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 making each diamond a truly unique piece of ancient history.
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.
In addition to their superior brilliance and dispersion, diamonds are the hardest natural substance on earth. Diamond rates a 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness, which means that it is extremely resistant to scratches; it is several times harder than the next-hardest substance, corundum, which is more commonly known as ruby and sapphire. Over 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 of a polished diamond. 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.
Diamond grading covers numerous aspects of each individual diamond’s qualities, but there are four grades which are critical to understand: cut, clarity, color, and carat weight.
- Cut – the brilliance of a diamond depends heavily on its cut.
- Clarity – most diamonds contain some inner flaws, or inclusions, that occur during the formation process. The visibility, number and size of these inclusions determine what is called the clarity of a diamond. Diamonds that are clear create more brilliance, and thus are more highly prized, and priced.
- Colorless diamonds are the most desirable since they allow the most refraction of light (sparkle). Off white diamonds absorb light, inhibiting brilliance.
- A carat is the unit of weight by which a diamond is measured. Because large diamonds are found less commonly than small diamonds, the price of a diamond rises exponentionally to its size.
The existence of fluorescence in a diamond (caused by the natural mineral properties of the diamond), often influences the pricing of diamonds. It is common to find that diamonds with colorless grades (D-E-F) or near colorless grades (G-H-I-J) are lower in price when they exhibit fluorescence and faint yellow grades (K-L-M) are higher in price when exhibiting fluorescence as this helps to lift the colour of the diamond towards the higher grades.
At Damian By Mischelle we undertake many bespoke diamond searches for clients, particularly in the larger sized white diamonds or for the rarer coloured diamonds. Our global supplier network yields a rich cross-section of stones from the major cutting centres around the world. Contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss both the diamond of your dreams as well as a bespoke design to maximize its beauty.