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Diamond Articles

As Diamond Buyers in New York City & Long Island we thought you might want to know more about how diamonds are formed and where the word diamond comes from. If you are selling diamond in NYC or looking for the best place to sell diamond in NYC read the articles below and then call Cash for Diamonds NYC today for a free quote. We think you will enjoy the articles below.

Early Diamond History

The term diamond comes from Greek adamao, which are related to the terms adamas and the term adamant (extremely hard). The French term diamant as well as English terms dyamaund and adamaund probably come from Greek term adimantum or a variation of adamant. Today's word Diamond probably was coined in the 16th century.

For centuries it was believed that if a stone could not resist damage with the strike of a hammer or hatchet it was considered to be non-diamond. Even up to the early South African digs in the late 19th century this practice took place. Some clever merchants made the miners believe this and collected the abandoned authentic diamond pieces.

Large diamonds were worn as badges of rank in early political hierarchies. The main role of the diamond in social history was as a concentrated form of wealth, easy to carry and conceal, and very negotiable.

It is thought that the first diamonds were found in India by gold miners before 800 BC. Gold and diamonds often occur together in alluvial deposits. Brazilian diamonds were first discovered at the beginning of the 18th century. Once again it was gold miners who found the diamond crystals, close to Tejuco in Minas Gerais. Brazilians also discovered diamond crystals in Bahia in 1844; these deposits were depleted in about 20 years. The first South African diamond was not officially discovered until 1867. After much speculation, it was authenticated in England and named the Eureka. After changing ownership many times, the final buyer was the De Beers Consolidated Mines in 1966, which then presented the Eureka to the people of South Africa. There have been reports of unsubstantiated finds before the Eureka.

The Early Years of De Beers

The 83.50 carat diamond crystal now known as the Star of South Africa, instigated the international diamond rush to South Africa in 1868. A Dutch digger named Corneilsa was allowed to prospect a farm for a 25% fee to the owners, the de Beer brothers (original spelling). News traveled fast and in a very short time, the de Beer farm was inundated with diggers racing to stake their claims on and beyond the farms boundaries. In October 1871, the de Beer brothers sold their farm for 6,300 pounds, not realizing the vast wealth that lay beneath the farmland.

In 1880, after years of aggressive claim buying, Cecil Rhodes founded what was then called the De Beers Mining Company. Barney Barnato, like Rhodes, came to South Africa with insight and vision and was eventually able to start a large diamond mining operation called Barnato Diamond Mining Company. He quickly gained control of the Kimberly Central Mining Company, at that time the largest mining company operating. Rhodes and Barnato had to fight it out for ultimate control over the mining and in the end Rhodes came out on top with his larger financial backing and perhaps sharper wit.

On March 13th 1888 De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd. was born. Even though Barnato didn't win the game he still ended up as a major player. Barnato was a key figure in the development of the South African diamond trade and was involved in some of the gold mine developments including the Rand gold fields. Unfortunately at the age of 44, under the stress of running the large financial empire and suffering from mental illness, he jumped overboard from a ship on a journey to England.

Early Diamond Marketing

A series of organizations soon emerged to meet the growing demand of diamond marketing. These included the Diamond Corporation, which was formed to finance the enormous resources necessary to support existing and planned rough diamond marketing organizations. In 1933, an even larger group was formed, called the Diamond Producers Association, which included the large South African producers, the South African Government and the original Diamond Corporation. The creation of the Diamond Trading Company allowed them to buy and sort all the rough produced by the DPA. The DTC eventually marketed the rough through a single sales channel, the Central Selling Organization (CSO). All these departments were united under De Beers which gave them the necessary control over the worldwide market that is still in force to this very day.

