Diamonds are revered all over the world by collectors, museums, enthusiasts and everyday people. Why are they so popular? What makes them so special and also so rare? Many people ask these questions when it comes time to purchase a traditional engagement ring or piece of diamond jewelry. The fact is that diamonds are highly coveted for many reasons outside of their natural beauty. Let’s take a look and understand in intimate detail just why diamonds are considered the ultimate precious gem.
To begin with they are the hardest natural material found on earth. They score a perfect “10” on the Mohs hardness scale and are extremely durable and resistant to chipping, scratching, and breaking. They also have an “adamantine” luster that is found only in diamonds, making them extremely light reflective and brilliant.
From the scientific viewpoint, diamonds are pure carbon in its crystallized form. Their natural color differences come from the trace minerals that were trapped within the atomic structure of the diamond during its formation. Natural white diamonds are prized for their “colorless” characteristic. These gems are the most commonly found.
However, diamonds are found in all colors of the rainbow with red being the rarest color of them all. These fancy colored diamonds are found only in specific mines and are usually not naturally large.
Various industries utilize the inherent qualities in a diamond to help cut and grind other materials. For example, diamond tips are regularly used for drill bits and diamond powder is a well-known abrasive material. This helps in cutting materials widely used like glass, steel, acrylic, etc.
The diamonds mined today were first formed millions of years ago under extreme temperatures and pressures in the earth’s crust.They are mined at or near the earth’s surface and are estimated to be 1-3 billion years old! With today’s technology, it is possible to recreate what the earth has done naturally, however there are ways in which to know whether a diamond has been formed in a laboratory or over earth’s billion year process.
Gem quality diamonds are analyzed and graded by laboratories that help to set value and pricing in the commercial market. Some of these major global laboratories include: Gemological Institute of America (GIA), American Gemological Society (AGS), and European Gemological Laboratory (EGL).
These laboratories use more or less the same terms to describe a diamond’s four main characteristics including: diamond color, diamond clarity, diamond cut, and diamond carat weight.
The pricing of a diamond is largely determined by carat weight. It is certainly the first thing that any diamond cutter looks for when deciding how to cut a particular rough diamond into a specified shape. One carat is one-fifth of a gram or 200 milligrams and the higher the carat weight the more expensive the stone.
Clarity measures internal inclusions or external blemishes. Because diamonds are naturally formed, it is very rare to find diamonds that are naturally flawless.
As mentioned above, color in white diamonds refers to the amount of nitrogen found in a diamond. The more nitrogen, the more yellow a diamond will appear.
Finally the cutting, polishing and shaping of a diamond is the only human assisted characteristic of a diamond, but ironically is the one characteristic that gives a diamond its ultimate brilliance and beauty. A well cut, polished and shaped diamond fetches far more than one that is heavier in terms of carats.
Diamonds take billions of years to form and a lot of effort to mine, sort, cut, polish, and set into beautiful jewelry. It takes a tremendous amount of work and effort to get these rare and beautiful gems set into jewelry, so no wonder they are so highly admired! Now that you know a little more about diamonds hopefully you have a new appreciation for nature’s perfect little gem!