Out of the Vault: Clarity Rarities Continued

The gemologists at AGS Laboratories came across some more clarity rarities to share. If you missed the first two installments of this series, be sure to read Out of the Vault: Clarity Rarities and Out of the Vault: More Clarity Rarities.

This first fun finding was taken at 50x magnification of a crystal shaped like a turtle, and the “turtle’s” reflection. Can you see it? (Look closely, you’ll see the body, head, and arm).


This next image was taken at 20x magnification and exhibits iridescence in a feather. Some of our gemologists see the head of a rainbow trout, with the opaque crystal representing the eye. What do you see?


When it comes to diamond grading, there are five factors that affect how clarity is determined in a diamond, and how inclusions are considered: size, nature, number, location, and relief.

  • Size: Generally, the larger the inclusion, the greater the impact on the clarity grade. If the inclusions are large enough, the can also impact the durability of the stone.
  • Nature: Refers to the type of inclusion it is and its relative superficiality or depth.
  • Number: For the most part, the greater the number of clarity characteristics, the lower the clarity grade. However, inclusions are not always judged on the number, but on how readily they are visible.
  • Location: The position of the inclusion/blemish in the diamond.
  • Relief: The distinctness of the inclusion in contrast to the host diamond. The greater the relief, the greater the effect on the overall clarity grade.

To learn more about diamond grading, clarity, and AGS Laboratories, click here. To find a jeweler who carries AGS Laboratories Diamond Grading Reports, click here. AGS Laboratories is the only nonprofit diamond grading lab created with a mission of consumer protection.

Ask your jeweler for an AGS Laboratories Diamond Grading Report. Accept no substitutes, and buy your diamond with confidence!

Tips from Jewelers Mutual: Thieves Love These 3 Places You’re Putting Your Jewelry


The theft of any personal property leaves us with a horrible feeling of violation. Just when you think you or your valuables are safe, crafty thieves come along and burst that bubble of safety.

Although most inconvenient, many things can be replaced. But when it comes to fine jewelry—whether it’s your custom-designed engagement ring, a great-grandmother’s strand of pearls, or those new, yellow diamond studs—these one-of-a-kind items cannot be replaced.

The best way to avoid theft is to plan ahead and be conscious of your surroundings. Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company has compiled a list of three places NOT to hide your valuables. Learn more by reading their blog, Thieves Love These 3 Places You’re Putting Your Jewelry.

Cut to the Chase

by John Carter, CGA, Jack Lewis Jewelers

So…I’m back! It’s been a while since I have regaled you with my gem nerd knowledge, so today I need to do a quick recap. We started off discussing color, then we went into clarity, followed up by my tales from Antwerp, Belgium. This time, we need to discuss the absolute most important aspect of any diamond: how it is cut! Because this is so important, we need to split it into a few parts just so I can hold your attention and give you the most important details.

My clarity blog ended by pointing out that the way a diamond sparkles generally has very little to do with its carat weight, its color, or its clarity. So what causes that dynamic little laser show you see in a perfectly cut diamond? I will do my best to explain.

For just over a hundred years, cutters have known how to properly proportion a diamond to maximize its sparkle. Yet without modern technology, they were forced to use nothing but mathematics to accurately decipher what angles would ensure the maximum beauty of a diamond.

Today, we can use computer programs and ray-tracing technologies to reinforce that those Belgian cutters from the previous century were almost spot-on with their equations. Think about how amazing that is! Using just mathematics, they were able to get the proportions of diamonds within fractions of a percentage point to their optimal standards. (And you never believed your teachers when they insisted math was useful.)


Over the years, I’ve had thousands of interactions with clients at our diamond counter, and while everyone is looking for something a little different, the constants that every buyer wants are the same: they want their diamond to be as big and as sparkly as possible for as little money as possible. Simple enough, but most people go about this process the wrong way (initially, at least). So it’s my job to help them see things from the proper angles (diamond cutting pun intended).

After some initial Internet research, the average diamond consumer becomes fixated on color and clarity and starts to focus most of their attention on those categories. This isn’t incorrect so much as it’s just incomplete, because it’s a little misguided to value those areas over the cut grade of the diamonds you are shopping.

Color and Clarity are important. They have to be since they’re based on rarity and because they affect the price so much. But here’s the truth that almost no diamond seller will tell you… Ready for this bombshell? Here it is: once you put that diamond on your finger, absolutely nobody will ever walk up to you and say, “Wow! That’s a really pretty 1.01ct G color VS2 clarity diamond!” Ridiculous right? Know why? Because unless the color and clarity are terrible, nobody notices those (not even your jeweler). What you, your friends, your family, and everyone else does notice about a diamond is its size and how much it sparkles. And what I’m telling you is that color and clarity have almost no influence on how much a diamond sparkles (again, unless they are lousy).


So that brings us to the cut grade and the proportions of a diamond which, from an educational perspective, have always been the most difficult to explain because, frankly, there are so many numbers to focus on that it can be hard to know which ones to single out. Some people try. They look at the table percentage or the depth percentage and assume if they are in line, then the rest must be as well. But this is not always the case.

For generations, the diamond industry has known that the cut grade is the most important factor in describing a diamond’s beauty, but they struggled for decades to explain why. In fact, this is such a complicated topic that universally-accepted grading standards for Cut didn’t make it into the marketplace until nearly 40 years after the accepted nomenclature for color and clarity were instituted.

It was in 2005 that the AGS Laboratories from American Gem Society (AGS) became the first diamond grading laboratory to bring clear standards to an otherwise fuzzy conversation. They accomplished this by basing their cut grading on both 3-dimensional modeling and on the actual appearance of the diamond. While other laboratories have since followed suit with systems of their own, I have always been a believer that the AGS system is the most thorough and reliable.

