Diamond Disruption

BREAKING NEWS: things that were once found only in nature can now be synthesized by humans!

RUN… DON’T WALK… to your nearest web browser in frantic search of “the truth” about mining vs. lab-creating!

REMAIN CALM… AND YOU MIGHT SURVIVE!

—> Music cue: dramatic up-tempo tuneless 8-bar vamp <—

Okay, enough of that. The emergence and apparent popularity of lab-created diamonds is definitely cause for industry-wide conversation, if not some of the more hyperbolic commentary I’ve read in recent comment sections.

We now know that lab-created diamond companies aren’t kidding around. We know that some companies want to harness this force for evil, some for good, and many for profit.

We also should have predicted that the development, production, expansion, and marketing of this product would happen very quickly (which it did) and that it would reverberate through the industry like a Tibetan mountain gong (felt, rather than heard).

I actually received a handful of messages today from non-industry folks, asking for my opinion on the matter and offering up their own (one notable quotable: “now that Leo won gold, will he bedazzle the trophy in his fake glitter?”). After carefully explaining the differences between “synthetic” and “simulant,” I asked for honest opinions about giving or receiving lab-created diamonds. I also asked if they held the same thoughts about their own jewelry as they would that of friends, colleagues, or family members.

Here are their summarized answers, paraphrased and used with permission:

Friend A: I don’t even like synthetic fabrics, so why would I want synthetic diamonds when I can afford the real thing? None of my friends are engaged or close to it, but I hope they insist on the real deal.

Friend B: Well, I guess if they’re basically the same thing, then what’s the difference? It’s not like it’s an inferior diamond, it just didn’t kill children and the environment to get here. It probably end up like the drug industry though, won’t it, where generics are just as good and cost less, but some doctors are paid by the name brand and won’t write prescriptions for anything else?

Friend C: Ew. I don’t like diamonds at all anyway, and I would never want one for my ring.

Friend D: My center stone is a moissanite, but that’s because I didn’t want a blood diamond and didn’t trust any of the stores around here not to have them. If I’d known about lab diamonds, I might have asked for one.

Friend E: Maybe for earrings or something, if it’s cheaper, sure why not. But for something more important/meaningful like an engagement ring, no way. Test tube babies are still humans, but isn’t trying the natural way first better?

Well, aside from learning a lot more about these their real feelings on things other than diamonds, it was a pretty illuminating set of discussions. The most interesting part? All 5 of these responses are from women between the ages of 25-35. Yes, even evil genius friend B over there, drawing functionally accurate parallels between big pharma and big D. Smart cookie, huh?

As for my own opinions, I prefer to dig a little deeper. The jewelry industry as a whole reacts poorly to change, and adding lab-grown diamonds to the mix of lab-grown colored gems might feel like a step too far for some. The mined diamond industry is certainly feeling the pinch these days, so from their perspective, timing couldn’t be worse.

As you might have guessed by now, I’m not really a flag-waving traditionalist. I think that lab-created anything, sold and marketed with total transparency and accurate information, is perfectly good and healthy and legal. I myself have educated my clients about lab-created colored gems, and they have purchased from me in full knowledge of precisely what they bought.

The romantic in me shudders at the thought of a master gemcutter plying his or her trade with rough that did not come from the earth, passing through the hands of expert dealers and feeding the economies of local governments. The cultural connection I so cherish disappears, and for that reason, I am not personally inclined to seek out non-mined gemstones or diamonds.

Like any ethical jeweler, I abhor the use of marketing or sales tactics that attempt to cloud the truth and shade the facts in order to generate buzz (and therefore, sales). I successfully sold cultured pearls, heat-treated sapphires, and SI2 diamonds for exactly what they are, and never once did I need to resort to used-car-salesman tactics to do so. I see absolutely no reason why the emergence of yet another technological advancement should be met with anything less than our highest standards, as we do what we do best: serve the client.

Now I’m throwing the doors of discussion wide open: what do you think?

 

Take it Off… Take it All Off

Are you ready for something scandalous?

If you’re sensitive to some rather suggestive content, I strongly recommend you stop reading right now. Of course, if you clicked on the blog title already in anticipation of the titillating, then by all means stick around.

What I’m about to ask of you — Ms. or even Mr. Reader — is very personal. You might disagree with it, feel wronged or slighted, and potentially get a little bit offended.

That’s okay. I’m going to do it anyway. It’s for your own good, I promise.

Here it is:

Next time you’re at home, preparing yourself for a long session of sweaty, steamy, soapy, messy hard work… take off your jewelry. All of it.

