Diamonds form naturally deep beneath the Earth's surface, but they can also be made in a laboratory by diamond manufacturers. Learn about the interesting facts about this highly sought after gemstone:
Raw & Uncut Diamonds.
Rough & Polished Diamonds.
Loose Polished Diamonds.
Polished Colored Diamonds.
Polished Colorless Diamonds.
You may have asked yourself more than once, "What makes diamonds so special and rare? Why do people make such a big fuss about a little rock?" Diamonds are in a class all by themselves for good reason. The reality is no diamond is born looking pretty. A lot of work goes into the making of a diamond as we know it. Diamond deposits dwell deep below the earth and are brought up through volcanic eruptions. They are like every other crop waiting for the harvest moon. But unlike other crops, diamonds wait millions and even billions of years before they reach maturity. There's a lot about diamonds that most people don't readily know. Here's a quick rundown of the most basic yet astounding facts you need to know about diamonds:
• Diamonds are nothing more than crystallized carbon atoms, except they're the priciest carbon atoms you'll ever find. It's the specific arrangement of atoms that determines the end result. Take, for instance, the graphite commonly associated with pencils. That, too, is nothing but carbon but due to its unique atomic structure, it is the complete opposite of diamonds, soft and gray black, versus very hard and colorless.
• To get to its final stage, diamonds are more or less baked for over a billion years approximately 80-120 miles beneath the earth's surface. They are exposed to extreme temperatures and high pressure before they make their way above the surface.
• You pay a pretty price for rarity: 250 tons, or 500,000 pounds, of earth must be mined to uncover just one carat of rough diamonds. Unfortunately, rough diamonds lose an average 50%-60% of their original weight once they are cut and polished. Smaller diamonds are more common than larger ones, which is why a two-carat diamond is more than twice the price of two one-carat diamonds. Of all the rough diamonds found, only about 20% of make the cut as gemstones.
• Only one in a million diamonds are gem quality one-carat stones; one in five million are gem quality two-carat stones; and one in 15 million are gem quality three-caraters. You may have a better chance of striking gold (or diamonds) by playing the lottery!
• The melting point of diamonds is 6,420 degrees Fahrenheit and the boiling point is 8,720 degrees Fahrenheit.
• The largest diamond ever mined in the world was the Cullinan. It was discovered in South Africa in 1905 and checked in at a jaw dropping 3,106.75 carats.
• The largest diamond in the universe is the 10 billion trillion trillioncarater named Lucky, or BPM 37093, which is a "white dwarf" star that has burned out and died, leaving its hot core to crystallize. Like a typical diamond, it is composed of carbon. It lies approximately 50 light years from our planet in the constellation Centaurus. Our sun, too, will one day die and crystallize into a monstrous diamond just like Lucky, but not for another five to seven billion years.
Natural Loose Cut & Polished Diamonds
Diamonds are mined from within the earth in locations around the world. When a diamond is mined, it is called a rough. It goes through a mapping and cutting process in order to craft, from the rough, the best shape. The different diamond shapes are shown below:
Round Cut Diamond
Round cut diamonds maximize light return and sparkle, and are the most brilliant of the diamond cuts.
Rough diamonds are cut expertly by machines to ensure that the best color, sparkle and facets shine through. Once this is done, they are polished to perfection and are ready to be used to craft jewellery. Loose diamonds are sold by both wholesalers and retailers around the world. Loose diamonds are available in all difference carat weights and qualities. So when shopping for a diamond, it is possible to find a loose diamond for every budget and preference. Loose diamonds can be found in the classic colorless color as well as fancy colors like pink and yellow and even more rare and valuable colors like blue and red. Loose diamonds are often purchased to set in custom jewellery, engagement rings or even for investment purposes.
Fancy Colored & Colorless Diamonds
Diamonds Are Available In A Wide Range Of Colors.
Colorless diamonds are rare enough, but naturally occurring fancy colored diamonds are rarer still, which explains why they often command the highest prices at auction. Diamonds can come in all sorts of colors, from vivid blues to fiery oranges, but how do they get these spectacular colors in the first place?
