Friday, March 16, 2012

Diamond or Not Part 3: The Sources of Beauty

"If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is!" 
I intend this series as a practical guide for those who are - quite understandably - confused by the wide and wild variety of diamonds "diamond substitutes" and "diamond simulants". 
I don't even try to cover all the names, that advertisers put out there in their attempts to stir the already murky waters. 

All I am trying to do is to help you make informed shopping decision based on common sense. This - our  Common Sense  - is what is the target of various marketing efforts; most of which  are legitimate, reputable  and sell fair quality products. The difficulty for the consumer is to select products they are going to be happy with. 
Before we continue I prepared a few lists of  commonly used minerals, (trade) names, term  and concepts, that can be confusing and without full understanding, may lead to a regretted purchase.


The 4Cs
We are all familiar with the 4Cs of diamond buying. This sounds like a great and simple list of things to check. We are relieved when tough decisions are taken off our shoulders by easy to do methods, that will lead us infallibly to good decisions.

However, we are all (well, most of us) conspiracy theorists deep in our minds  and I would like to urge you to call upon that guy in your head, because the 4Cs can easily be abused to make inappropriate purchase! Does this mean the 4Cs are tools in  a conspiracy to get your money? No way, but they suggest that  value determination is easy and quantitative. Furthermore - in order to make it easy - the 4Cs are only a very limited set of value determinants put into a particular order, that does not necessarily reflect on the needs or goals of most buyers.

In light of the above, we can re-phrase our motto: "If it sounds too easy, it probably is".

So for now, let's forget about the 4Cs  and examine from a scientific viewpoint, what are the parameters, that determine the beauty of diamonds in particular and most gemstones in general.

We find gemstones beautiful, because what they do with the light. They take light, spin it around, bounce it off, break it up into elements - colors - swallow some of it and throw the rest back at us. We can say, that we enjoy the byproduct of the struggle of  gemstones with light. What we see is what the gems spits back at us! The parts that it does not want, make us delighted!

Ironically, in the places where gemstones  were born, there is usually little or no light. However some research say, that diamonds - particularly black diamonds - are the products of supernovae. Go figure...

However, diamonds and gemstones are not born ready to be set in a ring!  Their beauty has to be uncovered by skillful craftsmen, lapidary artists and diamond cutters. Here I offer my apologies to mineral enthusiasts, who find beauty in the rough, uncut form of gemstones and minerals. There is infinite beauty to be found in the natural formations, colors and inside structures of unprocessed or partly cut crystals! I am just focusing on a particular area in these postings, that's all.

In short, what does the cutter do? He/she creates light reflecting surfaces by removing material from the  crystal.  The cutter's selection of the part of the material and the geometry of the reflecting surfaces will ultimately  determine how successfully the gem will process light.

I think this is the time to review the 4Cs:

While the particular order in which these qualities are presented does not seem to bear much importance, I think that it is important!

So let me rearrange the above list:


And now let's see what is behind each of these qualities, that determine the value.
Please note, that I use the word "value" quite often and we need to be clear about what is value as opposed to price.

Value is determined by the user. Price is determined by the market.

Value is the combination of qualities in an item, that makes us happy to own it. Some of these qualities are :

It is obvious, that most of the above are very subjective; what one person finds beautiful may be ugly for another. Some people find manual transmission very useful, while others would never drive a stickshift car. And so on.
Even Price is subjective, to the extent, that many items on the market are subject to bargaining: what some of us finds reasonable price, others will find too high or too low!

To be continued....

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