October’s Birthstones are Bursting with Color

octoberbirthstonesOctober features two incredible birthstones: opal and tourmaline. They each display an exciting and intense array of colors, making them popular choices for jewelry designers and collectors.


The name “opal” derives from the Greek Opallos, meaning “to see a change (of color).” They range in color from milky white to black with flashes of yellow, orange, green, red, and blue. An opal’s beauty is the product of contrast between its color play and its background.

Opal is a formation of non-crystalline silica gel that seeped into crevices in the sedimentary strata. Through time and nature’s heating and molding processes, the gel hardened into the form of opals. The opal is composed of particles closely packed in spherical arrangements. When packed together in a regular pattern, a three-dimensional array of spaces is created that gives opal its radiance.

Approximately 90 percent of the world’s precious opal comes from Australia. The following are other countries that produce precious or fancy varieties: Brazil, Mexico, United States, Hungary, Peru, Indonesia, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Ethiopia.

Like fingerprints, each opal is totally unique! To get a really good look at the opals in these designs, click on the images below for a larger view.

Lightning Ridge Collection


Blue-green black opal accented by fine white princess cut diamonds and round brilliant cut diamonds.


Lika Behar Collection


Sterling silver and 24k gold “Ocean” necklace, featuring a one-of-a-kind boulder opal framed by diamonds.




Australian black opal and diamond earrings set in 18k yellow gold.


Yael Designs


An 18k rose gold bracelet featuring rose cut fire opals and brilliant cut white round diamonds.



Since tourmaline is available in a wide variety of colors, it is ideally suited to almost anyone’s taste. It is known for displaying several colors in the same gemstone. These bi-color or tri-color gems are formed in many combinations; the gemstones with clear color distinctions are highly prized.

One multi-color variety is known as watermelon tourmaline and features green, pink, and white colors bands. To resemble its namesake, the gemstone is cut into thin slices having a pink center, white ring, and green edge.

Tourmaline is found in many localities including Brazil, Afghanistan, East Africa, and the USA.

The following designs feature the varying hues of tourmaline. Click on the images to see a larger view.


Erica Courtney


“Rain Drop” 18k yellow gold studs featuring
Paraíba tourmaline accented with diamonds.


Supreme Jewelry


This unique ring displays a butterfly fluttering around petals of  sliced tourmaline, framed by diamonds.


Omi Privé


A cushion cut pink tourmaline and diamonds are set in platinum and 18k rose gold.




“California Dreaming” is an 18k gold pendant artfully displaying the many colors and varieties of tourmaline.

On behalf of everyone at AGS, we send our best wishes to those celebrating a birthday or anniversary in the month of October!

If you are shopping for opal or tourmaline jewelry, search for an AGS credentialed jeweler near you: www.americangemsociety.org/en/find-a-jeweler.


Stars and Diamonds Sparkle at the 2016 Emmy® Awards

Every awards show brings out the most glamorous people, wearing the most incredible fashions, adorned in the most sparkling jewels. This year’s 68th Emmy Awards was dripping with diamonds, which goes to show that diamonds continue to be the trend on the red carpet.

Scroll down to see Hollywood’s hottest wearing designs from a few American Gem Society (AGS) members!

Actresses Sophia Turner, Claire Danes, and Tatiana Maslany
wore timeless designs featuring Forevermark diamonds.



Hearts On Fire
Niecy Nash is on fire wearing several Hearts On Fire bracelets.



Harry Kotlar
Ariel Winter wore a magnificent Harry Kotlar diamond ring.



Underwood’s Fine Jewelers
Natalie Morales is wearing their natural, multi-colored diamond bracelet.


You certainly don’t have to appear on the small—or big screen—in order to wear diamonds! Visit an AGS jeweler near you and they will help you find that perfect diamond. Be sure to ask your jeweler for an AGS Laboratories Diamond Grading Report. Accept no substitutes—buy your diamond with confidence!


Tips from Jewelers Mutual: How to Take the Perfect Engagement Ring Selfie


You’ve just gotten engaged. What are you going to do next? The excited bride-to-be used to jump on the phone and call everyone she knows. These days, she jumps on her phone and posts the news on social media. But if you’re going to take a photo of that perfect diamond, make sure you catch it in the best light.

Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company has three tips on how to get the best selfie of that sparkler. Learn more by reading their blog, 3 Tips for the Perfect Engagement Ring Selfie.

Out of the Vault: More Clarity Rarities

The gemologists at AGS Laboratories often come across diamonds that display some very unusual clarity characteristics. These rarities confirm Mother Nature’s ability to be both humorous and creative, as seen in our first “Out of the Vault: Clarity Rarities” blog.

The next set of these clarity curiosities displays colorful crystal inclusions, which are internal characteristics of a diamond. These inclusions usually form in a diamond as a result of the tremendous heat and pressure deep within the earth where they form. Inclusions can also be created by a diamond’s violent journey to the earth’s surface caused by volcanic eruptions.

Since many inclusions and blemishes are very small, and can be difficult to see with the naked eye, they are graded at 10x magnification. Grading at 10x is an industry standard to determine the final clarity grade of the diamond.

This photo was taken at 40x magnification of a green crystal inclusion within the diamond.


Next is a purple crystal inclusion, taken at 20x magnification.


Diamond graders plot the inclusions they see in the diamond on a diagram which is included on AGS diamond grading reports. See how AGS Laboratories’ diamond graders plot diamonds.

To learn more about diamond grading, clarity, and AGS Laboratories, click here. To find a jeweler who carries AGS Laboratories Diamond Grading Reports, click here. AGS Laboratories is the only nonprofit diamond grading lab created with a mission of consumer protection.

Ask your jeweler for an AGS Laboratories Diamond Grading Report. Accept no substitutes, and buy your diamond with confidence!