How to Identify & Evaluate Diamonds
NEW! The Diamond Handbook: 3rd Edition updates jewelry professionals and serious diamond buyers on new developments in diamond grading, treatments, synthetic diamonds, imitations, branded diamonds and fancy-color diamonds. Using close-up photos, it shows how to make visual judgments about clarity, transparency, brilliance and cut quality. As the Journal of Gemmology stated in its review of the previous edition, the Diamond Handbook “gives the trade reader virtually all the essential information needed to buy and sell diamonds.”
A chapter on how to distinguish transparent and black diamond imitations from real natural diamonds has been added. The chapter on synthetic diamonds has eleven new pages, seven of which are photo pages that help trade members identify HPHT- and CVD-grown diamonds with magnification, fluorescence and crossed Polaroid filters. Photos and information have been updated in the chapters on fancy color diamonds, diamond fluorescence, diamond treatments, recutting diamonds and antique cuts & jewelry. A review in Gems & Gemology described a previous edition as “an entire course on judging diamonds . . . useful to both the jewelry industry and consumers.”
Diamond Handbook: A Practical Guide to Diamond Evaluation, 2nd Edition
by Renée Newman
Publisher: International Jewelry Publications
$19.95, trade paperback, 168 pages, ISBN 978-0-929975-53-5
392 photos (178 of them new) + diagrams, tables, glossary and index, 6" x 9"
Since its First Edition in 2005, Renée Newman’s Diamond Handbook: How to Identify & Evaluate Diamonds has established itself as a go to reference for members of the trade and laypeople alike. This revised and updated Third Edition comes fully loaded with the invaluable photographs and clear, concise prose appraisers find useful in each of Newman’s books. The book is organized logically, beginning with basic diamond facts and price factors and working through the 4C’s to finish up with chapters devoted to topics such as synthetics, treatments, and re-cutting.
From the very first paragraph on price factors, Newman makes an excellent (and controversial-seeming) claim: “the 4C’s are no longer an adequate pricing system.” I say this seems controversial, because as appraisers – or wholesalers or retail buyers – we know it absolutely is not. The four bits of information captured by the 4C’s are not even enough to make a first attempt at pricing using a Rapaport Diamond Report, since factors such as cut quality are left wide open to interpretation.
Newman herself points out three important issues with the traditional 4C’s approach. First, cut can describe shape, cutting pattern, and cut quality. A second point is the effect transparency can have on price, especially as it captures a characteristic of many diamonds valued and exploited by contemporary designers. Finally, Newman proposes that treatment is properly considered as a significant variable affecting price. Instead of 4C’s, she advocates the use of 5C’s and 2T’s:
• Carat Weight
• Cut Quality
• Cutting Style & Stone Shape
• Treatment Status
Her mnemonic is an excellent tool for explaining value factors to clients, particularly those who seem unduly hung-up on conventional grading reports.
To illustrate her discussion of transparency, Newman provides half a dozen very clear photographs. Once the exclusive property of industrial applications and the very lowest quality commercial jewelry, milky, filmy, and hazy diamonds are front and center in designer jewels and engagement rings in recent years. The implications for appraisers are, as yet, not well explored.
Newman is very conscientious about directing her attention to the practical. A chapter entitled “A Closer Look at Clarity” offers the reader a selection of five diamonds to examine, ranging in clarity from VS1 to I1. With multiple magnified photographs for each specimen, Newman details the inclusions and clarity considerations resulting in the final grade of each stone. Of particular utility when explaining clarity to a novice, this chapter also touches on the well-known fact that the clarity grade alone cannot describe how attractive a diamond is. For the consumer obsessed with the purchase of reports over actual diamonds, the information laid out in this section should prove very valuable indeed.
Of equal use to appraisers and others in the industry are chapters on synthetic diamonds and imitations. The excellent photographs and precise text make these sections terrific references, much more convenient for a quick answer than the exhaustive articles or weighty volumes on these topics. For instance, Newman provides illustrated tables comparing fluorescence (LW & SW) and phosphorescence in natural, treated, and synthetic diamonds, which are particularly useful. And in her chapter on imitations, black diamonds -- so popular with modern designers and manufacturers -- are discussed in some detail.
