Friday, January 15, 2010

Engagement ring series - choosing the diamond shape

"I want to get a diamond. Should I get a brilliant round or a fancy cut diamond? There are so many shapes – help!"
Okay, so no male client ever says those words in exactly that way - they'd be appalled at the plea for help. After all, they don't need help, the just merely wish to be educated in an objective, rational manner. :P

Diamond round brilliants continue to be the most popular cut – as many as 75% of all diamonds sold today are round brilliants – and this high demand has also led to higher prices. Globally, round brilliants are typically 20% higher than other diamond shapes although there is a variance amongst these non-round diamonds (or rather, fancy-shaped diamonds, which is the industry term for them).

Traditionalists will insist on getting a brilliant round for their diamond choice but we see a trend of the young, cosmopolitan crowd veering towards the fancy-shaped options. My personal bias is toward the fancy-shaped diamonds – I find rounds a little too common and a little too classic from a design-perspective – and generally let clients know of this bias. Apart from the unique factor, the more practical consideration is that you’d get a bigger stone for the same price per carat.

Amongst the fancy-shaped options, the princess cut has been traditionally been the most popular. I’m not entirely sure why but have a gut feel that this is about to change. Oddly enough, my colleagues in the jewellery industry have fed back to me that the radiant cut is fast gaining in popularity. Coincidentally, my clients have also told me that that’s their first pick off the fancy-cut list. (On a side note, it is also my favourite diamond shape – it combines that vintage, subtle elegance of the emerald-cut and the faceting and brilliance of a round). Having said that though, it’s entirely up to you – or rather, what you think the recipient would best love. All are gorgeous and all (even the rounds) can be worked into THAT special design.

I spoke with a journalist friend who had done extensive research on the Singapore loose diamond market herself. She told me that fancy shapes in Singapore weren’t competitively priced (and a quick, albeit anecdotal, check seemed to verify that) viz., the Rapaport. The mark-up/down off the Rapaport was a lot higher than the round brilliants. Neither of us know why but a possible hypothesis is that it appears that the reason for that is that supply for fancy-cuts are low, and therefore, the diamond brokers bring in a low supply.

(Btw, for those who don’t have access to the Rapaport, a short-cut version would be to look at bluenile ; it is quite fairly priced viz., the Rapaport. Because of its low over-heads business model, they’re able to provide diamonds at a price that’s seemingly unbeatable by any Singapore broker, wholesale or otherwise. Because the label doesn’t market itself as a diamond broker and diamond brokering is simply getting a hold on a commodity and requires no design expertise, we don’t mark up significantly and usually manages beat bluenile’s prices.)

In conclusion, round brilliants are traditionally the most popular shape and the high demand in Singapore keeps supply high (compared to the fancy-shaped diamonds). However, if you think the recipient would like something a little unorthodox, do consider a non-round diamond, especially if you have access to a good supply at competitive prices.

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