What are Clarity Enhanced Diamonds?

The term “clarity enhanced” is an advertising term. The word “enhanced” means to become better or more desirable. In fact, the FTC says that a diamond dealer cannot use this term because it does not accurately describe the nature of the diamond.

A fracture-filled diamond is simply that. It is a diamond that is injected with a plastic-like substance that has the same refractive index of a diamond. This is done to conceal the flaws that are inherent and otherwise noticeable in a diamond. When the diamond is injected, the eye can no longer see the flaws. The injection does not make the flaws go away, but it masks them where they are more difficult for the average person to detect.

Laser drilling is another type of enhancement, and diamonds have been drilled for many years. The aim is to “explode” an otherwise noticeable black carbon spot. If done correctly, the black spot will turn into a very small white inclusion. In the diamond world, a white inclusion is much more desirable than a large black one. The overall clarity of a diamond usually does not change. Although the black spot disappears, there is now a long, thin, laser drill that is now in the gem.

Laser drilling does not alter the make-up of a diamond.  Fracture-filling, on the other hand, involves adding a foreign substance. It is no longer a diamond in the common sense, but part diamond and part silicone.

It must also be noted that the filling may not last forever. If an unknowing jeweler cleans the diamond jewelry in a powerful ultrasonic cleaner, or if he applies his jewelers torch near the gem, the filling will evaporate and the low-quality diamond will reveal its true self.

Fracture filled diamonds have become a big market in the diamond world. There is nothing wrong with selling “plastic” diamonds, just as there is nothing wrong with selling any diamond simulant. The problem is that some of these diamonds slip through the cracks and are sold to unwary buyers.

I do not sell fracture filled diamonds, although nearly all gemstones have been “enhanced” by heating, irradiating, drilling, and dyeing. When the substance of the gem has been changed, however, I feel the consumer has been cheated. A natural diamond is rare, beautiful, and virtually indestructible. It is the incredible gem that should be given to reflect the true nature of love.


Jeweler’s Contest Honors Moms as a Reflection of His Life’s Journey

(Diamond) Mike Watson is giving away diamonds to two students who write the best essay to the prompt “Why Mom Deserves a Diamond.” Watson’s own decades long search for his biological mother led him to begin the contest. (Don Leach, Daily Pilot / January 2, 2015)

By Hannah Fry
January 2, 2015

Through his decades-long journey to find his birth mother, (Diamond) Mike Watson learned that a single word — what many might believe to be a minute detail — can change so much.

For years, Watson searched for clues, often in the form of a word or two, that could help him paint a better picture of the woman who gave birth to him.

“We remember words forever. When we say or read them, they have the amazing ability to encourage, inspire and even heal us,” he said. “Throughout our lives, we remember the beautiful words that are spoken to us.”

In 1993, in the midst of about a 20-year search for his birth mother, Watson’s love of the written word inspired him to start a contest to give others an outlet to show appreciation for their own mothers. The contest would grow exponentially in the decades that followed.

Watson, the owner of the Gallery of Diamonds jewelry store in Newport Beach, asked Orange County children to write a short essay detailing why their mothers deserved a diamond. Some wrote about their hardworking single mother; others described the devotion of a mom who stayed home and made breakfast every morning.

Watson brought in local teachers to read the essays and select their favorites. In the end, two kids took their mothers into the shop, read their essays aloud and were given an unmounted quarter-carat diamond.

About 200 letters poured in the first year. Last year, more than 20,000 children entered the contest.

The deadline for this year’s essays is Jan. 15.

“It’s in honor of both of my moms — the one that had raised me and the one who I knew nothing about,” said Watson, 56.

Looking for Answers

The mission that led Watson to create the contest had its share of trials and dead ends.

It was never a secret that Watson was adopted. He grew up hearing the word often and was painfully aware of the differences between him and his adoptive parents in Indiana. Watson’s father was tall, pale and skinny, while he is shorter with a slightly darker complexion and curly black hair.

He always felt loved by his family — he was their “adopted angel,” he recalls his mother saying.

But Watson didn’t fully understand the meaning of the word “adopted” until he was teased by a classmate that his mom wasn’t his real mother.

Watson began asking questions, but there were few answers. For years, the only link he had to the woman who gave birth to him was the name Betty Price.

