World’s Greatest Jewelers: Laurence Graff
Posted August 28, 2014 by Sharon 0 in Education

Laurence Graff

(Taken from Society’s Choice Magazine)


Laurence Graff, Master Jeweler

Celebrity hairdresser Harold Leighton pinned the last curl to the crown of the models head as the photographer snapped the first image. The model batted her doe eyes, emphasized with heavy mascara on her lower lashes, as she posed for the next shot. In the wings of the shoot stood diamond cutter Laurence Graff, a pleased smile creeping across his lips. Graff imagined magazine readers flipping through their pages and pausing among the advertisements when they came to this image–his brainchild–of a young girl, hair pinned up in large curls, peeking out under the weight of $1 million worth of precious gem and diamond jewelry.

This iconic 1970’s image, called “Hair & Jewel,” was commissioned by Laurence Graff to promote his jewelry business. It was a daring move, as he was still building his business and diamonds were mainly worn by wealthier, older women as a status symbol–not by provocative sex-kittens, and certainly not worn as a decoration for the hair. Graff explains his concept as “groundbreaking” and “unconventional.” He liked that it broke the traditional, conservative style of modeling jewelry.

Sometimes called the “King of Diamonds” or “The New Harry Winston,” English jeweler Laurence Graff was born into a Jewish family near London in 1938. He left school at age 15 to become an apprentice at a jewelry store, and later partnered with another jeweler, Schindler, to repair rings and create jewelry. Due to the financial situation in England at the time, many people opted to have rings repaired rather than purchase a new one, so the pair had plenty of work. Since Schindler specialized in the repair work, Graff started to design his own jewelry pieces inspired by the “Victoriana” period. He started selling pieces for 2-3 pounds each, and eventually earned credit to buy some diamonds. He incorporated these diamonds into a ring, which he sold for 100 pounds. Each piece earned Graff more money, paving the way for his growing business.

England’s economy made it tough for Graff and Schindler to sustain their business, and eventually they went out of business. Graff said there wasn’t enough business in England, so he traveled the world and started making money by selling jewelry in the Far East. After several years on the road, Graff returned to England to set up shop. In 1960 he founded the Graff Diamonds Company, and by 1962, he had two jewelry shops–one of which was located in Hatton Garden, the center of London’s jewelry trade since medieval times. Graff set himself apart from other designers in 1970, when he released the “Hair & Jewel” advertisement photo. His modern take on jewelry drew the attention of Prince Turki bin Abdul Aziz, who purchased everything in Graff’s shop (including a 14 carat diamond) in a single day! In 1973, Graff became the first jeweler to be presented with the Queens Award to Industry–an award renewed in 1977, 1994, and 2006. Today, Graff has over 40 stores worldwide.

Graff made a huge purchase in 2008 when he bought the Wittelsbach Diamond for 16.4 million pounds–much higher than its 9 million pounds guide price. In 2010, Graff revealed he had three diamond cutters repolish the stone to eliminate chips and improve the stone’s clarity, reducing the diamond’s size from 35.52 carats to 31 carats. The stone was also renamed after the polish, and is now known as the Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond. Gemologist Richard W. Wise said the repolish raised the GIA grade of the stone from a “fancy deep grayish blue” to a “fancy deep blue” and raised the clarity from VS2 to IF. As of June 2014, the Wittelsbach-Graff is housed in Gstaad, Switzerland and is worth over 80 million dollars.

Graff celebrated his 60th year in the jewelry business in June 2013, and marked the event by starting his collection of vintage cars and opening 7 news stores in Asia. Additionally, he recreated the “Hair & Jewel” image with a modern twist–the jewels used in the 60th anniversary photograph are worth $500 million. Graff still holds the chairman title of Graff Diamonds International, and his son, Francois, serves as the CEO.

Ruby Accent Gem Engagement Ring in White Gold
Posted August 25, 2014 by Sharon 1 in Featured Products

Add a pop of color when you decide to pop the question with this ruby engagement ring setting. Featuring a round cut, bezel set ruby on each side of your selected center stone, this ring puts a modern twist on a traditional style. Available in either 14 or 18 karat white gold, this ruby-adorned setting’s splash of red will grab everyone’s attention.