Strip yourself bare of any adornment, particularly the kind made out of gold or  silver and gemstones. I don’t care of you do it as quickly as possible or turn it into an all-out, music-timed strip show. Just do it.

Ask a friend or lover (or both) to check you over for missed spots before you go. He or she should visually and physically ascertain that you are no longer wearing any jewelry on any part of your body that might come into contact with something sticky, smelly, icky, corrosive, or permanent. And they should be very thorough, just in case.

Now, this might be a great time to corral your precious treasures in one place and give them a once-over. If everything looks to be in good shape, how about warming up a little water and dish soap in a bowl and leaving it all in there to soak while you go about doing whatever chemical-ridden, paint-splattered, dirt-covered activity you had planned.**

Of course, if you just can’t hit pause long enough, just place everything gently in a velvet-lined tray or peanut-packed shoebox on your bureau. It’ll be there when you’re finished.

Once your various vigorous activities are concluded, don’t forget to wash up. Perhaps invite that helpful person back in to make sure you’re thoroughly cleaned — you know, just in case you missed a spot.

Once you and your jewelry are dry, celebrate your reunited status by recounting every detail of every story you associate with each piece. That helpful person will certainly want to stick around for this part, I’m sure.

Now that you feel satisfied by your accomplishments for the day, reward yourself with dinner, drinks, and an evening of light-hearted and casual shopping at your local fine jewelry store. After all, you worked hard today. You deserve it.

**Gold, platinum, diamonds, and hard gemstones ONLY, please. Leave the soft-cloth-cleaning of the pearls for another day, keep the opals and amber high and dry, and put down the toothbrush before you touch anything 18k. K?

Vegas Virgin No More!

What do you do when you realize all your dreams have come true?

Pay back old sleep debts!“**

…Well, that’s the response you’d get from me, anyway. I’m back home and back to work after a fabulous, grueling, exhausting, productive, fascinating, and altogether too short trip to Jewelry Week in Las Vegas. Many who know me are aware that attending this show has been a dream — a serious goal — for some time, and it’s easy to say that the entire trip did not disappoint.

I briefly considered writing some kind of day-by-day recap post, detailing the hours spent in supplier meetings, lunch offerings by category, and what time we went to bed each night. While I’m sure that would make for some riveting entertainment, I’ve decided to withhold that kind of information to maintain the mystery. I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprises for any future show-goers out there.

Instead, I can offer my impressions of an industry that is so vast, it spans multiple convention spaces in multiple hotels across a week of 10+ -hour days (this would be where the “exhausting” part comes in). It’s far more than glittering jewels, dazzling trays of diamonds, and ropes of precious pearls. It’s an international community, a unifying purpose, a parade of fashion from ultra-conservative to runway couture, a lifestyle and modus operandi that creates its own rhythm for everyone to move and dance to.

Many things surprised me: the variation in personality types from one rep to the next; differences in approach and business model that are totally opposite but equally effective; the integration of modern technology into an ancient craft. I received an almost daily shock each time I checked my watch, thinking it some sometime before noon, then realizing it was rather closer to 6pm. Also, it turns out that walking all day in heels is something I can do, but probably not something I should do (my feet haven’t looked so mangled since my time as a ballet dancer).

In essence, this show reinforced the idea that business and beauty are not mutually exclusive. We accomplished so much for the store in looking at both the short and longer-term goals, but did so in a way that felt refreshingly true to the highest standards of ethics, quality, and service. I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to stand amidst the madness and quietly learn at the elbows of industry professionals, and in that regard it’s a privilege to be counted as a member of such a dynamic group.

In the process of making my way from one end of the show to the other and back again more times than I can count, I discovered that it takes a very particular brand of dedication to really achieve success here. In fact, I’ll throw in the good old p-word: passion. Yawningly overused it may be, but the word is apropos for the type of energy I felt. Frankly, I’m not sure how anyone could sustain the kind of hyper-fast pace and intensive focus that is required to just make it through the day, let alone a lifetime of business, without feeling a true emotional connection to the work.

**Bonus points for Name That Film. No cheating!

Color Me Wild (Follow-Up)

Following my previous post, it has seemed to me that articles and advertisements about color have been everywhere. This of course is very exciting to me, and likely the rest of the fashion world as well. We in the northeast have waited long enough for spring!

