Tuesday, April 1, 2008


In 2007, JCK magazine held the first annual JCK Jewelers Choice Awards, the winners of which can be found in the March issue. Perusing the "best and brightest" I noticed that today's engagement rings are horribly over-blinged. Not satisfied with a center diamond, perhaps flanked by smaller fancy cuts or baguettes, today's bride-to-be needs to wear more, more, more diamonds.

The Norman Silverman Diamonds ring on the left won in the "Best bridal design" category. It's platinum, with a 7.17 carat cushion-cut center stone, accompanied by 149 pavé-set diamonds weighing an additional 1.46 carats. I'm sorry, but that's fuxxing huge, and complete overkill.

To the right is a Martin Flyer platinum engagement ring and wedding band set, a winner in the Best 3-Platinum-Ring Bridal Set category (man's band not shown) with a 3.01 carat cushion-cut center and 140 micropavé set melée weighting another .90 carats. Less than half the size of the Silverman ring, but still too much.

Why two such similar-looking rings would win the same competition? Not the same category, mind you, but why did these two capture victory over the doubtless several other lookalike rings that the industry currently favors? Isn't one cushion cut/embellished-bezel-and-shank enough? Or is the lack of innovation itself deserving of recognition these days?

A more traditional look, also a winner in the 3-Platinum-Ring Bridal Set category, are these pieces from Kirk Kara. They're smaller, and the millwork makes it vintage-y, but does it really need twenty-four round diamonds (.33ct tw), eight princess-cuts (.16ct tw) and four baguettes (.18 ct tw) in addition to a center stone (not included in the set or the description)? Like the two rings above, the center is surrounded by diamonds, which I think is overkill.

One of the problems with rings with too many nooks and crannies and prongs and whatnot is that they're a bitch to clean. When I was doing appraisals, I was constantly disgusted by the crud and filth on diamond rings. Sometimes an hour or two in the ultrasonic wasn't enough to shake the years of hand lotion and cookie dough residue out from under the settings and I'd need to use a probe to loosen the stuff before I took a toothbrush to it. And as if it wasn't bad enough to the naked eye, a quick look with my 10X loupe would gag me anew if I hadn't cleaned it well enough.

Diamonds attract grease like nobody's business, so a diamond ring needs to be cleaned frequently. I like to give mine a good workout with a soft toothbrush and soap at least once a week. If you insist on a ring with a large center stone and hundreds of tiny diamonds all around it, then you have to be more diligent. Yeah, I know you don't care about what your jeweler thinks when he or she sees your filth, but remember that dirty diamonds are dull diamonds. If you're going to make someone pay for all that bling, make sure it sparkles!


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