How to choose the right diamond

Platinum engagement ring with a radiant cut diamond designed and made by Paul Gross.

Platinum engagement ring with a radiant cut diamond designed and made by Paul Gross.

You have probably already heard that the value of a diamond is determined by the 4 Cs: cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. But what does that really mean? What should you look for when choosing a diamond? How can you find one that best fits your budget?

First off, let's start by dispelling a common myth. Many assume that diamonds must be lit from the bottom, but in reality, diamonds are cut so that light enters the top of the stone and is reflected back out the top. Perhaps the most important step to maintain a sparkly diamond is to keep it clean. Dirt will change the angle of refraction, thus dulling the brilliance and sparkle of a diamond. Windex (with a soft toothbrush) is great cleaning agent for diamonds, and it won't leave a film on the stone.

Cut:

Image showing how light is reflected in a diamond. Picture from stuller.com

Image showing how light is reflected in a diamond. Picture from stuller.com

Of the 4 Cs, cut is the most important factor that determines a diamond's "sparkle." If a stone is cut too shallow, light leaks out the bottom; too deep and it escapes through the side. The best cut is based on the proper proportion of diameter to depth, as well as final polish. It reflects the light that comes in from the top, hits both side facets and bounces back out the top of the stone, creating the most sparkle and brilliance. 

Color:

Color spectrum and corresponding grades. Image from stuller.com.

Color spectrum and corresponding grades. Image from stuller.com.

Color is measured using GIA's (Gemological Institute of America) D to Z scale. All diamonds are graded on the absence of color, therefore diamonds with a higher grade (D) will have no hue.

Diamonds classified as D-F are considered colorless, G-J are near colorless, and K-M are faint yellow. Each grade could have a large price difference. Anything graded better than "I" is great for wearing in a ring. Also, if a yellower diamond is set in yellow gold, its yellow tint is not as obvious as one set in white metal. Do not confuse white diamonds that have a yellowish tint with true fancy yellow diamonds which can be very rich and beautiful.

Clarity:

Diamond clarity. Image from gemonediamond.com.

Diamond clarity. Image from gemonediamond.com.

Clarity is a measure of inclusions (internal flaws) or blemishes (external imperfections). The scale for grading clarity ranges from FL (flawless: no internal or external inclusions) to I (included: inclusions can be seen with the diamond face up and with no magnification). Within this scale there are many sub classifications.

If you are in search of a diamond to set in a ring, normally diamonds with the classification of SI1 or VS are great choices. SI1 is slightly included (the inclusions are easily visible under 10x magnification, but not to the unaided eye face-up). VS stones are very slightly included (the small inclusions are visible only under 10x magnification).  Diamonds set in rings, particularly in prong settings, are susceptible to being chipped which can reduce the value of the stone by as much as half! That is why we would not recommend setting flawless or near flawless diamonds in rings.

If you are looking for a good quality diamond that won't break your budget, your best bet would be to choose a diamond that is an SI1 with H, I or J color. It looks practically flawless with the naked eye and it is nearly colorless.


Carat:

Chart showing the diamond carat and equivalent diameter. Image from glitteringstones.com.

Chart showing the diamond carat and equivalent diameter. Image from glitteringstones.com.

Carat is a measure of a diamond's weight, and thus sizes can vary depending on the shape and cut of an individual stone. A round diamond cut with ideal proportions will typically correspond to the chart above.  The cut of a diamond should be considered along with the carat weight. Poorly cut diamonds could have "hidden" weight in the base of the diamond, which will increase the carat weight, but as we talked about earlier in the section on cut, reduces the overall sparkle.

Paul Gross designed gold and diamond pendant.

Paul Gross designed gold and diamond pendant.

We hope this article has helped to "clarify" (diamond pun) some basic information surrounding your choice of the right diamond for you.

If you would like further reading, Stuller has a great article on "The Four Cs of Diamonds"  or GIA's website is a useful resource.

"Ripple Effect" Closing Soon

Thank you Roberts Flowers of Hanover for the gorgeous flower bouquets!

Thank you Roberts Flowers of Hanover for the gorgeous flower bouquets!

