There’s something inherently special about diamonds. For centuries they’ve intrigued and fascinated many people. The earliest diamonds are believed to have been mined in India where they have been known for thousands of years. Since then, the precious stones have taken on an almost mythical status. The way they sparkle in the light is hypnotic; men and women have fallen under their spell and the history of diamonds has its fare share of stories about people going to extremes to own them.
For a long time diamonds were the preserve of the very wealthy. Several factors including how they are mined and their exclusivity pushed the price up so far many people owning diamonds was an impossible dream. But recently all that has changed and now owning a piece of jewelry with a diamond is relatively affordable. The most obvious example is the popularity of diamond rings as engagement rings.
Of course diamonds are still a luxury item with the most expensive easily fetching six figure sums when they are sold. However, the popularity of diamonds has increased since the 19th century and due to an increase in supply, improved cutting and polishing techniques and a methodical grading process there are now diamonds on the market to suit most budgets. Owning a diamond ring for most people is no longer a dream but a reality.
Diamonds are graded according to what are known as the “4C’s”, carat, clarity, colour and cut. A combination of these four factors will determine the value of a particular diamond. The very best, the ones that score highest, will become highly valuable while the ones that do not figure as high up on the grading scale will, in all likelihood, be used to make jewelry for high street stores. It’s these diamonds that are affordable to most people and these diamonds that make up the majority of sales in diamond rings and in particular, engagement rings.
Buying an engagement ring is relatively easy but it’s good to have some knowledge of diamonds before starting a search. That’s not to say you have to have an in depth knowledge of the history of diamonds but it is worth having an overview of the “4C’s” as it will help in you selection.
Carats– Carats are units of mass used to measure precious stones and pearls. A carat measures exactly 200 mg, this is also known as the metric carat and has been widely used since 1907 when it was introduced. The bigger a diamond the more carats it will have. Carats, when referring to smaller diamonds, can also be broken down into fraction, for example 0.3.
Clarity– Diamonds are graded on a clarity scale, with a ‘flawless’ diamond being the highest grade of clarity. Clarity refers to how clear a diamond is and if it has any flaws in it. Flaws occur as part of the diamond forming process. They can look like fractures, stains, or bubbles and are called ‘inclusions’.
Colour– The colour of a diamond has a big impact on its value as well. Colour, or perhaps more accurately, the absence of colour, is what an expert will look for when grading a stone. The most expensive gems will have no colour at all. The lack of color is testament to the quality and rarity of a stone as most diamonds have some colour. Diamonds come in all colours from yellow to grey and although no colour is preferable, pink diamonds are very expensive and highly desirable.
Cut– There are many different diamond cuts; pear, heart, oval, but the most popular by far is the ‘brillant cut’. This type of diamond cut is designed to get the maximum brilliance from the diamond and is the classic shape that most people think of when they picture a diamond.