Before you start diamond shopping, you need to have in-depth understanding of what you're buying. This guide expands your knowledge on diamonds, so you can select your diamonds based on the same criteria that jewelers use to grade them.
History of Diamonds
Diamonds have been a source of fascination for centuries. The word "diamond" comes from the Greek word “Adamas”, meaning "Unconquerable". Diamond is a transparent gem made of carbon, which is one of the Earth's most common elements.
The diamond is the hardest known substance in the world. Billions of years ago, in a deep layer of the earth, a unique combination of chemicals, pressure and changes in temperature, created diamonds out of pure carbon.
The Diamond is uniquely resistant to damage by heat or scratching, and can be cut or polished only by another diamond. The diamond is thousands of times harder than corundum, the next hardest substance from which rubies and sapphires are formed. Even after many years of constant wear, diamonds will preserve their sharp edges and corners when most other stones will have become worn and chipped. However, many people expect a diamond to be unbreakable. This is not true. A diamond's crystal structure has "hard" and "soft" directions. A blow of sufficient force, in an exact direction, can crack, chip, split or even shatter a diamond.
The first recorded history of the diamond dates back some 3,000 years to India, where it is likely that diamonds were first valued for their ability to reflect light. In those early days, this stone was used in two ways, firstly for decorative purposes, and secondly as a talisman to ward off evil or provide protection in battle.
The Middle Ages
During the Middle Ages more attention was paid to the worth of diamonds, rather than the mystical powers surrounding them. Due to the improved public awareness of the value of diamonds, mine owners perpetuated myths that diamonds were poisonous. This was to prevent the mineworkers from swallowing the diamonds in an attempt to smuggle them out of the mines. The popularity of diamonds surged during the middle ages, with the discovery of many large and famous stones in India, such as the Koh-I-Noor and the Blue Hope. But when the Indian diamond supply dwindled, smaller finds occurred in Borneo and Brazil, but these were not sufficient to meet the ever-increasing demand for diamonds. The mid-nineteenth century discovery of diamonds near the Orange River in South Africa sparked the world's biggest diamond rush, and helped to satiate the world's increasing appetite for diamonds.
On October 2nd 1979, geologists found the Argyle pipe near Lake Argyle: the richest diamond deposit in the world. Since then, Argyle has become the world's largest volume producer of diamonds, and alone is responsible for producing over a third of the world's diamonds every year. Currently, most diamonds are mined in the following countries: South Africa, Zaire, Russia, Canada, Australia, Botswana, Angola, Namibia, Brazil, Ghana, and China. The major cutting centers of the diamond world are in Antwerp, Bombay, Tel Aviv, and New York.
Diamond – The Symbol of Love
Now-a-days Diamond has become ‘The Symbol of Love’ throughout the world. The tradition of giving diamonds as tokens of love and commitment began at the end of the 15th century when Austrian Archduke Maximilian gave a diamond ring to his fiancé. They chose to place the ring on the fourth finger of the left hand because legend held that this finger provided a direct link between tokens of love and the heart. The diamond's strength and pure transparent beauty have always represented the purest emotions of human heart -- commitment and deep lasting love.
Journey of a Diamond
Diamond Process Flowchart
Due to powerful volcanic activities, 'Pipes' are formed which are nothing but openings in the earth and through these pipes, some diamonds and other minerals such as kimberlite etc. are forced up to the surface whereas most of the diamonds which are forced up through the earth settled back into the kimberlite rocks in these pipes.
In this process, Diamond Prospectors explore the possibility of diamond existence deep below the Earth and normally search for kimberlite rocks by testing the ground for changes in magnetic fields.
Although diamonds are found in numerous exotic locations around the world, Australia, Botswana, Canada, Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia, Russia and South Africa account for some 80% of the world's diamond supply.
Once kimberlite or diamonds are discovered after the process of exploration then mining operations are used, to extract these minerals.
In Mining operations following few methods are mainly used to extract diamonds:
After the extraction, the ore containing the rough diamonds goes through many stages of blasting, crushing and processing, including advanced x-ray techniques, to release the diamonds. It is estimated that it takes more than 250 tons of ore to produce just one carat of rough diamond. Over 120 million carats of rough diamonds are mined each year, out of which only about a quarter will be considered gem quality.