Fancy colored diamonds ('fancy' denotes that the diamond acquired its color naturally, rather than being artificially treated) occur in nature for several reasons. A colorless or "white" diamond is made of 100% carbon. When another element gets into the carbon chain, it can add a color, for instance, nitrogen causes yellow, brown and pink hues, while boron produces blue or blue-grey. Hydrogen can cause diamonds to become red, violet, blue or green.
Another way for the stones to acquire color is via unusually intense pressure or heat during the compression stage that gives birth to diamonds: this can lead to red, pink or purple diamonds. Naturally occurring radiation can also affect the color, making diamonds blue or green, mines in certain parts of the world have a greater chance of unearthing these.
One particularly interesting variety is carbonado, the "Black diamond". These diamonds have a different crystalline structure to regular diamonds that makes them absorb light rather than reflecting it. They have traditionally been associated with bad luck and sold at lower prices than regular diamonds, although recently their distinctiveness has seen them gain in popularity.
What makes carbonado fascinating is that scientists can't agree on how it is formed: some say it's made when meteorites strike the Earth, others by direct conversion of carbon in the planet's interior, while still others say it's formed inside dying stars, and is blasted to Earth via a supernova. To date, black diamonds have only been found in Central Africa and Brazil.
Colorless grades are determined by comparison to a master set. Each grade represents a step on the color scale and is a measure of how noticeable the color is. In colorless diamonds, the full scale goes from D all the way to Z:
Colorless Diamond Scale.
Where the colorless scale finishes the GIA colored scale starts.
Fancy Colored Diamonds Hues.
In this scale the assessment changes from letters to name grades. These grades refer to both the color and the intensity, or saturation, of that color. Examples of the grading used to categorise the color and intensity of fancy colored diamonds, difference between Very Light Orange, Fancy Orange and Fancy Deep Orange diamonds is shown below:
The Color & Intensity Of Fancy Orange Colored Diamonds Examples.
When it comes to purchasing colored diamonds, the value of a stone is more heavily weighted to aspects of its color (its rarity and strength) than the other three "Cs" (See Select The Diamond That Is Right For You), below. The price of a colored diamond will usually increase with the saturation of its color, meaning it could be many times more valuable than a comparable size colorless diamond.
The presence of a color might seem like it makes the diamond technically less 'pure', but the rarity and sheer beauty of these stones makes them highly sought after. To illustrate just how rare they are, a mine producing 35 million carats (seven metric tonnes) a year would consider itself lucky if it found four or five of the rarest colored diamonds in that time!
Select The Diamond That Is Right For You
No two diamonds are exactly alike, so when searching for the diamond that's just right for you, there are a few things to consider.
It starts with the 4Cs, (Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat). They are the classic features that can be objectively assessed to determine the quality of a diamond. Color has been mentioned above, cut, clarity & carat are mentioned below:
The cut of a diamond does not just refer to its external shape. It's a measure of the polish, symmetry and proportions of a stone. A polished diamond's beauty lies in its complex relationship with light.
When light strikes a diamond, about 20% is reflected off the surface. Of the light that enters, the cut of the diamond determines the amount of light that reflects back out of the crown to shine and sparkle. A well cut diamond will have each facet properly placed and angled so as to maximise that reflection so the amount of light reflects back out of its crown. The best diamonds come from the work of a highly skilled craftsman:
Diamond Cut Proportions.
In the diagram above three common light patterns are shown. When light meets any facet of a diamond, it will either reflect (bounce back) or refract (bend while passing through the facet). The angle that the light hits the facet determines whether the majority of light reflects or refracts, which is why cut is so important.
The 5 step GIA cut scale which ranges from Excellent to Poor.
A diamond's proportions also affect its light performance, called brightness, which in turn affects its beauty and overall appeal, see below. Diamonds with fine proportions, symmetry, and polish optimise their interaction with light, and can command a greater price:
A Diamond's Proportions, Symmetry & Polish All Effect Its Brightness.
