What Are Colored Diamonds?

When most people think of diamonds, they usually think of a sparkling stone that is white in color. What many people do not know is that there are rare and precious diamonds that are colored! And did you know that only 1 in 10,000 diamonds mined in the world have color?

Yellow and White Diamond Bracelet
Yellow and White Diamond Bracelet

Colored diamonds come in a variety of colors, including:

  • Cognac diamonds
  • Brown diamonds
  • Green diamonds
  • Yellow diamonds
  • Pink diamonds
  • Red diamonds
  • Orange diamonds
  • Blue diamonds
Michael Beaudry Pink Diamond Cross Earrings
Michael Beaudry Pink Diamond Cross Earrings

Yellow diamonds are the most common of the colored diamonds, and putting fancy yellow diamonds in engagement rings and other jewelry is becoming more popular.

Fancy Yellow and White Diamond Earrings
Fancy Yellow and White Diamond Earrings

Out of all of the colored diamonds in the world, red diamonds, pink diamonds, and blue diamonds are the rarest.

Which colored diamond is your favorite?

The Omega Speedmaster: A Unique History

Anyone interested in history, space flight or watch making will want to hear the story of the Omega Speedmaster. A little-known specialty watch in the 1950s, the Speedmaster rose to fame as the watch of the Astronauts and sparked a top secret development program with NASA. It is a symbol of the Space Race era that has endured and remains in use today, outlasting even the iconic Apollo rockets and Space Shuttles. This is a brief history of how it all began.

Apollo 7 commander Wally Schirra prepares to enter the attitude chamber during training. July 26, 1968.

The Moon Watch

During the space program in the mid 1960s, NASA sought a chronograph watch that could withstand the rigors of space flight, for the astronauts. It would have to be very accurate even when exposed to many different extreme environments that do not exist on the Earth’s surface. NASA did not have its own development program for watches, so it turned to the commercial sector to find a suitable piece.


The Omega Speedmaster seemed destined to for fame. The first Speedmaster went into space on the arm of Astronaut Wally Schirra in 1962. It was his personal model and he wore it without any endorsement from NASA, as it was still several years before NASA had its own spaceflight certified watch. Between 1963 and 1964, NASA wanted certify a watch for the Apollo missions and was open to many options. NASA directly reached out to several watch manufacturers to submit chronograph watches candidates for testing. Rolex, Hamilton, Logines-Wittenauer and Omega submitted multiple models.
Between October 1964 and March 1965 NASA subjected the candidate watches to these incredible tests:

  1. High temperature: 48 hours at a temperature of 160°F (71°C) followed by 30 minutes at 200°F (93°C).
  2. Low temperature: 4 hours at a temperature of 0°F (-18°C).
  3. Temperature-Pressure: 15 cycles of heating to 160°F (71°C) for 45 minutes, followed by cooling to 0°F (-18°C) for 45 minutes at 10−6 atm.
  4. Relative humidity: 240 hours at temperatures varying between 68°F and 160°F (20°C and 71°C) in a relative humidity of at least 95%.
  5. Oxygen atmosphere: 48 hours in an atmosphere of 100% oxygen at a pressure of 0.35 atm.
  6. Shock: Six shocks of 40 G, each 11 milliseconds in duration, in six different directions.
  7. Acceleration: From 1 G to 7.25 G within 333 seconds, along an axis parallel to the longitudinal spacecraft axis.
  8. Decompression: 90 minutes in a vacuum of 10-6 atm at a temperature of 160°F (71°C) and 30 minutes at 200°F (93°C).
  9. High pressure: 1.6 atm for a minimum period of one hour.
  10. Vibration: Three cycles of 30 minutes of vibration varying from 5 to 2000 Hz
  11. Acoustic noise: 130 DB over a frequency range of 40 to 10,000 Hz, duration 30 minutes.

In the end, only one watch passed the tests: Omega Speedmaster.
With that, the Speedmaster became NASA’s official watch for space exploration, and each astronaut was equipped with one from that point on.
Now here’s a curious piece of history: despite the monumental achievement, the Omega company in Switzerland was completely unaware that their watch had been selected by NASA! This was because NASA procured the watched from the Omega USA subsidiary, which did not inform Omega headquarters of the project. Omega headquarters only found out by seeing a news photograph of the Speedmaster on the arm of Astronaut Ed White, during America’s first space walk in June, 1965 – almost a year after testing had begun!
It was four years later that the Speedmaster cemented its fame. On July 20th, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin both wore an Omega Speedmaster as they walked on the moon.

