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Diamonds

Diamonds

Diamond is a native crystalline carbon that is the hardest known mineral. It is usually nearly colorless. It is a form of carbon (and allotrope of carbon) and is the hardest naturally-occurring mineral.

Diamond is also the least compressible and the best thermal conductor among all natural materials. It is also chemically inert to most acids and alkalis. These exceptional properties make diamond valuable both intrinsically as a gem, for usage in industrial applications, and as a tool for scientific research. Although it is decidedly rare, it actually consists of one of the most common natural elements: carbon.

Diamond is so strong because of the shape formed by the carbon atoms. At a temperature of 1325°C, a pressure of 50000 kg/cm2 is required to grow diamond. This extreme pressure corresponds to the weight of the Eiffel tower (9441 tons) on your hand. Without this pressure, graphite instead of diamond forms.

Diamond has a high refractive index (2.417) and moderate light dispersion (0.044), properties which are considered carefully during diamond cutting and which (together with their hardness) give cut diamonds their brilliance and fire.

  • History
  • 4C's
  • shapes
  • settings
  • certification
History

Diamonds are believed to have been first discovered in India around 800 - 1000 BC. Around 327 BC Alexander the Great brought the first diamonds from India to Europe. The first instance off diamonds being used for jewellery is dated on 1074 when a Hungarian queen's crown is decorated with diamonds.

By 1375 the point cut of diamonds was developed. The point cut follows the natural shape of a diamonds reducing the diamond waste in cutting process. By 1400s Diamond started becoming a fashionable accessory among Europe's elite. The first diamond was given to Mary of Burgundy by the Archduke Maximillian of Austria, beginning the tradition of a man proposing to his intended with a diamond ring.

In 1700s India's diamond supply began to decline and Brazil emerged as leading source for diamonds. They dominated the diamond market for more than 150 years.

While sources changed, the diamond market experienced its own evolution. The old ruling classes - diamonds' biggest consumers - were in decline by the late 1700s. Political upheavals like the French Revolution led to changes in the distribution of wealth.

The 1800s explorers unearthed the first great South African diamond deposits in the late 1800s just as diamond demand broadened. By 1900, De Beers, through its mines in South Africa, controlled an estimated 90 percent of the world's production of rough diamonds..

The South African sources affected many segments of the diamond industry. This was especially true as diamond mining moved from the surface to farther underground. Because of the huge costs and comparatively low yields involved, the new sources forced the development of more efficient mining techniques. They also led to advances in cutting and polishing - advances that increased efficiency, reduced costs, and enhanced the appearance of finished stones. In the past 50 years alone, scientists have learned a lot about how diamonds form and how they're transported to the earth's surface. That knowledge has made it easier to predict locations for new diamond discoveries.

Not everything changed, though. Regardless of the path they take, diamonds still flow from mines through cutting centers, and ultimately to retail customers.

Diamonds are as unique as the person who wears them. Before choosing your perfect engagement ring, make sure you have a comprehensive understanding of diamonds and how they are graded, from their structure to the four major factors called the 4Cs. Diamond grading, and the 4Cs - cut, color, clarity and carat weight - refers to the characteristics of a diamond. What makes one diamond special, and valuable, to one person, may be very different for another. Focus on the factors most important to you, and choose a diamond that satisfies your particular standards for value and appearance.

Diamond
Diamond IDEAL Diamond
Diamond SHALLOW Diamond
Diamond DEEP Diamond

Cut

Diamond Cut refers to how well proportioned the diamond is. It is an objective measure of a diamond's light performance, or, what we generally think of as sparkle. It also refers to how effectively the diamond returns light back to the viewer's eye. A well-cut diamond will appear very brilliant and fiery, while a poorly cut diamond can appear dark and lifeless, regardless of its color & clarity. When a diamond is cut with the proper proportions, light is returned out of the top of the diamond (which gemologists refer to as the table). If it is cut too shallow, light leaks out of the bottom; too deep and it escapes out of the side.

Most diamonds are cut round with a full 58 facets, and a good cut, or make, has more scintillation, more sparkle. It is the work of a master cutter that allows the diamond to be cut in such a way as to permit the maximum amount of light to be reflected through the diamond, and that's a great reflection on you. It is the cut that enables a diamond to make the best use of light.

Color

The most common diamond color is yellow. Most diamonds have a slight hint of yellow and the diamond color scale is based on the amount of yellow present in a diamond. This is why a diamond's color grade is based on its lack of color. The less color a diamond has, the higher its color grade.

When shopping for a diamond, it is generally preferred to choose a stone with the least amount of color possible. Diamond color is graded on a scale from D-Z and is divided into five broad categories (colorless, near colorless, faint, very light and light).

After cut, color is the next most important characteristic when choosing a diamond. The reason is because the eye naturally sees the sparkle first (from the cut) and then the color. Most people find it very difficult (if not impossible) to tell the difference from one color grade to another. The difference in price, however, can be significant. Unless you're a trained gemologist or looking at two diamonds side by side, the difference between colorless and near colorless stones is nearly imperceptible.

