Tag: Aurora Gems

Natures Diversity; Natural Color Diamonds – Alan Bronstein

Alan Bronstein

NCDIA Member Alan Bronstein discussed the many beautiful creations nature provides as natural colored diamonds, in front of a full house of National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA) conference attendees and DCGIA members. Like flowers in a garden, diamonds cover every color and shade, to hold us in awe and appreciation. We were captivated with the brilliance, fire and color of each diamond Alan shared as well as the personal stories of previewing the Argyle Diamond Tender for colored diamonds he collected and dealt with during the past decades. Visit: Aurora Gems  for some wonderful pictures of colored diamonds.

NAJA + DCGIA Members

National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA) was founded in 1981 on the premise that the specialized field of gem and jewelry appraising was an area that was long overdue for representation on a professional basis. Learn more at:  NAJA

Interest in fancy colored diamonds has caused demand to increase over the last 10 years. This has caused great strain on the very limited supplies and strong upward pressure on prices. The cut of fancy colored diamonds is usually selected to maximize the intensity of the color rather than to maximize light return, which would lessen the richness of the color. The best cut for colored diamonds, is one that gives the strongest face-up color. So when cutting a colored diamond, the cutter wants a shape that will balance maximum brilliance and maximum color. GIA’s standard D-to-Z color grading system is based on the relative absence of color in diamonds, from colorless to yellow or brown, which are the diamonds most common in the retail market place.

For Fancy Colored Diamonds, GIA’s colored diamond color grading is based on the presence of color. There is a wealth of information at GIA’s Website GIA describes color in terms of hue (the color), tone (relative lightness or darkness), and saturation (intensity). Hue (like pink) is modified by a “Fancy-grade” term (Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Intense, Fancy Deep, Fancy Vivid or Fancy Dark) which describes the effect of both tone and saturation. Get a copy of the GIA COLORED DIAMONDS COLOR REFERENCE CHARTS “here soon”  See natural diamonds in all their colors, and where they appear on the GIA colored diamond grading scale.

Nature has given birth to many beautiful things, and among the rarest are natural colored diamonds. Colored diamonds, whether of a pure color or modified by one or more colors will always fall in a range of description based on its primary color and modifier colors if any, to include the saturation strength, vividness or amount of color present, as well as the value or tone, the scale or measurement of lightness to darkness, or white to black. Nomenclature used by most labs, such as Light, Fancy Light, Fancy. Fancy Intense, Fancy Vivid, Fancy Deep and Fancy Dark, take into account all levels of lightness, saturation, value and tone. But the dividing line between such grades can often vary between competing labs. Nomenclature used to describe the color of a diamond, Purplish Pink, will presumably take into account any stone that has a primary visible color of pink, and a secondary or modified color of purple. As long as the primary color is seen as pink, the percentage of the purple modifier can vary from 1% – 49%. While a scientific description of natural colored diamonds, it is a subjective grading and nomenclature choice, which allows differences of opinion between labs. The ranking of this nomenclature can have a major effect on the “perceived” value and desirability by customers. Beauty is not definable by a grading report or color description. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, different to every individual and to every colored diamond. Fancy color diamond, shape, color and idiosyncrasies are what make it beautiful and unique.

Sharing polished colored diamonds next to a piece of rough that might yield a similar color to the cut and polished diamond below it. See the 12 color varieties of natural color diamonds and their modifiers from Aurora Gems Diamond Color Variety Chart

Image courtesy of Aurora Gems – Image Photography Robert Weldon

Only a small percentage of diamonds show good saturated color, the color of diamonds is due to minute traces of other elements, or defects in the crystal structure. Nitrogen causes a yellow color, while boron causes blue. Radiation damage to the structure of diamond causes green, while pink diamonds result from dislocations with-in the crystal structure itself.

Colored diamonds are often best viewed in comparison with something that contrasts with what you want to see, not with something similar. In the case of colored diamonds, rough often does not show the color that cutting will yield. Looking at the picture of Colored Diamonds Rough & Polished, the Blue Diamond fifth from the right, shows almost a colorless rough from which a similar blue color might come once cut.