Because they are formed under immense heat and pressure, each diamond has tiny birthmarks called inclusions.
Like fingerprints, inclusions make each stone unique. It is possible to see some inclusions with the naked eye, but others are difficult to see even with magnification:
The Scale Used To Categorise The Clarity Of A Diamond.
A diamond of exceptional clarity has minimal inclusions to interfere with the passage of light through the stone. The less inclusions usually means a more expensive diamond.
A diamond's weight, and therefore its size, is expressed in carats (ct).
In ancient times merchants used the carob seed as a base unit of weight when assessing diamonds. This unit of measurement has become what is commonly known as a carat, and has a weight of 200 milligrams:
Diamond Weight. (Diamond images are indicative only).
For diamonds under one carat, each carat is divided into 100 points, like cents in a dollar, 0.5 carat is 50 points. The larger the diamond the rarer it is found in nature, and usually the more expensive it is to purchase. But that is not always the case and size is only one of the considerations of value.
There are two ways of making synthetic diamonds in a laboratory, both of which are used by diamond manufacturers. The first synthetic method is known as 'high pressure, high temperature' (HPHT). This method is the closest thing to the diamond production process that occurs naturally within the Earth, and involves subjecting graphite (which is made from pure carbon) to intense heat and pressure.
Tiny pieces of metal in the HPHT machine are used to squeeze down the graphite as it is zapped with an intense pulse of electricity. This process takes just a few days and results in a gem quality diamond. Unfortunately, this type of synthetic diamond is not as pure as a natural diamond, because part of the metallic solution used to form the diamond can become mixed in with the graphite.
The second diamond producing method is called chemical vapour deposition (CVD). This method produces diamonds even more flawless than those found in nature. Chemical vapour deposition involves placing a piece of diamond into a depressurising chamber, where it is treated with a natural gas under a microwave beam. When the gas heats to around 2,000 degrees, carbon items rain down onto the diamond and stick to it. Using this process, manufacturers can grow a perfect sheet of diamond overnight.
Reasons To Buy Diamonds
Buying a loose diamond can be a great decision for a variety of reasons. Diamonds are one of a kind and can be sold quickly. Therefore, if you like a diamond, purchase it sooner rather than later. Once sold, it is possible to find something similar but not necessarily exactly the same. Loose diamonds may also be more reasonably priced than a preset jewellery item. There is more transparency as to the quality and grade of the diamond and therefore, a greater need for sellers to price their diamond competitively. This enables you to get the best diamond price possible. Additionally, once diamonds are set in jewellery, it can be hard to discern their quality. When looking at diamonds that are unset, it can be easier to see their color, cut and clarity. Finally, purchasing a loose diamond provides you with flexibility. If you do not know exactly which type of jewellery you may want to set the diamond in, you can save it for a later date so you can get it just right. Overall, there are many benefits to purchasing loose diamonds.
Where To Buy Diamonds
Loose diamonds can typically be purchased through different retailers both online and in shops. There are benefits to purchasing diamonds in either location. Diamonds purchased in shop can be seen in person. However, be careful when purchasing diamonds in shop. You may also be faced with a limited selection to compare against one another. Shopping online will give you a wide variety of diamonds to compare against one another. Many online retailers also have great relationships with wholesale diamond suppliers and may be able to pass the savings onto the end consumer. Shopping for a diamond online requires a bit of research, however most retailers are happy to share all the information you need as well as magnified images and video so that you can see the characteristics of the diamond very clearly before making your purchase. When purchasing online, be sure to only get a diamond that is certified. This will ensure that the diamond has all the same characteristics that the retailer is advertising. When purchasing, GIA diamonds are typically the best investment, as GIA is the most trusted laboratory with the strictest standards. Many GIA diamonds are also inscribed microscopically on the girdle so that they can easily be identified with 50x magnification. Overall, wherever you decide to purchase, be sure that you can trust the retailer and that they have a return policy in the event that you are not satisfied with the diamond.