Additional chapters cover subjects such as fluorescence, fancy colored diamonds, antique cuts and jewelry, branded diamonds, and recutting. The coverage of antique jewelry is necessarily brief and not in-depth, but it provides a nice context for the discussion of antique cuts. Likewise, the section on branded diamonds is not comprehensive, but it provides clear photographs of many styles appraisers are likely to encounter.
The Diamond Handbook delivers. This 2018 edition is a must-have for every individual who makes diamonds her business. With its glossary and comprehensible explanations of even technical topics, it is also worth considering as a gift for clients or those just starting in the jewelry industry. Renée Newman has done diamond buyers, sellers, and valuers a great service with her Third Edition of the Diamond Handbook, the accessible guide to all things diamond.
The Jewelry Appraiser (published by National Association of Jewelry Appraisers) Reviewed by Caitlin M St John, GIA GG
It takes a lot of courage to be a diamond dealer these days. Or even a purchaser of high-end diamonds. Especially within the past decade or so, as the number of diamond treatments, enhancements, and imitations has flourished, the task has become ever more challenging. This handbook, by renowned gemologist Renée Newman, will arm you with the information you need.
Newman begins by explaining the physical characteristics of diamond, including brightness, brilliance, and fire. Some of these physical properties form the basis for modern electronic diamond detecting instruments. The important role of lighting in evaluating diamonds is discussed, as well as practical advice on how to choose and use a loupe.
The well-known “4 C’s” (color, cut, clarity, and carat weight) no longer suffice for evaluating and pricing diamonds. An entire chapter explains the additional factors needed today. Cut quality is especially well covered, with clear and useful photographs of such cut-induced defects as windowing, “fisheye,” and “nailhead.” The photographs throughout the book, in fact, add immensely to its value. Because round brilliants are so widely sold they receive their own dedicated discussion of cut quality. And the subject of diamond fluorescence is well covered and illustrated, including the debate of whether it adds value or detracts.
Diamond clarity grades can be confusing but this book explains them well, again with helpful close-up photographs. A later chapter explains (and shows) some of the methods for improving clarity, such as laser drilling and fracture filling. The coverage in these two chapters is the next best thing to taking these sections of a GIA diamond grading course.
An important chapter explains how to tell real diamonds from imitations, and natural diamonds from synthetic. As synthetics have gotten better and more commonplace, laboratory methods may be required. Another entire chapter deals with the many diamond treatments, especially those to improve color. These have come a long way from Georgian period foil backing and now include coating, irradiation, and HPHT (high pressure high temperature) treatments, among others.
“Fancy” colored diamonds require some special considerations, especially in judging their color; these are thoroughly covered in a dedicated chapter. Even if you could never afford a fancy colored diamond you may enjoy ogling the gorgeous photographs. Likewise, evaluating and appraising old cuts of diamonds in antique jewelry requires special knowledge that is covered in depth in its own chapter. This includes a capsule history of cuts going all the way back to Indian diamond cutters in the 1300s.
“Branded” diamonds, with guaranteed quality and special cuts very different from the standard round brilliant, receive their own chapter. Twenty-five branded examples are discussed and shown. And one of the more fascinating chapters deals with recutting diamonds, which can improve not only the cut but the clarity grades and even the color. The recut stone, even though somewhat smaller, may increase substantially in value. Several interesting examples, well illustrated with photographs, demonstrate this point.
Despite the immense amount of information in this book it is well organized and surprisingly easy to read. Newman’s writing is well known for being clear and succinct. If you are at all interested in diamonds, either as a jewelry professional, a high-end collector, or a retail customer, this is the book for you.
ASJRA, (Association for the Study of Jewelry & the Applied Arts), reviewed by Eric J. Hoffman
The revised second edition of the Diamond Handbook by Renée Newman is a delight to read from cover to cover. With more than 200 new colour photographs, the reader can appreciate the wonderful nuances of colour in the world of diamonds and diamond jewellery.
