Know Your Jewellery

Buying Guide

The Value of Diamonds

While engagements and weddings are the most popular occasions to buy diamonds, couples celebrating important milestones in their marriage may also choose to buy a piece of diamond jewelry.Diamonds are indisputably the most treasured substance on earth. Often considered the ultimate gemstone, they have enthralled people throughout the ages with their magnificent brilliance, timeless elegance and durability. It isn`t any wonder that diamonds have come to symbolize the most exclusive gift you could give your beloved. While engagements and weddings are the most popular occasions to buy diamonds, couples celebrating important milestones in their marriage may also choose to buy a piece of diamond jewelry.

A Diamond’s Story

A diamond`s story from mine to shine in your jewelleryA Diamonds Story

From the mine, which is where the diamond originates till it takes its place in your jewelry box it undergoes the long process of sawing, polishing and faceting which brings out the luster, brilliance and fire that diamonds are coveted for.

 

 

The Origins

The beginning of the creation of a diamond starts 90-120 miles beneath the surface of the earth. These stones were formed billions of years ago as a result of unimaginable heat and pressure placed on carbon atoms.

Volcanic activity created openings in the earth, forcing the diamonds up to the surface, along with other minerals such as kimberlite. While some of these diamonds made their way into streams, rivers and seas, most of the diamonds settled back into the kimberlite pipes. These primary sources form the basis for the worlds diamond mines.

Diamond Mining

After a diamond deposit is found, it has to be mined. Only half a carat of diamond is found by extracting one ton of ore. After many stages of blasting, crushing and processing, including advanced x-ray techniques, rough diamonds are collected. Over 120 million carats are mined each year, of which only about a quarter are considered gem quality. Others fall in the category of industrial quality called "Bort".

Sorting, Classification and Valuation

Now, the way forward is to assort, classify and value each diamond based on size, shape, quality and colour. These diamonds are then sold to the worlds leading diamond cutters, polishers and manufacturers. Sight holders may choose to cut the rough they buy themselves, or they many sell some of it to smaller manufacturers or wholesalers. DeBeers sells their rough diamonds through their marketing company called "DTC" via invites sent to their regular customers or sight holders.

Cutting and Polishing

The rough diamond is then cut and polished. This is a great skill, with meticulous techniques that have been practiced for generations. While the process has been computerized, most of the work is still performed by hand. By first cleaving, sawing or laser cutting, the cutter deftly converts the original roughs into a form that is easier to work with.

The girdler then uses a process called bruting to grind away the stones edges and give it shape. The next step is faceting, where the first 18 facets (table, culet, bezel and pavilion of a stone) are cut and polished by the blocker. The final 40 facets, including the star, upper girdle and lower girdle are cut and polished by the brillianteer. Finally, the cut gem is boiled in acids to remove dust and oil. The modern "round brilliant cut" with 58 facets was so designed to bring out the maximum brilliance, scintillation and fire.

Once polished, most diamonds are sold and traded in the 24 registered diamond bourses around the world. The polished gems are finally ready to be set into finished pieces of jewelry. They are then either sold to a wholesaler or directly to the retailer by the manufacturer.

Discovery of Diamonds in South Africa

Ever since the discovery of diamonds in Cape Colony, South Africa, the worlds conception of this precious gemstone has radically changed. As the annual world diamond production increased tenfold in the ten years that followed, a once extremely rare material became more accessible and names such as Cecil John Rhodes, Barney Barnato, Kimberley, and De Beers became well known.

The story of diamonds in South Africa dates between December 1866 and February 1867, when a fifteen year old shepherd boy, Erasmus Jacobs found a transparent stone on his fathers farm, on the south bank of the Orange River. That white pebble was passed on to a neighboring farmer named Schalk van Niekerk who sent it to Grahamstown to be identified by a Dr W.G. Atherstone. The pebble turned out to be a 21.25 carat diamond, dubbed the "Eureka."

In 1871, an even larger 83.50 carat diamond was found on the slopes of Colesberg Kopje. This led to the first "diamond rush" into the area. The largest company to operate a diamond mine in South Africa during the diamond rush was the De Beers Company, founded by Cecil Rhodes.

Over the next 15 years, South Africa yielded more diamonds than India had in over 2,000 years. The worlds largest diamond, said to be twice the size of the previous biggest stone, has been found in the North West province of South Africa. Today, South Africa is third in production in terms of value and it is likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future

Buying Diamonds

Know Your Diamond

No two diamonds are the same – each diamond is an individual piece of unique beauty. Buying a diamond is an extremely special occasion in itself and can be difficult especially for those new to buying jewelry. It is therefore useful to know some key criteria to consider while buying diamonds. These are commonly known as the 4 C´s:

Cut

The cut of a diamond is its most defining characteristic and greatly influences a diamond´s beauty. It is affected by the way the diamond is designed, the skill with which it was cut, the quality of its polish and the symmetry of the stone. A well-cut diamond is one that reflects light back to the eye of the beholder and shows off its inner brilliance.

Though fancy colored diamonds rarely occur in nature, laboratories can easily create them through irradiation and heating. However these rank significantly lower in value than natural fancy diamonds and can be identified in a gem laboratory.

Colour

Diamond Color Chart. Diamonds come in an entire spectrum of color

The second most important consideration while buying a diamond is color. A common misconception about diamonds is that they are white or colorless. The truth is that diamonds come in an entire spectrum of colors. The color of a diamond can range from colorless to a pale yellow, where the whiter the stone, the greater the value.