A shop only offers you so many options. Because diamonds are so expensive, it's not possible to stock very many options. Therefore, you're stuck with what's available at that given time when you go in-shop. Online gives you the ability to go "direct to manufacturer." Not only are you going direct to a manufacturer, but you're potentially accessing hundreds of dealers and manufacturers. About 95% of all online diamond dealers/jewellers have little or no inventory. It's that astonishing! Everyone seems to boast an inventory of over 100,000 diamonds. That would mean they're housing over $500 million worth of inventory. Definitely not the case. Many jewellers plug into the same or similar suppliers of GIA certified diamonds, or have access to the manufacturing supplier. Therefore, they're able to provide you with a listing of those 100,000+ options, giving you the ability to compare lots of options. The real winner here is the customer. With so many options, buying a loose diamond this way beats the shop experience because now you're in the driver's seat.
With the ability to source so many types of diamonds, the diamond itself has become a bit of a commodity, with its price dictated by the quality assessed on its GIA diamond grading report. In-shop, you're again limited by the lack of inventory. The prices are stiff and "a deal" is never a deal. The diamond market is very similar to real estate. The market corrects itself with comparable diamonds and creates standardized pricing. If a diamond is priced very low, there's a quality-driven reason. This is where browsing loose diamond inventory online comes in handy. The excess inventory allows you to price compare all the available options and make an informed decision, plus choose diamonds of similar quality with slightly varying prices. We cannot stress enough that you should use the internet as your leverage here. Talk to several jewellers and see who will provide the best price, once you've selected your diamond. We can bet that in 9 out of 10 situations, the diamond is available to multiple jewellers. You've unlocked this opportunity by looking online.
How To Purchase Diamonds
Now that you're aware of the benefits of buying loose diamonds online, how do you actually do it? Well, you're going to want to research and self-educate. First, do as the typical guides say: learn the 4Cs (Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat), learn about what makes diamonds unique and how diamonds are priced and then begin comparing options that back into a budget. Once you have begun narrowing these 100,000+ options to a handful, maybe 4 or 5, start exploring everyone's online inventory. Don't waste your own time, let the jeweller do the work for you. Send them a list of GIA diamond report numbers and ask them if they can get the diamond for you and at what price. Now you've turned a seller's market into a buyer's market.
After you've determined the best price for your diamond option and figured out which jeweller to buy from, then purchase the diamond. It will arrive within a few days, as advertised, and you're all set. You can even have many jewellers set the diamond for you in a ring setting, if you ask. We do recommend to make sure you're working with a reputable jeweller. The last thing you want to do is fall for a "too good to be true deal" and get scammed out of a substantial amount of money.
Follow these steps and you'll be buying your loose diamond the same way most dealers themselves are buying and sourcing loose diamonds as well. The power of information and the online buying changed the engagement ring industry. It's your opportunity to take advantage of it.
Price Differences Between Diamonds
Diamond prices are determined by diamond suppliers and cutters. Typically, diamond cutters determine the prices of their diamond based on market values and supply and demand availability. Diamond prices do not fluctuate very heavily. If a diamond is severely underpriced, there may be a reason for this that pertains to it's clarity, inclusions or color. Be sure to check all the diamond characteristics and comparing diamond prices before making your final selection. The value of all diamonds is ascertained by the 4Cs cut, color, clarity and carat. Diamonds from all over the world bear the same characteristics and are valued by the same four qualities. Most reputable jewellers work to ensure that all diamond supplier partners that they work with meet strict ethical standards.
Many changes have occurred in diamond sources within the diamond industry over the last 20 years or so. The diamond trade is no longer monopolized by just a few large companies today there are many smaller diamond mines that are significant players in the diamond trade. Traditionally South Africa was the largest exporter of diamonds to the rest of the world, but within the last 20 years, countries outside of Southern Africa have discovered that they also share this resource. This has allowed other jewellers a foothold in the market and has resulted in the decline of huge brand names in the diamond jewellery business.
