Archive for July, 2009

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.

Wedding Party Dances Down the Aisle to Chris Brown’s Forever

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

We’ve seen some great wedding party entrances at the reception, but this video takes the cake for best intro at the church!

(thanks to @pschaefer for the link)

What Do You Know About Wedding Bands?

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Dilek-Sezen Wedding Band Set

By Michael O’Connor, Jewelry & Style Expert

Let’s face it, if you’re reading this you’re most likely a guy who is heading down the aisle within the foreseeable future.  And as a guy who is heading down the aisle shortly I can assume that you have probably been through the process of purchasing an engagement ring. Therefore, you have recently received what you may feel is a significant jewelry education or perhaps more jewelry information that any one guy really needs to know.

But what did you really learn about jewelry that can help you make educated jewelry purchases in future, and you know there will be more! For that matter, what did you learn that will help you make the perfect choice right now, as you begin your search for wedding bands? The diamond education that you received while buying the engagement ring won’t help you now. You’ll need some good solid jewelry basics to help you make this choice, plus of course, a few options to suit your own sense of style and personality.

Men's diamond wedding band from Frederick Goldman

Men’s diamond wedding band from Frederick Goldman

So let’s test your mettle (metal knowledge, that is). Do you know the differences between platinum and white gold? Do you know that 18 karat gold is better than 14 karat gold? Do you know why? Well 14 karat gold (based upon 24 karat being pure gold) is approximately 58.5% pure gold, making the balance of 41.5% a mix of other metals. These metals in the jewelry industry are called “alloys”. Alloys can range in composition from 1 specific metal to a combination depending upon the color of gold that the designer wishes. You should know right of the bat that all gold, when mined from the earth is yellow and there is no such thing as white gold, rose gold, or any other color gold that is found in nature other than yellow. Therefore the color is created by disguising the natural yellowness of gold by mixing a variety of other metals with it. Rose gold, for example gets its pinkish color by mixing alloys that are primarily copper. So like the bottom of a pot or saucepan, the piece takes on a pinkish hue. White gold is created in the same way, camouflaging the color of the naturally yellow gold with other “whitening” alloys. Additionally, with white gold, since it is never truly pure white in color due to the higher concentration of yellow gold to alloys, manufacturers usually apply a “plating” of rhodium, a naturally white metal, over the top to give the appearance of extreme whiteness (the rhodium will eventually wear off exposing a less white underneath). The same rule applies to other karats of gold. So when people say that 18 karat gold is “better”, what they really mean is that it has more pure gold and less alloy, being approximately 75% pure gold and 25% alloy mix.

When purchasing anything you wear it is important to keep in mind two things: where you will be wearing the item and how you will be wearing the item. Male wedding bands are no different.  You need to remember that you will be wearing it: 1. As a sign of your important commitment. 2. With everything that you choose from the time you put it on. 3. Every day, for life. Therefore it’s important to choose wisely from both a style perspective and a materials perspective. My advice on the matter is this:

Groom Wedding Band from Frederick-Goldman

Groom Wedding Band from Frederick Goldman

Male wedding band from Kirk Kara

Male wedding band from Kirk Kara

A wedding band is the outward symbol of one of the most important commitments you will make during your lifetime.  As such, it deserves the distinction of being made from a precious and more rare metal. Just like you wouldn’t celebrate a major job promotion with a bottle of water and a bag of potato chips, celebrating your lifetime commitment to another needs to be marked by a something truly precious and special – not the same metal that your kitchen sink is made of.  Choose a precious metal such as platinum or gold to mark the importance of your commitment. Today even the best designers are offering a wide variety of weights and widths of wedding bands in order to appeal to any budget you may have so don’t feel you have to trade down to a non-precious metal in order to save money. Additionally, since you will be wearing the ring for life, you’ll want it made from a metal that can be refinished, restored or re-sized over your lifetime (I know that my fingers are not the same size they were 10 years ago).  You will also want your ring made from a metal that is durable enough to stand up to daily wear.  While platinum and gold are both precious metals each will wear over the long term in different ways with platinum being the more durable of the two. The reason is that platinum is more “dense” than gold and will loose little metal to everyday wear. That’s why the most important diamonds in the world are set into platinum, to ensure their security. However, if you like the yellow hue of gold, platinum is a naturally white metal and is not alloyed in the same way as gold. This means that it is purer, usually at 90% – 95% pure platinum, and the color, unlike gold because of the alloys, will always be true white.

