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Larger Engagement Ring Diamonds

How to Help Your Engagement Ring Diamond Appear Larger

Buying an engagement ring is one of the most significant purchases you will ever make, which is why it is so important to get something you love. Each person brings with them a unique set of preferences that will determine their perfect ring, and for a lot of people the thing at the top of that list is a large diamond. The influence of celebrity engagement rings and the rise of ring selfies on social media has everyone thinking bigger is better. But while we may desire the celebrity engagement rings, we don’t all have a celebrity budget. It is also important to not just purchase the largest carat diamond you can afford while fully ignoring the colour, clarity and cut. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to have a larger stone with noticeable flaws and inclusions in it. We recommend buying a high quality diamond in a size that works within your budget, and then using these design tips to help your stone appear even larger.

Taking a Fancy

Consider a fancy cut diamond instead of a round brilliant cut. While the round brilliant is the most popular diamond shape, it is also the most expensive. To produce the round brilliant cut a large portion of the rough stone is removed which increases the manufacturing costs. The high market demand also drives the price point up. You can expect to save around 25% on a fancy cut diamond with a carat to carat comparison. Elongated diamond cuts tend to look largest on the finger so look to oval, marquise and emerald cuts to make the biggest impact. Some fancy cut shapes do appear quite a bit smaller than round diamonds, weight for weight, however. So be sure to do a direct comparison and see what makes the most sense for you.

Hello Halo!

The easiest way to make your diamond look bigger is to add a halo around it. A halo is when the center stone is tightly wrapped in smaller diamonds all the way around. The halo tricks the eye into thinking that it is a part of the center diamond and therefore is seen as a much bigger stone. This is one of the reasons that halo engagement rings have been so popular for many years now. You can even add a double halo which takes up even more real estate on your finger and really makes a statement.

Cluster of Sparkle

One trend that has finally come back into style is that of the cluster diamond ring. A cluster ring is when multiple diamonds are set closely together to form a design, like a flower or starburst, or they can be set into a modern asymmetrical design. The emphasis is on the design motif, not on one single stone. The sparkle of all the different diamonds together makes the ring look quite significant and can be a lot less expensive than one single large diamond.

I’m with the Band

A thin band will make your diamond appear larger than if it was on a thick band. The eye is tricked into seeing the stone as larger in comparison to the band. Adding small pavé diamonds along the band can also highlight the contrast between the very small stones and the center diamond. A tapered band, which starts thicker at the back of the ring and becomes progressively thinner towards the center stone, also helps the center diamond really pop.

White and Bright

Setting the diamond into a white gold or platinum ring can also help it look larger as the prongs will blend more seamlessly into the diamond. This also helps for a halo ring as there will be less contrast between the center stone and the diamonds in the halo. If you have your heart set on a rose or yellow gold ring, you could have only the diamond basket be in a white metal, and the rest of the ring in your choice of gold.

The Perfect Ring

In the end remember that diamond size is only one factor to consider when engagement ring shopping, and that diamond quality and ring design are just as important when it comes to creating a beautiful ring. If size is important to you, these useful tips will help your diamond appear larger without the huge price tag. No matter what size of diamond, the perfect engagement ring is the one that is perfect for you and fills you with joy every time you look at your hand.

Memorial Diamonds

How Memorial Diamonds Are Made

As we approach Halloween, the Kimberfire team has been caught up in haunted houses, costumes, candy, pumpkin (spice), and the mystery that cloaks this festive season. Inspired by this, we thought we would explore a more unusual diamond concept in this month’s blog: memorial diamonds.

A “memorial diamond” is a lab created diamond that is made from the ashes or hair of a person who has passed away. While this is not something we offer at Kimberfire, we do find it fascinating…

A Memorial Diamond?

Yes, it is possible to create a diamond out of the ashes or hair of a deceased loved one. Not so surprisingly, when I told a couple of friends I was writing a blog about memorial diamonds they were shocked that it was possible. Some were intrigued, while others were uncomfortable with it. The truth is, it may never be fully accepted as a mainstream option. However, the reviews from people who have chosen to create a memorial diamond are overwhelmingly positive and it has brought them comfort during their mourning process.

