A diamond is a brilliant-cut diamond that has a beautiful glow and iridescent play of colors. Its name comes from the Greek (ἀδάμας), which means «invincible», «invincible». According to the Mohs scale, which determines the hardness of minerals, it ranks first in the world. Its main properties, such as crystal clarity and durability, symbolize eternal, true and unceasing love, which is why it is the most popular and chosen gemstone in engagement rings. Wearing jewelry with a diamond supports inner strength, helps to achieve goals, strengthens relationships.
In ancient times, diamonds were precious stones that were valued by most cultures. The Greeks and Romans had many theories about its origin. They considered these gems to be the tears of the gods or the fragments of fallen stars from heaven.
In Egypt, they personified the sun, symbolizing strength and wisdom.
In India, it was believed that they are created as a result of a lightning strike on a stone, due to which they have protective properties and reflect danger.
Nowadays, the main association is a symbol of durability: diamond jewelry is forever. But in reality this rarely happens. It depends on the parameters that make up the quality of a diamond, which make up its price.
When determining the properties of this gem, the 4C principle is used:
In this article, we will discuss each of them in detail.
What is the color and clarity of a diamond?
Absolutely pure diamonds are very rare in nature. Almost all of them contain internal defects, cracks and scratches. Their location, size and number have a great influence on the brightness (light refraction effect). The fewer inclusions, the more expensive the diamond will cost. To determine the clarity, a classification is used, where each group of diamond clarity is defined differently:
- LC, FL, IF means the highest purity at which no internal growths or other damage can be found under a microscope or 10x magnifying glass;
- VVS1, VVS2 — the color and clarity of diamonds look almost perfect. But when viewed with a 10x magnifying glass or under a microscope, there is minor damage;
- VS1, VS2 — it will seem to a non-specialist that the gemstone is without inclusions or damage, but with a 10x magnifying glass they can be detected;
- SI1, SI2 — a class of clarity of diamonds, in the representatives of which it is difficult to see defects and damage without a microscope, and when viewed with a 10x magnifying glass, they immediately become noticeable;
- P1, P2, P3 / I1, I2, I3 — damage, build-up and dirt are clearly visible even at a fleeting glance. A score of 1 to 3 means that inclusions in position 1–2 are difficult to recognize, while in position 3 they are immediately noticeable and cover more than 50% of the stone. Too many inclusions reduce the level of brilliance and significantly affect the transparency of the stone and cause incorrect propagation of light rays penetrating the stone.
The color range starts from completely colorless and snow-white and ends with yellowish. A colorless or white diamond is rated as the purest white and is denoted by the letter D. A small percentage are stones that are defined as «fancy», having bright yellow, red, pink, green, brown or even black.
Table of characteristics of all diamonds by color
Very light yellow
D: exceptional whiteness
E: pure white
F: delicate white
G: soft white
IJ: slightly muted white
KM: muted white
NR: muted color
SZ: lightly tinted
An ideally clean diamond of any carat should be completely colorless — then it is denoted by the letter D, but stones of this color are quite rare in nature. The whiter the stone, the higher its value. Many consider H (white) and SI (small inclusions) to be the best because of their color, quality and value for money.
Scale of diamonds by weight (carat)
One of the most important criteria when choosing a diamond is its weight, which is indicated in carats. (The unit of measurement for the weight of diamonds should not be confused with the fineness of gold, which is also expressed in carats!).
This name, translated from Greek, means «keration» — a pod of a Mediterranean carob tree. Its dried seeds, due to the same size and weight, served as weights for jewelers and pharmacists. The larger the mass of the stone, the higher its value.
Interestingly, a 0.50 carat stone is more expensive than two 0.25 carat stones, assuming other parameters are held constant. This is due to the fact that larger stones are less common in nature and are of greater value than smaller ones of the same weight.
The carat table by weight of diamonds is divided into 100 points, that is, a stone with 50 points will weigh 0.50 carats, which corresponds to 0.1 grams. The correct values for a 1 carat round brilliant cut stone are approximately 6.5 mm in diameter and 3.9 mm in height. A half carat (0.5) diamond should be approximately 5.2 mm in diameter and 3.1 mm high.
The largest diamond ever found is the Cullinan. In an unpolished, that is, in a raw form, it weighed 3106 carats. After cutting and polishing, 105 diamonds were made from it. In most cases, a diamond loses about 50% of its weight when polished. During processing, the Cullinan lost 65% of its weight. The largest of the diamonds obtained from it is the «Star of Africa» weighing more than 530 carats, it adorns the scepter of the British Queen.
