The very word “diamond” comes from the Greek “adamas” meaning unconquerable and suggesting the eternity of love. Ancient Greeks believed that diamonds were splinters of stars fallen to earth. While Romans thought that Cupid’s arrows were tipped with diamonds which had a magic that nothing else could ever quite equal.
Diamonds are very simple in composition, they are pure carbon (C) which has remarkable optical characteristics. They were originated 3.3 billion years ago. Diamonds are created when carbon is put under immense pressure and temperature deep within the earth.
Diamonds, being so precious and valuable, needed a universal grading system that was developed by The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) during the 1940s and 1950s, in order to fairly compare and evaluate diamonds. Nowadays, it is known as the “GIA International Diamond Grading SystemTM" or commonly known as the “4Cs.”
The cut cannot be confused with the shape of a diamond. All diamond shapes are very different and they have unique characteristics. The round brilliant cut with its 58 facets is the most popular diamond cut.
The CUT is the most important of the “4Cs.” The cut is the ability of a “Master Cutter” to unlock the beauty of a diamond and, ultimately, enhance its brilliance and fire. The beauty, sparkle and attractiveness of a diamond depends more on the cut than anything else. Moreover, the way the diamond is cut is essential to its value.
There are three distinctive attributes:
1. brilliance (light reflected from a diamond)
2. fire (dispersion of light)
3. scintillation (sparkle, hence the beauty of a diamond depends on the way it reflects and refracts light)
The cut is the only factor that is controlled by human hands. A good cut gives a diamond its brilliance which is the brightness that seems to come from the very heart of a diamond. A diamond that is cut too deep or too shallow will be less brilliant and basically, less valuable.
Because very few Fancy Color Diamonds are of exceptional quality, those that do exist are considered to be extremely valuable and, as a matter of fact, only one in every 10,000 diamonds has natural color and can be part of the ‘Fancy Color Diamond’ family. Fancy Color Diamonds are purchased for the intensity and distribution of the color.
The intensity and richness of the color is the most important factor to take into consideration when purchasing a Fancy Color Diamond. The more intense the color, the rarer and more valuable the diamond is. Clarity is not so important because the inclusions tend to be disguised by the diamond’s color.
Fancy Color Diamonds are cut to emphasise their color and they are graded in order of increasing intensity starting from ‘Faint’ (the lowest in intensity) up to ‘Fancy Vivid’ (the strongest in intensity).
The COLOR conventionally refers to the presence or absence of color in white diamonds, the whiter a diamond’s color the greater its value. Colorless diamonds are the most popular, but diamonds are also coming in all colours of the rainbow.
The GIA color grading scale is recognised by the industry as the standard grade. The scale starts with the letter ‘D’ (colorless) and continues with increasing presence of color to the letter ‘Z’ (light yellow). The difference between one grade and the next is really quite minimal.
An untrained eye will not be able to detect the fine line distinguishing the colors, however those small variations make a very big difference in a diamond’s quality and consequently in the price.
Colored diamonds, which are known as ‘Fancy Color Diamonds’, come in a variety of shade of color: yellow, which is the most common, brown, orange, green, pink, blue and red, considered to be the rarest.
Grades range from “Flawless” which are completely free of inclusions to “Included 3” that are diamonds with large, heavy inclusions that are visible to the naked eye. The clarity in a diamond refers to the absence of those inclusions. Diamonds that have no birthmarks or inclusions are very rare and this rarity reflects in the diamond’s value.
Diamonds are graded for CLARITY under a 10x loupe magnification. Diamonds are formed under extreme heat and pressure deep in the earth. Due to those factors they contain internal and unique birthmarks or natural fingerprints that are called ‘inclusions.’ Under a jeweller’s loupe those inclusions can be recognised as small clouds, feathers and crystals.
The number, type, position and brightness of these inclusions can affect the clarity of a diamond, although most are too small to affect the beauty or brilliance of a stone. They are very small imperfections and do not affect the diamond’s beauty in any way. However, the fewer and smaller the inclusions are the more rare and valuable the diamond is.
The larger the stone, the rarer and more valuable it is although the size of the stone is not the only indication of its value. For example: a large stone can have a smaller value due to its poor cut, clarity and color. Every stone is unique therefore it is important to consider the combination of those factors when choosing a diamond.
Larger diamonds are discovered less often than smaller ones. Ergo, large diamonds are rare and have a greater value per carat. For that reason, the price of a diamond rises exponentially to its size.
One carat is equal to 0.2 grams and can be divided into “100 points” like the British Pound. For example: 50 points diamond weight is equal to 0.50 carats.
As with all precious stones, the weight of a diamond is expressed in CARATS. The word "carat" takes its name from the carob seeds that are quite uniform in weight. Historically, early gem traders were using them as counterweights in their scales.