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Diamonds are one of nature’s most rare and beautiful wonders, created hundreds of miles below Earth’s surface over millions of years. Diamonds and other gems have been admired since ancient times and have always been a source of deep admiration. They are a symbol of happiness, and in fact, the word jewelry comes from the French “joyeaux”, meaning joy. Most importantly, though, diamonds are a symbol of love, an expression of the perfection that comes with time.
When shopping for diamond jewelry, it is important to know some basic facets of diamonds. The first one to come to mind for many people is weight, measured in the carat. Carats are a metric unit, and the name comes from an ancient method of procuring the weight of small (and valuable) items using the seeds of the Egyptian carob tree. The method employed by ancient jewelers was so precise, we honor their ingenuity by still using the term today.
Carats are a metric measurement, adopted in the US as a standard for jewelry in 1914. One carat is equal to 1/5 of a gram (or 200 milligrams), and carats are measured with precision to the 1/5000 of a gram. In modern times, diamonds and other gems are measured on electronic scales that are amazingly precise, and jewelers only round up or down on the 1/100 of a carat. This system is also referred to as the point system, where—for example—a 0.53 carat gem could be referred to as a 53 point diamond.
Carat measurements are important, but there are other aspects of a diamond that also figure in to pricing. They are called the 4 Cs: Carats, Cut, Color, and Clarity.
Cut, also called Symmetry, is the objective assessment of how the shape of a diamond adheres to the ideal. There are 12 general diamond shape ideals, and one can easily observe this attribute. If a diamond possesses a good quality cut, it will have few to zero external marks, measurable symmetry, and proportional angles. The diamond’s cut is one of the most direct features of its presentation because it directly causes the outward projection of light.
The third C, color, is an attribute that falls within a range of slightly yellow or gray to white. White diamonds are the most rare, however all diamonds are possessed of the natural wonder that formed them. The color of the diamond has to do with the chemical composition of the carbon that has been perfectly arranged to form the structure of the jewel. In our times, chemistry can be used to modify the color of a diamond, resulting in browns, blues, and even blacks.
Finally, the 4th C, clarity, refers to the visibility characteristics that shape a diamonds internal appearance. Jewelers and certification professionals alike have an objective basis for ranking gems based on clarity, and the well-trained eye to identify features. Very high clarity diamonds are rare, and typically are certified by the GIA or an accredited lab. Lower clarity ratings simply mean the jewel found something that was worth holding on to for millions of years!
It is important to remember that diamond pricing is based on rarity. When purchasing a diamond, you will find that large carat diamonds are exponentially more expensive, and that is because they are exponentially more rare. About 20% of all diamonds mined are of gem quality, and of those, only a small percentage are a half carat or more. So when you behold a 1 carat diamond, you are truly viewing a treasure!
Diamonds are a wonder of the world. For thousands of years we have marveled at their existence, and now we know that the matter that makes up diamonds is also the matter that makes up our selves. Diamonds are a joy: a joy to give, and a joy to be given. We at Jewelry Exchange want to be your guide to diamond shopping, because your joie de vivre is our livelihood.