Midwinter Co. Diamond
& Gemstone Information

Stone and Sourcing FAQ

How hard is a diamond?

Diamonds may be a 10/10 on the Mohs hardness scale while Sapphire sits next to them at a 9/10, but Diamonds are remarkably stronger than the strongest of colored gems. Diamonds are 5 times more pressure resistant and scratch resistant than Sapphires.

  • Diamonds are 10,000VH
  • Sapphires are 2,000VH
  • Emerald to quartz and in between range around 1200-1800VH

Can any stone be an engagement ring stone?

This is a personal decision that depends on what you personally value (sentiment of a birthstone vs. collector's value, for instance). As jewelers, we want you to think about how often it will be worn and how active you are. We understand that there has to be a balance of aesthetic versus durability when designing such an important piece, but we recommend the strongest stones that are 9 Mohs or above for everyday wear: Diamonds, Moissanite, Sapphire.

What is Moissanite?

Moissanite is a lab grown stone that is too rare to be found on earth. It was discovered in a meteor, tested, and studied. After learning the chemical composition, Moissanite is now a commercially available and very desirable stone that is stronger than all colored gemstones, and close to the hardness of a diamond at 9.5/10. Moissanite has a higher refraction index than a diamond, making it brilliant to the eye. Our lab grown Moissanite is eye-clean unless stated, meaning it's 'perfect' on the inside!

Why are diamonds traditionally superior?

It's not just about advertising.

All natural minerals have mixed properties that determine strength against scratches and damage. Diamonds are the strongest mineral on the planet against pressure and scratches, and are on a whole different level. Sapphires, although stronger than most other colored gems, are still 5x softer (more scratchable) than diamonds.

What are Celestial, or Salt and Pepper Diamonds?

They are normal, genuine, earth mined, untreated natural diamonds. We trademarked the name ‘Celestial’ that we call the type of diamonds that we use - gray toned, and with inclusions we adore. These diamonds are found in the ground, made by nature, and completely untouched by any treatment.

These are called "Salt and Pepper" by the industry. We began using these diamonds before they had an industry name, and have always called them Celestial Diamonds.

Diamonds are made of a crystalline form of pure carbon, creating the hardest mineral known. They have a high surface luster, meaning that much light is reflected from their surface. They do not appear the same as your standard, traditional diamonds, but we assure you that they are strong and shimmery, and just as beautiful as traditional diamonds!

Are these diamonds real?

Yes. They are indeed genuine, real, natural, made of pure carbon from the earth like your classic diamonds. We only work with reliable sources with fair trade practices.

We often work with amazing and stunning natural diamonds that we call Celestial Diamonds, which the industry sometimes calls salt and pepper diamonds, or galaxy diamonds. We worked with these diamonds before they were somewhat normal on the scene. Everything about the diamond is a real diamond, and possibly even more real than your "standard" diamond that may have been heat treated or had its inclusions microscopically removed/filled. The perfectly imperfect stones are each unique, and since they are not your standard mass-purchased stone in our industry, it isn't worth the effort for "bad guys" to make fakes that look like these.

You can buy a diamond tester and test any diamond at home.

What makes diamonds with inclusions more earth friendly?

The diamonds we use are less taxing on the earth to find, to mine, and to ship. To find the clear diamonds that the jewelry industry pushes, mining companies cause huge disturbances in the earth. They then ship off (causing so much pollution) hundreds of tons of earth to another country to be sifted through to find just one carat of the clear, perfectly clean diamonds the world wants. Mining the diamonds we use is very minimal in comparison. Yes, they are still shipped, yes they are still mined in the earth. Yet, the amount of ore that needs to be shipped is much less. Mining is much less deep causing less of a disturbance.

What about sustainability?

Our metals are 90% or more recycled and can be recycled again. Midwinter Co. studio is tiny and takes steps to be eco-friendly. We work with imperfect diamonds that take less impact on the earth to obtain. We work with our clients to use their used Midwinter Co. stones and metals to create new jewelry. We give 10% of our profits to charities and work alongside small businesses to make our work happen.

Are these diamonds as good as clear traditional diamonds?

Diamonds are made of a crystalline form of pure carbon, creating the hardest mineral known, whether they are see-through or not. The diamonds we use have internal inclusions. That is why we love them. They also can have outer natural openings. These characteristics we personally embrace as beautiful, showing their nature.

