Thursday, February 26, 2015

The "Gaga Diamond"

First off, let me say that I am a particularly huge fan of Lady Gaga. Not only as the talented musician and performer that she is, but also because of the beautiful message that is her creed which she conveys both in her art and in the fabulous way she carries herself. But I digress…

When I, like the rest of the world, found out last week that she was engaged, we were all eager to hear the details. She happily obliged us by posting the now famous picture of the show-stopping heart-shaped diamond ring designed by Lorraine Schwartz; proving once more that it takes a bold personality to sport the seldom-used shape. While I was telling myself how fitting it was for her, my objective mind considered the fantastic feat it must have been for such an exquisite diamond to even come into existence.

Here are some things to consider:

1) Fewer than 20% of the world’s diamonds are of actual gem quality, which leaves the rest for industrial purposes (polishing wheels, technological equipment, lasers etc). Within that 20%, only a fraction of those are of larger sizes (over 5 carats). And even further, roughly 1.5% of those larger sized diamonds are heart-shaped.

2) Come on people, it’s 8 carats!!! Actually, there isn’t a proper figure in regards to its size (despite the rumors); but it goes without saying, just to look at the picture, that it’s a stone of epic proportions. As most lapidaries and diamond cutters will tell you, this is nowhere near the original size of this diamond’s rough. In fact, it is generally accepted that you can expect to lose up to 50% of your rough material’s total weight in the process (be it through cutting, bruiting, faceting or polishing). Even if you find a talented cutter that can conserve 80%, there is still a great deal that is inevitably lost.

3) Unfortunately the picture is black and white, which does not let us get a sense for its color, nor is it easy to gauge based on an Instagram picture the clarity of a diamond. Assuming that it is of both a high color and clarity rating, this will narrow even further the pool of available diamonds to work with.

4) Diamonds, no matter the size, style or shape, are all subject to basic properties such as directional hardness and cleavage. We will discuss these properties in a later entry, but for the purpose of this post, it can be understood that they are factors that affect the way a shape can be cut out of the rough material. A misstep in this part of the process can lead to accidentally breaking a stone in two or failing to cut it at all. 

5) After all of these basic premises, comes the actual work of bruiting, shaping and faceting. These steps will be responsible for the overall shape of the stone, as well as the proportions and symmetry which will affect the brilliance and dispersion of the stone.

Why is this important to the end consumer?

- Our eyes are trained to find symmetry pleasing. Asymmetrical or uneven heart lobes can be detected without having a ruler in hand.

Photo Courtesy of Shane McClure/GIA
- The same goes for proportions. We all know what a heart-shape looks like. Technically speaking, the height and width ratio is usually 1:1 for hearts.  So when this is not conforming, we find it jarring.

Photo Courtesy of Danforth Diamond
- “Bowties” as they are commonly called or general extinction resembles dark spots which take away from the overall look of the diamond. 

The list goes on and on…

So as you can see, producing a diamond of this exceptional caliber is no easy feat.

We at Bergamot Gems would like to wish our Mother Monster much bliss and happiness in married life, with hopes that she enjoys her ring just as much as we have!

How about you? Are you a fan of the heart-shaped diamond?

Sunday, February 22, 2015


I recall the first time I bought an item of jewelry with my own earnings. Actually, my siblings and I pooled our money together to buy our mother what we called a “real” piece of jewelry. Like most kids, up until then, jewelry was a combination of macaroni necklaces and trinkets that could be bought at the mall’s corner store. I will always remember the feeling I had when I walked in there; it was almost like walking into a crystal shop. Nothing had ever been so shiny or so lit up! So of course I bee-lined towards the “sparkliest” section of the store and meekly observed all of the shapes and sizes of diamonds set into piles of gold and silver. When I came across two similar items, I was surprised to see such a difference between their prices. “How come they were charging so little for this and so much for that?” I wondered. When I asked, the clerk quickly dismissed my question by concluding that they were simply different. In the end, my older siblings chose a modest gold pendant for our mother; but the lack of disclosure and openness of this clerk regarding his product is a feeling that I remember quite well.

As I gained knowledge in gemology and spoke to more people regarding their experiences shopping for jewelry, it occurred to me that I was not alone in thinking that it would be great if more information could be available to the buyer so that they could understand exactly what they were purchasing. Particularly in our time of increased conscious consumerism, it seems evermore important to inquire about the item at hand. Of course, I don’t propose that we all become gemologists, but I feel, that the best way to buy, is to be as armed as possible with knowledge regarding the product you’re buying. 

My name is Gen. I’m a gemologist, certified appraiser and co-owner of Bergamot Gems. My partner and I are committed to providing our clients with boldly colorful and exquisite gemstones as well as offering appraisal services. With this blog, our aim is to empower our readers by writing about various topics, such as: the basics of buying, what to look for in certain gemstones, treatments and synthetics and the occasional oddity. If we haven’t covered it in the following entries, feel free to write us with questions or recommendations on what you’d like us to talk about.

Happy Reading!