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Diamond Shapes

Diamond Shapes to Wear and Love

When most people think of diamonds, they immediately picture the round brilliant cut diamond. While this is the most popular shape of diamond available, there are actually many more shapes to choose from. Each of these shapes has their own unique character, and also their own type of sparkle.

Round Brilliant Cut – The Classic

The most popular cut, the round brilliant diamond as it is known today was designed by Marcel Tolkowsky in 1919. Tolkowsky was an engineer from a family of diamond cutters. He calculated the exact ideal proportions, number of facets, and angles of the cut, using the physical and optical properties of diamond. He is recognized as being the first person to accurately design the ideal cut for a diamond to display a maximum balance of sparkle, fire and brilliance. His cutting design is now regarded as the North American standard for round brilliant diamonds.

As the name suggests, round brilliant diamonds are circular and round in shape and display even and symmetrical brilliance across the stone. Since the round brilliant cut is standardized, there is a standard cut grading system used to evaluate the stone, with grades ranging from “excellent” to “poor”. For a beautiful diamond, we always recommend to have a cut grade of “very good” to “excellent”. Anything below this standard, and the diamond loses its sparkle. Since only the round cut is completely standardized, it is the only shape of diamond that will have a cut grading on a GIA report.

The round brilliant cut is ideal for those who are looking for a classic look that will really maximize the sparkle of their stone. This type of cut looks great in all sorts of engagement ring designs, from the classic solitaire, to the modern halo design. For the gentlemen out there looking for an engagement ring, you can never go wrong with a round cut. It is the most popular cut, the most brilliant, and will be the safest choice for your other half if they haven’t told you what they like.

Oval Cut

The oval cut dates back to the 1950’s. It is essentially a round brilliant cut, but stretched out into an oval shape. Like the round brilliant, it also shows great sparkle, fire, and brilliance. Some oval cut diamonds can show what is called a “bowtie” effect, which usually occurs when the diamond is cut too deep or shallow, or if the diamond is too narrow and long. This effect appears as a dull area in the middle of the stone, resembling a bowtie, where there is less reflection of light. With oval cut diamonds, as well as other shapes that commonly have this effect, it is always recommended to examine the stone to ensure it does not have a noticeable bowtie.

The oval cut is a great option for those who like the look of the round cut, but want a diamond with a longer profile. When set in a ring, oval cut diamonds accentuate the length of the finger and look great in many different designs. As an added bonus, an oval cut diamond can also appear larger than a round diamond of the same carat weight.

Pear Cut

Otherwise referred to as a “teardrop” shape, the pear cut is essentially a modified oval cut where one end has been “pinched” to create a point. Like the oval cut, the pear cut is prone to displaying a bowtie effect as well. Care must also be taken when inspecting the diamond to ensure that the point of the stone is centered and the stone is symmetrical and evenly rounded on both sides.

The pear shape, like the oval, also accentuates the length of a finger when set into a ring. Due to the asymmetrical shape of this cut, it may be more difficult to pair this diamond with other stones in a three stone ring. As such, this cut is best reserved for solitaires and halo rings. They also look great in a pair of drop style earrings, or on a pendant. The teardrop shape of this cut gives the stone a very elegant and graceful look.

Marquise Cut

The marquise cut is rumoured to date back all the way to 17th century France, when King Louis XIV requested to have a cut made to resemble the smile of his favourite mistress, Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, the Marquise de Pompadour. Since then the cut has been perfected to make it even more brilliant. Resembling a pear cut, but with points at each end, the marquise cut is the cut most prone to a bowtie effect. A visual inspection of the diamond can help you ensure you don’t receive a diamond with this effect.

This diamond will have a long, slender appearance, and will be the longest of any diamond cut within a certain carat weight. Often seen in vintage jewellery, the marquise cut is a good choice for someone who is looking for lots of sparkle but also wants a more bold, unique, yet vintage look.

Heart Cut

Probably the most romantic of all the diamond cuts, and the most feminine, this diamond shape is very seldom seen being worn. It takes a certain personality to pull this one off, but it can really make a statement. Similar to the pear cut, but with a cleft and two lobes at the top of the stone, the heart cut is also prone to showing a bowtie effect. Though, this is often not as prominent in the heart cut compared to some of the other fancy cuts. With this cut, it is all about symmetry. It is important to ensure that the cleft is indented enough, but not too far, and that it is properly centered. The two lobes must also be of equal height and width, and must have an even, rounded profile. A heart cut is one of the hardest diamond cuts to accomplish, and requires the skill of a master diamond cutter to produce. As such, it can be one of the most expensive cuts on the market.

