Some people want to know the size and quality of the diamond. Others ask, "Is it real?" or "How much did your fiancé pay for it?" How do I handle all of this tactfully?
A: I applaud your desire to reply to these inappropriate queries graciously. While you can't say, "None of your business," you can answer, "It's not the size or the quality that matters to me. I just love it!"
You could say politely, "I'd rather not talk about that," or "Why do you ask?" You could also simply change the subject or use humor. When people ask, "Is it real?" you might say, "It had better be or I'll have some questions for the jeweler!" If someone asks how much the ring cost, say, "Dan probably spent more than he should have, but I'll cherish it forever."
Q: Can we invite people to an engagement party but not invite them to the wedding?
A: No, you can't. It's inconsiderate to ask someone to an engagement party who will not be on the wedding guest list. Engagement-party guests are wedding guests. Otherwise you risk hurting people's feelings.
Q: Two close friends and I all got engaged at the same time. I'm worried we will argue over whose wedding should be when. How much deference do I give to them when deciding on a date?
A: Honestly? None. There's no need to let your friends dictate the details of your wedding. Still, if it turns out you all want to marry around the same time, it would be wise to discuss the impact on those involved. Will your guest lists overlap? Will some invitees feel overwhelmed by three showers and weddings almost at once? Will anybody be forced to choose which wedding to attend?
If there are significant problems, you may decide it makes sense to space the celebrations. But once you've made a sincere effort to accommodate your friends' wishes, you needn't feel guilty about going ahead with your plans.
Q: At what point is it appropriate to have an engagement party? My fiancé and I became engaged in February, but our wedding is not until next May. His parents would like to host a party for us this fall, but we don't want it to seem premature.
A: Engagement parties are most often held soon after the couple becomes engaged. It's a chance for the families to announce the happy news and for relatives and friends to meet and congratulate the couple.
Traditionally, the bride's parents host the party, where they tell all assembled about the upcoming nuptials; the announcement is a surprise to the guests. But these days engagements are often not kept as a surprise, and the party can occur whenever the hosts prefer. Your future in-laws have made a kind gesture and obviously want to introduce you to their friends and share the news. Thank them, and encourage them to hold the party whenever they'd like.
I made an off-hand reference in my last post that Brittany and I are now engaged (hooray!), but shortly thereafter began feeling guilty that our engagement story equaled little more than a footnote here on the blog. To set things right, please allow us to officially present our engagement story. Because the tale probably differs depending on which one of us you hear it from, we will be attempting to illustrate the FULL story by giving you both a his and hers point of view. As with any good set of conflicting stories, the truth probably lies somewhere in between.
I proposed on December 20th, but I started educating myself on diamonds back in August, which was a good thing because it turns out that diamonds are serious business. At that time, I had a vague awareness that there was something called “the 4 C’s” and I knew that only a diamond could cut my car’s windshield. I knew this second bit because I once worried out loud in front of my dad that I was going to cut my windshield by using a metal ice scraper, and he chided me by saying that only diamonds can cut glass. As if everyone is born knowing that. Anyway, this was the extent of my diamond “knowledge.”
Thank goodness for Pricescope.com. We all know that the purpose of the Internet is for people who are obsessed about a peculiar topic (Pokemon, ShamWow, radishes, etc.) to be able to talk about that topic with similarly obsessed people on a dedicated message board. It’s like group therapy. Well, Pricescope is THE place for people who are obsessed with diamonds. In search of answers, I created an account and started asking my silly newbie questions on the message board.
As luck would have it, it turns out that most Pricescope members’ favorite thing to do is share diamond buying advice, and in no time, they had me up to speed with all the things I needed to know. Standing on the shoulders of giants, I knew where to buy a diamond (online! not in a marked-up brick-and-mortar!), which of the 4 C’s was the most important (cut!), and what those multi-colored 40x enlarged crazy diamond X-rays really mean. This is sort of turning into an advertisement for Pricescope, but I really owe a lot to the members there and I would recommend it as a starting place for anyone with no more diamond knowledge than the belief that it might be able to cut your car’s windshield.
So I found the right diamond on a site called Whiteflash, and after a wee bit of trouble getting my bank to properly wire the money for my purchase (I may or may not have used the words, “you’re trying to ruin my engagement!!!” over the phone) the diamond arrived just in time for our night out. Brittany and I had planned to eat out at one of our favorite Richmond restaurants on December 20th, and afterwards go to admire the Festival of Lights at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. I knew this would be the perfect night to propose.
The only real problem with the plan was the question of how to bring along the ring in an inconspicuous fashion. The box it sat in was kind of…boxy…which meant that it stuck out like a sore thumb no matter which pocket I tried to stuff it in. I wanted to surprise Brittany with it, rather than have her ask about the strange bulge in my pocket when I picked her up at her door. I tried on every coat I owned, searching for one with a pocket suitable for concealing ring boxes. No such luck. I’m not a patient man, and soon I was frustrated enough to give up on the entire idea, cancel dinner, send the ring back, break up with Brittany, sell all my belongings, and move to a deserted island where nobody could ever talk to me or bother me again.
But then I noticed the hood on one of my coats. It’s the kind of hood that rolls up into a special pocket in the back collar of the coat, where it seals on the inside with Velcro. Could I roll the ring box up in the hood of this coat and seal it safely (and inconspicuously) away? Yes! Strangely enough, I COULD do that! And so it was that Brittany was picked up that evening by a handsome gentleman wearing a weather-inappropriate coat with a barely noticeable box-shaped bulge in the back collar.
Amazingly, we had the server to ourselves at the usually bustling restaurant (thanks economic crisis!), which left us even more time for Festival of Lights fun afterward than anticipated. Did I seriously just thank the economic crisis a week after losing my own job with Circuit City? Perhaps my new diet of bread crusts and filthy water is taking a toll on my mind after all…
We saw lights and trains and trains made of lights at the botanical garden, but I was distracted by the looming proposal. Where should I do it? When should I do it? Am I going to be able to remember all the things I’ve practiced saying? Mercifully, these thoughts were eventually broken by the sight of a a brick path underneath a tunnel of hanging yellow lights. When I saw it, I knew exactly what I needed to do. And by that, I do mean go to the restroom, since the ring was still tucked away in the hood of my coat and impossible to retrieve without making myself look like a clown.
After a successful ring recovery mission in the men’s restroom, I led Brittany to the brick path with the ring snugly in my coat pocket. I’m happy to report that I did remember the things I wanted to tell her (most of them) and when I got down on one knee, she gave me the answer I hoped for. At least, I THINK she did. When I popped the question, I distinctly remember her responding with a flustered, “I do! I mean…I will!” Do those count as a yes?
If you’ll excuse me, I should probably go clear this up sooner rather than later.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Eureka, California resident Allison Berry accidentally flushed her $78,000 engagement ring down the toilet of a Phoenix, Arizona diner – but a skilled plumber managed to retrieve it. The engagement ring fiasco began in the restroom of Phoenix’s Black Bear Diner, where Berry and her fiance were eating out. As Berry flushed the toilet in the restroom, the diamond engagement ring slipped off her finger and was whisked away by the water.
