Planning to buy an engagement ring? Read these facts about diamond to become a smart, educated customer!
Diamond Facts #1: Why Do Diamonds Sparkle?
In fact, diamonds do not sparkle in their natural state. It is simply a transparent, hard rock. Diamond sparkles because of its cut, i.e. how it is shaped such that light is reflected and scattered into different color spectrum.
The classic and most famous "round brilliant cut" was developed in 1919 by Marcel Tolkowsky, a engineer whose family was in the diamond cutting business.
The cut divides the diamond into two parts, the crown (upper part) and the pavilion (lower part). When light goes through the crown, it is being reflected around and different colors are created. When the light reaches towards the pavilion, the angle of the cut ensures that most of the light is bounced back to the crown, to be reflected again and creating more colors (i.e. sparkles).
Diamond Facts #2: What Is It Made Of?
A diamond is actually made of carbons! (yes, the black stuff). The carbon atoms in a diamond are stacked tightly in a tetrahedral shape. Because of this strong bonding between the atoms, diamond is the hardest natural substance on earth. In fact, diamond got its name from the ancient Greek word "adamas", which means "invincible".
The transparency and hardness make diamond an ideal material for jewelry. The transparency makes it sparkle, i.e. it allows light to go through and the "cut" (see below) ensures light to scatter into different color spectrum. At the same time, the hardness makes diamonds resistant to scratches.
Diamonds are also used in industrial setting, mostly for cutting other hard materials such as glass and other diamonds.
Diamond Facts #3: Who Wore The First Diamond Ring?
Diamond is believed to be discovered by Indians 3,000 years ago or before, where many diamond deposits were scattered along the rivers in the region. Romans were also known to wear diamond rings, but mostly for religious or superstitious reasons.
Gradually, this beautiful precious stone was spread to Europe, and by the 13th century it was treasured by kings, queens, and the wealthy class. A number of large diamonds were used as signature jewel on crowns.
However, it was not until the 1940s that the De Beers Company began to advertise Diamonds as engagement rings. At that time, huge deposits of diamonds were found in South Africa and De Beers had to come up with an advertising campaign to create demand. How? They made use of cinemas. As with lipsticks, its popularity spread quickly and buying a diamond ring for engagement became a global phenomenon.
Diamond Facts #4: How Can We Grade A Diamond?
Gemological Institute of America is the organization that sets the worldwide standard for diamonds. Diamond is graded according to the "four Cs": Clarity, Color, Cut and Carat.
Whether there are imperfections on the outside (blemishes) or inside (inclusions) in a diamond. The fewer the flaws, the more it sparkles.
Pure diamond is colorless and transparent but impurities will cause coloration. The most common impurity is nitrogen which gives the diamonds a yellow tint. Although colorless diamonds are generally more expensive because of little impurities (thus more sparkle), people in some regions, such as South East Asia, prefer slightly tinted diamonds. Technically, a diamond's color can range from "D" (colorless) to "Z" (light yellow).
The quality depends on the workmanship (how well it is polished) and the angle of the cut (to maximize the amount of light scattered in order to make it sparkle). Most of the time, at least 50% of the diamond stone is cut off in order to make the classic "round brilliant cut".
In general, the bigger/heavier the diamond, the more expensive. However, you may be interested to know that there is a big jump in price at certain carat level, e.g. a 1 carat diamond is much more expensive than a 0.95 carat diamond, simply because of higher demand. 1 carat weighs 0.2 grams.
Other Fun Diamond Facts
Now, proceed with confidence and to buy your engagement ring. Good luck!
* Photographs courtesy of Wiki Commons