If you watched Star Trek, in one episode, the Nomad, the robot that referred to humans as carbon-based lifeforms, and for good reason. Because that’s what we are!
Virtually every organic compound on Earth contains carbon. Life as we know it would not exist without carbon. That’s because it has a unique ability to bond with itself and other elements fairly easily, due to its need to find more electrons to bond with.
Because the carbon atom has a natural desire to fulfill its outer shell with eight electrons or saying it another way, it needs to fill up its outer energy level, it will constantly look to bond with other atoms to obtain four more electrons. Once bonded, the atom’s outer shell is fully stable. Carbon atoms can form bonds with other carbon atoms, but they can also form bonds with almost all other elements.
Carbon can exist in multiple different forms known as allotropes: graphite, diamond, and others. It’s also a non-metal, but one of the most important elements on earth. Carbon atoms have many uses, from making steel to fueling cars.
This article explores almost everything you wanted to know about carbon atoms and their various forms.
Types (Allotropes) of Carbon Molecules
Graphite is an allotrope of carbon. It’s a black and soft mineral that is commonly found in nature in the form of pencils. Although graphite is often treated as a mineral, it’s more commonly considered a form of carbon. Graphite is very soft and can be easily compressed into a very thin sheet.
Graphite is made of layered sheets of carbon atoms that form stacks known as graphene. Each layer is made of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal pattern with strong covalent bonds. These layers are held together by weak intermolecular forces that are easily broken by heat. That’s why pencils can be erased by rubbing graphite and paper together!
The diamond is another allotrope of carbon. The only difference between the two is that diamonds are made of carbon atoms arranged in a cubic pattern. This makes diamonds a hard and rigid substance.
Diamonds are also made of graphene sheets that are held together by strong covalent bonds. These properties make this mineral extremely valuable, but they’re also highly limited in supply. That’s why they’re one of the most expensive materials on earth.
It’s estimated that only 0.1% of the carbon that enters the earth’s surface is converted into a diamond. This is large because diamonds are formed at very high pressures beneath the earth.
The covalent bonds that can form carbon can result in many different types of molecules. Carbon can form thousands of bonds with other elements. This is why carbon has so many uses in the world.
Fullerenes are carbon molecules that are composed of many rings of carbon. They were accidentally discovered in 1985 by two scientists who were studying carbon soot. The discovery was so exciting that the scientists won a Nobel Prize for their discovery!
C 60 – the most common carbon molecule – has 60 carbon atoms arranged in a spherical pattern. This sphere can be thought of as a football because the name “fullerene” comes from two English words: football and carbon.
C 60 is known as a buckyball and can be used as a tool for scientists. Yes, that’s what it’s called. Buckyballs are carbon atoms that are bonded to three other carbon atoms. Scientists can use buckyballs to study the structure of other molecules.
Why is There So Much Carbon in the World?
Carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the universe. Carbon is created in the interiors of stars and then released into the universe when those stars expire. It is present in the earth’s crust in the form of minerals and organic compounds. C 60, the largest buckyball, is only possible at a pressure of 100 gigapascals– the type of pressure that’s found inside giant planets. (A pascal is a unit of pressure. Gigapasclal is that unit of pressure x 1 billion).
Diatomic carbon is the simplest form of carbon. It contains two carbon atoms with one double bond between the atoms. A double bond is where an atom shares its valence electrons with two other atoms, in contrast to a covalent bond created by lighting and oxygen in the air, but it is usually destroyed by other compounds in the atmosphere.
This is important because diatomic carbon is a greenhouse gas. Carbon atoms are released into the atmosphere when plants are burned. These atoms are then oxidized by the other compounds in the air to create more diatomic carbon. Diatomic carbon is one of the most important greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This is precisely why it was released in the first place!
Carbon is the element that forms the molecules for all known forms of life on earth. It’s the only element that can form molecules with a ratio of electrons to protons that’s necessary for biology.
Carbon is not a metal. Metals are largely defined by their electrical conductivity. Carbon is a non-metal and does not conduct an electrical current.
Carbon is also very common in the universe and can form multiple different types of bonds with other elements, so when Noman called humans carbon-based life forms, because of its abundance in the universe, maybe he met other carbon life forms in the galaxy we just don’t know about yet!
Most people have a general idea about and how diamonds and how they are made are. After all, as the most popular gemstone on the planet, their appearance and value are common knowledge. Those who have purchased diamond jewelry, especially engagement rings, are also quite acquainted with its 4 Cs: cut, color, clarity, and carat. However, despite its popularity, much of the information about this precious gemstone is often misunderstood.
So, if you think you know everything about diamonds, read on for some fascinating new insights into the world of the diamond!
