What is a diamond?

A diamond is a clear crystalline form of pure carbon, which is the hardest naturally occurring substance on earth. It is a valuable precious gemstone with a hardness and high dispersion of light that has made it a treasured gemstone for centuries.

What are the four C’s?

Diamond ring

The quality of a diamond is determined by the 4 C’s – cut, color, clarity, and carat.

  • Carat – The size of the diamond.
  • Clarity – Imperfections within a diamond are call inclusions. Clarity ratings range from flawless, to level 3 imperfect. See the diamond clarity chart.
  • Color – The color ranging from clear to yellow. The closer to color-free the stone, the more worth it has on the market. See the diamond color chart.
  • Cut – The shape. See the diamond shape chart.

Where are diamonds found?

Only four continents have known diamond deposits and there are a limited number of mines in operation today. On the continent of Africa, diamond mines are located in Angola, Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and Lesotho. Asian mines operate in Russia and India. Both Canada and the U.S. operate mines in North America, and Australia mines diamonds at three separate locations. Crater of Diamonds State Park, located in the state of Arkansas, is a rare example of a non-commercial diamond mine.

What shapes do diamonds come in?

Diamonds are cut in the following shapes: round, princess, emerald, asscher, marquise, radiant, oval, pear, heart, and cushion.


How is diamond quality determined?

The quality of a diamond is determined by what is known as “the 4 Cs.” The 4 Cs refer to the gem’s cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. A diamond’s color, clarity, and carat weight are part of its natural state. Only the cut of the diamond is left for humans to determine.

Many diamonds have a subtle yellow or brown color to them. Stones that are clearer and closest to colorless are considered to be the most beautiful. The clarity of a diamond is related to its purity, or lack of imperfections. In their natural state, smaller diamonds are more common. Therefore, larger stones, measured in carat weight, are coveted and have a higher market value. Lastly, the cut of a diamond is just as important as the first three Cs. A poorly cut stone can ruin the worth of an otherwise highly valuable diamond.

What is diamond grading?

Diamonds are graded in the categories of color and clarity. International grading scales have been developed to ensure that diamonds across the world match in quality and value.

What are the diamond colors? Diamond color chart.

White diamonds are valued for their lack of color. The closer to color-free the stone, the more worth it has on the market. Graduations of color in diamonds can be extremely subtle and are often unnoticeable to the untrained and naked eye. Diamonds categorized with the letters D, E, and F are considered to be exceptional white gems, with letters G through L signifying less valuable stones. Categories represented by letters M through Z are considered to be “tinted” diamonds.

Colored diamonds are graded on the intensity of their color, as opposed to lack of it. The most common colored diamonds are yellow, brown (champagne and cognac), blue, green, and pink. Diamonds sold for their color are labeled as “fancy” diamonds and some can rival exceptional white diamonds in cost.


What is diamond clarity? Diamond clarity chart.

Imperfections within a diamond are call inclusions. Inclusions are problematic because they interfere with light’s ability to pass through the gem, which makes the diamond less brilliant and therefore, less valuable. The international scale for clarity rates diamonds on the number of inclusions as well as the size and placement of them in the diamond. Clarity ratings range from flawless, meaning there are no inclusions present in the diamond, to level 3 imperfect, which means dark inclusions can be seen with the naked eye.


Explanations for each category of clarity are as follows:

FLFlawlessNo internal or external blemishes when examined under a 10x microscope. Diamonds in this category cannot contain internal graining that is reflective, whitish, colored, or which significantly affects transparency.
IFInternally FlawlessNo internal inclusions, but minor surface blemishes which cannot be removed with polishing, such as surface grain lines or natural and extra facets on the crown. Blemishes that can be removed by minor re-polishing separate the internally flawless from the flawless
VVS1, VS2Very, Very Slightly IncludedMinute inclusions, such as reflective internal graining, which are difficult to locate using a 10x microscope.
VS1, VS2Very Slightly IncludedSmall inclusions, such as small included crystals, which are visible using a 10x microscope.
SI1, SI2Slightly IncludedInclusions that can be seen easily under a 10x microscope, and may also be seen with the naked eye using a white background. Inclusions in these diamonds cannot be seen through the crown of the diamond.
I1Imperfect 1Inclusions can be seen with the naked eye and are quite obvious under a 10x microscope.
I2Imperfect 2Inclusions can be seen with the naked eye and may interfere with transparency and brilliance.
I3Imperfect 3Dark inclusions which are very noticeable to the naked eye, which interfere with transparency. Diamonds in this category may contain cleavages that are likely to worsen with wear.

What are the most popular cuts for a diamond?