SortingOnce the rough diamonds have been mined and processed, the next step is to sort, classify and value them. In this process of sorting, these rough diamonds are grouped, according to their size, shape, quality and color, in to thousands of categories.
Cutting & PolishingThe next step for the rough diamonds are cutting and polishing. This is a great skill, with meticulous techniques that have been practiced for ages. Gem quality diamonds are usually distributed to one of the main diamond cutting and trading centers in Antwerp, Mumbai, Tel Aviv, New York, Johannesburg, China or Thailand.
Although some of the polishing process is computerized, most of the work is still performed by hand. Firstly, the cutter uses cleaving, sawing or laser cutting to separate the original rough into smaller, more workable pieces. Then, the girdler uses a process called Bruting that grinds away the edges of stone and provides its outline shape. Faceting follows, usually in two steps. The first 18 facets (table, culet, bezel and pavilion of a stone) are cut and polished by the blocker. The brillianteer cuts and polishes the final 40 facets, including the star, upper girdle and lower girdle. Finally, the cut gem is boiled in acids to remove dust and oil.
Jewelry ManufacturingOnce polished, most diamonds are sold and traded in the 24 registered diamond bourses around the world. At this point, the polished diamonds are ready to be set into finished pieces of jewelry, which is the manufacturer's job. USA, India, China, Italy, Spain, Thailand and Turkey have established a reputation in jewelry manufacturing.
RetailingFinally, diamond jewelry is either sold to a wholesaler, who works as a middleman to sell the goods to the retailer, or sold directly to the retailer. Lastly, retailers sell the diamond jewelry to the consumers.
The value of diamond jewelry sold each year exceeds US$60 billion, which includes the cost of the diamonds, precious metals and other gems. USA represents the largest market share (55%), followed by Japan (15%), Europe (10%), Asia Pacific (5%), Asia Arabic (5%) and other countries (10%). According to independent research, diamond jewelry is the most highly sought-after category of luxury goods, both by women for themselves and by men for gifts. The diamond industry employs approximately ten million people around the world, both directly and indirectly, across a wide spectrum of roles from mining to retailing.
This Diamond Education defines the most essential characteristics of a diamond along with tips for its care. By understanding these characteristics, you'll be able to shop with confidence
Diamond Cut is the most important property to increase its beauty because a well-cut diamond reflects light to maximize the stone's brilliance. A diamond with perfect color and clarity could nevertheless have poor brilliance if it is not well cut.
After a proper cutting, size of the stone may reduce by half but its market value may increase more than four times for its brilliance and sparkle. Diamonds have a unique ability to manipulate light efficiently. This exceptional ability can be revealed and maximized only by cutting and polishing the diamond to an extremely high level of accuracy.
It is very essential to know Diamond Anatomy before understanding Cut.
- Diameter: Width of a diamond measured through the Girdle.
- Table: Largest facet of a gemstone.
- Crown: Top portion of a diamond extending from the Girdle to the Table.
- Girdle: Intersection of the Crown and Pavilion which defines the perimeter of the diamond.
- Pavilion: Bottom portion of a diamond, extending from the Girdle to the Culet.
- Culet: Facet at the tip of a gemstone. The preferred Culet is not visible with an unaided eye (graded "none" or "small").
- Depth: Height of a gemstone measured from the Culet to the Table.
The cut of a diamond establishes how it reflects light, which is responsible for its sparkle or brilliance. Cut has following three components:
Diamond Cut by Shape
A Diamond Cut by Shape describes the outline of the stone and pattern of the facet arrangement. A stone can be cut in various Shapes like Round, Princess, Heart, Oval, Pear etc.
Diamond Cut by Depth
A Diamond Cut by Depth is the ultimate feature for its brilliance and fire.
Shallow Cut: Shallow Cut will let light lost through a diamond's bottom causing it to appear dull.
Deep Cut: Deep Cut will allow light to be lost through a diamond's sides causing it to appear dark.
Ideal Cut: Ideal Cut is considered as the best cut and it will reflect most or all of the light that enters in the diamond back to the eyes.
