Since their discovery diamonds have mystify people. It is said that diamonds have special powers that will aide man: it will make a man invulnerable, it helps to cast away the devil and diamonds are also attributed to help in curing diseases. No wonder that in ancient times people thought diamonds were tears from Gods.
But alas diamonds are not tears from Gods, but their formation and existence is still a wonder of nature. Diamonds are formed within the earth where intense heat and pressure exist. The carbon atoms that exist in the earth are pressured to such a form, that a very strong bond is created between the atoms: Diamonds are made entirely up from carbon-atoms.
The formation of carbon-atoms is very important, because if formed differently we will have a different mineral, that we also are very familiar with: graphite, the material we use in pencils.
Once the diamond is formed, it will exist for millions of years below the earths surface and will only come out through great eruption that will bring the diamonds with explosion to the surface. Diamonds now found are formed between 20 billion and 100 million years ago. Major sources are South-Africa, Namibia, Brazil, Russia, Australia and Canada.
Even now diamonds are still being formed by nature, so why is diamonds considered so rare and thus valuable? Because they are rare. Though a lot of diamonds are mined, not all rough diamonds are considered gem-quality. Most of the diamonds that are found are brown to yellow with a lot of inclusions. These diamonds are not considered gem quality, and will be used for industrial purposes, because of the hardness of the diamonds, they are ideal cutting material. Only a very small percentage of the rough diamonds that are found are of gem-quality. It is these diamonds that eventually will be cut and polished into a diamonds that shows its brilliance, fire and scintillation and keep mystifying us. Cutting centers are established in various countries, but the oldest cutting center is in Amsterdam, hence the name City of Diamonds.
The Value Characteristics of a Diamond
Diamonds are formed by nature, like people all diamonds are unique. Some diamonds are due to their characteristics more rarer than others. The rarer a diamond become, the higher the value of the diamond. To purchase a perfect diamond, you need to know the characteristics that makes every diamond unique, that ultimately determine the value of the diamond. There are four characteristics that describes the value of a diamond: Clarity, Color, Cut and Carat. Since every word begins with a C, we also call it the Four-C’s, that describe a diamond’s characteristics.
Clarity is the term used to describe the size and number of inclusions in a diamond. In other words with clarity we ask how "clean and clear" the diamond is.
Almost all diamonds contain minute traces of non-crystallized carbon, the element from which they were born, and growth marks. These inclusions are nature's finger print and make every diamond quite unique. Most are not discernible to the naked eye and require magnification to become apparent, however large inclusions will interfere with the dispersion of light and therefore affect the diamond's brilliance.
In nature we will find more diamonds with inclusions than without inclusions: the larger or more numerous the inclusions the less valuable the diamond. The fewer the inclusions, the rarer the stone.
To grade the clarity of a diamond, a 10x magnification is used to inspect the diamonds for inclusions. After inspections one of the following grade is assigned:
FL or IF: A diamond that shown no inclusions and external blemishes under a 10x magnifications will be graded as Flawless. If there are only some polish marks visible (an external blemishes) the diamond will be graded as Internal Flawless. Diamonds that are graded FL or IF are considered extremely rare.
VVS1 or VVS2: Very Very Slightly Included. Under a 10x magnification inclusions are very difficult to see for a trained grader, the diamond will usually only has minute pinpoints. VVS graded diamonds are very rare.
VS1 or VS2: Very Slightly Inclusions. The diamond will have minor inclusions and are still difficult to see for the untrained eye.
SI1 or SI2 Slightly Included. Inclusions will be easy to see with 10x magnification. Most of the time the inclusions will not be visible with the unaided eye. SI1 and SI2 graded diamonds are the best when it is about price/quality.
I1, I2, I3 Included. Diamonds with an I grading have inclusions that are obvious when viewed under 10x magnification. The inclusions are even visible to the trained naked eye.
While many diamonds appear colourless, or white, they may actually have subtle yellow or brown tones that can be detected when comparing diamonds side by side. Diamonds were formed under intense heat and pressure, and traces of other elements may have been incorporated into their atomic structure accounting for the variances in colour. Under a normal colour range, the perfect colourless diamonds is considered the most rarest, and most valuable. The diamonds that are most common have slightly yellowish or brown tints.
The most common scale for grading diamonds is the alphabetical scale (developed by the Gemological Institute of America, G.I.A.) from D to Z, with D being colourless and Z being light yellow. Other scale that are still used is the Scandinavian standard, the Scan D.N.
GIA D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S-Z
Scan D. N. River Top Wesselton Wesselton Top Chrystal Chrystal Top Cape Cape Colourless Near Colourless Faint Yellow Very Light Yellow Light Yellow
Diamonds that are graded D/E or river are colourless and are very rare. Although the presence of colour makes a diamond less rare and valuable, some diamonds come out of the ground in vivid "fancy" colours - well defined reds, blues, pinks, greens, and bright yellows. These are highly prized and extremely rare.
Cut is how well the diamond is cut or “faceted”. While nature determines a diamond's colour, clarity, and carat weight, the hand of a master craftsman is needed to release its fire and beauty. The cut gives each diamond its unique sparkle and brilliance by allowing the maximum amount of light to enter and reflect back out of the diamond. A beautiful cut diamond will show a dazzling interactions of brilliance, fire and scintillation. Two diamonds with the same color and clarity properties will still look very different if one diamond is cut excellent and the other one is cut poor. To judge a diamond’s cut, a diamond professional will look at the proportion and finish. Proportion is about the interrelationship of angles and measurements of a polished diamond. Finish is about the quality of the polish and the precision of the cut. Although all diamond cutter wants to cut a diamond with the ideal proportion, it is not always possible. A diamond rough crystal is formed by nature and thus its form is usually far from ideal. A diamond cutter needs to make a choice before she or he cuts a diamond rough crystal to cut into a finished diamond: Will she or he cuts the largest diamond that she or he can from the rough crystal or will she or he cut the brightest and most brilliant diamond that she or he can? If the diamond cutter goes for the largest cut diamond, the diamond will sacrifice some brilliance. If the diamond cutter goes for the most brilliant, the diamond will sacrifice some size. The more brilliant diamond is smaller but is valuable because it is so brilliant. The larger diamond is valuable because it is large, but is worth less per carat because it is not so brilliant. This trade-off is, besides the skills of the diamond cutter, one of the main reason why diamonds are not always cut into ideal proportions. A large diamond that is cut ideal can be considered extremely rare and very valuable.
The weight of the diamond measured in carats, shorten to ct. A carat equals to 0.2 gram. A diamond's worth goes up almost exponentially with its weight. The weight and size of a diamond is measured in carats. One carat is divided into 100 "points" so that a diamond of 25 points is described as quarter of a carat or 0.25 carats. The larger the diamond (and therefore the rarer) the more expensive per carat it will be. For example, a 1 ct diamond costs much more than two 1/2ct diamonds combined. Do not confuse carat with karat. Carat refers to stone weight while karat refers to fineness of gold.
A diamond is a product that is formed by nature through a process of millions of years. Since nature produces more yellow/brownish diamonds that are small with a lot of inclusions, a E / VVS diamond has higher price than a I / SI diamond. When consider other C’s constant, the value of diamond tends to go up exponentially when a “C” grade goes up with one notch. The graph below shows the relationship between the grading of the C’s and the value. It is impossible however to say that the colour is more important than the clarity or that the carat weight of a diamond is the most important factor. Each of the 4-C’s has is own contribution to the beauty of diamond. In the end you are the only one to determine which of the 4-C’s is more important.