The traditional round, brilliant cut diamond accounts for more than 75% of diamonds sold in today’s market. A round shaped diamond offers the most options regarding the balancing cut, color, and clarity of the gem, while still getting the desired fire and brilliance. The most popular non-round cut is the princess cut. A relatively new cut for diamonds, the princess shape is typically square, with pointed corners, and a favorite for engagement rings.

What is a round diamond?

The round diamond has long been considered the standard for all other diamond shapes. A round diamond has 58 facets cut into it and is divided into three parts. The uppermost part of the gem is called the crown, and is the largest flat surface of the stone. The middle part is referred to as the girdle, and is the widest part of the diamond. The base, or pavilion, is the bottom of the stone, and is calibrated specifically to allow for the most sparkle.

What is an emerald cut diamond?

Emerald cut diamonds are rectangular in shape with trimmed corners. The flat planes of the corners look similar to stair steps, which is why an emerald cut is considered a “step” cut. Due to its elongated shape, an emerald cut diamond tends to be less fiery than a round diamond. However, there are more surfaces that are wide and flat on an emerald cut diamond than on a round cut gem, so flashes of light tend to be more vivid with this style.

What is a princess cut diamond?

Relatively speaking, the princess cut is a newer style. Square in shape and with many facets, princess cut diamonds look especially stunning when flanked in a setting by triangular stones. If a princess cut diamond is to be used for a ring, it is more flattering to a hand with long, tapered fingers, as its square shape can make fingers look shorter and thicker. A diamond that is princess cut tends to have more depth, as opposed to extensive surface area.

What is an Asscher cut diamond?

The Asscher cut was developed in Holland by two brothers, with the last name of Asscher, in 1902. Like the emerald cut, the Asscher cut is considered to have a “step” design. It has been described as a “square emerald cut,” as it has the same dramatic flat planes that offer theatrical flashes of light, but in the shape of a square instead of a rectangle. The Asscher cut has gained popularity only within the last decade, and still is not considered a staple in all jewelry stores.

What is an oval cut diamond?

An oval cut diamond is geometrically symmetrical, with an even, drawn out, spherical shape. While the oval cut is not extremely popular, many find it to be a flattering shape that makes fingers appear longer and thinner when in a ring setting. For those who love the look of a round cut diamond but would like something more unique, the oval brilliant cut is a wonderful alternative.

What is a marquise diamond?

The famous marquise cut was commissioned by Louis XIV of France, who wanted a diamond representation of the Marquise de Pompadour’s beautiful smile. The elongated shape of the marquise cut, with each end cut to a fine point, has been a popular choice with diamond lovers for centuries. This particular cut is well-loved for its elegance as a solitaire, as well as its ability to be matched with—and enhance the splendor of—other gemstones.

What is a pear shaped diamond?

A pear shaped diamond is a stunning blend of a marquise and either an oval or round cut. It gets its name because of its resemblance to the fruit, and has also been compared to the shape of a teardrop. Because of its unusual shape, pear cut diamonds require a special setting that supports the heavier round base, while protecting the pointed end at the same time. A common question with pear shaped diamond rings is, “Which way should the pointed end go?” There is no right or wrong way to wear a pear shaped diamond ring. However, many believe that situating the point away from the hand gives the illusion of lengthening and slimming of the fingers.

What is a trilliant shaped diamond?

Trilliant cut diamonds are triangular in shape and are cut with a minimum of 43 facets. The trilliant cut can also be referred to as trillion or trillian. Trilliant cut gems are considered to be as brilliant as round cut stones and are often used as a substitute for buyers who want something more modern. Diamonds with a trilliant cut have an equilateral shape, which gives off considerable light reflection and color. Although most trilliant cut stones have 43 facets, some newer gems have 50, making the diamond even more brilliant.

What is a radiant diamond?

Radiant diamonds are those which are square or rectangular in shape, with trimmed edges. Examples of radiant diamonds are the emerald and princess cuts. Unlike round diamonds, radiant diamonds are not symmetrical. With round diamonds, the height and width of the stone are measured in relation to the stone’s diameter. Because the gem is a circle, round diamonds have a surface area that equals the diameter. Radiant cut diamonds are different, in that width does not always equal surface area. The more rectangular in shape the diamond, the greater depth percentage it needs in order to maximize brilliance and symmetry. The loss of surface area caused by trimming the diamond’s edges must also be taken into consideration when determining a radiant diamond’s worth.

What is a heart diamond?

For the ultimate hopeless romantic, a heart shaped diamond is the definitive expression of love. The heart cut is actually a pear cut diamond with the addition of a small cleft on the rounded bottom. Heart cut diamonds can be difficult to craft and the skill of the cutter is crucial to the final fire and brilliance of the gem. Purchasing a heart cut stone requires extra care, so buyers should pay close attention to quality of the piece and the reputation of the jeweler. In order to get the best sparkle from this cut, it is recommended that the stone be as close to one carat as possible, if not larger. For this reason, heart shaped diamonds are not as common as other cuts, most of which can be crafted on smaller stones.

