Diamonds – History and how to Identify a diamond
Diamonds are the hardest stones on earth. They take millions of years to form and need an exact amount of heat and pressure to take a piece of coal and make it a hard, clear, and brilliant diamond. It is thought that their pure white light helps to meld the various parts of our life in one cohesive unit.
While diamonds are a fairly plentiful gemstone, unlike many others like Tanzanite, the mines are slowly being depleted and fewer gem quality stones are being mined. Only about 2% of the diamonds mined are of gem quality. Nevertheless, the diamond companies have for years strictly regulated the sale of the precious gem quality diamonds in order to keep the cost high.
The love for diamonds began in about the 4th Century BC in India. Diamonds were found in the rivers and streams and sold to wealthy Indians. As those sources dried up in the 1700’s, Brazil stepped into the market with diamonds and became the world leader for about 150 years. It was in the late-1800’s when diamonds were discovered in South Africa. Our modern diamonds are intertwined with African sources.
The diamond became the symbol of marriage in the 20th Century as a marketing ploy. They took the lasting quality of diamonds and tied it to a marriage lasting “forever.” That meaning for diamonds remains today.
The 4 Cs
Since the beginning of the 1900’s diamonds have been rated on a scale for the “4 Cs””
CUT, CLARITY, CARET WEIGHT, AND COLOR.
Cut can be in many shapes: round, princess (square), emerald (rectangle), oval, marquise (long pointed oval), pear, heart, cushion, trillion (triangle), etc. The round is the most popular because it shows the brilliance of the stone more but it also wastes a lot of stone in the cutting and, therefore, is expensive.
Clarity is determined by how transparent the gemstone is and how free of any fractures or “inclusions” in the diamond. A flawless diamond (FL, IF) is completely clear and has no inclusions. A VVS1 & VVS2 clarity means there are very, very slight inclusions and is the gemstone is still very transparent. A VS1 or VS2 contains very, slight inclusions and color, SI1 has more inclusions and is less clear and so on through SI2, I1, I2 and I3. See the scale below.
NOTE: all diamonds of gem quality are rated on this scale and the dealer should be able to tell you the Clarity Rating. If not, it might be too risky to buy from that dealer.
Color is also important and, obviously, a colorless (or clear) diamond is one of the most valued. This is rated at a D. All diamonds are rated from D to Z with more and more white in the color and less transparency.
However, diamonds come in a multitude of colors and, if not a white diamond, are called “Fancy Diamonds” (or colored diamonds). These are rated on a different scale and can come in yellow, pink, blue, black, etc. Some of the colors are equally rare as the colorless (D grade diamond) and can even cost more. See the fancy (colored) diamonds below.
Carat Weight is how large the diamond is determined by weight and will also impact the price of your diamond. A one carat diamond will cost considerable more than a ¼ carat diamond. Therefore, many jewelry settings will often use many small diamonds that will equal to a total of one carat, but the cost of such a design is noticeably less expensive. For example, if you buy a one carat solitaire ring it will be very expensive compared to a ring that has a half carat stone surrounded by 4 diamonds that are 1/8 carat stones. Both rings will have a carat in diamonds but not be equal in quality or price.
See the chart below for the cut size of a round diamond—Remember that Carat is a WEIGHT, and other gemstones might weigh less or more, so their finished cut “size” might be different to that of a diamond.
Buying from reputable dealers is the best course as they will certify their diamonds through the standard organizations: GIA, AGS, or EGL. If buying from an individual who does not have the certificate from one of these agencies, it is best to pay to have it certified prior to spending a lot of money. If the individual dos not want to do that, perhaps it is best not to buy it.
There are many “fake” diamonds in the market that are nothing more than good glass. There are also many diamonds being “created” in a lab (they are made by man and not nature). They can be synthetic stones or have a carbon base. Some of these can be excellent stones and almost as expensive. Again, know what you are buying. These diamonds will not test as diamonds. If you are unsure, spend the money to buy a “diamond tester” and test the diamond prior to considering purchase. Do your due diligence when buying any high cost gemstone jewelry. Most of the time, “if it seems too good to be true, it isn’t true.”
There are also many “diamond simulants” on the market. These are real gemstones that have many of the qualities of a diamond, such as how it refracts the light, etc. Some of these are white sapphire, white zircon, my own Desert Diamonds, and others. The seller should disclose that it is a diamond simulant.
A Cubic Zirconium (CZ) is a man-made diamond. It is not always a stable stone and ultra-violent light from the sun can make it lose its clarity or color. A CZ really does not refract the light to give off the sparkle and glow of a diamond. If a piece of jewelry is quite cheap, it probably is not a real diamond or even a diamond simulant – many are CZs or lab created.
A trick to determine a real diamond – is to cup the diamond in your palms restricting the light to it. A diamond will sparkle in low, low light, catching whatever light is available and refracting it back.
Conflict diamonds are a result of war in an area (especially African nations) where rough, uncut diamonds are sold to finance the war. They are also called “blood diamonds” because of the many lives that are taken in order for the diamond to reach the market. Refusing to buy a diamond unless it is certified as a “Non-conflict diamond” is an act of compassion and you are actually helping to promote peace in the world.
Care of a diamond is relatively easy as they are very durable. One can purchase a well-known jewelry cleaner and spray or soak your piece in it and then brush it with a soft brush and rinse it in clear water and dry with a very soft cloth. You can also soak your piece overnight in an ammonia based cleaner such as a glass cleaner and brush and rinse it in clear water. You should clean your diamond jewelry regularly, depending on how often you wear it.
If your stones are prong set, be careful not to rub the stone hard as that can loosen the prongs and you can lose your diamond. Prongs, especially gold which is a very soft metal, can become loose over time. Regularly take your precious prong-set jewelry to a jewelry and have them snug the prongs back. (Do not try this yourself as you could inadvertently crack, scratch or ruin your gemstone).
Because oi the high light refraction a diamond creates (its sparkle and reflection of light) diamonds are considered a stone to connect to spirit and find alignment with higher mind. They can bring psychic insight and can protect one from danger. It has become a symbol of love and lasting fidelity. The diamond energy is very high so it has a cold feeling to it and is often referred to as “ice.”