This was an unprecedented achievement for an off-the-shelf watch that had not at all been designed with space flight in mind. It remains part of the official gear issued to NASA Astronauts to this day, making it one of the longest continuous-use equipment items in the space program.

Omega Speedmaster 1960
Buzz Aldrin in LM cabin during translunar coast.

The Alaska Project

A few years after adopting Speedmaster for space missions, NASA and Omega partnered to jointly develop a new version of the Speedmaster, designed from the ground up for space exploration.

The project was undertaken in strict secrecy and code named The Alaska Project. The goal of the project was to make the perfect “space watch,” one resistant to extreme temperatures and solar radiation. Function dictated every design decision, leading to first-time innovations in watch making, as well as interesting aesthetic results.

The Alaska Project Speedmaster result looked very different from the original. It was distinguished by the oversized, red, anodized, aluminum casing (removable). The low thermal conductivity of aluminum protected the watch against extreme temperature fluctuations, high and low, while the red color protected against some wavelengths of solar radiation. The watch case itself was made from titanium – a first-time innovation in watch making. The dial color was changed from black to white, because the white color reflected the maximum amount of solar radiation away from the watch.

Omega produced five Alaska Project prototypes by 1969, but by that time time priorities were changing in the space program. NASA decided the original Speedmaster was fulfilling its role as mission watch sufficiently well, so no Alaska Project Speedmasters were ever ordered into production.

A Unique History
No other watch on Earth has such a unique history, nor had any watch endured such rigorous, independent testing of quality as the Speedmaster.
The irony of the Omega Speedmaster is the original, Earth-designed Speedmaster was adopted for the most important space exploration missions in history, and is still NASA’s official space flight watch, while the Space-designed Speedmaster never left the ground.

Omega Pre-Moon Speedmaster

Collectors today can find many versions of the Omega Speedmaster, from modern models to the vintage “pre-moon” versions of the 1950s – 1960s, including a limited collector’s edition of the Alaska Project.

Rolex: The Timepiece of Achievers, a Proven History of Excellence

Rolex: when any of us hear the word we think of precision, status, quality, and a sense of accomplishment. How did a watch come to be synonymous with such adjectives? Many people know the brand, maybe some of their products, but to know the story is worth the read. Rolex was created by Hans Wilsdorf in 1908, after he had already been in the watch distribution business for a few years. Hans had a vision of a wristwatch with unmatched timekeeping ability with an equally unmatched style, and set out to make his vision a reality. Over the next 100 years, Rolex never let Hans’ vision down. Here is a short narrative of why a Rolex is a Rolex; conquering land, air, and sea.

Two-Tone Rolex Submariner

Rolex was the first wristwatch in the world to receive the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision, granted by the Official Watch Rating Centre in Bienne. The creation by Rolex of the first waterproof and dustproof wristwatch marked a major step forward and was given the name “Oyster.” To gain publicity, a Rolex Oyster was worn by a swimmer crossing the English Channel, arriving on the other side in perfect running order. Rolex invented and patented the world’s first self-winding mechanism with a perpetual rotor, creating the automatic watch. The first expedition to fly over Everest was equipped with Rolex Oysters. The Datejust was the first self-winding wrist chronometer to indicate the date in a window on the dial. Rolex was the first watch to reach the top of Mt. Everest. The Submariner was the first divers watch waterproof to a depth of 100 meters. The GMT-Master was developed to meet the specific needs of airline pilots, assisting with time differences. The Oyster Perpetual Day-Date was the first wristwatch to display not only the date but also the day of the week spelled out in a window on the dial. To assist laboratory scientists, Rolex created the Milgauss, which resists magnetic fields up to 1000 gauss. The third Deep Sea Special was created to withstand the most extreme conditions underwater, achieving a 10,916 meter dive into the Mariana Trench and returning undamaged. A new-generation chronograph, the Cosmograph, soon gained the name that became the mark of an icon: Daytona, designed as the ultimate tool for endurance racing drivers. The Sea-Dweller 4000 is waterproof to a depth of 1,220 meters.