Due to the inclusions, they are technically more weak on the inside than your high dollar clear white diamonds. To be fair, when hit with a hammer, every diamond in the world will shatter very easily, no matter the level of inclusions or price you paid. All jewelers should suggest purchasing ring insurance in order to cover a lifetime of stone theft, loss, scratches, or breaks.

They are, however, still stronger than your strongest gemstones. They will scratch less than any gemstone because of their hardness, and sparkle more due to their higher refractive index. Our opinion is that they are not just 'as good' but overall better - better for the earth, genuine looking, and unique for the wearer.

What can you share about your stone sourcing?

The majority of our diamonds and gems are sourced directly from mines in Canada, Botswana, and South Africa. They are often cut in unique shapes by our suppliers in India, who buy rough stones in bulk through the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.

The supplier of our smaller accent diamonds is also a part of the Diamond Manufacturers and Importers Association of America, whose mission is to promote the highest standards of ethics, integrity and professionalism in the American marketplace.

Mining gemstones, diamonds, and metals from the earth from different governments around the planet has created human rights issues. As an industry, we've seen a change in truly caring about fair trading and sustainable mining, but as an entire industry, we are at the beginning of being better to the planet and each other.

Midwinter Co. does not own any diamond mines nor are we big enough to have eyes on our stone stock from earth to finger. This explains why we do not certify our stones as conflict-free, ethically sourced, or fair trade even though they are.

The Kimberly Process Certificate Scheme is the best the governments and heads of industry have come up with, and changed 90% of the world's stone exchanging. Honest jewelers will tell you that sourcing is work that is largely based on communication and the trust you built with whom you're working with. Our buyers are selective as to which small businesses, artisans, gemstones, and mining locations of which to work alongside. If in any way it makes you uncomfortable to work with natural stones, we can source and cut Moissanite in a large variety of white/grays/black or intense colors to make your piece with the finest man made stone of the top strength and brilliance!

What about GIA certification?

We offer certification if you request it. Certification is often for those who cannot tell by the naked eye what they are buying. Certification helps you tell the difference between the $100,000 dollar diamond and $5,000 diamond that looks exactly the same to the naked eye. It is so that you don't overpay for what you cannot see in front of you due to microscopic differences. With our diamonds, the color and clarity is seen very clearly.

Diamond Certifications tell you:

1. If it is a real diamond mined from the earth.

2. If the diamond has been treated (which means inclusions removed and filled, or other treatment).

3. Lays out the color and clarity of the stone (unknown to the naked eye because it's so pale yellow or very clear).

4. The measurement of the stone.

5. The cut of the stone.

You can choose to get your diamond certified through us. Our stones can be certified upon request through the GIA before we set the stone. We charge $300-500 to insure your shipment both ways, and pay for your certification. You will receive digital certification and lasering of the certification number on the girdle of your stone upon request.

To put it simply, our stones just have not gone through the certification process because it is not a requirement and keeps costs lower.

If you would like GIA certification of a Midwinter Co. stone before we set it into a piece of jewelry, please let us know.

What should I look for in an appraiser?

Appraisals are for when you want a trusted 3rd party opinion that the stones are real, the gold is the value of karat it is stamped with (or the platinum is real), and to come up with an insurance value for the piece to be recreated in the case of theft/loss.

An appraisal is only as good as the opinion of the appraiser, which is why we do not appraise our own work and why you must choose a 3rd party that is up to date on the current engagement ring/diamond industry/market.

Make sure you choose the right appraiser for you by asking: How familiar are you with current alternative diamond market values?

If your appraiser needs info from us, please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to answer any questions or give stone carat weight info that they may need for set stones with unusual cuts/shapes.

Do I need insurance on my jewelry?

After the jewelry leaves our studio, it is leaving the nest, and no longer in our control. We have a built in warranty, but it cannot cover damage done to the main stone(s). Sometimes rings are lost, damaged beyond repair, or stolen. A third party insurance company, like Jewelers Mutual or your home insurance, are a good idea to protect your pieces. You do not need insurance, but you might think about it as if you need a sense of security on your investment. Midwinter Co. does not sell or broker jewelry insurance.

How do I 'wear with care'

"Wear with care" means while wearing a piece of fine jewelry, you simply be extra mindful of wearing it. This means being aware of the amount of pressure that is hitting the jewelry & avoiding strong chemicals that may react with the gold to create oxidation. While we specifically recommend to “wear with care” for some of our pieces that are made with softer stones, it is a good practice for all jewelry wear!