Quality of a diamond's cut can be determined on the basis of its power to reflect light. They can be broadly characterized as Ideal, excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair or Poor. Ideal or Excellent cuts release the inner brilliance of the stone and project maximum amount of fire and sparkle where as Very Good, Good and Fair cuts lose some light that enters the diamond. A poor cut looses most of its light from the diamond sides / bottom and it may even have some "dead" spots inside.
Diamond Polish and Symmetry
Polish and symmetry are two important aspects of the cutting process. The Diamond Polish expresses the smoothness of the diamond's facets where as the Symmetry refers to alignment of the facets. A poor Diamond Polish, or rough facets, can diminish a diamond's brilliance, as well as its value.
Diamonds are found in all colors of the rainbow, from colorless and transparent stones to ink black ones. Varying degrees of yellow or brown color is common in most of the diamonds and slight difference in color can make a substantial difference in value. A truly colorless diamond is extremely rare and considered the most valuable. It allows most light to pass through the stone and create the most brilliance.
During formation of Diamond from carbon, certain chemicals may have been drawn into the mix and results in added tinge of color in the transparent stone.
Most diamonds appear white to the naked eye, but they all include trace amounts of yellow or brown color. The color scale goes from D to Z (no diamond of color grade A, B or C has ever been found), with D being the most white and Z being the most yellow. The best way to see the true color of a diamond is by looking at it against a white surface.
|Color Grade||Description||On Unaided Eye Inspection|
|Colorless||Stone looks absolutely clear and transparent, with no hint of color.|
|Near Colorless||Stone looks clear and transparent. Color will be noticeable by experts only when compared to diamonds of better grades.|
|Faint yellow||Color slightly detectable and will be noticeable by experts only.|
|Very Light yellow||Stone shows an increasing yellow tint, even to an untrained eye.|
|Light yellow||Stone appears yellow, even to an untrained eye.|
|Fancy||Bright, remarkable color - usually blue, pink, yellow, Red etc.|
Although majority of diamonds come in shades of white, there are also "Fancy" natural intensely colored diamonds available in colors like yellow, pink, greens, brown, red, orange, blue etc. These intensely colored diamonds are very rare, attractive and desirable. A deeply colored diamond can cost more than its colorless counterpart. These intensely colored diamonds are known as "Fancy" colored or "Fancies". Fancy colored diamonds are graded in two ways. The first factor is the basic hue, such as pink, yellow, blue, green, etc. The second is the intensity. Both color characteristics form the basis for determining a fancy colored diamond's worth. In fancy colored diamonds, Z+ grade is used for their color grading. Usually, the more intense the color, the rarer and more expensive the diamond will be. For example, a fancy light pink diamond costs less than a fancy vivid pink diamond of equal size, shape and clarity. Though fancy colored diamonds rarely occur in nature, laboratories can easily create them through irradiation and heating. This process can permanently turn a natural colorless diamond into a fancy colored diamond. Treatments have also been developed to make lower-color white diamonds whiter. Irradiated colored diamonds have a significantly lower value than natural fancy diamonds and can be detected in a gem laboratory.
Fluorescence is a form of illumination that is created when a diamond is exposed to low or high wave ultraviolet radiation. Fluorescence up to some extent is common in majority of diamonds. Faint or medium fluorescence will rarely affect a diamond's appearance. Usually fluorescence remains unnoticed by human eyes in ordinary light.
Clarity is a term used to describe the absence or presence of flaws inside or on the surface of a diamond. In other words, the clarity of a diamond refers to a diamond's clearness or purity.
When these flaws / marks occur internally, they are called inclusions and the most common types of inclusions include Crystals, Tiny Bubbles representing small minerals that were absorbed into the diamond while it was growing, Internal Graining, Needles, Knots, Chips, Cavities, Cleavage, Feathers, and Clouds. On the contrary, when these flaws / marks occur on the surface, they are known as blemishes and the most common types of blemishes include Polish lines, Naturals, Scratches, Nicks, Pits, transparent stress lines that appear on a diamond's surface, surface graining, and extra facets, that are usually cut to remove a near-surface inclusion to raise the clarity grade of a stone. Most diamonds have these imperfections in them. Although many of these flaws are not visible to the naked eye, but under magnification, tiny featherlike shapes, crystals, bubbles and dark flecks become noticeable. These slight flaws make every diamond quite unique but they also do affect the beauty and value of the diamond.