GIA grading system tends to describe colored diamonds scientifically while also making it commercially valuable. Customers want something with a Fancy Vivid nomenclature on a report, seeing the color of the stone is often not enough.

Only a third of the world’s diamonds fluoresce when exposed to UV light. The color of emitted light may be very different from the diamond’s color in normal daylight.

We will never look at a colored diamond, much less a flower, without thinking of the wonders of nature and Alan’s passion for colored diamonds.

DCGIA & NAJA both THANK Alan for sharing his passion with us all.

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Join Alan Bronstein for a special seminar on the beauty and nature of Natural Color Diamonds!

Natural Color Diamonds - Image courtesy of Aurora Gems

*Image courtesy of Aurora Gems

Natures Diversity; Natural Color Diamonds Presented by Alan Bronstein (NCDIA VP) Sunday, August 9, 2015
7:00 – 9:00 P.M.

The popularity of color diamonds is a relatively recent phenomenon and like pieces of a rainbow frozen in time for eternity, they are hypnotic to the gaze.

Don’t miss this opportunity to bee captivated with the brilliance, fire and color as Alan shares the excitement of the Aurora Pyramid of Hope diamond collection. Alan will discuss the rich lore of color diamonds and provide a historical perspective to give us a valuable context for appreciating the rarity and value of the Aurora Pyramid of Hope.

Alan Bronstein is among the world’s most trusted advisors of colored diamonds to leading jewelers, fine jewelry designers, and private investors. Alan is the respected curator of the world’s most famous natural fancy colored diamond collections, the Aurora Pyramid of Hope and the Butterfly of Peace Collection. He lectures widely ranging from the United Nations to the New York University.

Location – Holiday Inn Rosslyn, 1900 Ft. Meyer Drive, Arlington, VA 22209, at the Virginia end of Key Bridge, 703-807-2000.

Admission is  $10.00 . Please visit the DC GIA Alumni website at www.dcgia.org. for more details.

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Celebrated Gem Photographer Tino Hammid Dies

By Rob Bates


The Hope Diamond – Image Courtesy of Tino Hammid

Tino Hammid—the California photographer whose exquisitely rendered gem portraits graced catalogs for Christie’s, GIA education materials, and numerous trade publications—died of cancer on July 11. He was 63.

The son of a noted filmmaker, Hammid started in gem photography at the Gemological Institute of America, where he worked as a staff photographer from 1980 to 1982. The next year, he began a 25-year association with writer David Federman, supplying photos for Modern Jeweler’s monthly Gem Profile column. Together, they won two Jesse H. Neal awards from American Business Media.

“I always felt Tino was the Richard Avedon of gem photography,” says Federman. “He didn’t take pictures, he took portraits. Colored stones ‘sat’ for him the way celebrities sat for Avedon. Someday they’ll honor Tino as a pioneer of gem and jewelry portraiture with an exhibition of his work.”

His work later appeared in catalogs for Christie’s and in The Handbook of Gemmology.

Robert Weldon, manager of photography and visual communication for GIA, says he “always admired” Hammid’s work. Rough&Cut group3Of Hammid’s photographs, Weldon says, “They are beautiful because of the attention he paid to detail—the attention he paid to the lighting, the positioning of the stone. His photos are all about the gem. His photography of gemstones have become the definition of excellence in what a gem photograph should be.”

On a personal level, Weldon remembers him as “a straightforward human being, as uncluttered as his photographs were. He was a real mensch.”

Gem dealer Alan Bronstein, who worked with Hammid on two books and photographs of the Aurora collection, called him “one of the greatest living gem photographers of our time.”

“Tino always strived for the purest, cleanest, and most honest photographs of the true color of cut and uncut gemstones,” he says. “His integrity was unparalleled in his life and his work.”

Industry members expressed their admiration for Hammid’s work on his Facebook page. Many have also contributed to his medical treatment on Go Fund Me.

He is survived by wife Petra, son Tobias, and two daughters, Evelyn and Antonia.

Further examples of his work can be seen on his website and on Pinterest.