Rolex has never stopped innovating, and doesn’t look like it ever will. The truly special part of this story is you. You can be a part of the past, present, and future of this amazing company by owning a piece of it: a Rolex timepiece. When you wear a Rolex watch, you can observe the precision, feel the status, see the quality, and be ready for your next accomplishment.

Leo Hamel and the watches that Rolex creates have a long history together going back over 35 years. If you are looking to buy a Rolex, sell a Rolex, or repair a Rolex, Leo Hamel’s is your best choice for outstanding service and quality craftsmanship. Leo and his team help our customers to celebrate their accomplishments daily; whether you’re looking for an engagement ring, celebrating an anniversary, or another of life’s significant events, you’ll find it at Leo’s.

Rolex Datejust II

End of Summer Savings

As we know, summer in San Diego is almost year round but that didn’t stop us from having the most ah-mazing end of summer deals. From Pre-owned Rolex to vintage Chanel, we have the hottest brands and one-of-a-kind treasures at incredible savings. Most of these items are one-of-a-kind and great deals like these sell quickly, so come on in or shop online today.

Click the links below to check out some of our fav’s!! graphicFrom top to bottom

Left Top : Pre-Owned Hamilton with 2.00 CTW Diamond Bezel

Left Bottom: New 9.01 CTW Sapphire & Diamond Bracelet

Center Top: Vintage Chanel Lucite Logo Pin

Center Middle: Vintage Topaz John Hardy Earrings

Center Bottom: Pre-Owned Rolex GMT-Master

Right Top: Vintage 3.00 CTW Sapphire & Diamond Ring

Right Bottom: New 21.80 Sapphire & Diamond Y Necklace


Introducing Our Newest Jewelry Line — Beverly K.


Since 1999, Beverley K. has been dedicated to crafting exquisite jewelry. They are renowned for beautifully detailed styling and fine craftsmanship. New designs are consistently released, keeping their collection fresh and relevant. Owner Morrie Knopp is passionate about every facet of the business. His commitment to excellence has guided Beverley K. into the fine quality brand it is today.


The collection embodies a graceful femininity and there is nothing else quite like it within the jewelry world. Each design celebrates a perfect harmony of gems and precious metals. From lacy, vintage filigree to elegant, modern expression, they offer a variety of rich textures and finishes in bridal rings, wedding bands and fashion jewelry.


Devotion to Craftsmanship
Everything is made in their own factory and must pass through ten completely different quality control stages to meet their impeccable standards. From start to finish, master jewelers create each individual piece with old world craftsmanship. It is a meticulous process. Every surface is hand polished. All of the diamonds and gems are hand-selected to match flawlessly. Skilled artisans engrave and mill by hand. Everything–from the gliding contours of delicate filigree to the pavé ribbons of sparkling diamonds–is refined to pristine perfection.

Come to Leo’s to see this exciting new collection today!


The Best Engagement Rings in 2015

The Antique-Inspired

This diamond ring embodies the classic look of an antique, but is actually a brand new piece! The old European cut center diamond and milgrain surrounding detail really make this retro ring look and feel like an Art Deco heirloom.

Antique-Inspired Engagement Ring from Leo Hamel

The Heavenly Halo

Make sure you have your sunglasses on while wearing this extra sparkly halo engagement ring from Hearts On Fire! The Hearts On Fire Transcend halo and band are set with 0.46 carats of diamonds and the center diamond is a perfectly cut 1.11 carat Hearts On Fire Dream Diamond.


The Pre-Owned Designer

Why pay full retail price for a designer ring when you can buy a previously owned one at a fraction of the cost? Vintage designer rings are the way to go for price-conscious, eco-friendly shoppers. And seeing a designer piece in-person really helps you realize what kind of craftsmanship is behind a brand like Tacori or Tiffany & Co!


The Stacked Rose Gold 

This rose gold engagement ring can be stacked with two marquise-shaped bands for a delicately beautiful look. Plus, this pink gold looks good on almost every skin tone!

Rose Gold Venetti Engagement Ring

The White & Yellow Gold

White gold engagement rings and jewelry have been the rage lately, but more and more people are starting to incorporate yellow gold into their rings. This Venetti engagement ring has both yellow gold and white gold, which makes it stand the test of time!





Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers is a full-service jewelry store in San Diego and is dedicated to helping customers find their dream diamond engagement ring. Please give us a call at (619) 299-1500 or email us at info@leohamel.com to inquire about a specific jewelry or watch piece that you are interested in.

