What Is Diamonds

The gemstone Diamond hardly needs any introduction as the beauty of it, and the interest around it is, and has been, on "everybody's" mind when talking about jewelry.

The name "Diamond" is derived from the ancient Greek word "adamas" which means "unbreakable", and due to the strong binding between the atoms of the material it has the highest hardness of any natural material.
The optical characteristics are also remarkable and due to the very special characteristics, diamonds are the most popular gemstones.

Diamonds without any impurities are rare so most diamonds in the market have some kind of inclusions.
These impurities may not be visible to the naked eye and most often does not affect the clarity of the diamond. Impurities may also be a positive thing as it can be used as an identification mark for each individual diamond.
Especially now with the fast growing market of synthetic diamonds, inclusions may be a way to reassure that the diamond is real, as synthetic diamonds most often are completely clear of blemishes.

The grading of diamonds is based on Clarity, Carat, Color and Cut. Also referred to as the four C's.

There are various systems of grading of diamonds, mainly depending on under which circumstances the grading procedure is done.
When buying diamonds it is very important to get a certification indicating what grade the diamond belongs to and what grading system has been used.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is grading diamonds seen under a 10x magnifying lens. The system is divided into eleven grades within six categories as follows:

Category  Flawless   Internally Flawless   Very Very Slightly Included   Very Slightly Included   Slightly Included 

  • Flawless (FL) means that the diamonds have no inclusions visible under 10x magnifying lens.

  • Internally Flawless (IF) no internal inclusions visible under 10x magnifying lens, only very minor blemishes on the surface of the diamond.

  • Very Very Slightly Included (VVS) very small inclusions that are difficult to see under a 10x magnifying lens even for a skilled grading professional. The VVS1 grade signifies a higher grade of clarity than the VVS2, but the difference is very small.

  • Very Slightly Included (VS signifies very minor inclusions that is detectable for a trained professional grader under 10x magnification. The VS1 has a higher grade of clarity whereas VS2 has inclusions that are somewhat easier to detect under 10x magnification.

  • Slightly Included (SI) These are diamonds where a trained professional grader can easily detect the inclusions under 10x magnification. SI1 are usually not detectable by the naked eye whereas the SI2 may sometimes be detectable with the naked eye.

  • Included (I) Inclusions are here easily detectable by a trained grader under 10x magnification, and often also without magnification. I1 and I2 are often easily detectable by the naked eye, but clarity is still there, whereas I3 usually have larger inclusions that are easy to see and most often also impact the brilliance of the diamond. The inclusions in I3 graded diamonds may also affect the physical structure of the stone.

    Grading of diamonds are done under very strict conditions both regarding light sources and angle of the light source. The stones are studied from all sides and the procedure can only be done by trained professionals who are able to certify the clarity grade of each diamond. There are also a number of other characteristics that are taken into account when grading a diamond, but I don't feel that is of importance in this article. If you would like to get more professional details, and get to know more about the diamond business, then the GIA course "Diamond Essentials" is a good source of information. If you want to pursue a career in the diamond business the GIA course "Diamonds and Diamond Grading" and other advanced studies may be the way to go.

    Other grading systems are also fairly common in the market and the classification varies somewhat from one organisation to another. Therefore it is of some importance to clarify which grading system a diamond is classified under in order to get a proper picture of the particular diamond in question. However, most diamonds in the market are graded using the GIA grading system referred to above.

    Not all diamonds meet the quality required in order to become a gemstone. Actually only about 20% of all diamonds have a clarity that meets the gemstone requirements. The rest, abt. 80%, are used for industrial purposes.
    Those stones that satisfies the gemstone requirements are mainly within VS and SI grades. These diamonds have inclusions, but so small that they cannot be seen with the naked eye. Therefore, to pay a very much higher price for higher grades are often a waste of money if you are buying a diamond set in a piece of jewelry.

