Knox Jewelers Blog

Minneapolis Minnesota Jeweler Specializing in Custom Design and Unique Engagement Rings.

How Diamond Cut Grade Affects Fire, Sparkle, Scintillation

Have you ever looked at a diamond and wondered why some diamonds are more attractive than others? While some are bright and flash with a rainbow of colors, others look dark and lifeless? These differences are all based on the cut and shape of a diamond. Cut grade fuels a diamond’s overall visual appeal in fire, sparkle and scintillation.

The light behavior within a diamond directly correlates to how well a diamond is cut. GIA recognized this relationship of a diamond’s cut and the quality of fire and the return of white light. Developing a grading system that quantifies specific measurements, angles, and percentages GIA was able to determine parameters that embody the best qualities in the cut of a diamond.

GIA's Diamond Cut Grade: Example of a Round Brilliant Excellent Cut and Poor Cut

GIA began their 15 year study on the round brilliant by creating a computer model to examine light behavior within a diamond. Developing proportion-based metrics from this model they were able to predict a diamond’s performance on fire and brilliance. However, research proved that computer-based results could not be the only determining factor in judging a diamond’s overall brightness. After surveying industry leaders and general consumers, GIA created a foundation for the round brilliant cut grade.

When a cut grade is given, it is the component of brightness, fire, scintillation, polish, and symmetry, as well as durability and weight concerns. These are all an integral part that make up the GIA diamond cut grade system. With many different proportion combinations possible, GIA was able to determine the relationship of a stone’s interaction with light.

The reflection of light internally and externally in a diamond is called it’s brilliance. Fire is the dispersion of spectrum colors you see when light hits the diamond. The pattern of light and dark areas and the flash of light that emits when a diamond is moved is called scintillation. A well cut diamond will attribute to these three desired qualities because it directs more light through the top of the stone. A poor cut will appear dark because light is exiting through the bottom of the stone if it is too deep or too shallow.

Diamond cut is often confused with its shape. Round, used in most diamond jewelery, is the shape of a stone. All other shapes are classified under fancy shapes. Evaluated only on polish and symmetry, fancy shapes do not receive a cut grade like the round brilliant. These grades are valued ranging from Excellent to Poor.

GIA's Diamond Shape: Round Brilliant and Fancy Shapes

Polish is rated on the overall surface condition of a diamond’s facets. It is the result of the polishing process and blemishes created after cutting. These grades are given to a diamond when viewed under 10X magnification. An Excellent or Very Good may have minute or minor features that can only be seen with the aid of a microscope. Anything Good or lower can affect the appearance of a diamond and may be seen by the naked eye.

GIA's Diamond Cut Grade: Example of Poor Polish

Symmetry is the exactness of shape and placement of the facets. It is subdivided into two types of features, proportion-related and facet-related. These grades are also performed under 10X magnification for its initial face-up impression and profile view. Both angles are evaluated because of the three dimensional nature of a diamond; one symmetry feature can be linked to others. Similar to polish, grades given Good or lower can have symmetry features that are noticeable to the unaided eye.

GIA's Diamond Cut Grade: Example of Poor Symmetry

Understanding GIA parameters for each grade and the specific guidelines they represent, Knox Jewelers recommends fancy shapes to be Good or Better. With almost 30 years of industry experience, we have found that the beauty of a diamond is greatly reduced when selecting polish or symmetry below this standard. A diamond that contains Good or Better qualities enhances the elegance of a handmade Knox custom design.

The care and craftsmanship that goes into each ring is harmonious to the quality of diamond a customer chooses. As the focal point, a diamond captivates the attention with its radiance of sparkle and luster. Selecting a well cut stone to compliment a Knox diamond engagement ring is a timeless expression of love, forever evoking a sense of glamor and romance.

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Ring Styles from The Great Gatsby: Daisy Buchanan Engagement Ring Inspirations 

Did you happen to spot the stunning diamond ring poised elegantly on Daisy Buchanan’s ring finger in The Great Gatsby? The beautiful cushion cut center surrounded in a halo of diamonds has certainly captured the attention of many. The influential attributes of the roaring twenties was portrayed in a lavish display of platinum and diamonds in Daisy’s engagement ring.

Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby follows a cast of characters during the summer of 1922 in a prosperous town located on Long Island. The setting of the story was at the cusp of the Art Deco period where society embraced symmetry and bold geometric shapes. This portrayal of the American Dream depicts the transformational shift in culture of economic prosperity and exuberance.

Daisy’s glamorous ring showcases a cushion cut diamond which captures the timelessness of an old mine cut and the sophistication of a modern round brilliant. An old mine cut has an unmistakable vintage appeal with individual hand cut facets and a proportionate shape to its original rough form. The modified square shape of a cushion cut combines the essence of a bygone era with the sophistication of modern technology. The cushion cut is a contemporary diamond shape that embraces the romantic allure in one of the first diamond cuts in history.

Cushion cut split shank engagement similar to the Great Gatsby ring

A Beautiful 2.20 ct Cushion Cut Diamond

The Great Gatsby story paints a picture of an American ideal where freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and social mobility. Luxurious parties, expensive cars and platinum jewelry were a symbol of wealth and success. Daisy’s elegant platinum band was a statement of high societal standing.

This classic look was featured in a beautiful U-cut style setting. U-cut is hand created pave where each prong is cut out by hand and the metal area around the prong. The U-shape pattern is formed when a jeweler carves the metal where the diamond is placed. This design technique allows diamonds to be set closer together, giving the ring more sparkle.

The U-cut method can only be crafted in platinum due to the metals superior strength. With platinum’s durability, less metal is needed to give the appearance of an endless row of diamonds. With less metal covering the diamonds, Daisy’s ring glimmers from across the room a t every angle.

The great gatsby engagement ring from Knox Jewelers.

Knox Jeweler's Sarah Ann: Platinum U-Cut

To complete the historical look, Daisy wore a matching U-cut wedding band with micro-pave diamonds. Pave, is a French word meaning ‘paving a street.’ Her ring was paved with smaller diamonds to showcase her cushion cut diamond.

Another way to display a cushion cut diamond in platinum is a V-cut pattern. In this approach, the jeweler forms an angle on each side of the metal where it meets at a point, forming a V-shape. Like the U-cut, this technique can only be custom created in platinum. Showing less metal from the prongs and more of the micro-pave diamonds will maximize the radiance of the ring.

Halo platinum great gatsby engagement ring.

Knox Jeweler's Venita: Platinum V-Cut

The Art Deco ring by Knox Jewelers represents The Great Gatsby period stylistically with bold geometric shapes. Clipped corners of a rectangular halo compliment the sharp, symmetrical lines of the emerald cut center diamond. To portray the fashion of the Great Gatsby era, two raised rectangular accents are parallel to the center halo.

Antique styled engagement ring from the great gatsby.

Knox Jeweler's Art Deco: Emerald Cut Diamond

Another common jewelry style for the era, the combination of diamonds and sapphires. Sapphires add a rich blue color to emphasize the beauty of the center diamond. This velvety blue fashion statement is a chic way to enhance the white luster of platinum.

Vintage engagement ring with edwardian styling from the great gatsby.

A Knox Jeweler's Minneapolis Custom Design

At Knox, we carry an entire collection of antique inspired styles in platinum or gold. As a custom design jeweler located in Minneapolis, we can create a design with or without a halo. Add surprise diamonds around the crown of the center diamond or build a halo around the diamond shape of your choice including cushion, round, oval or princess. Wear a Great Gatsby inspired ring of a timeless era, crafted with a contemporary appeal.

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Understanding the 5th “C” in Diamond Grading: Certification

Could you imagine going into a car dealership purchasing what you thought was a 6 cylinder luxury performance car, only to discover it was actually a 4 cylinder engine with the body of a sports car. This misrepresentation would never occur in the auto industry. However falsely identified diamonds are common in the jewelry industry. The idea that all diamond laboratories are created equal is not the case; while most labs use the GIA diamond grading scale, not all have the same level standards to adhere to it.

GIA's 4C's of Diamond Quality

Many industry leaders have tested this known truth of variable diamond grading standards by sending the same diamond to different labs and getting very different results. Rapaport, an international network that provides an overview of the diamond market, recently preformed one of these studies using 10 diamonds. The diamonds were sent to different grading labs in the US and abroad. The outcome proved that some diamonds could differ as much as three color grades when graded at multiple labs.

