Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A million-dollar man and the hunt for a diamond


Awhile ago, M contacted me on the sly telling me that he wanted to propose to his girlfriend, D. He wanted to surprise her but at the same time, wanted her to be able to get a ring that she would absolutely love but wasn’t entirely confident of his aesthetic or mine without her input – she was someone who had very clear ideas of what she liked aesthetically. Thus, we came up with a plan to have him propose to her with a loose diamond instead. I thought this was pure genius and it spoke volumes of how much he loved her – the effort of going through the trouble of surprising her but at the same time understanding and acknowledging she would have liked to have control over the artistic process.

Thus, we went off on a massive diamond hunt. I’m lucky to be based in Bangkok in that I work with diamond suppliers who are partners with the big companies in Antwerp and New York – the two main diamond capitals of the world. Thus, we had a fantastic access to a huge database of loose diamonds – both round and fancy-shaped. After setting me a budget range, M allowed me almost free reign to decide what I thought would work best and this is where we had a lot of fun.

You see, there are tonnes of information out there that tell you what the objective criteria gemmologists use to assess the value of the diamond, and the rappaport supports these assessments in determining what one should pay for the different specifications of the stones. Knowing all of this, we decided to throw it all out of the window in favour of a highly intuitive choosing process.

For personal reasons, we wanted a radiant-cut diamond, between 1.0-1.5 ct (any bigger and it would have been too big for D) and for aesthetic reasons, we decided that the stone had to be white (with no tinge of yellow), with high luster, and eye-clean. We eventually shortlisted nine diamonds which fit our criteria and we eventually settled on a H colour, VS1 clarity, 1.17 carat radiant-cut diamond that was assessed by HRD Antwerp. We knew that it was objectively not as valued as a D-F colour with a IF-VVS1 clarity but to the eye, this particular H colour/VS1 clarity worked just as well for us aesthetically.

Where we really veered off the beaten path was when we deliberately chose a diamond with blue fluorescence – a characteristic that lowered the objective value of a stone quite significantly. Here, I have to add my own personal input and I feel that with the warmer coloured stones (H colour and below), the blue fluorescence seems to be a nice counteract to the yellow tinge of the diamond. In the whiter colours (D to G), fluorescence doesn’t seem to have any discernable effect. So much to the surprise to some of my diamond dealer contacts, I told them that M and I were very happy in our choice of a mid-fluorescence stone.

The stone far surpassed our expectations. It was actually a lot bigger than what we thought a 1.17 carat diamond would look like because the pavillion was cut relatively shallowly compared to its other radiant sisters. As such, the stone looked more like a 1.7-1.9 ct diamond than a 1.17 ct. And it sparkled like crazy; there wasn’t a hint of yellow and there was no “milkiness” which some of my diamond dealer contacts seem to suggest might be a problem with the fluorescent stones. I fell in love with it on first sight.
So anyway, as I’m writing this, the proposal has been done and D has said yes. I now have the said diamond in my possession again as I embark on a separate journey with D on the designing of the ring. Stay tune for more details as we work together on this unique engagement project. :)

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