Buying a Diamond explained Cut, Colour, Clarity & Carat

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When it comes to buying that dream diamond, most people are unsure of what to look for. Buying that perfect diamond is not a low-cost exercise, with an average selling price of $16,000 for a 1 Carat quality diamond ring. Making sure that you make the correct choice for your budget is vital in making any diamond purchase.

Here are some tips from Australia’s diamond experts at the DCLA.

The Diamond Shape:
The shape is the first and most important decision to make when purchasing a diamond as this sets the design of your jewellery piece. The diamond shape sometimes referred to as cut, is the geometric appearance of the stone. The shapes are categorised into two groups for pricing, round diamonds, and fancy shape diamonds.

Round Diamonds
Round brilliant cut diamonds are the most traditional and popular diamond shape consisting of 57 facets top and bottom. Almost 75% of all manufactured diamonds are round.

The diamond shape is 100% symmetrical when polished and having an excellent grade will display a range of features helping the crystal reflect light.

Round diamonds are the only shape that has a proven proportion or cut grade, which shows the optimum angle for a diamond to return the right amount of light back to the viewer.

This grade is based on light tracing. This is the way light refracts through the crystal, then reflecting off the facets and returning to the table and crown.

Fancy Shape Diamonds
Fancy shape diamonds refer to all diamonds other than the round brilliant shape.

These include the traditional shapes like pear, emerald, oval, marquise, cushion, heart and asscher. As well as the newer modern cuts like the princess, trilliant and radiant.

The modern fancies have become popular with cuts like the square radiant and Princess have remarkably high light return due to symmetry, facet design and placement.
These stones have similar brilliance to the round due to faceting. Facets start at the girdle (outer rim of the stone) and run down to the culet (point at the bottom).

The step cuts like emerald shape diamond are traditional as the facets run parallel to the table. These facets to create clean optical appearance.

As the step cut diamonds are less brilliant, small inclusions can sometimes be visible. To avoid visible inclusions step cuts diamond need to be of higher clarity grades, especially with centrally located high contrasting inclusions.

Fancy shapes with longer length to width ratios like marquise or pear, give a slimming effect when set correctly down the finger. The unique look of the longer stones. Oval, marquise, and pear-shaped diamond makes it a popular choice.

The square cushion shape cut in the brilliant style, has the same properties as the round brilliant and if cut with 8 main top and bottom corresponding corners (main facets) will have the Hearts and Arrows effect.

The cushion shape stone has rounded corners which make it a great alternative to a round at a lower price per carat the other of the 4C’s being equal. (Carat, Colour, Clarity).

All diamonds are unique just like you. The 4Cs Colour, Clarity, Cut and Carat weight along with many other more subtitle characteristics give the diamond its grade and set the stones value. Diamonds with the same 4C’s grade can be quite different in value due to the more subtle characteristics mostly overlooked when buying. Understanding the 4Cs along with these characteristics is a very important step in purchasing your perfect diamond.

The Diamonds Cut
The cut refers not to the shape (e.g., round, oval etc.) but to a diamond’s proportions, symmetry, and polish. The beauty of a diamond depends more on cut than any other factor as it determines how light travels into the stone and is returned to the viewer.

The cut of the diamond is arguably the most important of the 4Cs as it directly impacts the diamonds light performance. A diamonds facets are designed and placed in varied orientations and specific angles to reflect the light in a uniform way. Like tiny mirrors, each facet is precisely polished and arranged to maximize its reflective properties.
A master diamond cutter will be trained to get the most weight from the rough diamond, while getting the best light performance from the diamond crystal. This is a delicate balance not always achieved, as such the diamond proportion or cut quality should be the highest priority.

When a diamond proportion or cut grade is low, the diamond performance will let down even the highs colour and clarity. A lower colour diamond with an Excellent proportion grade will have better brilliance and fire and look better than a high colour with a good proportion.

Here are some useful terms when referring to a diamond cut:

Proportion or cut grade is precision and angle of the diamond faceting.
Symmetry is the mirror image of the stone referenced like a clock 12 – 6 and 9 – 3 as well as alignment of the facets top to bottom.
Polish is the overall finish of the skin or surface of the diamond. This includes features or characteristics like surface graining, naturals, or extra facets.