Kimberly, founded in 1870, was perhaps the most famous diamond mining town in history, resting at an elevation of 4000 feet in central South Africa. The town, which started as a mining camp, was named after Lord Kimberly, the Secretary of State for the colonies, for his influence in getting the mines put under British protection in 1871. Also in 1888 Cecil Rhodes organized a trust in which the Kimberly mines were placed. In 1914, the Colesberg Kopje Kimberly Mine was closed down after producing approximately three tons of diamonds. This gigantic opening in the earth has been nick named The Big Hole. Surrounding mines included the Wesselton and Premier, which are still producing diamonds today. The Premier mine was the location of the discovery of the famous Cullinan diamond, which weighed 3,106 carats and was named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, the prospector who opened the mine.

Alluvial mining was also very successful in S. Africa, including large finds around the Alexander Bay and the Orange River. These sites were discovered in 1926 by German geologists. Today they are known as the State Diggings.

Of course, South Africa is not the only place on the African continent that produces diamonds. Many other countries such as Botswana, Angola, the Belgian Congo, Zaire, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ghana, Lesotho, Liberia, Tanzania, and the Ivory Coast are still mining diamonds successfully today. Other diamond-producing countries include the former U.S.S.R., Venezuela, Brazil, Guyana, India, Indonesia and Canada. The U.S. produces very small amounts of mostly industrial grade.

Origin

Diamond has been discovered on every continent on the planet and new mines are still being uncovered to this day. The propaganda from certain zealous speculators claim the world will soon exhaust its supply of the highly prized gem. It seems very unlikely that this will occur in our lifetimes, or even in generations to come.

It has been estimated diamonds form between 75 to 120 miles below the surface of the planet. Scientific study of temperature and pressure conditions, synthetic diamond testing and production, volcanic activity and inclusion analysis has given us strong evidence of the diamond stability field. The stability field provides the conditions necessary for carbon to crystallize into diamond.

Most diamonds are carried to the surface of the Earth in a dark-colored igneous rock called kimberlite. The exception is Australia, which produces a similar potentially diamond-bearing, igneous rock called lamproite. These volcanic activities that deliver diamond to the earth's surface are at least 2.5 billion years old and perhaps as little as 50 million years old. It has been scientifically documented that rough diamond itself is at least 2.5 billion years old. It is still not known if the kimberlite itself has anything to do with the necessary conditions to form diamond. Most of the kimberlite discovered is non-diamond bearing.

Primary and Secondary Deposits

The two types of diamond deposits are referred to as primary and secondary. The primary deposits are forced up to the surface in kimberlite. By the erosion of the easily broken down kimberlite, the diamonds wash down to the rivers and these deposits are called alluvial (or secondary). In many cases, they are eventually carried down-stream -- sometimes thousands of miles, to the ocean. These are called marine deposits. Alluvial deposits are usually the more concentrated in diamonds, since the action of the water current separates the heavier minerals from the lighter.

Prospecting

Prospecting -- the precursor to mining -- can be difficult and tedious labor for the prospectors, as they sample the gravel in river beds in the jungles of South America, or dig holes in the deserts of the Kalahari. With modern day technology, much of the locating process can be done with radar, electromagnetic mapping, aerial photography, and core samples.

Mining

Mining is an important part of the equation in diamond's value. Specifically, mining is the process of first locating and then extracting the rough. Of course diamond mining could be as easy as stooping over and digging up a large, fine, ten carat octahedral crystal out of a muddy river bed. Generally, alluvial mining is the least difficult and therefore is primarily worked with picks, shovels and pans. Alluvial deposits are usually found in small pockets and therefore are quickly exhausted. Only in very productive areas would heavy machinery get involved such as front-loaders and bulldozers. Kimberlite pipes exist all over the world but very few actually contain diamonds. Even when they are diamond bearing, the pipe has to be rich enough to justify the major expense involved in setting up and running a mining operation. Just a few of the many aspects that must be considered include location, climate conditions, political climate, water access, power access, and communications.

Mining Methods

Commonly a diamond mine will start off as an open pit dug out in a benched (or staircase) shape that can accommodate a sloping roadway for trucks to drive down to the bottom of the excavation. This design also prevents cave-ins.