Berry and her fiance first called a plumber (who told them it was a lost cause) and then contacted the city of Phoenix. City workers opened up a pipe outside of the restaurant, and then flushed the toilet repeatedly, hoping that the engagement ring would be forced out. But the diamond ring was stuck.
The city workers then called Mr. Rooter in nearby Tempe, Arizona. Mike Roberts, general manager of Mr. Rooter, searched the pipes with an infrared video camera that was attached to a long rod.
After several hours, Roberts found the diamond ring – several feet down the pipes. It then took the Mr. Rooter team an hour and a half to retrieve the diamond engagement ring.
All in all, the whole procedure took eight hours and cost more than $6,000. But apparently, Berry and her fiance thought it was worth it: they left each Mr. Rooter technician a $400 tip.
The history of mankind has undergone a series of changes and upheavals in the past. These changes and events have totally transformed the face of human history. It is also quite interesting to know the way these changes reflect themselves in the patterns of the modern designer jewelry.
For instance, it is a well-known fact that the jewelry designers have always tried to depict the dropping of the atom bomb in the shape of starbursts and multiple sprays of diamonds. Overall, it is quite accurate to say that the modern day jewelry is reflective of the events that in some way or the other have helped shape our destiny.
Time of Use
Experts on the subject also indicate that the time of the day you wear your jewelry in can also make a difference to the other aspects. For those jewelry lovers who are interested to wear gold ornaments in the daytime, the modern designer jewelry range has a lot to offer. These include Florentine and mesh finishes, foxtail chains and the like. Talking of the significance of history in shaping the jewelry patterns, it is a famous fact that a delicate-looking string of cultured pearls was the trademark signature style of the rich and famous throughout all of the fifties.
Meanwhile, the sixties witnessed a dramatic change in the patterns of the modern designer jewelry. The likes of the hybrid jewelry items gained immense popularity and women started accepting unconventional pieces made of silver, gemstones and geode crystals, moving on from the typical diamonds, gold and platinum.
The seventies saw a yet another metamorphosis in the designer jewelry patterns for women. With the dawn of feminism and women’s movement, the fashion jewelry for women took on a new face altogether. The materials used changed to interesting and innovative metals like wood, ivory, rock crystals and coral.
Meanwhile, with the arrival of eighties and early nineties, when people gained more affluence, the style of jewelry further moved on to the glamorous and glitzy styles. It was from this moment that a new trend was started which goes on even till date. Modern designer jewelry seems to be made from hybrid as well as non-precious metals, while new techniques are being extensively used in order to design multicolored diamonds and pearl jewelry. Another popular addition to the series is the Precious Metal Clay or PMC, which is being widely used along with gemstones, making the modern designs all the more unique.
BENDING AND STRETCHING BANDS
More and more couples are choosing platinum, gold or white gold settings for engagement rings. Platinum is pretty tough, so you won't have to worry about the metal bending or stretching. However, gold and silver are much softer and more malleable. This makes these metals susceptible to bending or stretching. The main culprit: catching the ring in a sweater, blanket or carpet. If a prong grabs the fabric and you yank your hand away quickly, it can result in a misshaped band. Avoid this by being careful. If your ring does snag something, don't pull away quickly.
Platinum rings are less likely to scratch because they're extremely tough. Small scrapes or nicks can be repaired with polishing (which can be done by most jewelers). If the damage is more significant, it might be more difficult to fix because of the density of platinum. On the other hand, gold and white gold are softer, so they may be easier to repair.
The risk of losing a stone in a pronged setting depends on the way it's constructed. Most prongs will loosen slightly over time from everyday wear and tear. Some typical culprits include catching the prong on a sweater or hitting your ring against a countertop or door by accident. If you notice that one prong is loose, take it to a jeweler immediately. Once one comes loose, the others are likely to follow. Make sure you inspect your ring every few weeks to ensure that the stone is secure.
WHAT NOT TO DO!
Whether you're into horseback riding, mountain climbing or swimming, these activities can wreak havoc on your engagement ring. If you're really active, you could increase the risk of banging your ring up against something that may cause the prongs to loosen up, scratch the metal or worse. To prevent this from happening, leave your ring at home when partaking in these activities. Another option: Get a necklace in the same metal as your ring and hang the ring around your neck while working with your hands (think pottery or gardening).
HOW TO CARE FOR IT
Harmful chemical substances, like hairspray or cleaning supplies, can damage the metal and decrease the ring's brilliance. Avoid these at all costs and take off your ring if you're using them.
To keep your ring shiny, have it professionally cleaned and checked for damage by a jeweler at least once a year. You can also maintain the luster by cleaning it at home with a jewelry cleaner - just make sure you read the directions carefully. Some jewelry cleaners can damage delicate stones like emeralds, turquoise, opals and amethysts.
First -- and most importantly -- remember that you only truly need three things to have a successful wedding day: a bride, a groom, and an officiant. Everything else is optional fluff. Remembering this will help you make some tough financial decisions during the planning process.
Your guest list
The single easiest way to slash your budget is by slashing your guest list. Your wedding is a celebration, but it is also a very intimate moment. It is a rite of passage in which you and your beloved are pledging your lives to each other, and joining two families together. Do you really need to invite business associates with whom you (or your parents) only socialize to network? Second cousins thrice removed that you haven’t seen since you were in diapers? Sorority sisters with whom you only keep in touch on MySpace but haven’t actually spent significant time since graduation? When budgeting is a concern, keep your guest list to immediate family and the closest of friends. Not only will this save you wads of cash, but you will enjoy spending this meaningful day with the people you value the most.
Let’s talk dress. Many women spend a good chunk of their lives dreaming of the beautiful frock we will wear on our wedding day, almost to the exclusion of thinking about anything else in that little fantasy. It is possible, if not downright easy, to find a gorgeous gown for far less than the astronomical prices charged by bridal salons.There are lots of alternative options to get a beautiful gown -- even a designer gown -- at a far lesser price than at a bridal salon. eBay, Craigslist, and secondhand stores all have beautiful designer gowns at a fraction of the cost. Many bridesmaid dresses are available in white or ivory and cost a fraction of what bridal gowns do -- check out Watters and Watters and Jim Hjelm Occasions for some beautiful budget-friendly designs.
Don’t buy an expensive veil.
You would be spending upwards of $200 for fabric that really only costs a few dollars per yard. Buy the fabric and have one made -- you’ll save hundreds of dollars. Or skip the veil and wear a beautiful jeweled comb or flowers in your hair.
Your reception will probably be the most expensive chunk of your day, barring your honeymoon. To cut costs, consider these tweaks. Have your wedding on a Friday or Sunday. Hold anything but a dinner party -- brunch, cocktails and hors d’vours, dessert/champagne and cake, even a lunch garden picnic will all save you tons of cash over a full dinner. Still want an evening meal? Go for a buffet with chicken, pasta and in-season produce instead of beef. You’ll save the cost of extra waiters and expensive ingredients.
