What is a Diamond: Key Facts, History

Sharif Khan
Sharif Khan
Last Updated    EST 
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Diamond is a precious crystalline stone made from pure carbon—the hardest naturally occurring substance with the greatest thermal conductivity.

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Check out this quick diamond-buying cheat sheet.

Key Facts About Diamonds

  • Diamond is the hardest material on earth – according to GIA, 58 times harder than anything else in nature.

  • Diamonds are the only gem made of a single element, as around 99% is carbon.

  • Most diamonds are formed more than a billion years ago.

  • Less than 20% of all diamonds found are true gem quality, and the rest are used for industrial purposes.

  • Diamonds were only mined in India until the 18th century.

  • America procures 40% of the world’s diamonds even though she mines or produces almost no diamonds.

Key Facts to be Familiar With

  • Only non-treated gem quality diamonds have a high value

  • Follow the GIA 4cs guide to get the best value for your money and buy graded diamonds if possible

  • Diamonds treated for color, clarity, and/or durability will lose almost all of their value

  • Lab diamonds are also making their way into the diamond industry – the only problem with such diamonds is that while they share similar properties to natural ones, they are grown in a lab.

  • Imitation is also available for diamonds in the market – these are manmade gems using various minerals.

History of Diamond

Diamond is a Greek word that means unalterable or unbreakable. Their first mining site (many centuries ago) is believed to be in India, where it was a religious icon relating to the “thunderbolt” of their warrior god. Diamond was first found near the Indian rivers of Penner, Krishna, and Godavair. Research and epidemiological evidence show that the earliest findings of diamond date back to the 4th century BC when it became a valued mineral—a sign of power, hope, respect, and honor.

In the 13th century, diamonds were introduced as jewelry in Europe. Since then, there has been continuous growth in the market strength of diamonds as precious stones. Venice (the 1330s) has the crown of having the earliest diamond-cutting industry.

1867 radically changed the diamond market when diamonds were discovered in Cape Colony, South Africa. This brought new diamonds and made them more readily available at relatively lower prices since diamond production inclined by at least tenfold. This South African discovery of diamonds was no less than a miracle when 15-year-old Erasmus Jacobs found the first diamond on his father’s farm on the South bank of Orange River. Today South Africa is an unbeatable producer of high-quality diamonds.

Processing and Cutting of Diamond

The diamond we see in the market differs from what it looks when extracted from mines. There is a sequence of several steps involved in the processing of diamond, which includes: Mining—> Crushing—> Grinding—> Ore Separation—> Concentrate Dewatering—>Marking —> Cleaving —> Sawing —> Cutting —> Bruting—> Polishing —> Final inspection.

Sawing is the cleavage process for any diamond, and it involves separating finished gemstone products. This is done using a diamond saw or laser.

The first step in cutting is Planning since the foremost objective is to save most of the diamond with the best-desired shape. The next step is “maximizing value,” where there is a constant effort to uplift the value or worth of the diamond. “Weight retention,” “color retention,” and the shape of a resultant diamond are three dominant factors in maximizing its value.

Bruting is rubbing two diamonds in opposite directions, making them grind against each other, giving them a typical round shape.

Polishing is also called “brillianting" and involves blocking and faceting.

A final inspection is very important in processing diamonds before selling them. This is to ensure its reality as well as reliability. It stamps the diamond’s trueness.

Check our guide on diamond prices for further insights.