What Makes Diamonds Exceptional?
Created more than 3 billion toward the end of the 19th century, they were a source of fascination and value to early man. The Greeks regarded them as tears of the gods. It is a derivation of the Greek word “adamas years ago in the earth’s mantle, most diamonds worn today were brought to the earth’s surface by volcanic eruptions over 100 million years ago! Even before diamonds were mined in large quantity,” meaning unconquerable, that gave diamond its name.
The diamond became the primary token of love toward the end of the 15th century. It is said that, when Austrian Archduke Maximilian gave the first diamond engagement ring to his betrothed. Five centuries later, the diamond remains one of the most luxurious and desirable gifts for any romantic and celebratory occasion, a gem whose purity and brilliance symbolizes lasting love. So, how did the diamond managed to keep its pedestal as one of the most precious stone ever extracted from the earth’s surface?
Like many precious products, diamond prices fluctuate. But it is important to know that these sparkling gemstones still retain value after years of being worn and enjoyed. A majority of the most enduring and priced royal heirlooms are also made from the best quality diamonds in the world, a testament to its timeless value.
The colorless beauty and inner fire of the diamond has made this precious gem prized for centuries. Each stone’s complex characteristics cannot be duplicated, and no two diamonds can ever be the same. Each stone, like its owner, is endowed with a personality and character uniquely its own.
Diamond is the hardest substance on earth. Diamond jewelry can be worn every day and passed on from generation to generation. These heirlooms can last up to hundreds of years and in some cases have played an important role in the family history.
New finds of diamond deposits may be discovered. However, the supply is finite. There is no other gemstone quite like a diamond. It is found in the most remote places on earth, and the fact that it forms at all is something of miracle. It is said that it takes approximately 250 tons of earth to be processed just to yield one carats worth of gem quality diamond, making diamond one of the rarest and most desired gemstones in the world.
A diamond is a testament of endurance and strength- and not surprisingly, the ultimate symbol of love.
Recovery. Only 20 percent of all rough diamonds mined can be utilized for gemstone cutting. Approximately 50% of the gem quality rough diamonds mined are from within the earths crust, mines or ground. 48% are recovered from alluvial deposits (river banks, beach, coastal or marine areas). 2% from other sources. Lastly, the average size of a diamond that comes out of the ground is less than .10 carats (1/10th of a carat).
AN EARLY FASCINATION
Created more than 3 billion years ago in the earths mantle, most diamonds worn today were brought to the earths surface by volcanic eruptions over 100 million years ago! Even before diamonds were mined in large quantity toward the end of the 19th century, they were a source of fascination and value to early man. The Greeks regarded them as tears of the gods. It is a derivation of the Greek word “adamas,” meaning unconquerable, that gave diamond its name.
The diamond became the primary token of love toward the end of the 15th century, when Austrian Archduke Maximilian gave the first diamond engagement ring to his betrothed. Five centuries later, the diamond remains one of the most luxurious and desirable gifts for any romantic and celebratory occasion, a gem whose purity and brilliance symbolizes lasting love.
A WONDER OF NATURE
There is no other gemstone quite like a diamond. It is found in the most remote places on earth, and the fact that it forms at all is something of miracle. It takes about one ton of rock to recover less than half a carat of rough, making diamond one of the rarest and most desired gemstones in the world. A diamond is a testament of endurance and strength- and not surprisingly, the ultimate symbol of love.
Every diamond is unique. Each reflects the story of its arduous journey from deep inside the earth to a cherished object of adornment. Yet all diamonds share certain features that allow us to compare and evaluate them. These features are called the 4C’s.
WHAT ARE THE 4 C'S?
Every diamond is a miracle of time, place, and chance. Like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike. Until the middle of the twentieth century, there was no agreed-upon standard by which diamonds could be judged. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA), created the first, and now globally accepted standard for describing diamonds: Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat Weight. Today, the 4 C’s of diamond quality is the universal method of assessing the quality of any diamond, anywhere in the world.
The creation of the 4 C’s meant two very important things:
1) diamond quality could be communicated in a universal language, and
2) diamond customers could now know exactly what they were about to purchase. To learn more about diamonds and how to choose a diamond that is right for you.
WHAT IS DIAMOND CLARITY?
Natural diamonds are the result of carbon exposed to tremendous heat and pressure deep in the earth. This process can result in a variety of internal characteristics called “inclusions” and external characteristics called “blemishes.”
Evaluating diamond clarity involves determining the number, size, relief, nature, and position of these characteristics, as well as how these affect the overall appearance of the stone. While no diamond is perfectly pure, the closer it comes, the higher its value. The GIA Diamond Clarity Scale has 6 categories, some of which are divided, for a total of 11 specific grades.