Grading of diamonds by cut
A rough diamond is dull and lacks luster, making it the hardest element to rate in a 4C. It takes into account the grinding factor, symmetry and polishing quality.
The modern diamond cut was developed in 1919 by the Belgian mathematician Marcel Tolkowsky. In its full form, it consists of 57 planes (56 faces and a sheet).
How diamonds are valued
When assessing the correctness and quality of the cut, the proportions of the diamond and the finish (including errors in symmetry and polishing) are analyzed. A quality cut emphasizes the most beneficial optical and aesthetic qualities of a gemstone.
There are 5 grades of diamond cut quality:
- bad — provides a base level of gloss. This type of polishing is usually applied to very deep and narrow or wide and small diamonds. They lose most of the light from the side or bottom of the stone;
- satisfactory — creates an acceptable amount of shine, but almost does not shine;
- good — provides the right amount of glow, but almost no flicker;
- excellent — a compromise between quality and price. It reflects slightly less light than a great cut, but costs less;
- The ideal cut is one in which the light is completely reflected inside, giving the stone a unique brilliance. It arises as a result of total internal reflection and splitting of light rays, as well as reflection of light from external surfaces (facets).
If the cut is too shallow, light will pass through the bottom of the diamond, making the surface dull. If the cut is too deep, the light will expand and the stone will become dark.
International classification according to the shape of diamonds
One of the first steps taken to enhance the beauty of natural stones is to give them the correct shape (by splitting or sawing).
10 Most Popular Diamond Shapes
- When grinding, the circle acquires at least 58 faces, of which 33 are in the crown of the stone, and 25 are in the pavilion, that is, in its lower part. Due to this, the amount of light is reflected at the bottom of the stone, which visually increases its size.
- The heart is a symbol of love and inextricable connection. It is also extremely popular in jewelry. Due to the correct proportions, including a perfectly rounded top and a sharp notch in the middle, this is a very expensive form. Jewelry with a heart-shaped stone is a great gift not only for a wedding anniversary or Valentine’s Day, but also for Mother’s Day and birthdays. Mary, Queen of Scots, gave her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, a heart-shaped ring in 1562 as a token of friendship and goodwill.
- A tear, a pear, a drop is a hybrid of an oval and a canopy (one end of the stone is rounded and the other is pointed). For this shape, 71 faces are suitable for stones. Like the oval, this shape is especially popular with women with small, puffy hands and short fingers, as it makes them look slimmer and longer. It is also valued for its excellent ability to reflect light.
- Shadow, eye — a stone of an elongated shape with clearly pointed edges, due to which they are optically enlarged. As in the case of an oval shape, they are covered with 57 facets. This elegant form was first commissioned by Louis XV. According to his idea, the diamond was supposed to reflect the beautiful shape of the lips of his beloved, the Marquise de Pompadour.
- Rectangle — this shape can be in different versions depending on the rounding, sharpening or cutting of corners, as well as the edge of the stone. The baguette was created in the 1920s, its oblong shape belongs to the Art Deco style. Pillow (has rounded corners, which makes it look like a pillow), emerald (has cut corners and parallel edges).
- An oval is an elliptical shape for which stones usually have 57 facets. This shape was created in 1957 and is a combination of a circle with an elongated outline. It is especially recommended for women who have small hands and short fingers, because the elongated shape of the stone makes them not only longer, but also slimmer.
- The square is a timeless alternative to the round shape. Depending on the details, such as rounding, sharpening or trimming corners and edges, as well as the number of faces, it is defined in different ways: princess (pointed corners and edges, additional faceting), antiqua (rounded corners and edges, often with a checkerboard cut) , octagon (cut corners).
- Polygonal shape — in addition to basic polygonal shapes such as square and rectangle (and their variations), we can also meet pentagons, hexagons, octagons, trapezoids, rhombuses, etc.
- Trillion — stones in this case acquire an exquisite triangle structure with three straight or slightly curved (arc-shaped) edges. This shape has a different number of faces. Equal sides enhance the glow of the stones and cause the so-called color games. Its history dates back to the 1960s and brought freshness to jewelry in the form of a geometric aspect.
- Sophistication — extravagant forms in the form of an asterisk, flower, butterfly, crescent / semicircle.
Which diamond clarity is better, regardless of shape, weight and color
Gemstones of VS and Si purity are considered the standard in jewelry all over the world, damage and inclusions in which can only be seen under a microscope.