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The Secret Slang of the Diamond District – NYTimes.com

By Ben Schott – NY Times
The public face of New York’s diamond district is Diamond and Jewelry Way, a block of 47th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues lined with dazzlingly lit shops and exchanges and cluttered by hawkers, hustlers, cops and couriers. But beyond these street-level operations, in back rooms, upper floors and looming towers, toils an army of cutters, blockers, polishers, sorters, appraisers, graders, designers and dealers — most of whom the diamond-buying public never sees.

Or hears. The street has its own vocabulary, honed over generations and still used today. The prevalence of Yiddish reflects the historic influence of Jewish craftsmen and dealers. But the diamond business is international, and on Diamond and Jewelry Way it is not uncommon to hear Russian, Indian, Dutch, French, Belgian, Korean and other accents enunciating the mame-loshn (literally, “mother tongue”) of Eastern European Jewry, and a few non-Yiddish phrases as well.

Diamond sellers, or diamantaires, deploy an extensive nomenclature of technical terms to describe their wares — not just the famous Four C’s of color, clarity, cut and carat weight, but also dimensions, fluorescence, inclusions (flaws), polish and symmetry. Traders will instantly know what the description “round G 4.18 VVS₂ TRIP X” means, as well as the diamond’s value. On examination, they can judge if that stone’s color is a “good G” or “low G” and whether its clarity is actually the inferior VS₁. These terms may be tricky to decipher (and trickier still to apply commercially), but they are widely known. In the business, however, there are many other words to describe what really matters about a given stone, or shteyn(Yiddish), steen (Dutch), pierre (French), almaz (Russian) or hira (Hindi).

Unless otherwise noted, all non-English terms are Yiddish or are derived from Yiddish and are rendered using the transliteration system developed by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.



Carat or CT · A carat (200 milligrams) is divided into both 100 points and fourgrains. A “20-pointer” weighs one-fifth of a carat (or 40 milligrams), and a “six-grainer” weighs 1.5 carats (or 300 milligrams). Dealers say “light” to indicate weights shy of a common fraction; a “light-half” can weigh from 0.45 to 0.49 carats.

Rough · Uncut and unpolished stones.

Strop · A stone that won’t sell; a bad buy. Some dealers are anxious to unload their strops, even at a loss, to release capital or just to dispose of a dud. Others reckon that strops are not actually costing them anything, so they let them “sit in the back of the safe,” literally or metaphorically, for years (generations, even). Sometimes forgotten stones surge back into fashion, hence the saying “People get rich on strops.”

Khazeray · Junk; trash.

Links-shtivl · “Left-footed boots”; a parcel of khazeray in which nothing matches. “I can’t find a pair of stones to make earrings in this links-shtivl.” Also, linker: left; awry; illegitimate; illegal.

Shlok · Junk; rubbish; fake; second-rate merchandise.

Shvimers · “Swimmers”; especially impressive stones that seem to “swim across the surface” of loose diamonds, improving the appearance of lesser ones. Also,floaters.

Mame-zitser · “Mother sitter”; a very large diamond.

Tam · “Flavor”; appeal. When comparing diamonds, an expert will instinctively sense which has the greater tam.

Trip(le) (e)x · Any stone with an “excellent” grading for cut, polish and symmetry.

Fisheye · An unappealingly flat stone. Also, pancake.

Roval · A nearly round, fat oval; ugly; undesirable; unsalable.

Matzo · A stone made to look larger by cutting it flat at the widest spot.

Fir-kantike eyer · “Four-cornered eggs”; an impossible request; a stone (or price) that doesn’t exist. “You’re looking for fir-kantike eyer — go down to the Smithsonian.”

Bluff stone · An impressive looking (bluffy) diamond that is not as valuable as it appears.

Estate jewelry · Secondhand. The term post-consumer has recently been adopted to appeal to those concerned about the humanitarian and ecological costs of newly mined stones.

Melee · From mêlé, French for “mixed”; small cut-and-polished diamonds (often 0.18 carats or less) used as accent stones or in dense pavé settings, where many stones cover an area of metal. Melee is commonly sold in parcels or lots, for which the price rises as the buyer becomes more selective:

Whole/lot price: entire parcel
Cut price: unsorted division
Sort/pick price: hand-selection


Brivke or parcel-paper · A folded wrap of paper used to store stones.