Memorial diamonds are only offered through a small number of companies, as it is a highly complex and technical process. The four memorial diamond companies that I researched for this blog were Algordanza and Lonité, based in Switzerland, and LifeGem and Eterneva which are based in the United States. These companies are aware of the sensitive nature of their work, and treat both the deceased and their loved ones with the utmost respect.

Growing a Diamond in a Lab

How does this process work? Well it all starts with carbon, the element that a diamond is composed of. It has been determined that the human body is made up of approximately 18.5% carbon. When a body is cremated most of the carbon escapes as carbon dioxide, but 1-5% of the carbon remains in the ashes. This carbon is extracted and made into a diamond using the same process that is used to create other lab grown diamonds.

Lab grown diamonds possess the same characteristics as natural diamonds but are created in man-made conditions above the earth instead of natural ones below the earth’s surface. Lab grown diamonds were first invented by scientists in the 1950s when they were able to replicate the same environment in which diamonds are formed deep in the earth.

There are two methods by which lab grown diamonds are created, either the High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) method or the Chemical Vapour Distribution (CVD) method. The HPHT method places a carbon source, a small diamond “seed” and a metallic solvent in a large press which is then placed under extreme pressure and high temperature to produce a diamond. The CVD method starts with a diamond seed planted in a chamber where it is exposed to a gas such as methane. The gas is then activated and broken down by microwaves which cause the carbon atoms to accumulate on the diamond seed. Both these methods were only able to produce very small diamonds up until the last ten years. New technology is now growing larger diamonds, and is also able to produce colourless diamonds. This is opposed to coloured diamonds which are much easier to grow in a lab.

Memorial diamonds are created using the HPHT method.

The Memorial Diamond Creation Process

The companies that I looked at all use similar processes to create their memorial diamonds. First, they need between 100-500g of ashes (amount differs by company). If you do not have this amount then you can also send them hair, as hair also contains carbon. The ashes and fur of pets can also be turned into diamond using the same process.

The carbon is extracted from the ashes by heating them up to extremely high temperature over a period of days and then further purifying them using acidic chemicals. The carbon purification system often leaves traces of nitrogen or boron, other elements found in the human body. Carbon with traces of nitrogen will create a yellow or amber coloured diamond, while traces of boron will create a light blue diamond. Blue memorial diamonds are the most common type, as boron is extremely difficult to extract from carbon. Red, green, pink and purple diamonds can be created through further manipulation of the carbon, usually through irradiation. Black memorial diamonds are actually a very dark green colour which, to the naked eye, appears black. To produce a colourless diamond all other elements must be removed from the carbon, which is an extremely difficult procedure.

The purification process turns the carbon into graphite. The graphite is then packed into a cell with a metal catalyst and diamond seed, and put into an HPHT press. After a period of time (it takes longer for larger stones, as well as colourless ones) the press is opened and the cell of graphite is cracked open to find a rough diamond inside. From this point the diamond can be left as a rough crystal or can be cut and polished by a gem cutter. It is then either delivered as a loose diamond or made into a piece of jewelry.

The total time it takes to create a memorial diamond is between 4 and 9 months. The price ranges from between US$3,000 to US$20,000, with larger sizes and colourless diamonds costing the most. The price also reflects the expensive machinery and precise lab work which goes into creating these diamonds.

A Diamond, Like a Memory, is Forever

One reason to create a memorial diamond is that it is a wearable memento of a loved one, and something that can be taken with you wherever you go. It can also be passed down through the generations and shared with other loved ones. Whatever their individual reasons, people often find meaning in different experiences and in different ways. Only you know if a memorial diamond is right for you.

Images: Algordanza

Engagement Ring Styles

Solitaire, Two-Stone and Three-Stone Engagement Rings

When you are setting out to find the perfect engagement ring, there are so many different styles and designs to choose from. How do you know where to start looking? Do you want something simple or embellished? Traditional or modern? Solitaire or multi-stone? If you aren’t quite sure what styles you like, a bit of jewelry education can help make the task a bit easier. Today we look at three styles of engagement rings which have been popular throughout history – solitaire, two-stone and three-stone diamond rings.