Why Your Next Watch Should Be a Pre-Owned Rolex

Pre-owned Rolex watches are both TIMELESS and CLASSIC. They are timeless because of the mastery and functionality of the Rolex design, and are classic because they will never go out of style. Rolex watches are still one of the best selling watches of all time and watch connoisseurs always have at least one Rolex in their collection!

These watches are TOUGH!! They are meant to be worn daily and can take a beating. Some of the most beloved Rolex watches were made to perform specific tasks. For example, the Rolex Submariner is a diving watch and is known for its resistance to water and corrosion. The Rolex Daytona is a chronograph used in the racing industry to measure speed. Rolex timepieces are made to withstand years of sunlight, dust, and water submersion. Some people deem the nicks and scratches on their Rolex watches as the battle scars of a trusted companion who has been with them on some of their greatest adventures.

Pre-Owned 18K Gold Rolex Submariner

Rolex watches can hold or increase in VALUE. Like any classic that is crafted with the utmost attention to detail and aesthetics, a vintage Rolex can have incredible value and is a true investment. These perfectly engineered instruments are coveted in the collectors’ world. In fact, a 1942 Rolex Chronograph sold at an auction for 1.16 million in 2011!

Leo Hamel Watch Repair

Modern pre-owned Rolexes are an amazing deal. Since these watches were crafted to be workhorses, they hold up over the years. When refurbished and refinished they can look every bit as sleek and shiny as a new watch. Buying a pre-owned watch will give you that same great look for a fraction of the retail price. Only YOU will know you didn’t pay full retail price.

Rolex Watch Refinish
Before Refinishing and After Refinishing Our Customer’s Rolex Datejust


Come to our San Diego Avenue showroom to see our ever-changing selection of like-new, pre-owned, and vintage Rolex watches, or to get your Swiss or German watch serviced. Servicing your timepiece every 3 to 5 years will allow you to pass your watch down to your children!

If you would like to get your watch refinished to look like new again by our in-house watch repair department, please visit our website or call us at (619) 299-1500.


The Diamond – April’s Lustrous Birthstone

Diamonds are one of the most coveted gemstones in the world, and people that are born in April are lucky enough to declare these lustrous masterpieces their birthstone.

The origin of birthstones are somewhat uncertain; however, it is hypothesized that they date back to biblical times when a priest adorned his breastplate with a dozen different-colored gems. Each of the 12 gems eventually became associated with the zodiac, which led to one stone being assigned for each month.

Birthstones by Month. Image courtesy of AGS.

According to the Gemological Institute of America and other grading institutions, a diamond’s quality is evaluated based on the 4 Cs: color, clarity, cut, and carat weight.

Color refers to the absence of color (usually referring to yellow or brown tints) in a white diamond. The less color in the stone, the whiter its appearance and the more desirable and valuable it is. There are, however, diamonds that are valuable because of their intensity of color, such as fancy yellow, pink, blue, black, and others.

Pear Shaped White & Fancy Light Pink Diamond Engagement Ring
Fancy Yellow Diamond Engagement Ring

Clarity measures the amount, size and placement of internal “inclusions” and external blemishes. Inclusions are bits of crystals, minerals, or even other diamonds that were captured inside the diamond while it was forming. Clarity grades run from Flawless, containing no visible imperfections under 10-power magnification, to Included, containing a number of eye-visible imperfections.

Yehuda's diamonds are clarity enhanced, which saves the customer money on a nicer looking diamond!
Yehuda’s diamonds are clarity enhanced, which saves the customer money on a nicer looking diamond!

Cut refers to the proportion and arrangement of the diamond’s facets and the quality of workmanship. The amount of brilliance, sparkle and fire in a diamond is mainly determined by cut.

Emerald Cut Diamond Engagement Ring
Marquise Cut Diamond Engagement Ring

Carat weight refers to a diamond’s weight. Generally speaking, the heavier the diamond, the larger it appears in size. A diamond’s price is partly determined by weight (number of carats times the price per carat). The price per carat varies according to the other quality factors of color, clarity, and cut.

Small 0.17 Carat Diamond Engagement Ring


Large 4.96 Carat Diamond Engagement Ring

Vintage and antique diamond engagement rings are popular with people of all ages because the vintage price for a diamond is generally lower than the new retail price for a similar diamond. Buying vintage also helps to save the environment because no new diamonds were mined to create the ring.