Cachet · A small, plain (often Manila) envelope used in deals mediated by a broker. A seller lends a broker a selection of stones to show potential buyers. If a buyer likes a stone (or stones), he wraps it in a brivke, seals it in a cachet and writes his name, offer price and payment terms along the flap. This ensures that the stone can’t be shown to anyone else. The broker returns the cachet to the seller, who accepts the deal or makes a counteroffer. The broker takes the cachet back to the buyer, who can agree to the sale, strike out the counteroffer and write in a new price, or tear the cachet open — releasing the stone back to the market and ending the negotiation. Brokers usually take commish or C.O. (commission) of around two percent from the seller on any sales they close.

Loupe · A hand-held magnifying lens, usually with a magnification power of 10. An informal clarity grading rank of diamonds is: loupe clean (no inclusions visible under a loupe) > eye clean (no inclusions visible to the naked eye) >center clean (no inclusions visible in the stone’s center).

Sieve set · A shaker barrel with graduated sieves, used to sort melee by size.

Safes or vaults · There is no firm distinction between the two, except that you can usually walk into a vault.

Shmate · A cloth for cleaning shmutz from stones.


Gesheft · Business. Also, luft gesheft: “business founded on air”; an enterprise without a solid foundation.

Bren · “Burn”; on fire. “This holiday season was a bren.” The opposite is shtil, “quiet,” or shvakh, “weak.”

Gornisht · “Nothing.” From this comes the phrase gornisht mit gornisht(“nothing with nothing”) or G.M.G., which is used to describe inferior goods or the trade’s being especially shvakh.

Mekhule · Bankrupt.


The most significant phrase on the street, and perhaps in the global trade, is mazl un brokhe — “good luck and a blessing” — which is commonly abbreviated to “mazl.” It is hard to overstate the power of this oral handshake, which seals million-dollar deals without lawyers, witnesses or contracts. In “making mazl,” diamantaires stake their honor (and that of their family), and the term garners near-universal respect.

It is said that the “mazl un brokhe” formula has two symbolic elements: The seller has luck in selling (mazl), and the buyer has a blessing for future success (brokhe).

One interpretation of the Hebrew word mazl (מזל) is that it is an acronym encompassing the three elements that determine our good fortune:

מקום = מ = makom = place
זמן = ז = zman = time
לימוד = ל = limmud = learning

So to have mazl, you need to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right wisdom to know how to act.

The overlap of faith, luck and superstition is evident in several ways. Some Jewish dealers will instinctively deprecate their business fortunes, both out of modesty and to avert any bad luck incited by boasting. The phrase ken eyne hore(“without the evil eye”) is the Yiddish equivalent of saying “knock on wood” after tempting fate. Hindu and Sikh dealers may bless loupes, scales and other tools of the trade during Diwali, the fall festival. And it is not uncommon to see traditional Hindu swastikas painted on the vaults and safes of Indian dealers, just as some Jewish dealers affix mezuzot to their doorjambs.

Bashert · “Destined”; something that is meant to be; when good fortune falls into your lap. Some believe that profit will follow if a diamond falls to the floor when a brivke is opened (assuming, of course, that it’s found). Others kiss a stone that has been dropped, for luck.

Good hand · To have luck and skill in finding, understanding and dealing stones. A trader with a good hand is also one with the wisdom and integrity to “leave a little profit in the deal” so everyone makes their parnose (“livelihood”). Dealers will say of a lucrative and lucky trading partnership, “We have a good hand together.”


Metsiye · A great deal; a bargain; a stone bought cheap. Some dealers complain that because diamonds are increasingly listed online, there are no metsiyes anymore. Others hunt for M&M’s — mistakes (underpriced stones) and metsiyes.

Ganeyve · A “steal.” Even better than a metsiye.

Oysshis · Rejects; leftovers. Hence the saying “One man’s oysshis is another man’s metsiye.”

Shatsn · To price or give an opinion on a diamond. “Hey, shats this stone for me.”

Chap lagna · From “to stamp” in Hindi; to value something accurately. Indian traders also have a range of terms for bargains: halwa, a traditional sweet, but also a good deal; muft, “free,” but also used to describe a great bargain; and malai, a term for “cream,” which describes a deal that will be profitable.

