Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Lesson in Rough Diamonds

A friend of mine recently approached me about procuring a rough diamond; uncut, untreated, raw from the earth.  I was pretty excited at the prospect of handling a new, fresh idea versus the literal hundreds of halo engagement rings I have had the pleasure to build over and over again throughout my career.  As much as I love diamonds, and always will, I must say I am getting pretty jaded to the current design market.  Commercial jewelry stores filled with trays upon trays of the same idea.




So obviously when my friend came to me with a nontraditional idea, I jumped at the opportunity to lend a hand.   She initially started sending me Etsy links, which I wholeheartedly admit I cringed.  Etsy can be a wonderful place for design, it brings the internet to the ordinary craftsman and broadens choices for consumers, but it also can be dangerous in the sense you do not know what you are buying.  There is no safety net, and I could tell from some of the pictures I was seeing, the stones depicted and being called diamonds were most likely Herkimers. 


“Herkimer Diamonds are quartz that have grown non-traditionally in that typically their hexagonal shape terminates to a point only at one end of the stone, but in Herkimers, the hexagonal point is echoed also on its opposing side.  This growth causes the quartz to have two points on either end due to the fact the mineral did not grow in close contact with a host rock (http://geology.com/articles/herkimer-diamonds.shtml)”.


So after telling my friend that we should try to find a stone in person, I began educating myself on raw diamond characteristics.

 I know that diamonds naturally can grow in a cube, octahedron (8 sided), or a dodecahedron (12 sided) because of how neat its crystalline structure is atomically composed from Carbon. My DCA background then took me right to the 4 C’s and also has taught me that a third of a diamond’s price is the way it’s cut.  We already know we are taking the cut out of the equation which will dramatically cut the price.  So what we have left is color, carat, and clarity.


Carat is the weight of the stone, to which my friend had not particular preference, so that was not a hindrance. “So I looked into color and clarity, from my research I found that raw diamonds are typically not very white/clear, they are usually tinted gray or yellowish colors since the gem quality diamonds are usually cut for retail product.  That helped knowing that I am not looking for a crystal clear stone. Also I could look for how the surface was formed, like fingerprints.  It could be grooved with growth lines, a frosted or waterworn surface due to water erosion (like sea glass), or it could be Mirrored or glass-like. This knowledge helped but I truly needed to know the difference that would make telling diamonds apart from another stone much easier. That characteristic is a Trigon, tiny triangles that can be thought of as a diamond’s stretch mark (https://www.cigem.ca/ross/rough.html).” 






Armed with new found diamond knowledge, I embarked to the New York/New Jersey Gem and Mineral Show in hopes to find an acceptable diamond specimen.  We found a plethora of Herkimer stones but the search was seemingly growing bleaker by the hour when it seemed no diamonds were in attendance this year, until finally we found a booth that knew of a California based company that specifically sold precious gemstones.  There we fortunately found a few rough diamonds to excitedly choose from and had to decide what was more important; size, shape, or color.  We ended up finding a beautifully perfectly shaped octahedron that was very white in color with visible Trigons.






Sources:
Diamond Photos/Information source: https://www.cigem.ca/ross/rough.html

Herkimer Photo/Information source: http://geology.com/articles/herkimer-diamonds.shtml