Today, we’re going to debunk some of the most common diamond myths.
Myth #1: All Diamonds are from Natural Resources
Not all diamonds are natural! Lab-made diamonds aren’t synthetic diamonds but are very real.
The fact is that diamonds are not made of coal. Natural diamonds undergo a system of exceptionally higher pressures and temperatures from coal which are only found deep inside the earth’s mantle). Coal is found much higher up.
The issue of finding diamonds is rectified by having them created in a lab. Many companies started making diamonds by creating a high-temperature and high-pressure lab environment. This practice goes back to the 1950s. These labs mimic the conditions of the earth’s mantle, where natural diamond deposits are present, to create similar human-made gems.
Today, almost 800 tons of man-made diamonds are produced yearly, which is about 150 times more than natural diamonds.
Myth #2: Diamonds are the Most Valuable Gemstone
A common misconception is that diamonds are the priciest, most valuable gems on the planet. While it’s true that they are one of the four most precious minerals that command high prices, it isn’t possible to judge specific gem species as the most valuable. There are various factors that come into play to evaluate their value, including its size, quality, color, and rarity. For example, pure red rubies are one of the rarest stones, and so they command much higher prices than diamonds.
Myth #3: The Bigger, the Better!
Carats are a unit measure of the weight of a diamond, not its size. A diamond’s size is as your eye sees it, which is largely impacted by the depth of the table-to-pavilion ratioand cut proportions. More importantly, a diamond’s perceived size is impacted by its light performance, which means that the better a diamond catches and reflects light (called fire), the bigger and more attractive it will be perceived to look.
Besides this, compromising on other factors just to buy a huge diamond isn’t going to get you the appearance you’re looking for. The large size of a diamond cannot compensate for its visible inclusions, distorted proportions, and/or poor light performance. So, although size does matter, so does the cut, clarity, color, and rarity of a crystal. Always remember that a huge diamond won’t be more valuable if it has poor clarity and color.
Interesting Note:The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second but it is slowed down when it hits a diamond (or glass) and the more it hits the diamond on an angle, the more it will reflect the light. So the more angels the diamond has, the more light that will be reflected back. This is where the cut of a diamond determines the amount of brilliance and fire the gemstone has. ‘Cut’ is one of the 4Cs that determine a diamond’s value. So the next time you hear how much fire does a diamond have?, you’ll know they are talking about how well the diamond cuts are!
Myth #4: Diamonds Are Indestructible
There’s no doubt about the fact that diamonds are the strongest, most durable gemstone with a rating of 10 on the Mohs hardness scale. However, this doesn’t mean that these gems are indestructible. Diamonds are tough, but rough usage and inappropriate handling can chip and break these gems. For instance, a diamond with a particularly shallow crown is susceptible to damage. This also applies to diamonds with a thin girdle.
Myth #5: All Diamonds are Flawless
There’s no such thing as a flawless natural gemstone. All gemstones, including diamonds, have some type of flaws, which is another factor in the 4Cs – color. The more the flaws, the more the mineral will shy away from a colorless diamond. Natural diamonds usually contain impurities in their carbon crystal, which gives them a yellowish hue as their crystal absorbs light of a specific frequency. You may come across some colorless natural diamonds that have negligible impurities, but they are usually very rare and hence, quite expensive.
Myth #6: Diamond Engagement Rings are an Ancient Marriage Tradition
This may be hard to believe, but diamond engagement rings became popular in the 20th century. In fact, rubies and sapphires were the most precious and popular ring gems back in the day. Diamonds became popular due to the magnificent ad campaign run in the 1940s by a mining conglomerate known as DeBeers. Their attention-grabbing advertisements created a place for diamonds in the public’s heart and paved the way for the present diamond engagement ring phenomenon.
Myth #7: Diamonds are Unusually Rare
There is no doubt that diamonds are incredibly attractive and a highly valuable gem. But, compared to other colored stones, diamonds are quite common. Millions of people own diamond jewelry around the world, which means that diamonds are more prevalent and easy to find in the market. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t desirable or luxurious; it rather means that, unlike other gemstones, diamonds don’t derive their worth from scarcity.
Myth #8: The 4Cs are the Only Way to Determine a Diamond’s Value
The 4Cs are a globally accepted standard to determine the value of a diamond by evaluating its features. This guide was developed mainly to make diamond shopping easier for consumers by allowing them to assess the stone’s quality and choose the ideal piece. However, the 4Cs aren’t the sole determinants of a diamond’s value. Age, history, and rarity are also contributors to a diamond’s appraisal.
By now, you’re aware that most of the things you learned about diamonds from grade school and hearsays are myths. One thing we can say for sure is that diamonds are one of the most precious stones that are generally stunning and can command exceptionally high prices.