“When you look up to your mother and father growing up, you get an idea of what you’re going to look like in the future,” he said. “I’ve always had that burning desire to know where I came from.”

When he was 17, his curiosity led him on what he thought would be a 100-mile trip to a courthouse in Indiana to search for his birth family. However, the journey wouldn’t be complete until he was in his mid-30s.

He came up empty-handed on that first trip. A judge told him that documents related to his adoption were sealed.

Two years later, he returned to the same judge and asked again. He was given a single piece of paper thinly detailing the circumstances of his conception and birth and providing a description of the mother he never knew. He remembers grabbing the paper from the judge and furiously scanning the details:

She was short. So is he.

She wore “cheap jewelry and stale perfume,” the document stated.

He didn’t find such details derogatory; they helped form his first full image of his lineage.

“I wasn’t looking for a mother,” he said. “I just wanted to know my beginnings.”

The Search Ends

After the first document, the search ran dry. But Watson’s thirst wasn’t sated.

Years passed and he moved to California, where he eventually opened Gallery of Diamonds.

In 1993, at the time he was reading letters from students responding to his first contest, Watson discovered a wedding license application that provided another puzzle piece in the search for his birth mother. The document led him to a name and then a phone number of his maternal grandmother.

When he called, and elderly lady answered. he gave his name, explained his situation and waited for the woman to hang up on him. She didn’t.

He learned that his birth mother had died 13 years earlier from complications of alcoholism.

She had told her family that her baby was stillborn. Watson’s relatives didn’t know he had been adopted.

“The contest became even more meaningful after that,” he said. it’s so important for kids to show their appreciation for their mothers, especially when they are living. Often those things go unsaid until it’s too late.”

Though only two mothers take home diamonds from the contest, Watson often gives other precious gems to finalists.

The only catch is that the students must read their essays aloud to their mothers.

“The real prize are the words these kids write,”he said. “Hearing those words is more valuable than any diamond I could ever give anyone.”
Twitter: HannahFryTCN,0,4478238.story


The Empty Room

The phrase “physical limitation” has almost never been included in the Diamond Mike dictionary. I have found myself bumping into walls because my mind was not quick enough to tell me that I would slam into them if I did not stop walking. After all, aren’t we created from atoms that are mostly empty space?  Shouldn’t we pass through barriers with ease?

When we constructed the third Gallery of Diamonds jewelers in Santa Ana, we did not want to compromise for a store smaller than our dreams. What if we needed more space for jewelry photography or design?  What if we expanded our jewelry appraisal services or needed an extra diamond room for customers to consider their engagement ring purchases?  What if we received one million Why Mom Deserves a Diamond essays? That is why we created the 100 square feet FlyUp room. It currently contains a single chair and two paintings, one being a young portrait of my adoptive mother, Martha.

Perhaps the Room to Grow should remain as a shrine to my mother, who taught us that life and success have no boundaries and that all things are possible. Maybe it should remain a quiet place of introspection and imagination, and remind us that the only real physical limitations are the ones we create in our brain.


My Diamond Chipped!

We have always be told that diamonds are the hardest natural substance in the universe. If that is true, why do they sometimes chip or break?

The reason is that the definition of a gemstones hardness is its resistance to scratching, not breaking. The scale of “break ability” is called toughness. In fact, if you place a piece of jade and a diamond side by side, then smash them with a hammer, which one would smash the easiest? The answer is diamond. On the other hand, a diamond is so hard that nothing can scratch it. The only thing that can scratch a diamond is another diamond. Because of this, it is a quite amazing specimen of nature.

With the right force or blow, a diamond can chip or break. If that happens, what should you do?

1. Yell at the jeweler because he said a diamond could never be chipped?
2. Throw the diamond in the trash?
3. Contact me for advice

If the damage is mild, a diamond can be re-polished with little or no weight reduction. If it is severe, it may have to be re-fashioned into a different shape in order not to sacrifice too much weight loss. If you have insurance you should check your policy to make sure it covers damage to your diamond. Most of the time, insurance companies now cover theft, mysterious disappearance, and damage to the gem.

If your diamond has been damaged, please contact me. I will give you the best advice and I will attach a link for directions how you can safely send me your jewelry. Once I receive it, I will contact you right away to discuss the options and to roughly determine what the finished weight would be if it would need to be re-cut. The price of cutting is not very expensive and not nearly as expensive as buying a new diamond.