When choosing a suitable style of a wedding band, remember again that you will be wearing this ring for many years. Think about how your personal style has evolved over the past number of years and choose a ring that you’ll be happy with for a long time.  If shiny is not your thing, many designers are showing beautiful matte or brushed finished bands with a rugged more masculine feel. If plain polished or brushed is just “too plain” some of the hottest designers today are adding beautiful carvings and patterns to men’s wedding bands to create interest. Also, don’t be afraid of think about a band with diamonds or colored gemstones if you like them. There are plenty to choose from and some gemstones may have special meaning to you, such as yours or your fiance’s birthstone, creating even deeper meaning behind your bands. And finally, although both of you may have different styles, and therefore want different rings, which if fine, one thing that should signify the pairing of those rings is the choice of the precious metal being used.

—-

Michael O’Connor is one of America’s leading voices on jewelry, style and accessories and has become the “go-to” resource for editors and producers seeking information on current trends and celebrity information. O’Connor as been involved in the luxury, jewelry and fashion industries in a career that spans over 25 years. Connect with Michael on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

What is a Diamond Grading Report?

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

A Diamond Grading Report is a document issued by a Gemological Laboratory describing a Loose Diamond. The laboratory will not issue reports on Diamonds which are set in a mounting. A Diamond Grading Report (certificate) issues a “grade” indicating the physical properties of the Diamond “at the time of evaluation”. A certificate is a document which retains its value over a long period of time, assuming the Diamond does not chip or is not otherwise altered.

An appraisal can be performed on a loose diamond, a mounted stone, or jewelry. If the stone is not loose, the physical properties are estimated using various estimation techniques. Most importantly, an appraisal indicates the Dollar Value of the piece under consideration. Obviously, the Dollar Value can easily change considerably over a relatively short period of time. Appraisals are most often used for insurance purposes.

whiteflash santorini ring

Santorini Engagement Rint

Many people make the mistake of using an in-house appraiser to evaluate the purchase price of their diamond. This is a big mistake. Firstly, appraisals are often over-estimated, and are therefore a very poor estimation of price. More importantly, any in-house Jeweler may be biased towards their own merchandise.

To further complicate matters, many people have become more educated when it comes to buying diamonds, and have learned that its important to have a GIA certificate. What they have not learned, unfortunately, is how to differentiate between a GIA GTL (Gem Trade Lab) Grader, and a GIA G.G. or Graduate Gemologist. Many assume that getting an appraisal by a GIA gemologist is the same as getting a GIA Grading Report. Some unscrupulous Jewelers attempt to further that illusion.

old whiteflash logo

The GTL (Gem Trade Lab) Grader is a GIA employee who performs the Diamond Grading for the Institute. A GIA Graduate Gemologist, on the other hand, has simply passed the GIA Diamonds, Diamond Grading and Colored Stone, Gem Identification and Colored Stone Grading courses.

The GTL grader has all of the above and more. S/he is far better trained in grading and usually has far more experience than a G.G. Further, the GTL grader does not have the same vested interest in the outcome of the grade of the stone they are evaluating.

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.

Bride Calls off Wedding After Discovering Fiance is Porn-Star

Monday, July 20th, 2009

After watching the first few episodes of Hung (great show), we were shocked to find a similar, real-life story coming out of Scotland: the story of a man living a double life. In one life, he is a fitness instructor. In the other life, he takes a walk on the wild side, moonlighting as a male porn star (ala a Happiness Consultant in Hung)

Jason Brake was set to marry his fiance, Haylie Hocking, on May 2nd earlier this year. That was before she discovered that his job as a “fitness instructor” was actually a cover for his career as an adult film star & male stripper. Upon learning the truth (after her maid of honor found Jason’s nude photos on the Internet), Haylie kicked Jason to the curb and is not looking back.

Wait a minute, is that my fiance in a G-string?

Wait a minute, is that my fiance in a G-string?

Moral of the story: Brides, don’t invest money in a wedding dress, horse drawn carriage, or honeymoon until you’re positive that your fiance is not a porn star. Apparently it’s easier said than done.

You can view the original story from Scotsman.com here.

Connect with post author Chris Easter on Google+, Pinterest and Facebook.

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