What is in diamonds is a question everyone should ask before they buy any loose diamonds or diamond jewelry, whether it be a ring, a pendant, a watch, a necklace, with gold jewelry, or any of a dozen other types.
What is in diamonds and what isn’t in diamonds are important factors in determining a diamond’s value. Knowing how this value is determined is the most important information you can arm yourself with before hitting the diamond buying trail.
I will explain how diamonds are formed, what they are made of, and how they are found. I will let you know about the 4 C’s, what they are, and what they mean to you as a diamond buyer. I will also explain the difference between laboratory grown diamonds and real diamonds.
How Diamonds are Formed
Diamonds are formed deep within the earth, more than 100 miles deep in the mantle of the earth from highly pressurized and very high temperature carbon deposits.
They are then brought to the earth’s surface from deep source volcanic eruptions. Kimberlite, and Lamproite is produced from these eruptions, which is what the diamond companies are after.
Diamonds are made from a single element, carbon. Diamonds are considered the hardest rock on earth. Only another diamond can scratch a diamond.
The word ‘diamond’ is defined as unbreakable or invincible. These natural, transparent stones or diamonds are very rare, and combined with their brilliant, sparkling appearance, can be very valuable.
How are Diamonds Found
Diamonds are found and mined from the remnants of volcanic eruptions from Kimberlite or Kimberlite pipes. Kimberlite pipes are the opening that is formed from a volcanic eruption that contains this Kimberlite. Within the Kimberlite is where the diamonds are found.
Much of this Kimberlite is not on the surface of the earth, but just below it. Mining is done to recover the Kimberlite ore, break up the rock, and sift out the diamonds. Large scale mining operations are undertaken to mine and process this ore material that contains the diamonds.
Experts say that 250 tons of ore is mined for each diamond that is recovered.
The 4 C’s of Diamond Quality and Valuation
The accepted method of diamond valuation is called the 4 C’s. The Gemological Institute of America, also known as the GIA developed the 4 C’s in order to create a universal language to understand the challenging task of determining a diamond’s quality. These 4 C’s are the four attributes that all diamonds share. They are: Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat.
Color When grading diamonds, the less color, the higher the grade. The GIA color scale categorizes diamonds on an alphabetical scale starting with D colorless down to the letter Z for brown or light yellow. A master set of diamonds that represent each grade is used to compare other diamonds to determine their appropriate grade.
Clarity Eleven clarity grades are utilized on the GIA scale starting with Flawless as the most desireable at the top of the scale, regressing all the way to I 3.
Flawless means that there are no inclusions, flaws, or blemishes visible to the naked eye or with a microscope at 10 times magnification.
A microscope, and a 10 times magnification loop are utilized to identify, and plot the inclusions. Diamonds are also carefully checked to be sure that no treatment was used to artificially improve the clarity. No two diamonds are exactly the same, so a unique plot is used to grade a particular one.
Cut Brilliant round diamonds are used for the GIA cut scale. Five different grades are used on this scale starting at the top with an Excellent Grade, then to Very Good, Good, Fair, and down to Poor at the bottom of the scale.
The shape of the diamond is only one aspect of determining a cut grade. The amount of brilliance and sparkle of a diamond is determined by how well it is cut and polished.
A high precision measuring device that rotates the stone 360 degrees is used so that facet angles, and hundreds of measurements can be captured.
A system designed by scientists was developed that enables a given diamond’s proportions, symmetry descriptions, girdle thickness and other specific measurements to be taken into account to help establish an accurate cut grade.
Carat Carat or Carat Weight is a weight measurement of a given diamond. One carat equals in weight one fifth of a gram, or 200 milligrams.
Each diamond is placed in a sealed chamber at the GIA laboratory on an extremely precise electronic scale, and weighed to the fifth decimal place.
An official GIA grading report is issued for each diamond which provides information about the diamond’s 4 C’s, and a great deal more about the diamond.
This GIA grading report is the most technologically advanced evaluation of a diamond possible. It provides a complete, permanent record of a diamonds’s quality, and a blueprint of a diamond’s attributes.
Lab Grown Diamonds versus Real Diamonds
Laboratory grown diamonds have burst onto the scene in the diamond world in the last few decades, with more of a presence now than ever. How do these lab diamonds compare with real diamonds? Are these diamonds that I should consider buying over real diamonds?
Lab diamonds are man made diamonds, and like real diamonds are made out of carbon. These lab grown diamonds are also known as synthetic diamonds, artisan diamonds, or simulated diamonds. Lab grown diamonds are manufactured two different ways.
HPHT Method – High Pressure High Temperature
CVD Method – Chemical Vapor Deposition
HPHT, and CVD are exactly the same chemical composition as a real or natural diamond, but man made.
Moissanite, which is a diamond simulant, is actually not a diamond at all. It is made from silicon carbide, which is not as hard as a diamond.
Perhaps the biggest difference betwee the HPHT, CVD, and Moissanite lab grown diamonds, and natural diamonds is that they will not hold their value like a real or natural diamond.
The reason for this is that there is an endless supply of lab grown diamonds. Lab grown diamonds can be manufactured quickly, and easily, and in large quantities.
Natural or real diamonds on the other hand are much more rare. Natural diamonds have to be located, and mined, which is a costly, time consuming, and difficult process. This rarity, and scarcity factor will always buoy the value of real diamonds.
What is in Diamonds is Key
Diamonds are formed deep within the earth from extreme high temperature, and extreme high pressure carbon deposits. Diamonds are formed from a single element, carbon. Diamonds are brought to the earth’s surface from deep source volcanic eruptions.
Diamonds are considered the hardest rock on earth. Diamonds are found, and mined from Kimberlite deposits. On average, 250 tons of ore is mined to produce one diamond.
The 4 C’s that determine a diamond’s quality, and value are Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat.
Lab grown diamonds are man made diamonds, and like real diamonds are made out of carbon. These synthetic diamonds are made either using the HPHV method, or the CPV method.
Moissanite, a simulated diamond is made from silicon carbide, and is not technically a diamond.
The biggest difference between a lab grown diamond, and a real diamond is the scarcity, and rarity factor of real diamonds compared to the endless, ever ready supply of lab grown diamonds. This factor makes real diamonds more valuable, and will help sustain their superior value over the long term.
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