Random Thoughts of a Jeweler with a Mission

Happy 23rd Diamond Day! Well, that was a few days ago but we are still celebrating. It was a magical day that had all the charm of the first Diamond Day in 1993. It is funny that contest panel judge, Su Wells, did not allow her picture to be taken, but she was interviewed by CBS KTLA! She was seen by millions of people. Weatherman, Kaj Goldberg, and his assistant filmed the entire event. Our staff all went to Lucille’s Smokehouse for Diamond Dinner. No umbrellas or crazy videos- we just enjoyed each other’s company and ate large beef ribs.

It is like a dream now, but we gathered an extraordinary team that found the resources to assemble our new jewelry home in time for the 23rd annual contest. We still have the purple theme, and use the same colors of the walls and trim as the old gallery. Cream, brown, and purple look really good together. My staff was such a great help in the moving transition. We all wore blue jeans everyday for a month because we were always getting dirty.

It is surprising that we didn’t miss a beat by relocating. Thousands of people are now filling the parking lot, and it feels as if I have already lived this in my dreams. After checking out a dozen buildings, I am happy that Brookhollow has become the new home for Gallery of Diamonds and the Why Mom Deserves a Diamond contest. The owners and tenants are friendly and respectful and it is surprising how many of them are familiar with the contest. I make an effort to take my lunch break on the beautiful grounds outside. Within fifty steps from the entrance one can visit the babbling brook complete with fish, turtles, squirrels, hummingbirds and ducks. It is a serene world in the heart of Orange County.

The transition of Gallery of Diamonds to the city of Santa Ana was seamless.
There was that time during construction that we did not have internet or computers. Communication was strictly by cell phone. Sometimes I had to take a photo of my computer screen and email it to someone who had a printer! All the pre-administration of the mothers contest was right in the middle of our relocation. Twenty thousand essays poured into Newport Beach and somehow ended up in the pandemonium of our new Santa Ana location. It is miracle that we managed.

The human brain is awesome, strange, and beautiful in the way it gives you what you ask. I used to gaze into the old showroom and proclaim, “I want to expand this gallery outwards!” while motioning with my outstretched arms. Gallery of Diamonds still has the same essence and charm of the old store, but is now twice as large. It is almost as if it was summoned from our affirmations.

Recently a girl who won a gemstone in the Why Mom Deserves a Diamond contest came to the store to honor her single father. Yesterday a boy wrote about his grandmother. Today a brother/sister winner came to commemorate their “two dads!” They were the kindest, most adjusted family I have ever met. The dads adopted the kids when they were a few months old. To differentiate from each parent, the kids addressed one as papa and the other as daddy. The dad who came gave permission to publish his kids’ words and photo. The Why Mom Deserves a Diamond contest has certainly come a long way with it’s message- to honor ALL those who love us, nurture us, and instruct us.

Think positive.
Think purple.
Find good in all things.
It makes life so much richer.


The Size of a Diamond

I love to joke when someone asks how big of a diamond he should buy for his lover. That is always a good time to reply, “it depends how much you love her,” or, “whatever size one year of your salary can buy.”

In truth, size doesn’t matter. (To back up a little, the value of a diamond isn’t normally evaluated on its “size,” but rather its carat weight. Two diamonds with the exact weight can be different diameters depending on the proportions of the cut.)

Allow me to make a shocking admission from a long time diamond merchant like myself:

Diamonds do not make us happy.

On the contrary, true happiness comes from the memory of the giver and the meaning of the gift. Do you think the size, or weight, of a diamond determines how much you love someone or how much they love you? Of course not.

Perhaps it is a human trait, but we always seem to want bigger and better. Some of us are never content with the wonderful things that life gives us. Remember that you can always trade your diamond for a larger one. In my store, Gallery of Diamonds, I have eased the worry for those who may desire a larger diamond in the future. As long as your diamond is in the same condition as when purchased from me, I will always apply all the money you invested toward a larger diamond of a least twice your original purchase price. I have had that policy since 1993. I happily recall many customers who began their lives with a quarter-carat and currently wear diamonds that are over two carats! Whenever you glance at your diamond, whatever the size, the important thing to remember is the love behind the gift.


