Archive for July, 2009

Pass This Gift Idea on to Your Bride

Friday, July 31st, 2009

There’s a new tradition for the bride and groom to give a gift to each other before their wedding. If you need a gift idea for your bride you can never go wrong with jewelry or even book a spa day for her during the honeymoon. But what kind of gift can your future wife give you that you don’t already have? Well, if you’d like something unique suggest a boudoir photo session. Boudoir photography is a new trend that’s makes an unforgettable wedding day gift from a bride to her groom. Boudoir photos are usually taken wearing just a little or even nothing at all. The photos aren’t X-rated but rather classic pinup-inspired pictures. If you’re in the Seattle area there’s a company that specializes only in boudoir photography and you can feast your eyes below on some of their work. You can also ask your wedding photographer if they offer this service or know of someone who does. You probably don’t want to hang up her boudoir photos in your living room (or maybe you do) but it might be the best gift you’ll ever get from your future wife.

Some example boudoir shots from Seattle Boudoir Photography

photo by seattle boudoir photography

photo by seattle boudoir photography

photo by seattle boudoir photography

photo by seattle boudoir photography

photo by seattle boudoir photography

photo by seattle boudoir photography

The Truth About Diamonds

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

 

Diamond expert Ira Weissman drops in to share some advice with our grooms on what they need to know about selecting a diamond.

Like the diamonds themselves, there is an almost endless supply of informational websites teaching the consumer the best way to buy a diamond. The problem is, however, that if you look closely you will find that the vast majority of these informational pages are owned, either overtly or covertly, by the very same people looking to sell you a diamond. Most people know by now not to trust everything your car salesman says about the car he’s trying to sell you, so should the person trying to sell you a diamond be looked at any differently?

The simple fact is that almost all advice given online about how to buy a diamond is grossly exaggerated to fit the particular type of diamond that each vendor specializes in. A vendor who specializes in “ideal cuts” is going to tell you that everything else but “ideal cuts” are junk and don’t look nearly as nice as what they’re selling. An online vendor who doesn’t offer pictures will tell you that you need to buy a high clarity grade, or else you could wind up with an eye visible inclusion.

I would like to present to you, the diamond consumer, my take on the four C’s (Cut, Clarity, Color, Carat). What I’m going to explain to you now is the way every diamond dealer I know would approach buying a diamond for his wife or girlfriend. You’d be wise to do the same.

To preface my discussion of each “C” individually, it’s important to discuss two important issues first. First of all, we need to address where to buy the diamond and the simple answer to that question is: online. While bricks and mortar stores provide the obvious benefit of being able to see the diamond ahead of time, that one benefit is not worth the much greater margin you’re going to end up paying. Most online vendors markup their diamonds anywhere from 10 to 18 percent. Bricks and mortar stores will typically markup their diamonds around 50% — and that’s down significantly from where it was just about 10 years ago when it was closer to 100%.

The second issue that needs discussion is my general approach to balancing tradeoffs between the four Cs. Before you attempt to evaluate this balance, you need to define the goal for yourself. I typically advise one of two goals: Either trying to buy the largest diamond for your specific budget, or alternatively, keeping the size where you had originally planned it, but trying to buy the cheapest diamond (that obviously covers my minimum requirements) for that size. The analogy for balancing the four Cs that I like to use is that of a pie. Each “C” represents a slice of the pie. The larger (better) one slice, the smaller the other slices necessarily become. My diamond buying strategy can be summed up quite succinctly as the following: minimizing the slices that your eye doesn’t notice (color and clarity), and maximizing the slices that your eye does notice (carat and cut).

