Throughout history, diamond was and still is considered as the most valuable natural mineral in the world. The formation of pure carbon has, in the millions of years and under extremely high pressures and temperatures, transformed into the hardest natural substance deep below the Earth's surface, and the diamonds were brought into the range of man by volcanic activity.
With precision design, namely with cutting and polishing, the tempting luster is brought out of the precious stones, the reason for which they were always considered as the women’s best friends. We gift diamonds to each other as signs of love, we use them to celebrate truly special occasions, or we simply use them to spice up our everyday appearance. Like many other things, diamonds are not subjects to the 'the bigger the better' rule - we need to know much more when choosing the perfect jewel for a special occasion.
The Extraction of Diamonds
Precious stones are extracted in huge mines all around the world. The largest deposits are scattered throughout Africa, parts of South America, Russia and Australia. The workers in the surface or underground mines, or below the sea, move huge amounts of rock, gravel and fine sand, in which the raw crystals of different sizes and colors are hidden. To find one carat of diamonds, several tons of waste material must be thoroughly searched! After they sort the diamonds apart from other rocks, they are classified into more than 5,000 categories, according to four key factors: weight, color, clarity and cut.
To find one carat of diamonds, several tons of waste material must be thoroughly searched.
Weight of Diamonds
A carat is the basic unit for expressing the weight of this precious stone. A diamond, which has the mass of one carat, weighs exactly 0.2 g. In the past, the mass was measured with hand-held balance scales that had counterweights made of different materials.
For precise measurements, they used carob seeds due to their constant weight; they are called Kerátion in Greek - hence the word carat. The smallest diamonds in nature weigh about a hundredth of a carat, while the largest diamonds found so far weighed well over 3,000 carats. When buying gems, we must be aware that the price of precious stones with exactly the same purity and color increases exponentially with weight – the heavier the diamond is, the more rarely it occurs in nature and the higher the price is per each carat.
Many believe that carats are used to express the size of the diamond, but it is not so.
The Shapes of Diamonds
Diamonds in various forms are cut and polished with different technologies. When shaping the raw stone, they try using different technologies to create as little waste as possible, thus obtaining the maximum mass of quality-ground precious stones of different sizes. The classic shapes of diamonds are determined in such a way that the precise treatment ensures the highest and the most even luster. The most popular shape in which the diamonds are cut is called a brilliant, due to the perfect play of the light during the movement of the mineral, and the word is derived from the Italian "brillare'- to sparkle.
The Cut of Diamonds
When choosing the gems for jewelry, the cut is of great importance. The word can be misleading, making us think of one of the above shapes, but that is not the case. A good cut is defined by the proportions of the already-made stone, the symmetry, and the quality of the polish, which are reflected in the high shine, colorful reflections and the play of light and shadows during the movement of the diamond.
The path of the light through the diamond is defined by the cut sides of different forms, called facets. The properly positioned facets ensure that most of the light, which falls on the cut stone, is reflected through the large top facet. The imperfect luster can be a consequence of poor treatment, which makes the light seep through the bottom of the stone, or it does not reflect light in total symmetry.
When we discuss the proportions of the cut stone, we do not include only the relationship between the height, width and depth, but also the angles of the cut and the ratios between the size and the number of facets.
A bad cut can greatly deform diamonds of the highest quality, while with an excellent cut, we can draw the highest possible luster out of diamonds of slightly inferior quality.
The Colour of Diamonds
In nature, diamonds occur in different colors. Some are highly valued, and white diamonds are especially desirable. Their quality is graded mainly by a scale, defined by the Gemological Institute of America, G.I.A. With the colorless, white diamonds with the absence of color, the price also usually rises - the highest value is given to the completely colorless stones.
According to the current scale, the most colorless diamond to this day was marked with the letter D - A, B and C are reserved for precious stones that we might find in the future. When buying a diamond as an investment, we of course choose among the most colorless specimens, while the situation is somewhat different with gems for jewelry. The color of the stone is often affected by the color of the material that surrounds it - a diamond, which has a bit more color, will look brighter when embedded into jewelry from yellow gold, than in that of white gold.
The G.I.A color scale values the differently colored diamonds with letters - those marked with Z are colored distinctly yellow, while A marks a completely colorless mineral.
The Purity of Diamonds
Diamonds are crystals of pure carbon, formed at extremely high pressures and at extremely high temperatures in the Earth’s mantle . Since they occur in the natural environment, flaws often appear on their insides, in the form of darker spots. When determining the cut, they try to either eliminate the flaws or place them within the stone in such a way that they are as little visible as possible through the large top facet. The purity of the diamond is crucial when determining the price.
The purity of the diamond is crucial when determining the price.