- Flawless (FL)- No inclusions and no blemishes visible under 10X magnification
- Internally Flawless (IF)- No inclusions visible under 10 magnification
- Very Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2)- Inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10X magnification
- Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2)- Inclusions are observed with effort under 10X magnification, but can be characterized as minor.
- Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2)- Inclusions are noticeable under 10X magnification
- Included (I1, I2, and I3) Inclusions are obvious under 10X magnification which may affect transparency and brilliance
Many inclusions and blemishes are too tiny to be seen by anyone other than a trained diamond grader. To the naked eye, a VS1 and an SI2 diamond may look exactly the same, but these diamonds are quite different in terms of overall quality. This is why expert and accurate assessment of diamond clarity is extremely important.
WHAT IS DIAMOND COLOR?
Diamond color actually means lack of color. The diamond color evaluation of most gem-quality diamonds is based on the absence of color. A chemically pure and structurally perfect diamond has no hue, like a drop of pure water, and consequently, a higher value. GIA’s D-to-Z diamond color-grading system measures the degree of colorlessness by comparing a stone under controlled lighting and precise viewing conditions to master stones of established color value.
GIA’s diamond D-to-Z color grading scale is the industry’s most widely accepted grading system. The scale begins with the letter D, representing colorless, and continues with increasing color, to the letter Z. Many of these color distinctions are so subtle that they are invisible to the untrained eye. However, these distinctions make a very big difference in diamond quality and price.
WHAT IS DIAMOND CUT?
A diamond’s cut unleashes its light. Diamonds are renowned for their ability to transmit light and sparkle so intensely. We often think of a diamond’s cut as shape (round, emerald, pear), but a diamond’s cut grade is really about how well a diamond’s facets interact with light.
Precise artistry and workmanship are required to fashion a stone so its proportions, symmetry, and polish deliver the magnificent return of light only possible in a diamond. A diamond’s cut is crucial to the stone’s final beauty and value. And of all the diamond 4 Cs, it is the most complex and technically difficult to analyze.
WHAT IS DIAMOND CARAT WEIGHT?
Diamond carat weight is the measurement of how much a diamond weighs. A metric “carat” is defined as 200 milligrams.
Each carat can be subdivided into 100 ‘points.’ This allows very precise measurements to the hundredth decimal place. A jeweler may describe the weight of a diamond below one carat by its ‘points’ alone. For instance, the jeweler may refer to a diamond that weighs 0.25 carats as a ‘twenty-five pointer.’ Diamond weights greater than one carat are expressed in carats and decimals. A 1.08 carat stone would be described as ‘one point oh eight carats.’
All else being equal, diamond price increases with diamond carat weight, because larger diamonds are more rare and more desirable. But two diamonds of equal carat weight can have very different values (and prices) depending on three other factors of the diamond 4 Cs: Clarity, Color, and Cut.
It’s important to remember that a diamond’s value is determined using all of the 4 Cs, not just carat weight.
VIDEO – WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CHOOSING A DIAMOND?
Watch the video below and learn how to choose your perfect diamond. This diamond buying video will better prepare you for asking the right questions when shopping for a diamond and a prospective local jeweler.
WHAT ARE ENHANCED DIAMONDS?
Technological advances in recent years have made it possible for natural diamonds to be enhanced, which increases their beauty and affordability, or grown in a laboratory environment. It’s important to discuss with your professional jeweler if the diamond you are purchasing has been enhanced in any way. Some treatments require special care, of which you need to be aware.
COLOR AND CLARITY ENHANCED DIAMONDS
Diamonds can be colored, tinted, coated, irradiated or heated to improve their color and clarity. Inclusions are sometimes removed with lasers or fractures are filled with a glass like compound. Some of these procedures are not permanent. While it is not always possible to determine if a diamond has been enhanced just by looking at it, it is required that your jeweler disclose this information. A professional jeweler will let you know if a diamond’s natural appearance has been altered.
Qualified gem labs have very sophisticated equipment that can analyze a diamond and determine if it is synthetic or enhanced. If you are uncertain about the diamond you plan on purchasing and it does not have a quality report from a well-known laboratory, ask your professional jeweler to send it to a laboratory for analysis.
WHAT IS DIAMOND FLUORESCENCE?
What is fluorescence?
Fluorescence is the visible light some diamonds emit when they are exposed to invisible ultraviolet (UV) rays. On a GIA diamond grading report, fluorescence refers to the strength, or intensity, of the diamond’s reaction to long-wave UV, which is an essential component of daylight. The light emitted lasts as long as the diamond is exposed to the ultraviolet source.