A HUGE thank you to everyone who participated in "Ripple Effect." The opening reception was a great success. The breadth and creativity shown in the jewelry on display was remarkable. Hats off to the participating jewelers for their hard work leading up to the event and going above and beyond to create such a variety of beautiful work. Also, thank you to Roberts Flowers of Hanover for supplying the fabulous flower bouquets for the event.

There are only a few days left to come in and see the show in person. Last day is this Saturday, April 2nd.

Opening reception

Opening reception

Opening Reception2
View of the gallery

View of the gallery

Below is a blog post written by Kerstin Nichols describing the thought and creative process that went into her "Tiara: Polly's Puzzle" that is currently on display as part of "Ripple Effect."

Tiara: Polly’s Puzzle (detail). Photo: Robert Diamante

Tiara: Polly’s Puzzle (detail). Photo: Robert Diamante

"How I approach my custom work:

"When I describe my work as reactive in nature, what I mean is that it is never complete
in and of itself as an object in its final form or its making. When I make a piece of jewelry
it is incomplete until it is worn and moving with the body that it was made for. (This
makes it always very hard to display in a case.) When I make a light sculpture the
light and the resultant shadows and how they move over and within the space often
have as much importance to me as the actual object.

"When I take on a custom commission for an individual I enter another creative space
than my own alone, where the work’s goal is to resonate with the person or situation it is made for from its inception. This adds many layers of complexity I can’t fully control but
love to dance with.

Tiara: Polly's Puzzle2

"Tiara: Polly’s Puzzle," graciously lent to me for this exhibition by its owner, was
commissioned in 2004 by her husband as a 25th wedding anniversary gift. To this day, it
is one of my favorite custom wearable art pieces I have made. It’s final form and
decorative details came from marvelous conversations I had with Polly’s husband and
two daughters, in addition to my own observations of what she chose to surround
herself with and wear in her daily life. The end result is a Tiara, a form that was chosen
to pay homage to her, commissioned by someone who loved her and her uniqueness a great deal. It now sits out amongst her collection of beautiful handmade
objects. Each time she takes it apart and wears various pieces from it to complement what she is wearing that day, she makes it her own creation, keeping it “present “ in her ever
changing active life. This is when I truly love what I make. "

- Written by Kerstin Nichols

"Ripple Effect": Four More Jeweler Bios

Be sure to stop by Designer Gold this Friday from 5 to 7pm for the opening of "Ripple Effect: Mentor and Mentees." We are hosting this show in collaboration with the Hanover League of New Hampshire Craftsmen:

"Untitled" oval pendant by Celie Fago

"Untitled" oval pendant by Celie Fago

Ripple Effect: Mentor and Mentees

The creative exchange between one master teacher and her students at the Hanover League of NH Craftsmen.

Opening Reception: Friday, March 25th from 5-7pm at Designer Gold

Exhibit runs from Friday, March 25th through Saturday, April 2nd at Designer Gold

"Ripple Effect" explores the ever evolving dynamics between teacher and students. The show examines how pupils learn from their instructor,  developing the skills required to produce jewelry, while also searching for their own voice and inspiration. In this unique exhibit, the instructor's work is shown side by side with that of her students, providing a view into the varying styles of each pupil and how they differ not only from each other, but also from their teacher, Kerstin Nichols. 

Participating jewelry artists include: Celie Fago, Sandra Seymour, Kim Gaddes, Maria Gross, Rosemary Orgren, Elizabeth Brumble Schwartz and Deb Meyer.

Four Artists: Their Bios and Statements

Rosemary Orgren

"Twisty Silver Necklace," sterling silver

"Twisty Silver Necklace," sterling silver

I love pattern, texture, form, and shape.  I enjoy the challenge of bringing these elements together in cohesive and fluid designs.  My father — a pattern maker — passed on to me a lifelong love of tools and
their uses, an esteem for sound construction, and a fascination with mechanisms of all kinds. It is important to me that my pieces be fully realized, assembled with care, and attractively finished front and back.

My education in metalsmithing has been largely acquired at the Hanover metals studio of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen. I continue to participate regularly in League classes while planning, practicing, and producing in my own studio in Vermont.

