The word alone conjures up a thousand images...rare, precious, desirable, beautiful, sparkling tokens of love ... Created
deep within the core of the earth more than 3 billion years ago and brought
to the surface by volcanic eruption, most of the diamonds sparkling
on fingers today are more than 100 million years old!
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Rare and fascinating, mysterious and magical, the diamond
has ignited fires of war and romantic passion throughout history.
The diamond claimed its place as the primary token of love
toward the end of the 15th century when Austrian Archduke
Maximilian gave the first diamond engagement ring to his betrothed. It
was placed on the fourth finger of her left hand because that finger
was believed to course with the vein of love that passed directly to
the heart. Five centuries later, the diamond remains one of the
most luxurious and desirable gifts for any romantic and
celebratory occasion, a gem whose purity and brilliance symbolizes lasting love.
What Makes a Diamond Special?
Beauty - The colorless beauty and inner fire of the
diamond has made this precious gem prized for centuries. Each
stone's complex characteristics cannot be duplicated and no two
diamonds can ever be the same. Each stone, like its owner, is endowed with
a personality and character uniquely its own.
Durability - A diamond is the hardest substance known
to man, making it resistant to deterioration. When cared for
properly, diamond jewelry can be worn every day and passed on as a
heirloom to the next generation.
Purity - Although new resources for diamonds are
being explored and discovered, the supply of these gems remains
limited. This is understandable once you learn that more than 250 tons
of ore need to be blasted, crushed and processed to yield just one
carat of rough diamond. Further, only 20 percent of all rough
diamonds are suitable for gem cutting.
Enduring Value -
Like many precious products, diamond prices fluctuate. But it is important to know that
these sparkling gemstones still retain value after years of being worn
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How To Buy a Diamond
There are four factors that determine the value of a
diamond, collectively known as the 4Cs. The combination of the
4Cs determines each diamond's value. Master these important facts
and you are prepared to make your purchase.
Carat - This word for the measurement of a diamond's
weight is derived from the carob seeds that were used to balance scales
in ancient times. A carat is equal to 200 milligrams and there are
142 carats to an ounce. Carats are further divided into points. There
are 100 points in a carat. A half-carat diamond may be referred to as
a 50-point stone (about 100 milligrams). Because large diamonds
are rare, they generally have a greater value per carat.
Color - Diamonds come in every color of the spectrum, but
the most popular gems are white. Truly colorless, icy-white
diamonds are extremely rare and therefore the most costly. Stones are
graded by color and given designations dependent on how far they
deviate from the purest white. Colorless stones are graded D. Color
grading continues down through the alphabet, with each letter designating
a yellower tint. The best way to see the true color of a diamond is
by looking at it against a white surface. Although the great majority
of diamonds come in shades of white, the gems also come in
a spectrum of majestic colors, from red and canary yellow to
blue, green and brown. These colorful diamonds, known as fancies,
are valued for their depth of color, just as white diamonds are
valued for their lack of color.
Clarity - A diamond's clarity is affected by any
external irregularities and internal imperfections created by nature when
the diamond was formed. Imperfections such as spots, bubbles or
lines are called inclusions. Although these marks make each stone
unique, the fewer the inclusions, the more valuable the stone. Inclusions
can interfere with the passage of light through the stone,
diminishing the sparkle and value of the diamond. According to the
quality analysis system of the Gemological Institute of America, clarity
is graded on a scale ranging from flawless (FL or IF) to imperfect
(I). To be graded flawless, a diamond must have no inclusions visible
to a trained eye under a 10x magnification in good light.
Cut - Each diamond is cut according to an exact
mathematical formula. The most common cut, the round brilliant, has 58
facets, or small, flat, polished planes designed to yield the
maximum amount of light to be reflected back to the viewer. This
reflection, known as brilliance, is an extremely important factor in
evaluating the quality of a diamond. A poorly-cut diamond will actually
loose light and appear dull. The widest circumference of a diamond
is known as the girdle. Above the girdle of a brilliant cut diamond
are 32 facets plus the table, the largest and the topmost facet.
Below the girdle are 24 facets plus the cutlet, or point. Cut is also used
to describe the shape of a diamond. In addition to the round
brilliant, other popular cuts include emerald, marquis, pear, oval and square.
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Terms You Should Know
Just like the infinite range of diamond qualities and colors, there
are many different shapes and setting techniques offered by
today's designers. Here is a mini-glossary of the most important ones.
Baguette - This refers to a rectangular-shaped
small diamond that is often used to enhance the setting of a larger stone.
Bezel setting - A
diamond is completely surrounded by a precious metal border in this setting technique that resembles
a picture frame.
Channel setting -
Popular for mounting rows of small, uniformly-sized stones, this setting technique uses two strips
of metal to hold the stones at the sides. Used for round, baguette
and square-cut stones, the channel setting resembles a railroad
track with the diamonds in the center.
Fancy cut - A diamond cut in any shape other than
round. Fancy cuts include such shapes as baguette, emerald, triangle,
pear, princess, oval and marquis.
_ A setting technique for small diamonds in which the stones are set so closely together that no metal shows.
A pavé surface appears to be paved with diamonds.
Solitaire - The mounting of a single gemstone.
Tiffany setting - A
four- or six-prong setting using long, slender prongs to hold the stone.
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Caring for Your Diamond
Diamonds may be the hardest substance known to man, but
they too can be damaged or dulled. Your diamond jewelry will
benefit from the following tips:
Don't jumble your diamond jewelry together or with other
pieces because diamonds can scratch other jewelry and each other.
Keep your diamond jewelry in a fabric-lined jewel case or in a
box with compartments or dividers.
Don't wear your diamonds when doing rough work. Even though
a diamond is durable, it can be chipped by a hard blow.
Clean your diamonds regularly using either commercial
jewelry cleaner, a mix of ammonia and water, or a mild detergent. Dip
the jewelry into the solution and use a soft brush to dislodge dust
or dirt from under the setting.
Don't let your diamond come in contact with chlorine bleach
or other chemicals because they can pit or discolor the mounting.
See your jeweler at least once a year to have your diamond
jewelry professionally cleaned and checked for loose prongs and wear.
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Editors Note: This article The is (c) 1997 - 2014 Jewelers of America, Inc.