However, it is always good to uncover the facts so that you know what you’re getting into. Don’t let the most common diamond myths listed above deter you from purchasing one. Instead, we hope that learning about these myths helps you make a more informed decision.
Here is what you need to know about the classic diamonds and colored ones from how they were formed to the colors available and pricing.
The formation of colored diamonds and colorless ones is quite similar. Both consist of carbon atoms, which are transformed at super high temperatures while being subjected to extreme pressure over the course of hundreds of thousands or even millions of years within the earth’s crust.
Although both types of diamonds are created in a similar manner, the difference with colored diamonds is that chemicals seep into them during their formation. The color of the stone depends on the kinds of minerals that were there when the diamond was initially formed. This is what makes colored diamonds so unique and rare.
Both types of diamonds score a 10 on the Mohs scale, making these minerals among the sturdiest natural materials found on earth.
While the colorless diamond is more or less transparent, the colored ones come in almost every shade under the sun. White diamonds sometimes have subtle hues of yellows and browns but that affects their value. A perfect white diamond is considered one that has no hints of any color, but also affects its value, as colorless diamonds can be fairly expensive. White diamonds would correspond to categories D, E, and F on the diamond color chart.
Colored diamonds come in over 200 combinations, from purplish reds or orange-yellowish and greenish blues. They too fall into different categories. Some colors are more valuable and expensive than others depending on their rarity. Some of the most popular diamonds are yellow, pink, blue, black, and of course red. Different people have different color preferences and it also depends on the prices as some are way more expensive than others.
Which are the Rarest Diamonds?
There’s no doubt that all colored diamonds are rare, however, there are some, which are rarer than others. The ones that are the rarest in the world are auctioned for hundreds and thousands of dollars and can even go up to the millions.
The one that is the rarest and hence, the most expensive is the red diamond. It is mostly found in Africa, Australia, and Brazil. They are so rare that there are only about 20-30 real red diamonds, most of which are less than half a carat in size. Just like colorless diamonds, red diamonds are made purely from carbon. It gets its color from a rare occurrence in its atomic structure. It is important to note that they look different in different lighting, the stronger the red, the higher it is in terms of value.
Yellow diamonds are considered to be the most common and desirable when it comes to colored diamonds, however, they too are rare. This is also the case for pink diamonds. Among some of the rarest include blue diamonds and orange diamonds as well.
It is interesting to know that within the same color of a diamond, there are many different prices. These depend on a combination of saturation as well as tone. The stronger the color will yield the higher price. According to the GIA, the color grading is split into nine intensities, from faint and very light to vivid, fancy dark, and fancy deep. This is what essentially affects the price and demand of a diamond.
Colorless diamonds are generally considered to be a lot less pricey as compared to colored ones. However, the purest and most flawless colorless diamonds are also rare and therefore quite pricey. A flawless diamond will probably cost you between $12,500-15,000 per carat. However the average price can range from $1,500-$21,000 so it all depends on the 4 C’s (color, carat, clarity, and cut).
Since red diamonds are the rarest, don’t be surprised to hear that they are also the most expensive. Generally, it would cost around $300,000 per carat. Its price varies depending on the intensity of the red color on the stone. A brown diamond for instance would cost much less as compared to a red one.
The world’s largest known red diamond is the trilliant cut 5.11-carat Moussaieff Red and was sold for over $1.6 million per carat. It was purchased by Shlomo Moussaieff, an Israeli-born jewelry dealer located in London, England.
When it comes to pink diamonds, 2017 was an important year for them. This is when the pink star was sold for $72.1 million at Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong and broke the record for being the most expensive colored diamond to be ever sold at an auction. They only continue to be growing in value year after year. A high-quality pink diamond can even be sold up to $700,000 per carat, however, a less intense pink diamond would cost you about $10,000 per carat.
Yellow diamonds are another category that can be quite costly, but less costly than the other colored diamonds. They can cost around $2,500 to $20,000 per carat, depending on many different factors. The Graff Vivid Yellow was the most expensive yellow diamond ever sold. It was sold for $16.3 million in 2014 at Sotheby’s auction in Geneva.
You now know everything you need to about colorless diamonds as well as colored ones. They both have their distinct charm and while a flawless colorless one is rare, colored ones are rarer which is why they are so valuable and expensive. Don’t forget to look out for the 4 C’s when you buy yours!
It is not just blindingly beautiful but also incredibly sturdy while being among the rarest gems buried deep under the Earth, so it’s only natural that people gravitate toward this earthy marvel.