Diamond's clarity is based on the number, size, nature, and location of imperfections on the finished stone. Diamond with higher clarity is more valuable in comparison to diamond that contains numerous inclusions because it is less brilliant due to inclusions interfering with light passing through it.
Diamond Clarity Grading Scale Table
|Image||Clarity Grade Scale||Description||On Inspection through 10x magnification|
|F||Flawless||Clear Stone, no inclusions or blemishes. Exceptional and beautiful diamonds.|
|IF||Internally Flawless||No inclusions and only insignificant surface blemishes. Rare and beautiful diamonds.|
|VVS1 – VVS2||Very, Very Slightly Included – 1 & 2||Tiny inclusions, which are extremely difficult to find, even under 10x magnifications. An excellent quality diamond.|
|VS1 – VS2||Very Slightly Included – 1 & 2||Minor inclusions, which are difficult to see under 10 x magnification. These stones are less expensive than the VVS1 or VVS2 grades.|
|SI1 – SI2||Slightly Included – 1 & 2||Inclusions, which are easy to see under 10 x magnification. A good diamond value.|
|I1 – I2 – I3||Included – 1, 2 & 3||Inclusions, which are easy to see under 10 x magnification and sometimes, may be visible with the unaided eye. A good diamond value. Generally I3 grade is not used for jewelry purposes and mostly used in industrial applications.|
The term "Carat" refers to the weight of a diamond. It is derived from the carob seeds, which are remarkably consistent in weight and shape and so were the favored scale balances in ancient times. This was standardized in 1907 and after that 1 carat became 0.2 grams or 1/142 of an ounce. Furthermore, each carat is divided into 100 points. Therefore, ¼ carat diamond is considered as 25 points and ½ carat diamond is considered as 50 points and so on. This term 'Carat' is different from the term 'Karat' which is used to describe gold's fineness or purity. When we consider all four Cs, that determine value of diamond, we can find Carat weight most accurately and easily by using a delicately balanced scale capable of weighing extremely small stones.
Diamond's Carat Weight Scale
There is one significant fact about diamond’s weight and price. When diamonds are mined, large diamonds are discovered rarely in comparison of small ones, which make large diamonds much more valuable. For that reason, the price of a diamond rises exponentially with its size. So, a 2 carat diamond of a given quality is always worth much more than two 1 carat diamonds of the equal quality. Although larger stones are often more highly valued, but size should not be the only consideration. High brilliance, which varies according to clarity, cut, and color grade, is highly desirable in a diamond.
A Diamond Cut by Shape describes the outline of the stone and pattern of the facet arrangement. Although diamonds are available in various shapes like Round, Princess, Heart, Oval, Pear etc., but when most people think of diamonds, what comes to their mind is the modern round brilliant cut because in jewelry industry, this shape is sold more than 75% of all diamonds. All other non-round shapes are called fancy shapes and these different diamond shapes show individual's style and personality.
The most popular and stylish shapes are defined as under:
Round Brilliant Cut
The Round Brilliant Cut diamond is the most traditional and popular of all the diamond shapes. Many experts consider this shape ideal for a diamond because it maximizes its sparkle. It has 58 facets which offer great brilliance and stability. This shape of diamond is most commonly used in solitaire diamond engagement rings.
The Princess Cut is most popular non-round diamond. Its beautiful brilliance and unique cut makes it a favorite for engagement rings. The princess has pointed corners and is traditionally square in shape. The ideal princess cut will have length to width ratio is as close to 1.00:1.00 as possible, as princess cut diamonds can range from this perfect square through to almost rectangular.
The Emerald Cut diamond is a square or rectangular shaped stone with cut corners. This is also known as Step Cut because it has rows of facets, usually 48 to 50, that resemble a staircase. Due to its larger, more open table, this shape highlights the clarity of a diamond but with fewer facets brings less brilliance than the other shapes.
