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Guide to Diamonds

The Ultimate Guide to Diamonds

Diamonds have created a long history of being highly valued and sought after by most people. In fact, the romance with diamonds is centuries old, where the ancient Greeks believed that diamonds were splinters of stars fallen on the earth. The word diamond comes from the Greek word meaning unbreakable and this precious gemstone is renowned for being the hardest natural substance found on the Earth. It is a combination of their distinctiveness, rigidity, infrequency and rare physical simplicity that made them a symbol for social, economic status, and success. The most famed and fabled of all gemstones these days, the diamond, is unique in many ways. It’s safe to say no gemstone contains as much allure and interest as does diamond.

The countries that are the main sources of diamonds have changed over time. India was the world’s original source of diamonds, beginning in the 1400s when Indian diamonds began to be sold in Venice and other European trade centres. Then in the 1700s India’s diamond supplies declined and Brazil became the world’s major source of diamonds, until the late 1800s when a huge diamond reserve was discovered in South Africa. Today, diamonds are mined in many parts of the world, from Canada to Botswana, Namibia and Russia.

Diamonds come in a wide range of colours such as black, blue, green, pink, red, purple, orange and yellow. The colour is dependent upon the type of impurities that are present in the stone. For instance, yellow stones have minuscule traces of nitrogen while blue ones contain boron.

Diamonds are one of the most beautiful stones in the world, especially when they are high quality. In order to buy the most high-quality diamonds, you must know as much about them as possible, to begin with. When it comes to purchasing diamonds online or at a physical store, most people are clueless about the things that they should look out for and how to protect themselves from making a bad purchase. You can’t really blame them. The thing is, diamond buying is probably something you won’t do regularly unless there’s a special occasion coming up. It’s completely understandable that you can feel rather uneasy to be spending money on a big purchase that is hinged with uncertainty.

Selecting the perfect diamond can be anything but simple and straightforward, particularly if you are new to the world of diamonds. Though they might be a girl’s best friend, their companionship usually comes with a hefty price tag. As such, knowing exactly what to look for when purchasing a diamond can help to ensure that you get the most value for your money (and that you avoid a costly case of buyer’s remorse down the line).

To be a smart shopper, you need to know the essential elements that go into the process of selecting a good diamond and the critical pitfalls to avoid. All diamonds are not created equal, and just because a diamond is bigger, or heavier than another, does not make it better quality or more valuable. If you're in the market for an engagement or wedding ring, you'll find a mind-boggling menagerie of jewel-related terms all around you—the "Four Cs," inclusions, princess cut, certificates—it's enough to make your head spin. Here then, in surprising simplicity, are the basics you need to know before you make what may be one of the bigger purchases in your life. The ultimate guide to diamonds will tell you everything you need to know!

Diamond Grading –The Four C’s

You've heard of the traditional four "C"s to size up a diamond. Diamond quality is graded by reference to the 4Cs — carat weight, colour, clarity and cut. Of course, each of these has its own importance when considering which stone is for you. Combined, all four factors are equally important in determining the final cost and ultimate value of a diamond. You absolutely must familiarise yourself with the 4Cs if you’re going to go shopping for a diamond.

Diamonds are weighed in carats (1 carat = 1/5 of a gram), or in points (100 points = 1 carat) for smaller diamonds. Most people think of diamonds as ‘white’ or clear, but diamonds come in many colours. Generally, the ‘whiter’ the diamond the better, unless you are fortunate enough to have an intense fancy coloured diamond. Clarity refers to freedom from internal inclusions and external flaws, and the cleaner a diamond is the better. A diamond usually sparkles best with a brilliant cut, which was designed especially for diamonds. For example, if a diamond possessing the finest diamond Cut grade is also colourless, free of inclusions and blemishes, and weighs one carat, it would be written as: 0/0/0–1.000 carat.

This grading will help to distinguish the value and rarity of one diamond from another when you’re comparison shopping. For instance, did you know that a larger diamond with a yellow undertone may actually be less valuable than a smaller, more colourless one? The 4Cs all play a part in how valuable or high quality a diamond is. Here’s a breakdown of each of them:

Diamond Carat

You have the diamond carat, which is how heavy the diamond is, not its size. It is a unit of weight. Contrary to popular belief, this isn't the most important thing. There’s no point wearing a huge ‘rock’ on your finger if it doesn’t boast the other Cs too.

Each carat is divided into 100 points. A carat is one-fifth of a gram. Generally the lighter in weight the stone the lower the price per carat. It’s important to remember that the carat refers to the weight, and not the size. A well-cut diamond might actually look larger than a poorly cut diamond that is equal in weight.