Have an iPod? Then you have your DJ. iPod weddings are becoming increasingly popular, because couples can choose exactly the music they want to hear, no matter how obscure or alternative it may be. Load up playlists for each portion of your wedding: pre-ceremony, ceremony, cocktail hour, special dances, dinner, dancing, etc. Ask a member of your wedding party to act as MC for special announcements. With live DJ’s asking upwards of $500 for four hours, and bands costing in the thousands, using an iPod can save you a pretty penny, and be completely personalized.Really love the idea of live music? Hire musicians from a local music school to play at your ceremony. They are just as skilled and far less expensive.
Wedding flowers can easily run you in the thousands. To cut costs, make sure you order only blooms that are in-season. Order loose stems and make the arrangements yourself. This is not nearly as difficult as it sounds! You can also order your flowers online for a fraction of the cost of a traditional florist. ProFlowers.com and FiftyFlowers.com are both popular and reputable choices.
You can skip...
Favors - Most guests toss these anyway. If you really want to leave something, bake yummy treats yourself, or make a small donation to a favorite charity in memory of a cherished relative, placing a card at each setting explaining the gift.Save-the-dates (unless you’re having a destination wedding)Video - Chances are you will only watch the video once or twice, yet spend thousands on it. Add this money into your still photography budget instead.
Don’t skimp on
Photography - Hire the absolute best photographer that you can afford. If you try to cut corners here, you are guaranteed to regret it each and every time you -- and your loved ones -- look at your wedding photos. A great photographer is one of the most important investments you can make. Remember, you are asking them to record a piece of family history.
Drinks - It is a personal choice to serve alcohol or not, but if you do, do not have a cash bar. If you had a dinner party at your home, you wouldn’t charge your guests for each glass of wine. To save money, offer only beer and wine, a signature cocktail or champagne punch. There is no need to provide an entire liquor store.
Saving money does not have to mean skimping on style. With a little imagination and creativity, you can have a gorgeous wedding on a shoestring budget. Happy planning!
Say bye-bye to lilies. After a year filled with flirty florals like daisies and hydrangeas, celebrity couples including Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz and Billy Martin and Linzi Williamson chose to go the dark and lovely route. Black Magic roses are darker than an average red rose and look much fuller. The flower symbolizes beauty, love, and deep passion, making it the perfect choice for an evening wedding or a romantic setting.
Nonmatching Bridal Party:
First Daughter Jenna Bush had a bridal party of 14 at her Texas wedding last year, but she didn't force them to dress alike. Instead, she enlisted the help of celebrity bridal designer Lela Rose to create not one, not two, but seven separate bridesmaid dress styles in seven different colors. Celebrity bridesmaids in friends' weddings have also been seen following this trend, including Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.
If you're planning on wearing a boring ol' pair of white shoes for your wedding day, you might want to reconsider. Heels that pop are the hottest accessory right now. Bright green and yellow pumps are gaining popularity, as are jeweled heels. Case in point: Just My Luck actress Bree Turner donned rhinestone-encrusted Prada pumps for her wedding to Justin Saliman.
This charming Southern tradition is back in style, thanks in part to stars like Black Eyed Peas' Taboo who recently celebrated his nuptials with a black and white groom's cake. Traditionally, this cake is given by a bride to her groom as a wedding gift and is supposed to be a reflection of his interests. Legend has it that any single lady that puts a box of cake underneath her pillow will dream about the man she's supposed to marry.
Behavioral psychologists suggest that when the economy takes a nosedive, people seek out comfort foods since they bring to mind safety and tradition. The stars are no exception to the rule -- Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi served beef sliders at their fall wedding.
Weddings are becoming more intimate affairs for many brides and grooms due to cost and personal style sensibilities. Some are even taking it a step further by choosing to get married in a friend or relative's backyard. Jay-Z and Beyonce surprised fans by secretly celebrating their nuptials in the rap star's NYC penthouse apartment last April, while Jessica Harp of The Wreckers recently said "I do" at CJ's Off the Square, a historic house and garden in Franklin, Tennessee.
While many modern brides are going crazy over bright color combos like green, yellow, and purple, celebrities like Tia Mowry and 90210 star Christina Moore recently chose red-hot palettes for their respective wedding days. Mowry added many hot pink accents, while Moore stuck to a more traditional color combo of red, black, and white.
While a diamond can be the ultimate symbol of love, it also represents an investment in time, energy and money. You need to feel confident in the integrity of your stone. Not more than ten years ago, the majority of fine gemstone customers relied on two sources to determine the quality of their gems -- an appraiser and the jeweler who sold the stone. Often, that person was one and the same. However, with the proliferation of affordable technologies and an ever-present and increasingly sophisticated counterfeit market, many jewelry consumers are now relying on a more precise document that evaluates the true value of gems -- the diamond certificate.
What is Diamond Certification?
A diamond certificate is a printed report based on a gemological analysis of a specific stone. It is prepared in an independent laboratory by certified gemologists.What Will a Diamond Certificate Tell You?The certificate will state your diamond's 4 Cs: color, clarity, cut, carat weight. It will describe the diamond's shape, measurements, table and depth percentages, and grade the polish and symmetry. It should also comment on characteristics like fluorescence, graining, and imperfections. Often, the certificate will estimate the replacement value of the stone for insurance purposes. Finally, the certificate should include a detailed sketch of the diamond.
Why Buy a Certified Diamond?
A certificate assures a diamond buyer of the quality and authenticity of their stone. As most consumers are not experts, a certificate allows an objective comparison. In addition, should you resell your gem, the certificate will provide the stamp of authenticity you'll need to get a fair price. It is also often required if you are going to insure the jewel. The certification process should take no longer than two working weeks, and the price per gem varies according to weight. Most labs charge roughly $75 per carat.
Market changes have increased the demand for reliable grading or appraisal reports from highly credible organizations. Since the technology is available and relatively affordable, the majority of good quality gems are sold with gemological reports. "The certificate really helps with resale and insurance questions," said our Zales representative. "It allows the customer to buy and sell with more confidence. The same goes for us."
American Gemological Society (AGS)
AGS laboratories serve an international clientele of retail jewelers, wholesale suppliers, diamond cutters, and manufacturers. AGS' Diamond Quality Document, or DQD, provides a cut grade for round, brilliant cut diamonds in addition to information on all 4 C's of diamond grading. Ratings are given on a scale of 0 to 10.
Diamond High Council (Hoge Raad Voor Diamant; HRD)
The non-profit Diamond High Council is the officially recognized representative of the Belgian diamond trade. The HRD Certificates Laboratory has grown into one of the largest diamond certification labs in the world.HRD's Diamond Certificate verifies the authenticity of the diamond. Their report includes a complete quality description of the diamond including shape, weight, clarity, grade, fluorescence, color grade, measurements, proportions and finish grade, possibly supplemented with comments.
European Gemological Laboratory (EGL)
EGL has defined criteria and standard procedures for accuracy and consistency in its Diamond Certificate and Diamond Consultation. EGL Certificates are recognized worldwide. Their main clients are diamond wholesalers, dealers, manufacturers, and craftsmen. EGL does not sell diamonds or gems and is totally independent of any diamond sales group.
