Diamonds are known to be the most precious stones in the world, but these special gems hold the number 1 spot in several charts, diamond being simultaneously: the rarest and most valuable stone in the world, the hardest natural element known to man, the only stone composed of a single chemical element (pure carbon), the only stone that cannot be scratched or polished by another material.
The term ‘diamond’ comes from the Greek αδάμας (adamas), which translates as ‘indestructible’ or ‘unbreakable’. Due to its hardness ranking at level 10 on the Mohs scale, which means it is 80 times harder than the occupant of position 9, corundum, diamond cannot be destroyed. Diamonds are so hard because they form at extremely high temperatures and under extreme pressure conditions, which only exist at certain distances below the earth’s surface. Graphite, for example, is formed in the same way as diamond, from carbon, but under conditions so different that graphite is soft enough to be used for writing.
What is diamond? Pure carbon. Diamond is 99.95% carbon, with the remaining 0.05% being other elements whose atoms are not part of the chemical structure of diamond. Some of these elements are responsible for determining the color of the diamond.
In its rough, unpolished state, diamonds appear to be a normal, glass-like stone. Only after cutting and polishing, two operations on which the quality and final value of the gem depend, is the diamond’s unmistakable appearance achieved.
Physical properties and where it is found
Chemical formula: C (pure carbon)
Colour: colourless (most often, but can be any colour)
Refractive index: 2.42
Clarity: may show inclusions or irregularities (80% of diamonds)
Specific Gravity: 3.52 (+/-0.01)
Mohs hardness: 10
Crystal system: cubic
A short history of diamonds
The discovery of natural diamonds took place almost 3000 years ago, and the earliest record of them was around 300 BC in a Buddhist text. Some historians claim that in the 4th century BC, diamonds could be found in limited resources in rivers and other waterways in India, enjoyed only by the wealthy social class of the time. Hundreds of years later, diamonds were imported into Western Europe, and by the 1400s, they were being worn by the European elite as precious accessories.
As diamonds became popular in Europe, so did research into how they could be worked into the finest jewelry. A key moment in the history of gemstones is identified in Antwerp, Belgium, in the 16th century. 15th century, where the first faceted diamond was cut. Today, Antwerp is the European diamond center.
Then, in the second half of the 19th century, impressive diamond deposits are discovered in South Africa at Kimberley. In 1888, the famous DeBeers company is founded, which takes over the mines in South Africa and experiences an accelerated rise in popularity that extends into the 20th century with the company’s monopoly over the entire world diamond market (it controls 90% of the global market).
Where it is found
In recent decades, valuable diamond resources have been found and quantified in Central Africa (Democratic Republic of Congo), Russia, Botswana, Australia, Canada, Brazil, Sierra Leone, Angola, Indonesia.
Currently, Botswana, Russia and Angola are the regions where diamonds are found – one diamond mine each with large quantities of over 130 Mct.
The four Cs of diamonds
The best-known system for grading diamonds is that established by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in 1953, namely the “Four Cs”: colour, clarity, cut, carat. Everywhere in discussions of natural diamonds the four elements will be considered. The system is valid for diamonds already set in jewellery as well as for those subject to trading. To evaluate the gem according to the 4 indices, a microscope or magnifying glass is used, which magnifies 10 times under natural light with a fluorescent source.
Diamond clarity refers to the degree of presence of inclusions within the stone or irregularities on its surface. A perfect diamond has neither inclusions nor irregularities. Depending on clarity, diamonds can be classified as follows: FL (flawless), IF (internally flowless), VVS1/VVS2 (with very, very few inclusions), VS1 (with very few inclusions), SI1/SI2 (with few inclusions), I1/I2/I3 (with inclusions).
Diamond color is a common feature of these stones, although there is a general tendency to think of diamonds as colourless. In fact a completely colourless diamond is extremely rare, while most diamonds show lighter or more intense yellow/brown tints. The GIA classifies diamonds by color on an alphabetical scale from D to Z as follows: colourless (D), nearly colourless (E-F), with slight yellow tints (G-H), very slightly yellow (I-J), slightly yellow (K-M), fancy coloured diamonds (N-J). Fancy colors are diamonds with a visible tint of color.
The cut of a diamond is its most important feature because the brilliance, fire and sparkle of the stone depend on it. The cut is judged according to the proportions, angles and finish of the gem, but it does not depend on its shape. Achieving a perfect cut depends solely on the skill of the polisher and the equipment used.
The carat is the unit of measure of the mass of the diamond. One carat weighs 0.20 grams. The larger the carat, the more valuable the diamond, because the larger the stone, the rarer it is. A piece of jewelry with a single stone of a certain carat will be more valuable than a piece of jewelry with several stones of the same carat (under the same conditions of clarity, color and cut).