My family history of mild color perception issues reminded me that it was time to re-take a color test and see just where my own abilities fall. I wondered — could my self-claimed color sensitivity be wrong? Had it deteriorated with age? Myself and my co-workers had recently been discussing the test after that blue/gold dress internet debacle, so I sat down and took it again. It’s pretty neat — check it out for yourself right here.

The “best” score on this test is a 0, meaning no incorrectly placed tiles. Obviously, the higher the number, the worse the result. My very first time taking it (last month), I scored a 6 — pretty fabulous, right? I spent less than 5 minutes on it, so I wondered if I could do better. I set my phone timer for 5 minutes again, and this is what happened:

Look at that beautiful spectrum
Look at that beautiful spectrum!

Yep, that’s a perfect score. Hooray!

I’m not sure what kind of bearing this test has on my actual color detection abilities, but it certainly made me happy to know that my eyes and brain are in good shape.

As my studies in gemstones and gemology continue, I will be interested to see how this test compares to my ability to grade stones and perceive minute variations in tint. (If I were a betting woman, I’d guess that my near-perfect musical memory is linked to this as well, since I get the same sort of “feeling” of wrongness when a note is incorrect as when a color is off.) Of course, there are many factors that have a direct impact on the way we individually perceive color, including time of day, mood, current trend, and even what color clothing you’re wearing at the time.

Just think about how you feel when it’s pouring rain for three days straight, and someone walks by in a bright yellow raincoat. Now picture that same jacket on a sunny and warm day. Not nearly the same jolt of excitement, right? Context is obviously key, but it’s not limited to the person wearing the coat — you felt sad and grey in the rain, so the yellow stood out because your perception of the color was affected by your mood.

Now, I think it’s time to go shopping. I saw a lovely yellow trench just the other day…

So, tell me: did you take the color test? How did you do?

Color Me Wild: An Ode to the Bold and Bright

As a child growing up just outside of Boston, one of my favorite places to visit was the Museum of Science. What kid doesn’t love to watch lightning strike indoors, make music by walking a staircase, or explore the world of prehistoric creatures? But one of my favorite exhibits was on an upper floor down a lesser-known hallway, tucked inside an area designated for learning about the way the human body works. Anatomy and physiology were never my strong suits, but a display dedicated to color, scale, perception, and the human eye-brain function never ceased to amaze me. From optical illusions to swatch-matching, I couldn’t get enough.

(As anecdotal evidence of my passion, I memorized every color in my Crayola crayon box by age 10. How else would an elementary school student know how to spell — and pronounce — cerulean?)

It’s unsurprising, then, that I’ve always had a particular love of color and design. I tormented my own mother after discovering her partial colorblindness (just the color green, strangely enough) but redeemed myself by always helping her select coordinated outfits and even picking the paint color for my parents’ new kitchen.

It follows, then, that the study of colored gems in particular leads to a rather in-depth look at color and a specialized vocabulary not found among the crayons. Fashion and lifestyle brands are now heavily influenced by the renowned Pantone Color Institute, which both maintains accurate and reliable color swatching and attempts to predict (or rather, set) each season’s feature color and palette. This has an interesting side effect: some businesses hop aboard the trendy train, embracing each new color and promoting its use in everything from home decor to nail polish. Others will purposefully split from the popularized palettes, choosing instead to pursue a kind of counter-culture aesthetic instead.

The result of this new focus on color seems to be, primarily, a lot more of it. Wildly color-and-pattern-centric classic brands such as Vera Bradley and Lilly Pulitzer are back in the spotlight, with the latter about to debut its first mass-market collaboration with Target (the brand follows other bright and bold names such as Missoni). While monochromatic styles will likely never be a thing of the past, it does seem that more colorful plumage and the self-expression it brings has moved to the forefront.

Where does this leave me? My little Yankee heart will always have room for the classic, tailored lines of seaside, citified, prep-school standards like khaki and navy. But my lifelong appreciation for color feels right at home in an industry dedicated to the beautiful, creative combination of every color under the sun, so this little dove feels more than ready for some finer — brighter — feathers.

Selective Sparkle: Holiday Gifting Guide Part 3

Everybody loves a trilogy, so I’m pleased to present the third and final installment of my gifting guide. ICYMI, head over here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.

I had originally planned a humorous little cheat sheet for what to buy each person on your list, but I honestly can’t say I could do it better than this post right here from one of my favorite industry blogs. So please settle in for a chuckle and read her post — trust me.

So here’s the Plan B post instead: a motley assortment of tips & tricks for buying that special someone a little special something.

