FAQ about Diamonds
What do I look for in buying jewellery with quality diamonds?
The Four C's - cut, colour, clarity and carat weight are your guidelines. These four characteristics determine the value of a diamond. As well as learning as much as you can about the Four C's, remember the Fifth C which is Confidence in your jeweller. He will help you choose the right quality stone. He will realise this is a very important purchase for you and that you will want to buy the best quality diamond you can.
What is meant by carat?
The weight of a diamond is measured in carats, and there are 100 points to a carat. A carat is equal to one fifth of a gram. Diamonds are so precious that they are weighed on scales whose delicate balance even a breath can tip.
The carat has an interesting history. Centuries ago, the gem dealers of the Middle East used the seeds of the carob tree to balance their scales. These seeds are surprisingly uniform in weight; on ancient scales they balanced exactly.
Do diamonds come in different colours?
Diamonds come in all colours of the spectrum. Most diamonds appear white. A rare few are the crystalline white of icicles under the sun. The majority of diamonds are the warmer whites with tinges of yellow or brown, some so faint that only the expert eye can see them. There are also diamonds in pastel colours such as pink, green and champagne. The whiter they are, the greater is their rarity and, therefore, value.
What should I know about colour in buying a diamond?
When buying a diamond, colour is an important factor in determining the price.
Completely colourless, icy-white diamonds are very rare and are priced accordingly. The variations in colour are often so slight that they can be detected only by an expert under special light. Diamonds with a strong natural colour are also very rare and are called "fancy colours" commanding collectors prices if also of good size and cut.
The best way to see the true colour of a diamond is to look through its side against a white background.
What is the meaning of clarity?
If a jeweller were to line up six bright and sparkling diamonds on a velvet pad, most customers would think they were all the same. But to the jeweller each is different. In the process of crystallizing diamonds out of carbon, Nature left miniscule birthmarks - specks, bubbles and "feathers" in most of them. These natural characteristics are called inclusions and it is their number, size and position, under 10-power magnification, which determine the clarity of a diamond.
Because of inclusions, each diamond has individuality just as each person is a unique combination of genes.
You might have heard the term "flawless" applied to diamonds. This is the term for a diamond that has no visible inclusions when viewed under 10-power magnification. There are very few flawless diamonds.
Does clarity affect the price?
The fewer inclusions there are in a diamond, the more valuable it is.
Frequently, inclusions can be removed in the cutting process, and it is the task of the diamond cutter to remove as many as he can while maintaining as much of the original carat weight as possible, since both weight and clarity affect the value of the diamond.
Why is the shape of a diamond called a cut.
When he examines the rough stone, the cutter decides what shape the diamond will be. He takes into consideration the shape of the rough, its size, any inclusions and how much weight will be lost in the cutting.
The most popular shape for the engagement diamond is the round brilliant cut, which has have 58 facets. This is usually cut from an eight-sided crystal.
The marquise, oval, pear, emerald and heart-shaped diamonds are known as fancy cuts. These are all fashioned from different shapes of rough diamonds that do not lend themselves to the round brilliant cut.he shapes of the facets differ in each of the cuts, and it is these tiny polished planes on the surface of each diamond that account for its brilliance and fire. The precision and delicacy exercised by the craftsman who cuts the stone determines the quality of the cut, the extent of the brilliancy and mystery of the diamond's "fire".
The shape you choose is a matter of individual taste -they are all works of art.
Is a diamond really forever?
Diamonds are as precious and unique today as they were when only worn by princes and kings.
The diamond is the hardest natural substance known to man and literally endures forever, which is why it is a perfect symbol of love and a lasting relationship. It is several thousand times harder than corundum, from which sapphires and rubies are formed. Once cut and polished, diamonds never lose their beauty, and many have been passed on and enjoyed from generation to generation, yet further reason why you should buy the best quality stone you can.
What other characteristics make a diamond so special?
The main characteristic which makes a diamond so special is its unique ability to handle light. It is because of this that the diamond sparkles with such brilliance, fire and scintillation.