The biggest difference in these grading reports were American labs verses international. Surveys found grading labs in the US, including GIA, IGI, and EGL USA were fairly close in their grading standards. However, EGL USA generally graded the diamonds much more lenient than the other two labs.

Another discrepancy in the diamond reports were the laboratories overseas, including EGL Israel and EGL Hong Kong. This is when they found some diamonds two to three color grades off when compared to diamond reports from the US. Antwerp’s HRD lab was slightly softer in grading when analyzed to GIA standards.

So many labs are speaking the same diamond language but each with varying interpretations. How is a consumer to know they are truly purchasing an “E” color diamond and not an “H?” The biggest safeguard for a consumer is to be educated on diamond quality.

GIA Diamond Color Scale

At Knox, educating our customers on the 4C’s and showing how to identify differences in quality is how we maintain consumer confidence. Once you can detect a colorless diamond from a near colorless diamond, you will gain the security of knowing how to select diamond color. Knox Jewelers will spend time with you, going over internal features of clarity characteristics using a microscope or loupe; helping to understand the clarity scale and what that represents in a diamond. During a diamond consultation we express the importance of a well cut diamond and how that relates to the overall beauty of a stone. At that time, we emphasize how to select a diamond size based on its dimensions and not by carat weight alone.

By knowing what diamond characteristics to look for, customers have the knowledge in determining the true nature of a diamond and if the lab certification is accurately supported. Most diamonds are laser inscribed on the girdle of the stone, this is the outer edge that separates the top and bottom portion of a diamond. This inscription is a sequence of numbers and letters that identifies the diamond with the laboratory’s certification report. If this inscribed code coordinates with the lab report number, customers can be confident the information being presented is genuine.

When evaluating the authenticity of a diamond report, it is important to understand who is certifying the stone. GIA was the pioneer in establishing the grading scale and providing third party verification on diamonds. Their strict grading procedures is well respected in the jewelry industry. With this reputation, high quality diamonds are sent to GIA for certification. While diamonds of lower value are sent to labs with soft grading practices in an effort to achieve higher diamond grades than GIA would evaluate the diamond at.

A GIA Diamond Grader Evaluates Diamond Quality

With this understanding, Knox Jewelers prefers the highly recognized, honest services provided by GIA. We choose not to sell diamonds that are overly generous in their diamond evaluations. As a small, locally owned business located in Minnesota we wholeheartedly believe in the integrity of our family jewelery store. GIA is the world’s most trusted name in diamond grading. In line with Knox Jewelers higher level of standards, GIA ensures the integrity and accuracy of every report it issues with objectivity and expertise. To display the very best of diamond attributes, choose a GIA graded diamond for your Knox ring.

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Knox Jewelers Minnesota – Understanding Diamond Fluorescence

Fluorescence or not to fluorescence? That is the question. Have you ever taken a look at a diamond grading report and wondered what does it mean when it says “Fluorescence?” Listed under the 4C’s you find Additional Grading Information and discover a section listed fluorescence. First, let’s take a look at what fluorescence is.

GIA Additional Grading Info - Fluorescence

The formation of a diamond is how fluorescence exists in some stones. As a diamond grows in the earth, many defects occur during this formation. Nitrogen related defects are common during this process and if a growing diamond crystal captures surrounding nitrogen, the nitrogen resides within the crystal and it can result in fluorescence. There are various known colors of fluorescence, most commonly found is blue. Although many in the industry view fluorescence as a negative effect, research has proven otherwise.

Fluorescence in a diamond is an emission of light viewed under the concentration of long-wave ultraviolet radiation of a UV lamp. The appearance of fluorescence in a diamond continues as long as it’s exposed under radiation, and not under normal lighting conditions. The strength of fluorescence is graded on a range of none, faint, medium, strong and very strong.

Diamond Fluorescence via GIA Study

Let’s see what are experts at GIA have to say regarding fluorescence. As the premier laboratory in diamond grading, GIA is widely respected world-wide and sets industry standards. They are highly recognized for strict diamond grading practices and continued research in gemology. As a leader in the industry, Knox Jewelers believes in this highly respected laboratory and primarily sells GIA diamonds.