How to care for diamonds
To keep your diamond jewelry in the best condition, we recommend that you:
keep it in your jewelry box when you are not wearing it;
clean it periodically with warm water and a few drops of soap, then dry it with a soft cloth;
visit your professional jeweler annually to check your jewelry.
When you wear a diamond, you feel a sense of well-being that fills you with energy and optimism. Well, this is due to the many benefits that gemstones offer to the human body.
- It is the stone of power understood as strength and endurance. Over time, the belief has been rooted that the diamond is the stone of winners, having a direct connection to divine energy;
- it is a symbol of love and human connection;
- it stimulates creativity, intuition, vision, clarity of thought;
- it enhances self-confidence, inner peace;
- brings prosperity and is a lucky charm and protector against negative energies;
- helps to clear the aura, improve the relationship with the self, self-discovery and emotional healing
Bellow is an example and a link towards SuperJeweler.com shop. This is an affiliate link. I might get a commission for any sell, at no extra cost for you 🙂
Diamond and the Zodiac signs
Diamonds are believed to bring the most benefits to Capricorn, Taurus, Leo, Virgo, Libra.
The most popular diamond cuts
Classification of diamonds by cut is divided into two types: round (brilliant) and fancy cuts. By far, the brilliant cut is the most popular.
Fancy cuts can be: Asscher diamond, Cushion diamond, Heart diamond, Radiant diamond, Emerald diamond, Pear diamond, Oval diamond, Marquise diamond, Square radiant diamond, Princess diamond, Baguette diamond.
table of diamond cuts
Difference between diamond and brilliant
The brilliant and the diamond are not two distinct gemstones. A diamond that has been cut into a round (most often), pear or oval shape is called a “brilliant”. More than three-quarters of diamonds are brilliant cut, because this 57- or 58-faceted cut brings out the maximum brilliance that the beautiful gemstone can offer. Light is captured perfectly and refracted into the brilliance and fire of the stone, then creating the scintillation effect – the rainbow-coloured glow that is seen when you move a diamond in the light.
Brilliant cut diamonds are found set in most diamond engagement rings and are a favourite of celebrities. It’s the cut that will always be in fashion. From a cost perspective, the brilliant cut is the best value.
There was a time when people believed that diamonds had magical qualities. It was believed that rough diamonds had the power to protect against evil spirits, that they had the power to cure various ailments and to make the wearer of the stone indestructible, just like a diamond. It was also believed that if you tried to polish the gem, the miraculous powers of diamonds would disappear.
Especially in the Middle Ages these beliefs were popular. According to the medievals, diamonds cured depression, infections and heart disease. In many cases, healers applied the diamond stone directly to the diseased area to speed healing. Warriors wore diamonds when they went off to battle, both as a talisman and as a remedy for injury.
There was another side to the power of diamonds: Pope Clement VII died after taking a medicine containing diamond powder and then the idea spread around the world that diamonds were actually poisonous. The Ottoman Sultan Baiazid was poisoned by his son with diamond powder.
In Greek legend, the god Cronos is said to have turned Adamas into a gemstone, which he then endowed with the gift of absolute power and good fortune.
Also in Greece, but also in ancient Rome, the ‘fire’ seen in the heart of diamonds symbolised the burning flame of love. This association gave rise to a romantic vision of diamonds, which later became the diamond engagement ring.
In Ancient Egypt, the diamond was associated with the Sun, truth and courage. Diamonds were placed by the pharaohs at the centre of the Ankh, the symbol of life itself.
Why are diamonds eternal
The slogan “Diamonds are forever” made De Beers’ marketing campaign famous. The phrase, named the best slogan of the 20th century, belongs to Mary Frances Gerety, a copywriter for an advertising agency hired by De Beers in 1947 to promote diamond consumption.
The timelessness of diamonds is not just a marketing gimmick but the term that encapsulates the significance of these special stones. When you purchase a diamond, you are making a two-sided investment, both of which stand the test of time. Because of its composition that does not allow for destruction, the diamond will literally last forever without its value diminishing. On the contrary, diamonds are an extremely good financial investment. What’s more, a diamond jewel will be handed down through the generations, carrying with it stories of the soul. There are many famous diamonds that have been in the possession of historical greats over the centuries and have spanned crucial periods in the evolution of mankind.
Diamonds really are forever!
How to choose a diamond – Complete guide
We’ll start by quoting Frances Getery’s famous slogan – “A diamond is forever”. A motto that manages to best capture the essence of this gem, the connection between diamonds and eternity, a romantic vision, easily transposed over the feelings of love and the uplifting exhilaration that this state gives us.
