The Rarest Diamonds On Earth

“A Diamond is Forever.” Possibly one of the most brilliant marketing campaigns of all time. Created by De Beers in the 1930’s this one small phrase created the foundation for one of our society’s most powerful symbols of love and commitment: the diamond engagement ring.

When you think of an engagement ring, what do you see?  For most, it’s a white diamond, typically round in shape. Tradition, availability, and ease of access to consumer information have made white diamonds the standard and most commercially desirable stone on the market. But for those who are looking for something different, something unique, and something that stands apart from the norm, let us entice you with an alternative: what our ever advancing industry officially refers to as: “fancy colored diamonds”.

Diamonds are the only gemstones in the world that form in every color of the known color spectrum. Although is it not uncommon for natural diamonds to have hints of brown and yellow, these hues need to be exceptionally intense/saturated for a diamond to be considered “fancy.” Any other color from the spectrum (excluding yellow) is considered fancy because of its relative rarity (less than 1%). Essentially, natural fancy colored diamonds are extremely rare. Of all diamonds that are mined, only 20% are considered “gem quality” (cut and polished for use in jewelry) and the other 80% are used for industrial purposes (i.e. diamond saw blades and drills). Of that 20% of gem quality stones, only about 1.5% are fancy colored diamonds.

As diamonds are pure carbon, in their purest form they are absolutely white. However, if certain chemical particles and circumstances are present during a diamond’s formation, the result is a colored diamond. For example, the presence of nitrogen creates yellow and orange diamonds.  The natural element boron creates blue, and radiation (natural uranium) creates green. Red, pink, brown and violet diamonds are created when heat and pressure change the lattice structure after formation to absorb different naturally forming colors.

Of course, some colors are more rare than others. In order of rarity there is red (less than .0005%), blue, pink, orange, and green. Pricing is determined accordingly. Depending on the color and intensity, a stone can be valued 20% to 5000% higher than a non-fancy diamond, and in many circumstances because some are so rare, we as an industry consider them priceless.  In fact in these cases, often the value can only be determined at auction.

This value creates desire. Bidding wars over important fancy colored diamonds at the world’s largest auctions regularly make headlines as people will go to great lengths to capitalize on these stones. In one famous story, a 0.95 carat fancy red diamond was auctioned at Sotheby’s for $900,000. It was an I3 clarity,  the LOWEST clarity grade a diamond can be given.  Only because of it’s rare color did it achieve this price.  In addition, an employee at Sotheby’s attempted and horribly failed to switch this rare stone out with a white diamond doctored with a small amount of red nail polish in an attempt to falsify this effect and capitalize on his/her own.

Fancy colored diamonds are making headlines today because of their tremendous growth in value. Whereas we have seen prices soar over the last few decades, the Wall Street Journal has recently reported that from 2005-2016, fancy colored diamond prices have increased an average of 275%, outperforming the S&P by more than double and any other financial matrix by a considerable amount. Of course one can never fully know what the market is going to do, but this compelling data is perhaps indicative of a future trend in investing as more people look for better returns through diverse assets.

It is no secret that we are immense admirers of fancy colored diamonds here at D&H. Since our inception we’ve been drawn to the lush and vibrant beauty that they bring to our designs.  A genuine understanding of their rarity attracts us to them just that much further: now we would be honored to invite you into our fancy colored diamond fan club and introduce you personally to our collection of these exceptionally rare gems.

The Allure of the Old Mine Cut

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At D&H Jewelers we are always hunting for rare and unique materials to inspire our designs. Photographed above, each one of our signature solitaire pendants is set with a one-of-a-kind gem from our treasure box of stones. A staple of this collection is the Old Mine Cut diamond. As they are some of our very favorite stones work with (and hunt for), we would like to share with you the compelling history and features of these coveted antique beauties.

What exactly is an Old Mine Cut diamond and why are they so popular today?

Old Mine Cut diamonds were cut by hand before the invention of electricity and modern gemology. They were cut and polished on a wheel powered by foot pedal, and were shaped at the discretion of the individual stonecutter.  Dating back hundreds of years, each of these antique diamonds has a history that is time-stamped into their shape by the available cutting technology of the time and the unique skills of the individual stonecutters who left their mark on them.