The Oval Cut is also a beautiful shape and provides great brilliance and fire through its 56 facets. A well cut Oval shaped diamond can be almost as bright as a well cut Round Brilliant shaped diamond.
The Marquise Cut is a traditional shape having elongated ends at both edges. The pointed ends make this shape the most fragile and the most expensive of brilliant style cuts. It has a total of 56 facets, construction of which requires a lot of experience and the delicacy of its sharp points demands utmost precaution. Now-a-days this shape is very popular for engagement rings.
The Pear Cut diamond is often called a teardrop due to its single point and rounded end with 56 to 58 facets. This shape is popular for its uniqueness and brilliance. Pear Shape diamond is mostly used in pendants and also a good choice for a hand with smaller fingers.
The Asscher Cut is a modified version of the Emerald Cut. This shape is named after Joseph Asscher of Holland who was an eminent diamond cutter. In 1902, his company, Asscher Diamond Co., developed and patented the Asscher Cut, a squarer step cut with an almost octagonal outline. This new cut enhanced the fire and light of the stone; it had a small table, a high crown, wide step facets, a deep pavilion and square culet.
The Radiant Cut is a rectangular or square stone with cut corners. This shape comes with 62 to 70 facets and offers the elegance of the emerald shape with the brilliance of the princess shape. Trimmed corners are the signature of this shape, and they help to make the radiant cut a popular and versatile choice for jewelry. Diamonds with radiant shape look very good when adorned with baguettes or round side stones.
The human heart is the ultimate symbol of love and the Heart Cut is regarded as the most romantic of all the shapes. The Heart shaped diamond is essentially a pear-shaped diamond with a cleft at the top and it typically contains 59 facets. Due to the complexity of the shape, skilled cutting is necessary to maintain the diamond’s brilliance. Generally people prefer a heart shape diamond for sentimental purposes. This shape is mostly used in pendants, but also suitable for most jewelry items.
Cushion Cut diamonds are also known as "pillow cut" diamonds. This shape ranging from square to rectangular and it has rounded corners and larger facets to increase its brilliance. These larger facets also highlight the diamond's clarity.
The Baguette Cut diamonds are generally used to fill in channels or stable grooved tracks around a gemstone centerpiece. This shape is similar to emerald shape.
The Trilliant Cut is one of the unusual cuts and the diamond with this shape displays a very sharp brilliance or fire. This triangular shaped diamonds may either have pointed corners or more rounded corners.
Acquisition of a Diamond or Diamond Jewelry is an important expression of love or accomplishment but on the same time it also represents a major investment of money. It is essential for you to know the credentials of the diamond and obtain confidence in the integrity of what you have acquired.
A Diamond Certificate or Diamond Grading Report is a statement, issued by an independent Gemological Laboratory, that at the time of evaluation, the diamond in question has been examined, measured, and scrutinized by experienced Diamond Graders, using various gemological instruments, and determined to contain the characteristics as stated in the Certificate or Report.
In other words, a diamond certificate can be accurately described as the blueprint of a diamond. This Certificate or Report includes an analysis of the diamond's characteristics in an easy to understand format. Generally a certificate or report covers following characteristics of a diamond along with the laboratory and certificate details:
- Name of the Laboratory
- Certificate Number
- Shape and Cutting Style
- Measurements of the Diamond's diameter
- Carat Weight
- Color Grade
- Clarity Grade
- Cut Grade
- Finish, Polish & Symmetry
- Plotted diagram of the diamond for the imperfections.
- Key to Symbols that helps us to identify characteristics marked in the plot.
- Security Features for the Certificate
- Graphical image of Diamond Structure
- Information about Diamond's Depth, Table, Girdles, Culet and Facets etc.
This certificate doesn't state monetary value of a diamond.
There are many laboratories available throughout the world for diamond certification but below mentioned laboratories are considered as most respected ones in the industry, for their consistency and unbiased diamond grading systems.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA)
The Gemological Institute of America was established in 1931 in Los Angeles. The GIA created and introduced the international grading system. Headquarters are still located in Los Angeles.
