Diamond Grading and Buying Guide

The following diamond grading guide will introduce the methods jewelers and gemologists utilize to price diamonds as well as provide a broad overview of diamonds themselves. Many of us are fascinated with the alluring natural beauty of diamonds but have little to go on when it comes to identifying an excellent price. Use the following as Diamond buying guide or simply to expand your knowledge of everyoneís favorite gemstone.

How are diamonds formed?

Part of the mysticism surrounding diamonds is due to the extraordinary conditions required to produce a diamond. For a diamond to form Carbon needs to be held at a specific temperature (around 1000 įC) under an enormous amount of pressure for a very long time. It is difficult to calculate how long Diamonds take to form because methods we use to date formation times will not work on the structure of a diamond. We do know that the Diamonds we mine and eventually use in Jewelry are between 1 and 3 billion years old! There are not many places on Earth where all of these conditions are present or present long enough for a diamond to form. Earth is not the only place diamonds are formed though. Scientists speculate Diamonds found in South Africa arrived via a crater impact due to the different carbon structure of the resulting diamond.

Why are Diamonds so expensive?

By looking at conditions required to produce a diamond we can see that it is not a particularly abundant gemstone and so supply is relatively restricted. For approximately 150 years the demand for Diamonds has grown to an unprecedented level. Whenever there are many buyers and few sellers prices will rise. Demand hasnít always been high, Egyptian jewelry craftsman did not prize Diamonds simply because they lacked the color of other more vibrant gemstones. The limited supply of Diamonds is also controlled by a few large companies. Many have argued that these companies have supported high prices by artificially limiting supply. Greater competition among the major jewelry suppliers may lead to lower prices.

How are Diamonds priced?

A quick word of warning, the most effective and reliable method of valuing a diamond is to have the process performed by a certified gemologist. In addition to experience these people are expertly trained to rate each of the determining factors. Diamonds are graded and priced according to the 4Cís. These are Carat which refer to weight, cut which refers to shape, clarity which attempts to identify blemishes and color. For a diamond to be highly desirable it must possess high ratings for each of these characteristics.

Diamond Carat

The Carat rating of a diamond is a measure of its weight. Diamonds which weigh less than 1 Carat are often measured in points. Larger Diamonds are extremely rare and so a 2ct Diamonds will cost significantly more than the price of two 1ct Diamonds. Carat does not always correspond to size. Certain cuts will result in a diamond which appears larger than it actually is.

Diamond Color

A perfectly formed Diamond has no Color at all. The color found in Diamonds is due to impurities introduced during the formation of the Diamond. Diamond color typically ranges from perfectly transparent to yellow. The closer a diamond is to perfectly transparent the more valuable it is. Perfectly transparent diamonds which are large enough to be used in Jewelry are virtually never used. Depending upon the impurity introduced during formation the resulting diamond may possess vivid blueís, browns, greens or a combination of these colors. These diamonds are also highly prized and extremely expensive. A 35ct Blue Diamond sold for $24million in 2008.

Diamond Clarity

During the formation of the diamond not all Carbon is crystallized. This results in a diamond which does not perfectly disperse light. Itís not possible to view these imperfections by eye and so this process is performed under microscope. The fewer imperfections the brighter and more brilliant the diamond will appear. Once again virtually every diamond will have imperfections.

Diamond Cut

The goal of cutting is to produce a Diamond which is as beautiful as that particular gemstone can be. The proportions and quality of the original stone determine which cutting method will be utilized. If a cutting technique requires a large proportion of the original stone to be wasted another method may be favored in order to retain a higher Carat rating. Cutting methods have evolved to produce Diamonds which appear larger and produce better light dispersion qualities.

How are Diamonds Cut/Shaped?

If Diamond is the hardest substance known to man how are they cut? Each Diamond contains a number of imperfections and weak spots. Diamonds were first cut by identifying these weak spots and chiseling them into smaller more manageable pieces. Unfortunately it was not uncommon for a Diamond to be destroyed by this process. Not surprisingly Diamonds were also used to cut Diamonds. More recently Laser technology and Computer Aided Design have been used to create almost perfect cuts.

How do you pick a fake diamond?

The process of creating Cubic Zirconium has improved to the point where it is impossible determine a high grade Cubic Zirconium from a Diamond. CZís are typically manufactured to be perfectly transparent. Virtually no diamonds are perfectly transparent and are usually pale yellow in color. Unfortunately nearly all CZís and Diamondís are sold in Silver and White gold settings making it impossible to accurately determine color. Another method of identifying a fake is the setting. Diamonds also usually sold in higher grade settings such as Platinum and higher grade gold while CZís will be sold with less expensive and lower quality settings. If you suspect your Diamond is a fake the most accurate method is to have the stone inspected by Jeweler. Diamonds are still unique in the way they conduct thermal energy, a jeweler will be able to identify these differences with specialized equipment.

Can you scratch a diamond?

Yes. Diamonds are suitable for jewelry which is worn everyday such as Wedding rings because they are incredibly durable. Diamond retains its high polish finish extremely well and is the hardest substance known to man but they can crack and can be scratched. The only substance capable of scratching a Diamond is another Diamond and so you should pay particular caution when wearing Diamond close to each other. For this reason you should also store your Diamond Jewelry in individual components.

What are Blood Diamonds?

Many Diamond mines are in locations which are politically unstable or currently at war. War lords seize control of a diamond mine and utilize profits to fund military campaigns. Until the late 90ís Blood diamonds were unfortunately quite common. It is estimated that profits from as much as 20% of all Diamonds sold during the early 90ís funding military campaigns. The United Nations has since banned member nations from purchasing Blood Diamonds and is constantly monitoring Diamond mines.

What are Synthetic Diamonds?

Diamonds are extremely useful in a number of industrial applications due to their ability to cut just about everything while retaining sharpness. This and high demand have resulted the development of technology capable of creating diamonds synthetically. The high pressure and temperature required to form a Diamond means that many of the initial efforts were unsuccessful or resulted in very small diamonds unsuitable for use in Jewelry. The first synthetic diamonds capable of being used in Jewelry were created in the early 70ís by General Electric.

How do I get my Diamond Graded?

It is best to have your Diamond graded by an independent source. Jewelers will obviously be tempted into providing a biased evaluation. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) was established in 1931 for the sole purpose of providing independent Diamond grading and is considered to be the most reliable source of an accurate review.