Is fluorescence common?
Yes. Of the diamonds submitted to GIA over the past decade, approximately 25% to 35% exhibit some degree of fluorescence. However, only 10% of those show strengths of fluorescence that may impact appearance (i.e., strengths noted on laboratory reports as medium, strong or very strong). In more than 95% of the diamonds that exhibit fluorescence, the color seen is blue, In rare instances, the reaction is yellow, white or another color.
What impact does fluorescence have on the appearance of a diamond?
GIA studies show that, for the overwhelming majority of diamonds, the strength of fluorescence has no widely noticeable effect on appearance, In many instances, observers prefer the appearance of diamonds that have medium to strong fluorescence. In rare cases, some diamonds with extremely strong fluorescence may appear hazy or oily; fewer than 0.2% of the fluorescent diamonds submitted to GIA exhibit this effect.
Does fluorescence compromise the structural integrity of the diamond?
No. A diamond that fluoresces has the same integrity as one with no reaction to UV. Submicroscopic substitutions and/or shifts in the diamond structure can cause fluorescence as well as prevent it. Nothing in either instance inherently weakens or is bad for the diamond.
WHAT ARE SYNTHETIC DIAMONDS?
WHAT ARE CONFLICT DIAMONDS?
Conflict diamonds are diamonds that are illegally obtained by rebel groups and then sold to fund conflict abroad.
Putting an End to Conflict Diamonds
Consumer demand for diamonds is higher than ever, but this year, more customers may be asking about conflict diamonds. With recent and upcoming mentions of conflict diamonds in books, music and movies, the subject is topical again. So it is important that you understand the facts.
In January 2003, governments, non-governmental organizations and the industry created an intergovernmental agreement called the Kimberley Process Certification System. It was established to eradicate the trade in conflict diamonds.
Over 99% of diamonds are from sources free of conflict.
At their peak in 1999, conflict diamonds accounted for approximately 4% of the world’s diamond supply. Since the Kimberley Process was established, conflict diamonds have been reduced to considerably less than 1%.
Revenue from diamonds provides funds for hospitals, schools and more.
Diamonds are helping transform lives around the globe, especially in Africa. Revenues from diamonds ($8.3 billion in the last year alone) have helped provide jobs, education and healthcare, especially in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
We can assure you that the gemstone industry is 100% committed to the total eradication of conflict diamonds.
“The elimination of conflict diamonds is a moral imperative for the entire industry and based on our past success, it is an attainable goal. However, for us to succeed, it requires the commitment and participation of everyone in the industry.” – Eli Izhakoff , Chairman and CEO, World Diamond Council, August 2006
WHAT IS YOUR POLICY ON CONFLICT DIAMONDS?
Diamonds are meant to be a gift of love, and we at Villarreal Fine Jewelers abhor the way in which some gems have been used to fund conflict. To stop this practice, government, our industry, and human rights groups created the Kimberley Process in 2002, which today regulates 99% of the rough diamond supply, to prevent the sale of conflict diamonds.
We require our suppliers to provide us with a written warranty, stating that their diamonds come from Kimberley-certified sources and are not involved in funding conflict. The warranty statement, which was officially recognized at the creation of the Kimberley Process, reads:
The diamonds herein invoiced have been purchased from legitimate sources not involved in funding conflict and in compliance with United Nations Resolutions. The seller hereby guarantees that these diamonds are conflict free, based on personal knowledge and/or written guarantees provided by the suppliers of these diamonds.
CAN DIAMONDS BE DAMAGED?
Even though diamonds are the hardest substance on earth, they can still be damaged. The following are tips to help keep your diamond jewelry looking fantastic for many years of enjoyment.
- Don’t just throw your diamond jewelry together with everything else in your jewelry box, as diamonds can scratch diamond and other jewelry. It is always best to keep your items separated in divided compartments.
- Don’t wear your diamonds when going to the gym or doing rough work. Contrary to popular belief, diamond can be chipped when hit hard enough.
- Your diamond jewelry should be cleaned regularly by using commercial or professional cleaners. Other household cleaners like a mild detergent or a diluted mix of ammonia and water may also be used. Simply soak your jewelry for at least a few minutes, then lightly brush with an old soft bristle toothbrush to gently clean dirt and lotions that may have accumulated over a short period of time.
- Never use chlorine bleach or other chemicals to clean your jewelry as they can damage your gemstones and metal.
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Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group has provided the content on this page. Underwritten by Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company, Neenah, Wisconsin. Coverage and pricing are subject to underwriting review and approval, and to policy terms and conditions.