Types of Diamonds Explained for Beginners

Diamonds are the hardest mineral on Earth. Made from pure carbon, heat, and pressure, diamonds are a rare and beautiful resource. From fine jewelry to industrial applications, diamonds are a priceless wonder of the natural world.

While diamonds may seem simple to the naked eye, there are entire fields of study dedicated to this precious stone. In fact, there’s so much information available about diamonds, it can be difficult to know where to start! This simple, easy-to-navigate guide will give you all the information you need when considering your next diamond purchase.

The History of Diamonds

Diamonds are a jewelry staple. Whether you know them as a girl’s best friend or the focal point of an engagement ring, diamonds have long been associated with love, promises, and eternal bonds. 

Although diamonds are seemingly abundant, diamond creation is a lengthy process. It takes between 1 billion and 3.3 billion years for a diamond to form beneath the Earth’s mantle, miles beneath the surface. Eterneva’s lab-grown diamonds don’t take quite as long—our seven-step process takes place over the course of seven to 10 months. 

Because diamonds take so long to grow, they’re considered a rare and precious stone. Diamonds were first discovered in India during the 4th Century BC. Eventually, diamonds made their way to Europe, where they were exclusively worn by the wealthy. 

The late 1800s marked a shift in the diamond industry when these rare minerals were discovered in the Cape Colony of South Africa. Moving forward, South Africa became a leading producer in the diamond industry.

Although diamonds are more accessible in the present day, they still carry special meanings as uplifting and shining tokens of affection. 

The Price for Rarity

Sadly, diamond mining comes at an environmental and ethical cost. Diamond mining produces pollution that makes its way into community water supplies. In addition to this harmful pollution, the diamond mining industry has also spurred humanitarian concerns over the dangerous working conditions and unsustainable wages provided to miners.

Due to these growing concerns, many have turned to lab-made diamonds as a more ethical alternative. Similar to natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds are created through a combination of heat, pressure, carbon, and time. The only difference is that lab-made diamonds are formed in a machine instead of the Earth’s mantle. The result is an equally brilliant gem created without the exploitation of miners. 

The ability to create diamonds through the wonders of modern science has opened the door to additional advancements in the diamond industry. For example, it’s now possible to celebrate the remarkable lives of your loved ones by forming a diamond from their ashes or hair.

Eterneva uses the carbon in your loved one’s ashes or hair to grow a memorial diamond you can carry throughout all of life’s future milestones. As a wearable memorial to your loved ones, these lab-grown diamonds allow us to find bright moments within a difficult time. 

Throughout the diamond growing process, we encourage you to share fond memories of your loved ones. Witnessing their ashes transform into a diamond through videos and photos may help you find meaning and healing through the diamond’s journey. 

Understanding the different types of diamonds can help you make decisions about the color, cut, and setting of your memorial diamond as you celebrate the unforgettable connections in your life.

The Four C’s

The four C’s refer to four categories that determine a diamond’s quality. This grading report was created by the Gemological Institute of America, and it helps jewelers and customers determine a diamond’s value. 

Color

A diamond’s color—or lack thereof—can be an easy way to evaluate quality even with the naked eye, although a trained professional will be able to notice color differences in diamonds that an untrained eye will not. A completely colorless diamond is considered the highest-quality, although there are exceptions to this rule. 

While we tend to think of diamonds as clear, colorless stones, there are natural diamonds in every color of the rainbow. For these colored diamonds, richer color signifies better quality. 

Lab grown diamonds can be colored to your preference or left colorless.

Clarity

This category looks for inclusions and blemishes. Inclusions refer to internal imperfections, whereas blemishes refer to external imperfections. A high-value diamond will have little to no inclusions or blemishes. 

Eterneva performs a quality assessment on each of our diamonds to identify the placement of any inclusions before cutting. This allows us to tailor the diamond to your preferred shape and size without any visible imperfections. 

The clarity scale has six categories: flawless, internally flawless, very, very slightly included, very slightly included, slightly included, and included. A flawless diamond will be of the highest quality, while an included diamond will be of the lowest quality.

Cut

A diamond’s cut is commonly misinterpreted as its shape; common shapes include round, oval, and rectangular. A diamond’s cut actually refers to how its facets—or sides—interact with light. There are three visual effects present in a high-quality diamond: brightness, fire, and scintillation. 

Brightness is the reflection of internal and external white light, while fire defines the scattering of that white light into every color of the rainbow. Lastly, scintillation refers to how much sparkle the diamond produces. This grading category also considers the diamond’s craftsmanship.

Carat

A carat is a unit of measurement used for gems. This category determines a diamond’s value based on its mass. Typically, higher carats create higher prices. This standard exists because higher weighing diamonds are rarer. 

Even if we know the 4 C’s, diamond grading is best left to the professionals. Jewelers undergo extensive training and use specialized instruments to provide accurate grading reports. If you choose, Eterneva diamonds can be certified by independent, expert gemologists through IGI USA.

Beauty Comes in All Shapes and Sizes

There are several diamond shapes, each with unique characteristics and qualities. These shapes can evoke different memories, reflect trends throughout the decades, and even affect how your fingers look when wearing a ring. 

The most common diamond shapes include round, rectangular, square, marquise, oval, and pear.

Round

Round diamonds are a common choice for engagement rings and earrings. They reflect light beautifully, and they’re extremely versatile in fashion. When looking for a round diamond, be sure to check for symmetry, sparkle, and how the diamond reflects light.

Rectangular

Rectangular diamonds have a vintage yet timeless style. Known for their elongated shape, rectangular diamonds come in three different variations: emerald cut, cushion cut, and radiant cut. 

Emerald-cut diamonds have clean, sharp edges, while cushion-shaped diamonds have curved sides and corners. Radiant cut diamonds are a newer addition to the category. Introduced in 1977, radiant cut diamonds come in either a rectangular or square shape and have cropped corners.

Square

Square diamonds are a modern, sophisticated diamond shape. When purchasing square diamonds, it is important to look for symmetry and balance. 

Square diamonds come in two variations, known as the princess cut and the Asscher cut. Princess cut diamonds will have more sparkle and scintillation, and Asscher cut diamonds will look more like an octagon.

Marquise

Marquise diamonds look similar to oval diamonds. However, marquise diamonds have pointed edges, making them look like an open mouth. When evaluating marquise diamonds, look for symmetrical, balanced shapes that aren’t too short or too long.

Oval

Oval diamonds are a great choice for anyone who wants their diamond to appear larger. Unlike its cousin the marquise diamond, oval diamonds are far less likely to chip due to their rounded edges. Oval-shaped diamonds have a beautiful fire, scattering white light into every color of the rainbow.

Pear

Pear-shaped diamonds are a happy medium between round and marquise shapes. Pear-shaped diamonds look like a teardrop, and they’re typically set in a V-shaped prong. When looking at pear-shaped diamonds, look at prong placement and proportion.

Regardless of shape, it is important that the diamond you purchase is well-cut, symmetrical, and proportionate. 

Endless Choices

It may seem as though there are endless possibilities when purchasing or growing a diamond—and there are! Be sure to purchase from a reputable seller and ask as many questions as you need. 

Each choice is an opportunity to personalize your diamond and create a piece of jewelry that speaks to your loved one and their essence. Especially for memorial diamonds, the shape, color, and setting of your diamond are an opportunity to honor your loved ones and their remarkable lives.

Sources

The GIA Guide to Diamond Engagement Ring Shapes. Explore Diamond Shapes for Engagement Rings | 4Cs of Diamond Quality by GIA

History of Diamonds | Cape Town Diamond Museum

The sparkling rise of the lab-grown diamond | BBC

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