Fancy natural colored diamonds appear in nature in colors such as red, pink, blue, green, yellow, brown etc. These are evaluated on the basis of their richness and saturation on a scale of faint to vivid and its value is largely dependent on the rarity and purity of its color.

Clarity

Diamond Clarity Chart.

The clarity of a diamond is determined by the presence of identifying characteristics that appear during its formation or that were created during the cutting process.

  • Blemishes: Identifying characteristics that appear externally, on the surface of a diamond are called ´blemishes´. Sometimes, a small part of the original rough diamond´s surface is left on the cut diamond. These are called ´naturals´. Pits, nicks, scratches, naturals, polish lines are examples of some of blemishes.
  • Inclusions:Identifying characteristics that show on the inside are called ´inclusions´, which interrupt the passage of light through a stone. These inclusions may be in the form of miniscule crystals or tiny bubbles caused by small minerals that were absorbed into the diamond. Needle-shaped crystals, knots or chips, feathers, clouds are some of the types of inclusions.

 

Types of Clarity

Diamonds are graded for clarity under 10x loupe magnification. Clarity grades range from Flawless, diamonds which are completely free of blemishes and inclusions even under 10x magnification, to Included 3, diamonds which display large, heavy blemishes and inclusions which are visible to the naked eye. A guide to clarity is explained below:

FL: Completely flawless

IF: Internally flawless only external flaws are present, which can be removed by further polishing the stone

VVS1 - VVS2: (Very very slightly included) Only an expert can detect flaws with a 10X microscope. By definition, if an expert can see a flaw from the top of the diamond, it is a VVS2. Otherwise, if an expert can only detect flaws when viewing the bottom of the stone, then it is a VVS1

VS1 - VS2 (Very Slightly included): You can see flaws with a 10X microscope, but it takes a long time (more than about 10 seconds)

SI1 - SI2(Slightly Included): You can see flaws with a 10X microscope

I1 - I3 (Included): Flaws are obvious on observation with a 10x loupe.

The Gemological Institute of America (popularly referred to as GIA) has come up with a grading system for diamonds which is uniformly followed worldwide. The flawless diamond is at the top of the clarity scale followed by several others. While every diamond has flaws, in the rarest and most expensive diamonds, these are so minute that they cannot be seen even at 10x magnification in good light. This gives them the term ´flawless´.

Carat

"Carat" is a term used to describe the weight of a diamond. One carat = 0.2 grams.

Popular Shapes

Diamonds come in an array of shapes. Shape is different from Cut; while Cut refers to how well-cut your diamond is, diamond shape is the shape that it was cut into.

Round Brilliant - The Round Brilliant is the modern version of the Round which has been refined for maximum shine. The Round Brilliant is by far the most popular and has the best angles to shine maximum brilliance.







Asscher - A square cut similar to an Emerald with step facets, the Asscher is more square rather than rectangular shaped. It even has clipped corners like the Emerald. Recently, the Asscher shape has become very popular.







Oval – This shape is less popular for solitaires, but ideal for three stone anniversary rings, with two matching diamonds on the side.







Princess - A square cut diamond, it has refractive properties that are almost near round brilliant. The princess is the preferred square cut shape over Radiant and Asscher.







Emerald - A more traditional shape, the Emerald is not as popular as it once was, but still retains its old world elegance.









Radiant - The Radiant has more facets than a Princess, but its corners are trimmed like the Emerald shape. This shape is not widely popular.








Heart – Although hard to find due to low demand, some people prefer a Heart shape diamond for sentimental reasons.







Marquise - Like the Emerald, the Marquise is also a traditional shape. This is probably the fourth most popular shape after the Round, Princess and Oval.







Pear - Mostly commonly used in pendants, the Pear shaped diamond is like a tear drop shape and has fairly good proportions to refract light well.







Old European - This shape was in use before the Round Brilliant. It has less facets than a modern Round Brilliant and its Cut is not as "precise". Often one would find a culet on the bottom as well. This less than perfect cut is highly cherished by some for its random flashes from the chunky facets.





 

 

Old Miners - Similar to the Old European, the Old Miners is similar to a modern Cushion, though it´s less than precise faceting yields a more random flash pattern. Both are sought after by vintage jewelry collectors.

Certification

A diamond certificate is a professional evaluation of a diamond´s quality and characteristics. It is evaluated, measured, and scrutinized using a jeweler´s loupe, a microscope, and other industry tools. This includes an assessment of the diamond´s dimensions, clarity, color, polish, symmetry, and other characteristics which testify the quality and authenticity of the stone. The certificate may also contain comments about the presence or absence of fluorescence in the diamond and the quality of its cut.

All diamond jewellery which is manufactured by Tara, is by using conflict free diamonds and are Kimberley Process Compliant. By purchasing a conflict free diamond, the consumer can be assured that he or she has not contributed to violence in any way.




Conflict Free Diamonds

Many Diamonds from areas like Sierra Leone, Angola, and the Congo are called conflict Diamonds or blood Diamonds. This is because Diamonds from these areas are often obtained at the cost of other people´s lives. People who legally practice the diamond trade in these countries do so at the risk of being murdered by criminals who steal their Diamonds and sell them. By purchasing a conflict-free diamond, the consumer can be assured that he or she has not contributed to violence in any way. All Diamonds used in the creation of jewellery at Tara Jewels are guaranteed conflict-free Diamonds.



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