Published in 1997 in GIA’s quarterly journal, Gem’s and Gemology, they offered insight on diamond fluorescence titled “A contribution to Understanding the Effect of Blue Fluorescence on the Appearance of a Diamond.” The relationship of detecting fluorescence in a diamond was observed in a series of experiments. The study consisted of trained graders, industry professionals, and general observers using very similar sets of four round brilliant diamonds. The diamonds ranged in color of near colorless to faint yellow and diamonds were selected with varying strengths of fluorescence in the diamond color they typically represent. The observers then viewed the stones in various positions and lighting environments.

The general observers in this experiment represented the average jewelry consumer. When they viewed the diamonds in standard light, the effect of fluorescence was not detected. Even experienced individuals within the jewelry industry did not consistently agreed upon the effects of fluorescence from one stone to another. At the end, the results proved that most observers saw no correlation between fluorescence and transparency.

This study revealed that strong blue fluorescent diamonds actually appeared better in color when viewed face-up, with no noticeable trend when the diamond was facing down. Other sources report that diamonds in lower color grades, I-N, with fluorescence tend to offset the body color of these stones. The fluorescence will actually mask the faint to light yellow color of a diamond.

However, not all diamonds will have this effect with fluorescence. Some will actually appear milky in transparency. This hazy appearance attributes to the negative perception of fluorescence. Diamonds graded with fluorescence can often reflect lower values than those of similar quality with no fluorescence.

At Knox, our recommend diamond range where quality meets value, does include fluorescence. If fluorescence is present in a diamond and does not hinder the overall beauty of a stone, it can sometimes be a better value. Diamonds with fluorescence may appear to the viewer better in color than the grade it was given and save money for our customers. A great value for your investment.

Knox Jewelers can guide you through GIA diamond reports, from the 4C’s to fluorescence or any questions you have. Visit one of our convenient metro locations, if you’re in Minneapolis check out our Uptown location. Living in St. Paul, our Woodbury gallery is located right off of I-94.

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Finding the Perfect One – Diamonds in Minnesota

You know that unforgettable moment that happens in romantic comedies where everything finally comes together. The scene that takes your breath away as the couple stands under the moonlit sky and you hear the soft rhythmic pattern of the ocean waves crashing to the shore. Then “Charming” gets down on one knee and slowly slides the diamond engagement ring onto her left hand as she squeals in excitement. Just as he asks “will you marry me?” a shooting star appears in the night sky and she replies “yes, yes I’ll marry you!”

After watching this proposal, ever wonder how does one achieve such an epic proposal as this?

Your engagement can be just as picture perfect, and Knox is here to help. With our handcrafted rings made in our Minneapolis production studio you too can achieve that five star approval.

Imagine it’s 4th of July sitting on a blanket in Nicolette Island Park in Minneapolis while fireworks light up the night as you ask the one you love to marry you. You place the Knox ring onto her left hand and she is overcome with emotion. She has never seen a more beautiful ring in her life!

The search begins, after browsing through the Knox Jewelers website you have found the most unique engagement ring ever! It is an antique inspired design that has custom platinum filigree and wheat pattern hand engraving. Scrolling through the list of center stone options you do your best at interpreting diamond quality but the grading scale seems a bit foreign.

Engagement ring in Minneapolis featuring hand engraving and filigreeEngagement rings Minneapolis

To understand this diamond language, let us first explore the background on how diamond grading was established. GIA, known as the Gemological Institute of America, was first established in Los Angeles in 1931 as the first U.S. laboratory and school. GIA continued its advances in gemology with its contribution to the jeweler’s loupe, a small hand held magnified lens used to view diamonds and gems more closely. They also patented the first gemological microscope used in most jewelery stores today. In the 1950’s GIA created the diamond grading system that is know as the 4C’s. Broken down into 4 parts, a diamond is graded on its cut, color, clarity, and carat weight.

Although most laboratories use the same 4C’s grading sale they do not always practice the same level of quality. GIA known for its high standards in stone grading and their continued contribution to gemology they became the “world’s foremost authority” in the jewelry industry. With this high regard in the industry, Knox strongly values the GIA standard and sell mostly GIA diamonds.