While difficult to cut, and selling at a premium for this reason, the heart cut makes the ultimate statement in an engagement ring (or any other gifts for your significant other!). As the saying goes, a diamond is forever… so a heart cut diamond is the ultimate symbol of eternal love.

Princess Cut

The princess cut originated in the early 1980’s in London, England. With a square shape, sharp corners, and straight edges, this diamond shape is definitely striking. Princess cut diamonds are known to show a lot of sparkle. This cut also provides a few extra benefits when compared to other shapes. Due to its cutting style, the princess cut can hide inclusions more easily than some of the other shapes. Another great bonus is that princess cuts are one of the most economical cuts of diamond available as they minimize wastage of the rough diamond during cutting.

The princess cut is ideal for those who want a stone with a distinctly square shape, but still want to maximize the sparkle and brilliance of their diamond. It holds up very well in a solitaire setting, but can also look beautiful in a halo design.

Cushion Cut

The cushion shape is one of the oldest diamond shapes still in use today. Some of the world’s most famous historical diamonds are cut in the cushion shape, but not with the same brilliance that the modern cushion cut has. Thanks again to Marcel Tolkowsky, the cushion cut was modified to have more facets to rival the brilliance of the round cut. Many cushion cuts now on the market will be officially classified as a “modified brilliant cushion cut”. These stones have enough sparkle, fire and brilliance to rival the round brilliant diamond. While the cushion cut is usually more square in shape with rounded edges and corners, they can come in more rectangular shapes as well.

Cushions carry a lot of their weight in their pavilion (the bottom half of the diamond), and so will accentuate any colour in the stone. This is why they make a great choice for fancy coloured diamonds. For this very same reason, you may need to pick a stone with a slightly higher colour grading if you choose this cut for a colourless diamond. The cushion cut is a great choice for those who want the look of a square diamond, but don’t like the sharp edges and corners of the princess cut. Despite its long history, it is a modern cutting style, while still keeping to a more classic semi-rounded shape.

Emerald Cut

The ultimate vintage shape for a diamond. The emerald cut, as the name suggests, was originally created for emeralds in the 1920’s, and was soon adopted for diamonds as well. While this cut was created in the 1920’s and officially called an emerald cut, its basic elements have origins dating back to the older “table cut” from the 1500’s. The emerald cut was immensely popular during the Art Deco period, and has seen a resurgence in popularity in the past number of years. While not as brilliant as some of the other cuts in this list due to their larger and fewer facets, this cut is very popular for those looking for a diamond with a vintage look. Due to the large facets and large table (the largest facet, which is in the center of the diamond), inclusions are more visible in this cut of diamond than in other cuts. This cut is also fairly deep, so it will accentuate any colour in the stone. For these reasons, it is important to select a diamond with higher colour and clarity than what you would normally select in a round brilliant cut stone. This cut of diamond is also well suited for fancy coloured diamonds since the depth of the stone will really capture and show off the colour. When selecting the diamond, ensure that the keel of the stone (the bottom part of the stone resembling the keel of a ship) is straight and aligned properly. Also look for the “hall of mirrors” effect, wherein the bottom facets of the stone should resemble a hall of mirrors, reflecting light back to your eye.

This cut is the most popular choice for those seeking a vintage look. The long, rectangular shape of the diamond also accentuates the length of a finger when worn in a ring. It can look great in a solitaire, but can also be quite stunning in a three stone ring. In a halo design, the emerald cut shows great contrast with the rest of the ring and can create an interesting look.

Asscher Cut

The asscher cut was originally developed in 1902 by the Asscher Brothers of Holland, and closely resembles the emerald cut. The primary difference here is that the asscher cut does not have a keel like the emerald cut, and is more square in its shape (while still maintaining the cut-cornered octagonal look). This cut of diamond has all the same characteristics as the emerald cut when it comes to how the stone shows colour and clarity. The asscher cut is a great choice for those who want a vintage look, but prefer a square shape as opposed to the more rectangular shape of the emerald cut.