Those that are moderately educated about these precious stones know about the 4-Cs of diamonds, but despite being so popular, not much is known about their history, myths and legends. If you randomly asked a person to give you facts on the gemstone, they’d most likely just tell you that it’s an exquisite stone worth millions. While there is much truth to that statement, there is a lot that is not being said.
Yes, diamonds are exotic and unquestionably treasurable, but it is also the lord of myths that add so much more to its uniqueness. But that’s not all; there are also several structural facets of diamonds that remain unknown to many. We believe that not knowing the many cultural and compositional facts regarding this dazzling mineral is a disservice to it, and we seek to right this wrong. So, here are the top twelve most unusual facts about diamonds.
Among the most ancient and widespread folklore about diamonds is the Roman belief that diamonds were the tears of gods.
Perhaps the heavenly beauty of the diamond seemed too delicate to be terrestrial for the Romans, so they deemed it divine.
Diamonds and Love
The ancient Romans believed that Cupid’s arrow was tipped with diamonds. This myth is considered the oldest connection ever made between love and diamonds. Clearly, Romans were in love with this royally precious stone!
The Most Valuable Item
When we said, Romans were in love with diamonds (to be fair, who isn’t?), we meant head-over-heels irreversibly, deeply in love! Because they believed that the diamond was the most valuable thing on the planet. The famous Roman naturalist, Pliny said, “Diamond is the most valuable, not only of precious stones but of all things in this world.”
Everyone knows that diamonds are exceptionally sturdy, but what they don’t know is that the Herkimer Diamond is a direct representation of this very fact. The name ‘Diamond’ is believed to be derived from the Greek word Adamas (it is also what the Greeks called diamonds) which means indestructible or invincible.
Moreover, it is believed that diamonds are supposedly the hardest substance in the world.
Composition and Sturdiness of Diamonds
Diamonds are generally made of only carbon molecules linked together in tetrahedral bonds. It is possibly why they are super stout and almost impossible to crack. In addition to giving a diamond its solid build, the carbon molecules keep it transparent. However, sometimes a specimen can have tints of other shades such as blue or yellow when there’s an inclusion. It doesn’t happen often, but when nitrogen or boron particles end up in the composition of a diamond stone, it turns a little yellow or blue.
Eons Aged Old
Diamonds are not only the rarest and sturdiest; they are also one of the oldest gemstones that take millions of years to form under the Earth. In some cases, a diamond can be up to three million years old.
It is believed that diamonds were mined as early as the fourth century BC. Indians used to collect and trade this glorious gem, which serves as proof of the early existence of diamonds.
Diamonds and Divinity
Ancient Hindus used to tuck diamonds as the eyes on their devotional statues. They also believed that a diamond could keep a person safe from danger. In other words, traditional Hindus associated godly attributes with these gemstones.
The Largest Diamond
The largest diamond was discovered in South Africa in 1905 and was named the Cullinan diamond. It weighed 3106 carats and was gifted to King Edward. However, it was later cut up into smaller pieces, out of which three are showcased in the Tower of London as part of the Crown Jewels.
Diamond is the go-to gem for engagement rings. Whether a person is rich or poor, they make sure to get a diamond ring for their partner. But have you ever wondered who the first person to use the exotic stone on a ring was? Legend has it that, in 1477, Archduke Maxmillian of Austria gave Mary of Burgundy a gold ring with an ‘M’ on top constructed with diamonds.
Planet of Diamonds
Imagine stumbling across a world made of diamonds and no not an imaginary world, a real one, wouldn’t that be amazing? Because now you can, if you become an astronaut. In 2006, scientists discovered a planet in the solar system made of 100% carbon, and they believe that 1.3% of it is pure diamond.
Another mind-blowing diamond-related discovery in astronomy came in the form of a star, made of ten billion trillion (is that even a number?) carats. It was named Lucy after the hit Beatles song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.
Sources of Diamond Over the Years
In the 1400s, India was the world’s original source of diamonds. Diamonds mined in India were sold to Venice and other European trade centers. However, three centuries later, in the 1700s, India’s diamond supply declined drastically and Brazil emerged as the most significant source of this precious stone. Brazil enjoyed its status as the top diamond supplier until the late 1800s, and after that, South Africa took over the title.
However, in today’s world, many countries around the globe contribute to diamond production.
Naturally formed diamonds take a while to acquire their shape and composition, which is one of the reasons why they are so expensive. But now experts are making diamonds under controlled conditions in laboratories. And the good news is that the quality and texture is the same as their natural counterparts, but nonetheless, they are synthetic diamonds and are not worth nearly as much as a natural diamond of the same quality and cut.
Diamonds and Healing
In medieval times, people believed that diamonds could cure ailments and nurse back the sick to health. Moreover, some kings in ancient times considered the diamond stone a talisman for soldiers that would bring victory during battles.