The diamond's brilliance lies in its ability to capture white light, and reflect it back to the eye. No other gemstone can match it.
Fire is the blaze of rainbow colours into which the diamond breaks up the white light that passes through it. This quality is also called dispersion, and the diamond has the highest dispersion index of any natural gem.
Scintillation is the flash of light that occurs whenever a diamond is moved, even fractionally. A well cut and faceted diamond will capture light from the slightest flicker of a candle.
A diamond's unique beauty - the spectacular light show it puts on - is captured in every stone. The higher the quality of a diamond the greater its ability to handle light, which intensifies its beauty and increases its value. Nothing can begin to rival the diamond for fire, brilliance, scintillation and hardness.
Where do diamonds come from?
The exact origin of diamonds is still something of a mystery, even to scientists. Though the diamond is the hardest of all gemstones, it is the simplest in composition. It is pure carbon, not unlike the graphite in a lead pencil, but carbon that has crystallized.
Somehow many millions of years ago diamonds crystallized under immense heat and pressure, deep in the earth's crust. Then the force of ancient volcanic eruptions drove the diamond-bearing molten rock up through pipe-like channels towards the earth's surface where diamonds are mined today.
Why are diamonds so valuable?
Only twenty per cent of all the diamonds mined in the world are gem quality; the rest, because of their colour and quality, are suitable only for industrial purposes, which is why diamonds are so rare. They are extremely difficult to recover. An average 31 tons of ore must be mined and processed in order to produce a one carat diamond (which is only 1/142 of an ounce). The expertise of many skilled and experienced people is necessary not only in the complicated process of extracting, but also in cutting and polishing a diamond. So all diamonds are valuable; the better their cut, colour and clarity, and the bigger they are, the more valuable they are.
How did the tradition of the diamond engagement ring begin?
It all began with Mary of Burgundy She was the first lady to receive a diamond ring for her engagement to Maximilian of Austria on August 17, 1477.
According to history, Maximilian asked one of his counsellors for advice on proposing to Mary. The counsellor told him to give her "a ring set with a diamond and also a gold ring". Maximilian took the advice and proposed, slipping a diamond ring on the third finger of her left hand. Mary said "yes", and a tradition was born.
Why the third finger, left hand?
The early Egyptians believed that the vena amoris (vein of love) ran directly from the heart to the top of the third finger, left hand.
How are diamonds cared for?
Diamonds do need care to keep them at their brilliant best. A clean diamond not only reflects light better, but actually looks bigger than one that's been "dulled" by skin oils, soap, cosmetics and cooking grease. Diamonds have an affinity for grease and should be cleaned once every month to keep them looking their brightest.
There are three simple ways to wash away the "film" that accumulates on diamonds:
The Detergent Bath. Prepare a small bowl of warm suds with any mild liquid detergent. Brush pieces gently with a toothbrush while they are in the suds. Transfer to a wire strainer and rinse under warm running water. Pat dry with a soft, lintless cloth.
The Cold Water Soak. Make a half and half solution of cold water and household ammonia in a cup. Soak the diamond for 30 minutes. Lift out and tap gently around the back and front of the mounting with a small brush. Swish in the solution once more and drain on paper. No rinse is needed.
The Quick-Dip Method. Buy one of the brand-name liquid jewellery cleaners, with its kit, and follow the instructions.
Additional tips on how to care for your diamond
Don't let your diamond come in contact with chlorine bleach when you're doing housework. It won't hurt the diamond, but it can pit or discolour the mounting.
Don't wear your diamond when you're playing sports, doing rough work or the dishes. Even though a diamond is durable, it can be chipped by a hard blow along its grain.
Don't jumble your diamond pieces in a drawer or jewellery case, because diamond pieces can scratch each other and also scratch other jewellery
Take your diamonds to your jeweller for a "check-up" at least once a year. He will check your ring for loose claws and signs of wear. He'll usually give them a professional "shine-up" too.
Remember, each diamond is unique; a miniature work of art - Nature's Limited Edition. The strength of your love is reflected by your quality diamond - care for it and it will always sparkle the same way it did the day it caught your eye and said what was in your heart.