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Diamond Education

The Facts Behind the Facets

When you purchase a diamond, you’re purchasing a beautiful, ancient piece of the Earth itself. But it’s only when you understand the incredible process of how it gets from the mine to you that you’ll truly appreciate its rarity and its value.

Every diamond was created billions of years ago from molten magma 100 miles below the surface of the Earth. With tremendous temperatures, pressure, and time, the magma was compressed; and as it compressed, it crystallized and was forced toward the surface of the Earth. Only very few diamonds actually make it to the Earth’s surface. But many more can be found in mines hundreds of feet deep, with the largest mines located in Botswana, Russia, and Canada. Note that diamonds have been found in areas throughout the world, including the United States.

Believe it or not, the sum total of the diamonds in every jeweler’s showcase around the world is only a tiny fraction of what comes out of a diamond mine. To produce one carat of diamonds, miners sift through approximately 200-250 tons of ore. The average size of the diamond coming out of a mine is .10 carats, and even then, only 20% of mined diamonds are gem quality.

Those diamonds that are deemed gem quality are then sorted based on size, shape, clarity, and color. The sorted gems are sold at an invitation-only sale held only 10 times each year. From there, diamonds undergo an exhaustive cutting and shaping process before being placed into a setting. And much of this process is still done by hand by a few master gem cutters.

The entire process – not including the millions of years needed to form the diamond – can take months or even years. Now that you know everything that goes into creating that beautiful diamond, you’ll appreciate yours even more.

The Four Cs

The Details Behind the Dazzle

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Most diamonds actually have a small amount of color, even the ones that look colorless to the untrained eye.

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has created a color scale that extends from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow or brown). Color grades are determined by examining each diamond in a controlled environment. Each letter represents a level of discernable color, and it is important to keep in mind that that color is a valuation of rarity and not necessarily of desirability.

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The cut of a diamond is more than its overall shape. Every diamond’s cut is carefully calculated to maximize its brilliance. A cut and polished diamond’s radiance is based upon how light strikes the surface, how much enters the diamond, and how much – and in what form – the light returns to your eye. A diamond cut with ideal proportions maximizes its interaction with light. Faceting and polishing a diamond requires great skill and intense attention to detail; the better a cutter’s expertise and artisanal eye, the better the cut grade. The result is spectacular fire and brilliance.

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Like fingerprints, no two diamonds are exactly alike. For this reason, you should always view a diamond in person. The heat and pressure required to form diamonds create imperfections known as inclusions. Inclusions are like a diamond’s fingerprint (truly flawless diamonds are extremely rare) and contribute to the stone’s character. A diamond’s clarity is an indication of the number, size, location, and even type of its inclusions. The GIA Clarity Scale includes eleven clarity grades ranging from Flawless to I3.

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Carat Weight

Although they’re only part of the equation, “carats” are the first thing that most people think of when they consider a diamond’s value. Carat weight refers to a diamond’s weight. One carat equals 200 milligrams in weight. Each carat is divided into 100 points. A 1-carat diamond = 100 points, a .75-carat diamond = 75 points, etc. Remember, diamonds with the same carat weight can vary greatly in not only actual size, but also value, depending on color, clarity, and cut. Choosing the perfect stone is a matter of deciding what matters most to you, then finding the best combination of factors to suit your needs.

Social Responsibility

Diamonds from W.R. Chance Diamond Jewelers are guaranteed to be conflict-free. That means no one was compromised or hurt in any way for the diamonds that we sell. We adhere to the “Kimberly Process” guidelines, which demand that ALL of our diamond suppliers provide diamonds purchased through legitimate, “Conflict Free” sources. A written warranty is required for every individual diamond shipment. In a global business like jewelry, we feel that our commitment to community extends to the world community.

Want to learn more? Visit the World Diamond Council’s Diamond Facts website.

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