— Those beautiful diamond studs you chose for your girlfriend of 6 years are lovely, but you might want to ask for something other than a small, square-shaped box that’s going to look a whole lot like the kind of box something else with diamonds might come in. Catch my drift?

— On the other hand, keep him or her from sniffing out a surprise proposal by using something other than a ring box. A good friend used one of those Danish butter cookie tins and placed the ring inside the center paper cup. She chose not to open the tin until dessert.

— A diamond will survive a champagne bubble bath, a pearl might not. Potential choking hazard aside, seriously consider your presentation before drowning your jewelry in your drink.

— Before investing in those five golden rings, try to get a finger size. Please.

— You know the holiday classic, “I Wonder as I Wander”? Don’t let that be you. When we ask what we can help you find, it’s not so much a sales tactic as a way to make life easier for you. A couple once walked in the door, glanced quickly left and right, then the woman turned to the man and said, “they don’t even have any pearls here! Let’s go!” Had we been given more than 3 or 4 seconds, we would have shown them the two large cases of beautiful pearls… located towards the rear of the store.

— Don’t let your budget hold you back. We respect what you want to spend, and can often find something your giftee will adore without breaking the bank. On the other hand, we are neither miracle workers nor magicians, and we can not, in fact, “make a few of those zeros disappear.”

— Many wish list items can be found at different price points: those diamond studs I mentioned could cost anywhere between $500 or $25,000+ so please ask before you cross an item off the list.

— While it is a customer service standard to under promise and over deliver, we’re pretty upfront when it comes to timing a gift for Christmas. There are some things that simply take too much time, and many vendors or other services get backed up or even close early at this time of year. We will always, and I mean always, do what we can for you, but we can’t control every factor (see above comment re: miracles).

— No, that $10,000 ring will not be on sale for $2000 the day after Christmas. Or ever.

— Yes, I really do think that pendant will make your mother extremely happy, especially since it’s a thoughtful gift. Yes, I already removed the price tag. No, I don’t recommend telling her you got a “killer deal.” (Yes, that was a real conversation).

— Please be patient with me if both point-of-sale terminals are in use and I can’t swipe your credit card for another minute or two and it feels a little warm in here and you forgot to call your nephew and the candy store ran out of fudge and the kids singing carols outside are out-of-tune. I will happily wrap your gift in beautiful paper with a big golden bow while we wait for the system, clean your rings and earrings until they shine, and validate your parking so you can continue to shop downtown worry-free. I will do everything in my power to make you happy and comfortable. I will wish you and your family a very happy holiday season, and I will hope you’ll wish me the same.

Coming soon to POKC: The Twelve Gems of Christmas!

Selective Sparkle: Holiday Jewelry Gifting Guide Part 2

Okay folks, I’m back with another Q&A session to help along your seasonal shopping! Today’s questions focus on some useful information to keep in mind when shopping so you don’t end up on some morning television’s Buyer Beware feature. This will be a lengthy post, because I feel that an educated consumer is a good consumer.

Are these natural pearls?”

Ah, such a seemingly simple question with such a complicated answer. We really, really love our pearls around here, and thanks to that addiction passion we tend to know a whole lot about them — which is a darn good thing, considering the huge breadth of pearl jewelry on the market right now.

First things first: almost all pearls are cultured. This means that the oyster that housed them as they formed was grown alongside thousands of others on a pearl farm. It also means that a person most likely took a bead, piece of shell, or even another small pearl and inserted it into the oyster to nucleate (or “seed”) the pearl or pearls that grew inside. In the wild, a pearl occurs when some kind of irritant (like sand) enters the oyster’s shell, and the critter inside builds up layers and layers of nacre (pronounced NAY-ker) around it to stop it from bothering the delicate mollusk. On a pearl farm, it’s the humans that cause the irritation, but what else is new. Zing!

Pearls are judged on the quality of luster, overall shape, surface smoothness, color, and matching (on a strand). The luster is that particular combination of opaqueness and translucence that gives the pearl its soft but reflective appearance. Because pearls are organic, their surfaces are often marked with dimples, pimples, lines, striations, and all manner of varying nacre thicknesses; baroque pearls are unusually and irregularly shaped and therefore have a more uneven surface, while round or off-round pearls should be smooth with few marks. On a strand, pearls should either match as closely as possible (one color) or maintain a similar overtone (mixed colors).

