For a diamond to come to your hands, it must go through many steps. They’re formed 90-120 miles below the earth. Volcanic activity brings the jewels to the earth’s surface. Traditionally diamonds were mined in India, Brazil and later South Africa. Today’s loose diamonds are produced on five continents.
The first diamonds mined were alluvial, collected from rivers far from their original sources. By the late nineteenth century, loose diamonds were being mined directly from the kimberlite and lamproite pipes that pushed them to the earth’s surface. For every diamond found, one million equivalent units of host rock is dug and sorted. Of these stones, four out of five are suitable for industrial use, such as drill tips. The remaining diamonds are gem quality, rare and precious.
Rough loose diamonds are cleaned and sorted. This is the step where gem quality diamonds are separated from jewels that are industrial or near industrial grade. Depending on the company, gem diamonds may fall under hundreds of categories, including shape of the rough, color, size and clarity. Prices are estimated for each type of rough, and are sold to diamond cutters.
Major diamond cutting centers include India, Israel and Belgium. No matter where loose diamonds go, the process is the same. Each jewel is examined to determine the best way it should be cut. Inclusions that may impact cutting and the stability of the stone are considered, as is the shape of the rough. The desire to bring out the most of a diamond’s beauty must be balanced with preserving weight, in order to optimize the value of the jewel.
Diamonds are cut through a variety of processes. Cleaving takes advantage of the gemstone’s molecular structure to divide the stone into smaller pieces. Saws made with lasers or other diamonds further trim the gemstone, in a more controlled fashion than cleaving. Polishing helps further shape loose diamonds, bringing out their brilliance and luster.
Another, optional step for diamonds is certification. A report from a reputable third party laboratory confirms the quality of a diamond. The certification process helps document the characteristics that distinguishes the jewel from others and provides an accurate measure of the stone’s color, cut, carat and clarity. GIA certified diamonds are graded under controlled conditions by trained gemologists.
Loose diamonds may be sold as is to connoisseurs, or mounted onto jewelry before arriving at retail establishments. Ideal settings should bring out the brilliance and color of the diamond while protecting it from possible damage. Diamonds are a beloved gemstone, used on their own or in conjunction with other gemstones. They may be mounted on anything from tiaras to pendants, though they are especially popular for engagement rings, wedding bands and anniversary rings.
Reports and Dossiers
GIA certified diamonds can come with a variety of evaluations. While all loose diamonds that go through the Gemological Institute of America are carefully examined, GIA prefers a varied approach over one size fits all. Even naturally formed colorless diamonds may have different certificates, depending on the owner’s wishes. Two major options are diamond reports and diamond dossiers.
Revised in 2014, GIA’s Diamond Report is used for loose diamonds 0.15 carats and higher. Certified diamonds come with a document labeled with the stone’s unique report number. The upper left of the paper contains the date it was graded, the report number, type of cut and dimensions of the jewel. Below this are the grades of the diamond’s 4Cs and other identifying characteristics of the stone. The center of the paper contains a diagram plotting the clarity characteristics of the jewel, and the right lists the grading scales for color, cut and clarity.
Diamond dossiers are abbreviated certificates, used for loose diamonds in the D-Z color range that are between 0.15 and 1.99 carats. Clarity characteristic diagrams aren’t included. Dossiers feature the stone’s unique ID number, its 4Cs grades and other identifying characteristics on the left side of the certificate. The other side shows a diagram outlining the proportions of the stone and the color, clarity and cut grading scales.
For certified diamonds outside the D-Z scale, GIA uses a different grading system. Like with other diamond reports, the clarity, cut, carat, proportions and traits are documented. The color is evaluated by origin, distribution, and where it falls on the colored diamond scale. A diagram in the center of the certificate marks the location and nature of clarity characteristics. To the far right of the report are the scales for colored diamonds and clarity. Optional steps include inscriptions and a photograph of the diamond.
The Mystery Jewel
Today’s jewel vendors are required by law to disclose the nature of their gemstones. This applies to all levels of the supply chain, from mine to retail. There are still circumstances, such as with antique jewelry, where the identity of the gemstone is unknown. Diamonds are brilliant colorless jewels, but so are other stones. GIA provides identification services for loose diamonds and other gems.
