How to buy diamonds:
Diamonds are the hardest natural substance known to man. Diamonds originate from a belt of volcanoes that circle the Earth from Canada, through parts of Africa, India, Russia, and Australia. The mining and sale of rough goods are now licensed by the government diamond offices whose countries have signed up to the Kimberly Process. All these stones carry a certificate of origin stating that the diamonds have come from regions that are free from conflict.
The brilliant hardness and transparency that is unique to the diamond enables it to be cut and polished in a way that, when sawn and faceted by an expert diamond polisher, produces the fire and sparkle that has made it the worlds favourite gemstone. Ask your jeweller to show diamonds of different qualities so that you can compare the features of each jewel. But don’t expect to become a diamond grader or gemmologist overnight! That takes years of study and practice. Choose a piece of jewellery that matches your lifestyle and your pocket and buy from jeweller who understands your needs and that you feel you can trust.
The features of a diamond are measured by the 4Cs:
Cut: Refers to the angles of the facets and the proportions of the stone. When a diamond has been well cut, the light rays reflect off the back facets and create the brilliant fire for which this gemstone is renown.
The other reference to cut is the shape of the stone, the most popular of which is the round brilliant. The shape of a diamond is governed by the shape of the rough crystal and also the number and position of the inclusions.
Colour: Diamonds are crystallised carbon and in their purist form should be colourless, and so the whiter the stone, the rarer and therefore more valuable it becomes. However, the presence of other elements and chemicals when the universe was created and diamonds were being formed has produced a multitude of shades and colours. These intense, vivid coloured diamonds are called ‘fancy’ colours and are very rare and valuable. Those with muddy indistinct colours are not the least colour are the rarest and the most valuable.
Clarity: The clarity of the stone refers to the number of inclusions and their position in the stone. Inclusions are tiny crystals, gas bubbles and cracks that interfere with the passage of the rays of the light through the stone that creates the flashes of fire is it reflect off the facets. Those inclusions are natures fingerprints and tell us a great deal about the gemstone and where it came from. Those perfect diamonds with no inclusions are very rare and very valuable, but those with small inclusions that cannot be seen without the help of 10 x magnification are also rare and highly prized, especially if the colour and the cut are also very fine.
Carat Weight: Diamonds are measured by their weight. The term ‘carat’ is derived from the carob beans that, in medieval times, were used to gauge the weight of the stones by the merchants who brought them from India across the Silk Route to Europe. Today, the carat is an internationally recognised metric measurement: 1.00 carat = one-fifth (or 0.20) of a gram. There are 100 points to a carat.
Photograph of a jewellers loupe with different cuts of polished diamonds in a diamond paper: image by Paul Hartley, Hartley Studios: www.hartleystudios.com