What is a black diamond?

Like white diamonds, black diamonds are pure carbon, but with a different crystalline structure. White diamonds have a regular crystalline structure that allows light to be refracted. This is what gives them their brilliance and sparkle. Black diamonds have a much more compact crystalline structure, which causes light to be absorbed. Therefore, black diamonds do not shine the way white diamonds do, and they are generally not cut for the purpose of brilliance. Black diamonds are sold as fancy diamonds by the name Carbonado. They are technically diamonds, albeit much less popular than the white gem stones.

What are the famous diamonds?

The top 10 most famous diamonds, in order of largest to smallest, are as follows:

1. The Great Star of Africa

  • 530.20 Carats
  • Pear shaped, with 74 facets
  • Discovered in Premier Mine, Transvaal, South Africa, in l095
  • Cut by Joseph Asscher and Company of Amsterdam
  • Yielded 9 large and 96 smaller brilliant cut stones
  • Located in London, set in the Royal Scepter, kept with the other Crown Jewels

2. The Orloff

  • 300 Carats
  • Color: Light blue-green
  • Clarity: Exceptionally pure
  • Cut: Mogul-cut rose
  • Discovered in India
  • Located in the Diamond Treasury of Russia, Moscow

3. The Centenary Diamond

  • 273.85 Carats
  • Discovered in Premier Mine, Transvaal, South Africa, in 1986
  • Weighed 599.10 carats in the rough
  • Gabi Tolkowsky, master cutter, took nearly three years to transform the rough stone into what is now the world’s largest flawless diamond.
  • Has 247 facets, with164 on the stone and 83 at the girdle

4. The Regent

  • 140.50 Carats
  • Considered to be the world’s most beautiful diamond due to exceptional limpidity and perfect cut
  • Discovered in India in 1698
  • Obtained by Thomas Pitt, the Governor of Madras, who sent it to England to be cut
  • Purchased from Pitt in 1717 for the French Crown
  • Located today at the Louvre in Paris

5. Koh-i-Noor

  • 105.60 Carats
  • Cut: Oval
  • Koh-i-Noor means “Mountain of Light”
  • The longest of all famous diamonds
  • Stolen from Rajahs of Malwa in the 16th century by Sultan Babur of Persia
  • Originally weighed l986 carats but was eventually cut down to l08.93 carats
  • Located today in the Tower of London, with the other Crown Jewels

6. The Idol’s Eye

  • 70.20 Carats
  • Flattened, rounded, pear shaped—similar to that of an eye
  • Discovered in Golconda in the early 1600s
  • Legends, stories, and myths abound regarding the history of the Idol’s Eye diamond.
  • The first factual recorded event was the auctioning off of the diamond by Christie’s in London, in 1865, to Abdul Hamid II, the 34th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
  • The diamond was last seen in the early 1980s when it was sold to an unidentified buyer.
  • Today, the gem’s whereabouts remain unknown, causing the Idol’s Eye diamond to remain shrouded in mystery.

7. The Taylor-Burton

  • 69.42 Carats
  • Color: F-G
  • Clarity: IF
  • Cut: Pear shaped
  • Discovered in Premier Mine, Transvaal, South Africa, in 1966
  • The rough diamond weighed 240.80 carats and was cut into a 69.42 pear shaped gem.
  • Purchased by Richard Burton for $1.1 million as a gift for Elizabeth Taylor
  • Taylor sold the diamond for charity in 1979 for $2.8 million.
  • The Taylor-Burton diamond was last seen in Saudi Arabia.

8. The Sancy

  • 55 Carats
  • Cut: Pear shaped
  • Originally owned by Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, who lost the diamond in battle in 1477
  • Named after its last known owner, Seigneur de Sancy, a French Ambassador to Turkey in the late 16th century
  • The diamond disappeared during the French revolution and its current location is unknown.

9. The Blue Hope

  • 45.52 Carats
  • Purchased by Henry Thomas Hope
  • Believed to be part of the Blue Tavernier Diamond, brought to Europe from India in l642
  • The Blue Hope diamond is believed to be cursed, as every owner has befallen tragedy once in possession of the stone.
  • Because no one would purchase the Blue Hope, it is now displayed at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

10. Hortensia

  • 20 Carats
  • Color: Peach
  • Named after the Queen of Holland, step-daughter of Napoleon Bonaparte
  • Located at the Louvre in Paris, as part of the French Crown Jewels