Maria Gross

Steel, copper and resin ring

Steel, copper and resin ring

In the late 1990s, amidst intense personal events, I took my first (of many) Metals Studio classes with Kerstin Nichols at The League of NH Craftsmen in Hanover…. and I have not looked back.  Over these years I have learned to experience this art form and found it vital, uncovering and encouraging my creative inner voice I hadn’t really heard before. The Metals Studio has been a haven, soothing and exciting, where I leave my daily concerns at the door and find not only quality classes by gifted instructors but dynamic exchanges that “ripple” between everyone, instructors and students alike. 

Today, at times an instructor and always a student at the Metals Studio, I continue to learn new skills and refine the old ones -- looking to get a even better handle on the technical and emotional play between different metals, tools, stones, found objects, and different color applications. Steadily, it is where I continue to revisit my self on many planes, explore ideas, moods, challenge designs and then work to create something I have never (quite) done before . . .  Always leaving my daily concerns at the door.  

Deb Meyer

"Swan Belt," sterling silver and fabric

"Swan Belt," sterling silver and fabric

My work is inspired by timeless moments when mundane concerns disappear and beauty manifests.

 

 

Celie Fago

"Untitled" oval pendant

"Untitled" oval pendant

Celie Fago is a mostly self-taught jewelry artist and author with a background in painting, printmaking, sculpture and metals. Her widely exhibited jewelry, combining Precious Metal Clay with polymer clay and metalsmithing, is distinguished by elegant design, resonant color, and attention to detail. She is highly regarded as a generous teacher and as an innovator in the combination of these materials.   She has exhibited and taught internationally for professional organizations, guilds and schools including Arrowmont, Haystack, The North Country Studio Conference, and the Mid Cornwall School of Jewellery and has work in numerous collections, including Mitsubishi Material Corporation of Japan and the Mingei Museum in San Diego. 

Please see our previous post for four more jeweler bios and statements.

"Ripple Effect" Opening this Friday: Four Jeweler Bios

Designer Gold is excited to host this upcoming exhibit, in collaboration with the Hanover League of New Hampshire Craftsmen:

Ripple Effect: Mentor and Mentees

The creative exchange between one master teacher and her students at the Hanover League of NH Craftsmen.

"Fin", sterling silver cuff bracelet by Elizabeth Schwartz

"Fin", sterling silver cuff bracelet by Elizabeth Schwartz

Opening Reception: Friday, March 25th from 5-7pm at Designer Gold

Exhibit runs from Friday, March 25th through Saturday, April 2nd at Designer Gold

"Ripple Effect" explores the ever evolving dynamics between teacher and students. The show examines how pupils learn from their instructor,  developing the skills required to produce jewelry, while also searching for their own voice and inspiration. In this unique exhibit, the instructor's work is shown side by side with that of her students, providing a view into the varying styles of each pupil and how they differ not only from each other, but also from their teacher, Kerstin Nichols. 

Participating jewelry artists include: Celie Fago, Sandra Seymour, Kim Gaddes, Maria Gross, Rosemary Orgren, Elizabeth Brumble Schwartz and Deb Meyer.

Four Artists: Their Bio's and Statements

Kerstin Nichols

"Wildflowers Meet Chain Maille" bracelet

"Wildflowers Meet Chain Maille" bracelet

As an artist my work is reactive in nature; an on-going dialogue with what I see and find.

The forms I respond to are common to most people's life experience:  a stone, rounded by tumbling along a stream bed; the jumble of flowering weeds along the roadside, the bright yellow of buttercups complementing the soft purples of clover; the illuminating shapes created by dappled light coming through a forest canopy; a wall of rock the layers of which have been distorted by the pressures of time.

Conceptually what ties my work together is an on-going fascination with nature and natural processes, and our relationship to these familiar but all too fleeting experiences in our daily lives.

What all my work has in common, whether it is jewelry, sculpture or lighting, is that the space around a given piece is as important as the object itself. In jewelry this relates to how an earring might occupy and move within the intimate space of an ear lobe. In a sculpture that it affects how someone experiences the space of a familiar room, or an outdoor setting they have walked by for years. In a chandelier the play of the shadows it creates against a wall, or a table is as important as the actual form and materials it is made from.

Sandra Seymour

Abalone swirl earrings

Abalone swirl earrings

After many years in academic science, a mid-life detour found me walking into the League of NH Craftsmen studios to reconnect with my love of art and working with my hands. There I discovered an affinity for metalsmithing and a tireless, dauntless, and empathic mentor for my passion in Kerstin Nichols. What you see on display in this show is a snapshot of where I'm at some 10 years on.