Diamond Colour
Diamonds come in every imaginable colour from pure white to any other colour in the spectrum. Many coloured diamonds are highly prized, however the presence of yellow tint in a white diamond with greatly reduce its value.

Diamonds are graded on a scale from D (colourless) through Z (light colour). D-Z are considered white (cape scale) and true fancy coloured diamonds (such as pink or blues) are graded on a separate scale.

Colour is accurately judged when viewed in laboratory conditions against a known comparison stone which are called a master set. Diamond colour distinction is so subtle that it is practically invisible to even the trained eye.
White diamonds or Cape series have formed from a carbon nitrogen bond and the more nitrogen the more yellow is visible. Very rare and completely colourless diamonds have no nitrogen and are known as type 2a. These are the most valuable.

Diamond Clarity
Diamond clarity refers to the diamond’s inclusions. Inclusions come in many variants from solid carbon to clouds or remnants of microscopic fractures all formed in the diamond billions of years ago.

Diamond Clarity Chart

The more inclusions or the larger the inclusion the lower the clarity grade. These can sometimes cause transparency issues or interrupt the refraction of light, affecting its brilliance. Most diamonds have inclusions, very few are internally flawless or pure.

Diamonds are graded for clarity on a scale that runs from IF (internally flawless) to I (included). The higher the grade, the clearer the diamond, with fewer inclusions and a more perfect appearance. The diamond clarity scale has six categories, with 11 specific grades.

Flawless (FL): There are no inclusions or blemishes visible to the diamond under 10x magnification.
Internally Flawless (IF) Loupe Clean: There no inclusions visible to the diamond under 10x magnification there may be external characteristics.
Very Very Slight Inclusions (VVS1 and VVS2): Inclusions of 5 – 10 microns or a number of smaller cloud like inclusions. Very difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification.
Very Slight Included (VS1 and VS2): Inclusions are found by experienced grades under 10x magnification, characterised as minor.
Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2): Inclusions are easily found under 10x magnification, buy not eye visible.
Included (I1, I2 and I3): Inclusions sometimes visible to the naked eye are easily found under 10x magnification. These inclusions may affect the transparency and brilliance of the diamond.

Diamond Carat
Carat or weight is the biggest contribution to the value of the diamond but is only one part in determining the value of a diamond. That said all else being equal IE: the cut, colour and clarity, a diamond’s price does increase with every size category in carat.

Rarity also determines the value of the diamond with larger stones being rarer and more valuable.
A diamond carat is the actual measured weight of the stone and due to different proportion grades, this is necessarily an indication of its size.

Sotheby’s is set to auction off one of the rarest diamonds in the world

102.39 carat D Colour Flawless Oval Diamond

Sotheby’s is set to auction off a 102 carat diamond that could become the most expensive jewel ever sold to an online bidder.

The stone, a 102.39 carat D Colour Flawless Oval Diamond, could fetch $10 million to $30 million. Only seven flawless white diamonds of more than 100 carats have ever been sold at auction. It is the second-largest oval diamond of its kind ever sold at auction.

“One hundred-carat diamonds as a rule are exceedingly rare,” said Quig Bruning, head of Sotheby’s jewelry department in New York. “One hundred-carat D flawless are even more rare.”

While Sotheby’s doesn’t have an official estimate, comparable diamonds have sold for between $11 million and $30 million in the past, Bruning said.

The stone, described by Sotheby’s as “the size of a lollipop,” will be sold at a live auction in Hong Kong on Oct. 5, but it will also be open to online bidders starting on Tuesday. If it’s purchased by an online bidder, it would likely top the record for the most expensive piece of jewelry ever sold online a pair of fancy blue and pink diamond earrings that sold for $6 million online in 2016.

The 102 carat stone was cut from a 271 carat rough diamond that was discovered in the Victor Mine in Ontario in 2018. The diamond was cut and polished over the course of a year by Diacore to bring out its “best brilliance, fire and scintillation,” according to Sotheby’s. The stone belongs to an elite subgroup of diamonds known as “Type IIa,” which are the most chemically pure type of diamond with the highest level of transparency.

