August 26, 2010

Diamonds are a girls best friend

About a week ago I was visiting my childhood best friend in NY.  She has been working as an engineer for Tiffany & Co. for almost 5 years.  She has learned a ton about the company and is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to engagement rings.  We visited the flagship store on 5th avenue, NYC.  Just like Audrey Hepburn says in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s the store melts away the outside world and makes you feel as if you are worth a million dollars.   Couldn’t be said better than in the book…”What I’ve found does the most good is just to get into a taxi and go to Tiffany’s.  It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it;  nothing very bad could happen to you there, not with those kind men in their nice suits…”  ~Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1958  The service is outstanding right down the charming elevator men.  Everything sparkles (they must go through tons of Windex a day) and then there is the yellow 128.54 carat tiffany diamond with its amazing history and unbelievable sparkle.
I just thought I would share with my brides some of the things I learned about Tiffany’s engagement rings….I’m sorry though I wasn’t able to take pictures 🙂

First I was impressed by their commitment to use only legal and environmentally friendly precious metals and stones as outlined by their environmental and social commitments below: 1. environmental awareness and precautions, 2. social and labor standards, and 3. their campaign to be greener.

  • New mine development should not occur in areas of high
    ecological or cultural value.
  • Air, water and soil contamination should be prevented.
  • The principle of informed community participation
    in mine development should be embraced.
  • Workers’ rights, labor standards and human rights should
    be respected by all parties.
  • Mine operators should provide for appropriate
    and fiscally sound guarantees to cover the costs
    of mine closure, cleanup and restoration.
  • Mine wastes should not be placed in rivers, streams, lakes
    or ocean waters
  • Currently, over 95% of Tiffany’s catalogue paper is certified to the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and our goal is to make certain that 100% of the paper used in our packaging materials and catalogues is FSC-certified by 2010.
  • The Foundation promotes excellence in design by supporting organizations that are enhancing the field of the decorative arts, specifically jewelry, through the following efforts:
  • Creating gallery spaces at the world’s premiere arts institution
  • The Foundation recognizes the important role that environmental and cultural sites play in local communities worldwide. To this end, the Foundation supports the enhancement of urban environments and culturally significant landmarks by doing the following:
  • Supporting infrastructure improvements and beautification efforts in urban parks
  • Supporting the creation of additional green spaces
  • Promoting the restoration of historically, environmentally and culturally significant
    sites internationally
  • Coral is vital to a healthy ocean. The Foundation values healthy oceans and the important role that corals play in these ecosystems. The Foundation supports coral conservation in the following ways:
  • Promoting awareness and education of the importance of corals and reef
    ecosystems through outreach to targeted constituencies such as consumers,
    ocean enthusiasts and select marine-tourism providers
  • Supporting key research to directly contribute to saving reef ecosystems
  • Encouraging government, business and civil society to work collaboratively
    on standards for responsible mining and promoting international cooperation in
    addressing these challenges
  • Supporting models of reclamation and restoration work that bring together local
    communities, governments, business and civil society in an effort to reclaim and
    remediate land on which mining has occurred
  • Promoting economic and social development in areas where mining occurs in an
    effort to support and strengthen mining communities

The above information is quoted from the Tiffany & Co. website:

The second thing that really stood out to me is Tiffany’s dedication to their product.  Tiffany has built their brand around their excellence in quality.  Beginning with the original store called Tiffany & Young selling fancy goods at a non-negotiable price.  This was revolutionary in1837 and set a standard for exclusivity.  Since then, each piece that goes into the store has been quality checked at every step of its design.  Each stone has been chosen because it holds the qualities Tiffany & co. deems worthy of an engagement ring.  It begins with how much light it attracts and reflects, and ends with each diamond being assessed and given a grade in cut, clarity, carat, color, and presence.  Each Tiffany diamond above a carat is numbered and awarded a certificate that has become the most highly respected and acclaimed trusted gemological certificate in the world.  When Tiffany’s gemological lab looks at a stone it never takes a previous rating and it is always classed down if in question.  So if the diamond is borderline in color it will be graded down, or if it is imperfectly cut it will be rejected.

So since it has taken me a really long time to try and begin to understand how these ratings on diamonds work, I thought I should share it with my wedding friends.  Here goes….

cut-the facets of the stone (a tiffany round diamond has 57 facets) which form two parts, the crown or top and the pavilion or bottom.  These cuts work together to pool the light into the stone for optimum fiery reflections.  Things to look for on your diamond hunt are how the pavilion is cut, you don’t want it to shallow or to steep as it will pool light in all of the wrong areas, you also don’t want to have more carat and less quality of cut (often people miscut the diamonds for size as opposed to brilliance) and finally the side of the table (flattest part of the diamond) should be cut with its facets smaller as opposed to a wider ring because the smaller girdle increases the mirroring effects and creates brilliance.

clarity-by definition is how transparent or pure something is.  In the world of diamonds there is nothing that is perfect, however there is a rating called flawless which in the world of a Tiffany gemstone professional means that under a 10x magnification there are no noticeable internal flaws (cloudiness) or external flaws (scratches or knick).  Tiffany does not award any of its set diamonds a flawless rating.  The next step on the scale is IF or internally flawless meaning there is only a minor surface blemish.  Next is “very slightly included” or VS1 following that is slightly included SI1 and finally imperfect or I which means there are eye visible surface inclusions.  All retailers have different standards so it is important to be informed when shopping around.

color-this one was the hardest for me to understand, as the best diamonds are colorless.  At Tiffany & Co. their gemological laboratory has what is called master diamonds to which each stone can be compared.  So the best on the color scale is a D which means it is colorless.  Next in the colorless category is E and F.  Then after there is near colorless G, H, I, and J.  Tiffany only sells diamonds I rated or higher.  The faint yellow diamonds would be categorized K, L, or M.

carat-1 carat is equal to 0.20 grams.  Tiffany measures diamonds to a 1/1,000th of a carat.  Sometimes smaller stones are more beautiful because they are of a higher quality, so understand when diamond shopping that the size isn’t the only thing that effects the price.

presence-the precision of the cut, the polish, and the symmetry of the diamond.

The precision of the cut means each facet has to be of the right shape, size and angle.  The Tiffany diamond cutters have been doing it for many years and are the best in the industry.

The polish should have no abrasions, polish lines, or scratches

Finally the symmetry of the diamond is complex.  Tiffany does not tolerate tables (the flat top) that is off center, cutlet that is off center, misaligned pavilions, wavy girdles, or misshapen facets.

After a lot of shopping it was concluded that while the square legacy was what my best friend thought she wanted…we loved the vibrancy of the round legacy much more.  I myself am still an etoile lover.

So next time you come across a little blue box you can appreciate how the little blue box became so widely desired and respected.  I know Tiffany has become my secret fetish.

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