The world of diamonds and diamond shapes is a big one and it is all too easy to feel insecure, intimidated, or just completely lost. To the untrained eye, every diamond can start to look oddly familiar and it can seem impossible to know if you are actually getting your money’s worth.
With diamonds being one of the most popular precious gemstones on the market, no matter what level of diamond you invest in, you’ll definitely be putting down some serious cash, especially for better carat weight and brilliance. So how do you know that you are getting not only what you want, but getting your money’s worth?
While we most definitely hope that you can trust your jeweler to be honest about any imperfections as well as the diamond carat, the truth is there’s a lot you can learn on your own to make sure that you get what you want when it comes to purchasing a diamond.
Here are some of our top tips to know when it comes to purchasing a diamond!
What Exactly Is a Diamond?
If you are hitting the market in search of a diamond, you need to know exactly what a diamond is and how they are formed. Why do you need to know this? When it comes to assessing the value of a diamond, there are certain categories that are representative of how that diamond was formed. So knowing the back grown of what a diamond is and how it was formed can help you to make the best decision.
Is a Diamond a Gemstone?
Yes, a diamond is most definitely a gemstone. When it comes to categorizing gemstones, they are divided into two categories based primarily on their prevalence. The rarer a gemstone, the more valuable and precious the stone.
For diamonds, they find themselves in the category of precious gemstone along with rubies and sapphires. Diamonds are actually not as rare as both rubies or sapphires, but culturally they are far more sought after. The other category of gemstones is semi-precious gemstones. Stones like onyx, opal, and amethyst belong in this category.
What Makes a Diamond a Gemstone and Not a Rock?
This is a great question when heading into the market to purchase a gemstone! Gems themselves are crystalized minerals that have been cut and polished and hold certain appealing characteristics. The most important characteristic that contributes to a gem’s worth is its scarcity. The rare a gem, the more valuable it is, however, there are other factors that play important roles.
For instance, aesthetics has a huge impact on the value of a gemstone. One of the reasons that diamonds are so popular is that their graceful, brilliant form factor can go so well with almost any piece of jewelry. These clear-cut, sparkling gems are universally held as beautiful and can be used for a variety of different occasions from celebrations, like a diamond engagement ring, to memorialization.
The technical reason these gemstones are not considered rocks is that a rock is composed of two or more minerals. A gemstone like a diamond is composed of one substance and that’s carbon atoms that have been joined together and crystalized.
Are Diamonds Considered an Element?
If diamonds are composed of pure carbon, then it stands to ask if a diamond is considered an element? Carbon is one of the most abundant elements on the planet and even in its pure form can have multiple presentations. The simple answer here is no, diamonds are not considered an element in and of themselves. While they are composed of only one element, carbon, they are what is known as an allotrope.
An allotrope is formed when a substance composed of one lament takes on different physical properties. For instance, diamonds and graphite are both allotropes of carbon. This means that they are both primarily composed of only carbon, however, because of the bonds between the carbon atoms they both hold different physical properties. Graphite is a soft, dark material that leaves a mark on almost any surface it touches while diamonds are clear and one of the hardest naturally occurring substances in the world.
How Are Diamonds Formed?
The formation of a diamond is a rather involved process that requires extreme conditions. Diamonds are formed in the earth’s mantle which is roughly 100 miles beneath the surface. At this extreme depth, carbon atoms are exposed to incredible temperatures that range upwards of 2000 degrees Fahrenheit and incredible amounts of pressure. The pressure needed to form a diamond is 725,000 psi (pounds per square inch), and at this depth, these conditions allow for the capitalization of carbon.
You may be wondering how diamonds make their way up from such incredible depths, and it may surprise you that volcanoes are the reason for their appearance on the surface. The volcanic activity that reaches down to this depth is able to tear away segments of the earth’s mantel and bring this material up to the surface.
When it comes to mining diamonds there are actually two prevalent forms that have found their way up to the surface. The first method involves sifting areas of land that are thought to have diamond deposits and is not typically what the common person thinks of when they think of mining.
The idea here is that diamonds, having been brought to the surface in the past through volcanic activity, are now mixed in with the terrain. So mining these areas for diamonds involves attaining large amounts of soil and sifting it thoroughly for diamonds.
The second method is more in line with what is naturally thought of as traditional mining. This method involves tunneling down into the ground next to naturally occurring tunnels that were made by volcanic activity in the past. This volcanic activity brought pieces of the earth’s mantel up to the surface and along the way made diamond deposits that can be mined.
How Is a Diamond’s Worth Assessed?
Now that you have some foundational knowledge about diamonds under your belt, it’s time to go over some of the most important characteristics that diamond quality is assessed by. Lucky for you, this is your ultimate diamond buying guide.
Knowing what makes a diamond valuable and what contributes to its quality is easier than you may think and it can help you feel confident about your purchase decision.
The Four Cs of Diamond Quality
When it comes to assessing the quality and value of a diamond, there are four Cs that universally are used, Clarity, Color, Carat, and Cut. Every graded diamond will have these four areas assessed and knowing the basics of how to read a grading scale can help you ask the right questions and ultimately make the best decision.
Clarity, Color and, Carat
These three categories deal with the natural characteristics of the diamond as it is. The clarity of the diamond speaks to blemishes that a diamond naturally has both on its surface and internally (internal blemishes are referred to as inclusions not necessarily seen by the naked eye). The more internally and externally flawless a diamond, the more valuable it will be.
Color grades refer to the level of purity that a diamond has. Just like water, the more pure a diamond is the greater the absence of color. While there are certain rare diamonds that have a very strong coloration that is particularly valuable, for the most part, a diamond is graded on a color range of total absence of color to light yellow. The less color, the more valuable the diamond.
A carat is a universally held unit of measurement that is exclusively used for gemstones. One carat is equal to 0.200 grams and this measurement along with the other three Cs will determine the worth of a diamond. A larger carat size doesn’t always mean a great value, as the other Cs need to have equally high ratings to increase in value.
Lasly, the Cut
This last category of quality and value assessment for a diamond is its cut, such as oval, emerald, brilliant cut, or princess cut diamonds. This is the only category that is actually determined by a craftsman. Because every diamond is 100% unique, every diamond has a cut that will suit it best.
A diamond’s cut will determine the amount of sparkle and shimmer that it naturally gives off. A master craftsman will cut a diamond to bring out the diamond’s proportions and most natural eye-catching qualities. The more effective the cut, the higher the quality and value of the diamond.
Are Lab Diamonds Real?
Thanks to technology that allows labs to replicate conditions in the earth’s mantel, it is possible to take carbon and actually grow a diamond. Because this process is identical in condition to the earth’s mantel, this produces a 100% real, one-of-a-kind diamond. These diamonds undergo the exact same grading as natural diamonds are also a great option when on the market for the perfect stone.