Lets get into it one “C” at a time:

Color – As I mention in my article on diamond color, round diamonds colored J or better look white when viewed face-up. You can only see that one diamond is more yellow than another if they are placed right next to each other. When diamond dealers evaluate a diamond’s color, it’s face down, sitting on a plain white folded card held directly underneath a fluorescent light. Even then, it’s very hard to detect what the color of a diamond is taken by itself. When gemologists grade color, they use a master color sample to compare the test diamond against. Under normal lighting, with a diamond mounted by itself in a setting face-up, it’s pretty much impossible for any non-expert to detect any amount of yellowishness in a diamond J color or better. So why spend more money on a “colorless” diamond when it won’t be appreciated? Take that money you save on color, and buy a bigger rock!

Clarity – Clarity is a bit more tricky than color, for the simple reason that every diamond is completely unique in the way it is included (filled with blemishes). A clarity grade is an evaluation of the size, color, and position of the inclusions inside of a diamond — but it doesn’t tell you how visible the inclusions are to the naked eye. I, personally, don’t view clarity in terms of grades. For me, clarity is strictly binary — that is, is the diamond completely clean to the naked eye, or is it not? A diamond VS2 will be clean to the naked eye about 95% of the time, but a diamond I1 will be completely clean to the naked eye probably around 50% of the time. All else being equal, though, a VS2 will cost 77% more than an I1! So wouldn’t it make sense to buy an eye-clean I1 versus an eye-clean VS2? After all, unless your fiance will walk around with a jewelers loupe inspecting her ring constantly, the two will look exactly the same to the naked eye. The trick, though, is finding the I1 that is eye clean. For that, you need the help of an expert to pick the right stone, and an online vendor that offers pictures of their diamonds. If you’re interested I’d be happy to help you pick the perfect I1.

Cut – Cut refers to how nice the diamond’s proportions and measurements stack up. It used to be, before 2006, that you either had to buy a diamond with an AGS certificate, which offered their own cut grade, or you had to learn about the different diamond measurements and figure out for yourself whether the diamond you were buying was a “nice-make” or not. In 2006, though, the GIA came out with their own cut grade system. Their cut grade system is based on over 10 years of research measuring light performance for every different combination of measurements imaginable. So now, the choice is very simple. Either buy a diamond with an “Excellent” or “Very Good” cut grade from the GIA, and you will have a beautiful diamond. There is some added fire and sparkle when buying Excellent over Very Good, but it’s really much less than most advice-givers would have you believe. The added benefit is further minimized over time when your wife’s ring will collect dirt and naturally become slightly duller. Also, you should know that the difference in light performance between Excellent and Very Good diamonds is particularly stark inside the jewelry store where they use specially designed overhead halogen lighting designed to make diamonds sparkle their artificially fullest. When you leave the store, and enter real-world lighting, the difference is much much less.

Carat – To me, this is the most important of the four “C”s because this is the one that your eye sees the clearest and people appreciate the most. Everyone will notice the difference between a 1.50 carat diamond and a 1 carat diamond, but few people will notice, for example, the difference between an eye-clean I1 and a VS2, or a J color and an H color diamond, or an Excellent and Very Good cut.
Bottom Line – Buy an I or J color, SI2 or I1 clarity (confirmed to be clean to the naked eye – contact me for help), Excellent or Very Good Cut Grade (from GIA only), and use all that saved money from buying an I/J SI2/I1 to either buy a bigger diamond, or save it for the down payment on your first house together.

Diamond expert Ira Weissman

Diamond expert Ira Weissman

Ira Weissman is a diamond industry veteran with experience at one of the worlds largest diamond manufacturers. His work has brought him to Israel, France, Spain, Sweden, Belgium, Russia, Dubai, Thailand, and to most of the 50 states in the USA. Ira is presently the editor of Truth about Diamonds, a website offering the diamond consumer insider advice of how to buy diamonds like a diamond dealer, and not like a retail shopper.

Groom Punches Roommate at Wedding Reception

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

So what do you do if any of your wedding reception guests become unruly? Punch them of course!

That’s what the groom, Sean Kelly, did when his roommate apparently said the wrong thing at the reception. To make matters worse, Kelly had a trunk full of guns and ammo in his car parked right outside. He is now being charged with several crimes (and he’s missing the honeymoon).