My work can be broadly categorized into two main themes: One inspired by the flow of currents in water or wind; and one motivated by architectural considerations such as the construction of space and movement through the use of enclosure, balance, proportion, and layering, among others. The main body of work here references the ocean, sea life, and that fascinating tidal zone where land and sea mix it up. Two examples of architectural work can be seen in the case under the branch lamp.

Kim Gaddes

The connection between myself and my work is largely derived from personal experience with friends, family and special places in my life.

I also draw deep inspiration from the Native American Arts, specifically, their expression of animal symbolism and culture. i.e. my
'Bear Spirit' pendant has specific personal meaning and symbolism to me.

Learning new skills and exploring new endeavors has been an important part of my life.  I have always had a passion for the arts but not until I took my first class with Kerstin Nichols, a gifted artist and fabulous Teacher/Mentor, at the Hanover League Craft Studies Program in 1991 did I find my passion in silver and metalsmithing.  I have acquired many new skills and have found a creative outlet that has provided much balance in my life. The journey from my first experience as a maker to displaying my work alongside so many amazing artists has been a spectacular adventure. I am grateful to have been invited to take part in this show.  It has given me the confidence and drive to further expand as a student and creator in this chosen art. 

Elizabeth Brumble Schwartz

Elizabeth Scwartz pictured in her "happy place" (studio)

Elizabeth Scwartz pictured in her "happy place" (studio)

My jewelry evokes the simple elegance of use or industry. Things I love to look at are functional. My years as a ceramic artist have inclined me to forms that follow function –- forms with spare ingenuity. The endless ways jewelry interacts with the body intersects with my fascination with function.

Ancient hand tools, grain elevators, blast furnaces, crystalline and cellular morphology, or architecture—any of these might suggest a profile, a pattern, or a structure to inspire my fabrication or carving.

I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Masters of Fine Arts from the New York State College of Ceramics, Art and Design at Alfred University. Jewelry and metalsmithing are a new love. What started as a sweet anniversary gift of a class from my husband has turned into a calling. Kerstin Nichols and the other gifted teachers at The League of NH Craftsmen have ignited my passion. The community that grows up around quality teaching is what keeps me coming back for more.

Check back in a couple days for information about the remaining four artists in this show!

 

"Ripple Effect" Opening Reception and Exhibit

Designer Gold is excited to host this upcoming exhibit, in collaboration with the Hanover League of New Hampshire Craftsmen:

"Wild Flowers Meet Chain Maille" bracelet by Kerstin Nichols, 

"Wild Flowers Meet Chain Maille" bracelet by Kerstin Nichols, 

Ripple Effect: Mentor and Mentees

The creative exchange between one master teacher and her students at the Hanover League of NH Craftsmen.

Opening Reception: Friday, March 25th from 5-7pm at Designer Gold

Exhibit runs from Friday, March 25th through Saturday, April 2nd at Designer Gold

"Ripple Effect" explores the ever evolving dynamics between teacher and students. The show examines how pupils learn from their instructor,  developing the skills required to produce jewelry, while also searching for their own voice and inspiration. In this unique exhibit, the instructor's work is shown side by side with that of her students, providing a view into the varying styles of each pupil and how they differ not only from each other, but also from their teacher, Kerstin Nichols.   

Kerstin Nichols. Photo: Amanda Montenegro

Kerstin Nichols. Photo: Amanda Montenegro

Kerstin Nichols is a long-time teacher at the League of NH Craftsmen. She teaches children, teen and adult classes. Many of her students are predominantly interested in learning basic jewelry techniques, but the following students have been studying with her for a number of years and are ready to take the leap and show their work publicly.
 

Participating jewelry artists:
Celie Fago
Sandra Seymour
Kim Gaddes
Maria Gross
Rosemary Orgren
Liz Brumble Schwartz
Deb Meyer

For Designer Gold’s part, we are delighted to promote the Upper Valley's jewelry artists. Paul Gross has mentored many students and beginning goldsmiths over the years. This group show is an extension of what he has been doing in individual ways over the years. The collaboration with Kerstin and her students is a logical step for Designer Gold as it seeks out ways to bring jewelry artists and the community together.