With this general knowledge on how the 4C’s were created you’re ready to venture into diamond shape. Commonly confused with cut, shape refers to the outline and contour of a stone. The modern round brilliant was first developed in 1919 by Marcel Tolkowsky. Other shapes were introduced over time and are categorized as fancy brilliants or step cuts. Fancy brilliant, a modified shape of the round brilliant, include princess, radiant, cushion, marquise, oval, pear and heart. Step cut refers to either emerald or asscher and these cuts have parallel concentric planes that resemble a stair-step pattern.

Shape - Diamonds in Minnesota

Created elusively for the modern round brilliant, the cut grade focuses on how light strikes a diamond. This relationship of light return is based on specific angles and percentages to maximize the beauty of a stone. The white light that reflects internally and externally in a diamond is brilliance. Fire is the prism of colors you see when light hits the diamond and scintillation is the flash of light that emits from movement. A well cut diamond will attribute to these three desired qualities in its overall appeal of the stone. While other diamond shapes do not have a cut grade they are valued on the bases of polish and symmetry. Cut grade is evaluated as Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor. Knox believes in the importance of the cut grade standard and here are the recommended ranges:

  • Round Brilliant: Excellent or Very Good
  • Fancy Brilliants (Polish and Symmetry): Good or better
  • Step Cuts (Polish and Symmetry): Good or better

round brilliant diamonds in Minnesota
The color scale was developed on the sequence of the alphabet, however it begins at D and then extends to Z. This scale is rated on the absence or presence of color in a diamond, typically tints of yellow or brown. From colorless, D-F, to near colorless G-J, and the rest falling into faint, very light, or light. When selecting color a round brilliant will hide a diamond’s body color better than a fancy brilliant or step cut. At Knox our recommended ranges where quality meets value is as follows:

  • Round Brilliant: F through I
  • Fancy Brilliants: F through H
  • Step Cuts: F through H

Clarity is essentially the fingerprint of a diamond; it looks at the internal and external areas of the stone and the characteristics it contains. These clarity characteristics are features that result during the formation of a diamond. A diamond grows under extreme heat and pressure and as it develops it can trap small crystals or its atomic structure creates a variety of irregularities within the diamond. GIA evaluates clarity from the top of the scale of flawless all the way down to included. When selecting a clarity grade, brilliant cuts will hide clarity features better than step cuts. Our recommended value range where clarity does not distract from the beauty, is as follows:

  • Round Brilliants: VS1 through SI1
  • Fancy Brilliants: VS1 through SI1
  • Step Cuts: VVS1 through VS1

The last “C” is carat weight; this measurement is based on the mass of the diamond. A one carat diamond is equal to 200 milligrams in weight. Carats are divided into points; one carat equals 100 points. Similar to 50 points for 0.50 carat and 25 points for a 0.25 carat diamond. The term “magic size” is referred to diamond sizes that are intervals of 0.25, such as 0.25 carat, 0.50 carat, 0.75 carat and 1.0 carat. To the naked eye a 0.99 carat to a 1.0 carat might not be noticeable but the differences in price can be quite significant. At Knox we recommend looking for diamonds based on the millimeter dimensions as apposed to the carat weight. Finding a diamond under that magic size but measures the same can mean big savings for you.

With a basic understanding of the 4C’s, the journey continues! After thorough investigation on our website you’ve narrowed it down to two stones. Viewing these two diamonds in the new Knox Woodbury location you’ve selected a favorite. The crafting of your ring has started and you wait in anticipation as each photo is sent to you via our new “Creation of an Heirloom” photo system. This program captures each pivotal moment as your ring comes to life. You watch the unique perspective of your ring being created, a true Minnesota made work of art!

With the ring tucked securely in your pocket the day begins to unfold. Hand in hand you walk the shores of Stillwater and come across a message in a bottle. As your true love unfolds the rolled up note and reads the message “Will You Marry Me?” you slowly get down on one knee and present her with your Knox ring. She gasps in amazement, her eyes flood with tears, and she exclaims “Yes, I’ll marry you!”

Congratulations, you’ve just achieved an epic proposal! Okay, so the Knox ring part was true, but your story was a little different. If so, tell us how it really played out in the comments below. At Knox we love the happily ever after stories!

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