Colour: Multicoloured - Predominantly Colourless
Fluorescence: various ( blue, yellow, orange)
Is it the earth’s finest beauty or consumerism’s champion? In today’s world of mass information and political mindfulness, diamonds and their sellers have received a lot of scrutiny primarily in regard to the stone’s origins and unethical excavation methods. The fact that diamonds are considered a major asset on the global market makes matters that much more complicated. Many people find themselves wondering if the gemstone is worth the exorbitant price and the ethical questioning that comes with it. There is a lot to unpack here. With this blog we will examine various aspect of diamonds, giving you all the information, you need to know when deciding if a diamond is right for you.
History and Lore
Historically diamonds and the trading of them are a tale as old as time. Some historians believe that the trading of diamonds dates as far back as 4 BC after being discovered in India. But no matter how long the diamond has been around for, the symbol of the jewel has always remained the same: beauty and strength – a symbol that is indeed derived from the physical fortitude of the stone.
Nearly every civilization throughout history has some kind of belief system around diamonds. The ancient Greeks believed diamonds were the tears of the Gods and would strengthen the muscles of their warriors, making them invincible. They even named the colourless jewel “adamas”, meaning “unconquerable”. The ancient Romans thought that the gems were so beautiful they couldn’t have been of this earth, thus they must have fallen from the stars.
Up until the early 20th century, most engagement rings were adorned with other precious stones like rubies, sapphires and most commonly emeralds.
No matter its uses diamonds have been consistently celebrated for their beauty, strength, and elegance. For this reason, it is a stone like no other.
The 4 Cs
If you are or ever have been interested in diamonds you’ve probably heard about the 4 Cs. If you haven’t, well, let me tell you. The 4 Cs stand for Cut, Clarity, Colour, and Carat. These are the four general things you will need to know when understanding how the quality of a diamond is graded. The grading of a diamond is actually much more complicated than just the 4 Cs. However, for general buying purposes they’re really all you need to know (except for one more crucial thing, but I’ll get to that later). Each C has its own grading scheme and each C effects the others. Complicated, I know. But this breakdown will make things a bit more palpable.
Many people get “cut” confused with “shape”. Shape is simply the shape of stone from above (ie. round, princess, oval, emerald etc.). Cut is the craftsmanship behind the making of the piece.
There are a large number of factors to consider when determining quality of the cut of a diamond, all of which involve precise measurements of the various proportions of the gem (ie. the table size, the culet width, and the thickness of the girdle etc.). If any of these are off, the light that enters and is refracted within the diamond will be all wrong. If the stone is cut too shallow the light will fall through. If it’s cut too deep, then the light will shine in the wrong directions. When cut just right a diamond will shine brilliantly forever.
The grading scheme of the cut of a diamond is very simple. It is on a scale of “poor” to “Excellent”, with the most ideal being “excellent” and the lowest in value being “poor”. If you’re looking for a good quality, but not wanting to spend a ton getting a stone between a “good” and a “very good” cut is your best bet.
As mentioned before, Clarity is not the most important aspect of a diamond’s quality, but it is the most common concern.
Like every other stone, diamonds can have natural flaws called “inclusions”. These inclusions take the form of feathers, clouds and spots. The fewer inclusions, the better, but also the more expensive. It’s rare to get a diamond with very little inclusions, never mind one without any. Thus, clarity is one of the biggest factors in the retail pricing of a diamond.
The grading scheme for clarity is pretty tricky, so stay with me. The scale is represented by abbreviations. Each abbreviation represents a certain level of magnification that is needed to see the inclusions. Each abbreviation has its own sub-category (represented by a number – 1, 2, 3) that is indicative of the number of inclusions within the diamond.
I – Inclusions see with the naked eye
SI – Slight inclusions with a lower magnification
VS – Very Slight inclusion with a stronger magnification
VVS – Very Very Slight inclusions with an even stronger magnification
IF – Flawless
Of course, the better the clarity the more expensive. However, in our professional opinion you don’t really need to go any higher than SI clarities. This is because at that level you can’t see the inclusions with the naked eye. After that point the appearance of the diamonds will pretty much stay the same no matter the clarity.