Diamonds have been discovered in countries such as Russia, Botswana, Canada, Angola, South Africa, Namibia, Australia, Zimbabwe and even in Guyana, India and Brazil. The top diamond mines in the world are responsible for more than 90% of the diamonds produced, with the other countries accounting for just 10% of the diamonds in the world. The top six countries are Russia, Botswana, Canada, Angola, South Africa and Namibia.
Russia developed its diamond industry in order to fulfill its need for industrial supplies and equipment following World War II. Certain locations in Siberia exhibited certain characteristics similar to the carbon rich environment in South Africa that were rich with diamond deposits. The commercial sale and export of diamonds began in Russia in the 1960s. Russia continues to be the leader in the production of diamonds in terms of both sheer carat volume and even by dollar value. They have more than twelve functional open pit diamond mines.This position is not likely to change in the near future as Russia holds diamond reserves of more than 1 billion carats. It is not possible to tell the origin of a mined diamond by simply looking at it or even by inspecting its chemical composition. One way of identifying a Russian diamond is by having a relationship with a trusted supplier that can provide you with the origin information.
Canada is one of the newest players in the diamond industry. Canada began producing diamonds in the early 1990s. Most of its mines are located in the barren lands which can be found in the northern arctic regions of Canada. Many of the larger deposits can be found miles and miles below the ocean floor at the bottom of lakes. Canada has the distinction of being the world's third top producer of diamonds in terms of sheer dollar value. The prospects for Canada's increase in the amount of diamonds they produce look very positive as evidence suggests that they have much more deposits in different regions in huge expanses. A lot of these regions are yet to be explored and developed and there are even two huge, new projects set to begin. Canadian diamonds are similar to other diamonds in terms of their color, cut, carat and clarity.
While prospectors have been looking for gems in Canada since at least the 1960s, diamond rich areas were not discovered in the country until 1991, when the first economic diamond deposit was discovered in the Lac de Gras area of the Northern Territories. Since then, the country has quickly become one of the world leaders in diamond production.
Canadian diamonds are prized not only for the high quality of the diamonds themselves, but also because of the nation's highly ethical approach to the industry. All diamonds mined in Canada are guaranteed to be conflict-free, and indeed Canada has long been one of the most vocal supporters of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, designed to stem the diamond trade's contribution to violence and war.
Diavik Mine, located in a remote part of Canada's Northwest Territories, is one of the world's most productive open-pit diamond mines. It produces around eight million carats per year, that's 1.6 metric tonnes of diamonds, and represents about six per cent of the world's supply. The nearby Snap Lake Mine is owned by diamond mining giant De Beers, the company's first mine outside of Africa, and produces around 1.4 million carats annually. Other major diamond mines in Canada include Ekati Mine, Victor Mine and Jericho Mine.
All diamonds mined and cut in Canada's Northwest Territories are laser-inscribed with identification numbers so that buyers and retailers can be assured that the stones have been mined and traded ethically. Canada also has stringent rules regarding its mines' effects on local habitats and ecosystems; its diamonds are mined to the highest environmental standards in the world. A large proportion of employees in the mines are of Canadian Aboriginal origin, so the industry is also helping to support and bring prosperity to the region's indigenous people.
Diamonds In The USA
The USA is one of the largest consumers of diamonds in the world, but very few diamonds mine's exist in the USA. In fact, only one working mine, which is called the Crater of Diamonds, located in Murfreesboro, Pike County, Arkansas. This is now a tourist attraction operated by the state, tourists and visitors alike can pay a fee to mine for diamonds and they can keep any Diamond they find. This mine produces a few hundred carats of diamonds annually, a small number in comparison to the total number of diamonds produced each year worldwide.
Africa is blessed with vast expanses of diamond deposits all across its landscape. Currently there are 15 countries diamond producing countries in Africa. These are South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Angola, Namibia, Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Lesotho, CAR, Tanzania, Sierra Leone and Togo. The largest producers of African diamonds are Botswana, South Africa, Angola, Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Although diamonds are available in many African countries, most reputable jewellers ensure that they source diamonds that can only be found in conflict-free mines that adhere to strict ethical standards.