Man Frustrated with Buying a Diamond Online

Pitfalls of Buying a Diamond Online

Let’s start with the obvious: I’m biased. I started Kimberfire almost two years ago because I truly believe we offer consumers the ideal platform from which to buy diamonds and diamond jewelry. While the web is a great place to buy many things (very happy with my new winter coat!), it is not a great place to buy all things.

With that out of the way – I have heard from many customers and friends that starting the diamond search is overwhelming, and it is challenging to know what to look out for. It’s convenient to start out online and definitely a good way to get a sense of design styles and what’s out there generally. If you’re thinking of actually buying online, though, here are some things to keep in mind.

Large Selection is Not Always a Good Thing

You check out a site and they have a huge list of inventory. Seems great, right? Not always.

A little known fact about the various online-only diamond merchants is that many of them don’t own every diamond that is offered for sale. These websites are all linked up to virtual inventory – diamonds currently owned by and sitting with diamond manufacturers around the world. In practice, this means that these online retailers may not be able to tell you what they think of a certain diamond, or how it looks. If asked, they will call the manufacturer and ask for an assessment of the diamond to relay back to the customer, who then has to make their own judgment call.

Unfortunately, many of these websites do not actually see the diamonds they sell… EVER. To save on costs, the diamonds often get shipped directly from the manufacturer to a jewelry sub-contractor who sets the stone in a ring and ships it to the customer’s door. An important purchase like this deserves a bit more quality control than that.

A Penny for Your Dollar

Ring builders are a lot of fun. But often when you select a given set of characteristics, a wide range of prices come up for similar diamonds. Certain things can make a big difference – for example, there is a bump in price when you hit 1 carat – so a 0.95 carat diamond and a 1.00 carat diamond will be priced further apart than, let’s say, a 0.70 carat and 0.75 carat diamond would be. Often times, though, the differences are not as clear.

I always advise my clients to see their diamond in person. This allows you to be confident that it was a good deal without having sacrificed anything on quality, or if a more expensive diamond is chosen, seeing the diamond in person will help you understand why it is more expensive. Without understanding exactly what is going on inside your diamond, it is just impossible to tell if a given price is justified, in either direction. I say this a lot because it’s true: no two diamonds are the same. There are very different types of inclusions within the same clarity grade, different tints within the same color grade, etc.

Recently, I brought a diamond into the country for a client and, on first look at both the certificate and an image, it seemed like a truly amazing stone – not just for the price (which was great too). The image showed minimal inclusions for a diamond of its clarity, and the inclusion plotting on the certificate seemed very minimal. The diamond even looked great on first glance in person. On closer inspection though, the diamond had a very apparent haziness to it, which was very off-putting when put side-by-side with another diamond of similar characteristics. It turns out the diamond received its clarity rating of an SI1 not due to any particular inclusion but due to a cloud of microscopic inclusions that were spread throughout. The material was not attractive and needless to say this diamond went back to the manufacturer and was replaced by a diamond the client was able to truly fall in love with.

If this client had received the diamond at his home, he may have been satisfied and carried on with it. Unbeknownst to him, though, he would have had a diamond that truly was not the great deal he expected it to be, did not shine like it should, and worst of all would not be an attractive option on the resale market if ever needed at any point in time.

Kimberfire, Your Diamond Expert

The bottom line is that buying a diamond is one of the most important purchases you will make in your life. Without a guide on your side, it is easy to be mislead, uncertain, or to be stuck having to exchange a number of diamonds for one that you’re really happy with.

Trust and knowledge are big parts of the diamond game. Traditional jewelry stores certainly offer a high level of service and quality control, but are not for everyone. This is why I created Kimberfire: to provide you with prices competitive to online merchants and at significant discounts to traditional retail, while still enabling you to inspect your diamond in person alongside someone you can trust.

If you’re interested in working with us to find your perfect diamond, be sure to check out our website or call us at (416) 861-8110 to book your free private consultation. I look forward to meeting you!

