Diamonds: A smidgen of sparkle

Marie airily dismissed diamonds for over thirty-five years, from girlfriends' engagement rings to the European-cut brooch she inherited from her mother. She refused my suggestions for restyling, saying she is "not the diamond type".

In April, her longtime partner, Barry, marked her decade birthday with a surprise: a Michael Aram silver and gold Butterly Gingko ring:

And guess who was giddy with delight? She said, "Oh! I never knew diamonds could look like this!" You can't really tell from this photo, but the centre pavé element lifts this ring from crafty to chic.

Diamonds stand up, far more than any other gemstone, to everyday wear, and are priced relatively reasonably in the carat range the trade call melee: faceted diamonds of 1/5ct. (20 points) or less. (See this GIA article for more detail.) When this small, they can fit into the "relaxed real" category of jewellery, and be worn every day, set in silver or gold.

Melee was once used to dress up a large centre stone, or for pavé. It took a generation for designs to place them as the focus; the early efforts, fussy, stiff "right hand rings" marketed in the late '80s, were awkward. We agreed that women didn't need a proposal to wear diamonds, but who wanted the jewellery equivalent of helmet head?

You can now choose small-diamond pieces that range from delicate to badass. Buck the hype of "bigger is better", but choose well-cut diamonds that flash. (Rose-cut or polki diamonds will have less sparkle but are also charismatic in a more minerally way.)

I've put small-diamond designs in the window today, the opposite of the solitaire perched in a prong setting. These are diamonds seductive as that guy in the tequila ads, ready for a good time...with you.

Top row, left to right:
Arik Kastan diamond padlock pendant: 2.5mm rose-cut diamonds, 14k gold; price, $2, 288 at TwistOnline.
Rusty Thought diamond moon ring; tiny 1mm and 2mm diamonds set in blackened silver with rose-gold halo; price, $2, 226 at TwistOnline.
Arc mobile earrings set with 2mm conflict-free diamonds; $410 for version set in 14k gold; from tara447.

Bottom: Anne Sportun large open diamond petal bangle: eight brilliant-cut diamonds set in 14k yellow or white gold; price, $2, 195.

Some of these pieces take serious reckoning with your bank account and possibly your Higher Power.  And I've done some of that, because diamonds last far longer than that chicklet-sized topaz. (Go ahead and wear the big 'paz to a party, but not every day.) Here's an example of their longevity: my ring, below, is twenty years old! Two tiny coloured diamonds, aqua and red, and one white. It's been worn hard, and has never needed repair except for resetting one of the diamonds.

If you have 'forgotten' diamonds, brilliant pointers stuck in a girlish puffed-heart pendant or Mom's  '70s earrings, now is the time to use them.  Jill brought hers, along with unworn gold, and asked a jeweller to make a pendant similar to Sophie Hughes' diamond brick:

She bought a few tiny, new cognac-coloured diamonds to accent the whites; the cost for the new diamonds was under $300.

Old-time twinkle

You will also find small diamonds in the vintage market, and I do love an antique piece worn with jeans and a tee. Antique jewellery will have an older style of diamond cuts, prized when of good quality. Many pieces are bargains; just make sure the stones are not chipped or otherwise damaged.

Modern styles like the earrings at the far right, below, show up on the secondary market, too; waiting for such a piece is a brilliant strategy to stretch your kitty. 

Left: Antique rose gold and diamond earrings, ca. 1900; .30ct tw; price, $1, 100 at Beladora.
Centre: Victorian (ca. 1900-1909) gold buckle ring with seventeen small diamonds; at Luxyferjewellery; price about $545.
Right: Contemporary blackened gold and diamond quatrefoil earrings, the 82 diamonds; total weight, 1.80cts. Price, $1, 950 at Beladora.

Last June, I wrote my first post on small diamonds, and now it's spring again—must be something about sunny days that draws me to these light-loving baubles.



Leslie M said…
Marie’s butterfly ginkgo ring is fun and flirty and absolutely gorgeous. Well done, Barry! I also love the witty references in your writing. Will have to read again to pick up any missed references. Helmet head - Ha!
LauraH said…
I'm a convert to the magic of smaller diamonds!
Mardel said…
Love these posts on smaller diamonds.
Ann Lee Gibson said…
Duchesse, I don't know why I haven't followed you before. I see you 'out and about' commenting on other blogs I follow. Today, Une Femme Susan linked to your blog, and I've now bookmarked it. Lovely pieces here. Thank you for your posts.
Duchesse said…
Leslie: I was impressed, a lot of men go for very safe because they are unsure.

LauraH: I know you have! With splendid results.

Mardel: My taste is pretty much there; I can admire a skating rink on someone else but it's not my style.

Ann Lee Gibson: Welcome, and thank you.

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