The Bottom Line
The extraterrestrial features associated with diamonds may or may not be true; however, their magnificence shall always remain uncontested and will remain the world standard for engagements.
Walking into a jeweler’s shop can be a bit intimidating. One can easily get confused when surrounded by all the different cuts and designs. Before delving into the cuts, it’s important to distinguish between the cut and the shape. The shape is the geometric appearance of the gemstone, whereas a cut is what makes a diamond bright and shiny. A gemstone sparkles when light reflects from it.
Interesting fact: The engagement ring phenomenon dates back to the early days of American exploration. The Puritans had a practice whereby the man would present a thimble to the woman of his dreams for marriage. Yes, a sewing thimble! It seemed to be the practical thing at the time, but once they got married, the wife would cut the thimble into a thin round piece of metal, which in turn she would place on her finger and thus, the wedding band was born.
The facets (flat surfaces that allow more light to be reflected; hence, more brilliance) and angles (how the facets are placed on the gem to bring in the most light), their quantity, symmetry, and proportions are all responsible for the reflection of light. A diamond is intricately cut to maximize this reflection, but not all diamonds are equal. Some have fewer quality cuts than others and hence the price difference you will see as you shop, but the better the cut, the more brilliance, the more she will like it, but the more you will pay for it.
Cutting a diamond too shallow would allow most of the light to pass through the bottom, making this an extremely poor cut. If cut too deep, a diamond would reflect light from its sides and would fail to produce the required gleam and glitter.
A perfectly cut diamond would reflect all its light from its top face and would shine brilliantly. The more radiant a diamond appears, the more expensive it will be.
Now, let’s look at the ten most popular diamond cuts that would be perfect for an engagement ring.
This cut is one of the most popular and most famous types of cut for engagement rings. About 50% of engagement rings have a round cut diamond. This particular cut gives maximum shine to the diamond, partially due to the large amounts of facts (58) and the ideal position at which they are set. You’ll find a range of grades, styles, and settings for a round cut diamond. A simple gold or platinum ring with an isolated round-cut diamond looks like a personification of “beauty lies in simplicity”. You can also try a solitaire setting to add glamour to this cut.
Round cut diamonds are considered the most expensive of the cut variations, but they display the most brilliance. You can’t go wrong with a round cut diamond.
Also known as a square modified brilliant cut, the princess cut is a popular choice for engagement rings. First created by Betazel Ambar and Israel Itzkowitz in 1980, princess cuts appear like a square or rectangle from the top.
It has four beveled sides and a bottom that resembles an inverted pyramid. You’ll find this cut in 30% of the rings. It looks a bit familiar to the Asscher or Emerald cut but it has more facets at the top as opposed to the flat top face of Asscher.
This cut derives its name from the famous gemstone emerald because these stones are usually cut in this manner. However, this cut looks equally classy for diamonds. It is a stepped cut that seems to have an aura of enduring beauty. Its top face is a narrow rectangle with trimmed corners. Since this cut is not used as frequently as a round or princess cut, it is relatively inexpensive and so a ring with a high-grade emerald cut diamond will cost you less or if you were going to sell one, you won’t get what you would get if you had a round cut stone; however, those with smaller hands prefer the emerald cut because it makes their fingers look longer.
Oval cut exhibits a classic and traditional impression. This cut has gained popularity in recent years. It beautifies the hand as it has a lengthening effect. The oval cut is a great choice for East-West trendy rings. It is about 25% more affordable than a round cut diamond ring. Its greater surface area makes the diamond appear bigger. However, an oval cut has one undesirable feature called ‘the bow-tie effect’ which means the cut will show a darker area in the middle if one looked down upon it. The greater the bow tie effect, the poorer the stone quality. Excellent quality diamonds will have a very subtle darker region.
Created in the early 1900s, it came into light in the 1920s. It was named after its creators the Asscher Brothers who ran Holland’s Asscher Diamond Company which later became the Royal Asscher Diamond Company. It was an attractive cut with a vintage feel about it. Similar to an emerald cut, it has a square or rectangular appearance with cropped corners. It has 74 large step facets and a high crown which makes yields more brilliance than the emerald cut. It is set in a four-prong setting and reflects light like a never-ending corridor lined with mirrors on all sides.
A cushion-cut, also known as a pillow cut, is made to emphasize clarity. This cut is almost 200 years old which gives it a vintage flair. On the other hand, it looks extremely stylish and modern with a square top face with rounded corners. To further elevate this symbol of understated love, you can mount it in a halo setting for a perfect engagement ring.