Diamond Cut

The diamond cut is how well the diamond is cut and shaped. The better a diamond is cut, the better it can usually reflect light, looking brighter and more brilliant on the finger. This is probably the most important factor to look for in your diamond as it not only describes the diamond shape such as Round brilliant, Cushion cut, Asscher cut, Emerald cut and Princess cut but more importantly also its proportions, symmetry and finish often called "make" in the diamond trade. A diamond with a good make will be bright, fiery and really sparkle. The better the make the higher the price, fewer than 5% of diamonds have and excellent make.

Diamond Clarity

Clarity is the degree to which a diamond is internally free of flaws. Flaws (or inclusions) cut a gem's sparkle and thus its price. If the diamond is clear, it will look brighter and more beautiful. However, it is extremely rare and almost impossible to see a diamond that is completely flawless. Diamonds are formed within the earth under heat and pressure. This means they contain unique marks internally and externally. Most diamonds contain some inner, and occasionally outer flaws. The fewer imperfections a diamond has, the higher quality it is considered to be.

Every diamond is unique, not one is perfect under 10x magnification. Rarely, some may come close. Most jewellers have never even seen a flawless diamond! The clarity of a diamond refers to the number, size, location, and nature of these tiny inclusions—natural impurities, such as traces of minerals, gasses, or other elements—found inside the stone.

Diamond Colour

Finally, you have the colour of the diamond. Colour refers to a diamond's transparency. Colourless is best and as a rule the more transparent the diamond the higher the price. The most highly sought after diamonds are colourless, as they give the most sparkle. Off white diamond absorb more light, which can inhibit brilliance.

Diamonds can occur in a variety of colours. You can get white, blue, orange, black, and more. These diamonds contain impurities that cause the colour. The purest diamonds are totally transparent and colourless.

The colour of a diamond is graded from D to Z. D is a colourless diamond - this makes it the most desirable, and it’ll likely be the most expensive. This being said, a non-expert is unlikely to be able to tell the difference between a diamond graded E unless they have a stone to compare. When a diamond is mounted on a yellow gold ring, it can make it even more difficult to tell between minor colour differences.

Diamond Quality

To determine diamond quality, the 4Cs will be taken into account and a jeweller will grade the diamond. If you want to buy a quality diamond, you need to determine what is the highest priority to you. Do you want a diamond that is totally pure, almost flawless? Perhaps you want a diamond that sparkles brilliantly in the light? Maybe you prefer one that is cut to a unique shape? You can find so many different types of diamonds, so prioritising what you want is important.

Providing you familiarise yourself with the 4Cs, it could also be worth investing in a jeweller’s loupe so you can assess diamond quality for yourself. You will be able to see each diamond with a 10x magnification, so you can be sure that the diamond you are buying is high quality.

The fluorescence of a diamond is also a factor considered in diamond quality. If a diamond is deemed to be of high fluorescence, it is deemed less desirable.

For more detailed information visit: Diamond buying tips GIA, about diamonds HRD and CNN for more about Botswana diamonds.

Types of Diamonds

There are so many different types of diamonds. The most popular colours and diamond types are a combination of pink, blue, brown, and yellow. Orange, green, and red are also popular. Yellow is the most common naturally occurring colour in a diamond.

White, red, blue, and green are very rare.

You also have natural diamonds, treated diamonds, and man made diamonds. Man made diamonds tend to be up to 50% cheaper than natural diamonds.

It’s also important to note the different classifications of diamonds. They are as follows:

Ia - have a yellowish tone.
IIa - differing fluorescence and no visible absorption. No nitrogen impurities that can cause a yellow or brown tint. Tend to have an irregular shape. The rarest and valuable type sought after by collectors and investors.
Ib - intense yellow, brown, or orange in colour. Canary diamonds are a good example of this. Rare.
IIb - electrically conductive. Gives a blue/grey tint. Extremely rare and highly valuable. The blue is often considered an advantage.

Ring Settings

A setting that will last is crucial for any diamond. The setting you choose can enhance your diamond’s beauty. Prongs are popular settings for engagement rings, but you also have options like the Halo, Channel, Bezel, and more.

Whilst complicated is not on the list of C’s, to the average person or first-time buyer, comparing one diamond to another can be quite overwhelming. Rest assured, beautiful diamonds can fit almost any budget. Plus, by knowing a thing or two about the 4Cs, you'll be able to shop smarter and most likely score a better value. You can expect quality and craftsmanship at an affordable price from Aurum Fine Jewellery in Ponsonby, Auckland. With the knowledge and experience that comes with over 20 years as a skilled Goldsmith custom making bespoke pieces for individual clients, you will receive the best diamond and gemstone advice, personal service and attention to detail. Aurum Fine Jewellery work with each client individually creating work that is highly regarded and very price competitive, especially when compared with off the shelf high street jewellers. Aurum Fine Jewellery will design and make beautiful jewellery especially for you. All enquiries are welcome so please contact Colin Thomson for personal service by email or telephone on 09 3781335.