Radiant Cut

Probably one of the least-known and under-appreciated cuts, the radiant cut is usually seen in fancy coloured diamonds and rarely in colourless diamonds. It was originally invented in the 1970’s, yet many are still not familiar with this cut. The radiant, like the cushion and emerald cuts, also has a heavier pavilion. This means that the stone will show colour more than a round brilliant cut. What makes the radiant cut a great option is that it has the same cut-cornered, semi-octagonal shape as an emerald or asscher cut diamond, but has much more brilliance due to its larger number of facets. Like these cuts as well, the radiant cut can be found in both square and rectangular shapes, while still having the same brilliance.

The radiant cut is a great option for those who are looking for a unique shape, but do not want to compromise on the brilliance of the diamond. It is a versatile cut style that can be utilized in many different ring designs, both in colourless and fancy coloured diamonds.

A Shape for Everyone

There are diamond shapes for all different types of personalities and preferences. From the classic round cut, to the vintage emerald and asscher cuts, to the more unique marquise and heart cuts, there are many different options to choose from. What is your favourite diamond shape? Let us know in the comments!

Edwardian Jewelry

Edwardian Jewelry: Classic Antique Design

Antique styles are extremely popular when it comes to engagement ring designs and there is a vast selection from all the different eras. Whatever your personal style is you will probably be able to find an antique ring that suits your tastes. One of the more popular time periods for antique rings is that of the Edwardian Era. Jewelry from this period is classic and traditional, as well as very feminine. While the name ‘Edwardian Jewelry’ may not be commonly known, I guarantee you the style is. It has a timeless appeal, which is the reason it remains in high demand today.

The High Society of the Edwardian Era

The Edwardian Era began in England in 1901 when Queen Victoria died and her son Edward took the thrown. The period ended in 1914 with the start of WWI. In France, the same period is referred to as ‘The Belle Époque’ or the beautiful age. King Edward and his Queen Alexandra were fashion leaders who helped established an international high society throughout Europe. This era is considered a romantic and elegant age, but it was also a time when the class system was rigid, and a huge gap in wealth existed between the high and low classes. Wearing fine jewelry was a necessity for those in high society, and it was worn to show one’s rank and wealth. While today it can be considered vulgar to flaunt extreme wealth, in Edwardian high society it was a requirement.

Design Characteristics and Inspiration

One of the defining features of Edwardian jewelry is the use of platinum. In 1903 the oxyacetylene torch was invented, which reached the high temperatures needed to melt platinum. Because platinum is one of the hardest and most durable metals, very delicate and intricate designs became possible without worry of breakage. Platinum is also excellent for setting diamonds, and the use of diamonds was widespread throughout this period. Another important feature in Edwardian jewelry is the technique of milgraining. This is when a small border of beads is created to surround the gemstones and follow the edges of the design. Miligrain adds a lighter and softer appearance to the metal.

Inspiration for the Edwardian style came from traditional motifs of the past. Neo-classical and Rococo artists of the 18th century, as well as the French courts of Versailles were all influences. The famous jeweler Cartier had his designers wander the streets of Paris looking at 17th and 18th century architecture for inspiration. Pattern books featuring ornamental designs from the past began to circulate widely during this time, and this was also reflected in the jewelry. Popular motifs were garlands, ribbons, wreaths, bows, knots and lace, which were all created with an airy lightness that platinum provided.

The Styles of the Time

Ladies in the early 1900’s wore silk and lace dresses in pastel colours, which matched the elegant platinum and diamond jewelry. Diamond ‘dog collars’ became hugely popular, as did black velvet chokers with a diamond motif in the center. Queen Alexandra would pile many jeweled chokers upon her neck, said to be hiding a scar from her childhood. Soon enough all the royal ladies and those in high society were copying her style. Brooches were typically worn on the dress until about 1910 when changing necklines led to the wearing of necklaces with one or two hanging pendants. Earrings were long with open work design that reflected the flowing gowns. Tiaras were an essential part of the elite lady’s outfit, and platinum allowed for elaborate design without being too heavy on the head. Rings had large center stones surrounded by smaller stones. Multiple stacked rings on the finger were also very trendy. Rings had elongated outlines, pierced work and filigree design. Some rings were so large they covered the finger from knuckle to knuckle. Women often wore their engagement rings on a different hand than their wedding band, as the engagement ring’s size and shape didn’t fit with a band.

