Diamonds, April’s Masterpiece. This gemstone has captured our attention for centuries. Diamonds are the ultimate token of love. They also symbolize strength and durability. It is an established fact that diamonds are the hardest mineral on earth. The only thing to scratch a diamond is another diamond, thus demonstrating its durability. However, we need to take a closer look at this glamorous stone and see what all the fuss is about.
How Diamonds are Formed
Diamonds are made up of carbon. That’s right, carbon. The same stuff you see in a No.2 pencil. The only difference is the atoms in a diamond are more tightly packed together than those in the pencil. Remember how we said this stone is the hardest mineral on earth? Well ‘diamond’ comes from the Greek word adámas, meaning ‘unbreakable’.
There is a lot we can learn about diamonds. According to Geology.com, Diamonds are considered older than the Earth’s first land plants. Geologists believe diamonds formed in deep volcanic pockets as much as 100 miles below the earth’s surface. They were then carried to the surface by volcanic eruptions. These eruptions produce kimberlite and lamproite pipes. Both kimberlite and lamproite are igneous rock that sometimes contain diamonds. Consequently, diamond prospectors look for these pipes. (www.geology.com)
This begs the question, where are diamonds found? Most of us would say “Africa”. While this is true, Africa is not the only source of diamonds. Originally, India was the lead producer of diamonds. Then production in India started to dwindle. In 1725, Brazil discovered diamonds and became the top diamond producer. Later, in the 1860’s, Africa took over the diamond production. It has flourished there for many years. However today you can find diamond mining/production in Russia, Canada, and Australia.(Diamond: Fun Facts – www.gia.com)
When buying a diamond, there are 4C’s you need to know: Color, Cut, Clarity, and Carat (weight). For now let’s focus on color. In the diamond world, color is important. Diamond color grade is based on the absence of color. The more colorless a diamond, the more rare it is. The more rare it is, the higher the price.
Gemological Institute of America (GIA) organized diamond color into 5 groups. Colorless (D-F): The most rare and therefore the most valuable. Near-colorless (G-J): Color is often unnoticeable, except with an trained graders. Faint (K-M): Color is still difficult to see with the untrained eye. Very light (N-R): Subtle color can be seen in larger stones with an untrained eye. Light (S-Z): Color is seen in stones of different sizes. The diamonds appear slightly yellow or brown but are not considered a “fancy” diamond.(https://www.4c’s.gia.edu)
GIA is widely considered as the standard-bearer of the diamond certification industry. Beyond GIA, there is the American Gemological Society (AGS). There approach is highly scientific but they tend to have a more broad interpretation on grading. When in doubt, stay with GIA.
Diamonds formed deep within the earth, under extreme heat and pressure. Due to this, they often contain unique birthmarks, either internal (inclusions) or external (blemishes).
Diamond clarity refers to the absence of these inclusions and blemishes. Therefore, the diamonds without “birthmarks” are rare and the price goes up accordingly. GIA has a clarity scale with 11 grades from Flawless (FL) to those with obvious inclusions (I-3). Please note each diamond is viewed with 10x maginification. https://www.gia.edu
The following is the GIA clarity grading scale.
- Flawless (FL) – No inclusions or blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification
- Internally Flawless (IF) – No inclusions and only blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification
- Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) – Inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10× magnification
- Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) – Inclusions are minor and range from difficult to somewhat easy for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification
- Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) – Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader under 10x magnification
- Included (I1, I2, and I3) – Inclusions are obvious under 10× magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance
The cut of a diamond is by far the largest factor that determines its beauty. The better the cut, the better the brilliance and sparkle of the diamond. If the stone is cut is too deep or too shallow, light that enters the diamond will leak through it. This is why poorly cut diamonds often look darker and lifeless. To summarize, it is best to visit a reputable dealer when buying a diamond. You won’t be disappointed. https://beyond4cs.com/step-by-step-guide/determining-the-cut-of-a-diamond
Finally we need to talk about the 4th C, or carat (weight). GIA discusses the following about carat:
Diamond carat weight is the measurement of how much a diamond weighs. A metric “carat” is defined as 200 milligrams.
Each carat can be subdivided into 100 ‘points.’ This allows very precise measurements to the hundredth decimal place. A jeweler may describe the weight of a diamond below one carat by its ‘points’ alone. For instance, the jeweler may refer to a diamond that weighs 0.25 carats as a ‘twenty-five pointer.’ Diamond weights greater than one carat are expressed in carats and decimals. A 1.08 carat stone would be described as ‘one point oh eight carats.
As a rule, diamond price increases with diamond carat weight because larger diamonds are more rare and more desirable. But two diamonds of equal carat weight can have very different values (and prices) depending on three other factors of the diamond 4Cs: Clarity, Color, and Cut
It’s important to remember that a diamond’s value is determined using all of the 4Cs, not just carat weight. https://4cs.gia.edu/en-us/diamond-carat-weight/
In conclusion, when looking to buy a diamond, do the research. For example, GIA or AGS have some terrific educational websites on diamond information. Likewise with reputable jewelers. Being educated is a must and will make the diamond purchase a lot more enjoyable.