Learn all about diamonds with our Diamond Guide, including the Four Cs, cut types, and engagement ring styles, to make the perfect choice for you.
For centuries, the diamond has been a symbol of compassion and commitment. The most precious out of all the gemstones, diamonds are lauded for being the ‘King of Gems’. It’s no wonder they’re a girl’s best friend.
Made from pure carbon and crystalised deep in the earth’s depths due to intense pressure and heat. Diamonds are found in many corners of the world, however, the leading diamond producers are Australia, Zaire, Botswana, Russia and South Africa.
- The Four C’s of diamonds
- Different types of diamonds
- Why are diamonds used as engagement rings?
- What do diamonds symbolise?
The Four C’s Of Diamonds
How Are Diamonds Graded?
The quality of diamonds can vary tremendously, therefore it is often determined by the four C’s: cut, colour, carat and clarity. This is extremely important to keep in mind when buying diamond jewellery.
The diamond cut is the style or design guide used when shaping a diamond for polishing, rather than its actual shape.
Many assume that the cut refers to the actual shape and appearance of the stone, rather than its ability to shine. The cut, however, is all about symmetry and proportion. The polishing of a diamond can have an impact on its natural brilliance and therefore if it is cut poorly by someone without the right tools or experience, it will be less luminous.
The natural imperfections of a diamond are referred to as inclusions; these are minerals or crystals that are trapped within the stone during its formation. The characteristics of these inclusions are what will ultimately determine its clarity.
Diamonds with little to no inclusions will reflect more light and are incredibly rare. Most diamonds will have inclusions or birthmarks which make the stone more unique. So, in a way, diamonds are just like us.
These tiny inclusions are often invisible to the naked eye with jewellers usually needing a magnifying glass to be able to see these unique characteristics.
Diamonds that are completely clear are usually the most sought after and are therefore more expensive. Most diamonds have inclusions, whether it’s in the form of scratches, trace minerals, or other tiny characteristics that may detract from the pure beauty of a diamond.
Inclusions are measured by certified diamond clarity charts. A high clarity diamond would be graded VS2 or higher.
A diamond’s colour is a key factor in determining its value. The less colour a diamond has, the higher in value it will be. While most diamonds will appear white or colourless, very few will be completely colourless. In fact, a majority of diamonds possess some form of colour.
These elements can be difficult to pinpoint, so much so that you would only know if you were to place the stone next to a diamond that is completely colourless.
If your diamond does have a prominent tinge of colour, it’s not necessarily a bad egg. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. While white diamonds are valued for their lack of colour, others are valued for their depth of colour.
Coloured diamonds will have a very distinct colour ranging from yellow, brown or green, blue or pink. Coloured diamonds are often called ‘fancies’. Check out black diamonds and pink diamonds to experience something different.
The size of the diamond is a major factor in determining its value. Weight is also a key determining factor. This is how carats work in diamonds - the weight of a diamond is measured in ‘carats’, an ancient measuring unit that has been around since the mid-15th century where it was used to measure the seeds of a carob tree.
One carat is divided into 100 points. Diamonds that are less than a carat are referred to as ‘pointers’.
A diamond is usually priced on a per carat basis, as well as by its size and quality.
Different Types of Diamonds
There are many diamond varieties out there, and not all are distinguished by their cut, colour, carat or clarity.
From natural to fancy-coloured, below are the different kinds of diamonds that you can get your hands on...
The most common and well-known of the bunch, natural diamonds are formed deep in the earth’s core under high pressure and temperature. Nestled so deep in the earth’s crust, diamond miners go kilometres deep to retrieve these rare beauties. Made entirely of carbon and crystals, these diamonds are usually colourless. What makes these stones even more special is that they have been around for some billion years or so.
While no one knows for certain, it is believed that the first natural diamonds were discovered in India in the 4th century BC. Once discovered, these precious stones were transported along with the network that connects India and China known as the Silk Road. Just like that, the diamond trade was born.
These are similar to natural diamonds except for the fact that they have been artificially enhanced to look purer. Treated diamonds undergo a procedure known as ‘fracture filling’, in which the diamond cavity is filled with silicone along with other compounds to enhance the physical characteristics of the diamond. This special filling is barely noticeable, resulting in a diamond that looks similar, if not identical to a flawless natural diamond.
Alternatively, a diamond can be treated to enhance its colour. This results in the diamond having an incredibly vibrant colour from bright ruby-red to seafoam green. Coloured diamonds go through a process similar to fracture filling, in which a thin film is evenly deposited across the surface of the stone. This will completely change the stone to a colour of your choice.
Thanks to the innovation of science, diamonds can now be grown in the confines of a laboratory. A far cry from the dark caves that diamond miners venture into in order to source the precious stone.
Lab-grown diamonds, which are also referred to as man-made diamonds, synthetic diamonds or pure grown diamonds, are grown in a highly-controlled laboratory that mimics their natural-growing environment. Lab-grown diamonds are virtually indistinguishable in appearance from natural diamonds.
There are two ways to create a man-made diamond. The first is through a process known as high pressure, high-temperature growth or HPHT. This process mimics the conditions in which a natural diamond is grown in. The second is a process known as chemical vapour deposition or CVD. CVD involves placing a diamond seed into a special chamber, then combining it with high temperatures and gases such as hydrogen and methane.
The holy-grail of the diamond world, fancy or coloured diamonds are the rarest of the bunch. The most valuable and sought after kind of diamond, these are not to be confused with regular diamonds that contain impurities.
These eye-catching diamonds come in an array of colours with pink and yellow being the most widely known. Naturally coloured diamonds are found all over the world, with 90% of pink diamonds being mined right here in Australia. Blue diamonds on the other hand are prominently found in Southeast Asia while most purple diamonds come from Northern Asia, green diamonds are prevalent in South America and yellow/orange diamonds are found a lot in Africa.
Coloured diamonds form in the same way as colourless diamonds with one exception: During the crystallization process, foreign particles often become trapped within the stone. This is what gives a “fancy” diamond its unique and vibrant colour.
Why Are Diamonds Used In Engagement Rings?
The history of the engagement ring dates back centuries. While anthropologists don’t know for certain, many hypothesize that the tradition of the engagement ring dates back to ancient Rome. It is believed that Roman women wore ivory, flint, bone, copper and iron "to signify a business contract or to affirm mutual love and obedience." Gold rings similar to the ones worn today as wedding rings were even found in the ruins of Pompeii.
Despite engagement rings having a long-winded history, diamond engagement rings wouldn’t emerge as the popular choice for many years later. In 1947, a British jewellery company came up with the slogan ‘diamonds are forever’. This slogan gained a lot of traction all over the world and even inspired many moments in pop culture such as the 1971 Bond film Diamonds Are Forever and the accompanying song performed by Shirley Bassey.
Years later, the diamond still remains the most popular choice among brides-to-be and is made into all different kinds shapes and cuts including round, the princess, cushion, pear, emerald and the oval.
What Do Diamonds Symbolise?
Aside from symbolising eternal love, many cultures have associated diamonds with symbolising many other things. The Greeks once thought diamonds symbolised the tears of the Gods, while the Romans thought they symbolised splinters of fallen stars. Some cultures even regard the diamond as a symbol of physical, spiritual and emotional healing. Other meanings that the diamond is seen to symbolise include commitment, wealth, beauty, extravagance and elegance.
The diamond is the traditional gift for couples celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. This is because the diamond denotes a significant milestone such as a major anniversary. Many will remember when Queen Elizabeth celebrated sixty years as the reigning monarch in 2012, it was heralded as her ‘diamond jubilee’.