Hondl · To bargain, haggle or trade.

Nem di gelt · “Take the money”; an encouragement to “make mazl.” The sense that business must keep moving is also evident in phrases like “No one died for an offer” and “No one went broke taking a profit.”

Shlep · To drag; to pay late and make someone carry your debt. “You’re shlepping — we said 30 days.”

Shmir · To grease the wheels or bribe. “Sure, I shmired the guy a little.”

Touch · Profit. “I got a little touch.”

Keystone or key · A markup of 100 percent. Also, double or triple key.


On memo is the process by which dealers routinely borrow and lend diamonds to try to match stones to buyers.

The memorandum (in Gujarati, jangad) is a slip of paper that itemizes each stone and the memo price for which it can be sold (usually higher than a firm sale price). Technically, the receiver of diamonds on memo has no rights of ownership and no right to sell. It is understood, however, that if a buyer is found at (or, after agreement, near) the memo price, the owner will consent to the transaction.

Even as Internet sales rise, the memo business remains central to the trade, because buyers want to assess the stones with their own eyes. That said, the curiously casual nature of trading on memo can result in disputes — for example, when payment becomes long overdue, when already-on-memo stones are sent on memo to a third party or when stones are returned late or not at all.

It is not uncommon for dealers to have large stones or important pieces out on memo with big-name stores, which have the clientele to afford them.


The trust that underpins business on the street is hard won and jealously guarded. Untested dealers who want the privilege of borrowing stones on memo are expected to provide references from respected dealers. These dealers are asked how long a prospective client has traded, what credit they have, how much debt is unpaid and whether they are shlepping. “It’s normal to owe money; it’s not normal to be behind.”

Only if satisfied will a dealer allow diamonds out on memo — but the value and terms of the memo will be kept in check until a personal bond of trust is established over time. Time also allows dealers who have erred in some way (even into bankruptcy) to incrementally trade their way back into trust.

A small footnote on trust: The private Diamond Dealers Club has a lost-and-found board that details mislaid stones.


Several traditional Yiddish terms are used to describe people in the trade, frommensch (good guy) and meyvn (expert) to ganif (thief) and khazer (pig).

And just as a diamond has its Four C’s, Yiddish has Three S’s for irksome dealers:

The schnorer who begs for deals.
The shleper who pays late.
The shtinker who never pays.

Faynshmeker · A “fine sniffer”; a connoisseur with expensive taste or excellent merchandise or both. Conversely, a perfectionist: “Don’t be such a faynshmeker . . . nem di gelt!

Hawks · Street-level operatives who coax pedestrians toward a specific retailer in return for C.O. on any transaction.

Jalebi · An intricately spiraled Indian sweet; used to describe a hustler. “He is straight like a jalebi.”

Good eye · One who can spot quality.


Salespeople across 47th Street use a range of codes to speak in front of privates(the public) and secure a diamond’s journey across the last 18 inches (the shop’s glass counter). Not all of these are widely used, and some are increasingly of only historic interest.

2-10 · A warning to keep “two eyes on 10 fingers” when serving a suspicious customer. This code dates to at least the 1860s and was widely used in retail.

Gee or g · A general term for a customer. There are several possible etymologies: It might stand for gooch (auction slang for a buyer), geek (“grotesque” carnival acts who bit the heads off live animals) or, simply, guy. A range of street phrases use the term.

Sherry the gee · Get rid of the customer. From “sherry”; to go, sheer off or run away. “Hey, your wife Sherry called.”

Kitty with the gee · Keep the customer occupied with small talk.

Good gee · A favorite customer.

Tee the gee · Follow the customer; ensure that a client who has just left a deposit for a piece to be made is not persuaded by another retailer to transfer his business. The “tee” may be for “trail” or “tail.” A hawk will tee the gee until the client is seen safely off 47th Street — after which the jeweler can build the new piece, confident that the gee will be back to pay and collect. To avoid alerting a private, the hawk might also be asked to “get a cup of tea.”