Ways to check for a gem’s identity include seeing if it’s singly or doubly refractive, measuring its specific gravity, making note of its luster, and so on. Through this process of elimination, GIA gemologists can determine if a stone is a diamond or a similar looking stone. Once identified, the stone may undergo one of several grading processes, such as for loose diamonds.
Once a jewel has a GIA certificate, it now has a permanent record as to its identity. Each diamond has an ID number, and its unique traits are listed on the report, to make verification easier. As an added measure, GIA keeps records of their certified diamonds. One can use their jewel’s report number to look up their stone’s information via GIA’s Report Check page.
GIA and Treated Diamonds
The Gemological Institute of America certifies many types of diamonds, including those as small as 0.15 carats, diamonds on the D to Z scale, fancy diamonds and more. Their laboratories examine loose diamonds to determine if they’re natural or synthetic, the quality of their cuts, and the number and location of clarity characteristics. Some of these inclusions are natural, such as pinpoint imperfections known as clouds. Others are made by human hands like extra facets. A few may come from treatments.
Naturally perfect loose diamonds are very rare. Most that are mined are suited for industrial purposes, while those of gem quality don’t always meet demand for how a gemstone should look. Treated diamonds help add to the number of jewels available to wear, allowing a wider range of people to enjoy these stones. As with carving, sanding and varnishing a chair, the beauty of the object is highlighted, not detracted.
Treated diamonds are not inherently bad. They’re only problematic if they’re not disclosed according to FTC, or if the treatment isn’t stable. When loose diamonds arrive at GIA, they’re tested for treatments. Some, such as coating or fracture filling, are not considered permanent. GIA only grades gemstones with stable treatments, which are labeled prominently on the reports of certified diamonds.
GIA certified diamonds aim to provide as accurate a description of the diamonds’ quality as possible. This includes documenting all their traits, from the 4Cs to any steps beyond cutting and polishing that adds to the jewel’s appearance. When buying certified diamonds from a reliable source, you know what you are getting. We at Valentin Magro value our clients’ trust, and only sell GIA certified diamonds.
How to Submit Your Stones
Those who wish to send their jewels to GIA for grading have several options. One is to send loose diamonds to a local jeweler whose services include forwarding gems to GIA. Another is to submit your stones directly to GIA. If you’re mailing in your gemstones, you need to go to the GIA website and follow their instructions to prepare your jewel for submission and shipping. You may also hand deliver your stones if you live near one of their drop off locations. The preparations for this process is similar to the one for shipping.
A different approach is to shop from a jeweler that uses GIA certified diamonds. Since the stones are already certified, the quality of the diamonds has been confirmed. To help your clients select their ideal jewelry, all diamonds at Valentin Magro are GIA certified.
What to Look for in a Diamond
Diamonds are admired for their brilliance, hardness and especially their symbolism. They have been used to represent romantic love since at least 1477, and to signify strength for even longer. Diamonds are still commonly used in jewelry, available in nearly every size and shape imaginable. Even with certified diamonds attesting to quality, choosing the diamonds right for yourself can feel daunting.
Depending on what’s in vogue, some styles of certified diamonds may be promoted over others. A celebrity’s pear shaped diamond band may cause a surge in demand, or a marketing campaign may promote the beauty of tiny gems. What matters most is whether you’re happy with the diamond you select.
Before looking for your dream diamond, you may want to consider your budget. Diamonds with a high value may not necessarily have the traits you’re looking for, while inexpensive diamonds may have undesirable qualities. At the same time, quality still matters. Figure out how much you’re willing to spend, and seek certified diamonds within that range rather than selling oneself too far or too short.
It may help to keep the 4Cs of diamond quality, cut, color, clarity and carat in mind. This grading system is designed to be an easily understood, objective means of gauging a jewel’s quality. Thinking about what you would prefer in certified diamonds may help to narrow down your options.
“Cut” refers to the arrangement of facets and proportions of a diamond. A diamond’s shape refers to its outline, be it round, square, heart, oval or other forms. Some people may gravitate towards the classic round, a sentimental heart shape, or a carat preserving square or triangle. What loose diamonds you decide on should be compatible with your aesthetics.
No matter what kind of diamond you eventually select, make sure that it’s certified by a reputable third party laboratory such as the Gemological Institute of America. Certified diamonds are carefully examined and their traits are verified and documented. With GIA certified diamonds, you can be certain of your jewels’ quality.