For many centuries, natural diamonds have been the embodiment of exquisite beauty and a symbol of true love. The famous quote “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” became an instant classic for a reason. So ask yourself, is there truly a more desirable gift for a loved one?
Discover a diamond’s 4Cs, find the perfect diamond shape and learn all you need to know about natural diamonds, diamond treatments, synthetic diamonds, fancy diamonds and investment diamonds.
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A DIAMOND’S 4 CS
CARAT, COLOR, CLARITY & CUT
The quality of a diamond is determined by its unique characteristics or the so called 4cs (Carat, Clarity, Colour & Cut). According to these specific properties, each diamond can be distinguished from another. Diamond identification reports from internationally accredited diamond labs such as GIA and HRD Antwerp clearly describe the 4Cs on their Diamond Grading Reports.
The cut and the shape of a diamond are often misinterpret. Whereas the cut refers to the quality of the polishing of the diamond, the shape indicates the form in which a diamond was polished. Diamonds come in many shapes of which the round Brilliant is by far the most well-known. Other popular shapes include Princess, Oval, Pear, Cushion, Emerald & Marquise.
Being a popular classic, brilliant shaped diamonds make for close to 75% of all diamonds on the market today. The brilliant features 58 facets and is optimised to get the maximum yield from a rough diamond’s octahedron shape, displaying an abundance of light and fire.
The princess cut features 57 or 76 facets and has a four-sided inverted pyramid shaped construction. This shape remains a popular choice for wedding or engagement rings as its many facets make for the perfect light reflection whilst its contemporary style fits almost any modern or classic jewellery design.
The oval shape, created by Lazare Kaplan in the 60’s, makes for a popular alternative to the round brilliant as its elongated shape creates the illusion of being larger in size compared to a brilliant of the same carat size. The oval features 58 facets and as a result of its oval shape, a shadow appears in its central facets which is called a “Bowtie Effect”.
The pear shape is a stylish combination of a round brilliant and a marquise shape. It’s a popular choice for both diamond rings as well as pendants and usually features 58 facets. When set in a ring, the point of the pear is always worn facing the hand. Its sleek design adds to making the wearer’s fingers appear more slender.
The Emerald cut is also referred to as ‘Step Cut’ and comes in both rectangular as well as square shapes featuring 57 facets (25 on the crown, 32 on the pavilion). Due to its large table and flat shape, incoming light reflects differently which makes for less brilliance compared to other shapes. Due to its elegant design and fierce look, it still remains a commonly used shape. A classic emerald cut has a width to length ratio of approximately 1.5 and was originally developed for cutting emeralds, hence its name.
Just like the pear shape, a marquise is also a modified brilliant cut. The name traces back to Marquise de Pompadour for whom the French King Louis XIV commissioned a diamond to be cut resembling the shape of her perfect mouth. Traditionally the marquise cut features 58 facets (33 on the crown, 25 on the pavilion). Just like the oval shape, a marquise shape makes a diamond appear larger whilst its elongated shape provides for a slimmer appearance of the wearer’s fingers. Truly an all time classic.
Natural diamonds are 100% a product of nature, forged under extreme conditions deep inside the mantle of the earth. The extraction methods that are most commonly used include alluvial mining and open-pit mining. Only 30% of all diamonds that are mined are gem-quality. The remaining 70% is lesser quality and mostly used for industrial applications. Approximately 200-250 tons of earth is processed to extract just 1 carat (0.2gr) of diamond.
As natural diamonds are beautiful, rare and high value gemstones, it’s fair to say many are trying to reproduce them.
Synthetic diamonds also called lab-grown diamonds, have the exact same physical properties as natural diamonds with the only difference being their point of origin. Whereas natural diamonds are extracted from the ground, synthetic (or lab-grown) diamonds are man-made and created within a controlled laboratory environment.
These days there are two common techniques used to create synthetic diamonds: high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) or chemical vapor deposition (CVD).
The HPHT technique replicates the conditions under which a natural diamond has grown in the mantle of the earth. A carbon seed (a microscopically small diamond splinter) is subjected to a high pressure and a high temperature (up to 5 GPa at 1500 °C) in order to stimulate its growth.
Chemical Vapour Deposition
During a CDV process, a seed (a microscopically small diamond splinter) is exposed to one or more volatile chemicals (usually methane) which under the correct circumstance, will break down on an atomic level after which it decomposes in layers on the diamond seed. This simply put, creates a layer cake of diamond. Synthetic diamonds created using this process are usually brown.
As both natural and synthetic diamonds have an identical chemical composition, refractive index and optical properties, it’s just impossible to tell the difference using a diamond loupe or even a microscope.
As HPHT and CVD diamonds are getting more common these days, it’s mandatory all diamonds are thoroughly checked by a reputable diamond laboratory using advanced diamond identification techniques.
We therefore only provide certified natural diamonds which have been tested by HRD Antwerp or GIA, two of the world’s most trusted diamond labs. Learn more about diamond Grading Reports >>>
Clarity and color are two diamond characteristics that heavily impact a diamond’s value. Although less common these days, diamond treatments are still used to alter the clarity and color of natural diamonds to increase their quality.
We therefore only provide certified natural diamonds which have been subject to an objective analysis by either HRD Antwerp or GIA, two of the world’s most trusted diamond labs. Learn more about diamond Grading Reports
Clarity enhancements can be achieved using two techniques, laser drilling and fracture filling. During a laser drilling a small pipe is drilled into the diamond in order to remove or bleach the impurity. During fracture filling existing fractures are filled with a glass-like substance to make them less visible.
Color enhancements are less common but are still entering the market today. The color of a diamond can be altered using the HPHT (High Pressure High Temperature) technique. This is a very effective way to change for example a cheap(er) yellowish diamond into a valuable colorless diamond.
Diamonds displaying a vivid and extremely lively color are not included in the regular light-yellow to deep-brown scale used by diamond grading scales but are referred to as ‘Fancy Diamonds’. Due to their scarcity, these are increasingly becoming more popular and include pink diamonds, blue diamonds, green diamonds or orange diamonds. Due to their more limited availability and high collectability, these traditionally make for great investment diamonds.
As high quality diamonds are scarcely available and their supply chain is highly regulated, they have made an integral part of many investor’s portfolio for ages. As you can only trade the diamonds you actually own, commoditisation is out of order, making diamonds a more stable investment than gold.
Not sure which diamonds to buy as an investment? Contact us today, we’re happy to help you build your portfolio.