Besides being a girl’s best friend (Am I allowed to use the word girls without consequences these days?), diamonds can also be a gentleman’s bane, for a whole slew of reasons; the trouble, the never-ending choices, and most importantly, the cost. It’s no secret diamonds are expensive, and if they are not expensive, well then you bought crummy, lifeless, inexpensive diamonds.
I sold my first diamond in 1968 at the age of fourteen, a memorable transaction that involved first my nervousness, a pair of tweezers, an airborne loose diamond and a ladies cleavage. (I’ll leave it at that, you connect the dots!) I’ll never forget the quality of that one-carat round diamond, it was of the highest quality in both color and clarity and I sold it for a whopping $1,950 dollars… a lot a money in those days. (For those of you who don’t know or can’t remember, an average cost for a house back then was around $23,000!)
Today, the appraisal value for that diamond I sold in 1968 is around $12,000 or more. Back in the good ole days diamonds (like most things compared to today’s standards) were reasonably priced for excellent quality, as was heavy gold jewelry (understandable since gold then was only $40 an ounce, compared to $1,340 at this writing). Carrying low quality was not even an option unless you were a big box store like Service Merchandise or similar establishment.
Back to the diamond buying gentleman’s plight, the majority of guys are really into the whole process of buying their significant other (or in some cases, another other) a nice piece of diamond jewelry. In my shop scenario it usually is a major upgrade of the smaller original engagement ring that he purchased before the 1980s. It could weigh anywhere between a quarter to a half carat diamond, and at that time was all he could afford. She now wants a larger diamond.
Let the drama begin. Some folks have some inkling as to the current cost of a fine two-carat diamond, only most don’t. I always watch the guy’s facial expression when I answer the question “How Much?” My answer: $17,000 to $25,000. Some reactions are complacent, others require an oxygen mask and smelling salts, and some involve from a mild to full blown drama by the couple before me.
I am fortunate to have a majority of the less dramatic, who honestly want to buy a really nice diamond. They want to know their options achieving that goal, and there are several. Clarity enhanced diamonds are one option. I have mentioned these in the past and I sell many of these, especially set in engagement rings and earrings. The color is of the highest quality and the inclusions have been scientifically removed, one can save a great deal of money with the clarity-enhanced option. Another way is to lower one’s standards when purchasing a non-enhanced diamond. By that I mean, lower the color and the clarity or even the size. A diamond with passable color and clarity (clarity is the internal cleanliness of the diamond) will be more affordable than a high color, flawless diamond. Another way is reducing the size slightly. For example, a 1.95-carat diamond will cost significantly less than a 2-carat diamond because the price per carat increases at the 2-carat level, and the size looks identical. The same goes for a 0.92-carat vs. a 1-carat.
Another way is using the “halo style” mounting to significantly enhance the look of your current diamond by surrounding your original diamond with more diamonds. The difference is amazing and makes your diamond look larger. The cost of a new halo ring mounting will be much less than purchasing a larger diamond.
The reasons can be endless to own a fine diamond and the same can be true not to own one. Millennials seem to reject wearing natural diamonds and inquire about synthetic or lab created “diamonds,” after they have spent hours online researching the pros and cons of natural diamond ownership. Lab created diamonds? That’s something I refuse to carry because not only are they expensive, they have zero resale value. To me it’s a glorified cubic zirconia that doesn’t scratch!
They also wear jewelry made of wood, shells, rocks, steel or recycled metals held together with leather, and wear laptop computers on their wrists. What they desire and keeping it earth friendly is not what I carry in my “jewelry store owned by a goldsmith,” so needless to say we are miles apart on that the lab created diamond subject.
The endless reasons for the giving of a diamond or diamonds can be for engagement, weddings, birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, birth of a child, to name a few. A nearly extinct reason to buy diamonds recently brought joy and happiness for a lovely sixteen-year-old, when her grandparents presented her with a stunning pair of simple three prong diamond stud earrings for her “sweet sixteen.” She was so proud of those earrings. Many old traditions, such as presentations of sweet sixteen jewelry, have pretty much gone by the wayside like a fedora hat, and that’s sad.
Diamonds may not be the best investment monetarily, but as a token of love and cherished memories for that sixteen-year-old, those diamond earrings will always bring back the wonderful times she shared with her grandparents. And that is priceless!
Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of The Harbor Goldsmith at Island Plaza and welcomes your questions about all that glitters. Contact him at 239-394-9275 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his informative website at www.harborgoldsmith.com.