Mastering the art of diamonds

By Heather Wuelpern

Welcome to part two of this six-part series with local diamond expert, Birko Roland, co-owner of The Diamond Store. Today, Roland shares his knowledge on the 4 C’s, how bigger isn’t necessarily better when it comes to carats, and how to prioritize the C’s. The next edition of this six-part series will cover the pros and cons of lab-grown diamonds. 

Asking “How many carats is your engagement ring?” is the equivalent of asking “How many square feet is your home?”. The carats reveal the weight of a diamond and the square footage tells the size of the house, but neither answer describes the character or what makes them special. 

Birko Roland from The Diamond Store shared a story about a time when he noticed a table of women at a restaurant. His eye narrowed in on the diamonds since they are his passion after all. He noticed that one woman wearing what looked to be a five-carat diamond ring that “had no fire,” as Roland put it, and it didn’t reflect the light nearly as much as the ring on another woman’s hand who was sitting next to her. The diamond was about a fifth as large, but “I could see the light popping out of her diamond like a disco ball across the room since it was of such good quality.” He continued, “She was the winner at the table. She could show it with pride.” 

So, what constitutes good quality? Roland shared some “Diamond 101” tips with us by describing the 4 C’s—cut, color, clarity, and carat—so you can have the knowledge to purchase with confidence.  

Roland stated, “The 4 C’s give us an idea of the quality and the value of the diamond. Although, without seeing a diamond, you wouldn’t know if the diamond is actually beautiful.”  The cut is the symmetrical proportion of the diamond and is responsible for the reflection of the light. It catches the light and pushes it back through the top. “I will not compromise on cut. Like, never!” Roland continued, “The rule is: Put your money in what you see. Beauty, you see.” 

Color is harder to see. The range spans from D to Z. D is colorless like a glass of water. G to J is nearly colorless, like a glass of water but with a drop of tea in it. The tea would disappear, and you would still drink the water, but that slight difference will cost a lot of money. 

The carat size is very visible, but you will also feel it in your wallet. Roland explained how he would cut a 40-carat diamond into sizes that meet the demands of the market. Moreover, there are more half-carats than one-carats and more one-carats than two-carat diamonds. The bigger the diamond carat weight the rarer it becomes in the market.

Clarity references the microscopic inclusions or blemishes that get trapped in a diamond when it is formed. Clarity is typically where people are willing to compromise first since minor inclusions are generally not visible to the naked eye.

When asked what the top priority was in selecting a quality diamond, Birko wholeheartedly replied, “Cut!”. The cut refers to the proportions and symmetry the diamond cutter makes to bring out the maximum possible light. The table, width, and depth determine a diamond’s ability to reflect light properly. When a diamond is cut where the table size and depth are in proportion to the diameter, the light will reflect beautifully. And light refracts from the angles when the width is proportionate as well. When these cuts are not done properly, the light ends up leaking out the bottom of the diamond instead. In the end, whether you like the look of a round, pear, emerald, princess, marquis, or cushion shape, symmetry matters most. 

After cut, Roland ranked the other C’s in the following order: carat, color, then clarity to “get the best diamond for your money.” He then concluded, “But do not compromise to a level that influences the quality negatively. Don’t compromise on clarity so much that it looks dirty.”

Additionally, Roland offered a tip about the importance of beginning with selecting the diamond before choosing a setting. He used the analogy that the diamond is to a painting as the setting is to the frame. The painting is where the value is. The frame can easily be changed. Start with a beautiful diamond!

Now that you understand the four C’s of diamonds, you need to determine which side of the house analogy suits you. Would you rather live in a home with fewer square feet with more charm and personality or in a McMansion that has no soul? Perhaps you will be lucky enough to be able to afford size and quality. If not, The Diamond Store offers its customers in-house 0% financing for five years. Therefore, a $10,000 ring would be about $160/month, for example, which is the equivalent of a daily store-bought gourmet coffee. 

Now that you have learned about the four C’s, come back a week from next Sunday for the third part of this six-part series. You will learn about the rise in popularity of lab-grown diamonds as well as the pros and cons. 

About The Diamond Store

As one of America’s leading importers of natural and lab created diamonds with operations throughout the nation, The Diamond Store is revolutionizing the way you buy loose diamonds and fine jewelry. Our carefully selected team of diamond specialists are dedicated to providing detailed education and expert guidance along with the largest selection of loose diamonds with unrivaled value in the West. At The Diamond Store, your needs are truly our priority. We always aim for the sky to provide you with an experience of prestige and excellence. The Diamond Store, the store that will forever change how Tucson buys diamonds and fine jewelry.

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