EGL's Diamond Certificate records all of the relevant information pertaining to the diamond, including weight, shape and cut, color grade, clarity grade, measurements, proportions, finish, photo luminescence, other physical properties, and plotting. On request, the stone will be sealed in a capsule bearing its description and certificate number. The unbroken seal assures the customer that the accompanying certificate matches the diamond inside.The EGL Diamond Consultation is a condensed report on a diamond. Only the carat weight, color grade, clarity grade, and plotting diagram are recorded. In trade factories, dealers and jewelers make use of the information in a Consultation to set the buying and selling price of the diamond.
Gemological Institute of America (GIA)
GIA developed the first internationally accepted Diamond Grading System. GIA also introduced the first Diamond Grading Report and set the standard for diamond quality documentation around the world. The GIA Gem Trade Laboratory issues these reports on a majority of high quality diamonds over one carat in size. It examines most of the world's important stones, including the famous Hope Diamond. To maintain its position as an unbiased arbiter of standards, GIA is not involved in the buying, selling, or appraising of gems and jewelry.
GIA's Diamond Grading Report describes a diamond's weight, cut, proportions, finish, color grade, fluorescence, and clarity grade. No valuation is stated. Comments are used to describe characteristics not covered by the above entries, or on the plotting diagram. Internal and external identifying characteristics are plotted as close to relative size and position as possible. This serves as an illustration of clarity grade, and further substantiates that the report matches your diamond. Every stone is screened and authenticated, with full coverage for client protection.
International Gemological Institute (IGI)
Over 250 staff members at IGI issue over 400,000 gem reports annually. IGI has three distinct products: the Diamond Report, Identification Report, and the Information Appraisal Report.
IGI's Diamond Report attests to the authenticity of a diamond. It provides a reliable and accurate statement of the stone's identity and grade, based on an internationally recognized system. Details include weight, measurements, shape and cut, finish, proportions, clarity, fluorescence, and color. Upon request, IGI can seal the stones in a plastic box containing a reduced microfilm of the original report, to assure the jeweler and the consumer that the gem corresponds to the gemological report.
The IGI Identification Report provides information on weight, measurements, shape and cut, finish, proportions, clarity, and color. To further identify the gem, an enlarged photo showing the details is added.IGI's Information Appraisal Report states the estimated retail replacement value for insurance purposes, expressed in US Dollars, Euro, or other appropriate currencies.
Does Certification Have An Effect on Price?
Yes and no. Usually, a gem has no name, and no discernable history. The purchaser often doesn't know where the stone was found, who extracted it, who polished it, or the name of the original dealer. The only document that travels with the gem is the certificate. As IGI states, it is a "passport for your gems." So, while a certificate might not increase the value of a particular piece, the gem cannot be undervalued or have its authenticity questioned. That makes the certificate a valuable document.
How to Procure a Certificate
You can contact the above authorities directly, or visit your local jeweler. Many dealers are regularly in contact with the various labs and can assist you in the process. Though some dealers will promote their own certification process, we recommend that you employ an independent gemologist, such as one of the leading authorities listed above.
The price of gold has recently dropped some, mostly hovering between $800 and $900 per ounce, but is still relatively pricey. The same goes for platinum which costs slightly more than gold. But there are alternatives. You just need to know what to ask for. Consider palladium. It's becoming really popular because it has a similar look and feel to gold, but you can get it for a fraction of the price. If you really love the idea of platinum, choose white gold for a more traditional-style setting. (While gold can still be costly, it's still a great deal more affordable than platinum.)
Trend: Simple Settings
Though pave and halo diamond settings (where smaller diamonds border the center stone) have been a huge hit with brides during the last few years, couples are looking for simpler settings now. Solitaire diamonds are far less expensive than more embellished options, like the three-stone combination, and are very popular now. A channel-set band or traditional prong setting will also save money, and can be just as pretty as an elaborate tension or bezel setting.
Trend: Double Duty Rings
Your engagement ring and wedding band don't have to be two separate pieces -- go ahead and buck tradition! Double-duty diamonds are huge right now. Choose a beautiful band with multiple rows of diamonds and let that be both your wedding band and engagement ring, or look for rings with a split shank, where the band actually splits in half, creating a wider ring base.
Trend: Rough Cuts
Perfect for an earthy bride, raw diamonds can be just as stunning as the more traditional sparkler and cost a lot less. This style (which can vary in color from champagne to cognac) is becoming a fashionable must-have for many nature-loving couples. You can actually find a small, rough-cut diamond for as little as $600.
Trend: Colored Gemstones
Diamonds aren't every girl's best friend. Expect to see more and more brides following this (hue)-ge trend: Colored stones like sapphires, emeralds, and rubies are now more sought-after by brides. You can even splurge on a larger rock since you won't even spend half what you'd normally pay for a diamond. Brides interested in a canary diamond (like Heidi Klum's) will love a yellow sapphire, while a tourmaline is a good stand-in for a pink diamond look.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Clothing firm Key Closet recently unveiled its new premium jeans, priced at $10,000, which feature hand-drawn designs and one-carat diamonds on the back pockets.
These jeans are made in the U.S. of handcrafted denim. The graphics on the jeans are hand drawn, using a water-based paint that is both soft and luxurious. The graphics have foil and hand spray painted accents, and each pair is hand-threaded according to the style of the artist who designed them.
The back buttons are made of white gold, and complement the one-carat diamond set into both back pockets. In addition to the two carats of diamonds on the back pockets, there are thousands of shimmering Swarovski crystals all over the jeans themselves.
The official debut of the $10,000 jeans will be at the upcoming Runway Magazine "Summer Splash" Fashion Show being held on June 26 in Los Angeles at Boulevard 3.
Wealthy Bangladeshi filmmaker Ahsanullah Moni has built a life-size replica of the Taj Mahal that features granite from Italy and diamonds from Belgium. The structure, which is located eighteen miles northeast of Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital city, cost 58 million dollars to complete.
“Everyone dreams about seeing the Taj Mahal but very few Bangladeshis can make the trip because it’s too expensive for them,” explained Moni. He hopes that his version of the Taj will draw both local and international tourists. Currently, Bangladesh draws less than one-tenth of a one percent of visitors who come to Asia-Pacific region.
The original Taj Mahal, located in Agra, India, took tens of the thousands of workers over twenty years to complete. It was built in the 17th century by the emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his second wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Shah Jahan had materials imported from all over the world, including forty different types of gemstones, pearls, and diamonds. Many of the diamonds and other precious stones have been looted from the Taj Mahal over the last hundreds of years.
By contrast, Moni’s replica Taj Mahal took five years to build. “I used the same marble and stone as in the original Taj,” he said. “We used machinery, which is why it took less time.” The diamonds for Moni’s replica Taj came from Belgium. Antwerp, Belgium’s capital, is widely-recognized as the world’s center for diamonds.
