Monday, December 6, 2021

Perfect Imperfections



Richard Alan

Might sound like an oxymoron to you, but when it comes to buying diamonds or precious gemstones a perfectly located imperfection can save you a great deal of money.

When purchasing a fine diamond or any expensive gem, the clarity is graded by the amount of inclusions, imperfections, blemishes or flaws. Call them what you like, they can be white or black marks, striations, even surface cracks or chips. Sometimes flaws appear to be minute bubbles or similar to the scrape that an ice skate leaves on ice, inside or near the surface of the gemstone. The more imperfections the less valuable the gem, and they are especially noticeable in diamonds.

Most of the diamonds and gems I sell are shown “loose” to my customers, which means out of the setting, so the gem can be viewed or examined at every angle to assure the quality you desire and pay for. Many of my customers know my source for outstanding Belgium-cut diamonds blow away any ordinary cut stones.

I have mentioned in past articles that I am a large fan of color. I like my diamonds to be bright white, or when it comes to fancy colors such as canary color, bright yellow and even cognac colored diamonds should be vibrant and alive and must give the full effect of what is known as the “WOW!” factor.

I’m not crazy about a lot of inferior colors I see every day, such as pinkish rubies, almost black sapphires, and washed-out tanzanite. As you well know, there are different strokes for different folks – some people prefer lighter or darker shades.

If you ever see a truly fine high quality tanzanite, the intense purple blue color with reddish overtones is breathtaking. And a fine Indian “cornflower” blue sapphire is a rare and magnificent sight.

Fine gems are not inexpensive, that’s why they call them fine gems, but finding one with the “perfect imperfection” can save you dollars.

It’s really quite simple, when viewing loose gems your choice would be the one that has the flaw or inclusion off to the side where the prong would go, or where the metal that would hold the stone in the setting would be, thus covering the “flaw.”

I have sold dozens of “flawless” diamonds for less by doing just that! With the customer being aware, I place the inclusion under the prong and presto it’s gone. When the customer comes to pick up the ring or pendant, even with magnification, the inclusion is next to impossible to see. The same works for most gemstones.

The graceful emerald is a gem that has natural inclusions that are sometimes referred to as its “jardin,” which is the French word for garden (see you learn something new every day!). These are long striated lines, much like the grain on a piece of wood, which can be seen throughout the gem. If the color is magnificent, the “flaws” will be overlooked, provided they are faint to the naked eye. I have appraised many so-called flawed emeralds for tens of thousands of dollars. I have seen flawless emeralds, many were fake, man-made or glass treated, and the real fine genuine ones were hundreds of thousands in cost. One of the most beautiful rough emeralds I have ever seen weighs 78 carats and

Pretty? That’s debatable.“Krown of Lite” diamond.

Pretty? That’s debatable.“Krown of Lite” diamond.

can be seen in Key West at the Mel Fisher Museum near Mallory Square. They had cut another rough that only weighed 12.72 carats, with natural inclusions, and that sold for $250,000. Imagine the value of the larger one if it is ever cut and sold!

My point is that certain gems come with natural inclusions and buying them without any blemish whatsoever can be hard to find at reasonable cost.

Tourmaline is a good example of a beautiful gem that comes in a variety of colors from reds to purples, greens and neon blues. But most tourmaline can be highly included, but to many –“Who the heck cares? We love the colors!”

There are manmade or synthetic “gemstones” on the market that look great too, and are inexpensive and have no value. Most baby boomer school rings have synthetic rubies or sapphires in them. They are basically worthless.

The process of clarity enhancement is another good example. This is a procedure that fades inclusions, and in fact makes the diamond more brilliant, thus making it more appealing.

And speaking of inclusions…I have been approached by many folks who have purchased a new type of diamond cut that is on the tourist market predominantly in the Caribbean islands. This wonderful new “gem” – “The Krown of Lite” (not the real name but close) – I would call it “The Crock of Uknowhat.”

Someone engineered the perfect way to cut a very imperfect diamond and set it in a pretty halo setting (surrounded by smaller diamonds), and from what I have seen so far, to pretty much fleece the tourists.

The diamond is kind of cut like a short and stout ice cream cone, with lots of facets on the top of the diamond. Problem is they are asking big bucks for low quality diamonds. All the ones I have seen have been SI2 clarity or worse, meaning I1 and I2, even I3 clarity.

The center is usually surrounded by poorly set round traditional full cut diamonds in a nice heavy mounting. By “poorly set” I mean the diamonds don’t stay in the ring.

I will admit the colors of the “Krown of Lite” diamonds I have seen were decent, but not outstanding. The saddest part is that they appraise for much less than the fabulously special discounted purchase price, and have no trade up or resale value.

I suggest you steer clear of these “gems.”

Just doing my job and warning folks that this is what’s up and beware of the so-called hotel jewelry auctions that will soon be flooding the Southwest Florida area. Don’t get caught up in the heat of the moment, and make a not-so-smart purchase you will regret, and can’t return.

And honestly I’m not interested in assessing the “bargain” you purchased elsewhere, unless it’s with an appointment for a written appraisal where I’m compensated for my knowledge, expertise and time.

A diamond rated I1 , I2 or I3 clarity is a poor quality diamond…end of story. Know what you are buying.

Ok, enough sunshine and happiness…until next time.


Richard Alan is a designer/ goldsmith and a purveyor of fine diamonds and precious gemstones. He is the owner of The Harbor Goldsmith, Marco’s Island jeweler for over 21 years, located at Island Plaza and welcomes your questions about “All That Glitters.” 239-394-9275 Visit his website at


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