Cost marks · Many dealers still use traditional retail ciphers, substituting letters for numbers when writing out price tags or discussing prices in public. Dealers select a 10-letter keyword in which no character is repeated, like:

C = 1
A = 2
S = 3
H = 4
P = 5
R = 6
O = 7
F = 8
I = 9
T = 0

Here, “$150” becomes the unintelligible “CPT.” To add complexity, additional letters are used as repeaters (“$1,500” might be “CPTX”) or for distraction (“YYCPTYY”). These ciphers are also used to encode other codes; for example, “2-10” would become “ACT,” and “56” would communicate “PR” — slang for “profit.”

Low liner or high liner · Bad and good customers or prospects.

Send them (or goto the A.P. · When high-pressure salespeople dispatch wavering clients to consult a far-from-independent appraiser (A.P.). To keep the momentum of sale and avoid B.O. (backing out), a hawk (or an A.P. runner) escorts diamond and buyer to the same appraiser — a hustle known as ringbox,go.

D-line · An easy, no-nonsense deal; when a customer sees a ring, pays for it and leaves. “I just d-lined that VS₁.”


Security on the street is tight. A constant presence by the New York Police Department is augmented by uniformed and undercover guards and armed patrols by retired police officers. The area is also surveilled by a network of cameras that, according to the 47th Street Business Improvement District, is partly funded by the Department of Homeland Security.

Inside shops, security is no laxer. Display cases can be fitted with burglar-resistant glass, surveillance cameras record some audio as well as video, panic buttons are available to alert the police and some retailers carry firearms. Lunch hours, delivery times and opening and closing procedures are regularly varied to confound anyone casing the joint. And every night, window displays are cleared of merchandise to prevent smash-and-grab raids.

To foil shoplifters, staff members show only one or two pieces at a time. And to quickly spot if any merchandise is missing, retailers lay out jewelry symmetrically, keep diagrams or maps of display cases and insert placeholders (pennies, for example) when removing rings from a tray.

Off the street, most businesses are protected by man-traps — double-door vestibules that allow visitors to be checked before entry and exit, with packages delivered through a hatch. When dealers walk stones out of these secure spaces (for inspection, manufacture, grading), they usually just wrap them in brivkes and slip them into a pocket — though some use money belts, ankle pouches or underarm cases to foil pickpockets. Most insurance policies for diamond dealers specify acarry limit for stones that are walked. Dealers who need to transport diamonds above this limit will first clear it with their insurers or divide the stones and make several journeys. Some take circuitous, zigzag routes or hire security guards to accompany them.


Because there are thousands of diamond categories and the tam of each stone is subjective, there is no price index for diamonds as there is for, say, gold. The most popular pricing benchmark is the Rapaport Price List, established by Martin Rapaport in 1978. Updated each Thursday at midnight, the rap (or sheet) reflects the company’s opinion of “high cash asking prices” for a range of “fine-cut, well-shaped” stones, and it is widely used as a basis for quoting and negotiating prices.

What’s the rap? · “What’s the list price? ”

I’ll pay 10 back (or below) or I want 10 over indicate a 10 percent discount or a 10 percent premium on the Rapaport price.

On condition rap · Assuming that the rap doesn’t change during the course of a negotiation.

Magic sizes · Certain sweet spots in weight (0.5, 0.75, 1 carat) at which stones jump in desirability and price. Diamonds just light of these sizes can be bargains.

Terms · In addition to price, payment terms are central to the deal. Asking for 30, 60 or 90 days to pay is often essential to bridge situations of limited liquidity, especially when sales are predicated on a chain of transactions, much like real estate. Untested (or distrusted) buyers will be asked to pay C.O.D. (nowadays the “C” usually stands for “check,” not “cash”) or with cleared funds up front.


As consumers go online and become better informed, the independent certification of diamonds has become an increasingly crucial part of the trade.

The most respected certs are those issued by the Gemological Institute of America (G.I.A.) — not least because some other organizations have been accused of over-grading (or bumping).

Although certs don’t offer valuations, they detail and grade the technical specs on which valuations and comparisons are based.

Despite a range of security measures, including laser-inscribed serial numbers, the fraudulent mismatching of stones and certs is not unheard of. While consumers are urged never to buy naked (ungraded) stones, the dealer’s rule is “Buy the diamond, not the paper.”

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