    On the other hand, as an investment object it may be worth it, but investment in diamonds is, to my mind, highly overrated.
    The value is highly dependent on the market segment willing to purchase FL, IF or VVS diamonds. This small part of the diamond market may vary over time, thereby making investment in diamonds highly questionable.

    There also exist diamonds in the market which are treated in order to enhance their clarity.
    GIA does not grade or certify this kind of stones. If you come across a GIA diamond report using the expression "clarity-enhanced" or "fracture-filled" the report is a fake.
    A clarity enhanced diamond can look just as good as another stone, but often more care must be taken when mounting the diamond in a jewelry setting, especially when using heat, like a blowtorch.

    These are man-made diamonds as opposed to natural diamonds.
    Some of the synthetic diamonds have properties like hardness and thermal conductivity that is superior to natural stones and therefore most industrial grade diamonds are actually synthetic.

    When talking about diamonds most people are thinking of the colorless gemstone. However some impurities in the diamond may give it a shade of colour.
    You may have heard of blue diamonds. The impurity here is Boron which is responsible for the blue color.
    "Black" diamonds, or actually just very dark, is caused by various dark impurities.

    Light yellow and light brown diamonds are graded together with white diamonds whereas other colors like grey, blue, green, black, pink, orange, purple and red diamonds are known as fancy diamonds and graded using a different scale, more like other colored stones like rubies etc.

    Maybe the most famous diamond is called "Koh-i-Noor" (Mountain of Light). It has a history dating back to 1304 and went through many dramatic situations, according to legend, until it was presented to Queen Victoria in 1850.
    The stone was found to be lacking in brilliance and Queen Victoria had it recut to its present shape and carats of 108.93.

    Another of the most famous diamonds is called the "Hope Diamond" or "Le Bijou du Roi" (the King's Jewel") or "Le bleu de France" (the blue of France) or the "Tavernier Blue".

    It is a deep-blue stone of 45.52 carat which has shifted hands many times from around 1650 up until today where it is held by the Smithsonian Museum, donated by Mr. Harry Winston.
    A number of stories surround the stone and it is held to be cursed, without much solid facts backing the beliefs. These stories, however, has made it famous.
    It is valued at around US $250 million if it was offered for sale nowadays. Anybody interested?

    The largest cut diamond in the World is known as "Cullinan I" or "The Great Star of Africa", which weigh 530.20 carats.
    It is mounted in the Imperial Sceptre and is displayed in the Tower of London (sorry, probably not for sale....)

    How Are Diamonds Formed

    Diamonds require very specific conditions to be formed, carbon materials exposed to high pressure of 4,500 to 6,000 MPa.
    In comparison, the standard atmospheric pressure on Earth is 0.101325 MPa. It means that the pressure must be 45,000 to 60,000 times higher than the standard atmospheric pressure on Earth.
    The temperature can be relatively low at abt. 900 to 1,300 degrees Celcius.
    There are only two possibilities for these conditions on Earth, either in the lithospheric mantle under relatively stable continental plates
    and the site where a meteorite strikes.

    Diamonds formed by meteorite strikes are small stones and are known as micro-diamonds or nano-diamonds.
    However a particular type of diamonds called "carbonado" have been deposited by asteroid impact and have been formed somewhere in the intrastellar environment, but actually, nobody knows for sure where they have been formed, only that they have not been formed on Earth.

    There exists scientific evidence that so-called white dwarfs probably have a core partly consisting of crystallized carbon, or diamond material. The largest of these are abt 4,000 km wide. (what about that for an engagement ring........) But problem is that this diamond is 50 light-years away from us.

    On Earth, diamonds are formed by both inorganic and organic carbon material. Inorganic carbon is found deep inside the Earth's mantle whereas organic carbon hs been pushed or dragged down from the Earth's surface.
    The diamonds that come up to the surface of the Earth and can be found in various locations, are quite old abt 1 to 3.3 billion years old.

