Saturday, September 30, 2017

How to look at Diamonds

Diamonds are pretty, yes!
However, I always thought that I would just have a symbolic 0.3 or 0.4 carat diamond ring for my proposal and that's it. No need to spend so much on a bigger carat isn't it, since diamonds are worthless and not as liquid as gold anyway.

Well, my mindset changed after a session with Gabrielle, the Sales Manager at Jumbo Gold & Diamonds.

They made me realise that the diamonds we get from the retail shops are marked up so high, that indeed, it seems like diamonds are worthless. If you know how to inspect a diamond properly and pay the correct price for it, diamonds are actually worth your every penny!


Every diamond would come with a piece of certificate, GIA certified. Other than the 4Cs, it states other things like the measurements, polish, symmetry, fluorescence, and clarity characteristics.

How do you tell whether the diamond you got is really the one stated in the certificate?

To see whether the diamond corresponds to the figures on the certificate, and that you are indeed paying for what you get, all you have to do is to have some equipments.

Let's go down the list in the cert.

GIA Report Number

You can actually see this number on the diamond itself. But of course, we need to have this instrument to be able to see it.

If you look at the side of the diamond like how I did below, you would be able to see that number!

Measurements

You use something like a vernier caliper to measure the diameter (and height) of the diamond. Yep as easy as that.

Clarity Characteristics

If the cert states "cloud, feather", it just means that you can see something like a thin line in the diamond. To do that, you need some fancy scopes like these:

I placed the diamond on top of this device and then place the scope over it to see.

For the purpose of being able to see the characteristics of the diamond more clearly, I was given another diamond to do a comparison. Often, it is hard to tell whether the diamond is white or yellow unless you have another one as a base comparison.

4Cs

So most people would have heard about the 4Cs of diamonds. If you have not, look further.


Cut

In this case, I am looking at round diamonds. My mum always tells me to get round diamonds as it will have the best brilliance and what not. However, Is that always the case? Not really; it just depends on what you really like and there are so many other factors to look at other than the cut.

Color

Anywhere ranging from D, E, F, or even G, H is fine for the normal consumers like you and me. Unless you compare with another whiter diamond, one would not be able to tell if your diamond is yellow or not, just like that.

Clarity

In my opinion, a clarity of VS1-VS2 or SI1-SI2 would be fine for normal consumers. This is because if the diamond is any better, the untrained person wouldn't even be able to tell anyway, yes even under a scope.

One example of a diamond I found online with a large feather:

Some inclusions wouldn't even be visible at all under the naked eye. 
I had a hard time finding the feather on the 0.9 carat diamond stated on the GIA cert (shown above) during my first try here. 

Carat

Carat weight is the unit of measurement for a diamond. 

The higher the carat, the more expensive your diamond. 

Which is why some buy these kind of diamond rings to make the diamond look bigger, but at a lower price:

That is, many small diamonds forming a big one. hahaha. 

Hearts and Arrows

Some people look at the "hearts and arrows" of a diamond to determine how good it is.
This scope helps you see this supposed "hearts and arrows" of a diamond.


One example I can find online is this.



Any untrained person would be able to see hearts and arrows easily with the scope.

Of course, I am guessing that most of us wouldn't buy diamonds that are totally perfect, so you would probably see something similar (but maybe a bit better) like the photos above - some misalignment in the shapes, yet still see the shapes somehow, depending on the grade. The 0.9 carat diamond Gabrielle used to share with me during the session had almost perfect hearts and arrows though.

I saw some interesting ring designs from Jumbo Gold & Diamonds and thought I would share them here:
Engagement rings that form a heart when you put them together!



Ruby


My thoughts and opinions?

Buying a diamond really depends on the intention (and of course on how rich you are!). 

If you want a diamond just for symbolic purposes like marriage etc., then a decent color, clarity, carat would do. Never mind about it being grade G or H for color; never mind about having a small feather or inclusions in the diamond; never mind about it being just 0.3 or 0.4 carat. If you can't tell with the naked eye, then these should be fine.