GIA HRD AGS IGI EGL Diamond Certificate Logos

Diamond Grading Certificates: Are They All Created Equal?

When purchasing a diamond, it is extremely important that the specifications of your selected diamond are verified by a third party (whether the diamond is a Kimberfire diamond or is purchased elsewhere). For insurance purposes, for your peace of mind, for future value, there are many reasons why this third party certificate is critical. Which laboratory can you trust though?

Making the (Diamond) Grade

There are many diamond grading laboratories out there, but only a few with well-established reputations. Often, smaller labs are for-profit entities with various conflicts of interest. To ensure you receive an objective, reliable certificate, my recommendation is to always stick to the big guys. Diamonds carrying certificates from the larger grading laboratories may come with a small premium as the international labs charge more and their closest office may be out of town, but it is worth the nominal cost for a certificate you can trust and rely on.

GIA vs. EGL Diamond Grading Certificates

The most notable of these labs, and the certification body I stand behind, is the Gemological Institute of America (“GIA”). The GIA is widely known to have the most consistent and strict grading process out of any lab out there. Independent studies have shown GIA to be strict, consistent and, most of all, ethical when it comes to their processes and resulting grades.

Other well-known and reputable labs are the American Gem Society (“AGS”), HRD Antwerp and the International Gemological Institute (“IGI”).

On the opposite end of the spectrum are the labs that are known to be consistently inaccurate or lenient. The most well-known example of these lenient laboratories is the European Gemological Laboratory (“EGL), particularly their Hong Kong and Israel offices. In the trade, diamonds with these certificates sell at a substantial discount to the others. As a result, when passed through to the retail consumer, EGL certified diamonds may come off as being sold for an unbeatable price. As is the case with most too-good-to-be-true diamonds, EGL certificates are known in the industry to typically be two colour and/or clarity grades off, compared to the more-reputable graders. To be confident in what you are buying, I always suggest sticking to the more reputable labs mentioned above.

Proof Is In the Independent Studies

For more information you can view a recent study on the accuracy of the various labs, conducted by a major industry organization. In conducting this study, the team at Rapaport sent the same ten diamonds (of various sizes and qualities) to six different labs for grading. They found significant differences between laboratories grading the same diamond… no two diamonds are alike, and neither are their grading certificates apparently!

The six labs tested by Rapaport included the GIA, IGI, HRD, EGL USA, EGL Israel and EGL Hong Kong. Rapaport found the GIA to be the strictest of the group, thus setting the benchmark. EGL Israel and EGL Hong Kong were found to be one to two clarity and/or colour grades more lenient (if not more) in quite a few instances. This same trend also applied to cut and fluorescence grading by the EGL laboratories.

So Which Certificate Do YOU Trust?

While a diamond accompanied by an inferior diamond grading certificate may appear to be a bargain – the recommended course is to stay away. You can always purchase a GIA graded diamond, for the same price, that on paper is one to two clarity grades lower than the poorly graded diamond. You will walk away with the same product at the same price, but will then have the confidence of knowing that the diamond you purchased will be appreciated as such by anyone who may evaluate it in the future.

I’m always happy to answer any questions in the comments below! And, as usual, please share this article if you know anyone who may benefit from reading it.

unique diamond jewelry storage candelabra

How to Store Diamond Jewelry

Now that your diamond jewelry is at its sparkling potential… what is the best way to properly store it?

As a rule, always try to store your jewelry in a clean and dry place, and store your diamond jewelry separately as the diamonds can easily scratch other gemstones.

When storing jewelry, there are a few key points to keep in mind.

Visibility

Showcasing your jewelry in your home can allow your diamonds and your personality to shine through.

Beware of: out of sight, out of mind. If you tuck your precious pieces into small boxes or hidden compartments of your jewelry box, you may run the risk of never seeing (or wearing) them again.