    Diamonds are brought to the surface of the Earth by so-called "volcanic pipes". Most volcanic eruptions bring magma (lava) from a depth of some 40-50km from the surface, whereas diamonds are formed at a depth 3 times that, or at abt 150km.
    Some narrow passages extends down to the level where diamonds are formed and when volcanic eruptions occur these so-called pipes are bringing materials to the surface from depths greater than 150km and thus also diamonds may, sometimes, be brought up.

    Where Can Diamonds Be Found

    Due to water and/or wind actions diamonds brought to the surface may be distributed over a fairly large area.
    Diamonds can be found in many places around the World although the most important areas are Russia, Botswana, South Africa and Australia.

    Australia is the largest producer of industrial diamonds. Diamonds found in New England and New South Wales are of the hardest quality and thus perfect for industrial use.
    The other three major producers are mainly delivering gem quality diamonds of slightly lesser hardness.

    Beside these places, diamonds are found in Angola, Brazil, China, Canada, Congo, India, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and USA. There have also been found some samples in other areas.

    What Is The Value Of Diamonds

    The diamond trade is still, to a large extent, controlled by a few giant operators and the value can vary depending on the quantity these players are releasing on the market.
    This is especially true for higher grade gemstone diamonds. Maybe less so for industrial diamonds as the natural stones have to compete with laboratory grown diamonds, or so-called synthetic diamonds which are cheaper than the natural ones and can be produced on demand.

    Throughout the history, diamond business have been the source of much controversy, especially on the African continent where the control of diamond mines sometimes were taken over by various, more or less, criminal groups.
    Due to the huge profits involved in the diamond industry, traders were doing business with these groups, thereby fuelling much suffering for the local people who often were treated as slave labourers.

    The value of diamonds depend greatly on the four C's, Clarity, Carat, Color and Cut.
    I would like to add in another important factor, as mentioned above, the value is to a large extent also controlled by the few large suppliers in the market, even though smaller players are beginning to show up, so maybe an "S" should be added to the four C's?

    This is also one reason why I do not encourage investing in Diamonds. It is really a game of chance to my mind. There is such a large amount of Diamonds in existence that has not been released on the market, even after the "stock clearance" that happened a few years back, that if suppliers, for some reason, suddenly decides to "clear all stocks", the value, and price of Diamonds would tumble and investments would be wiped out.

    A totally different matter is the market for Diamond jewelry with lower grades of stones that are usually found in most jewelry pieces.
    The value here is not only in the stone but in the setting as well, and as the stones are of a lower grade, the impact of a sudden "stock clearance" would not be the same as for the investment market of higher grade, loose, stones.

    Most of the Diamond gemstones are today cut in India That said, let's look at the four C's:

    • Clarity: As mentioned above, this is the basic grading component of a Diamond. The price of a Diamond graded IF is close to 20 times higher than a similar stone of grade I3, and three times that of a similar stone graded SI1

    • Carat: The price for a smaller stone compared to a larger one does not linearly follow the increase in size, therefore a 1 carat stone does not cost twice that of a .5 carat similar stone.
      A jump from 0.5 carat to 1 carat may require a four times increase in price for otherwise similar stones, and an increase from 1 carat to 2 carat will require another four times price increase.

    • Color: A colorless Diamond has a price abt twice as high as that for a very faint yellow colored, otherwise similar, stone.
      Diamond gem stones that are heavier colored are, usually lower in price as compared to similar clear stones.
      Colored Diamonds are usually called "fancy Diamonds" and follow a grading closer to that of other colored stones.

    • Cut: The cutting of a Diamond decides the brilliant shine or reflection of light.
      When cutting a Diamond it is very important for the maximum brilliance that the proportions between total width, width of the table and the depth have certain relations.
      In a well-proportioned cut, all, or most of the light that enters the Diamond through the table is reflected in the cut facets back out through the table again.

      A cutter may cut the Diamond to deep, i.e. does not cut away enough of the rough stone to give the final product a maximum brilliance. The reason is that the final product will have a higher carat weight, thereby bringing a higher price, although price per carat will be lower due to the lower quality cut.

