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By Reviewed By Andreas Zabczyk

Diamond Gemstone Information

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About Diamond - History and Introduction

Diamond is the transparent, gemstone-quality crystalline form of carbon and it is indeed the hardest-known natural substance on Earth. Diamonds are not only prized and famed for their exceptional hardness, but also for their high refractive index (brilliance) and their remarkably high dispersion rate of visible light (fire). Although traditional colorless or 'white diamonds' are by far the most popular colored diamonds, yellow and brown diamonds (champagne and cognac) are actually the most commonly occurring diamonds. Other fancy diamond colors include blue, pink, red, green, orange and black. Red diamonds are actually one of the rarest gemstones in the world. Rather than owing their color to traces of chemical impurities like most other types of colored gemstones, the color of red diamonds is the unique result of minute defects formed in the crystal lattice.

The name 'diamond' was taken from the Greek word, 'adamas', meaning 'invincible', a sheer testament to its remarkable and superior hardness. The superlative physical qualities of diamond are credited to the strong covalent tetrahedral bonding between its transparent crystals. Each individual carbon atom is connected to four other carbon atoms, all of which are very closely packed. This formation yields a remarkably strong three-dimensional cubic structure. Diamond's cubic crystal pattern is also completely symmetrical, which allows it to refract light in all directions at the same velocity (singly refractive).

Diamond Formation
Most diamonds form under extreme pressure and at very high temperatures, typically at depths of over 140 kilometers inside Earth's mantle. On average, diamond formation occurs over periods of 1 to 3.3 billion years, until they are surfaced through deep volcanic eruptions of a rare type of magma called kimberlite. Kimberlite is a ultramafic potassic igneous rock that also contains many other minerals like olivine, diopside, calcite, serpentine, garnet and small amounts of apatite, as well as various other upper mantle minerals. The kimberlite magma erupts from rare volcanic vents known as pipes or diatremes.

Natural Fancy Cognac Diamond

Identifying Diamonds

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Diamonds can be very easily identified through thermal conductivity testing, which is in fact one of the most common tests done today by jewelers to distinguish diamonds from glass. Diamonds are one of the few singly refractive gemstones available and they have an unmistakable carbon-only composition (the same as graphite). Diamond is the hardest known substance on Earth (10 on the Mohs scale) with a cutting resistance approximately 140 times greater than that of sapphire and ruby (9 on the Mohs scale). Diamond has a high refractive index and a considerably high level of dispersion. It is often imitated, but no other substance can rival its superior hardness. Many well-experienced gemologists can often identify diamond by its strong luster alone.

Diamond Origin and Gemstone Sources

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Approximately half of the world's diamonds come from Central and Southern Africa. The production levels of diamonds vary year by year, but as of 2010, the top diamond producers were Russia, Botswana, Congo, Angola, South Africa, Namibia, Guinea, Ghana, Australia and Canada. There have also been significant deposits found in India and Brazil. Canada has recently become a main commercial source for fine white diamonds.

Buying Diamonds and Determining Diamond Gemstone Value

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Diamond Color

Diamonds are typically known to be colorless or 'white', but the most common colors are yellow and brown. Golden and brownish hues are owed to traces of nitrogen impurities. Brown and yellow diamonds are often referred to as 'champagne' or 'cognac' diamonds. Other diamond colors include pink, red, orange, blue, green, gray and black. Blue diamonds are colored by boron impurities, while other fancy colors are the result of irradiation and in some cases, crystal lattice defects. The official color grading system for colorless to low-saturation yellow and brown diamonds ranges in scale from 'D' (completely colorless) to 'Z' (light-yellow). Fancy colors are graded on an entirely different scale.

Diamond Clarity and Luster

Diamonds exhibit a strong sub-metallic adamantine luster. Though diamonds can be transparent to opaque, only transparent stones are faceted. Most diamonds are too heavily flawed to be considered valuable, in fact, only roughly 20% of all diamond deposits are of any gemstone value. Of the 20% yield, the vast majority will still contain flaws and inclusions even if they are minute. A flawless diamond is exceptionally rare.

Diamond clarity is graded on a scale that factors both size and visibility of flaws and inclusions, ranging from 'FL' (Flawless) to 'I3' (large inclusions visible to the naked eye). Although the diamond clarity grading scale is considered official, an assigned clarity grade for any single specimen can vary tremendously depending on who did the evaluation or where the stone was evaluated. It is not uncommon for a single stone to be given two different clarity grades by two different labs - the same applies for cut and color grading of white diamonds.

Diamond Cuts and Shapes

The most prevalent cut for diamonds today is the 'brilliant cut', followed by the 'passion cut' - both of which attempt to maximize a diamond's brilliance and fire through precision faceting and proportioning. Modified brilliant cuts, step cuts and mixed cuts (rose cuts) are not as common as they once were in the past. The most popular diamond shape today is round. Other fancier shapes include pear, oval, radiant, princess (square), emerald (octagon), asscher, cushion, heart and trillion (triangular) shapes.