“Colour”, of course, refers to whether the diamond has any colour hues. Ideally a diamond is meant to be colourless. Thus, if there are hues of yellow or brown the stone is of a lower quality. It is very rare to get a completely colourless piece, but colourless diamonds are not the most expensive diamonds. The most expensive diamonds are naturally heavy saturated gems called “fancy” diamonds. They come in various colours such as canary yellow, green, blue, pink, and much more. The rarest and most expensive diamond colour is red.
The colour of a meant-to-be-colorless diamond is simply represented by the alphabet, starting at D representing a completely colourless stone. From there the more colour the stone has the lower in the alphabet it is.
The choice of what quality of colour you prefer in a diamond is rather subjective, depending on how colour sensitive you are. But it is typically harder to distinguish with the naked eye any colour in diamonds that are G and up.
Carat is a unit of measurement that refers to the weight of a stone. 1 carat is equal to 1.2 grams. A carat is sub-divided into “points”, where 1 carat is equal to 100 points. This is used so that we can weigh stones that are smaller than 1 carat.
Carat is not the size of the stone! Weight and mass are different. It’s easy to get mixed up between the two because they are relative to each other and we do often use the term carat to refer to the size for general shopping purposes. But it is very important to remember that weight and mass are two different things.
This is because a 1 carat diamond can appear bigger than another due to a difference in the stone’s cut. If a 1 carat diamond is cut shallower, then is can appear bigger from the top than a 1 carat diamond that is cut correctly. Remember, a poorly cut diamond will result in a diamond that doesn’t shine properly. Thus, we need to also be mindful of all the 4Cs be relative to each other so that we can get the best quality that best suits us in all aspects.
Remembering that weight and mass are different is also important when understanding the weighing of other gemstones. For example, a 1 carat diamond looks very different in size than that of a 1 carat ruby, and 1 carat citrine looks very different in size than that of the diamond and the ruby. Each gemstone has its own molecular composition which results in different mass to weight ratios. Understanding “carats” helps jewellers and gemologists understand the structural integrity of various stones.
When it comes to purchasing a diamond the carat weight of the stone is very much up you. Unfortunately, there isn’t any insider tips on how to get a bigger stone for less the price, other than hoping your jeweller can get a deal on a stone so they can give you a deal as well.
This next section is a major insider secret that many jewellery businesses do not want you to know about. The reason being is that this is an aspect of diamond that will make a seemingly large high-quality diamond go for a dramatically cheaper price. And that secret is fluorescence.
Fluorescence is a natural occurrence within a diamond that allows the stone to glow when subjected to ultraviolet light (ie. black light). The glow of the diamond can be either blue or yellow, or orange, but blue is the most common. Not all diamonds fluoresce. Only about 25-30% have some degree of fluorescence. And diamonds are not the only stones that have it. Nearly all gemstones have the potential to fluoresce.
Due to the fact that there are various degrees of fluorescence there is a grading scheme to determine just how much a jewel is affected by this phenomenon. The grading scheme of Fluorescence is on a scale of intensity: None, Faint, Medium, Strong, Very Strong.
Now, whether the presence of fluorescence is a good or a bad thing is heavily debated. Some jewellers believe that the presence of a faint to strong bluish fluorescence can enhance appearance of a diamond with a lower quality colour (ie. I to M). There is some evidence to support this. However, it is important to note that that is only possible when the fluorescence is ignited under some form UV light. This makes for an inconsistent appearance.
Other jewellers, ourselves included, are completely against fluorescence. Not only is there an inconsistency in the stone’s appearance, but the shine is completely skewed. Many find that stones with fluorescence appear duller. The best way to describe it is by saying that it looks like oil on water. It’s just not quite right. The crisp clean beautiful quality of a diamond is dimmed, which goes against the whole point in having a diamond.
