Diamonds Frequently Asked Questions

Posted by admin on October 16, 2008
Diamonds Faqs

What is a Diamond ?

A loose diamond (diamond seperated from a ring) or single diamond is a form of carbon that crystallizes in the crystal system of highest symmetry known as the cubic system born hundreds of miles underneath the surface of the earth. It possesses a hardness far surpassing that of any other substance known in nature with 100 years in the making of its formation. Diamonds were formed more than 100 million years ago when diamond-bearing ore was brought to the surface through volcanic eruption. After the magma cooled, it solidified into blue ground, or kimberlite, where the precious rough is still found today.

The durability of a gem depends on both its hardness and toughness. Diamond, although highest on the scale of hardness (rated 10 on the Mohs scale), is not as tough as some gems because of its good cleavage. (Cleavage is the tendency of a diamond to split in certain directions where the carbon atoms are furthest apart.) Diamonds have a very high degree of transparency, refractivity and dispersion or ‘fire’ which gives rise in cut diamonds to a high degree of brilliancy and a display of prismatic colors. A diamond’s fiery brilliance makes it cherished above all other gemstones by the majority of people. Diamonds occupy a position of incomparable demand.

What is an “Ideal Cut”?

The original “Ideal Cut” was created by gem cutter Marcel Tolkowsky in 1919.

While Tolkowsky’s original theories presented only one particular combination of proportions for creating the best balance of brilliance and dispersion, today the American Gemological Society recognizes any diamond falling within a narrow range of proportions and finish quality as being an “Ideal Cut” (also called an “AGS 0″ or “AGS triple zero”).

In addition, most jewelers now use the term “ideal” to describe any diamond with an exceptionally fine make, whether the diamond is graded by AGS or not.

Where Do Diamonds Come From ?

Diamonds are made up of pure carbon atoms that exist deep in the ground, exposed to intense heat and pressure over billions of years. Over time, this pressure builds up and forces the diamonds and rocks up toward the surface in a volcanic-like explosion. The explosion creates a very deep, wide hole called a “pipe” into which most of the diamonds settle; these deposits of diamonds are known as primary deposits. Other diamonds are washed away by water or erosion, and often settle into the coastal waters of nearby bodies of water; these are alluvial deposits. These deposits occur in many places around the globe; however, the largest commercial deposits exist in Angola, Australia, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Russia and Zaire, which produce 80% of the world’s diamonds.

Walking through the aisle of a jewelry store, you may not think diamonds are especially rare. But consider this: 250 tons (500,000 pounds) of ore must be mined and processed to produce just one carat of rough diamond. Since a rough diamond typically loses 40% to 60% of its weight when cut, that means that all these efforts are necessary to produce just one of the .50 carat polished diamonds you find in the store’s display counters. When you also consider the fact that only about one quarter of all rough diamonds are actually suitable for gem cutting, you can begin to appreciate the rarity and uniqueness of each diamond.

A quick, fun fact: The first diamond deposits were brought to the surface of the earth approximately 2.5 billion years ago. The most recent deposits are roughly 50 million years old. Your diamond is a truly unique piece of history.

Is a Diamond a Good Investment ?

The answer depends on whether you are investing in the diamond itself, or in what a diamond represents.

Diamond prices have been steadily increasing for the past 20 years, and diamonds tend to hold their value. Given this, it is extremely unlikely that diamonds will ever entirely lose their value, in spite of how the market may change in the future. However, no one can predict, with absolute certainty, which way the market will swing and, in general, we do not recommend buying up high-quality diamonds as a main part of a financial/retirement plan.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a source of beauty and a symbol of eternity and everlasting love, there are few objects you can choose that will surpass a diamond’s perfection. Diamonds have inflamed man’s passions since the first moment at which they were discovered, and their power over our emotions and desires has only grown since then. As a timeless and beautiful gift to yourself or as an emblem of your commitment to another, a diamond is an excellent investment.

What Is The Difference Between a Certified Diamond and a Non-Certified Diamond ?

There is no physical difference between a diamond that is certified and one that is not. A certificate does not change the nature of a diamond in any way. The difference between a certified and an uncertified diamond is that, with the certified diamond, you have tangible, legal assurances as to the particular nature and quality of the diamond you are purchasing.

A certified diamond comes with a diamond grading report guaranteed by an accredited gem lab. This report assures the customer that the diamond is independently recognized as possessing all the qualities specified by that report. Most diamonds are graded by either GIA or AGS. In contrast, an uncertified diamond is not accompanied by a diamond grading report, and therefore its stated quality is based only on the word of the seller. An uncertified diamond is not necessarily a bad diamond; certainly, it can be as beautiful as its certified counterpart. However, we encourage you to buy certified diamonds for the following reasons:

Shopping for certified diamonds allows you to make an informed choice about your selections, and to comparison-shop. You can compare one diamond with a particular weight and quality with other diamonds of similar weight and quality to determine which offers the better value. With uncertified diamonds, it is difficult to determine whether the quality assessments of one jeweler will be as stringent and precise as the judgments of other jewelers; that is, not all jewelers may agree about the quality of an uncertified diamond.

A diamond grading report adds value to a diamond. The quality assessments made by independent labs, such as GIA or AGS, are recognized worldwide. These quality assessments are used by appraisers to determine the insurance or replacement value of your diamond. If you purchase an uncertified diamond, there is no guarantee that the appraiser will appraise your diamond at the same level at which the jeweler who sold it to you did. A quick note on how reports from various independent labs compare with one another: GIA and AGS are considered the industry leaders, and the final word on gem quality, among diamond dealers worldwide. While plenty of other independent labs exist, some are a bit lax in their assessments of diamond quality and do not command the same respect for consistency and quality of grading that GIA and AGS do. For this reason, if you are in the market for a diamond, make an effort to buy only GIA- or AGS-graded diamonds.

A diamond grading report adds an increased comfort-level to your purchase. Because the quality of your purchase has been independently verified, you can feel assured that you have made a wise purchase and that you have received exactly what you have paid for.

IS IT SAFE TO RECEIVE DIAMONDS IN THE MAIL?

Yes and no. It is safe if the diamond jeweler uses insured carriers (e.g., FedEx and UPS) to ship its packages and all shipments are insured for the full value of their contents.

Before buying a diamond online, find out what the store’s policy is in case of lost shipments. A professional diamond jeweler should have no objection to providing either a replacement or a refund.