Diamonds are forever. And it takes forever for them to grow, natural diamonds have ages up to 3.5 billion years. Most were formed inside the earth’s mantle and carried to the surface during volcanic eruptions. Diamond is mainly found in the south of Africa, but also in Australia, Russia, Canada and Brazil.
Diamond is a solid form of pure carbon. Under huge pressure and heat, carbon will crystallise and be found as a double pyramid. Diamond is the hardest known natural material; it scores a 10 on Mohs hardness scale and can only be scratched with another diamond. A diamond’s hardness depends on its purity, crystalline perfection and orientation – the latter two concern the way the atoms arranged during crystallisation and the structure of the diamond. Because of its hardness, diamond is very suitable as a gemstone in jewellery and particularly in engagement and wedding rings. As these are worn every day, you don’t want them to scratch!
The four C’s
A diamond's four C's represent the four main components of its structure and beauty: Cut, Colour, Carat and Clarity. The four C’s together determine a diamond’s worth.
Rough diamonds are turned into gemstones by the delicate process of cutting and polishing, during which the stone loses up to 50% or 60% of its weight. This takes a lot of skills, knowledge and craftmanship: not quite a do-it-yourself kinda job. After careful analysis of the stone, its flaws, crystalline perfection and orientation, the optimal cutting shape (Cut) is chosen: Brilliant, Pear, Baguette, Princess or Heart. Also, the diamonds will be polished, if that isn’t done correctly the reflection of the stone is not optimal. The polishing is assessed with Excellent, Very good or Good
Pure diamonds are colourless, but impurities and structural defects cause diamonds to occur in the whole spectrum of the rainbow: brown, yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, blue, green, black, grey and white. The colourlessness of diamond ranges from D (colourless) to O.
The term Carat refers to the overall weight of a diamond, because instead of ounces or grams, diamonds are weighed in carats. A diamond’s carat weight is not the same as its size; a common mistake. It is possible for two diamonds to have the same carat weight and yet be different sizes.
Finally, the clarity refers to the absence of blemished and inclusions, ranging from Flawless to Included on the GIA Diamond Clarity Scale.
Tips and tricks
Before you go diamond hunting, some tips and tricks:
- Always check the loose stone without its setting. This way you can inspect the diamond properly.
- Make sure to receive a certificate of your diamond, that way you know what you are buying. Also, it keeps the diamond’s value higher. Renowned certificate houses are GIA in America and HRD in Antwerp.
- Are you buying a diamond as a surprise or engagement proposal? Please check the ring size upfront, determine the preferred colour of gold and be on time!