Jewelry & Art

Published on February 13th, 2013

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Mirror, Mirror, Who Has the Brightest Diamond of All?

If you are shopping for diamonds for your sweetie this Valentine’s Day, you might want to refresh yourself on the subtle differences between cuts.  What is one person’s brilliance is another’s sparkle. Indeed, all the glittering is at the heart of a court case between two popular jewelry sellers this season.

Zales’ claims that its Celebration Fire diamonds are the most brilliant in the world has rattled Sterling Jewelers, which owns Kay and Jared. In a federal lawsuit filed in Ohio, Sterling asserts that the diamonds are most certainly not the most brilliant in the world and the company cannot prove they are.

In its multimillion dollar marketing campaign, Zales claims that its Celebration Fire diamond “shines with more brilliance than any other diamond in the world based on independent laboratory testing. ” The claim is based on testing conducted in 2012 of round-cut diamonds from selected leading national jewelry store chains.

Aha, says Sterling, if the retailer only tested diamonds from select national chains, it can’t claim its diamonds are the most brilliant in the world because it didn’t test diamonds from all over the world.

Zales says the lawsuit is without merit and a federal judge denied Zales’ request to stop the ads from running. But the case is still pending. Diamond shoppers who don’t want to wait for the court to decide whether the claims are false may want to consider these facts about diamond cuts.

There are several factors that determine a diamond’s quality, according to Russell Shor, a senior industry analyst for the Gemological Institute of America, a nonprofit based in Carlsbad, Calif., which devised a 4C International Diamond Grading System for the jewel.  On this scale, diamonds are rated by carat, clarity, color, and cut.

Still with me? Hold on, it gets more complicated.  A diamond’s sparkle is based on its cut, which has three attributes: brilliance (the total light reflected from a diamond), fire (the dispersion of light into the colors of the spectrum), and scintillation (the flashes of light when a diamond is moved).

Can one diamond be more brilliant than another?  Says Shor,

If we had to comment on the merits of this lawsuit, there is no reason that someone else cannot cut a diamond in the same way. …If you have a diamond you claim is the most brilliant in the world, and every machine says it is, the design is not that difficult to copy.

Does brilliant mean better?

“It’s not one size fits all for every consumer,’’ says Shor. “If a diamond is very, very brilliant it will show less fire. …It is impossible to get one diamond that will be better for everybody.’’

UPDATE: Sterling and Zales reportedly reached a settlement in September that was set to go into effect in March but the terms were not disclosed.

 

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