End of an Era

This age of elegance abruptly ended in 1914 with the start of WWI in Europe. Platinum was needed for the war effort and jewelry production in Europe came to a halt. No longer could royalty and high society flaunt their wealth so freely when the entire country and continent was under fire. The jewelry industry did recover after the war and by the mid 1920’s the Art Deco style became all the rage. While the Edwardian era lasted for less than 15 years, its light and elegant designs remain in style today. For today’s engagement rings, the white metal and white diamond style is definitely the most popular look. Many elements from antique Edwardian rings are still very common, such as milgraining and small diamonds surrounding a larger one. It just goes to show you that, like most fashions, when it comes to jewelry – what goes around, comes back around.

Image Credit: Berganza

Art Deco Rings

Art Deco Jewelry: Timeless Elegance

Anyone who has any interest in jewelry has probably come across the term Art Deco many times. Whether you are looking at rings on Pinterest, trying on earrings in a store, or shopping online for the perfect necklace, Art Deco keeps popping up. That’s because even though Art Deco is an antique style, it is soaring in popularity these days. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about this period in jewelry.

Origins in Paris of 1925

Art Deco style got its name from the 1925 ‘Exposition International des Arts Decoratifs et Industrial Modernes’. This was a World’s Fair in Paris which showcased modern designs in decorative art. This new design style came to be known as Art Deco and was applied to architecture, jewelry, fashion, art and interior design. This new style celebrated modernity and technology and was a direct response to the austerity caused by WWI.

Design Characteristics and Influences

Art Deco design has simple clean lines, uses symmetry and repetition and has a strong focus on geometric shapes. It is also known for its rich colours and unusual materials. The jewelry was often set with calibre cut gemstones, which means the gems were cut precisely to fit into a specific design, usually to enhance the geometric pattern. A big influence on the Deco aesthetic was the discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tomb, which was opened in 1922 and revealed the ancient jewelry and art of Egypt. Designers were also influenced by Indian, African, Oriental and Persian design.

Prominent Jewelers

Jewelry sales were booming in the 1920’s, reflecting the growing consumerism and affluence of people in both Europe and North America. The big name jewelry houses designed in the Deco style, and many of their most famous pieces are from this era. Tiffany, Cartier, Mauboussin, Lalique, Fouquet, Boucheron, Harry Winston and Van Cleef and Arpels are just a few of the houses with stunning Art Deco jewelry in their archives. These jewelers usually signed their work and these signed pieces sell for very high prices at auctions today. It was also during this period that Van Cleef and Arpels invented their famous invisible gem setting technique, in which gem stones are mounted through a system of grooves and rails so that no metal is visible.

Fashion Inspired

The Art Deco jewelry styles directly related to the fashions of the time. WWI had brought major changes to woman’s clothing, as many stopped wearing corsets and the dropped waist look became the trend. Short sleeves, shorter hemlines and short hair all rounded out the look of a fashionable lady. Fashion designers Paul Poiret and Coco Chanel helped bring forward modern fashion, with Poiret disposing of the corset and dressing women in trousers, and Chanel’s sportswear inspired clothing and little black dresses.

Necklaces were worn long to compliment the drop waist dresses. Long ropes of pearls were extremely stylish and have come to be known as the ‘flapper’ style. Another necklace style was the Sautoir, which was a long necklace that suspended a tassel or ornament and was often convertible and could be taken apart to wear as a bracelet, choker or pendant.

Bracelets were a big focal point as the arms were now bare and often multiple ones were stacked up the arm. They were large and often had many rectangular shaped links which would be covered in diamonds, usually the square ‘French cut’ style which complimented the geometric designs.

Earrings were long and dangly to show off the short haircuts and were often set with many diamonds. Most women didn’t have pierced ears and these earrings were usually screw backs.

Dress clips were another popular option, which looked similar to a brooch but instead of a pin it had a clip on the back. Women would wear these on their belts, shoes, purses, hats and lapels.

No stylish lady would go out for the evening without a minaudière, a small case for holding a woman’s belongings, usually bejeweled and covered in lacquer which mimicked the look of enamel. It was always held in the hand, like a modern clutch, and was a great canvas for Deco designs.