Underground mining consists of a large vertical shaft running next to a kimberlite pipe to be used for access to many horizontal tunnels leading into the kimberlite. Diamond-bearing rock is blasted loose at the tunnel faces, hauled to the surface, and processed. Most of the mines vary in types of production. Some produce mostly industrial, others may produce higher qualities. Sometimes tons of rock, gravel or sand have to be processed to retrieve one carat of rough diamond.

The block-cave method is more efficient and more commonly used today. This is simply digging a cave underneath the kimberlite rock until it falls in. The crumbled gravel is more easily processed after it is funneled out into the collection areas.

Bench mining (or benching) is a process of blasting benches or slots in the sides of the open pit area where the kimberlite pipes lay. The gravel is directed down through funnels to the below-ground processing area. It is then crushed into pieces of six inches or less before it it hauled to the surface for further processing.

Mining is difficult, dirty, and dangerous work, requiring the movement of thousands of tons of rock everyday to make it all worthwhile. Some mines may only produce a single one-carat finished diamond out of 250 tons of rock. Eventually the yield of a pipe no longer supports the costs of mining and the operation must be closed down. The Kimberly Mine was 3,601 feet deep when it was closed.

A typical recovery processing method today involves first crushing the gravel into pieces measuring about 11Ú4 inches across. It is then forced across a series of screens called grizzlies, which separate the larger and smaller chunks. The small pieces of kimberlite are placed in a mechanical rocker box, where rotating paddles circulate water to separate the lighter and heavier minerals. The lighter materials eventually float off and the heavier diamond-bearing gravel collects at the bottom of the box.

One of diamond's characteristics is its high affinity for oil or grease. Since before the turn of the century, grease has been used for sorting out diamond in such inventions as the grease table. The separated gravel is washed over a table covered with a thick layer of grease, leaving diamond rough behind, adhering to the table. The grease belt, a more modern version of the earlier grease table, uses a greased conveyer belt for continuous processing. Again, the diamond-bearing gravel is washed across the belt and the remaining rough is collected at the far end of the conveyor.

A major advance in the recovery systems came in 1958, when Soviet scientists invented the X-ray separation system. Relying on the fact that diamonds fluoresce under X-rays, the concentrated gravel passes through X-ray beams. When fluorescence occurs, an intense air stream is triggered that forces the diamond rough into a separate collection area.

What is diamond?

Simply put, diamond is pure carbon that has crystallized in the isometric (cubic) configuration. It is the only single-element gem that exists on this planet. (Carbon -- expressed as C in the periodic table.) Elemental carbon occurs only in three natural forms: diamond, graphite, and amorphous carbon. Amorphous carbon occurs as a type of soot produced by partly-burned hydrocarbons, such as kerosene and natural gas.

Crystal Systems

The isometric crystal system consists of three equal length axes perpendicular to each other. Even though a typical diamond crystal is not cube-shaped it always falls into that isometric pattern. Many odd shapes and growths occur, being due to slightly non-uniform and changing crystallization conditions deep underground. It is part of the diamond cutter's challenge to decipher and unravel this complex structure which can be very ambiguous. Later in the course we will discuss diamond cutting in detail, as well as the significance of how that relates to buying and selling.

Grain

Octahedral Diamond Crystal

In an octahedral diamond crystal the most obvious grains are the edges of the triangular faces. Imaginary lines exist all the way to the center of the crystal. The outside arrows represent a cutter's polishing directions perpendicular to the grains.

When grain is mentioned in relation to diamond, it is usually cleavage grain that a dealer is referring to. This is a very narrow definition, but it is at least the beginning of what grain in a diamond is all about. As you can see in the illustrations herewith, the octahedral crystal that characterizes the diamond structure is delineated by eight triangular faces that make up two pyramid shapes joined at their bases. The lines making up the triangles represent single grains that travel all the way through a diamond crystal in their pre-established paths. The diamond's molecular structure has some similarity to the grain in wood. If you split a piece of wood, the plane of division must travel parallel to the grain. The same rule applies to diamond, except that there are twelve individual, precisely-oriented grains. A cutter (or an unsuspecting victim) must split, cleave or break a diamond along one chosen grain. In the polishing process (which will be discussed in more detail later), the cutter must polish (grind) the stone perpendicular to the dominant grain.