However, if you are richer, it pays to top up a bit to get a higher carat? Say 0.5 or even 0.8.

Or, if you are one with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), and really need your diamonds to be perfect, sure you can get the highest grades.

IF you are buying for the intention of investment, then yes the better grades would do you good in future.

There is no one size fits all for buying jewellery, and the ultimate decision maker is yourself. 

The people at Jumbo Gold & Diamonds can help you make the best decision. so feel free to contact them the next time you need a diamond!

This post is really a very basic and my own layman way of looking at diamonds. If you want to know more, Gabrielle would be more than happy to share with you.


#33 Ubi Avenue 3, #06-50, Vertex Tower A Singapore 408868

It is an office, so consultations are by appointment only.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Matsuya Sushi Bar Lunch Special

Had the opportunity to go for a food tasting at Matsuya Sushi Bar.

My favourite food is sashimi, so I was really excited to try the food there.

The few bowls shown below are only available during their lunch special.

 Otoro Don $48 (includes miso soup)
The otoro is the best part of the tuna. After having this, I decided that my favourite sashimi is not salmon anymore, but otoro!

 Chirashi Don $30 (includes miso soup)

 Aburi Chirashi Don $28 (includes miso soup)

 Wagyu Don $40 (includes miso soup and pickles)

 Tori Don $15 (includes miso soup and pickles)

 Unagi Don $22 (includes miso soup and pickles)

Salmon Aburi Maki $18

The price is really worth it for the good quality of the food!

Lunch Special menu here:


Sashimi here was fresh. All the bowls, including the tori and unagi bowls, were also surprisingly good. My favs are the Otoro and Wagyu dons. Pricier yes, but totally worth it!
Thanks Matsuya Sushi Bar for hosting, and Ken for the invite!


39 Seah St, Singapore 188395


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Western Europe - Day 8 and 9: Amsterdam

Summary of Day 8:
Breakfast at home
Rijksmuseum
i Amsterdam Sign
Van Gogh Museum
Lunch at Winkel 43
Anne Frank House
The P.C. Hooftstraat
Teabreak at Taart Van M'n Tante
Dinner at Loetje

By day 8, my cousin's family was exhausted from waking up early everyday. So today, we decided to stay in and have breakfast at our very nice Airbnb.
This is a good and cheap brand of stroopwafels you can get from the local supermarket.

We had the stroopwafels and tea from the host (she's so nice rite?) and strawberries that we bought from the Albert Cyupmarkt yesterday.

Ah if only everyday was as chill as this morning.

Anyway, I called today a cultural museum exploration day, since most of the itinerary would be to visit museums.

First up, we arrived at Rijksmuseum, one of Amsterdam's most iconic museum and the largest art museum in the country. And now its my favourite museum of all time.

The building itself is an art.








This library was soooo pretty it reminded me of Harry Potter.

Next up was the Van Gogh Museum, but we would pass by the iconic I Amsterdam sign. Everyone who comes to Amsterdam would have taken a photo at this spot.

But with the huge number of tourists here, it is hard to get rid of photo bombers.

Just a short walk away, we entered Van Gogh Museum much to my delight.





How can anybody not know who Vincent Van Gogh is?

His iconic Starry Starry Night even had a song dedicated to it isn't it.

I was hoping so much to see the Starry Starry Night and Sunflowers painting in the museum, but alas found out that Starry Starry Night was on display in New York! booo.

Ending our museum tour, we took Uber to Winkel 43 for lunch and their famous apple tart.






The food was so-so... and I felt that the apple tart might be overrated.
We preferred the one we had in Koffiehuis De Hoek though..

Noordermarkt 43, 1015 NA Amsterdam, Netherlands
Price: Approx EUR 9.50 per pax

Then it was a short walk to the famous Anne Frank House.

No photography inside the other parts of the house.

Feels surreal to be inside the house that many Jews stayed in secretly during war time.