It’s always sad to hear of a white wedding turning into a white trash wedding!

Read the original story from The Daily Herald here.

Introducing WeddingPreParty.com from OneWed

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Our friends over at OneWed have just launched Wedding Pre-Party (as well as a whole new look and design for OneWed.com). OneWed’s Wedding Pre-Party is being billed as the marriage of social networking & wedding planning.

With Wedding Pre-Party you can invite your wedding party and guests to chat, share wedding tips, post photos  and provide inspiration on everything from tuxes to groomsmen gifts all within a private environment.  It’s a virtual way to start the celebration early and keep in contact, while building excitement before the big day. And the singles can even scope out the other singles beforehand to mitigate any awkward moments at the singles table!

Read the original press release from OneWed: OneWed Launches Wedding PreParty.com: The Marriage of Wedding Planning & Social Networking

OneWed's WeddingPreParty

OneWed’s WeddingPreParty



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Propising is Tough Enough..

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Proposing is tough enough, but finding the perfect diamond engagement ring, set with the perfect diamond is even tougher. To eliminate the headache, here are step-by-step instructions from Whiteflash.com, an online diamond and jewelry boutique specializing in Hearts & Arrows diamonds and diamond engagement rings.

Educate yourself. Start the diamond education process by learning about the four Cs. “Understand how diamonds are evaluated and categorized,” says Debi Wexler, founder of Whiteflash.com. The four Cs refer to clarity, cut, color and carat, and by understanding each, Wexler says, you can determine which is most important to you and then start shopping. “This will also help you determine how much you’re willing to spend,” he adds.

Because diamond education is important when engagement ring shopping, Whiteflash.com offers an interactive DVD, which features an in-depth look at each of the four Cs.

whiteflash houston texas

Get input. Find out what she wants.  It’s better to be safe than sorry. Take her to a jewelry store – that is, if marriage has been a topic of conversation and a surprise engagement is not on your agenda.  Have her try on as many rings as possible.  Make her look at every shape of diamond and type of setting. Another way to gauge whether she prefers pear-shaped over a princess cut diamond is have her look at bridal magazines like “The Knot” or “Brides.com” or at an online diamond expert’s site like Whiteflash.com. Either way, you’ll know exactly what will make her swoon when you pop the question.

If you’re being discreet, look at the jewelry she wears on a day-to-day basis; is it classic or vintage in style? Is she prone to wear larger pieces or dainty? The other option is to ask someone close to her, like a sister or a best friend, for insight.

Let’s talk carats. As  soon as you’ve decided shape, you need to look at the carat or weight of the diamond; carat is how diamonds and other precious gemstones are measured…in “carat” weight. One carat, for example, equals 1/5 of a gram. Sometimes you will hear carat weight referred to in ‘points’. “There are 100 points in a carat and as points or carats increase, so does the price of the diamond. For example, the price per carat will be less for a .90 diamond than the price per carat for a 1.00 diamond even if the color and clarity are the same.  Determining the size of the diamond, and then the cut and color is really going to help establish your budget parameters.

Pick a color. “Color is the third most important decision in the diamond selection process,” says Bob Hoskins, senior gemologist for Whiteflash.com. Diamond color is graded according to the Gemological Institute of America or GIA Color Grading Scale – D being the whitest, and N and below color ratings showing noticeable yellow tones. “E and F have no detectable color tones to the naked eye,” says Hoskins, who graded diamonds for the Gemology Institute of America (GIA) and taught several courses on colored stones. And from G to J range, diamonds remain near colorless however, from J to M, you do begin to see a faint trace of yellow.

Whiteflash ACA, an exclusive brand of Hearts & Arrows diamonds available only through Whiteflash.com, range in color from D to I. Because of their superior cut, ACA even ‘face-up’ appear whiter than their lab-assigned grade. “A great cut improves the apparent color of any diamond,” says Hoskins.

engagement ring shopping made easy

Proposing isn’t easy.. and neither is selecting that perfect engagement ring.