The setting of the watch is completely invisible, with only the black and deepest tones of the diamonds showing. In a media release, Hublot CEO Jean-Claude Biver said: “When each element is crafted individually and in coherence with the one right next to it, this is invisible from the outside but creates a vibration of harmony which is visible and gives rise to emotion in those who perceive it”. The watch is, indeed, a perfect finale for Hublot’s Big Bang line and all its derivatives.
The watch case is set with 322 black diamond baguettes. The watch’s dial is set with 179 more, plus 13 on the crown and 30 more on the clasp. While the weight of the diamonds on the watch is 34.4 carats, the case itself, made of white gold and 30 black diamonds, only comes in at 3.5 carats.
The Black Caviar Bang watch joins a million-dollar watch club that includes the limited edition Corum “Golden Bridge”, Patek Philippe’s “Sky Moon Tourbillon”, a Jacob & Co. diamond-studded timepiece, and Robert Wan’s pearl-set watch. Although the Black Caviar Bang is part of the Big Bang line, it is a one-of-a-kind piece that joins the art of jewelry-making with the art of watch-making.
The auction ends on 18th December, and Eton will get the tailored made shirt fitted and delivered to the highest bidder in time for the new year’s celebrations.
For the inaugural balls on Tuesday night, Obama, decked out in a one-shoulder, full-length ivory gown by designer Jason Wu, accessorized with Loree Rodkin diamond linear earrings, diamond ring and diamond bangle bracelets, according to the Diamond Information Center (DIC).
DIC Director Sally Morrison said Obama's look from the inaugural balls is one that will live on through the ages."By choosing to wear a pair of classic diamond linear earrings and diamond bangle bracelets, Michelle Obama has defined her own take on a timeless and enduring diamond look in a way that is destined to become iconic in fashion history," Morrison said. "This look is absolutely her own, simultaneously modern in a way that will be emulated by women around the world today, but so timeless that it may very well one day be worn by her own daughters."And while there is no doubt she sparkled on inauguration night, Obama's diamond looks weren't limited to the balls.
The nation's new first lady chose simple diamond-stud earrings for her husband's swearing-in ceremony and also sported round diamond-stud earrings surrounded by pave diamonds on the train ride to the inaugural celebrations and for "Operation Gratitude" on National Service Day, held on Monday.
For the "We Are One" concert on Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial and the "Kids Inaugural: We Are the Future" concert on Monday, Obama again donned Rodkin, according to the DIC.
She wore the Beverly Hills, Calif.-based luxury designer's diamond quatrefoil chandelier earrings with Lotus earwire and black diamond center to "We Are One" and opted for Rodkin's black and white diamond chandelier earrings and stacked diamond bangles for the "Kids" concert.
Obama also sported Rodkin's "The Triple Constellation" pave diamond three-tiered earrings on Election Night.
Valentine's Day is a time to show that special person in your life how much they mean to you--often with a personal gift. Instead of giving a man a sweater or shirt that will fade with time, the gift of jewelry is a lasting and meaningful way to express how much you care. Whiteflash.com has The 5 Best Valentine's Gifts that every man will enjoy wearing, and think of you every time he does.
"Jewelry is a romantic way to show love and appreciation.” President of Whiteflash Debi Wexler says, "Our Men's Collection offers memorable gifts - at great values - that any man will enjoy including custom work and some beautiful pieces from Edward Mirell."
The 5 Best Valentine's Gifts for Men include:
Time for Caring
Wristwatches are a time-honored gift of affection, and the watch a man wears is a reflection of his personality. Whether he's sporty, casual, or formal, men's watches come in a variety of styles and finishes, with features to suit his lifestyle.
Chains of Love
For the confident man, a bracelet makes a special gift. Men's rugged and masculine bracelets can be links, chain, or cable. Styles come in Gold, Titanium, and Platinum, some with diamond accents for an extra bit of dash.
Close to His Heart
Inspired by the military, dog tags are currently the hottest look in men's jewelry, with styles in Titanium and White Gold including some stylish diamond accents. Many can be personalized with an engraved name or special message.
Suave and Stylish
For the elegant man in your life, cuff links are a perennial favorite. Whether in Gold, Platinum or Titanium, with accents of diamonds, mother-of-pearl or onyx, or embellished with his initials, a distinctive pair of cuff links are a gift he'll enjoy wearing for years to come..
Unending Circle of Love
Rings are given as tokens of unbroken love and affection. A man's right-hand ring reveals his individuality. Many feature birthstones to remind him of someone special, while classic styles can be engraved with a personal message..
"Valentine's Day is a wonderful occasion to tell your special someone what they mean to you," added Wexler. "Jewelry is an enduring expression of those feelings."
Thursday, January 22, 2009
As world markets tumble and economies continue to flag, some investors are turning to tangible goods as a proven method of securing their wealth. This means they are purchasing real estate, art, precious metals and precious stones, such as diamonds, in larger numbers than ever before.
Do you have to be a billionaire investor to purchase stones with enduring value? Absolutely not!
Almost any budget can afford a good diamond that will only increase in value as the years pass. The key to purchasing a diamond with investment value is to be aware of a few important factors around what brings especially higher values to a diamond.
While many people are aware of the famous “Four Cs” of diamond shopping, such guidelines only tell the consumer how to assess a diamond on an individual basis, and not for maintaining or increasing in its value over the years. In order to understand whether or not a diamond will hold its worth, or become even more valuable, the shopper should consider the following:
Most diamond experts agree that the bigger the stone, the better the investment.
Unfortunately, the quality of the stone comes into consideration as well, and a two carat diamond of poor quality will not increase in value as time passes, and may even lose some value as the dollar rebounds. Fundamentally, this particular guideline demonstrates how the bigger investors yield such high returns on their diamond purchases. For example, in 2003 one investor purchased a ten carat, colorless diamond for approximately seven hundred thousand dollars.
That same stone has recently appraised at over two million dollars. This is an increase of over one hundred thousand dollars per carat purchased. Of course, such an investment is generally out of the question for most people, but the higher the carat count, and the better the stone, the more value to the investment over the “long run”.
Designer diamond jewelry is always popular, and each year sees a wide range of new styles or designs introduced to the market. Such pieces have immediate consumer value because of their trendiness, which gives them a higher price tag. Once their popularity begins to fade however, so too will their market value. It is important to consider such diamonds in regards to their value ten, twenty or even fifty years later to truly appreciate if they are an investment or just a lovely fashion statement.
For example, a diamond horseshoe necklace has been a popular piece of jewelry for several seasons now, and while there are many affordable versions available, for enduring value or investment purposes, only those crafted with high-quality diamonds will retain their value over a longer period of time.
Additionally, there is a growing interest in heirloom or collectible jewelry that also serves to fulfill the needs of diamond investors. For example, the “Art Deco” period saw a great deal of larger, nearly flawless, diamonds in pendants and rings. Today, many savvy shoppers and jewelry dealers visit heirloom jewelry specialists and vendors to find such investment-quality goods.