One of a Kind: One-Stone, Solitaire Engagement Rings

The most classic of all engagement ring styles is the diamond solitaire. The solitaire ring is a band of metal set with a single diamond. This style of ring can be traced back to Ancient Rome, and was usually a gold band set with one uncut diamond. Some of these Roman rings still exist today, owned by museums or collectors. Diamond cutting was invented in the Early Middle Ages, and primitive diamond cuts such as the point and table cut, were held in place by gold bezels. As diamond cutting and goldsmith techniques improved, the bezels were often made in silver or gold and backed with silver foil to show off the diamond’s colour and sparkle better. Some antique designs used prongs to hold the diamond in place, but they differed from the styles of today in that the diamond was sunk deep into the metal to secure it. In the early 1800’s setting diamonds ‘a jour’ became popular, which was a style where the back of the setting was pierced open to allow more light to enter the diamond. In 1886 Tiffany and Co. debuted their ‘Tiffany’ setting, which was a 6-prong solitaire setting that held the diamond high above the band. This setting was revolutionary as it showed off every angle of the diamond and enhanced the stone’s brilliance. The Tiffany setting is still one of the most popular diamond settings in the world today. Modern settings can have 4, 5, 6 or more prongs holding the diamond in place. Like the Tiffany setting, most of today’s solitaires have the diamond raised up above the band. The solitaire setting may seem a simple choice, but in fact there is a lot of variation to choose from, like metal colour, diamond shape, the number of prongs, the style of the band and the design of the setting itself. The solitaire ring is the perfect choice for someone who wants their diamond to be the center of attention. This elegant and classic design ensures that this type of ring will never be a passing trend and will maintain its appeal for generations to come.

It Takes Two: Two-Stone Engagement Rings

The second type of engagement ring we are going to look at is the two-stone diamond engagement ring. This style of ring has gained popularity lately with many jewelry stores promoting these designs. The two stones can represent two people joining together in love, or one stone for friendship and the other for love. While the two-stone ring seems to be a rather new concept, rings with two central elements trace back to Roman times when wedding bands featured two hands shaking, representing the marriage contract. In the Middle Ages, a popular style of marital ring was the gimmel ring, named after the Latin word for twin. The gimmel ring consisted of two interlocking hoops that, when connected, formed one single ring. Each gimmel ring would have a gemstone set in a bezel setting, and when the two rings joined together the stones sat side by side. In 1776 Napoleon Bonaparte proposed to Josephine de Beauharnais with a two-stone “Toi et Moi” ring (“you and me” in French). The ring featured a pear shaped blue sapphire and a pear shaped diamond set opposite each other. This ring become one of the most famous engagement rings in history and started the “Toi et Moi” trend. Victorian era rings often featured two pear shaped gems that were set beside each other to form a heart shape, usually topped with a crown or a bow. Rings from the Edwardian era and Art Deco periods featured two stones (usually diamonds) flanked by a curving band in a bypass setting. After the Art Deco style fell out of favour, two-stone rings weren’t commonly seen as engagement rings. But like all trends, what goes around comes around and the last few years have seen a rise in this style of ring again. The two-stone engagement ring is perfect for the person who is a romantic and likes to be a little bit different from the rest. It is also a great choice for someone who may not be able to afford one large diamond, but still wants something that looks significant on their finger.

