Specialized ProfessionWe are the gemcutters/jewellers of Reddit. Want to avoid getting ripped off on Christmas/Valentine's gifts? Interested in learning how to cut gems? Ask us anything!
Dec 14th 2016 by cowsruleusall • 17 Questions • 484 Points
Hey folks! We're the gemcutters and jewellers of Reddit. Ask us anything!
The season from Thanksgiving to Valentine's Day is a very busy one for the gem and jewellery industry, and nagivating the industry can be confusing at best. "What the hell are the "Four Cs" of diamonds? How is anyone supposed to tell if a sapphire is cut well, or if it's cut in a way to rip you off? How can I learn to cut gems?" We're all happy to help answer these questions and any others you might have.
/u/diamonddealer - Dan Moran, owner of Concierge Diamonds in LA, a high-end private jeweller and wholesaler; also has a presence at some of the higher-end parts of the Tucson Gem Show
/u/flameswithin - Phil Lagas-Rivera, owner of Alternatives Lapidary, a gemcutting studio in Raleigh that specializes in lab-grown gems
/u/stagandfinch - Bryan Wiebe, owner of Stag and Finch, a gemcutting studio in Manitoba that got started here on Reddit
/u/AtelierVieuxPont - Trevor Vipond, a jeweller who does custom work, and also happens to cut gems; a frequent poster to the gem and jewellery subreddits
/u/cowsruleusall - Arya Akhavan, one of the directors of the US Faceter's Guild, the certifying org for gemcutters; also designs modern gem cuts
Edit: left a few things off of the bios, added them in
Considering diamonds are sold by weight and not dimensions. What do you say about the claims that you can get the same price of a diamond, but by cutting it with a wider crown and lower point you're getting a shinier diamond for the same price as "Any old regular cut"?
Oooooh, this is a good question. Diamonds are sold by carat weight, with listings frequently including the millimeter size. Coloured stones (all transparent faceted gems other than diamonds) are sold by both carat weight AND millimeter size.
You bring up a good point; two stones can have the same carat weight, but one can be shallower and therefore wider. The problem with this is that changing the height-to-width ratio significantly affects the stone's end appearance. The crown (top part) can be changed without much issue, but the pavilion (pointy part) is much more sensitive to changes in height. If you start going too thin and too wide, your stone will become less fiery ("dispersive"), and once you pass a critical threshold the stone will basically die. All the light will leak out the bottom and cause a "window" or "fisheye", and that can actually be mathematically calculated out given the refractive index of the material.
When you cut with a mildly wider, shallower stone, you're getting a more brilliant stone that looks bigger face-up, but it will have less fire. If you go too wide and too shallow, you'll get something that looks like glass.
I've heard it said that there's no such thing as a diamond that isn't a blood diamond. How would you respond to that claim?
/u/diamonddealer has some valuable points. A few other things I'd add in - there are diamond mines in regions that don't have active conflict. Russia and Canada have active diamond mines without slave labour, and if you're going for hardcore there are some even more stringent certifications that include not only the Kimberly Process, but additional requirements for environmental friendliness.
"Blood diamonds" are way less common now than they were in the late 90s and early 2000s, and with the advent of the internet it's much easier to find diamonds that avoid the problem entirely.
What are your thoughts on moissanite? How does it compare in the 4 Cs to diamonds? Any concerns with them?
I'm not the diamond person, but I'll chime in because I love the lab-grown "exotic diamond-like materials". We can ignore carat weight, because we're assuming comparison between two stones of the exact same size and shape. We can ignore clarity, because moissanites are almost all entirely flawless unless you're getting the "bottom-barrel" stuff from China or India.
For colour, moissanite comes in blue, green, pink, yellow, orange, brown, and now comes in extremely high-quality whites ("F" equivalent). For cut...diamonds and moissanite from chain jewellers will have the exact same cuts. However, moissanite is something that a custom/precision gemcutter can work with, and can cut the material into a unique cut that you'd never see anywhere else.
When we talk about the basic appearance, moissanite is substantially more fiery, more than double that of diamond. Some people think it looks more "interesting", while others think it looks "weird" or "fake". That's more of a matter of personal preference.
Hell yes he did. :D
Hey, this might get buried, but it's worth a try _^ I'm planning to propose to my girlfriend at some point in the near future, looking for a nice blue gem ring. This is my first experience buying expensive jewellery, so how do I know if I'm getting ripped off/are there any insider tips I should use? Thanks for the AMA Btw!
Good question! Buying expensive jewellery for the first time can be scary.
Some brief advice - for an engagement ring, stick to Mohs 8 or harder. That limits you to topaz, spinel, sapphire, YAG, CZ, moissanite, chrysoberyl, alexandrite, and diamond. Among these, all of them can be found in blue colours except for alexandrite, which by definition has a green-to-red change in different lighting conditions. YAG and CZ will be the cheapest, topaz will be the cheapest natural stone, and sapphires are probably my preferred option for blue.
First, figure out what your girlfriend likes in terms of jewellery. Then, check lots of different sources, online and in person, to get a good sense of what the general pricing will be. Don't buy into the "3 months' salary" myth. Remember, you're trying to buy something she'll like and wear, not something at a certain price point.
Once you're actively looking for things, read through some of my posts on how to recognize good gemcutting. I'm about to go to bed so I'm feeling kinda lazy with respect to writing a full explanation out, but if you search through my posting history on /r/jewelry, you should find plenty of in-depth guides.