A Practical Guide to Diamond Evaluation
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, 3rd 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," copyright 2018
Reviews of 3rd Edition
A SPARKLING RESOURCE. The new 3rd Edition of the Diamond Handbook is more advanced than ever before with updated information and photos on everything you need to know about identifying and evaluating diamonds. Highly recommended for professional gemmologists and those with a specific interest in diamonds, this book features need-to-know information, covering basic diamond facts, price factors, treatments and methods of detecting synthetic diamonds. Notable additions are colour images of diamond spectra, a chapter on detecting transparent and black diamond imitations, and updated photos in the chapters on fancy colour diamonds and antique diamond jewellery. Most importantly, the author has updated the previous edition (published in 2008) to reflect major changes in the diamond trade, so even if you are already lucky enough to own a copy it is well-worth investing in this newer edition.
Gems & Jewellery, (published by the Gemmological Association of Great Britain) Reviewed by Sophie Cox
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. Hoffman392 photos (178 of them new) + diagrams, tables, glossary and index, 6" x 9"
Reviews of 2nd Edition:
"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 black and white images that show up features better than those in colour. 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
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.
Excellent value . . . this is a handbook in a convenient size that displays clear photographs. . . It is a great grab-it-off-the-shelf-book to share with clients. . . Curious customers seeking facts and details will find the information and photographs to be organized and helpful.
The Jewelry Appraiser
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.