Third Time’s a Charm: Three-Stone Engagement Rings

The three-stone ring is often called a trinity or trilogy ring and it first came into style during the Victorian times. This style of ring traditionally displayed three stones of the same shape and cut with the center stone being the largest, although they could all be the same size as well. The three stones are symbolic, although there are different opinions on what they represent. The most popular belief is that the three stones stand for past, present and future, with the “present” stone being the most important. This idea was heavily promoted by De Beers and lead to the three-stone diamond ring becoming a popular anniversary gift. Other meanings of the three stones have been “friendship, love and fidelity”, the words “I love You”, and “father, mother and child”. The last few decades have seen this style of ring become popular as an engagement ring. The three-stone ring is fantastic because it comes in a huge variety of designs. The style can look classic using three stones of the same cut, such as three round brilliants or three princess cut diamonds. Or it can look completely modern using different combinations of stones, such as an emerald cut diamond set with two trilliant cut stones, or an oval diamond being set with two pear cut stones. The options are literally endless, with variations in metal choices, graduated or non-graduated sized stones, setting styles, combinations of diamond cuts or adding coloured gems into the mix. The three-stone engagement ring is a great choice for someone who is sentimental and symbolic. The wide variety of options means the three-stone ring can appeal to both the traditional and the modern jewelry wearer.

Endless Possibilities

The types of engagement rings I have covered above only describe three options out of a limitless number of ring designs. There are, of course, the popular halo engagement rings, five-stone rings, eternity bands and the list goes on and on. If you are still trying to find the perfect engagement ring, a great place to look for inspiration is on Kimberfire’s Pinterest page where we have curated a fantastic collection of images.

Engagement Ring Maintenance

The Do’s and Don’ts of Engagement Ring Maintenance

You’re recently engaged and it was the most romantic moment of your entire life. You are thrilled to make a lifetime commitment to the one you love and are filled with joy. And let’s not forget your new engagement ring! It’s so beautiful and sparkly that you just can’t take your eyes off it. You can’t believe you are lucky enough to get to wear a diamond ring like this every day of your life. But then you begin to wonder, how am I supposed to take care of this ring? Am I allowed to wear it swimming? Can I work out with it on? All these questions are running through your mind. At Kimberfire we are engagement ring specialists and we want to help answer all your questions about keeping your ring in tip top shape!

DO get your engagement ring insured.

Your engagement ring was most likely a large purchase and one in which you would be very upset if it became damaged or lost. Insurance will give you peace of mind that if something happens to your ring you will be able to replace it with something just as beautiful. Some people can add their engagement ring on to their homeowner’s insurance, and if you go this route please make sure the insurance covers the ring even when it is outside of the house, as it is not always covered otherwise. Another option is to use an insurance agency such as Jewelers Mutual, which offers specialized insurance for jewelry.

DON’T take off your ring when you are out in public.

Taking off your ring and leaving it somewhere by accident is one of the easiest ways to lose your jewelry. Always keep it on your finger until you are back home, and then try to keep it in the same place every time you take it off.

DO clean your ring at home.

One of the most common questions we get from our clients is how to keep their ring clean in between professional cleanings. Well the answer is simple! Buy yourself a brand new, soft-bristle, baby’s toothbrush, and brush the ring in warm water with a little drop of dish detergent and then rinse it clean. This will remove the built up dirt and grime and keep your diamond sparkling.

DON’T wear your ring when cleaning the house.

While household cleaners work wonders on the house, the harsh chemicals in bleach, chlorine and acetone can erode the metals in your ring, while powder cleaners contain abrasives which will scratch the metal.

DO get your ring checked if you notice a diamond has become loose.

You may notice your diamond makes a small clicking sound when you tap the ring near your ear, or you may be able to spin the diamond with your finger. In either case it’s best to stop wearing the ring and take it to your jeweler to get it tightened. Stones can become loose due to prolonged wear over the years, or they can become loose by the metal accidentally being hit or dinged. Your jeweler should be able to get the stone tight and secure for continued wear.

DON’T wear your ring to the gym.

While some physical activities like aerobics will probably not hurt your ring, there are some exercises that most definitely will. A common cause of ring damage is weight lifting. The steel of the weights is harder than both platinum and gold and can make hammer like dents in the metal. Heavy weight lifting can also distort the shape of the ring so that it is more of an oval instead of round. When the metal becomes distorted it may cause the prongs on the diamonds to become loose and a stone may fall out. Golf and tennis are two other sports which can cause a great deal of damage to your ring.

DO have your ring professionally serviced once a year.

Your jeweler should clean and examine your ring once a year to make sure the diamonds are secure. Every few years you may want to get your ring re-polished if it is quite scratched up. Those who have white gold rings may want their ring re-plated with rhodium to get it back to its bright white colour.

