The World’s Largest Diamond – The Cullinan

The Cullinan is the largest gem-quality diamond ever found, measuring in at approximately 4.1 inches in length and 3,106.75 carats, or 1.37 lbs! To put its true size into perspective, it would take 142 separate one-carat diamonds to equal 1 ounce; yet the Cullinan diamond weighs in at almost 22 ounces!

This marvel was discovered in the Premier Mine in South Africa on January 25, 1905 and was then sold to the Transvaal Colony in South Africa, which, at the time, was under British rule. The Transvaal Colony’s plan was to gift the diamond to King Edward VII as a token of loyalty to his throne, and King Edward VII later announced that he would accept the precious gift.


Presently, The Cullinan has been cut into 9 significantly-sized stones, and 96 smaller stones. The largest cut of these 105 rare diamonds is the Cullinan I or the “Great Star of Africa,” which is a 530.2 carat pear shaped diamond that was then set into “The Scepter with the Cross” or the “Royal Scepter.”

Nine Cullinan Diamonds

It is safe to say that the discovery of The Cullinan Diamond is one of the greatest events in the gemological industry, since it is the world’s largest diamond ever discovered!

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 King of Gems

July’s birthstone is ruby, known as the “King of Gems” for its gloriously rich red color. It has been used to symbolize royalty and strength since antiquity.


One of the most valuable gems in the world in its finest qualities, ruby can command the highest price-per-carat of any colored stone. The most desirable rubies are a pure, saturated red, and come from the Mogok region of Myanmar. These particular gems are often referred to in the trade as “pigeon’s blood” for their color.

ruby illusion halo

Ruby is the red variety of the mineral corundum, which actually comes in many colors. The blue variety is sapphire, and other colors are known as fancy sapphire. Red corundum gets its color from the mineral chromium, which can actually fluoresce in sunlight causing a fine ruby to appear to glow.



One of the hardest and toughest gems after diamond, ruby is an excellent choice for a daily wear jewelry item such as an engagement ring. Rubies can withstand quite a lot of heat and pressure; you never have to worry about putting a ruby in an ultrasonic cleaner!


If ruby is your gem of choice, don’t worry – you don’t have to break the bank to get a beautiful gem. We have options for every budget!



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

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.

Why Hearts On Fire is The World’s Most Perfectly Cut Diamond

Hearts On Fire is a diamond of such unparalleled perfection that it stands out from the crowd. That Hearts On Fire is known as The World’s Most Perfectly Cut Diamond® should come as no surprise. Each diamond is chosen from the top 1% of the world’s raw diamonds and then is cut and polished at 100X magnification, 10 times more than the industry standard. Only a handful of master diamond cutters are allowed to cut Hearts On Fire diamonds. A Hearts On Fire diamond takes up to four times longer to cut than other diamonds and this microscopic precision results in a diamond of unequalled brilliance.

Hearts On Fire Diamond Ring


The Hearts On Fire name was inspired by a natural phenomenon of light caused by a perfect round brilliant cut – each Hearts On Fire diamond displays a perfect ring of eight hearts when viewed from the bottom, and a perfectly formed symmetrical Fireburst® when viewed from the top.

Cutting a diamond to ideal mathematically-determined proportions allows the stone to sparkle more brilliantly as the maximum amount of natural light is refracted and reflected.   The brilliance that is displayed by a Hearts On Fire diamond is so intense that even in a dimly lit restaurant it can be seen sparkling from across the room. Our customers always tell us that their Hearts On Fire diamonds get noticed everywhere they go.  Even when Hearts On Fire diamonds are not perfectly clean, they sparkle more than other diamonds.

Not all “ideal cut” diamonds are created equal.  Come to our store and compare ordinary ideal cut diamonds with Hearts On Fire.  You can see for yourself why Hearts On Fire is the ultimate expression of love.

By Leo Hamel //

Follow @leohamel .

Following the Runway Jewelry Trends of 2014

As models walked fiercely down the catwalks this past fall in New York, Paris and Milan, designers gave us a preview of the newest jewelry trends to kick off the 2014 spring season.

Here are the jewelry crazes of the season and our favorite designer looks that can easily translate into everyday life to become a part of anyone’s jewelry collection.  Continue reading Following the Runway Jewelry Trends of 2014

Start the New Year with a Garnet

Vintage garnet jewelry at San Diego's Leo Hamel showroom.
Vintage garnet jewelry at Leo Hamel’s San Diego’s showroom.

Start 2014 off with a symbol of commitment, friendship and positive energy with the garnet gemstone.

The six families of garnets are silicate materials of different chemical composition, although they retain a similar physical appearance. Garnets range in hardness from a 6.5 to a 7.5 on the Mohs scale (1 being the softest and 10 being the hardest), making them suitable for daily wear in rings and other jewelry pieces. Continue reading Start the New Year with a Garnet

The Mystery Behind a Black Diamond

New and vintage pieces in our Leo Hamel showroom showcasing black diamonds.
New and vintage pieces in our Leo Hamel showroom showcasing black diamonds.

Be spooked by the intensity of a black diamond this year and enchant your jewelry collection with a true gemstone rarity.

Similar to white diamonds, black diamonds are crystallized carbon and are evaluated by the 4 Cs: color, carat, cut and clarity. Along with the appearance of a glossy surface, a black diamond is higher in density than a white diamond, so that stones of the same carat weight have different relative measurements.  Continue reading The Mystery Behind a Black Diamond

November’s Birthstone – Citrine or Topaz?

Vintage citrine and topaz jewelry perfect for the month of November, all currently available in our Leo Hamel showroom.
Celebrate the month of November with citrine and topaz jewelry, currently available in our Leo Hamel showroom.

It’s a battle of the orange gemstones!

Orange topaz, known as “precious topaz” is considered to be the original November birthstone, though citrine has rapidly grown into a popular modern alternative.

Continue reading November’s Birthstone – Citrine or Topaz?