Freshwater pearls are the most widely available, and are often the least expensive because they are grown fairly inexpensively by the thousands (China in particular has developed amazing and innovative techniques, including growing hundreds of tiny pearls inside just one oyster). The most common color is white, and they tend to be smaller than their saltwater cousins. They are also sometimes dyed, a treatment that is not at all permanent and will fade or discolor over time. Dyed colors range from fun brights like purple, pink, and blue to colors that mimic those found naturally in more expensive pearls. A trustworthy jeweler will be upfront about which pearls are dyed and which are not, and they should be priced accordingly.

Saltwater pearls are larger and generally more rare than freshwater, and are frequently referred to by their signature growing locations: Tahiti and the South Sea region. Tahitian pearls have become interchangeable with “black” pearls, though the colors within that category range from bright peacock green and purple to grey-silver or even brownish. South Sea pearls are white, pinkish, greyish, or even a greenish pistachio color. Finally, my personal favorite, the golden South Sea pearl, is a beautiful gold-yellow color that often seems to gleam with its own inner light.

All of the colors mentioned above are absolutely and completely natural — the pearls formed with that color. In fact, that beautiful golden South Sea pearl comes from the Golden-Lipped Oyster! White pearls of both fresh and salt water are typically placed in a bleach solution to ensure evenness of tone, but this treatment is both perfectly common and permanent.

Tahitians and South Seas are more expensive than most freshwater pearls because they take almost twice as long to form, and they are only grown individually — one pearl per oyster at a time. With their variety of natural colors they can be very difficult to match, making beautiful strands difficult to find.

Bottom line: most pearls are cultured, which means farmed (or, as I like to say, grown on purpose!). They are strung on silk and knotted in between each pearl. As an organic gem, they are extremely sensitive to chemicals, changes in temperature, and rough handling, so they should be the *last thing on, first thing off* when worn. Dyed pearls should be far less expensive than naturally colored. Pearls are a beautiful accessory that can be dressed up or down, and have such incredible variety that I can absolutely find a pearl for anyone and everyone.

Why do I see ruby rings for $99 in some department stores?”

The short answer here is that you’re not looking at a natural ruby, you’re looking at a composite formed with crushed red corundum, colored glass, and lead. You might even be looking at a piece of glass with a thin coating of red lacquer. Is it a ruby? No, it isn’t, and a trustworthy store will be telling you that right up front, both verbally and in visible print.

Aside from the obvious deceit and fraud factors, these composite stones are bad news because they can’t be handled like regular gems. Stick one of those rings in a hot ultrasonic cleaner and watch it disintegrate. Try to size the ring or fix a prong and watch it crumble away or turn all kinds of ugly colors. Hit the stone in just the right place with enough force and watch a huge chunk fly away.

Bottom line: when it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Disclosure is a constant industry focus topic, and the good places will be happy to educate you on exactly what you’re buying.

What’s a synthetic stone? What’s a simulant stone?”

A synthetic stone is formed in a laboratory but otherwise possesses the identical properties as the naturally-formed version. A gemologist can perform tests to determine whether it was naturally formed or lab-created, but otherwise the two are the same. Natural gems are more expensive due to their rarity and costs associated with mining and cutting.

Example: synthetic color-change Alexandrite is popular because the natural version is rare and difficult to obtain. The lab-created version is much less expensive but still possess the beautiful color-change properties

A simulant is any material that is meant to look like a particular gemstone but is in no way related or comparable to it.

Example: anything that looks like a diamond, but pretends to be: cubic zirconia, glass, moissanite, or even white sapphire is used to mimic the look of a diamond. To be clear, it’s a synthetic if it’s trying to be something it isn’t, like a CZ and silver ring that looks suspiciously like something that would usually come in a little blue box. It’s not a synthetic if it’s a step-cut green tourmaline — you might mistake it for an emerald, but it’s not trying to be one.

Bottom line: when in doubt, ask! Forgive the broken record, but full disclosure policies ensure you’ll never think you’re getting one thing but end up with another. Also, keep price in mind as you shop to ensure you’re really comparing like to like.

Once again, hit me with your burning questions and I’ll do my very best to answer. No query is too small!

Decked Out

Well folks, there’s no escaping it now: the calender has changed, snow has fallen, and summer’s golden tan has faded away. The holidays are here!

I always wonder what will be the surprise hit of the holidays. Rubies the color of candy apples, emeralds set in halos of gold, sapphires that rival a winter dusk and the starlike diamonds that surround them… how will people deck the halls and deck themselves out in the jewels that shine just as bright as the twinkle in old St. Nick’s eye?

I posses a somewhat unique viewpoint on the season as a whole, stemming from a very culturally mixed childhood and my own approach as an adult. Fortunately, I ended up mostly on the ho-ho-ho side of celebrating, rather than the humbug.