DON’T wear your ring swimming.

An easy way to lose your ring is in the water when it is more slippery on your finger, and you may not notice while you are playing in the waves. Pools and hot tubs are no better as prolonged exposure to chlorine can cause damage and discolouration to white gold.

DO show off your ring proudly.

Your engagement ring is a symbol of love and commitment and you should share that with the world!

Hopefully these tips will help you keep your ring looking as beautiful as the day it was received, as we know it is something very precious and special to you. If you have any other questions about ring or diamond care please contact us at Kimberfire and we will be glad to help.

Rough Diamonds

Diamonds: A Billion Year Journey

Many people own, wear and love diamonds, but few know the incredible story that brought them from the depths of the earth into their jewellery. They are not only the hardest natural substance on earth, but also one of the oldest. Forming deep in the earth’s mantle over 1 billion years ago, with some of the oldest diamonds dating back over 3.3 billion years, they have a story to tell.

Diamond Formation

Diamonds form in the earth’s mantle, the molten part of the planet deep beneath the crust, about 140 to 190 kilometres beneath the surface. Here, carbon atoms are subjected to extremely high pressure and temperature. The pressures can range from 45,000 to 60,000 times the regular atmospheric pressure at sea-level, with temperatures as high as 1300C. In these extreme conditions, the carbon atoms are forced into a crystalline arrangement, forming diamond. No one is sure where exactly the carbon comes from, but a possible theory is that the carbon may have originated on the surface of the earth in the form of prehistoric plant and animal material, and was subducted into the mantle through plate tectonics. If this theory is correct, the carbon in your diamond may have come from some of the earliest life on earth!

Diamond is the only gemstone made entirely out of one element (not considering inclusions and small amounts of trace impurities). Nature is not always perfect, so often many other minerals or defects will form in the diamond as it grows. These are the inclusions that affect clarity grading. Under heavy magnification, some inclusions can even be identified as other minerals, such as garnet, peridot, zircon and even other diamonds! Other elements may also make their way into the diamonds, causing changes in colour. Nitrogen, for example, causes the yellow colour, while boron causes diamonds to be blue. Eventually the diamonds cool in their host rock, and may wait millions or even billions of years for the right conditions to make their way to the surface.

An Explosive Ride to the Surface

When the right conditions arise, diamonds are brought to the surface during massive volcanic eruptions. These kinds of cataclysmic eruptions are extremely rare. The diamonds hurtle to the surface, carried by streams of magma, rock and gas. During this explosive transport of the stones, they can often be broken or cracked. Many inclusions also form during this stage as the diamonds are battered through crevices in the crust. The diamonds eventually get trapped in these crevices, or they explode onto the surface of the earth along with other rocks and magma. The majority of the best diamonds are trapped within a central core, forming a vertical, triangular area of new rock called a pipe. These pipes often reach the surface, but can extend hundreds or thousands of metres into the earth. The most common type of rock that forms these pipes is called kimberlite, named after the famous town of Kimberley, South Africa, where the first major commercial diamond mine opened.

Finding Diamond Deposits

Nearly all diamonds found today were deposited hundreds of thousands or even millions of years ago. These diamonds are either found in the eroded remains of ancient, extinct volcanoes, still in their pipes, or in riverbeds and oceans where the diamonds had already been eroded out of the volcanic rock and deposited elsewhere by the forces of erosion. Diamonds that are deposited in riverbeds, called an alluvial deposit, can either be found in still-flowing rivers, or they can be found in ancient riverbeds that have now dried up.

Depending of the type of deposit, diamonds can be prospected in multiple different ways. In the case of diamonds still in their host rock, geologists will often find known volcanic pipes, and drill core samples. These samples are analyzed to search for microscopic diamonds, as it is extremely rare for larger diamonds to be deposited close to the surface. The core samples are also analyzed to detect other minerals that could indicate the presence of diamonds. A strong presence of garnet and peridot indicates a possible diamond deposit, as these minerals often form in the same environments as diamond. In the case of alluvial deposits where the diamonds are deposited in rivers, these stones were often found by accident by lucky farmers or swimmers, which led to the opening of mines. In more modern times, geologists analyze records of eroded diamond bearing pipes, and determine how it was eroded and where the diamonds could have been transported to.

