AT A GLANCE
Colourless, "fancy coloured" or black
10 Mohs Scale
10th and 60th
LEGEND & MYTH
Diamonds are one of mother nature’s rarest and most precious creations. Formed under crushing volcanic pressure and intense heat, they’re more than 3 billion years old. After the first diamonds were discovered around 4,000 BC in India, their beauty and indestructibility has enraptured mankind.
In Old Egypt, diamonds represented the sun, a symbol of heavenly power. The ancient Romans and Greeks in turn believed diamonds were the tears of the gods or splinters from shooting stars, and the Hindus used diamonds as eyes in statues of deities. In the Middle Ages, people believed diamonds were “miracle stones” that could heal almost any sickness.
Polished diamonds became popular decorations in European crown jewellery in 300 BC. However, diamonds weren’t cut into shapes until Venetian jewellers developed the craft in the Middle Ages. While the tradition of diamond engagement rings dates back all the way to ancient Egypt, it was Archduke Maximillian of Austria who truly established them as a modern symbol of love and commitment when he proposed to Mary of Burgundy.
Today, from Marilyn Monroe’s famous song, to Cristiano Ronaldo’s diamond encrusted Ballon d’Or football boots, these legendary gems remain a firm statement of beauty, success and wealth.
Diamonds are formed from carbon atoms arranged in a unique "diamond lattice" crystal structure.
This gives diamonds a top rating of 10 on the Mohs Scale of mineral hardness, making them the hardest bulk material on earth.
Diamonds are best known in their colourless or white form, but trace elements can also tinge them grey, blue, green, yellow, brown, red or pink.
The word “diamond” comes from the Greek word adámas, meaning “unbreakable”.
WHERE ON EARTH?
Diamonds are mined all over the world, including Africa, Australia, Asia and the Americas. Yet few people outside the gemmological industry truly appreciate a diamond’s long journey from the earth to a jewellery store.
To find just one diamond, miners must first sift through tons of rock and earth. Any diamonds found are carefully sorted by hand. After this, they’re cut and polished by expert craftsmen in lapidaries and graded. Only then will they be sold to designers and wholesalers. All this takes months or even years and diamonds often travel from one continent to another in the process.
For today’s consumer, an important consideration when buying a diamond is to make sure it’s conflict-free. This means that a diamond hasn’t been sold on the black market by rebel or terrorist groups to fund civil wars and violence.
Please note that The Diamond Store only sells conflict-free, ethical diamonds.
BIRTHSTONE & ANNIVERSARY
Diamonds are the birthstone for April. Because of their durable nature, they represent lasting love and affection. That’s why they’re so often used in symbolic jewellery, especially in engagement rings.
Diamonds are traditionally gifted on 10th anniversaries and 60th Diamond Jubilee Wedding Anniversaries, but their beauty and value mean they’re well suited to any important occasion.
Weighing 47.75 carats and cut into a pear shape, the Cullinan I diamond is also known as the Star of Africa.
It was discovered in South Africa by a miner called Frederick Wells. Now it forms part of Britain’s crown jewels, set in the royal sceptre that is kept in the Tower of London.
The Star of Africa was originally cut from a much larger diamond called the Cullinan. At 3,106 carats, the Cullinan was the largest rough diamond ever found.
DIAMOND STYLE TIPS
Diamonds are as versatile as they are beautiful.
Before choosing diamond jewellery, consider the wearer’s personal style and tastes and whether it’s intended for everyday use or for a special occasion.
Diamond rings, stud earrings, solitaire pendants and tennis bracelets are elegant and understated classics. You can wear them daily, but they’ll also add glamour to an evening.
Larger pieces like diamond drop earrings and elaborate necklaces are eye-catching and spectacular, perfect for big events.
When wearing diamonds, go for simplicity. Either let one main piece shine or combine two or three matching items while keeping the rest of your jewellery simple.
How to assess
quality and value?