My family is a religious mixed bag, which has made for some fascinating dinner table conversations and not a few weddings. I was raised in a very secular household, but spent a few formative years going to temple, Sunday school, and becoming b’nai mitzvot, We always had a tree and a menorah, Purim costumes and Easter candy. In my heart. I have always known that life is better for everyone when we coexist with peace, love, fellowship, kindness, and a general will to follow the Golden Rule — everything else is just a different verse in the same song.

(Speaking of music, I am unapologetic when it comes to my devotion to the sounds of the season. My mid-2000s-era iPod carries a pretty hefty mix of both secular and sacred holiday music, and you can bet your bells it’s been set on shuffle since yesterday.)

You already know that a mention of food is inevitable around here, so I’ll spare you some of the gooey, sugary, spicy, scrumptious details of the planned goodies for now (but only for now). Baking the yummy stuff is never a chore at this time of year, as my family and co-workers (my best victims testers of all) will tell you.

Wait a second — isn’t this a jewelry blog? Don’t worry, you’re still reading the right page. I wanted to share a taste of how I approach this time of year because it forms a solid foundation for how I try to remain true to myself and my family’s happiness even as I work longer and longer hours and the stress levels rise as we inch closer to the single digits of the shopping countdown I keep on my home screen.

Holidays and retail are all but inseparable in this modern age, and we can probably agree that’s not for the better. But I choose to spread goodwill and cheer by helping the excited, nervous, happy revelers who become my clients to celebrate the special events in their lives. Every person who receives something chosen with care and love, wrapped up and shiny and so perfectly hidden until the big reveal, is a way for me to put a little sparkle back in my own life. If giving is receiving, then I have wonderful people to thank for sharing their joys with me.

That Sounds Good

Chocolate diamonds. Champagne diamonds. Cognac diamonds.

Lemon quartz. Watermelon tourmaline. Bubblegum pink sapphire.

Are you hungry yet? Food may pave the proverbial path to a man’s heart, but evidently food-type descriptors make consumers hungry for colored diamond and gemstone jewelry.

Few people would deny that professional marketing teams are the true drivers of consumer habits these days. We’re essentially told what we want, so that we want what somebody wants to sell. It’s not a bad cycle really, as long as everyone is honest and ends up happy with what they sold or what they bought.

As someone who works very hard to ensure a client is educated about how they’re spending their money, I sometimes send a silent thank-you to the inventors of those delicious nicknames. A custom client who can use vivid descriptors of any kind, food or otherwise, is more likely get what they really want the first time: “a purple that’s not too deep, not really royal, and definitely not plum, but a bit more violet. Like out outer edge of a violet, but sort of like grape Jello.” Yes, I can work with that. (Maybe I’ll coin “Grape Jello Sapphire”?) Personally, I get a kick out of gems with foodlike names because, well, I’m a foodie, and calling my jewelry something edible is kind of the perfect combination of passions for me. I relate much better to a lip-smacking red raspberry rhodalite garnet set in buttery-yellow 18K gold, don’t you?

So clearly I’m not totally averse to unique and descriptive nicknames. But I do have issues with the rampant dishonesty and consumer duping that comes from those marketing geniuses who decided to take their pitch one step too far. These are the people who sell gems that are worth very little (or almost nothing) at prices comparable to their truly rare and valuable counterparts. I’m looking at you, purveyors of the chocolate or champagne or cognac diamonds.

They’re pretty. If the color appeals to you, they’re stunning. They are incredibly useful in design work, and they’re an excellent alternative to softer gems in similar colors. Do you know what they are not? Rare. And therefore, expensive.

It is absolutely astounding to me that certain retailers are promoting these common-as-dirt, industrial quality, murky brownish diamonds as something special enough to sell in the same price bracket as white diamonds. The markup on such a product must be astronomical — great for the retailer, of course, but not so much for the consumer. It’s a bit like buying meatloaf at Kobe prices just because somebody told you it was pretty much the same thing, and tastes pretty good.

I love beautiful pieces of wearable art, and jewelry made with these brownish gems can be equally beautiful to those made without. But my expectation is to pay less for something with a lesser value, and informed customers should expect the same. I question how long a value system can last if price — usually, though not always, a major factor — becomes a meaningless mode of comparison. Consumers should be purchasing jewelry because they love it, but they should be charged an appropriate amount for the true value of their dollar’s buying power.

What’s your favorite colored gemstone nickname? Do we need to introduce some new ones?