Class, sophistication and brilliance are just a few of the many attributes of one of the world's most popular and beloved jewels. Diamonds are a girl's best friend, and as we all know, diamonds last forever; it does so with such remarkable sparkle that it's no wonder that diamonds have been considered a traditional symbol of love since ancient Greece. When it comes to expressing love today, nothing compares to a diamond engagement ring or diamond channel band.
Diamonds are believed to have formed from molten lava over the span of up to a billion years. Diamond crystallization originally occurs around 250 miles beneath the earth's surface. The crystals are transported to the surface via kimberlite, a blue igneous rock that is believed to contain the diamonds. Diamonds used to create diamond engagement rings have been found on all continents with India as the premier source.
Naturally occurring diamonds sometimes undergo laser drilling and infilling in order to improve their appearance, a process in which a foreign substance is used to fill surface cavities or fractures rendering them less visible. Additionally, to induce vibrant colors into diamonds, such as a discount diamond wedding ring from VistaBella, they are irradiated and/or heated.
Diamonds are famously renowned as stones with superlative physical qualities; they make excellent abrasives because they are the hardest natural existing metal with the rating of 10 on the Moh scale. In addition to hardness, diamonds are rated 3.4 MN m-3/2 in toughness which refers to a material's ability to resist breakage from forceful impact. Diamonds are most commonly distinquished by the following characteristics:
Cut: When one talks about a diamond's cut it pertains to both to the shape (the physical form) and its make (the quality with which it is cut).
Shape: Often a diamond's shape is almost always a matter or personal taste. Contrary to popular belief, fancy-shaped diamonds are often less expensive than their round-shaped counterparts. Below is a list of common shapes:
Asscher: Developed in 1902 by the Asscher Brothers of Holland. Often called the "Square Emerald Cut" with its stepped square cut and rounded corners
Cushion: Considered to be a romantic stand out or alternative to the common round brilliant cut used in engagement rings. The cushion cut is an antique style cut resembling a cross between an Old Mine Cut (a deep cut with large facets that was common in the late 19th and the early 20th centuries) and an oval cut. Though not as brilliant as other cuts of diamonds, the Cushion cut definitely holds a classic and romantic feel to it.
Emerald: The Emerald cut was originally a cut intended for emeralds, but adapted to diamonds. It take the shape of a rectangular diamond with trimmed corners. In an emerald cut, flaws tend to be more evident because of fewer facets to dazzle the eye and hide minor defects.
Heart: Closely resembles a pear shape with a cleft atop. More often than not, it is considered a novelty because of the sentimental appeal. Heart shapes are extremely popular in pendants and earrings.
Marquise: A gorgeous solitaire piece distinguished by its elongated slim oval shape with pointed ends. A cut that is highly popular in bridal pieces.
Oval: Displays an elliptical shape when viewed from the top is an even and perfectly balanced design famous among women with small hands or short fingers because of its flattering illusion of length.
Pear: Also referred to as the teardrop diamond, it is a hybrid cut between an oval and the marquise. A fiery cut, it sparkles in utmost brilliance and is considered an excellent choice for engagement rings.
Princess: A square or rectangular cut with numerous sparkling facets. A cut that is very flattering for those with long fingers and often embellished with triangular stones at its side.
Radiant: A square shaped diamond with barely trimmed corners combines the elegance of an Emerald cut with that of a rounded one with a total of 70 facets that help maximize the effect of its color refraction.
Round: More popularly referred to as the Brilliant Cut, it is designed to provide maximum brilliance and outstanding sparkle. Round diamonds are incredibly versatile and can be found in both prong and channel settings.
Trilliant: Initially developed and designed in Amsterdam, this triangular shaped diamond is a unique choice for couples in the search for that special diamond.
Color: The color of a diamond actually refers to its degree of yellowness. A diamond's color is usually set in yellow, brown, blue, green, black, translucent white, pink, violet, orange, purple and red. Yellow and brown are by far the most popular colors. Colors are measured according to two methods: a) reference stones and b) colorimeter to adhere to the following scale:
- D-E-F: Colorless
- G-H-I-J: Nearly colorless
- K-L-M: Faintly tinted, usually yellow.
- N-O-P-Q-R: Lightly tinted, usually yellow. (Tint can be seen with the naked eye)
- S-T-U-V-W-X-Y-Z: Tinted, usually yellow, may progress to brownish. (Tint visible to the naked eye, even when mounted)
Clarity: It is very common for gemstones to have minor imperfections or flaws, and the same goes with diamonds. These imperfections are called inclusions. Inclusions may come in various forms such as tiny white points, dark dots, feathery cracks, etc. Ultimately, the fewer the inclusions a diamond might have then the more valuable it becomes. Provided below is the GIA clarity scale:
- FL - FLAWLESS - Free from all inclusions or blemishes at 10x magnification
- IF - INTERNALLY FLAWLESS - No inclusions visible at 10x, insignificant surface blemishes
- VVS1, VVS2, VS1, VS2 - MINOR INCLUSIONS - Difficult to see face-up at 10x
- SI1, SI2 - NOTICEABLE INCLUSIONS - Easy to see at 10x
- I1, I2, I3 - OBVIOUS INCLUSIONS - Easily visible to unaided eye
Carat: It is important to note that as a Diamond carat size increases, both the diameter and the depth of the diamond increases as well. The following chart pertains to the individual minimum carat weight:
- 1/4 carat total weight may be 0.21 to 0.29 carats
- 1/3 carat total weight may be 0.30 to 0.36 carats
- 1/2 carat total weight may be 0.45 to 0.59 carats
- 3/4 carat total weight may be 0.70 to 0.84 carats
- 1 carat total weight may be 0.95 to 1.10 carats
- 1 1/4 carats total weight may be 1.20 to 1.29 carats
- 1 1/2 carats total weight may be 1.45 to 1.55 carats
- 2 carats total weight may be 1.95 to 2.05 carats
Diamonds, though seemingly indestructible, are susceptible to chipping (usually by a sharp blow or fall). Diamonds are remarkably durable, and highly resistant to scratching due to their famous reputation as being the hardest substance on Earth. Due to their value, it is advisable to wear diamond jewelre with extra care. Due to exposure from perspiration, skin oils, household chemicals, etc., buildups may occur that may dull a diamond's surface. Periodic cleaning with a lint-free cloth is recommended in order to maintain a diamond's brilliance.