The style for engagement rings was usually a diamond surrounded by many smaller diamonds that were often calibre cut. Diamonds in the emerald cut and baguette cut looked great in the simple geometric styles. Rings with large coloured stones cut in cabochon style were a popular style for cocktail rings. For bands it was stylish to have either rubies, diamonds, sapphires or emeralds eternity set around the ring, and these were often stacked on one finger.

A Lasting Influence

If the jewelry described sounds like much of the jewelry which is worn today, that’s because it is. Although the Art Deco style fell out of fashion around the time of WWII, it is now beloved for its clean modern look and the amazing techniques of the jewelers of the time. Original Art Deco pieces are now collectibles and can be very pricey. However, many people choose to have a custom jewelry piece made in the style of Art Deco. This can be a much more reasonably priced option, as well as will ensure you get exactly what you want. If you are looking for a ring, or any other jewelry item in the Art Deco style, please contact us at Kimberfire and we’ll create your perfect piece!

Image Credit: Berganza

Remembrance Day Love Story

In Remembrance: A Soldier’s Love

The bright red poppy on the lapel of a coat is a common sight across Canada every November. The poppy is worn to honour the men and women who have bravely fought to defend our country. November 11th is the day we take a moment to remember the sacrifices made by those who fought in war, as well as those who lost their lives.

During WWI and WWII the Canadian soldiers were usually very young when they were sent over to Europe, and it is hard to imagine how fearful they must have felt leaving their families and friends. One surprising aspect of these wars was the number of romances that blossomed during the time of such horrors, and there are many books and websites dedicated to wartime romances. My very close friend’s grandfather shared with her his story of love in WWII, and she has passed on his tale to share.

Escape From a War Zone

He was born Haroutoon Hatchadorian and he was born in Armenia in 1911. Tragically the Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman Empire began in 1915 in which 800,000 to 1.5 million Armenians lost their lives. Young Haroutoon’s father was killed and he, his older brother and his mother escaped Armenia into Greece. His mother was very ill and his older brother unable to care for him, so he was sent to live in an orphanage. The Canadian government and churches worked together to help the children of the war, and in 1923 the first 50 Armenian orphan boys were brought over to Canada. Haroutoon was chosen to go at the very last minute, when one of the other boys didn’t pass the medical exam. When he arrived in Canada his name was changed to the English name Harry Hatch. These boys were brought to Georgetown, Ontario and raised on farms to be farm hands.

The Beginning of WWII

In 1939 World War II broke out, and Harry enlisted like many young men in Canada. He was stationed at a barracks in Hamilton and began going to the local Armenian center to hang out. It was here that Harry first met Roxie Eloian. After hanging out with Roxie a few times he said he “really went for her in a big way. But I never mentioned any marriage or anything before I left overseas”. Harry was sent to England where he became a driver for the Army Generals. Not too many people knew how to drive or had a chauffeur’s license, but he had learned how to drive on the farm.

Love Letters Across the Sea

During this time he wrote love letters to Roxie back in Canada. Not just a couple of letters, but hundreds of them… enough to fill an entire suitcase. In these letters Harry told Roxie how he had fallen in love with her back in Canada and thought of her all the time. Unfortunately while Harry was driving around the generals he was also training for the raid at Dieppe France. The day came to depart to France and Harry was getting on the truck to go, when one of the generals pulled him off saying, “Hatch is too valuable a driver to us, he can’t go”. This act could have very likely saved his life, as the Dieppe raid was one of the most deadly operations for the Canadian soldiers, with a 68% casualty rate.

An Engagement Ring from England

Harry now knew he wanted to spend his life with Roxie and start a family. He wrote asking her to marry him, but didn’t receive a letter back. He wrote again, telling her “I know that it is hard for you to make up your mind, you don’t really know anything about me and I don’t really know anything about you – this is quite true… It is not that hard for you to say no and it is not that hard for you to say yes… but if you say no I am not coming back to Canada, I am going to stay in England”. After that letter he said “Geez I got a letter from her in no time soon and she said yes!” From England he sent her a ring-sizing card to get the correct ring size and then mailed her diamond engagement ring to Canada. She sent him back a photograph of her wearing his ring.