New chapters to the Diamond Handbook have been added that focus on fancy-coloured diamonds and how they are evaluated, diamond treatments and how to detect them, a chapter on evaluating light performance in diamonds, and additional information on man-made (synthetic) diamonds. The contents are presented in a concise, clear and easy to read manner.
Basic diamond facts include the formation of diamonds, the major diamond producing countries, optical properties, and the best lighting conditions for viewing diamonds.
Diamond price factors describe the 4 C’s and include the GIA, CIBJO, Scan D.N. and AGS colour grading scales. The many images of fancy shapes give the reader a broad overview of the many shapes other than the standard round brilliant cut available on the marketplace.
With the jewellery industry placing such importance on the cut grade for diamonds, I found it very useful to see two chapters dedicated to judging the cut of fancy shapes and the standard round brilliant. Wherever possible, diamond photos include their grading information. This gives the reader a visual reference for comparing colour, clarity and cut. Both the GIA and AGS cut grading factors are compared in chart form. The topics of windowing, bow-ties, thick girdles, inclusions, polish and ideal proportions are well presented.
Judging the light performance of diamonds is presented in detail with comparisons from the different grading labs. The chapter on clarity includes many reference photos with their clarity grades. . .
In a new chapter, synthetic diamonds and their detection are discussed in detail. . . . The subject of diamond treatments includes methods of detecting the older techniques of foilbacking, coating and irradiation, as well as new high pressure high temperature treatments. Clarity enhancements and their detection, including laser drilling and glass filling, are also discussed.
With increased consumer awareness of coloured diamonds, the industry has been working to establish grading parameters for describing and evaluating these diamonds. In the chapter dedicated to judging fancy coloured diamonds, photos are used to illustrate some of the many colours, and the description of colour terminology is explained.
Rounding out the book is a chapter on antique cuts and jewellery. The idea of recutting diamonds to improve their appearance and value is examined.
Finally, about 25 branded diamonds are well illustrated with descriptions. Did I forget to mention that a new glossary has been added?
The second edition of the Diamond Handbook is almost a complete rewrite of the first. Very much has been done to improve the contents, now with colour photos, tables, charts and updated information. This book will be purchased by the consumer who wants more detailed information than just the 4C’s. For the gemology student, trade professional or industry employee, this book will be very helpful in upgrading or adding to your knowledge of diamonds and this industry. A great deal of effort has gone into producing this edition and it shows!
Canadian Gemmologist, 2008
All of the material is presented in a very readable and intuitively structured format. The photographs are of high quality and provide good illustrations of the information that is covered. The tables are excellent. and provide a concise, at-a-glance overview of some of the things I find myself having to look up on occasion, e.g. cause of color in natural fancy colored diamonds. At 186 pages, the Diamond Handbook is a very manageable size and the quality of the publication recommends it as a ‘ready reference’ and a pleasure to read . . . I believe that the Diamond Handbook would be a valuable addition to any appraiser’s bookshelf. It’s compact size and clear layout make it perfect to grab for a quick reference during an appraisal, and it’s readability makes it accessible to the layperson. I can easily see pulling it off the shelf to help illustrate an explanation to a client or customer, or to use one of the fine photographs as an example of a particular inclusion. At $19.95, I think the Diamond Handbook is too well priced to pass up.
Jewelry Appraiser, 2008
"Gives the trade reader virtually all the essential information needed to buy and sell diamonds. . .The book is an advance of the same author’s Diamond Ring Buying Guide (6th edition, 2002).
"The text covers everything the buyer needs to know, with useful comments on lighting and first-class images. At all relevant points the author gives an up-to-date list of references.
"No other text in current circulation discusses re-cutting and its possible effects, and the author’s discussion of the new topic of branded diamonds conveniently brings together a number of examples of particular cuts peculiar to different firms. . . . Brief and useful notes describe the present position of synthetic gem diamond and treated diamond. Rip-offs are soberly described and sensation avoided. This is a must for anyone buying testing or valuing a polished diamond and for students in many fields."