There are “classic” styles, cuts and materials in jewelry and the best of the heirloom pieces will employ these trends. In fact, many popular designers look back to earlier eras for their lines of diamond jewelry, and a good investor will do a bit of research around diamond cuts and colors as well as jewelry styles and materials when looking to purchase such pieces for investment.
Of course, no diamond jewelry is really worth its cost if it is not wearable or considered fashionable by its owner, so “wearability” is a key factor in a piece of diamond jewelry for investment. In addition to long-term value, the owner should derive long-term pleasure from owning the piece and this should be considered when reviewing items for purchase. A jewelry box full of glittering diamonds may be a good investment, but if they simply sit and gather dust because the owner does not find them appealing to wear, then part of the joy of owning such diamonds is missing.
When investing in diamond jewelry it is important to choose only those pieces that have personal as well as market value. For example, instead of purchasing an ornate pair of “dressy” diamond earrings, it may be a better idea to find some elegant diamond studs. The single stones may be of greater value over the long-term, especially if the best cut and clarity are selected. Additionally, diamond stud earrings are an incredibly versatile accessory that can be worn “everyday” or on special occasions.
Finally, when looking at diamond jewelry as an investment it is important to accept the vagaries of the marketplace. Only those who make informed purchases, and who are willing to live with the risks of the global economy will find such investments worthwhile. Anyone else will simply own a beautiful mixture of highly valuable property and elegant style.
For the inauguration ceremony itself, Mrs. Obama wore a gold-hued dress by Cuban-born designer Isabel Toledo. The First Lady accessorized the outfit with a diamond brooch and a pair of elegant diamond studs.
Later in the evening, Barack and Michelle Obama attended the glamorous inauguration balls. At the Neighborhood Ball, the Obamas shared their first dance as President and First Lady as Beyonce sang the Etta James song “At Last.” The First Lady, who looked stunning in an ivory silk chiffon gown (by Taiwanese designer Jason Wu) was decked out in diamond jewelry: a diamond ring, diamond bangles and diamond drop earrings. All the pieces were designed by Loree Rodkin.
Mrs. Obama was first introduced to the diamond jewelry brand through Chicago's premier luxury boutique Ikram, where she has been a longstanding client.
"It's a privilege to be a part of history. Today the country has new hope," stated Loree Rodkin. "The First Lady is a symbol of hope, courage and great style. I am honored that she has chosen my jewelry. Words cannot describe the emotions I feel that Michelle Obama has allowed me to be a part of this glorious moment."
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Tiny diamonds that have been unearthed across North America may lend clues to a major cooling event that occurred 13,000 years ago. The cooling event, known as the Younger Dryas, coincides with the extinction of the wooly mammoths and with demise of the Clovis people, who are widely considered to be the first human inhabitants of North America.
According to the report in this Friday’s issue of Science, scientists identified thin layers of tiny diamonds scattered across sites in North America. All the diamonds date back to the same period, roughly 13,000 years ago.
But the carbon atoms in the newly-discovered diamonds contain a hexagonal crystal pattern -- not the usual cubic structures. This fact led researcher James Kennett, a geologist at the Universityof of California, Santa Barbara and one of the authors on the paper, to conclude that the diamonds were not formed by normal processes (like a volcanic eruption or a forest fire) here on earth.
“They indicate there was an extraterrestrial event on Earth 12,900 years ago,” Kennett told BBC News.
The scientists hypothesize that a meteor may have hit North America. A severe impact would have been devastating for the Earth’s climate and could have caused the major cooling period, which in turn would have led to the extinction of the wooly mammoths and the Clovis people.
However, critics of the so-called “impact theory” claim that the tiny diamonds are not sufficient proof of a major impact. They point to the lack of any other evidence – such as an impact crater, or remnants of melted rocks – and say that more research is needed before any definitive conclusions can be drawn.
The Kazanjian Red diamond was discovered in South Africa in 1927. The diamond was stolen during World War II during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, where it stayed hidden in a salt mine for years.
After the war, American soldiers found the diamond. Over time, the diamond passed through several owners, including Sir Ernest Oppenheimer. It was recently purchased by Los-Angeles based Kazanjian Bros. Inc.
This is the first time the diamond has been exhibited in the United States. Also on display in the museum is an exhibit called the “Hollywood Jewels Collection” which features the tiara Madonna wore when she wed ex-husband Guy Ritchie.
I had the great opportunity to meet with Debi Wexler, owner of Whiteflash.com, an online diamond trendsetting boutique, regarding the story behind her brand. It turns out she is very involved in giving back. Whiteflash.com has infused a sense of global and social responsibility into their already highly successful business model by partnering with World Centers of Compassion for Children International (WCCCI). Two of her collections, Dreams of Africa and AWEAR, give a percentage of sales to the WCCCI. This gets even better.
Whiteflash.com took it one step further and created their specialty Dreams of Africa (DOA) and AWEAR: Jewelry for Conscious Kids collections. The brand donates 100% of all profits from the DOA Collection and 25% from the AWEAR Collection to charities that support the healthcare, nutrition and educational development of child victims of the conflict diamond trade in affected countries…thus giving victims of unspeakable atrocities a strong political voice and a chance at conflict free future—An undertaking which the brand considers one of their most important to date.
If you visit the WCCCI web site, you can follow its updates to see how Whiteflash’s DOA and AWEAR sales have helped benefit the cause. You can visit www.wccci.org for more information about the WCCCI.
For information about the DOA, AWEAR and Whiteflash, please visit http://www.whiteflash.com/. You can also browse their other collections, which will be sure to impress.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Researchers working in Mexico City have discovered a method of turning tequila into diamonds using heat evaporation. The scientists, who had been working on creating synthetic diamonds, discovered the process by accident.
Over the course of their research at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the trio of scientists -- Miguel Aptiga, Javier Morales, and Victor Castao – had noted that the ideal liquid for diamond creation contained a specific proportion of ethanol to water.
They realized that tequila contained roughly the same proportions: 40 percent organic liquid to 60 percent water. Out of curiosity, Aptiga bought a bottle of cheap tequila from the campus shop.
The researchers used a custom-built device to heat the tequila and convert it into a gas. They then heated the resulting gas to an even hotter temperature, 800 degrees Celsius. The result? Tiny diamond crystals about 100-400 nm in diameter. The crystals rained onto a stainless steel base, and formed a film made of diamonds.
“There is no doubt; tequila has the exact proportion of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms necessary to form diamonds,” Ap?tiga said.
Jewelry enthusiasts shouldn’t get their hopes up, however. The diamonds are too tiny to be used in jewelry.
“It would be very difficult to obtain diamonds for a ring,” Ap?tiga said.
The scientists foresee their tequila-diamonds being used for industrial purposes. Because diamonds are extraordinarily hard and heat-resistant, they’re often used in cutting tools, high-power semiconductors, radiation detectors and optical electronic devices.
Eventually, the scientists say, they want to find a distiller interested in supplying them with tequila. But, first, more research is in order: they want to find the brand of tequila best-suited for making diamonds.