And, do remember to buy tickets way in advance because the queue outside the house was freaking long!

I didn't expect this place to be that popular with tourists and locals alike.

After the surreal experience, we parted ways with cousin's family and headed off to The P.C. Hooftstraat, a luxury shopping street. I visited Chanel in the hopes of getting the classic flap bag there, but as usual, it is sold out.

But my main aim was to get the Longchamp bags, and I did. hahaha.

After that, we decided to stroll back to our Airbnb since the weather was cold and good for walking. Something luxurious that we would never do in Singapore due to the hot weather here!

On the way back, we chanced upon Taart Van M'n Tante, one of the cafes that my host actually recommended.

So we decided to have some desserts inside.

Quirky looking place, and quirky looking desserts. I see that Europeans love to put cream on their desserts. Not fattening meh?

Ferdinand Bolstraat 10, 1072 LJ Amsterdam, Netherlands
Price: Approx EUR 5 per pax


We also walked to a nearby supermarket Dirk van den Broek, or Dirk for short, to buy many packets of stroopwafels home. I would never ever miss visiting supermarkets when in another country, cos there's where you can find the most authentic snacks/fruits/vegetables that the locals eat.

Dirk van den Broek
Marie Heinekenplein 25, 1072 MH Amsterdam, Netherlands

At dinnertime, we walked again to a famous restaurant/cafe Loetje.



The steak here was da bomb.

And seriously, if you compare the price to Singapore, the steak is definitely value-for-money over there in Amsterdam.

Loetje (Steak house)
Ruyschstraat 15, 1091 BS Amsterdam, Netherlands
Price: Approx EUR 24 per pax

Did I say I was super full? And we only spent less than EUR 25 per pax here oh gosh.

Summary of Day 9:
Breakfast at Carousel Pancake House
Keukenhof

It's our last day in Europe, so I specifically looked for this place that my friend recommended - Carousel Pancake House. It was also a less than 10min walk from our Airbnb so we were glad to exercise a bit in the cold weather, one last time.

The GPS apparently didn't work correctly for this place, as we were pointed to another building beside it. But for you guys out there, just look out for a rounded tent-looking place in the middle of the field (that looks like a carousel, duh) and it would be the restaurant.

And I have to say, the pancakes were SOOOO GOOOOD!

Feel free to ask the servers for recommendation. She told me to get the Traditional Dutch pancakes as seen here. I've never seen these before in my life though but I loved it.

And as you can see, there is cream on top of the sweet pancakes, yet again.




H.M. van Randwijkplantsoen 1, 1017 ZW Amsterdam, Netherlands
Price: Approx EUR 11 per pax

After the good meal, we headed off to the airport.

Coincidentally, today was the opening day of the Keukenhof - Holland's annual tulip festival.

Since Kenkenhof is nearer to the airport than to the central area, we decided to store our luggages in the airport lockers before setting off for the Keukenhof through a direct bus situated at the airport too.

I knew that the flowers wouldn't bloom until mid April or so. But heck it.





Absolutely #nofilter, and taken from my Canon G16.
I took mostly close-up shots of the flowers cos there were only small portions of tulips in the garden.

There were surprisingly many other tourists too, even when the flowers are not in full bloom. So you can kind of imagine how many people there will be in April.

It was a really rushed trip so we didn't manage to explore the whole place and had to rush back to the airport for our flight back.

And that concludes our Europe trip!

I'd advise you guys to do online check-in 2 days before the flight back as we were too happily enjoying ourselves that we forgot to do so until the day itself. Me and my parents were almost separated for the long flight back, except that the person didn't turn up for his flight and thus we could sit together ahahah.

Looking at these pictures, I kind of miss Finnair's plane food.

And 12h on air doesn't seem that difficult now!

So here's the end of the 5 part post. Looking forward to explore the other parts of Europe in time to come!

Click below for

Day 1 and 2
Day 3 and 4
Day 5 and 6
Day 7