Though these antique cuts have been used in jewelry for centuries, the demand for historic diamonds is currently surging. As a truly sustainable diamond option, these stones have inspired many creations at D&H Jewelers over the years.  D&H antique diamonds are up-cycled from once-loved jewelry, and are arguably one of the “cleanest” diamond options available:  there is no environmental impact what-so-ever in their sourcing.

As technologies evolved, so did the precision in cutting techniques. The modern brilliant cut diamond- now standard today- was only first created in the 1940’s. This cut was invented to maximize the light refraction through a complex faceting structure and ideal table-depth proportions, ultimately creating a firework display for the eye.

An off-round or cushion-like shape distinguishes Old Mine Cut diamonds. They date back to the 1700’s and were the first departure from the rose cut (another ancient cut in high demand today). These antique cuts are not only less complex in their faceting structure, but are also shaped differently, as shown in the diagrams below. As opposed to a modern round brilliant diamond, Old Mine Cut diamonds have a large girdle, high crown, small table and large flat culet.

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With these features, each antique diamond exhibits a special personality and scintillation that differs from the brilliance of a modern cut diamond. Antique diamonds are known to have a romantic glittering effect that is even enhanced in low lighting. It is said the Old Mine Cuts diamonds were invented to shimmer by candlelight.  Like candlelight, these stones have an undeniable charm that draws us to them with their warmth and simplicity: the hallmarks of nostalgia.

D&H Sustainability Glossary

Botswana Diamonds

Botswana is a Sub-Saharan African nation with some of the world’s top-producing diamond mines. Because the tribal government of Botswana maintains a 50% ownership stake in the mines, the wealth that the mines generate is distributed back to the country’s citizens in the form of universal benefits such as free healthcare, land, and education through college level anywhere in the world, as well as countrywide infrastructure improvements. Botswana diamonds are cut and polished by local people within the country. Funds from the sales of Botswana diamonds also enable the protection Botswana’s rich wildlife and natural lands, which account for nearly 20 percent of its land mass.

Canadian Diamonds

Canadian diamond mines, located in the Northwest Territories, operate under extensive environmental protections and social responsibilities to native peoples. All Canadian diamond mines are overseen by strict governmental regulations and continue to produce some of the world’s finest diamonds.

Fair Trade Gems

Fair Trade Gems adhere to a set of protocols set forth by Fairtrade America and Fairtrade International that work to protect environmental sustainability, fair wages, workplace safety, and cultural identity. Fair Trade Gems also have a direct chain of custody, in which the miners facilitate the cutting, polishing and sales of their gemstones.

Gemological Institute of America (GIA)

The GIA is the world’s leading gemological laboratory and educator. A non-profit organization founded in 1931, the GIA invented the 4 C’s (carat, color, clarity, and cut), which is the modern diamond grading system used worldwide today. GIA laboratories generate grading reports for individual diamonds, and a GIA Diamond Grading Report (“cert” as many call it) is thought to be the premier credential of diamond quality. The exacting standards of the GIA are globally recognized both by consumers as well as all facets of the diamond industry.

SCS Global Services Certification

SCS Global Services is an accredited independent certification organization for a wide range of consumer goods and industries. Through the company’s extensive auditing process, it provides a neutral third-party verification of environmental and social sustainability, which includes a Responsible Metals, Mining, and Jewelry certification. This certification process verifies source chains-of-custody as well as business operating practices.

Reclaimed Precious Metals

Reclaimed precious metals are extracted from post-consumer and post-industrial uses. D&H precious metals are processed in an SCS Global and ISO 14001 certified facility (one of top most sustainable companies in the world). As opposed to newly mined metals that generate many tons of waste and chemical byproduct through their extraction, reclaimed metals are reclaimed from electronic scrap (i.e. cell phones and computers), catalysts, and fuel cells.

Up-Cycled Diamonds and Gemstones

Up-cycled diamonds and gemstones are repurposed from post-consumer vintage and antique jewelry. Besides having no direct environmental impact in the sourcing of up-cycled stones, many of these gems exhibit unique cuts and shapes that are no longer created today (i.e. Old Mine Cut and Old European Cut diamonds).