Interview with Claudie Bouchard - Gemologist and Appraiser

Diamonds have no secrets for Claudie Bouchard, gemologist and appraiser. We sat with her to discuss the highly coveted stone’s particularities.

What does your everyday job involve?

My work consists in appraising all types of jewellery, diamonds, watches, and produce expert reports. Most often, an expert report means an assessment certificate, but it can also mean identification or quality report.

What I like about my work is that I get to meet different people - mostly jewellers, but also individuals who prefer to have me appraise their jewellery rather than a jeweller. Therefore I offer my services to the wider public. Insurance companies request appraisals for replacement values, and government offices as well as notaries also use my services.

What do the 4 C’s of diamonds refer to?

The Four C's of Diamond is a classification system created by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) some 50 years ago. It is now universally used. It specifies the four criteria used to assess the quality and value of a diamond.

Clarity: Refers to the purity. We look at inclusions - what is found (or not) within the diamond.

Categories: VVS - almost flawless, VS - very few inclusions, IS - few inclusions, I - flawed. For the first three categories, the inclusions are visible only with a magnifying glass, while the flaws of a diamond classified under the last category are visible to the naked eye.

Color: Refers to the colour. The classification starts with the letter D and ends with the letter Z. Most diamonds used for jewellery fall between the letter D and M. From D to F - colorless, fro G to J - nearly colorless, from I to M - slight yellow tint.

Cut: Refers to the cut and the light interactions (from excellent to weak) with the diamond's facets. In my opinion, it is the most underestimated of the four criteria! The cut is what makes the diamond shine and have life.

Carat Weight: Refers to the weight of the diamond in carats. Five carats are equivalent to one gram. Often, we refer to the weight of the diamond with points - one carat is equivalent to a hundred points. Therefore, a twenty-five-point diamond weighs 0.25 carat.

Photo: GIA

What characterizes a recycled diamond?

A recycled diamond is a perfectly standard diamond that is given a second life. In its first life, the diamond was mined, cut and polished, classified according to the four C's, and introduced on the market. In its second life, it is recycled: it is removed from its original setting, classified once more according to the four C's and put back on the market. It is an eco-friendly option preferred by environmentally conscious customers. Indeed, with recycled diamonds, we eliminate the mining and the bad reputation it sometimes carries with regards to the environment and work conditions.

Is it possible to trace a diamond’s origin?

The Canadian diamond is the only diamond for which it is possible to trace the exact origin; not because it is exceptional or different than other diamonds - from Africa or Russia for example - but because a document most often follows the Canadian diamond in its fabrication process, from the mine to the customer. A serial number is attributed to the diamond and engraved on its girdle. Often, a small maple leaf is also laser-engraved. With a microscope, the serial number and symbol allow me to recognize the diamond's origin. Without these engravings or paper certificates, it is unfortunately impossible to distinguish the origin of a diamond.

A diamond that has been classified by a GIA lab has a document certifying its classification and a serial number is engraved on the diamond's girdle, just as it is done for a Canadian diamond. There is no distinction made between a new or recycled diamond - a GIA lab has simply classified it during its first or second cycle of life.

Which diamond cut is the most robust?

In terms of strength and durability, there is no real difference between the cuts. However, it is possible that cuts with squared corners, such as the princess or baguette, might be more prone to erosion over time.

How can we make sure our diamond keeps its original shine?

Diamonds attract greasy substances. If you use a lot of hand cream, over time, a greasy film might coat the diamond and reduce its interaction with light. If your diamond is dull or lacks its original shine, simply soak it in soapy water and give it a gentle brush. It will bring it back to life!

What are the current trends in the diamond industry?

The brilliant round has always been the most popular cut. However, the marquise and pear cuts are making a comeback - after being cast aside for twenty years!