A Loving Marriage

In 1945 Harry was discharged from the army and came home to Canada. Harry and Roxie married 18 days after he arrived. They moved up into the mountain in Hamilton and had three daughters. Eventually they opened up a convenience store and billiards hall and worked side by side every day. They were married for 36 wonderful years before Harry passed away in 1982. Roxie lived for another 20 years and watched their grandchildren grow up.

It was an amazing life, and an amazing love story. How did Harry know Roxie was the one after spending such a short period of time with her? What was it about her that even after years of being away at war he couldn’t get her out of his mind? And was it just luck that Harry was able to escape both the Armenian genocide and the raid at Dieppe? These are mysteries of life and love that we will never know the answer to, and I think that is what makes this story so very special.

Memento Mori and Mourning Jewelry

The Haunting Beauty of Memento Mori and Mourning Jewelry

Every October the air gets cooler, the nights get longer, and witches and skeletons start appearing in our neighbourhood. Our once cheerful flower gardens become graveyards, while jack-o-lanterns and cobwebs cover every door stoop. Of course this is all to celebrate Halloween, the one night a year that the spirits of the dead are said to be able to cross over into the world of the living, and the living dress in disguises to trick the spirits into leaving them alone. In keeping with this spooky holiday we will look at jewelry designed around the subject of death, in the styles of Memento Mori and mourning jewelry.

Memento Mori

Memento Mori is a Latin phrase which means “Remember that you will die” and can refer to art, jewelry, or literature that focuses on mortality. Memento Mori as an artistic genre is thought to have originated in Roman times and gained popularity in Europe in the 14th century, which coincidentally was the time of the Black Death. Memento Mori jewelry was decorated with the iconography of death, such as skulls, skeletons, and coffins. It was worn to remind the wearer of their own mortality and to inspire them to live piously and cherish their earthly life.

Memorial Jewelry

In the 17th century the Memento Mori style began to be used to commemorate the death of a particular person. Rings were the most common memorial jewelry but lockets, pendants and brooches were also produced. This jewelry would have the name and age of the deceased, and their date of death engraved into gold. The images of skulls, skeletons and coffins were still common and the jewelry was usually decorated with black enamel if the deceased was married and white enamel if they were unmarried. Money was often left in the will of the deceased for the creation of mourning rings, which were to be distributed to their close friends or family after they had passed.

Victorian Mourning Jewelry

In 1861 Prince Albert, the beloved husband of Queen Victoria died of typhoid. The queen was swept into deep mourning, which was imposed on all the British court. While the Victorian people still had a high mortality rate, it was Victoria’s response to Albert’s death that was the catalyst for the public to adopt mourning fashions. Death and grieving was a public act, and an entire industry was created to fulfill the massive demand for mourning clothes and jewelry. Skulls and skeletons were still popular motifs, as well as hourglasses, urns, willow trees, forget-me-nots and weeping eyes. In the first stages of mourning a widow was only allowed to wear black clothes and jewelry, which led to the trend of jet jewelry. Jet is black fossilized driftwood, which was mined in Whitby, England and was turned into jewelry by sculpting or faceting into beads. Because of the high cost of jet many imitations were created which led to the first plastic ever to be used in costume jewelry. Another style of mourning jewelry that gained popular was hair jewelry, in which the hair of the deceased was incorporated into the design. Some hair jewelry used strands of hair to make miniature portraits and scenes, while another style was to braid or weave the hair so that it resembled lace. Hair jewelry was a way to keep a part of a loved one with you forever. Hair jewelry went out of fashion with the rise of photography, as people opted to keep lockets with a photograph of the deceased instead.

The Perfect Halloween Accessory?

Although you can still find jewelry designs today incorporating skulls, they are usually for aesthetic purposes only and don’t hold the spiritual meaning they used to. In today’s society we don’t like to dwell on death or the idea that our lives could be over at any time. The societies of the past didn’t have that option as their lack of medical and scientific expertise meant they had very high mortality rates and death was all around them. In spite of such hardships the jewellers of the time were able to use the darkness of death to inspire such beautiful work. And while we may not want to wear jewelry as a reminder of death on an everyday basis, it is the perfect accessory for a scary Halloween.

Images Courtesy of Art of Mourning