Think big. Think positive. Think purple.

The human brain is awesome in the way it gives what is asked in earnest. Born as a tiny boutique in 1991, Gallery of Diamonds has grown steadily over the last twenty-three years. I remember the first sale of a gorgeous $200 bracelet. I also remember hiding my excitement because I didn’t want the lady to know she was our first customer.

Newspaper ads brought more customers. Any profit paid the electricity and rent. In 1993 we established the Why Mom Deserves a Diamond contest in honor of all moms. More and more patrons came to see the commotion of the quaint, hard-to-find jewelry store. In 2007, we moved to a larger location down the street. By that time, thousands of families would come every year and the popularity of the store demanded an even larger location. TV stations and reporters constantly interviewed us, bewildered how a jewelry company could attract over 4,000 families every year.

On several occasions I would stand in the center of the gallery showrooms. I would pretend to expand it outwards with my outstretched arms, as if it would magically grow from the command of my summon. It is like a dream now, but twenty-three years later Gallery of Diamonds has found a new and larger home in Brookhollow Business Park in Santa Ana. Carmen and I learned, contrary to popular belief, that it is not a store’s location that yields success, but rather the combination of quality jewelry, great prices, and the spirit of the people inside. We are still the innovative jewelry store of 1991, highlighted with my favorite purple colors. The difference is we are now three times larger!

If we continue to grow, I can not guarantee this will be our final destination. One day you may catch me in the middle of the store with outstretched arms.

Think big.
Think positive.
Think purple.
It makes life so much richer.


Success is a State of Mind

Everything in life begins with a dream.  For ten years I had enjoyed the career of a diamond merchant.  The jewelry business had become my passion. With my wife-to-be sitting close to me in our quaint apartment, we uttered the possibility of a jewelry company that could offer intriguing designs at less than normal retail prices.

Perhaps the fear of failure is anthropological. Deciding not to become an entrepreneur may be contained in our brains list of reasons for not jumping off a cliff or running in front of a moving vehicle. The fear of losing all of one’s possessions may be in the same category as the terror of speaking to a large crowd. Yet if confidence and belief in one’s abilities is even a fraction greater than the fright of failure, it is possible to alter the world.

As I look back twenty-five years I remember the primitive tools that we used to build Gallery of Diamonds.   As time progressed, the universe seemed to offer more sophisticated tools.  From a tiny office in 1991, the store  outgrew itself twice and is now nested in a third location in the city of Santa Ana.

During the fledgling years, few customers trickled into the store and the checking account had fallen below $200.   I am still not sure what was responsible for the turnaround, but I’m certain our concept of “failure” was inconceivable.  Today, the company has been visited by tens of thousands families. The brain is quite an amazing machine.  If it is listened to, it will create unfathomable possibilities.   In 1993, the Why Mom Deserves a Diamond® contest was created for kids to show appreciation for their mothers. In 2014, the FlyUp® Program was established for school kids to realize their unlimited potential.

As the years have passed, I have grown in love with my wife more each day. Two daughters have come into our lives and now a grandson is on the way. In the process of dream building, I learned that sustained belief with good intentions really do effect our universe.  Although riches and wealth is normally associated with success, it is really just a state of mind. I also learned that to fully obtain our human experience it is important to find humor and amusement along our journey. We should laugh often, and bow in thankfulness for all the universe gives us.


The Four Steps to Positive Change and Success

Every person who applies to work for Gallery of Diamonds must be persuasive in expressing how he or she can make our jewelry company bigger and better. Because I learned the power of perseverance in my own quest of discovering my birth origins, I feel it is important to hire someone with stamina to build a successful company.

In 20 minutes, I search for two qualities: 1. Outward glow. 2. Inner essence.

Outward glow. If a candidate does not shine from the outside, no one will want to do commerce with them. In business, one’s radiance must be experienced within 5 seconds. People who glow appear successful, and customers like to do business with others who are successful. To a customer, it is the strength of this outward glow that may make or break any sale.

Inner essence. The deeper, lasting qualities of individuals cannot always be determined within 5 seconds. Therefore, in hiring a new employee, it is important to know the following:

1. Does the applicant know they have been loved?

2. Do they love themselves?

3. Do they love others?

4. Do they have the passion to do good things for themselves while helping all others along the way?

Do they share our philosophy of creating an unforgettable experience with every person who would walk inside our store? Do they really want to make our world a better place?