Demand for the rarest, largest diamonds has strengthened during the coronavirus pandemic, as the wealthy have benefited from stronger stock markets and investors look for long-term stores of value in a financial world awash with cash.

While demand for everyday jewelry sold in stores has plunged since people aren’t visiting malls and shops as often, or wearing jewelry as often prices for so-called investible diamonds have remained strong. Wealthy buyers, especially in Asia and the Middle East, covet diamonds as the ultimate hard-asset, since they are durable and portable.

Sales of jewelry and diamonds online have also increased, as people buy more from home. Sotheby’s said its online jewelry sales have totaled $31 million this year, seven times more than the same period last year. It has sold three lots for more than $1 million online.

“The retail experience going into the store, trying things on that’s gone right now, or at the very least has changed substantially,” Bruning said. “A lot of things have moved online, and we have been able to really capitalize on that by showcasing things in a new and compelling kind of way globally.”

When asked whether the buyer of a 100 carat diamond would ever wear it, he said: “Absolutely. They want to enjoy them.”

Source; CNBC

Dominion Diamond unveils plan to avoid bankruptcy

Ekati diamond mine

Canada’s Dominion Diamond Mines has unveiled a transaction that would allow it to exit court protection from creditors and access short-term operating funds, which would pave the way to eventually restart its idled Ekati mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories.

The company, which owns and operates the iconic Ekati diamond mine and also has a 40% interest in the nearby Diavik, said it had signed a letter of intent with an affiliate of The Washington Companies.

The privately held Montana-based conglomerate bought Dominion for $1.2 billion in 2017 when the miner was the world’s third-largest producer of rough diamonds by value.

Under the agreement, which requires court approval, Washington would buy the company’s assets for about $177 million, while assuming its operating liabilities.

It would also provide Dominion with up to $84 million in short-term debtor-in-possession financing.

Ekati has been halted since March to help slow down the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The operation was left with about $180 million worth of inventory, which it has been unable to sell since its Belgian retailers remain closed. 

The diamond miner said at the time that covid-19 had a “devastating impact” on the global diamond mining industry, affecting the company.

According to court documents seeking bankruptcy protection from creditors, Dominion revenue from diamond sales last year reached about $528 million.

The company said the proposed sale would be conditional on reaching an agreement with Rio Tinto on the Diavik joint venture. Failing that, Dominion would exclude its interest in the Yellowknife diamond mine from the transaction.

The miner is a major employer in the Northwest Territories, with 634 workers, 60% of whom are locals. Only 212 people are currently at the mines, which are fly-in and fly-out operations. This allows for a pre-screening of the staff before they are allowed to board flights to Ekati and Diavik.

Shattered dreams

The global coronavirus outbreak squashed diamond miners’ dawning hopes of a recovery in a sector already reeling from weak prices and demand since late 2018.

De Beers, the world’s largest producer by value, cut 2020 production guidance by a fifth last month after earlier cancelling its April sales event.

Russia’s Alrosa, the world’s top diamond producer by output, saw sales for rough and polished diamonds drop to $15.6 million. The figure stood in stark contrast to the $152.8 million the diamond miner fetched in March and the $405 million in January.

Lucara Diamond, another Canadian company, posted earlier this month a net loss of $3.2 million, or $0.01 a share, for the first three months of the year.

The figure was in sharp contrast with the $7.4 million in net income, or $0.02 in earning per share the miner reported in the same period last year.

South Africa’s Petra Diamonds recently delayed interest payments to borrow $21 million in new debt, a crucial move to keep the company afloat.

Investment banks are increasingly reluctant to extend credit to diamond producers, as inventory is not being sold and defaults are possible, analysts have warned.

“We are concerned about an oversupply of rough diamonds following the reopening of economies, as a lot of inventory could potentially be flooded into the system and the market might not be able to absorb all of it, resulting in increased pricing pressure,” Citi said in an early May note.