The Huff Test
The Flash Test
The Weight TestCZ is 80% heavier than diamond. Hint: This will show up pretty fast when she's comparing items with her friends.
The RI Water Test
The Dispersion Water Test
The Give It As An Engagement Ring Test
Start the diamond education process by learning about the four Cs. “Understand how diamonds are evaluated and categorized,” says Debi Wexler, founder of Whiteflash.com. The four Cs refer to clarity, cut, color and carat, and by understanding each, Wexler says, you can determine which is most important to you and then start shopping. “This will also help you determine how much you’re willing to spend,” he adds.
Because diamond education is important when engagement ring shopping, Whiteflash.com offers an interactive DVD, which features an in-depth look at each of the four Cs.
Find out what she wants. Wexler says, “It’s better to be safe than sorry.” Take her to a jewelry store – that is, if marriage has been a topic of conversation and a surprise engagement is not on your agenda. “Have her try on as many rings as possible,” suggests Wexler. “Make her look at every shape of diamond and type of setting.” Another way to gauge whether she prefers pear-shaped over a princess cut diamond is have her look at bridal magazines like “The Knot” or “Brides” or at an online diamond expert’s site like Whiteflash.com. “Either way, you’ll know exactly what will make her swoon when you pop the question,” says Wexler.
If you’re being discreet, look at the jewelry she wears on a day-to-day basis; is it classic or vintage in style? Is she prone to wear larger pieces or dainty? The other option is to ask someone close to her, like a sister or a best friend, for insight.
Let’s talk carats.
According to Wexler, as soon as you’ve decided shape, you need to look at the carat or weight of the diamond; carat is how diamonds and other precious gemstones are measured…in “carat” weight. One carat, for example, equals 1/5 of a gram. “We also refer to carat in points,” says Wexler. “There are 100 points in a carat and as points or carats increase, so does the price of the diamond.” For example, the price per carat will be less for a .90 diamond than the price per carat for a 1.00 diamond even if the color and clarity are the same. “Determining the size of the diamond, and then the cut and color is really going to help establish your budget parameters,” she says.
Pick a color.
“Color is the third most important decision in the diamond selection process,” says Bob Hoskins, senior gemologist for Whiteflash.com. Diamond color is graded according to the Gemological Institute of America or GIA Color Grading Scale – D being the whitest, and N and below color ratings showing noticeable yellow tones. “E and F have no detectable color tones to the naked eye,” says Hoskins, who graded diamonds for the Gemology Institute of America (GIA) and taught several courses on colored stones. “And from G to J range, diamonds remain near colorless,” says Hoskins, “however, from J to M, you do begin to see a faint trace of yellow.”
Whiteflash ACA, an exclusive brand of Hearts & Arrows diamonds available only through Whiteflash.com, range in color from D to I. Because of their superior cut, ACA even ‘face-up’ appear whiter than their lab-assigned grade. “A great cut improves the apparent color of any diamond,” says Hoskins.
The cut and sparkle.
Cut is the most important and perhaps the most misunderstood and controversial of the four Cs. “It’s about more than the shape of a diamond,” explains Hoskins. “When we talk diamond cut, we’re talking about the exact angles, proportions, symmetry and polish that affect the way the diamond reflects light and sparkles.” Diamond dealers also refer to cut as “make” – as it is the only feature of a diamond that can be controlled by man, and it must be precise. Each facet – or small plane surface on the diamond – must be cut to align perfectly with the facet opposite it. “There’s not much room for error,” says Hoskins, “because this affects the diamond’s ability to sparkle, or what we call in the industry…brilliance.”
How important is clarity?
Gemologists use a grading scale set forth by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) to determine a diamond’s clarity – how clean the gem appears when viewed through a magnifier. Most diamonds contain some “inclusions” – crystalline fractures or irregular crystal growth. The Gemological Institute of America GIA Clarity Grading Scale ranges from Internally Flawless (IF) through included (I3). Flawless (F) and Internally Flawless (IF) being the highest, with the next best grade being VVS1 and 2 or very slight inclusions followed by VS1 and 2, referring to very slight inclusions, which according to Hoskins, “are difficult to see even with magnification.”
SI1 and 2 diamonds will have slight inclusions, which are easily seen through magnification, but may remain clean to the naked eye, depending on the specific diamond. Hoskins says grades I1, I2 and I3 indicate inclusions that are visible under magnification and also to the naked eye. “The clarity of the stone you purchase will depend on your level of comfort and budget,” he says. His advice: Inclusions are more difficult to see in ideal cut and super ideal cut diamonds, because of the exactness in the cut.
Establish a budget.
After determining the four Cs, you should be able to set a budget or at least have a figure in mind for the purchase of your diamond engagement ring. The general rule of thumb is to set aside two months worth of salary. “If you’re hesitant to set a dollar amount, look at your options in diamonds and settings to get a general idea of what you’d like to spend,” advises Hoskins.
Select a jeweler. You have more options than the local jeweler around the corner. There are independently owned boutiques, national chains and now with the Internet revolution … online diamond boutiques like Whiteflash.com. No matter whom you buy from, make sure the jeweler is reputable and affiliated with the American Gem Society (AGS). “If you’re unsure of the jeweler’s credibility, check with the local Better Business Bureau,” suggests Wexler. “You can also test how knowledgeable the staff is about diamonds, look into customer reviews and look over the company’s return and repair policies … this is important.”
Time to shop!
Before you place the order, make sure that you will receive a grading report with your purchase. “If a grading report will not accompany your diamond engagement ring, make sure the sale is contingent upon an independent appraiser’s opinion,” advises Wexler. Another option is to ask for a fingerprint of the diamond. This is a three-dimensional drawing of the diamond indicating the four Cs, along with the stone’s overall dimensions and enhancements. Inclusions and blemishes should be noted. “As soon as you receive the diamond, double-check all of the information, including the bill of sale and drawing to make sure that it is, in fact, the diamond you purchased,” finishes Wexler.
When purchasing from an Whiteflash ACA diamond, customers receive the gem’s certification and a signed letter of verification from an independent graduate gemologist appraiser for insurance purposes. We refer to all of this as "the 5th C - Confirmation."
Set the diamond.
If you purchased a loose diamond, you’re now faced with the setting. And, like diamonds, the options for diamond engagment rings are endless. Consider three stone settings, a solitaire or a custom design. Both Wexler and Hoskins suggest allowing four to six weeks before popping the question if you go the handcrafted route. If you’re simply lost in the decision making process -- propose with diamond in-hand and pick out the setting later -- together!
Whiteflash.com is the first company in the U.S. to offer an exclusive brand of Hearts & Arrows diamond and bring the sheer beauty of “super ideal cut” to the Internet. Debi Wexler, a computer entrepreneur, founded Whiteflash.com in 1999 bringing an expansive selection of loose diamonds to the Internet, including an exclusive brand of Hearts & Arrows diamonds. Whiteflash ACA is unmatched in its brilliance, fire and sparkle and remains the only Hearts & Arrows diamond sold online with advertised standards and a “true patterning” guarantee. Whiteflash.com also offers original, handcrafted platinum and gold settings, diamond engagement rings and wedding bands and custom designed jewelry. For more information, log on to www.whiteflash.com or call 877.612.6770.