Journal of Gemmology
"The Diamond Handbook covers all aspects of diamond evaluation. All of the material is presented in a very readable and intuitively structured format. The photographs are of high quality and provide good illustrations of the information that is covered. The tables are excellent. and provide a concise, at-a-glance overview of some of the things I find myself having to look up on occasion, e.g. cause of color in natural fancy colored diamonds. At 186 pages, the Diamond Handbook is a very manageable size and the quality of the publication recommends it as a ‘ready reference’ and a pleasure to read.
"I believe that the Diamond Handbook would be a valuable addition to any appraiser’s bookshelf. Its compact size and clear layout make it perfect to grab for a quick reference during an appraisal, and its readability makes it accessible to the layperson. I can easily see pulling it off the shelf to help illustrate an explanation to a client or customer, or to use one of the fine photographs as an example of a particular inclusion. At $19.95, I think the Diamond Handbook is too well priced to pass up."
Jewelry Appraiser (2005)
"Impressively comprehensive. . . . a practical, well-organized and concisely written volume, packed with valuable information. . . . Newman familiarizes us with some diamond-district jargon and supplies us with a survival kit for our journey into the jewellery jungle. And of course, she walks us through the 4 Cs. In fact, Newman has given us a fifth C: Cut quality. She explains the importance of proportions and finish to the brilliance, fire and overall beauty of a diamond, and how these factors can affect the price of a stone by as much as 50%.
"As a facetor, I am always pleased to see the critical importance of good cutting not only acknowledged but emphasized. In this respect, Newman has made me very happy. She covers the history of diamond cuts and cutting styles, and even devotes an entire chapter to the re-cutting of diamonds (information I have not seen elsewhere) and how the cutter works his magic. Even more valuable, however, are two chapters about how to judge the cut of fancy shapes and round brilliants. Here the reader learns about the consequences of bad cutting (bow ties, windows, fisheyes and nailheads) and how to recognize them. The "anatomy" and proper proportions of a round brilliant are discussed in detail, along with symmetry and polish.
In addition to his fifth C, we are also given two T’s: transparency and Treatment status. Newman feels that these three factors, taken in conjunction with the traditional 4 C’s, supply us with a more complete and reliable set of pricing parameters. I agree. In particular, transparency (and its relation to clarity) has been little understood and seldom addressed in most popular publications.
"The Diamond Handbook, is subtitled How to Look at Diamonds & Avoid Ripoffs. This phrase neatly summarizes a major theme of the book–a theme that is both sound and refreshing. Learn to use your own eyes when judging a diamond! Don’t rely overly much on lab reports. Get to know what you like (and dislike) in a diamond. Discover your own sense of beauty. She reminds us that we are buying a gemstones and not a lab report: "We need to strike a balance between using our hearts and our minds. We also should realize that our opinion of a diamond is just as important as that of a gem laboratory." Just do your homework, compare, and know what you are paying for.
"As you have probably gathered by now, I like this book a great deal. . . .The Diamond Handbook is destined to become an indispensable reference for the consumer and trade professional alike."
"This is a new book that aims to update the diamond buyer’s knowledge of what has happened to diamonds, diamond set jewellery, and the diamond industry over the last decade or so . . . Those readers familiar with previous editions of the author’s Diamond ring buying guide will note the addition of useful information on antique cuts, recutting, diamond gracing reports, and appraisals to this book. In addition the chapters covering fluorescence, synthetic diamonds and fancy cuts have been updated.
"As this reviewer has become accustomed to, the text of this book is accurate, clear and very consumer oriented. That is not to say the gemmologist will not learn quite a lot by carefully reading and considering the oft very thoughtful arguments presented by the author. In summary, Diamond handbook is a useful addition to both the popular and gemmological literature."
How the Diamond Handbook differs
from the Diamond Ring Buying Guide
For information on gold, platinum, settings styles, ring mountings, diamond care and detecting imitation diamonds, consult the Diamond Ring Buying Guide.
Newman Gem & Jewelry Series and Osteoporosis book links