D-F

Diamond

Colorless

G-H

Diamond

Near Colorless

I-J

Diamond

Near Colorless Slightly Tinted

K-M

Diamond

Faint Yellow

N-R

Diamond

Very Light Yellow

S-Z

Diamond

Light Yellow

Fancy

Diamond

Yellow

Clarity

Diamond

FL-IF

Diamond

vvs1-vvs2

Diamond

vs1-vs2

Diamond

sl1-sl2

Diamond

l1-l2-l3

The diamond's clarity is a description of its internal purity. With fewer imperfections within the stone, the diamond is more rare and has a higher value. The clarity scale was developed by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) to quantify these imperfections. The factors that determine the clarity of diamonds are - size, number, position, nature & color.

The clarity grades defined by GIA are -

  • F - Flawless - No inclusions and no blemishes visible under 10x magnification.
  • IF - Internally flawless - No inclusions visible under 10x magnification.
  • VVS1 & VVS2 - Very, Very Slightly Included - Inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification.
  • VS1 & VS2 - Very Slightly Included - Inclusions are observed with effort under 10x magnification, but can be characterized as minor.
  • SI1 & Si2 - Silghtly Included - Inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification.
  • I1, I2 & I3 - Included - Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification which may affect transparency and brilliance.

Carat

Quite simply, a diamond's carat is a measurement of weight. Prior to the twentieth century, diamonds were measured using carob seeds, which were small and uniform and served as a perfect counter weight to the diamond. The word "carob" is the origin of the word "carat" that we use today.

A 50-point diamond weighs 0.5 carats or 1/2 a carat. A 1-carat diamond weighs 100 points. A 1/3 is also 0.3 carats or 30 points. Accordingly, the cost per carat of a larger diamond of the same color, clarity and cut will be higher than a smaller diamond. The price per carat of diamonds rises proportionately with size. Keep in mind that the per carat price gets multiplied by the carat weight. More weight equals more money so, many diamond cutters sacrifice brilliance to maximize carat weight and profit. It is important to realize that weight does not always equal size or beauty. Poorly cut diamonds intended to maximize size can be dull and lifeless.

Cut should always be taken into consideration when looking at a diamond's carat weight. For example a diamond with a poor cut, may hide much of its carat weight in the base, appearing much smaller. Conversely, a diamond that is well cut, but a lower carat weight, may appear much larger.

Diamond

0.25ct

4.1 mm

Diamond

0.50 ct

5.2 mm

Diamond

0.75 ct

5.9 mm

Diamond

1.00 ct

6.5 mm

Diamond

1.5ct

7.4 mm

Diamond

2.00 ct

8.2 mm

Diamond

2.50 ct

9.00 mm

Diamond

300 ct

9.3 mm

People tend to confuse diamond cut and diamond shape. The cut refers to the proportions of the facets that make a stone sparkle, whereas diamond shape refers to its physical form and each diamond shape is very different, possessing unique characteristics. It's no doubt that the round brilliant cut is the most popular shape but if you're looking for something different, there are plenty of other shapes available. Fancy-shaped diamonds can be less expensive than round because cutters are often able to retain more weight from the rough diamond. Also since each diamond shape is cut to different specifications, they reflect light differently, giving each shape a unique fire and brilliance.

Round Cut

Shapes

The round brilliant cut diamond is the most popular shape of diamond. For almost 100 years, diamond cutters have been using advanced theories of light behavior and precise mathematical calculations to optimize the brilliance in a round diamond. They are typically cut with 58 facets promoting superior brilliance and light performance from within. Because so much of the stone is cut away to get the perfect proportions, the per-carat cost is higher than fancy-shape diamonds, making it a highly valuable diamond shape.

Princess Cut

Shapes

Princess cut diamonds are exceptionally brilliant because of the way they are cut and are available in both square and rectangular shapes. From vintage-style engagement rings to modern classics, square princess-cut diamonds are a popular and versatile fancy-shape diamond, and the second most popular of all diamond shapes.

Marquise Cut

Shapes

The Marquise-Cut Diamond is a boat-shaped brilliant stone that is considered to be a "classic" shape for diamond engagement rings. The Marquise-Cut Diamond uses a cutting process similar to that of a Round Brilliant Diamond, but the diamond cutter maximizes the carat weight of the gem by elongating it into its distinctive ''boat-shape''. Its unique shape creates the effect of longer, more slender hands and fingers.

Oval Cut

Shapes

Oval cut diamonds have a classic appearance with a modern twist! It is a popular cut in all types of jewelry. It is the perfect choice for buyers who are looking for characteristics similar to the Round "Ideal" Cut, but would like something in a shape that is more unusual. They are often less expensive than other cuts and lend a larger appearance thanks to greater surface area along the table of the stone.

Emerald Cut

Shapes

Emerald cut diamonds have a unique optical appearance because of the rectangular facets step-cut into the diamond's pavilion. Emerald cuts are the one shape where clarity is more important, as the edged step cut technique lends more transparency. The Emerald-Cut diamond is named so because this style of cut was originally used only on emeralds. It is called a step-cut, which is the cut most commonly used on square or rectangular diamonds.