Diamond Treatments

Champagne, cognac and colorless 'white' diamonds are typically untreated. However, they may be artificially enhanced. Laser drilling can be used to remove inclusions; fissures and cracks may be artificially filled with glass. Many fancy colors can occur naturally, but most are produced through irradiation or high pressure / temperature treatment. Diamonds are often imitated or simulated. The process of synthesizing diamonds is very difficult and expensive, but lab-grown synthetic diamonds can be found.

Diamond Gemological Properties:

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Chemical Formula: C - Crystallized carbon
Crystal Structure: Cubic (or isometric)
Colors: Colorless, yellow, brown; rarely green, blue, red, orange, gray, black
Hardness: 10 on the Mohs scale
Refractive Index: 2.417 to 2.419
Density: 3.50 to 3.53
Cleavage: Perfect
Transparency: Transparent to opaque
Double Refraction or Birefringence: None
Luster: Adamantine - diamond luster
Fluorescence: Variable

Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details of gemology-related terms.

Diamond: Similar Or Related Materials:

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White Zircon
Colorless Zircon

Diamond is pure carbon and is chemically the same as graphite. There is no other gemstone in the same family as diamond, although there are a variety of very similar gemstones. Diamond also occurs in more than one color, and often, specific colors will trade under specific names. There are many diamond imitations and simulants available, but none that can even compare to the adamantine luster and hardness of authentic natural diamond.

Most Popular Similar or Related Materials and Trade Names:

Cognac diamond, champagne diamond, Canary diamond, fancy diamond, white zircon, graphite, cubic zirconia, moissanite.

Lesser-Known Similar or Related Materials and Trade Names:

Goshenite, danburite, blue diamond, red diamond, black diamond (carbonado), bort diamond, YAG (yttrium aluminum garnet), strontium titanate.

Diamond Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Alternative Healing

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Historically, diamonds have been claimed to possess many supernatural and metaphysical qualities. It is believed that diamonds can protect against panic, pestilence and enchantments. Diamonds can amplify thoughts, whether positive or negative, which means if they are given with love, they can return mutual feelings; but if given with ill intentions, they can become 'cursed diamonds'. Diamonds are the stone of truth and victory. They were worn by many with the belief that they help the wearer to conquer their enemies and win their battles.

Diamonds are also especially helpful for those with sleepwalking disorders and for those considered to be mentally insane. Diamond is the official modern birthstone for April and it is also used as an official 60 year anniversary gemstone. The popular term 'diamonds are forever' is based on the belief in diamond's ability to strengthen relationships between couples.

Disclaimer: Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers and Properties are not to be taken as confirmed advice. Traditional, Ceremonial and Mythological Gemstone Lore is collected from various resources and does not represent the sole opinion of SETT Co., Ltd. This information is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Should you have any medical conditions, please see a licensed medical practitioner. GemSelect does not guarantee any claims or statements of healing or astrological birthstone powers and cannot be held liable under any circumstances.

Diamond Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas

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Diamonds are the most important jewelry gemstones available today. The diamond market alone is worth over $30 billion USD (as of 2012), while all other colored gemstones combined are valued at only $10-12 billion USD. When it comes to bridal and engagement jewelry, diamonds are the number one traditional stone of choice. Today, there are more engagement rings and wedding bands made with the use of diamonds than any and all other gemstones combined. Other popular jewelry designs include bracelets, charms, earrings, pendants and men's accessories.

Owing to their remarkable brilliance, fire and superior hardness, diamonds can be worn with anything imaginable. Diamonds possess perfect cleavage, which means they can be split with a single blow, much like topaz. Therefore, extra care should be taken when setting, repolishing or recutting diamonds. Diamonds are one of the few gem types guaranteed to be available in local jewelry stores, although selection and quality can vary tremendously. Many people are now buying diamonds from online dealers rather than buying in-store as a way to cut costs, but buying online makes it difficult to consult and compare.

Note: Buy colored gemstones by size and not by carat weight. Colored stones vary in size-to-weight ratio. Some stones are larger and others are smaller than diamonds by weight, in comparison.

Gemstone Care and Cleaning your Diamond and Gemstone Jewelry

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How to clean your gemstonesDiamonds are remarkable gemstones which require very little maintenance. They can be wiped clean using plain soapy water and a soft cloth. Ultrasonic cleaners are generally considered safe, but always take care when using this cleaning method, especially with fragile settings. Diamonds are typically insensitive to chemical reactions, but the same cannot be said for the mounting or prongs holding the diamond in place, so avoid harsh chemicals when cleaning diamond jewelry.

Diamond facets can be etched on under high temperatures, so avoid extreme heat and take extra care when soldering diamond jewelry. Always store your diamonds separately and away from other gems and jewelry, including other diamonds. If possible, wrap them individually in soft cloth or place them inside a fabric-lined jewelry box. Always remove diamonds and diamond jewelry before playing sports, exercising or performing harsh household tasks. Be careful when removing jewelry so as to always ensure you are not pulling from the stone.

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