Considered bold and beautiful, Marquise cut is also known as the football-shaped cut, the eye-shaped cut, and the boat-cut. It exudes a dramatic persona with an elliptical shape with pointed ends and 58 facets. Its French history is as interesting as the cut itself. Back in the 18th century King Louis XV of France ordered a jeweler to design a cut inspired by his mistress’ lips. A diamond ring in this cut would require multiple prongs and a setting that can act as a stable base for the stone.
A radiant cut gets its name from its matchless radiance. Since a radiant cut diamond has numerous facets, it reflects light in all directions and appears luminous. This cut also has a square or rectangle shape with trimmed corners. Looking directly into the top face of the stone would reveal a circular pattern in the center.
This would be an ideal cut for those looking for something elegant and sophisticated. The pear cut has the best features of marquise and round cut diamonds. It is so beautifully proportioned that it looks like an angel’s teardrop. It makes the hand appear slender due to its pointed corner. The cut makes the diamond look bigger than it actually is.
A heart cut diamond looks very exquisite and lovely. When buying a ring with a heart-cut diamond, make sure you check its proportions closely. Give enough attention to the body and the cleft of the heart shape. This cut would require a setting with more prongs.
So there you have it. The diamond cuts, their variety and price ranges. Do you know what to buy her now? If not, check out our article on the 4 Cs of diamonds. By then, you can consider yourself an expert or at least have enough knowledge to get the right diamond ring that she will never forget!
A man went to a jewelry store and requested to look at some rings for his future fiance. After a number of rings that were shown to him, he picked a 1-carat diamond with an emerald cut. Not being an expert in the diamond field, he purchased it for $4000.00.
A couple of years later, he told his fiance that he wanted to get her a new ring. So they went to diamond dealers to sell the current one and were told that the ring wasn’t worth more than $900.00. Frustrated, they settled for the $900.00 and left.
Why Do People Get Ripped Off When Buying Diamonds?
What was the man’s mistake? He never asked for a GIA certificate to confirm what he was getting. “The GIA Diamond Grading Report includes an assessment of a diamond’s 4Cs – color, clarity, cut, and carat weight – along with a plotted diagram of its clarity characteristics and a graphic representation of the diamond’s proportions.”.
Of course, you can buy a diamond without a certificate and that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get ripped off, but why take that chance?
In the example above, this is a 1.5-carat diamond. It has a clarity rating of SI1 (slight imperfections, but not to the naked eye). Its color rating is H (near colorless. Yellow tint exists but is not visible).
In general, if a diamond dealer tells you they can’t give you gem grading authentication, go somewhere else.
In this article, we will find out what factors make this beloved gemstone so valuable, what to look for when you are buying one, and how it has been part of human history for so long, so let’s begin with some facts about diamonds that you should know before purchasing one.
Mined Diamonds Need Some TLC Before They Become Jewelry
Diamonds don’t come out of mines ready to be sent to the jewelry market. They go through tedious refining before a jeweler even sees them. As a matter of fact, most of the natural diamonds from the mines never make it to that beautiful refined state because they come with too many imperfections and consequently, those diamonds are only suitable for industrial use.
Since the majority of mined diamonds can’t be used in jewelry, we are left with very few grades of diamonds that have such quality, the ones that can be used for decorative purposes, and they don’t come cheap.
It’s the simple imbalance of supply and demand that makes this gemstone expensive. But there are additional four main characteristics that determine a diamond’s value. Let’s take a look at what each of these characteristics is.
The 4cs of Diamonds
Although the 4cs rating system is found to be the most popular among diamonds, it can apply to any mineral or gemstone, but since we are focusing on diamonds now, let’s continue using this stone as our basis for the 4c’s standard.
The more colorless (or ‘whiter”) a diamond is, the rarer and more valuable it iswill be.
A diamond’s color is one of the determining factors regarding price. Most of the naturally occurring diamonds contain a noticeableyellowish hue.
In fact, it is hard to find one that is completely colorless; thus, the more colorless (or ‘whiter”) a diamond is, the rarer and more valuable it iswill be.
From an aesthetic viewpoint,as diamondsappear whiter, they give off the appearance of looking brighter to the eye and that adds a more appealing quality; therefore these diamonds automatically become more expensive.
The color or tint of diamonds is gradedalphabetically. Starting with the letter “D”, which representsthe most colorless of the gems; that is, one that is pure white, but this grade is hard to find. After “D” is “E” and “F”. All three of these grades are part of the colorless family and subsequently, sell for a higher price.
Then there’s “G, “H” and “J”, which represents near colorless. “K” to “M” has some faint yellow tintattributed to them and “N” to “Z” equate to a light yellower tint, but the yellow gets stronger as you move towards the end of the alphabet.