New Guidelines Clarify: ‘Diamond’ Means ‘Natural’

DCLA Advanced Diamond Testing

Leading groups in the diamond and jewelry sectors have collaborated to publish a universal standard to use when referring to natural diamonds and synthetics.

The Diamond Terminology Guideline is a reference on diamond vocabulary for all sector organizations, traders and retailers to use, nine industry bodies said in a joint statement Tuesday.

The document stipulates that the words “diamond” and “gemstone” imply natural origin. The industry should use “synthetic,” “laboratory-grown” or “laboratory-created,” and should avoid the terms “real,” “genuine” and “authentic,” when describing such man-made products.

“Protecting consumer confidence is of paramount importance to the long-term success of our industry,” World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO) president Gaetano Cavalieri said. “The Diamond Terminology Guideline is an important tool in achieving this, by helping standardize the terminology used to clearly distinguish between diamonds and synthetic diamonds, in all communications, among ourselves and with our customers.”

The guidelines are based on the ISO Standard 18323 for jewelry and on CIBJO’s diamond Blue Book, which are internationally accepted benchmarks in the field.

The parties that created the document, in addition to CIBJO, are: the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), the Diamond Producers Association (DPA), the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), the Israel Diamond Industry (IDI), the International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA), the US Jewelry Council (USJC), the World Diamond Council (WDC) and the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFBD).


DCLA provides reports for natural origin Diamonds only.

$33.8 Million For The 163 Carat Flawless Diamond At Geneva Auction

163ct De Grisogono Emerald Shape Diamond

The largest diamond offered at an auction went under the hammer in Geneva Tuesday setting  a world record for a diamond of its shape.

The  D colour 11A type flawless diamond was Polished from a 404 carat rough diamond which was recovered in February 2016 in the Lulo mine in Angola.

The 163.41 carat called The Art of Grisogono, sold for $33.8 million, after taxes and commissions, at the Christie’s autumn jewellery auction.

Diamond fluorescence

Fluorescence In Diamonds

There is common misconception that a diamond exhibiting fluorescence under ultra violet light has some kind of colour defect or transparency issue.

This NOT true at all. The naturally occurring fluorescence phenomenon is a unique completely hidden feature, which is present to some level in approximately 30% of all diamonds.

The effect is seen in Diamonds which have Carbon bonds which include boron.

Boron causes the diamond to glow when held under a powerful ultra violet light also known as blacklight.

The amount of boron in the Carbon bond making up the diamond will determine the level of fluorescence.  Fluorescence is rated by the Laboratory as Very Strong, Strong, Medium, Faint, None. This relates to the strength of the fluorescent glow under ultra violet light.

Laboratories use fluorescence as a means of identifying the diamond along with many other characteristics found in natural diamonds.

May Jewellers and consumers have been led to believe that fluorescence in diamonds will negatively affect the colour or transparency.

Again this is NOT true.  Fluorescence has a tendency to make the middle to lower colour diamonds in the colour chart look whiter than the same colour would with no fluorescence. More obvious when viewing the diamond from the table view or top.

Therefore fluorescence has very little, to no negative effect on the diamonds colour or transparency. Diamonds are more likely affected by heavy graining or microscopic clouds.

This is good for the buyer as misinformation has caused consumers to be wary of a UV responsive or fluorescence diamond. This has caused diamond dealers and jewellers to discount these diamonds based on the level of fluorescence in the diamond the same colour and clarity.

Conclusion: save some money and take advantage of the lack of knowledge in the market.

Sarine Technologies moves into Diamond Grading

Sarine grading machine

Sarine Technologies the world leader in diamond measuring and assessing is expanding its diamond report. It will include the 4C’s quality grades including the diamond’s cut, color, clarity and carat weight. This will be done using  its own automated grading tools.

To get these grades for the diamonds Sarine is using its Clarity and Colour machines unveiled last year.. The two machines can automatically measure a diamond’s clarity and color, a skill usually performed by trained gemologists in laboratories like the GIA, HRD, DCLA and others.

Sarine claims it can deliver quality diamond grading with less subjectivity and fewer human errors, adding that the move would raise confidence.

Sarine is collaborating with Swiss gemological lab GGTL Laboratories on the technology.