October Blog

26 October 2020

So here we are on the second blog and still in the clutches of the virus.  Still I’m not writing these blogs to dwell on COVID19 – we get enough of it through the media!


Since the last blog, I’ve managed to acquire some additional materials and have bought myself a new torch as my old one has lost its oomph.  I have been busy making some silver rings, but my spinner ring effort fell apart as I bashed it too heavily to shape the edges and the join split but these things are sent to try us so instead I have refashioned the ring into one with a single tube set gem setting.  It’s amazing what can come out of a mistake.  I think the secret of knowledge (at least in jewellery making although I’m sure it applies to other disciplines) is being able to take that knowledge and turn a disaster into a success. I have also made another wishbone ring which I’m planning to embellish with a claw set gemstone (haven’t decided what yet) and also just finishing a ring with granulation, the explanation of what this is can be found on the techniques page.  The Jewellery Academy have just introduced a new course on creating decorative effects with granulation in gold and silver which is very good and provided me with some useful hints and tips on how to improve my own technique.


I thought that in each of the blogs I might provide some information of interest and start with a “girl’s best friend” as the saying goes – DIAMONDS


Diamonds are made of pure carbon and created over billions of years.  They enjoy a certain notoriety, are cherished and admired.  Certainly, the famed stone given to Elizabeth Taylor by Richard Burton in 1969 which cost a cool $1.1m caused a stir and of course one of the most famous in the world, the Hope Diamond, weighing 45.52 carats and now housed (very securely) in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC.  I’ve seen it and it is pretty spectacular and very blue!


The Diamond at 10, has the highest hardness on the Moh Scale (invented by Friedrich Mohs in 1812) and tests in simple terms, the scratch resistance of the mineral.  The Diamond also has the highest thermal conductivity of any natural material – useful in industrial settings where diamonds are also used.


The quality of a diamond is determined by the four “C’s”:



The weight of the stone


The translucency of the gem.  Absolute pure clear diamonds are very rare and very, very expensive. Most diamonds have some inclusions (small carbon grit)


Type of style into which the gem has been cut (princess, rose, emerald and so on)


Colour and its purity.  Diamonds come in different colours and not just clear


Whilst diamonds are still mined from the ground, the “manufacture” of diamonds has grown over recent years in laboratories and are known as LGDs (Lab Grown Diamonds).  They are quite popular as they do not deplete the earth’s natural resources although their development has rattled a few traditionalists in the diamond industry.  The LGD was first developed in the 1950s for use in industry so it isn’t entirely new.  These synthetic diamonds are produced by two methods, the high-pressure high temperature (HPHT) used for smaller stones and the chemical vapour deposition (CVD) for larger and higher quality gems.  A seed is used to start the generation process (a bit like the experiment of producing those blue copper sulphate crystals that I used to make in the chemistry lab – that was the best thing to do in the lab!) Now further development of the lab diamond has led to their creation in different colours.


Well then how do you know whether that fab diamond engagement ring that you’ve just been given is the real thing?  On the surface it looks identical to the genuine, out of the earth diamond but to the trained eye small pressure points can be seen on the surface left by the HPHT process and layers by the CVD method.


I said that lab diamonds do help the earth’s resources but how much water and electricity is needed to create them is still subject for debate.  There is also the issue of regulation that currently governs the diamond industry and how LGDs fit in plus there are social and economic pitfalls for the areas around the world where diamonds are still mined.


I personally would prefer the real thing, inclusions and all as I know it will be unique and taken millions of years to get into the piece of jewellery I’m wearing.  Still I’m sure LGDs will find their place and be perhaps more affordable in the long run.


I thought before I sign off, it might be worth noting some of the spectacular diamonds that have been sold in the last few years.


The Blue Moon of Josephine (29.02ct) sold in 2015 for $48.4m; The Chow Tai Fook Pink Star (59.60ct) sold in 2017 for $71.2m; The Sweet Josephine Pink Diamond (16.08ct) sold for $28.5m


And on those mind-boggling figures, I shall sign off.


See you next time. Stay safe and well