You Are Unique . . . Just Like Your Jewelry

Just as diamonds come in all shapes and sizes, so do jewelry storage options. The best method will depend on the space you have available, the type of jewelry you own and your own preferences. Depending on the amount and value of your various pieces, you may want to opt for a jewelry box or for a jewelry armoire, both of which are available in a variety of sizes and designs.

A jewelry tree is great for hanging and showcasing some of your pieces. You have the option of buying one or of making your own. If you are buying one, we recommend making sure it works for your situation and is of good quality. If you want to embark on a DIY adventure and create your own jewelry tree, get creative with it by customizing it to reflect your personal style and unique personality.

For those of you who would consider yourselves jewelry connoisseurs – a standing mirrored jewelry box or armoire can store a lot of jewelry and your pieces are visible when you open it.

I like to make sure my jewelry pieces are visible, so I decided to get creative with my candelabra (see photo above). This option works great for inexpensive (yet trendy) pieces that I wear on a daily basis.

Safety and Security

For your own peace of mind, be aware that some jewelry pieces, such as high-end diamond jewelry, have very specific storage requirements. To keep your jewelry looking its best, you may want to store your diamond jewelry in a separate cloth pouch or lined case, in order to keep it from coming into contact with other pieces. This type of storage also helps to prevent dust and surface residue.

It is always better to be safe than sorry, so assume that whenever a jewelry item is valuable, extra consideration should be given to its proper care and storage.

Another consideration for valuable jewelry is the option of storage in a safe in order to avoid the possibility of theft.

For the time being, I have peace of mind knowing that my jewelry is safely hanging on my candelabra.

Maybe one day I will need a safe?

A girl can dream …

Until next time, thanks for letting me drive you to distraction by all that glitters!

Diamond and Gold Jewelry on a Toothbrush

How to Clean Diamond Jewelry at Home

All that glitters is your gold… When you take the proper care.

The diamond is the best known gemstone in the world. Clean diamonds sparkle because the maximum amount of light can enter the stone and return to your eyes in a (Kimber) firey brilliance.

Diamonds and jewelry are designed and crafted to last you a lifetime, however, proper care is important in order to maintain the lasting qualities.

How to clean and care for your carbon crystals.

Some pieces, such as diamond engagement and wedding rings are often worn around the clock. If this sounds like you, learning how to properly care for them will go a long way.

Soap scum, hair conditioner, and dirty dishes, oh my! While diamonds are durable, they can easily become smudged, soiled and dusty thanks to lotions, powders, soaps and even the natural oils from our skin. All can create a film on your jewelry, cutting down on your sparkle potential.

Do not clean your jewelry with chemicals such as ammonia or bleach. These chemicals can wreak havoc on your jewelry, from discoloring bands, to dulling stones, to even eroding enamel or glue.

Do-it-yourself guide to cleaning your diamond jewelry.

I recently decided that it was time for me to keep calm, and for my jewelry items to sparkle on; so in true DIY fashion, I grabbed some gloves, an old toothbrush and some dish soap and got to work.

You can clean your diamonds regularly using a commercial jewelry cleaner, or use a mild detergent such as Palmolive dish soap like I did. I chose the Palmolive with the added citrus scent. This made for a very refreshing DIY experience.

Before you start cleaning, I recommend that you collect the following materials:

Latex gloves; small bowl; dish soap or alternate mild detergent; old (clean) soft-bristle toothbrush; lint-free cloth.

In a small bowl, create a mix of warm water and a mild detergent. The warm water will loosen up any oils on the stones. Then, place your jewelry in the bowl.

Soak your jewelry for a few minutes and then scrub with the toothbrush. Make sure to get under the stone as dirt and oil can easily gather there.

You can use a strainer to rinse the diamond jewelry, and then lay it flat to dry on a soft, lint-free cloth.

I guess I don’t need a new diamond ring after all…

Keep calm and sparkle on.

I am now a believer that with proper care and maintenance of your jewelry items, you will be delighted to see that your diamond really can sparkle and last a lifetime.

