What are diamonds?
Created before life began on our planet, diamonds have always been associated with mystery, myth and magic. Diamonds are formed under great heat and pressure, As diamonds require specific geological conditions in order to form, they are only found in certain remote locations around the world. Southern Africa produces the majority of the world’s diamonds, but there is also diamond production in Russia, Canada, Australia, India, China and South America.
Cut refers to the angles and proportions of a diamond. It is the only one of the 4Cs that is influenced by the human hand. Diamond cutting requires great skill and training. The cutter must polish tiny surfaces known as facets onto the rough diamond. This process is what creates the facets known as the crown, culet, table, girdle and pavilion of the diamond. To cut a diamond perfectly, a craftsman will often need to cut away more than 50% of the rough diamond.
A well-cut diamond will be higher in quality and value than deep or shallow-cut diamonds. Diamonds that are cut too deep or too shallow lose or leak light through the side or bottom, resulting in less brilliance and a less valuable stone. Cut also refers to the shape of a diamond.
Carat refers to the weight of a diamond, Often mistaken with size, carat it is actually a measure of weight. The term carat is a derivative of the word carob. Carob seeds, which are surprisingly uniform in weight, were used as a reference for diamond weight in ancient civilisations. One carob seed equalled one carat.
Colour refers to the degree to which a diamond is colourless. Diamonds can be found in many colours, however white-coloured or colourless diamonds remain the most popular. Diamonds are graded on a colour scale which ranges from D (colourless) to Z. Warmer coloured diamonds (K–Z) are particularly desirable when set in yellow gold. Icy winter white coloured diamonds (D–J) look stunning set in white gold or platinum.
Colour differences are very subtle and it is very difficult to see the difference between an E and an F, for example. Therefore, colours are graded under controlled lighting conditions and are compared to a master set for accuracy.
Nature has also created diamonds in shades of blue, green, yellow, orange, and pink. Red is the rarest of all. These diamonds are called ‘coloured fancies’ and are extremely rare and highly treasured.
Clarity refers to the presence of inclusions in a diamond. Naturally-occurring features called inclusions provide a special fingerprint within the stone. Inclusions are natural identifying characteristics such as minerals or fractures, occurring while the diamond was being formed in the Earth. The majority of these natural birthmarks are invisible to the naked eye, yet they affect the way light is reflected and refracted within the stone.
Most inclusions are not visible to the naked eye unless magnified. To view inclusions, gemologists need to use a magnifying loupe that allows them to see a diamond at 10x its actual size. Inclusions are ranked on a scale of perfection, known as clarity. The clarity scale, ranging from F (Flawless) to Included (I), is based on the visibility of inclusions at a magnification of 10x.
There are very few flawless diamonds found in nature, making these diamonds much more valuable.