The Origin of Diamonds
The ancient Greeks believed that diamonds were splinters of stars fallen to the earth. The truth is that diamonds are common carbon, as in a lead pencil, yet have a boiling point of approximately 4000 degrees centigrade. Diamonds were formed under immense pressure and heat hundreds of miles below sea level. After 100 million years of formation, volcanic explosions forced them upward, exposing their natural beauty to the world.
A rough diamond so resembles a pebble. It is the skill of the craftsman that unlocks the fiery beauty that lies within. The beauty of the diamond depends on the way it reflects and refracts light. The polisher must facet the stone, allowing the light to emerge from the top.
The Four Diamond C's
Many people confuse cut with the shape of a diamond. Shapes can be Round, Princess, Emerald, Heart, Pear, Marquise, Oval, etc. The cut of the diamond refers to the symmetry, proportions, finish, and polish of the stone. A well-cut diamond will show off its full beauty through its brilliance, fire, and scintillation, whereas a poorly cut diamond can look dull and lifeless.
Colour is perhaps the most important characteristic of a diamond, as you can see colour with the naked eye, whilst clarity needs magnification. Ideally, the closer a diamond is to colourless (D grade) the more valuable and rarer it will be, as more light will pass and refract through it, further enhancing its beauty.
The clarity of a diamond is assessed under 10x magnification. Nearly all diamonds contain inclusions or clarity characteristics, which may be crystals of a foreign material or another diamond crystal, or structural imperfections. The number, size, colour, relative location, orientation, and visibility of inclusions can all affect the relative clarity of a diamond. A clarity grade is assigned based on the overall appearance of the stone, the fewer there are, the rarer and more valuable the diamond will be. Minor inclusions or blemishes are useful, as they can be used as unique identifying marks, similar to fingerprints, helping to identify the stone and distinguishing them between natural and synthetic diamonds and therefore proof of natural origin.
The carat is a reference to the weight of a diamond. One carat is divided into 100 points, so a diamond of 25 points is described as 0.25 of a carat. It may be hard to believe that approximately 250 tons of ore must be mined and sorted in order to produce a single, one-carat polished diamond. The larger or heavier the Diamond, the rarer and more valuable it will be.