The choice of diamonds over other natural stones is preferred primarily because of its chemical composition, which sets it apart from other gemstones. Diamonds are the only stone to be composed of a single chemical element: carbon. Its hardness of 10 also puts it at the top of the Mohs scale, which designates the hardness of stones. For a clearer picture of diamond hardness, you should know that a diamond can only be scratched or polished by another diamond, and that it is more than 80 times harder than corundum (ruby and sapphire) with hardness 9, the number 2 on the Mohs scale. In fact, it is this property – hardness – that is responsible for the diamond’s name today. It comes from the Greek adamas (αδάμας) and means indestructible. Diamonds cannot even be attacked by acids.
We propose an initiatory journey into the mysteries of diamonds, where we will discover and learn basic techniques in the form of a complete guide to choosing diamonds, where we will present how many types of diamonds there are, what diamond clarity or cut means, as well as many other technical and aesthetic details, all so that choosing the perfect diamond for you becomes easy.
Classification of diamonds
Throughout the ages there have been different systems for grading diamonds, although for millennia the most important criterion for grading diamonds has been strictly the size of the stone.
The most popular diamond grading system, the one used today by all major manufacturers, is the one established in 1953 by the Gemological Institute of America. This is the grading system known worldwide as the 4Cs:
In the following, we will talk about diamonds, looking at them from the perspective of jewelry, refinement, elegance, distinction and the noble air that this gemstone exudes, taking into account its technical details, in order to better understand why it is at the top of the list of gems.
A brief history of the diamond universe
The first diamonds were discovered nearly 3000 years ago, and the earliest record of the stone’s existence dates back to around 300 BC, in a Buddhist text. Since ancient times, diamonds have been regarded as a precious, noble stone, and they have maintained this status ever since. No other stone has managed to intrigue the human spirit so much, to fascinate mankind, to give rise to so many love stories, envy and even wars.
The diamonds used at the time were round. It was not until the mid-15th century that the first faceted diamond was cut in Antwerp, Belgium. In fact, Antwerp is today the European diamond centre.
Another important moment in the history of diamonds occurred after the mid-19th century, when the huge diamond deposits in South Africa were discovered at Kimberley.
Diamonds have been attributed countless properties throughout the ages, from amulet, to object of worship, to means of expressing social status, to their roles in modern society: symbol of love (of the strong bond between two people who love each other), means of investment (because the price of diamonds has always been on the rise) and many industrial uses.
Diamonds are born at depths of over 150 km, under extremely high temperature and pressure, while graphite (also pure carbon) is formed much closer to the earth’s crust, which leads to a different arrangement of atoms. Scientists have estimated that the oldest diamonds originated more than 2.5 billion years ago, while the newest are several hundred million years old. If we ponder this last idea for a moment we realize that this detail is absolutely fantastic – to be able to wear a stone that is so old, billions of years old, is almost awe-inspiring, something that was formed in the heart of this planet and which has risen from the darkness of the depths to the surface during volcanic eruptions, carrying with it a fascinating ray of brilliance, the work of nature’s almighty power. Thus the choice of diamonds was, is and will be the most precious choice, no other gem can compete with it.
Diamond clarity – how to choose a diamond according to its clarity
Diamond clarity refers to the presence of any inclusions within the stone or irregularities on its surface. The perfection of clarity is the absence of inclusions and irregularities. The fewer the inclusions or irregularities, the rarer the stone.
In the formation process, there, in the heart of the earth, small impurities can be contained within a stone. These are inclusions.
The rough stone, once quarried, is analyzed for inclusions. Sanders will look for the best angle to remove or at least lessen the effect of the inclusions. Once the shape and angles of the stone to be cut have been determined, the work of polishing begins, which will turn the rough diamond into a stone that captures light, which it then refracts in the form of glare.
Irregularities can occur in the polishing process. In fact, extremely fine irregularities help gemologists to choose natural diamonds and distinguish them from imitation or synthetic ones.
No two diamonds have identical inclusions. Taking into account the two characteristics that give a diamond its clarity – inclusions and irregularities – we suggest you consult the table below for a better understanding of how to choose a diamond according to its clarity:
Between different grades of clarity there are extremely large differences in price. Just imagine that FL clarity diamonds are not included in the price offers of the major suppliers.
Diamond color – how to choose a diamond according to its color
There is nothing unusual about people associating diamonds with a colourless stone. In reality, however, these diamonds, the ones that show no trace of colour, are truly rare. The vast majority of diamonds used in jewelry have tints of yellow and brown.
We said that diamonds are 99.95% carbon. The 0.05% difference is the element that gives diamonds their color. Now let’s just say that diamonds are also found in other colors: blue, green, yellow, pink, red or even black, and this is due to the presence of metals such as manganese, iron, aluminum, silicon and others.