The most popular diamond color grade is “I”. When traces of the yellowish hue increase, the demand, and price of the diamond decreases.
Jewelry experts suggest getting a diamond just outside of the “D” to “F” range, such as “G” or “I” where the yellow tint may be so small you still can’t see it with the naked eye, but you can save a bundle compared to those in the “D” to “F” range.
Diamonds are a result of carbon being exposed to intense heat and pressure under the earth’s mantle for hundreds of millions of years.
This long process can add internal and external imperfections called inclusions and blemishes. The number, size, nature, and position of these imperfections affect the clarity of the stone.
The clarity scale has six categories: flawless (FL), internally flawless (IF), very, very slightly included (VVS1 and VVS2), very slightly included (VS1 and VS2), slightly included (SI1 and SI2), and included (I1, I2, and I3). FL diamonds account for less than 1% of the current diamond supply. These are the highest valued diamonds.
A flawless diamond (FL) is one where the imperfections can’t be seen even by 10x magnification, but these diamonds are rare and subsequently, very expensive. Many diamond experts recommend that you get a diamond that has some inclusions since the price would be much less.
Diamonds rated as VS1 and VS2 will have inclusions but are not visible to the naked eye. These are a good balance when you are looking to buy a stone but don’t want to mortgage your house to get one.
Tip:The differences between VS1 and VS2 are hardly noticeable, so it may be worth your while to purchase a diamond with a VS2 rating and save some money.
Diamonds rated SI1 have some inclusions that are, for the most part, visible under 10x magnification, but not to the naked eye and as such, are considered the best bang for your buck. The reasoning being is that when others look at your diamond, they will visually see a flawless gem. Even though it is not flawless, no one expects them to pull out a microscope to see what it really is.
Also, it should be noted that clarity is considered the least important of the diamond‘s 4c’s. This chart provides a nice illustration of diamond clarity.
A clarity of VS1 or S1 is recommended if you want to save money. They may have some imperfections but won’t be noticeable for the most part.
Acut is the most important element to consider when buying a diamond
Specifically, the refractive index is the comparison between the speed of light through the air (386,000 miles/second) to the speed of light when it hits a diamond. A diamond’s refractive index rating is generally around 2. This means that light travels through a diamond approximately 2 times slower than it travels through the air, or another way of stating this is that the light bends with a refracting index of 2.
The more the bending of light, the more the fire, and of course, the more expensive it will be. But in order for the light to bend properly (or perfectly), it has to be cut correctly which requires the precision of a diamond cutting expert to do it right.
The better the cut, the better the fire and brightness. The cut scale contains five grades: excellent, very good, good, fair, and poor or ideal, very good, good, poor, and low, depending upon the company that makes the cut.
An excellent or ideal cut allows light to enter the stone and disperse it proportionality, reflecting back through the top. When a diamond’s cut is too shallow or too deep, the light will escape through the bottom of the stone.
As mentioned, mined diamonds can’t be fitted directly onto jewelry. They have to be polished and cut into a shape. Getting the perfect cut is a tricky prospect. With that said, a diamond cut is the most important element to consider when buying one. As mentioned, this is where the sparkle and fire materialize. If a diamond is not cut correctly, all the carats in the world won’t give it its flashy sparkle.
There is a tremendous balancing act involved in which the cut has to be made to enhance clarity without reducing the weight of the stone. There is always the chance that the weight and size of a diamond may be compromised while removing some visible imperfections from it.
You can save money by purchasing a good or very good cut, as a good cut will have a decent amount of light shining from it and a very good cut will have almost as much sparkle as an Ideal cut but will cost less.
Many think that a diamond carat refers to the size when it actually refers to weight. As carat weight increases, so does the rarity and price of the gemstone. The larger the carat, the more expensive the diamond.
Metrically, a “carat” is defined as 200 milligrams, which is 0.2 grams or 0.0070 of an ounce, so this should give you an idea of how small a carat is. Because of the large difference in the monetary value of diamond weights, the carat is further broken down into ‘points’, where 100 points are equal to one carat or 1/100th of a carat.
In diamond social circles, one might refer to a stone that weighs 0.50 carats as a fifty-pointer. Diamonds greater than one carat are expressed in carats and decimals, so a 1.25-carat diamond would be referred to as “one point eight carats.”
A simple analogy would be that one 3-carat diamond would weigh about as much as a raisin.
When looking to buy a diamond, look for the ones that are fractional; such as, 1.48, 2.14, or .24 carats. These would be lesser in price than purchasing a diamond with carat weights of 1.5, 2.25, or .25 respectively.
Here are some references you can use:
An F color grade with VS1 clarity would be about $10,500. A G color grade and VS1 clarity would be around $8000. A 1-carat engagement ring with an H color and VS2 clarity will yield around $6000. Same ring but VS1 clarity would be $7000. Same VS1 clarity but I grade is $4,500.