Monday, January 19, 2009
“Many people with medical conditions refuse to wear medical identification because of its medical appearance,” Eisen says. “As a jewelry designer, I challenged myself to design a fashionable bracelet that delivers emergency information, but is a delight to wear!”
After years of research and development, Eisen came up with the LIFETAG brand. The jewelry carries a medical tag that can be seen by medical professionals but is more discreet than a medical bracelet. Her jewelry collection includes diamond crosses, diamond pendants, key chains, dog tags, silver jewelry, diamond jewelry, gold jewelry, and gemstone jewelry.
Eisen’s website also features estate and antique diamond jewelry, with some items dating back to the 19th century. There priciest item for sale? A platinum and diamond deco style bracelet – with a total diamond weight of 28 carats -- listed for $49,400.
Eisen hopes that her LIFETAG diamond jewelry designs will encourage others to wear medical tags. And why not? Her designs just might save your life.
Top designer Dior has unveiled a sleek new cell phone set with 641 diamonds and 34 black sapphire crystals.
The phone, called Dior Phone Diamonds (Glorious Black), is the latest entry in the designer phone market. In recent years, Chanel, Prada, Dolce & Gabanna, and Armani have all released luxury phones.
The Dior Phone Diamonds is a flip phone, and its exterior is designed to look like a hand-brushed stainless steel case. The phone is set with hundreds of diamonds – even the hinges are diamond-encrusted – and has a total diamond weight of 3.251 carats.
All the jewels come with a hefty price tag: the phone costs a whopping $28,000. (For the less fortunate, there’s a Swarovski crystal version that starts from $8,000.)
The Dior Phone Diamonds (Glorious Black) is available exclusively in Dior stores.
The super-safe jewelry box, called a BioMirage Coffer, uses cutting-edge technology to deter thieves. The sophisticated jewelry boxes are available online (from the RCG Store) for $579.
Now, if only Paris Hilton had bought one (or two, or three) of these a few weeks ago, before thieves stole $2 million worth of her jewelry and personal items…
Cerrone loaned Williams the multi-million diamond necklace. But the 27-year old was a little hesitant to wear the diamond necklace.
“I told the jeweler that I would wear it at the press conference because I didn’t have the cash to be losing a three and a half million [Australian] dollar necklace,” said Williams.
When Williams sported the diamond necklace at the press conference after her first round win over Australian Samantha Stosur, she set off a frenzy of flashbulbs. The diamond necklace reportedly contains 427 diamonds.
This isn’t the first time Williams has shown off diamonds: she caused controversy at the 2004 US Open when one of her US $40,000 diamond earrings fell onto the asphalt during a match.
The Hollywood star attended the UK charity premiere of her new film Flawless - about businesswoman Laura Quinn who plots to rob the diamond company she works for - at London's Covent Garden Odeon with Kutcher by her side.
Moore said: "I love diamonds over any other stones, I'm a big fan but my engagement ring will always be my favorite."
The film - set in London in the 1960s and directed by Michael Radford - co-stars Sir Michael Caine as janitor Hobbs who helps Laura plot a diamond heist when she becomes frustrated that as a woman she is always being overlooked for promotion.
Moore added: "It was my second time working with Michael. I was actually more excited this time because I just have a greater appreciation for who he is and all he has done.
"I hope when I'm in my 70s I can be as on top of my game as he is."
Simmons Jewelry Co. and Nickelodeon & Viacom Consumer Products (NVCP) are partnering to create a fine-jewelry and watch line -all inspired by the pop-culture phenomenon SpongeBob SquarePants, which is now celebrating its landmark 10th anniversary year. Led by the creation of an exclusive, 12-carat total weight diamond-encrusted SpongeBob pendant to be auctioned off for charity, the entire retail collection will feature a variety of fashionable, distinctive and avant-garde designs utilizing materials such as enamel, gold, silver, and diamonds under the design direction of 2009 GEM Award recipient for Jewelry Style, Russell Simmons.
The diamond encrusted SpongeBob by Simmons Jewelry Co. pendant containing a total of 12 carats of white diamonds as well as color enhanced yellow, red and blue diamonds set in 18KT yellow and white gold--will make its debut display in Park City, Utah, during the 2009 Film Festival and will be auctioned off at a later date with proceeds benefiting the Diamond Empowerment Fund (D.E.F.). This pendant will be displayed in a one of a kind, custom made abstract box.
"We are always looking for innovative ideas to develop fine jewelry and the Nickelodeon partnership to license SpongeBob is the perfect addition to the Simmons Jewelry Co. family," said Russell Simmons, who will be on-hand to announce the partnership in Park City.
Marking the first luxury brand jewelry partner for SpongeBob SquarePants, the collection will be available for both men and women. Available at fine jewelry and specialty retailers in fall 2009, the products will retail from $150 to $75,000.
"We are so thrilled to partner with the innovators at Simmons Jewelry Co. for such a creative, and absolutely beautiful SpongeBob SquarePants jewelry collection in celebration of its 10th Anniversary year," said Hal Snik, Senior Vice President of Domestic Licensing, NVCP. "Simmons Jewelry Co. has a unique ability to reinterpret iconic brands into beautifully crafted jewelry, and their work with SpongeBob is going to yield an absolutely gorgeous line appealing to die-hard fans and trendsetters."
"Simmons Jewelry Co. is very excited for the opportunity to work with a global empire such as Nickelodeon, and are thrilled about combining SpongeBob's universal appeal with our creativity and industry knowledge," said Scott Rauch, President and CEO of Simmons Jewelry Co. "The development of SpongeBob jewelry has been a tremendous creative experience which we are excited to share with our retail partners and consumers. This fine jewelry collection will help further fill a void in the marketplace for the trendy and fashion forward consumer."
Yellow is the new black this year, so it's time to get 'Happy Squared' in honor of the landmark 10th anniversary of SpongeBob SquarePants. Kicking off during the 2009 Film Festival in Park City with the first-ever SpongeBob live cast reading, Nickelodeon will celebrate the pop culture icon throughout the year with TV specials, original online content and new lines of apparel, toys and games. SpongeBob also will be a featured part of Nick's multi-year pro-social campaign, The Big Green Help.
SpongeBob SquarePants is one of the most popular series in kids' television history. It has been the number-one animated program with Kids 2-11 for more than six consecutive years and its Saturday morning airing ranks as the top-rated program on television among Kids 2-11. Adult viewers also continue to tune in and have increased by 121% since the premiere of the show in July 1999 (Nielsen Media Research, based on A18-34 (000), September 2008 vs. July 1999, all SB telecasts combined). Nearly 70 million viewers watch SpongeBob SquarePants monthly (Nielsen Media Research, May 2008). The most widely distributed property in MTV Networks' history; SpongeBob SquarePants is syndicated in 171 markets in 25 languages and is among the top rated kids' shows, across broadcast and cable, in every major television market around the world.