If their inner spark is dim, or they have little ambition to better themselves and others, I do not hire them. I also do not hire out of desperation, and my staff is willing to work harder until we find a member who shares our ideals.

The result of that attitude has created a workplace in which we are eager to be part of every day. For a company that began humbly in 1991 with a small handful of diamonds, rings and chains, it now has created happy memories for tens of thousands of customers who currently wear our jewelry designs. This year Gallery of Diamonds is celebrating 27 years in business, and we have moved three times to accommodate our growth.



Ten Questions for a Jewelry Store Owner

Interview by Ashley Vitar.

1. What type of jewelry do you sell?

We offer fine diamond jewelry and everything from antique to modern including custom designs. Today, we are the largest seller of fine mothers jewelry in the nation. As purveyors of estate jewelry, we have antique pieces that date more than 140 years old.
Michaela Watson
2. How did you get into the jewelry industry?

Many people think I carried the tradition of my family. Actually, after I graduated with a business degree, my university informed me a diamond importer needed a salesperson. I prepared an attractive resume, dressed sharp, explained I was the best candidate and was hired after an intimidating polygraph. That was 1981, and the year the love and mystery of diamonds changed my life forever.

3. What motivated you to start your own jewelry business?

After moving to California in 1989, I had jewelry passion and experience, but felt I lacked the necessary capital to launch my own business. My new employer explained that he was never interested in jewelry and had never even examined a diamond with a jewelers loupe! He admitted, half ashamed, that his business was merely passed over to him from his parents. Although I felt sad for the man who seemed trapped in his unwanted destiny, that was the moment I was compelled to open my own business.

4. What steps did you administer to open your jewelry store?

It was 1991. Two years had passed. I had always dreamed of opening a diamond jewelry store and squirreled away a portion of my paychecks in case opportunity knocked. I read business books while basking on the beach, returning them to the library bearing pages smudged from suntan oil. Unfortunately, the economy was sluggish and jewelry sales dwindled mercilessly. J. Herbert Hall implied rumors of a company takeover and, just before their doors closed forever, I escaped to a rival across the mall. Then that store filed Chapter Eleven: then Thirteen. The lighted marquis of the entrance quickly changed names, and I found myself working for a third employer. There was nothing that could shock me about the accelerated transformations of my California world.

The jewelry market hit bottom. It couldn’t get worse. I remembered asking my boss in front of a customer if he would verify a diamond’s quality. Although I was an expert on the subject, I wanted to show respect to my employer who owned several jewelry stores and drove a black sports car. I embarrassed him, and he admitted he had never louped a diamond in his entire life!

“Mike,” he began. “I have no idea about the quality of diamonds. My parents gave me and my brother their jewelry stores when they died. I always dreamed of being a baseball player.”

I almost went into shock. I possessed so much more than my employer. I had knowledge. I had passion. The only thing I lacked was enough money. That was the day I decided to open a jewelry business! I sold personal belongings to raise capital. Venture capitalists ignored the small dreams of a single jewelry outlet. Banks considered a loan if one were already in business for at least two years. With meager funds, Gallery of Diamonds was born in Costa Mesa with a metal safe and security alarm system, and a humble inventory of about five diamonds, twenty rings and a few chains. There was no fury of holiday shoppers during that founding year, and the fledgling firm produced only moderate sales. My fiancé, Carmen, and I tossed flyers even in drizzling rain, and advertised till the checking account dipped below one hundred dollars. We had to do something different– something no one thought of before. Something that would leave a positive impact and create goodwill. I wondered what unforgettable life experience I could offer others. Then an idea struck… (Continued to Question # 6.)

From the book Moon Over Mountains by Diamond Mike Watson. 2016. Moon Over Mountains Publishing. Pg.113.
Store interior
5. How did you expand your jewelry business over the years?

In 1991, there were few options for a retailer to advertise. We chose the local newspaper, vowing to run a small advertisement every week. The grand opening ad cost $1,400. We enticed new customers by offering a free small sapphire to those who would simply drop by the new store. Only three customers responded. The first sale was a gold chain for $249.00. The promotion did not pay for the advertising expense, but we learned a lesson that it takes much time to establish any business.   We realized it wasn’t the size of the advertisement that was important, but rather the frequency of getting in front of potential customers. The business gradually took hold when we ran a small ad every week in the Sunday newspaper for a year with a photo of one ring and our address and phone number.
Staff of Gallery of Diamonds
6. Can you describe your “Why Mom Deserves a Diamond” contest? What motivated you to start it?