So a diamond’s price with the same color grade, clarity, cut and shape will increase significantly as the carat size increases.
Even though diamond shapes are not a part of the 4 C’s, they will still have a major impact on the appearance of your stone and can have significant price differences depending on the current trends of the time.
Also, depending upon the shape, they reflect light differently, giving each shape its unique fire and shine.
Specifically, a diamond’s shape refers to the geometry of the diamond, while cut refers to how the diamond’s proportions reflect light, but both factors determine their sparkle, so even if you get an Ideal cut stone. you still need to know the shape which will define the gem’s brilliance for better or worse.
The shapes for diamonds are the following: Round, Princess, Marquise, Cushion, Emerald, Radiant, Pear, Oval, and Asscher.
The round-cut actually called the round brilliant cut is the most popular shape of a diamond and is a favorite among jewelers to sell, as this cut offers great brilliance and has great flexibility within the four C’s. This means that in order to bring out the most brilliance for your round stone, you would want to complement it with high grades of color, clarity, and cut.
Have Diamonds Always Been so Popular and in Demand?
Diamonds have not come to the forefront from the renaissance, agricultural or industrial revolution. They have been important since ancient times when the Greeks ruled the world. Even the name ‘diamond’ is said to be derived from the Greek word ‘adamas’, meaning indestructible, because the Greeks associated the radiant and ever-glowing glitter of the diamond to be an indestructible sign of love.
Generally, throughout the course of history and various civilizations, diamonds have always been considered as the sign of supreme power. Many cultural dogmas considered diamonds to contain magical powers that can be used to cure madness and repel evil spirits. Plato, the famous Greek philosopher shared the thought that diamonds were living spirits. Diamond powder, due to its curing abilities, had also been used in medicines.
There are a lot more historical anecdotes that can be mentioned to highlight the fact that the diamond has always been popular. It’s this popularity that makes it so expensive.
Moving Up the Ladder
It may be noteworthy that there are jewelers with high standing reputations such as Tiffany* who maintain their standards by selling only the perfect cut. Of course, that goes without saying that the price may be a bit higher than a standard jeweler.
* HowardFenstermMinerals.com or its staff, consultants or associates do not have any affiliation with Tiffany or any other companies mentioned in this article in any manner. The purpose of this mention is only for knowledge purposes.
What is it that we have not seen or heard about diamonds? From being a girl’s best friend to a creating a political fiasco, diamonds never fail to be the center of attention. They have potential to capture anyone’s eye; especially the bigger stones. People are still fascinated by diamonds as they were in ancient times. Promising strength due to their non-breakable nature, diamonds are also a symbol of love and commitment.
When it comes to diamonds, size is a huge attraction and increases the value of the stone. Here is a list of the top 5 largest diamonds in the world.
Weighing 3167 carats, Sergio is the largest rough diamond in the world. It was discovered from Brazil in the year 1893 and is one of the rare black diamonds that still have scientists debating about the origin of this category of the stone. It has mythical stories attached to it and is thought to hail from meteoric origins; but regardless of anything being said, Sergio enjoys the title of being the largest diamond of the world.
The Cullinan weights a magnificent 3106.75 Carats and ranks second in the list of the largest diamonds in the world. It is famous around the world due to numerous reasons. Weighing 1.37 lbs when discovered, it made a striking gift for Edward II, the then King of United Kingdom. Later on, the Cullinan was taken to Amsterdam where it was cut into 9 large and as many as 96 small gems. Today, it values to be an estimated $2 million.
Excelsior Diamond had the honor of being the largest diamond of the world until 1905, when The Cullinan was discovered. It was founded in the year 1893 in Jagers Fontein Mine. Later on it was cut into 10 stones with the largest one weighing 69.68 carats. It is a beautifully stunning white diamond that reflects a hint of blue as well.
Star of Sierra Leone
Discovered in 1972, this beautiful stone made it to the hands of Harry Winston, a famous American jeweler. Since it was in rough form, this magnificent diamond was cut into 17 smaller gems, some of which were used to craft the famous Star of Sierra Leone brooch.
Incomparable weighs 890 carats and is a discovery of 1989. Found in Congolese by a young girl, it was years until experts cut the magnificent stone into smaller gems. The final result was a uniquely triangular shaped diamond in the shade of yellow and brown. Most recently, it was up for auction on Ebay in 2002. Surprisingly, no one bought this beautiful piece.
Gemstones have high value due to their size, shape, color, cut, and weight. In case of diamonds, it enjoys a very special status that has a abstract meaning and worth as well.