When it comes to diamonds, Sheldon Kwiat is not only one of the most knowledgeable experts in the industry – he’s also one of the best at educating his clients on what makes diamonds beautiful. His uncanny ability to translate technical concepts from the gemological world into useful tips allows him to help his clients make informed decisions and select the most sparkly jewels.
A third-generation jeweler and co-president of Kwiat with his brother, Lowell, Sheldon grew up in his family’s jewelry business. He follows in the footsteps of his father, David Kwiat, and his grandfather, Sam Kwiat – the company’s founder, who opened his first shop in Manhattan in 1907.
WHAT MAKES THE KWIAT TIARA® CUT DIFFERENT FROM OTHER DIAMOND CUTS?
Sheldon: It all comes down to brilliance, which is especially important to round diamonds, like the Kwiat Tiara cut. There are three components to brilliance in diamonds: one is white light return, which we call brightness, the second is colored light return, which is called dispersion (or fire), and the third is scintillation. Scintillation is the twinkling effect you get when you move a diamond.
You might remember an experiment from your high school physics class, where you took a prism and let sunlight come in. The sunlight is white light – or brightness, and the prism breaks it up into colored light – which is dispersion. The more dispersion you have, the less white light you have, and vice versa; they are inversely related. But for a diamond to be pretty, you need to have the right balance between brightness and dispersion. At Kwiat, we have a point of view on what this balance should be.
Kwiat has always emphasized white light over colored light return. You must have both, and all of our diamonds receive an excellent cut grade from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), which takes all of these factors into account. But the Kwiat Tiara cut slightly favors brightness over dispersion.
BEYOND BEING BRIGHTER, ARE THERE ANY OTHER DIFFERENCES IN THE KWIAT TIARA CUT?
In addition to brightness, Kwiat also favors round diamonds that have a slightly larger diameter for its given weight and depth. But the key word is slightly – it’s a very small difference. For example, if we had a 1-carat stone, ours might be somewhere between 6.4 and 6.6 mm in diameter, while many other stones out on the market are more like 6.2 mm or 6.3 mm. We are talking about tenths or hundredths of a millimeter. But even though the difference is relatively small, when you hold a Kwiat Tiara diamond next to another round diamond that is not from Kwiat, a difference in size will be apparent.
In addition to having a stone that is physically larger in diameter, there is also an optical illusion taking place based on our slight favoring of brightness over dispersion. Whenever I’m packing my suitcase for a trip, my wife, Rita, always says “Sheldon, make sure you pack a dark suit.” You know why she’s telling me to wear a dark suit? Because it makes me look smaller. And the same holds true for diamonds. If the diamond is little bit brighter – even if it’s the same size as another stone – it will look larger. This is why Kwiat Tiara diamonds appear bigger and brighter.
SO IF THERE’S A WAY TO CUT DIAMONDS TO MAKE THEM LOOK BIGGER AND BRIGHTER, WHY WOULDN’T EVERYONE CUT THEIR DIAMONDS THIS WAY?
When we cut our diamonds, we sacrifice carat weight to achieve a more beautiful overall aesthetic. Other jewelers leave extra weight on the diamond because they charge by the carat. They can offer you a diamond that sounds like a better value, but it is not. For instance, if I offer you a 1-carat, G-color, VS2 diamond for $10,000 or a 1.25ct G-color, VS2, also for $10,000, you’re probably going to think that the latter is the better deal because it’s a bigger diamond. But the diamond is not necessarily bigger in terms of its diameter, it just weighs more.
It’s similar to buying a steak. The butcher can charge you less per pound if he doesn’t cut off the fat. The fat doesn’t add any real value to the steak, but it factors into the perceived value. The same holds true for diamonds. The extra weight is typically left on the pavilion, which is the bottom of the diamond, adding unnecessary height to the stone and diminishing its brilliance. This is not an aesthetic we favor at Kwiat. The Kwiat Tiara cut maximizes brilliance and ensures your diamond engagement rings sits flush with your hand.
WHAT’S THE REACTION YOU TYPICALLY GET WHEN YOU SHOW A CLIENT A KWIAT TIARA CUT FOR THE FIRST TIME?
Their eyes widen a little bit. And they get very excited, because if they’ve been looking at diamonds elsewhere, the Kwiat Tiara cut stands out. Most diamonds are not cut for maximum brilliance; they’re cut to yield a greater carat weight. We cut for maximum brilliance.
This is something that my father and grandfather preferred, long before there was the GIA to set grading standards. What GIA has done since then is given us the scientific understanding of why we prefer this cut of diamond for a round stone. But we’ve been cutting this type of diamond for many, many years.
WHAT KIND OF WOMAN CHOOSES A KWIAT TIARA CUT DIAMOND?
Every woman would choose this diamond if she saw it. It’s just a prettier stone – across all price points. If you can’t afford a $10,000 diamond but you can afford a $5,000 diamond, there is a Kwiat Tiara cut in that range, too. Some of the largest Kwiat Tiara cuts have topped 30 carats, but we also have .30ct or .50ct stones.
In the end, it comes down to personal preference. No two diamonds are cut exactly alike. Each diamond reflects light just a little differently, which gives each diamond its own unique personality. And the Kwiat Tiara cut is just one of the many cuts that we offer. There is a whole other category of fancy-shaped diamonds, for which there are no GIA cut grades – which means it’s even more important for the consumer to buy from a trustworthy source. But that’s a conversation for another day.