Antique Diamond Engagement Ring from the Edwardian Era

Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers in San Diego, California specializes in new, vintage, and antique diamond engagement rings. To browse just a sample of the jewelry and watches that are available in our showroom, please visit www.LeoHamel.com.

Rolex Watches Stand the Test of Time

Preowned Rolex Watches from Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers San DiegoThere are three reasons why Rolex watches stand the test of time – the movement, the craftsmanship, and the innovation. In over 100 years this company dedicated to masterful timepieces has not only thrived, but their watches have become a symbol of status and wealth throughout the world.

If you are looking to invest in a heirloom that is known for quality, Rolex may be the statement piece for you. Unlike other unstable investments, a Rolex tends to hold its value over time. Because Rolex carefully monitors the supply of their timepieces, these watches are one investment that can be used for years and still give a return, a big benefit in times of inflation.


  • 1905 – Hans Wilsdorf founded Rolex (then called “Wilsdorf and Davis”) in London.
  • 1914 – The Kew Observatory awarded a Class A precision certificate to a Rolex watch.
  • 1919 – Wilsdorf moved the company to Geneva, Switzerland where it was established as the Rolex Watch Company.
  • 1925 – The Kew Observatory awarded the first Class A precision certificate to a ladies watch – a Rolex watch.
  • 1926 – The Rolex Oyster was invented, the world’s first truly waterproof case.
  • 1927 – Mercedes Gleitze swam the English Channel wearing a Rolex Oyster watch.
  • 1931 – The Rolex Perpetual rotor was invented, the first self-winding movement.
  • 1945 – The Rolex Datejust was produced, the world’s first waterproof, self-winding calendar wrist chronometer showing the date automatically in a dial window.
  • 1953 – The Rolex Submariner was introduced, the first wristwatch for skin-divers.
  • 1954 – The first ladies’ Rolex Oyster Perpetual was on the market.
  • 1954 – The Rolex GMT Master was produced, made especially for pilots, showing exact time in any two time zones.
  • 1956 – The Rolex Day-Date was introduced; the first wrist chronometer with date and the day of the week written in full (now comes in 26 languages).
  • 1960- Hans Wilsdorf died, leaving his company to the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation.
  • 1971 – The Rolex Sea-Dweller was launched, the first with a helium escape valve, guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 2000 feet.
  • 1980 – The Rolex Sea-Dweller is now guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 4000 feet.
  • 2011 – The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Chronometer in an impressive variety of precious metals and dial colors, with and without diamonds, on straps or bracelets, some now available with ceramic bezels, is still first on many people’s lists as the finest watch available.


A Colorful Engagement

Princess Diana had a strong influence on influence on fashion, style, and design, starting with her luxurious oval sapphire and diamond engagement ring. When Prince William gave the now-vintage sapphire ring to Kate Middleton, it rekindled awareness of colored gemstones as an alternative to the customary diamond center stone.

Today, more brides-to-be are foregoing traditions and choosing unique engagement rings to suit their style and preferences; often choosing a stunning colored gemstone ring or a distinctive vintage diamond ring to express their love. Whatever kind of engagement ring expresses your personal style, we have it for you at Leo’s!

When choosing a colored stone for your engagement ring, there are a few factors to keep in mind. After all, this is a ring you’ll be wearing every day and you want to be sure that the gem you select is up to the task. The Mohs scale, a comparative hardness chart for minerals, can tell help you measure the relative ease or difficulty one has scratching any particular mineral with the adjacent one. As you can see in the image below, it’s not a constant increase from one hardness rating to the next – diamond at 10 is four times harder than corundum (sapphires and rubies) at 9.

Hardness and toughness aren’t the same thing, however. Hardness is resistance to scratching and toughness is resistant to breakage. Did you know that jadeite, the green jade so prized in Eastern countries, is tougher than diamond? Diamond is the hardest substance on earth, it’s true, but it’s not the toughest – a direct hammer blow will likely chip or cleave a diamond. A direct hammer blow on a fine piece of jade won’t accomplish much, but jade is much more easily scratched. In short, it is important to select a gemstone that will match your needs for durability, as well as aesthetics.

To browse just some of our selection of colored diamond engagement rings, visit our website!

For colored gemstone jewelry, please go here.