Hardness

Diamond is the hardest substance on earth and so naturally Friedrich Mohs based his hardness scale on just that.

Mohs' Scale:

10) Diamond
9) Corundum (Ruby / Sapphire)
8) Topaz
7) Quartz
6) Feldspar
5) Apatite
4) Fluorite
3) Calcite
2) Gypsum
1) Talc

The divisions were chosen arbitrarily and are unequal. For example the difference in hardness between 8 and 9 is much greater than the difference between any of the lower numbers. The difference in hardness is greater between 9 and 10 than between 1 and 9. Needless to say diamond is an extremely hard substance capable of resisting scratching by any other substance on earth except for diamond itself.

Toughness

We've all heard the old saying "A diamond is forever." Forever is an overstatement but since diamonds are extremely hard and do resist any kind of scratching, this would be a likely assumption. Diamonds will often break, given the right circumstances. How could an extremely hard substance break? It's so hard that it's brittle. Actually diamond's toughness is rated "good" (not "excellent" like the gemstone jade). Remember that there is a significant difference between hardness and toughness. Hardness is simply the resistance to scratching and toughness is the resistance to breakage, to powdering or to flattening under repeated pounding

Carat Weight Measurement

If you are looking for the best place to sell diakmonds in NYC, Manhattan diamond buyers would like to provide you with a quote for your diamond. NYC diamond buyers pays cash for diamonds on the spot, no waiting. The 4 Cs was a phrase brought into the industry many years ago to help the public understand and be aware of, the important aspects of diamond buying. We will focus on these one at a time since they all play a crucial role in diamond valuation: Carat (weight), color, clarity and cut.

Carat (ct) is simply a measurement of weight in the metric system. Many confuse the other term karat as used in the U.S. for denoting gold purity, with the carat weight measurement. The carat was adopted in the United States in 1913, and today it is the international standard in most countries. The carat is defined as exactly 1/5th of a metric gram or 200 milligrams. There are about 142 carats in an ounce and about 2,272 carats in a pound. A point is 100th of a carat (or 2 mg.), which means there are 100 points in a one-carat-even stone. So if a dealer says he has a 1.37 for sale, you know it is 37/100ths of a carat over 1.00 carat.

When buying a diamond, it is very important to realize that every point must be included in the total (or net) price of the purchase. This is why diamonds sold on the wholesale level are quoted in terms of price per carat (ppc). Many dealers will assume you know this and expect you to calculate the actual net price. For example, you have a call for a 3Ú4 carat round brilliant with color, clarity and make (cut) that you specify. Your supplier quotes a .78 carat @ 2000. Chances are the net price on this stone is $1560.00: $2000 per carat multiplied by .78 is $1560 or 2000 x .78 = 1560. If you're not sure, ask if it's net or per carat. Otherwise you may be in for a disappointing loss or confusion about why a price quotation seems so high.

Carat Scale

Some type of accurate carat scale is a must if you are planning on buying or dealing in a lot of loose diamonds or colored stones. If you are strictly going to be buying and selling mounted diamonds and other precious or semi-precious stones, a scale would be secondary, since a stone must be loose in order to be weighed. Later on we will discuss in detail the methods of weight estimation, but for now, we will focus on the general aspects of weighing loose diamonds.

There are many scales to choose from but the two main classifications are balance and electronic. Naturally the electronic scales will give you faster readings but the extremely accurate variety (to 1/1000th of a carat or .001 carat) can be relatively pricey for the newcomer or budget-minded dealer. Some scales offer the option of weighing pennyweights (dwt) and grams along with carats.

The balance scale offers something usually much more affordable. Some dealers from the old-school still use balance scales over the more popular and quicker electronic scales. The most basic balance type is simply placing the stone in question in the pan to one side and placing the counter weight(s) on the other until the indicating pointer has centered on the index plate. Along with larger, professional models, this is also the way a typical portable balance scale would work.