      More information on cutting may be found at Lumera Diamonds

    All-in-all the cut of a diamond is probably even more important than the clarity of the stone as a poorly cut Diamond will look dull and lifeless, regardless of it's clarity, whereas an excellent cut Diamond will show a brilliance that will render the clarity a little bit less important.

    Choosing a Diamond is really not easy and if you consider buying a Diamond jewelry, get acquainted with some of the basic aspects, or ask an expert, before purchasing.
    It is also of importance to understand that a jewelry setting can hide flaws in a Diamond.

    In any case, you must expect to pay at least US$ 750 - 1,000 for a somewhat decent but very small diamond ring.
    You can find lower priced Diamond jewelry but most often ungraded and of uncertain quality, unless it is offered as part of a marketing drive.
    If your price range is below US$ 750 it may be a better idea to look at other gemstones and forget about diamonds.

    Metaphysical properties

    In ancient times, diamonds were not faceted and cut into shapes that displayed their real beauty and brilliance, but they were still worn as treasured gemstones. The Diamond has a long history of magical properties connected to spirituality, sexuality, reconciliation, courage and peace among others.
    It is considered to be a stone with great magical power and is thought to enhance the energies of mind and spirit and is believed to be a stone of protection and lifelong luck.

    A Diamond can amplify a person's thoughts, bring longevity to relationships, it can bring balance, clarity and abundance and give anybody who wears, or carries, it courage and hope.

    Besides being the most sought after gemstone for engagement rings, it is also the birthstone of April.
    As for the most famous of all Diamonds, the "Hope Diamond", as mentioned above it has been regarded as a cursed stone that has brought misfortune and tragedy to persons who own it, wear it or handle it.
    These are tales that have little or no basis in facts. It may have been stories fabricated to enhance it's mystery and appeal and increase publicity.

    Especially newspaper articles have been known to "bend the truth" in order to create sensations and this also happened with regard to the "Hope Diamond".
    One article presented a list of people connected to the stone and linked them to various tragedies that, largely, are falsifications of the reality or shear fabrications.
    The list also, cleverly, leaves out hundreds of others connected to the stone who did not meet with any tragedy.

    Source: The New York Times, January 29, 1911
    • Jacques Colet bought the Hope Diamond from Simon Frankel and committed suicide.
    • Prince Ivan Kanitovski bought it from Colet but was killed by Russian revolutionists.
    • Kanitovski loaned it to Mlle Ladue who was "murdered by her sweetheart."
    • Simon Mencharides, who had once sold it to the Turkish sultan, was thrown from a precipice along with his wife and young child.
    • Sultan Hamid gave it to Abu Sabir to "polish" but later Sabir was imprisoned and tortured.
    • Stone guardian Kulub Bey was hanged by a mob in Turkey.
    • A Turkish attendant named Hehver Agha was hanged for having it in his possession.
    • Tavernier, who brought the stone from India to Paris was "torn to pieces by wild dogs in Constantinople."
    • King Louis gave it to Madame de Montespan whom later he abandoned.
    • Nicholas Fouquet, an "Intendant of France", borrowed it temporarily to wear it but was "disgraced and died in prison."
    • A temporary wearer, Princess de Lamballe, was "torn to pieces by a French mob."
    • Jeweler William Fals who recut the stone "died a ruined man."
    • William Fals' son Hendrik stole the jewel from his father and later "committed suicide."
    • Some years (after Hendrik) "it was sold to Francis Deaulieu, who died in misery and want."

    An example: Tavernier who was reportedly "torn to pieces by wild dogs in Constantinople" actually died of natural causes at the age of 84.

    Well the tales and beliefs are many, but one thing remains, fairly true, "Diamonds are a girl's best friend".
    A Diamond jewelry is definitely amongst the top choices of jewelry for most women, and I don't think the metaphysical factors play any big role in most cases.

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