Gemstone Focus: Diamond

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Diamonds have been treasured for thousands of years for their beauty and rarity. The earliest diamonds were from India found almost 3000 years ago where only the extremely wealthy had access to them. Ancient Greeks believed them to be the tears of the weeping gods.

If you were born in the month of April, diamond is your birthstone and if you’ve been married for 60 years is is your anniversary gemstone!

Mohs Scale

Facts, care, lore

Diamond is regarded as the hardest substance known on earth. It is the anchor stone at the top of the Mohs scale of hardness sitting at 10. It is so hard that it can scratch any other gemstone and it has been used to engrave metals. Diamond in fact has many uses in industrial settings in drilling equipment. That said, diamond is not indestructible. It is considered brittle and if struck in a precise point it can shatter or chip. Despite this however, diamond is incredibly durable and perfect for daily wear.

Diamond is carbon that has been put under intense heat and pressure and gradually over millennia have turned into a crystal form. A quote I came across sums it up amusingly. “A diamond is merely a lump of coal that did well under pressure”

Diamond was believed to be a stone of calm and inner peace. It was purported to create an overall positive mental attitude. Diamonds were also believed to stop stress, emotional pain, fear, and protect the owner from negative energies.

Conflict and Blood Diamonds

Diamonds have been found in many parts of the world. South Africa, the DR Congo, The Soviet Union, Australia and Canada are some of the main producers. There is a darker side to the diamond trade and in recent years they have been linked to funding wars, insurgencies and genocide. Thus certification programs such as the Kimberley process have been developed to help reassure consumers that diamonds coming into the market are conflict free. If you are partiularly concerned about conflict diamonds, there are many alternatives including lab-grown diamonds which are real diamonds grown under the same conditions as mined diamonds. But they are conflict free and eco-friendly.

The 4 C’s

Quality and ultimately price of diamonds is measured by the 4 C’s, colour, clarity, cut and carat. There is too much information to cover this topic in full here so I’ll just give a summary.

Diamond Colour Grades

The two most important features affecting diamond quality are colour and clarity. Diamond colour is graded on an alphabetical scale starting at D. The letters DEF signal the diamonds is colourless nearly perfect white, GHIJ stones are near colourless and KLM have a faint colour but will usually look near colourless if set in yelllow gold. Thus if you are on a tight budget, you can still get a great stone but not pay the premium of a DEF colour stone. If however you want a white setting such as white gold or platinum, you should shop for a stone in the whiter grades.

Diamond Clarity Grades

Clarity refers to the presence of visible inclusions at 10x magnification. Generally, you want a gemstone with good clarity and as few inclusions as your budget will afford. However from a practical point of view, as most gemstones are viewed from six inches or more you can get a very good gemstone at VS2 / S1. The caveat is to make sure the inclusions are near the edges and not in the center of the stone where they will be more visible.

Diamond anatomy – Ritani

The cut of the stone is the most important factor to influence the beauty and sparkle of a diamond. The cut grade covers how much light the stone reflects as well as its fire, symmetry, and polish. A diamond with a perfect cut can look bigger and brighter than a larger diamond with a cut that is either too shallow or too deep. A couple of terms you should be familiar with are the brilliance, the amount of light that is reflected or returned and dispersion, the amount of “fire” or dance of colour seen in the diamond. A well cut diamonds maximises brilliance and dispersion and can make a smaller stone seem much larger.

Carat weight

The final C is carat which is the weight of the stone. It is the least important factor when choosing a diamond for quality. But has an impact on price. Diamonds are usually priced per carat. So for example a half carat diamond priced by the carat will sell for $1200 per carat so a half carat will be $600 where as a 1 carat diamond sells for $1800 per carat so a a one carat will sell at $1800. That said, the pricing of diamonds is very complicated and is affected not only by the 4 C’s but also the market. Large companies such as DeBeers control a significant portion of the market and so are able to influence pricing. The best advice is to shop around and compare.

There you have a little bit about diamonds! Hopefully that is useful or a little bit interesting.

Thanks for reading

photo credit to gemsoiety.org

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