The cut and sparkle. Cut is the most important and perhaps the most misunderstood and controversial of the four Cs. “It’s about more than the shape of a diamond,” explains Hoskins. When we talk diamond cut, we’re talking about the exact angles, proportions, symmetry and polish that affect the way the diamond reflects light and sparkles. Diamond dealers also refer to cut as “make” – as it is the only feature of a diamond that can be controlled by man, and it must be precise. Each facet – or small plane surface on the diamond – must be cut to align perfectly with the facet opposite it. There’s not much room for error because this affects the diamond’s ability to sparkle, or what we call in the industry…brilliance

How important is clarity? Gemologists use a grading scale set forth by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) to determine a diamond’s clarity – how clean the gem appears when viewed through a magnifier. Most diamonds contain some “inclusions” – crystalline fractures or irregular crystal growth.  The Gemological Institute of America GIA Clarity Grading Scale ranges from Internally Flawless (IF) through included (I3). Flawless (F) and Internally Flawless (IF) being the highest, with the next best grade being VVS1 and 2 or very slight inclusions followed by VS1 and 2, referring to very slight inclusions are difficult to see even with magnification.

SI1 and 2 diamonds will have slight inclusions, which are easily seen through magnification, but may remain clean to the naked eye, depending on the specific diamond. Hoskins says grades I1, I2 and I3 indicate inclusions that are visible under magnification and also to the naked eye.  The clarity of the stone you purchase will depend on your level of comfort and budget. Some advice: Inclusions are more difficult to see in ideal cut and super ideal cut diamonds, because of the exactness in the cut.

Establish a budget. After determining the four Cs, you should be able to set a budget or at least have a figure in mind for the purchase of your diamond engagement ring. The general rule of thumb is to set aside two months worth of salary. “If you’re hesitant to set a dollar amount, look at your options in diamonds and settings to get a general idea of what you’d like to spend,” advises Hoskins.

Select a jeweler. You have more options than the local jeweler around the corner. There are independently owned boutiques, national chains and now with the Internet revolution … online diamond boutiques like Whiteflash.com. No matter whom you buy from, make sure the jeweler is reputable and affiliated with the American Gem Society (AGS). If you’re unsure of the jeweler’s credibility, check with the local Better Business Bureau. You can also test how knowledgeable the staff is about diamonds, look into customer reviews and look over the company’s return and repair policies … this is important

Time to shop! Before you place the order, make sure that you will receive a grading report with your purchase. If a grading report will not accompany your diamond engagement ring, make sure the sale is contingent upon an independent appraiser’s opinion. Another option is to ask for a fingerprint of the diamond. This is a three-dimensional drawing of the diamond indicating the four Cs, along with the stone’s overall dimensions and enhancements. Inclusions and blemishes should be noted.  As soon as you receive the diamond, double-check all of the information, including the bill of sale and drawing to make sure that it is, in fact, the diamond you purchased.

When purchasing from a Whiteflash ACA diamond, customers receive the gem’s certification and a signed letter of verification from an independent graduate gemologist appraiser for insurance purposes.  We refer to all of this as “the 5th C – Confirmation.”

Set the diamond. If you purchased a loose diamond, you’re now faced with the setting. And, like diamonds, the options for diamond engagement rings are endless. Consider three stone settings, a solitaire or a custom design. We suggest allowing four to six weeks before popping the question if you go the handcrafted route. If you’re simply lost in the decision making process — propose with diamond in-hand and pick out the setting later — together!

About the author: Whiteflash is the first company in the U.S. to specialize in the coveted Hearts & Arrows diamond and bring the sheer beauty of “super ideal cut” to the Internet. In addition, Whiteflash offers original handcrafted platinum and gold settings, diamond engagement rings and wedding bands, custom designed engagement rings and diamond jewelry.

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