Now that your jewelry is at its sparkling potential, thanks to your time and efforts… what is the best way to properly store it?

I’ll be touching on this in my next article so make sure to check back for a very fun way of keeping your jewelry both safe AND readily available!

How did this process work out for you and your jewelry? Let me know in the comments below!

Aerial Photo of Diavik Diamond Mine in Canada

Canadian Diamond Engagement Rings: What You Need To Know

Oh, Canadian Diamonds…

We get some requests for (and many questions about) Canadian diamonds for use in engagement rings and other jewellery. Here are some of the most important things to know about this precious natural resource residing in our home and native land.

A Diamond Producing Nation

Many people are surprised to find out that Canada has diamond mines. In fact, Canada is the 3rd largest diamond producing country in the world!

The image shown above is an aerial view of the Diavik diamond mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Producing 8 million carats annually, it’s been in production since 2003. An interesting fact about this mine is that it’s only accessible by road for two months of the year – when the surrounding lakes are frozen enough to allow for the construction of a road stretching 375km long, from Yellowknife.

Conflict Free Guarantee

Canadian diamonds are known for their guaranteed “conflict-free” origin. In order to verify this origin, many certified Canadian-mined diamonds have a unique identification number laser inscribed on the stone itself (don’t worry, this is invisible to the naked eye, is on the side of the diamond and doesn’t affect its brilliance in the slightest!).

Canadian Diamond Laser Inscription

Canadian Born, But Not Necessarily Bred

Just because a diamond was mined in Canada does not mean that it was cut locally. The majority of Canadian-mined diamonds are actually shipped overseas to the major diamond cutting centres of Belgium, India and Israel before they are brought back here to be placed on the hands of Canadian consumers. This is because the cost of manufacturing in Canada is prohibitive for the smaller stones, and the local manufacturing skill is lacking for the larger ones.

Do Canadian Diamonds Cost More?

As you can imagine, mining in Canada is more costly than in some other countries. There are also additional costs associated with the tracking and certification process Canadian diamonds undergo. Some retailers choose to price their Canadian diamonds at a significant premium over non-Canadian goods. Other retailers choose to price the Canadian goods almost on par with diamonds of other origin knowing that they’ll sell faster. The presence and extent of a premium on these diamonds  really varies from retailer to retailer.

Not All Canadians Are Created Equal

Just like diamonds of other origin, Canadian-mined diamonds come in all shapes, sizes, clarities and colours. There is a common misconception that Canadian diamonds are “higher-quality” than non-Canadian diamonds. This belief stems from the fact that on average Canadian diamond mines produce a greater percentage of higher-quality diamonds than mines in other parts of the world. However, chances are that you are buying a single diamond… not an entire mine (but if you want to, let’s talk)! Each diamond is graded on the 4C’s individually, and this is how they are compared. A high-quality diamond from elsewhere will be much nicer than a poor-quality diamond from Canada.

Plenty of Fish in the Sea (and Diamonds in the World)

So should you buy a Canadian diamond engagement ring? Not necessarily. The guaranteed conflict-free origin is a significant pro and the fact that the diamonds were born right here in Canada is great, but you must evaluate each diamond on its own merit in order to arrive at the best selection for you or your loved one.

I had a client recently who spends a lot of time up north for work, from where he would frequently return to his girlfriend (now fiancée!) with gifts of Inuit art. As Canadian diamonds are mined in northern Canada, he was set on popping the question with one of them in hand. For him, purchasing a Canadian diamond was a no-brainer, and we focused his selection on only those. It truly is a personal decision!

Kimberfire Canadian Diamonds

At Kimberfire, we are here to assist you whether you are set on purchasing a Canadian diamond or are open to other options. Let us know your preferences when making an appointment and we’ll make sure to have all the bases covered so that you can make a confident decision.

Why wait until your appointment though? If you have any questions that still need answering please ask them in the comments section below and we’ll get right on it!

 

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