Accent Ruby Gemstone Engagement Ring 1
Accent Ruby Gemstone Engagement Ring 2
Accent Ruby Gemstone Engagement Ring 3
Accent Ruby Gemstone Engagement Ring 4

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Brilliance Accepts the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
Posted August 20, 2014 by Sharon 0 in Brilliance

For the last few weeks we’ve seen a lot of people take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. We wanted a piece of the action so we decided to accept the challenge and take it one step further. How? In the spirit of charity and fun, we challenge all of our followers to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. For every follower that tags us in their video on Facebook (www.facebook.com/brilliancecom), we will donate money to the ALS. Spread the fun and help a great cause!

Split Shank Diamond Engagement Ring in White Gold
Posted August 18, 2014 by Sharon 1 in Featured Products

     Wrap her finger in this split shank diamond engagement ring featuring forty-four round cut diamonds. This elegant setting adds an extra touch of sparkle to your beloved’s hand while drawing extra attention to your hand-selected center stone. Approximately 2/6 carat total diamond weight, this split shank setting looks incredible surrounding a round-cut center stone. Prefer a more unique diamond shape? Our talented designers can help you customize this design to fit around the diamond shape of your choice!

Split Shank Diamond Ring 1
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Like this engagement ring setting? Check out our full collection of diamond engagement rings.

What Are HPHT Diamonds?
Posted August 11, 2014 by Sharon 0 in Education

Sample GIA Report with HPHT Diamond

Designed in the 1950s to make the diamond industry more lucrative, the process of creating high-pressure high-temperature (HPHT) diamonds is actually having a negative impact on today’s industry. HPHT diamonds are less expensive than their natural counterparts and develop a significantly better color after undergoing this process.

Companies purchase cheaper, less desirable diamonds, put them through the HPHT process, and sell the resulting (and better looking) gems at a much higher price. The HPHT process allows manufacturers to select flawed or discolored diamonds and alter them into more desirable colorless, pink, blue, or canary yellow diamonds.

Process:
To recreate the process that takes place deep inside the Earth’s crust, HPHT diamonds are subjected to extremely high temperature and pressure inside special machines in a lab. Temperatures soar as high as 2,600 degrees Celsius to imitate the naturally occurring heat in the earth necessary to create a natural diamond. The exorbitant cost of the energy and machinery required to perform such a task results in a very desirable (and lucrative) product—a colorless diamond.

Concerns:
With many consumers wanting to purchase the “biggest and best” diamond, the demand for HPHT diamonds grew. These enhanced stones allow consumers to get a larger stone with better color for less than what they would pay for a natural diamond of the same specifications—but at what cost? Purchasing HPHT diamonds is not recommended for several reasons. These enhanced stones can show hints of color that is visible from the side of the stone upon close inspection. They also tend to lose some of their original weight and clarity during the process. Even more concerning is that HPHT diamonds tend to be magnetic and some can even be picked up by magnetic force!

HPHT can only be used on high-clarity diamonds (VVS1, VVS2, VS1, VS2, and flawless) because the extreme pressure and temperature can cause diamonds with inclusions or fractures to explode during the process.

Responses From the GIA:
It’s difficult to distinguish natural diamonds from HPHT stones, so some consumers inadvertently purchase enhanced diamonds thinking they are real. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) wanted to remedy this situation to help prospective buyers truly know whether they were looking at a natural or enhanced stone. A team, led by the GIA’s director of research, Dr. Wuyi Wang, put diamonds through a barrage of tests to indicate whether they were natural or not. They discovered that in order to differentiate the HPHT from the natural diamonds, advanced spectroscopic techniques needed to be used. An instrument called the DiamondView is used to detect synthetic diamonds by looking for unique spectroscopic telltale features like a lack of natural graining in the stone.

Conclusion:
Many companies around the globe are experimenting with HPHT treatments, and not all are marking these enhanced stones with proper identification. Therefore, it is becoming more and more difficult for industry professionals and GIA researchers to differentiate between HPHT and natural diamonds. Researchers at the GIA continue to develop new techniques to identify HPHT gems, but keeping up with the developing technology is challenging.

In a press release, GIA representatives said HPHT diamonds “can be detected only at knowledgeable, experienced, fully-equipped gemological laboratories. Unfortunately, it is not yet possible to conclusively identify all HPHT-treated diamonds, although we believe that the vast majority are detectable by a well-equipped laboratory with qualified staff and extensive gemological data to reference.”