Now it is important to note that official diamond certification companies like GIA and HRD, do not consider fluorescence to be a factor in the quality of the stone. This is because it is so heavily debated upon. They work hard to remain as neutral as possible. However, they do consider it a characteristic of the stone. Thus, they will always report on the level of fluorescence in a piece.
Due to the grey area around fluorescence many jewellers try to take advantage of this circumstance. For instance, jewellers buying diamonds at a wholesale value will buy an M-L colour diamond for a certain price. But if they buy that same diamond with fluorescence, they’ll always get it at a discounted price. What many jewellers do is that they will then charge more for an M-L diamond with fluorescence than they would for an M-L diamond without fluorescence, claiming that it makes the diamond appear whiter and thus better quality. Fishy, huh? In comparison, a high quality colour diamond (ie. D-H) sells for nearly 15% less if it has fluorescence, because on the market it is perceived as lower in quality. So, some jewellers will purposefully charge more for a low-quality stone with fluorescence, because they claim that it looks clearer, while simultaneously selling seemingly high-quality diamonds for less, because they claim to be giving you a deal. When in reality the fluorescence that is in the stones is giving them the freedom to charge and say whatever they want.
This is exactly why it is extremely important to ask about the fluorescence of a stone: if it has any, the colour of it, and the intensity of it is. Knowing the jeweller’s opinion on fluorescence is extremely telling of how ethical and honest they are as a business.
Diamonds were first discovered in India over 3000 years ago and have been in the global market ever since. Diamonds have been found all over the world on all continents.
One of the more monetary factors that have made diamonds so expensive is the fact that the flow of diamonds into the market use to be strictly controlled by a single company. Who? You guessed it: De Beers. During its prime De Beers had a monopoly on the diamond market resulting in staggering prices and unethical mining excavations in underdeveloped countries.
However, in the 1990s there were newly discovered mines in Russia and Canada and new technological advancements which made it possible for other, more ethical, companies to take a stand. Today diamonds are predominantly produced in Russia, Canada, South Africa, Botswana, Brazil, Australia, Angola, and many more. While there are still problematic practices within the jewelry market, the demands of customers have prompted the market to work towards more ethical practices.
As we all know, diamonds are one the strongest minerals in existence. Sitting at a solid 10 on the mohs scale of hardness diamonds are nearly imperishable. Historically the crystal was used to carve weaponry and building tools. Today it’s still used to cut into metal and other stones. In jewelry design there is a technique called “diamond cutting” which is the use of cutting designs into the metal with a diamond-based tool. The result is a very shiny surface that makes the jewelry absolutely sparkle.
The strength of the stone is what makes it such a great choice for everyday wear, hence being a prime pick for engagement rings.
Care and Maintenance
It’s not hard to care for a diamond. Due to their durability, they don’t chip, scratch or crack easily in anyway. In fact, it is very hard to damage a diamond. It’s possible, but very difficult. And when it does chip or crack it’s usually indicative of very poor handling.
Because diamonds are so chemically stable and have no pores you can use any cleaning method you’d like with the stone. You can even use Windex to get a really crisp shine out of it. However, you always want to clean the whole jewelry piece accordingly. This means if the diamond is set in rhodium plated white gold, be sure to clean the piece with a polishing cloth and gold cleaner and re-rhodium plate it when necessary.
As always, we suggest getting your jewellery checked out by your local jeweller as a preventative measure.
Due to their structural integrity and brilliant rainbow reflective shine diamonds have been extremely valuable on the market throughout history. But it is clear that the April birthstone has an intrinsic spiritual and symbolic value which has stood the test of time. There are pros and cons to everything, including commodities. Some diamonds can be commercialized splendor with or without problematic origins and some can become precious heirlooms that represent the beauty and love of your family. In the end it is a matter of knowing quality and the distribution of quantity. And with all this information you can make the right decision for yourself.