Why diamonds are a girl’s best friend

HOW freaked out will my boyfriend be when he sees this?

When a diamond masterclass rocked into Dublin recently though, I couldn’t help myself.

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, after all.

Although I prefer Joan Rivers’ take on the mineral: “I don’t exercise. If God had wanted me to bend over, he would have put diamonds on the floor.”

Kim Kardashian certainly doesn’t have too far to stretch for a sparkler — the reality TV star was presented with a dazzling 15 carat diamond engagement ring by rapper Kanye West.

And new mum Kim told how she’s still reeling from the surprise proposal on her 33rd birthday at a baseball park in San Francisco: “I honestly had no idea — none whatsoever.

“I thought it was just a birthday dinner... and we had a nice orchestra.

“When he got on his knee, I kind of figured out what was going on. You’re like: ‘Is this really happening?’

“I cried afterwards.”

Romantic Kanye reportedly worked side-by-side with Kim’s favourite jeweller Lorraine Schwartz to come up with the special compass design that incorporates the name of the couple’s five-month old daughter, North West, and which is believed to be worth up to $6m.

Most men would do well to get their other half’s ring size right, jokes Vashi Dominguez, founder of online diamond jewellery brand Vashi, which has just launched in Ireland.

“Many, many times,” he laughs, when asked if he’s ever had to exchange an engagement ring for a guy who got it horribly wrong.

“A lot of the time, they don’t even know the ring size. It can be a very daunting experience.”

Just like newly-engaged Hayden Panettiere, however, more and more girls are in on the surprise.

Nashville star Hayden, 24, revealed that she designed the $500,000 six carat diamond ring given to her by heavyweight boxer Wladimir Klitschko last month: “Montblanc [jewellery brand] made me this amazing book where they did a bunch of sketches.

“I told them my idea over time and tweaking things here and there, it came to fruition.”

“Engagement rings make up about two-thirds of our business,” says Vashi.

“Ten years ago, when men were involved, it was the classic boring setting. Now women are bringing a lot of fashion into it. Celebrity engagement rings definitely have a huge influence on trends here. At the moment, vintage is very popular, as are halo settings like Natalie Portman’s where you’ve got diamonds going around the centre stone.

“About half our clients design their own ring. Most would go for a platinum ring with a three-quarter carat diamond. In the US, everyone wants the ring to be as high-rise as possible; in Ireland, it’s low-medium. People don’t want to show it off as much.”

Indeed you’d have to be blind to miss Jennifer Aniston or Angelina Jolie’s knuckledusters.

Bride-to-be Angie, 38, is said to be rocking a 16 carat emerald-cut diamond worth $500,000; while her future husband’s ex-Jen, 44, is thought to be sporting an eight carat radiant-cut rock also worth half a million.

Diamond expert Vashi sells similar styles to both Angelina’s and Jennifer’s for less than a hundredth of the cost, and reveals who is winning the battle of the bling: “I would say [the] Angelina [one] is more popular. “The diamonds are of the same quality as Angelina’s ring, but obviously they are a lot smaller.

“When we talk about diamonds, you have what they call the ‘Four Cs’: Carat, Cut, Colour and Clarity,” he explains.

“Carat is just the unit used to weigh a diamond. So the bigger it is, the more it weighs.

“However, a two carat diamond is not twice as big as a one carat one — it’s only 20% bigger.

“A higher carat is not necessarily better,” he adds. “The quality really comes from the colour and clarity of the diamond. The less colour a white diamond has — the clearer it is — the more valuable it is. Clarity refers to imperfections [because] 99.9% of diamonds have some kind of imperfection. Finally, cut determines the brilliance of the sparkle of the diamond.

“If a diamond has been cut symmetrically, the light will bounce off the diamond creating an array of colours; if the diamond has been cut too deep or too shallow, the light just sits at the bottom of the diamond.”

Featuring not one, not two, but three centre stones, Scarlett Johansson’s stunning Art Deco-style engagement ring is sure to have set fiancé Romain Dauriac, a French journalist, back a pretty penny.

For fellas here thinking of popping the question this Christmas, the good news is that the ‘Three Month Rule’ has gone out the window, according to Vashi: “I’ve heard it said you should spend three months wages on an engagement ring.

“My take on that: absolute nonsense. The three month rule was invented by people in the trade to try to get people to spend more.

Before, if a man went and got the best value for a ring possible, it was seen as cheap. Now it’s almost seen as smart because of the recession.

“In my opinion, you should spend whatever you’re comfortable with — that could be your lifelong savings or it could be the money you make in hour.

“Everyone knows there is a lot of markup between wholesale and retail,” he adds. “When I moved my business online seven years ago, the idea was to connect the mines directly with the consumer, cutting out the middle man.

“People are much more comfortable buying luxury goods online now. On average, our customers spend around €2,500 [on an engagement ring], but the most expensive ring I’ve ever sold online was €50,000.

“Last night, we sold a pair of earrings for €26,000 — someone bought them on their mobile phone.

“Whatever you spend, the most important thing is that you get a written guarantee from your jeweller that the diamond is conflict-free,” says Vashi.

“A diamond symbolises ‘together forever’. At the end of the day, you don’t want to be funding war.”


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