Many people get confused by diamond qualities and it’s hardly surprising. Few products on the market get as carefully scrutinised by experts as diamonds do.
Essentially a diamond's value is determined by its “Four Cs” – cut, colour, clarity and carat size. However, when evaluating a diamond, first ask yourself why you’re buying it. Unless you’re purchasing a loose diamond as a pure investment, the best thing to do is to understand the basics and then be guided by a trustworthy jeweller.
This is especially true when buying gifts and symbolic jewellery. For instance an engagement ring will be worn rather than used for financial investment.
So don’t fall into the trap of choosing a specific diamond grade before consulting a qualified jeweller.
Many of the subtler diamond quality variations can only be detected by a gemmological expert studying the stone under laboratory conditions. Therefore the most important thing is that the diamond looks stunning to the naked eye, sparkles beautifully and your recipient loves it.
When we speak about a diamond’s “cut”, we’re not referring to its decorative shape, but the quality of craftsmanship that has gone into forming and polishing the rough stone into a gem. A good cut ensures a diamond refracts light favourably. Simply put, the cut determines how much it will sparkle!
White diamonds are most prized when they appear colourless. In other words, the less colour present in the diamond crystal, the better its quality and the higher its price. Establishing diamond colour is tricky. The better the colour grades get, the subtler the differences between them. To determine it, an expert must examine a diamond against a set of master stones under specific lighting conditions. Diamonds are given colour grades using the letters of the alphabet. D is the best and Z the poorest. For most consumers, colour grades between E and H are desirable.
The term “carat” refers to a diamond's weight, simply telling us how big it is. Carat weight is abbreviated “CT". For example, a diamond weighing one and a half carats is written as 1.50CT. One carat always equals 200 milligrams, but two diamonds of equal carat weight won't necessarily have the same price. That's because a diamond's value is determined by ALL of its Four C's. Also, large diamonds tend to have higher per-carat prices than small diamonds of equal quality. This is because large diamonds are rarer than small ones.
Diamonds are a product of nature. So almost all of them have small impurities trapped inside the crystal. We call these “inclusions”. The clearest diamonds are the ones with the fewest inclusions. Diamond clarities are expressed in abbreviations. FL or IF (flawless or internally flawless) diamonds have the best clarity. They are also the most expensive ones. Diamonds marked I (visible inclusions) are the poorest. Most consumers seek diamonds between these two extremes, namely VVS (very, very slight inclusions), VS (very slight inclusions) or the most popular grade, SI (some inclusions).
WHAT ABOUT COLOURED DIAMONDS?
Apart from colourless or "white" diamonds, there are also so called "fancy coloured diamonds" that exist in shades of pink, brown, bright yellow, blue and black.
Noticeable colours in diamonds are usually caused by crystal lattice defects or trace minerals, for instance boron in blue, carbon inclusions in black and nitrogen in yellow stones.
No universal quality grading system exists for coloured or black diamonds. So each one must be judged individually using the Four Cs.
NATURAL OR TREATED?
There are several types of enhanced diamonds on the market, but their value is debatable. Gel fillings and laser-drilled holes are used to repair cracks or hide inclusions. Heat treatments and coatings can change a white diamond's colour. Whilst these treatments can improve appearance and lower price, most experts recommend buying untreated diamonds.
A natural stone will retain its beauty, whereas treated ones may dull, change colour or fracture over time or when being cleaned. Please note that at The Diamond Store we do not sell nor recommend treated diamonds.
CARE AND CLEANING
Diamonds are the hardest gems known to man, but they’re also natural and precious. Against popular belief, diamonds can damage. One diamond can scratch another, so always store them separately. If your diamond has a large natural inclusion or fissure, a hard knock may even cause it to fracture.
The safest way to clean a diamond is to soak it in warm, soapy water and scrub it gently with a soft toothbrush. Always use a bowl instead of the washbasin, so there’s no danger of your jewellery washing down the drain.