Cushion Shape

Shapes

Sometimes called a pillow-cut diamond, the cushion cut is a timeless cut that has earned its name for its pillow shape. They have rounded edge square shapes that are optimized to emit a deep prismatic "fire." The classic, antique effect about them due to their high popularity in jewelry making during the past two centuries makes them the third most popular diamond shape.

Pear Cut

Shapes

Pear cut diamond is also called a teardrop for its single point and rounded end. It is probably the most subjective diamond shape, as its size and proportions are really a matter of taste. Pear shaped diamonds is cut to produce maximum brilliance, so it's important to look for excellent symmetry. The diamond usually contains 58 facets, allowing for light to pass through it much the same way as in a Round, but makes more of an impression because of its much less common shape.

Heart Shape

Shapes

Heart-shaped diamonds have long been the symbol of love and romance. The Heart Shaped Diamond has a cleft at the top and exhibits superior brilliance. Selecting a heart shaped diamond, symmetry is essential, as the two halves of the heart must be identical.

Bezel Setting

Settings

A Bezel setting is when a diamond is completely surrounded by metal. It can wrap all the way around the stone or only partially surround it, depending on the style of the ring. This type of diamond ring setting is good for protecting the girdle and often makes the stone look larger. The bezel setting is often used with round shaped diamonds, but also works well with other diamond shapes.

Invisible Setting

Settings

Invisibly set gemstones sit very close together with their metal settings hidden underneath. So you see a continuous, uninterrupted surface of diamonds or gemstones. This setting gives a heightened brilliance and a floating experience.

Prong Setting

Settings

The Prong setting is one of the most popular classic setting types. The setting has small metal prongs that are bent over the girdle of the gemstone or diamond. To increase this effect, the center stone is sometimes raised above the shank, to give it a larger, more important appearance, with only a suggestion of metal showing.

Common Shared Prong Setting

Settings

A Common Shared Prong setting is a variation of the traditional prong setting in which the prongs are wrapped around the crown of more than one stone. This type of setting minimizes the presence of metal, allowing more light to pass through a diamond or gemstone.

Pave Setting

Settings

The pave setting allows light to reflect off the many facets of a diamond because it uses numerous small diamonds set with tiny prongs that create a continuous surface of radiance and shimmer. In this dramatically elegant setting type, diamonds or gemstones are set low and very close together using tiny beads. The surface of the ring will appear to be encrusted with stones for a brilliant effect. A popular fashion setting used in numerous kinds of jewelry including rings, earrings, bracelets, & necklaces.

Cluster Setting

Settings

When diamonds or gemstones are set close together in a group, the result is known as a cluster setting. Sometimes the stones can be arranged in the form of a stylized flower, or just in an abstract arrangement. Generally the smaller stones surround a larger center stone - to create the illusion of one big stone. Most commonly used in fashion items such as rings, earrings & pendants.

Bar Setting

Settings

Similar to a channel setting, a bar setting uses a thin bar of u- or v-shaped metal to hold diamonds or gemstones in place on two sides. In this setting technique the gemstone is secured between two parallel bars, while the sides of the gem remain open. It is commonly used in wedding and anniversary bands, as well as necklaces and bracelets.

Flush/Gypsy Setting

Settings

A setting where the stone is sunk into a mounting until it is nearly level with the surface. Provides additional protection for larger stones. Gypsy setting is commonly used in men's ring where the band is one continuous piece that gets thicker at the top.

Tension Setting

Settings

This sleek, modern diamond ring setting uses pressure to hold a stone between two open ends of a metal mounting, creating the illusion that the stone is floating. In gold or platinum setting is actually spring-loaded to exert pressure onto the diamond, and tiny etchings/grooves are added to the gold or platinum in order to create a shelf structure for the diamond's edges to rest. The diamond appears to 'float' or be suspended in the air with nothing holding it in place. Creates a modern techno-fashion look for rings, earrings, bracelets & necklaces.

Channel Setting

Settings

A Channel setting refers to a type of stone setting often used in mounting a number of small stones of uniform size in a row. Instead of each stone being held by an individual set of prongs, the stones are fitted into the channel and held into place on each side by a continuous strip of metal. This type of setting protects the edge, or girdle, of the gemstone, and is a very secure setting. Channel-set gemstones provide a smooth setting making them less likely to get snagged on hair or clothing. Most commonly used for wedding and anniversary bands, as well as bracelets.

Fishtail/ Scallop Setting

Settings

A fishtail setting is a technique consisting of four prominent triangular corners cut from the existing shank that hold the gemstone in place. A scallop is a gemstone-setting technique in which the prongs are created from the shank. When viewed from the finger-view it looks like the tail of a fish. A. fishtail setting is one example of a scalloped setting.

Trellis Setting

Settings

A trellis setting is often mentioned as a setting in its own right, although it is actually a type of prong setting. It is a structure of open latticework, especially used as a gallery support for gemstones. It gives the jewelry a very classy and sophisticated look.

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