Monday 17 May 2010

How to Buy a Diamond – An Interview with Mark Walker of Ice Cool

ice cool lots of stones As far as I’m concerned diamonds are most definitely a girl’s best friend – I have to confess I’ve never really understood those who choose other stones over a brilliant, sparkling white one that goes with absolutely everything.

Having read what I considered a not very good piece about diamonds online recently I thought I would get hold of my friend Mark Walker of, Hatton Garden based diamontaire of some 30 years standing who has designed crowns for Indian goddesses and bespoke rings for tv stars and is an expert per excellence.

So I asked Mark for his top points for buying a diamond – and he was kind enough to give them to me.  By the way these are not in any particular order:ice cool pendant

Be Yourself:  Don’t listen to anyone else when choosing a special stone.  Don’t be influenced by your  best friend, your sister or anyone else who’s ‘trying to help’.  Make sure that what you choose is totally right for you, in terms of size, style and shape.  No one else matters here – this is something you will wear for a long, long time and the choice has to be all yours.

Bigger is not always Better:  Always go for quality rather than size.  Lesser quality diamonds simply do not have the radiance that a higher quality stone will have.  Better to have a smaller stone that is more special than a larger one that will not sparkle and reflect the light in the same way.

Understand the key terms: Arm yourself with as much information as possible.  These are:

Carat = Size/weight.  The weight of a diamond is measured in carats.

Colour = The amount of whiteness in a stone.  The more white a stone is, the more brilliant it will be and the more light will pass through it.

Clarity = This refers to the number of flaws and/or ‘inclusions’.  The fewer of these, the more beautiful the stone will be, and the more valuable.

Cut = There are many ways that a diamond can be cut, from emerald (oblong) to princess (square) to round.  Every diamond gets its brilliance by the expert cutting and polishing which allows the maximum amount of light into the stone.

These are the famous ‘four cs’ and Mark commented that there should, particularly in these days of internet jewellery shopping, be another:  Certification.  If your stone has a Certificate from the GIA (Gemological Institute of America), the HRD (Antwerp Institute of Gemmology) the IGI (International Gemological Institute) or the EGL (the European Gemological Laboratory) and provided you are buying from a reputable source, you should know exactly what you are getting.

Always ask for a certificate and question why one is not available if you don’t receive one.

icecool ring drawing Design: One of the best things about the internet is the range of designs you can see in a very short space of time, from classic to modern.  Just chipping in here, I would say that one of the things you should do is to go somewhere with a large selection of diamonds and have a browse there too, to get a really good idea of what you want.  This way, if you choose to have a piece of jewellery designed specially for you you’ll be unlikely to get it wrong.

Bespoke jewellery, such as the kind that Mark specialises in, can be the most special and individual of all, however you need to have an idea of what you want to start with, and then be involved in the design process right the way through.

Getting Trusted Advice:  Mark had just three things to say here – either buy into a name and brand, such as Tiffany, or Theo Fennell; Look for independent testimonials online, but make sure that they are independent, and word of mouth, probably the strongest recommendation of all.

I did ask Mark about men choosing diamond jewellery for women and how often they got it wrong, but he was unwilling to help me out there.  What he did say was that unless the man was absolutely certain he could get it right he should involve the person he was buying for right the way through the buying process, other than the ££££ side of course!

You can contact Mark Walker via  He’s amusing, great company  and knows a huge amount about diamonds – when I win the lottery he’ll be the only one I’ll go to to design my 5ct (perish the thought) diamond ring.  And you couldn’t ask for a better recommendation than that, now could you?