The Diamond High Council (HRD)
The Diamond High Council is the officially recognized representative of the Belgium diamond trade and industry. HRD headquarters are located in Antwerp, World Diamond Center.
The American Gem Society Laboratories (AGSL)
The American Gem Society Laboratories (AGSL) was established in 1934 in Las Vegas, Nevada by Robert M. Shipley, who also established the GIA.
International Gemological Institute (IGI)
The International Gemological Institute was established in 1975 in Antwerp. This laboratory is also having labs in New York, Bangkok, Mumbai and Tokyo.
Securing a certificate will provide you a much-needed peace of mind knowing that you are getting your money's worth. Here are some reasons to buy a diamond along with its certificate:
- A diamond certificate gives you the exact details of the stone and on the basis of this information you will be able to do some comparison-shopping before doing the actual purchase.
- A diamond certificate allows you to pay money on the basis of stone's characteristics. Your jeweler won't be able to charge you more and there are very good chances to get the best deals.
- On re-sale of diamond along with its certificate, you will get better price for the diamond.
To get insurance for your diamond, you also need to produce diamond certificate.
It is a standard practice in the Diamond Industry, to ask for a Diamond's Certificate or Grading Report from the jeweler before the purchase of it.
Diamonds are forever as they are the hardest known substances on earth. But due to our day-to-day activities, it is inevitable that our precious diamond pieces get dirty and soiled. Even they can be scratched, chipped or dulled if not handled correctly. With proper care, they can last a lifetime and can even be handed down as heirlooms to future generations without losing their shining and sparkle. So here are some tips that will help you to preserve the life and beauty of your diamond:
Cleaning of Diamond Jewelry
Regular cleaning of Diamond Jewelry is essential to maintain shine and brilliance of diamonds. On wearing them, they get dirty as you use various skin and body care regimen such as soaps, lotions and even our skin's natural oils. Even when you are not wearing them, they collect dust. If you are cleaning your diamond jewelry by your own then it will take few minutes but before cleaning, you should be aware about the cleaning at home and cleaning by a professional jeweler:
- You can use a small soft brush such as an eyebrow or lip stick brush, soap and water to clean your diamond jewelry. Simply make a bowl of warm sudsy water with a mild detergent and gently place your jewelry pieces in the mixture. Then brush the diamonds with the soft bristles of the brush while they are in the suds. You will need to make certain that you rinse them clear of the suds after cleaning them. After this process, use a soft cloth or a jewelry polish cloth to pat them dry.
- If you feel that your diamond jewelry is in need of a stronger cleansing then you can use a solution of one part ammonia and six parts water for cleaning the diamonds. Once they are soaked for 30 minutes, remove them and gently brush the mountings with a small soft brush. Then use the mixture of soap and water to wash them and after that use a soft cloth to pat them dry.
- But if you find yourself too busy to be mixing soaps and ammonias, you can use liquid jewelry cleaners which are sold by many departmental stores. You can find these liquid jewelry cleaners in kit form. You just need to follow all the written precautions and instructions of cleaning.
- In cleaning process, treat metal settings gently as gold can scratch.
- It is also a good idea to have them cleaned every six months by a professional jeweler, where they will check security of the settings. They will also give advice for repair of loose or bent prongs which hold your diamond in place. This will prevent your diamond from falling out of its setting and becoming lost.
Storing of Diamond Jewelry
Storing of diamond jewelry is also important as a diamond can scratch another diamond, as well as other jewelry pieces. Storage of diamond jewelry needs following precautions:
- Diamond jewelry should be stored individually in a soft cloth pouch to ensure that a diamond should not scratch other diamonds or other jewelry.
- Diamond jewelry pieces are best stored in a fabric-lined jewel case or in a box with compartments or dividers.
Wearing Precautions for Diamond Jewelry
- You should not wear diamond jewelry while doing heavy work. Even though a diamond is extremely durable, it can be chipped by a hard blow, and even everyday activity can loosen jewelry setting.
- You should avoid the situation where your diamonds come in contact with chlorine bleach, hair spray or other chemicals because they can pit or discolor the mounting.
If you will follow the above mentioned caring tips then your diamond jewelry will always shine and sparkle likes a new one.