Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend… Or Are They?

We’ve all heard it since we were little girls.  Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.  Diamonds are beautiful.  Diamonds are coveted.  With all that hype (and an effecient marketing campaign by Tiffany’s) diamonds are now the standard stone for engagement rings.

Truth be told, they aren’t my best friend. 

I’ve never really liked diamonds.  I know, to some, that is near-heresy, but it’s true.  I’ve never been all that intrigued by diamonds.  I find them cold and lifeless.  That may be because I haven’t spent a lot of time in the presence of really high quality diamonds so I haven’t been able to appreciate them at their best.  I’m willing to acknowledge that many are fascinated by diamonds. 

But diamond is the birthstone for April, so even though it’s not on my list of favorites, it makes its way into this birthstone series.

A 10 on Moh’s scale of hardness, diamond is the hardest stone.  They are suited to all types of jewelry, including items that are worn frequently. 

Diamonds have great brilliance and fire.  The fire in a diamond is due to dispersion, which is the ability to take in white light and throw back flashes of colour.  

Diamonds

Diamonds have been used in jewelry for centuries.  Diamonds were first cut to improve their look in the 13th century.  The brilliant cut was introduced in 1919.  This is a round shape with 58 facets and it makes the most of a diamond’s natural dispersion, leading to fire.  The brilliant cut has become the standard cut in the diamond trade. 

Brillant cut diamond

There are also many fancy cuts such as baguettes, pear shapes, heart shapes and marquises.  Fancy cuts often have more wastage than brilliant cuts, and so are often higher priced than brilliant cuts. 

Diamonds are graded according to 4 qualities, which are often referred to as the 4 Cs.  These are colour, clarity, cut and carat.  These qualities ultimately determine the value of a diamond.

Colour refers to the colour of the stone.  Letters are assigned to different colours.  The letters D, E and F refer to “colourless” and are considered the most valuable.  G, H, I and J diamonds are described as “near colourless”.  K to Z diamonds are tinted, usually yellow to yellowish brown.  The more tinting a diamond has, the lower the value.   

Clarity is determined by size and inclusions.  The more inclusions the stone possesses, the less clarity it has.

Cut is the proportion, symmetry, polish and finish of a stone, not its shape.  The cut of a diamond heavily influences its brilliance. 

Carat is the weight of the diamond.  One carat equals 0.2 gram (0.007055 oz).  Diamonds are more common in small sizes, so larger diamonds of similar grade have a higher per carat price.

Although colourless diamonds are most frequently seen in jewelry, coloured diamonds naturally occur.  Yellow, orange, brown/cognac and black are the most common of the coloured diamonds and easiest to find.  But diamonds also occur in pink, light green and lavender.  The rarest colours of diamonds are deep blue, red and dark green.  These are not often seen and they go for higher prices.  

Rough coloured diamonds

Hope Diamond

The Hope Diamond, perhaps the most famous coloured diamond, on display at the Smithsonian Institution.

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