The contest was established to both provide a greater store presence and to give the opportunity for all school kids to express their appreciation for their mothers.

Since I was adopted and always felt the importance of honoring our mothers, I would give a diamond to a student who would write the most heartfelt essay about his or her mom. Although there was little room left for wondering about my biological beginnings, the contest would give kids a chance to express their love and appreciation for their own moms. The winner would receive a quarter-carat diamond to give to mom on Mother’s Day. I hoped a news reporter might spread the good news. If so, the name of the jewelry store could receive more recognition. The title of the contest would be called, Why Mom Deserves a Diamond®.

No one knew it at the time, as the first Diamond Winner presented the precious gem to her mother on Mother’s Day, but the course of history would forever be changed in the way thousands of kids could honor their moms.

From the book Moon Over Mountains by Diamond Mike Watson. 2016. Moon Over Mountains Publishing. Pg 114.

7. What are some challenges you face as a business owner, in retail, and in the jewelry industry? How do you overcome them?

In our modern word, the rules of growing a business constantly change. In retail, the days of waiting for someone to come to a brick and mortar store with cash are becoming obsolete. A business must always think ahead, think innovatively, and try to predict the means of future commerce.

Business owners must always put themselves in the shoes of their potential customers. Always ask why they should buy from you, or come to your store, or order from you online. What do you offer that no one else does?

In overcoming the price challenge, do not be concerned with competitors who offer products for lower prices. Realize that there will always be someone who has something similar for less money. It is much more enjoyable to confidently offer ones products at a fair price while adding additional value such as guarantees, maintenance services, or the positive buying experience itself.
Diamond Mike and Carmen Watson

8. What advice do you have for anyone who wants to start a retail or jewelry business?

I believe with passion, knowledge, and perseverance, human potential is limitless.

First one must deeply desire to want to own a business. Second, do your homework by checking out the competition and explore twenty reasons why a customer should give you their hard-earned money. Be prepared for a slow start, and save enough money for at least six months of your total business and living expenses.

You will never have everything you desire at your grand opening, therefore, use the tools at your disposal. More “tools” will be given to you along your journey.

9. What are your predictions for the future of the jewelry industry?

The diamond has always been the king of gems in the jewelry business. When a girl is proposed to, a diamond ring remains the most popular item to consummate the relationship between two persons. However, one must always be prepared for change. When I joined the business in 1981, a man had two options to mount his fiancés diamond –
A 4-pronged solitaire ring, or
A 6-pronged solitaire ring.

Today, the single diamond has continued its romantic tradition, however, the choices of ring designs have exponentially multiplied, including rings that are encrusted with diamonds to accent the main diamond.

The natural color of gold is yellow, but for the past 25 years white gold has led the market in bridal jewelry. A jeweler must look ahead to see what is trending in precious metals, such as rose gold or platinum.

It is also important to know that there are many luxury products that compete with fine jewelry. Years ago, a man might have purchased a diamond bracelet or a pair of earrings as a birthday or anniversary gift. Today, a girl may prefer an electronic device or would rather enjoy an exotic vacation.
Oval diamond in Split shank ring
10. What are your future goals and endeavors for your jewelry business?

With the internet at our disposal, it is now possible to reach potential customers everywhere. It is important to be present in social media so others can see you are a real person. I love to share my new products and jewelry creations, but I also like to share myself. After all, before a potential customer trusts your store or products, they must first trust you.

2017 Diamond Day Ceremony

The Why Mom Deserves a Diamond® contest has currently touched nearly every state in the nation and my goal is to one day allow every school age child to express their written words of appreciation for their mothers. From the growth of the contest, several thousand families now come to Gallery of Diamonds Jewelers every year to participate in an unforgettable mother and child experience. Not everyone buys jewelry, but more importantly, every family that comes takes home a wonderful experience that will be remembered for the rest of their lives.
FlyUp presentation Santa Ana

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Top of the Ladder Magazine 

Interview with Ashley Vitar.