Diamond Mining

Depending on the type of deposit, the mining process can look vastly different from mine to mine and from region to region. For diamonds still in their primary pipe deposit, this can look like an open pit mine or a subterranean mine. These two types of mining operations are the most common, and are what most people picture when they think of a mine. In either case, the mine blasts and drills directly into the rock. These rocks are then removed, crushed and bathed in acid. Since diamonds are relatively immune to acid, the rock dissolves away and leaves the diamonds behind. These diamonds are then sent to a sorting facility.

In the case of oceanic or alluvial deposits, the diamonds must be sifted and filtered out of the mud and silt. Since diamonds are quite heavy, they will sink. In smaller alluvial mines, diamonds are found very much in the same way that one pans for gold. Once filtered out, the diamonds are sent for sorting and cutting.

In most diamond producing countries, there are strict regulations on mining processes. Mines are monitored on a regular basis by regulatory committees and government agencies to ensure they abide to environmental, safety and human rights standards. Thanks to the Kimberley Process, a certification scheme that mandates a documented chain of custody for loose diamonds, consumers can be assured that their certified diamond is 100% conflict free. In many cases, mines are also required to abide to a reclamation program, wherein the mined area must be naturalized after the mine closes to ensure no long lasting negative effects on the environmental health of the area. Due to these regulations, diamonds are now one of the most ethical of all mined materials, even when compared to other gemstones like emeralds, rubies and sapphires.

Sorting and Cutting

Sorting takes place in a separate facility. Here, under high security, trained staff sort through the rough diamonds. They sort them into categories based on colour, size, shape and relative clarity. These rough diamonds are then packaged up into large collections of various types, and are sold and shipped to a small handful of diamond cutters. These diamond cutters will first examine the rough stone before cutting it. It is the goal of the diamond cutter to maximize the carat weight of the diamond without any significant sacrifices on quality. That being said, a cutter may decide to optimize carat weight at the expense of cut quality, colour or clarity, so long as it maximizes profit on the stone. Depending on the shape and placement of inclusions in the stone, the cutter may decide to cut the stone into multiple smaller diamonds of various shapes or sizes, or into one large stone. Usually the first scenario is the most common.

Thanks to modern technology, a scanning laser computer is now often used in the industry to map the rough diamond. The computer will then automatically determine the best way to cut the stone to maximize profit on the rough material. Even with this advanced technology, a skilled diamond cutter still has the last say on how to cut the stone.

Diamonds are cut and polished, usually by hand, on a device called a lapidary. A similar technique is used to cut and facet all gemstones. First, the rough diamond is cleaved or laser cut to form the basic shape. The diamond is then attached to the end of a rod called a dop. By placing this rod at certain precise angles and rotations, the diamond can be positioned to precise measurements for cutting and polishing. The diamond is ground against a rotating disc, called a lap, which is coated in water and diamond powder. Since only diamond can cut diamond, a diamond powder is used for this process. By rotating and angling the stones to precise measurements, and grinding the stone using finer and finer grits, the stone is eventually cut and polished.

The Final Steps

Once the stone is cut and polished, and it passes a quality control inspection, it is sent to a gemmological lab to be graded. Once graded, it is sold to distributors, who then sell the stone to manufacturers, who then set the diamond into finished jewellery. They then sell this to a retailer, who eventually sells it to you!

It can take billions of years before a diamond is even mined. Then the process from the mine to the finished piece of jewellery can take months or years to complete, and requires a lot of labour and skill. At Kimberfire, we cut out the middlemen and connect you directly with the diamond cutters and distributors. This way we can provide you with a beautiful diamond, and with the exceptional in-person service you would expect from a high end retailer, but at a fraction of the cost when compared to a traditional store.

Image credits: Lucara Diamond Corp., Rio Tinto’s Diavik Foxfire, Rio Tinto’s Argyle Pink Jubilee