Choosing a Diamond

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The 4 C's


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About diamonds

Diamonds have fascinated mankind throughout the centuries. The most precious and enduring of all gemstones, diamonds were formed billions of years ago, deep within the earth. Only a small number survive the journey to the earth's surface; fewer still are of a quality that can be made into a precious piece of jewellery.


Diamonds are beautiful, mysterious and rare. They survive an incredible journey to reach us, a journey that may have begun as long as 3.3 billion years ago. They are created when carbon is put under immense pressure and temperature deep within the earth—at distances of 250 miles or even greater.

Even though world diamond production has tripled since 1980, diamonds remain a scarce resource. More than 12,000 kimberlite deposits (diamond-bearing “pipes” of a volcanic rock) have been found worldwide in the last 25 years, yet fewer than 1% have contained enough diamonds to make them economically viable. Some diamond producing countries include Botswana (leading diamond producer in the world), Canada, Namibia, Russia, South Africa, Australia, and Tanzania.


Diamonds come from two types of deposits; each type requires special mining techniques. Primary deposits, in which diamonds are contained in kimberlite pipes, require open pit or underground mining operations. Secondary deposits are defined as diamonds that have travelled from their original location due to erosion. These require alluvial mining, which uncovers diamonds in riverbed, coastal and marine/undersea locations.
Regardless of the way diamonds are mined, enormous investment and technical skills are necessary to construct, maintain and operate a mine.

Over the years, there have been many amazing diamond discoveries. Some of the most famous one is the Cullinan diamond, found in South Africa in 1905 and is the largest rough gem-quality diamond ever found, at 3,106.75 carats (621.35 g). It holds this record even today.


Once mined, rough diamonds are delivered to sorting experts who categorize and assign a value to them. It is here that industrial quality diamonds – which are small, lower quality stones – are identified. These industrial diamonds are then used in equipment such as drill bits and lathes.

Those diamonds that are of gem quality are classified into thousands of categories based on size, shape, quality and color. The majority of diamonds fall within a range of standard colors from colorless to faint yellow or brown tints. Almost all rough diamonds have some distinguishing marks, known as inclusions, which make each one unique.


After sorting, the diamonds are cut and polished. In ancient times, diamonds were left uncut and mounted into their settings, which gave each piece a dark, deep, mysterious look. In the 1400's diamonds started to be cut and polished, which gave them their tell tale sparkle and brilliance.

The most important diamond cutting centres are India and China. Currently cutting and polishing take place in southern Africa, Belgium, China, India, Israel, Russia and the US, among other countries. Cutting a rough diamond takes great skill. A well-cut diamond reflects light within itself, from one facet to another, as well as through the top of the diamond, bringing out its spectral brilliance. The most popular cut is the 57 facet round brilliant.

Jewellery manufacturing

After being cut, polished and categorized, many diamonds are then sold via one of the 24 registered diamond exchanges (also known as 'bourses') located around the world or direct to wholesalers or diamond jewelry manufacturers.

Transforming loose diamonds into jewelry takes great skill, creatively and technically. Diamond jewellery manufacturers create pieces with all kinds of precious stones and metals. The most popular setting is the solitaire, for rings, earrings or pendants.


No gemstone expresses human emotions more powerfully than a diamond. It may be because of their rarity. It may be because they have been around for billions of years. Or it may just be because of their unique beauty and universal appeal.For hundreds of years, diamonds have been given to celebrate important moments in people’s lives, such as engagements, weddings, anniversaries and the birth of a child. Today, more and more diamonds are being bought as symbols of independence and success.


Cut is the factor that fuels a diamond’s fire, sparkle and brilliance. The cut is the only factor of a polished diamond's value that is controlled by human hands. The traditional round brilliant diamond has 58 facets, each precisely cut and defined. Without this precision, a diamond wouldn’t be nearly as beautiful. Though extremely difficult to analyze or quantify, the cut of any diamond has three attributes: brilliance (the total light reflected), fire (the dispersion of light into the colors of the spectrum), and scintillation (the sparkle when a diamond is moved).

A polished diamond’s proportions affect its light performance, which in turn affects its beauty and overall appeal. The proportions of a diamond refer to the relationships between table size, crown angle and pavilion depth. Diamonds with good proportions optimize the interaction with light. A wide range of proportion combinations are possible.

A well-cut diamond will direct more light through the crown. Cut grade range from Excellent to Poor. Scale:


Diamonds and other gemstones are weighed in metric carats: one carat is equal to 0.2 grams, about the same weight as a paperclip.
Just as a dollar is divided into 100 pennies, a carat is divided into 100 points. For example, a 50-point diamond weighs 0.50 carats. A carat weighs exactly the same in every corner of the world.


Because diamonds formed deep within the earth, under extreme heat and pressure, they often contain unique birthmarks, either internal (inclusions) or external (blemishes).
Diamond clarity refers to the absence of these inclusions and blemishes. Diamonds without these birthmarks are rare, and rarity affects a diamond’s value. Diamonds are assigned a clarity grade that ranges from flawless (FL) to diamonds with obvious inclusions (I3).
Every diamond is unique. Known as Flawless diamonds, these are exceptionally rare.

The purity inside the stones is a measure of the inclusions in the stones seen with a 10X loupe:

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×
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 clearly visible under 10× magnification but can be characterized as

Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2): Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader using 10× magnification
Included (I1, I2, and I3): Inclusions are obvious under 10× magnification and may affect transparency and


Today, even if you buy a diamond in another part of the world, the jeweler will likely use terms such as VVS1 or SI2, even if her language is French or Japanese instead of English.


Diamonds are valued by how closely they approach colorlessness – the less color, the higher their value. (The exception to this is fancy-color diamonds, such as pinks and blues, which lie outside this color range.)
Most diamonds run from colorless to near-colorless, with slight hints of yellow or brown.
GIA’s color-grading scale for diamonds is the industry standard. The scale begins with the letter D, representing colorless, and continues with increasing presence of color to the letter Z, or near-colorless. Each letter grade has a clearly defined range of color appearance. Diamonds are color-graded by comparing them to stones of known color under controlled lighting and precise viewing conditions.
Many of these color distinctions are so subtle as to be invisible to the untrained eye. But these slight differences make a very big difference in diamond quality and price.