This second criterion for evaluating and choosing diamonds, color, also belongs to those developed by the GIA. It measures the colour of diamonds or, if we consider that the most valuable color is colorless, it is not wrong to say that this criterion actually measures the lack of color of diamonds.
A first division of this sub-category is between colorless and coloured diamonds. The coloured ones are called fancy colors.
Going back to the general impression that everyone has about the color of diamonds, the choice of “colorless” diamonds is as follows:
The letters in the D to Z grading scale actually describe a color range based on tones – how light or dark and how intense the color is. Check out GIA webpage for Diamond colors: https://www.gia.edu/gia-about/4cs-colo
Although diamonds may show noticeable differences in color intensity, they may belong to the same color group. It should also be noted that the size of the stone is a differentiating factor in the valuation of diamonds, with color being more apparent the larger the diamond.
Grading diamonds by color is done by reference to a set of samples. Thus, if we look at an L-coloured diamond we may find it to be colorless until we place it next to a G-coloured diamond. Analyzed in this way, the differences will be easy to spot.
As with clarity, there can be very large price variations between different grades of color. For example, two diamonds similar in shape, cut and clarity, but with differences in color, one F and the other H, can have price differences of 20-70%.
27 diamond colors are known to date. The rarest fancy diamond colors are blue, red or green. Well, for these, it is the color that takes precedence over the other evaluation criteria – clarity, carat or cut.
The fancy color diamond grading system has 9 grading steps depending on the intensity of the color. More intensity also means a higher value for that stone. The more pronounced, vivid, intense the color of the diamond, the higher the price of the stone will be.
Diamond cut – how to choose a diamond according to its cut
Although very few people really understand this aspect, the cut is the most important feature of a diamond, even more important than the size of the stone. When choosing the most brilliant diamond – the cut, the precise calculation of angles and the height, are the most important features, as they perfect its brilliance.
Do not confuse the cut with the shape of the diamond, these are two distinct things.
What really catches the eye of the beholder and influences their choice of diamond is the brilliance of the stone, its fire, the way it receives light and sends it out as sparks when the diamond moves.
To understand exactly how this happens, let’s imagine a ray of light entering a diamond, it hits the inside of the facets, is reflected from one to the other, and then the light broken down into the full spectrum of rainbow colors returns out of the diamond through its top. This is the role of the cut.
The chart below will show you what the ideal cuts are, the importance of a correctly proportioned cut, and what happens to the light if the cuts are not ideal:
It’s also time to discuss diamond shapes. The most common diamonds are those with a round cut. The brilliant cut diamond is the polished diamond with 57 or 58 triangular faces radiating from a central point. The term brilliant, used simply, refers to the round shape, but the brilliant cut is also used for other diamond shapes. In the case of fancy cuts you will encounter for example: “princess brilliant cut”.
So, on the one hand we have round diamonds (brilliant) and on the other hand all the other shapes, which are called fancy cuts. Here are some of the fancy cuts:
Carat – how to choose a diamond by carat (weight)
The choice of diamonds is also made according to their weight. The carat is the unit of measurement for diamonds. One carat is equivalent to 0.20 grams. This unit of measurement was approved as a universal measure at the beginning of the last century. As a matter of fact, in the past (as far back as ancient Greece), the unit of measurement was carob kernels. They have the property of being relatively equal in weight.
Apart from the carat, another unit of measurement you will encounter is the point. A subdivision of the carat, the point is often used to designate the weight of diamonds smaller than one carat. A carat is made up of one hundred points. You may encounter for example a diamond shown as having 0.53 carats or 53 points.
Two diamonds, both weighing one carat, can be different sizes. This may be due to the height of the stone and the diameter. Thus, a one-carat round stone can have a diameter of between 5.90 and 6.60 mm.
Other factors that may influence the choice of diamond
The price of diamonds takes into account the 4Cs (Clarity, Color, Carat and Cut), but another factor, rarity, is an attribute to consider when determining the value of a diamond. For example, the price of a one carat diamond of average quality can be around 6,000 euros. Another diamond of two carats, at the same quality, does not cost twice as much as a one-carat diamond, i.e. €12,000, as you might expect, but can cost €16,000, and the reason for this is precisely the rarity of large stones.
Apart from the price details outlined above, there is another factor, that of market requirements. For example, since the 1970s there has been a huge increase in demand for yellow diamonds. Because we are talking about a limited supply of such stones and an ever-increasing demand, the value of these diamonds has increased by 10-15% annually.
Diamond prices are set in units of 10 points. Diamonds between 70 and 79 points have one value, those between 80 and 89 points have another. This means that between 99-point diamonds and one-carat diamonds, although the difference is invisible to the naked eye, there can be significant price differences.
International diamond quotations are determined by the Rapaport Diamond List produced by the Rapaport Group.