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Most people will have heard of the four "C"s of Diamonds. There are other factors that have to be considered, another "C", which will be discussed later. What are the usual "C" s? All of the criteria mentioned below are important to produce a good quality Diamond:-
This is probably the most important of the factors. There are many different tables which have been used over the years, by different countries. The most commonly used, and most widely recognised, is the GIA (Gemmological Institute of America) grading list. Basically the grading starts at "D" and ends with "Z". Good quality Diamonds should not have a "colour" but should have fire and life. If the Diamond has a yellow or brown tinge to it then it is described as "cape" and is not of gem quality. There are, as always, exceptions to this generalisation in that an intense yellow Diamond, which is valuable. There are other coloured Diamonds one of the most valuable is a red Diamond. These intense colours are rare and have simulants, so any Diamond described as a coloured Diamond, must have a certificate from a recognised laboratory. Do not rely on certificates from obscure laboratories with information on them which is unreliable. It so easy to describe a poor quality cape stone as a "yellow" Diamond, which would attract a high price.
Clarity is the measure of the of the size and type of inclusions in the Diamond. The grading is from "IF" (Internally Flawless), to P3 (pique 3), sometimes called I3. This grading is measured using a 10X magnification loupe (magnifying lense), by an expert, in a controlled lighting condition. The grading will vary from no inclusions, to extensive inclusions, clearly seen wit the naked eye, severely affecting the clarity. The GIA grading is listed below:-
Free from all inclusions or blemishes, at 10x magnification.
No inclusions visible at 10x; insignificant surface blemishes only.
Minute inclusions ? extremely difficult to see at 10x.
Minor inclusions, very difficult to see at 10x.
Minor inclusions ? difficult to see face-up at 10x.
Minor inclusions ? somewhat difficult easy to see face-up at 10x.
Noticeable inclusions ? easy to see at 10x.
Noticeable inclusions ? very easy to see at 10x; may be visible trough the pavilion to he unaided eye.
Obvious inclusions at 10x ? visible to the unaided eye.
Obvious inclusions ? easily visible to the unaided eye.
Prominent inclusions ? extremely easy to see with the unaided eye.
This is the actual proportions of the cut of the Diamond. This factor can dramatically affect the look of the stone. The "fire" of the Diamond relies on "total internal reflection of the light entering the stone from the table (top) of the stone. The reflected and refracted light depends on the angles of the lower facets of the Diamond being cut to exact degrees to allow the light to return out through the table to give the "fire". The number of facets and the angles have changed over the years and the generally accepted "ideal" cut is the Modern Brilliant Cut. There are many reason why the cut may deviate from the ideal, mostly economical. The stone may be cut to be more "bulky" by increasing the length of the "pavilion". This increases the weight, and thereby the price, of the stone. Conversely a stone can be cut with a shorter length pavilion, called "fisheye", this can be to avoid a large or very noticeable inclusion. This gives the impression of a larger stone (wider table) but at the expense of the "life" of the Diamond, as light is allowed to escape through the sides of the stone. Ideal proportions are shown below.
The term "carat, is used is Gold to determine quality, in relation to gemstones, it is used to measure weight. Diamonds are bought and sold as a "price per carat", therefore the weight is crucial to the "value" of a Diamond. One carat equals 1/5th of a gram (5 carats = 1 gram).
That concludes the usual 4 "C"fs of Diamond quality assessments. There is a 5th "C" which can be just as, if not more, important than any of the above. The 5th "C" is CONFIDENCE. When buying a Diamond you need to trust the company that you are dealing with. There is an old adage regarding the fact that if a deal seems to good to be true ? it probably is. In the current market place there are companies which only have an online presence and, should things go wrong, it may be very difficult to rely on accountability of these companies. At www.braithwaitesjewellers.com, we, not only have a substantial web-site presence, but have had a high street presence since 1946 (see company history).
"Diamond is the hardest natural mineral and is unbreakable" is this true statement? After all they are used to drill, cut, sand, file and polish many items including themselves. Well, partially. Diamond is the hardest natural mineral but it has weaknesses is certain directions, known as cleavage plains. Diamonds can be "split" into sections if hit in these directions, therefore it is important to protect them from hard knocks. In the days of the Diamond rush, many prospectors were reputably cheated out of large Diamond finds by inscrutable dealers waiting, in huts, to buy any Diamonds that were found.
When Diamonds are found they look like opaque pebbles, nothing like the beautiful stones they turn into when cut and polished. The prospector would take any stones that he thought could be Diamonds to the dealers who were sat at a desk with a set of scales and a hammer. The stone was placed on the table and hit with the hammer. Little was known of the stones by the prospector, and the dealer would hit the stones with a hammer. The stone would split into pieces, and the dealer would state that it could not be a Diamond as it had broken, and Diamonds are very hard. The pieces were brushed off the table into a bin, and the dealer called for the next prospector. Needless to say, the contents of the bin were never thrown away!
There are many stones which simulate Diamond, from naturally occurring stones to laboratory produced stones, which may be synthetics or simulants. There are many sides of the production of synthetics/simulants. There is the fact that stones have copied Diamonds for many years, can be an inexpensive way to have a stone that looks beautiful, and is a pleasure to wear. There is also the fraudulent side in which stones are described as Diamond and sold as Diamond, and are not Diamond but a copy.
In addition to simulants and synthetics, there are also many treatments that are made to Diamonds to make them more commercially attractive. Some of the treatments are:- Fracture Filling, which is, as it sounds, the filling of a fracture in a Diamond, with high refractive glass to make it less noticeable. This can be spotted easily by an expert but is not so easy for the inexperienced in Diamonds. If it is not so noticeable then is there any need to worry about it? Generally, if a treatment is permanent then there would not be a problem (providing you have been made aware of the treatment), however, glass infilling is not permanent in that it may age. There is also the problem of having work carried out on the piece of jewellery that it is mounted into. Diamonds have a high tolerance to heat, the glass infill does not. Any future repairs to the jewellery may result in the glass bubbling out. Another similar treatment is Laser Drilling which is similar to infilling in that a Diamond which has a black inclusion can be treated by drilling, usually, from the table facet, down to the inclusion. The inclusion is then bleached with acid, and the resultant tiny hole is filled with high refractive glass. There are many other treatments including coating of Diamonds, irradiation and others, some are permanent and stable, others far from it.
The purchasing of a Diamond can be a minefield which is where the "fifth C" comes into importance. ? confidence. If you are confident in the company that you are buying from then you are 90% of the way to getting a good deal, the credibility of the company is extremely important. (see Company Info)