The more sophisticated balance types would include the rider and chain scales. The rider has weights that move or ride across a scale which is attached to a beam. Some scales measure just points and the even carat counterweights must be added to achieve a weight over 0.99 carat and in other scale models, the carat increments are included in the design.

A chain balance is similar in operation to the rider, but it uses a chain as the counterweight. On some models a control knob is used to adjust the chain until the pointer indicator is at zero or the center of the index plate. Again some models can be used with additional loose counterweights where others are designed to operate without.

Electronic scales are fast, accurate and are coming down in price as most electronic products do in this day and age. Electronic scales translate the weight on the platform into pressure, then into tension, which creates electrical resistance, which then indicates the exact weight of the subject in question. These scales are the most sophisticated and can be relatively expensive, but with some shopping and research you will find the scale that meets your needs. Always read the owners manual carefully and take your time when first using a new instrument to avoid what could be costly mistakes.

Diamond Size

Many people believe that diamonds are classified by size rather than by weight. The word size is often used instead of weight in public retailing: "How big is the diamond?" Size could consist of a measurement of diameter, as for example, 6.5 mm (millimeters) for a 1.00 carat diamond. Indeed, most semi-precious stones are sold by size, since their value does not warrant exact weight determination. For example, cubic zirconia, an inexpensive diamond imitation, is sold by size. A 6.5 mm CZ would weigh about 1.60 carats, since it is much heavier than diamond. But when dealing in diamonds, every point (1/100 carat) could be critical in determining the wholesale value.

Weight Category

Weight categories are important, because as diamonds get larger, they get rarer and as a result, more valuable. Given the same quality polished diamonds in a 0.50 ct and a 1.00 ct, many would assume that the 1.00 would be worth twice as much as the 0.50. In reality, it would be worth about four times as much.If you are looking for the best palce to sell a diamond ring in NYC or the best Manhattan Diamond Buyers make sure you check out one of our NYC diamond buyers locations. We pay cash for diamonds in NYC. Bring in your diamond for a free evaluation and buyer's appraisal. If you have a GIA certificate or other certificate for your diamond bring that with you as well. Our professional NYC diamond buyers will give you a cash for diamond quote in minutes. If you are looking for the best place to sell a diamond in NYC or best place to sell a diamond engagement ring in New York City or Manhattan make sure you check out one of our Manhattan diamond buyers locations. Our diamond dealers are licensed to buy diamonds in Manhattan, all NYC boroughs and Long Island.

Price Per Carat

The trade values diamonds in price per carat. These figures are much easier to remember as they are usually even numbers. In addition, wholesale price guides list diamond prices in price per carat values. The price per carat increases each time a given color and clarity combination enters the next weight category. Also recognize, as a diamond's weight approaches the next category the price increases, even though a given price guide may not indicate this. Again, it comes back to rarity. For example, a 1.99 carat is going to be far less available than a 1.50 carat. As a result, it will be a more valuable diamond, demanding a higher price per carat -- even though both are in the same weight category.

The "Rappaport Diamond Report" is a valuable subscription for estimating loose diamond wholesale prices. Numbers listed are in price per carat in hundreds of U.S. dollars.

Weight Category and Value

A rough crystal is most often sawed into two pieces. The layout begins by marking the rough crystal with a special ink along the plane in which it will be sawn. In order for a cutter to get a maximum investment return, he must also consider the final weight categories. For example, it would be more profitable for the cutter to finish with a 1.02 ct. and 1.51 ct. versus another possible scenario of a 1.08 ct. and a 1.45 ct. The difference could mean taking a profit or a loss. By shifting either the saw plane or the layout of the stone ever so slightly, the outcome inevitably changes. This is why odd sizes just under the beginning of new weight categories are much less common. Examples: 0.99, 1.46, 1.95, 2.96, etc. Since these sizes are so close to the next weight category, the price per carat is generally significantly higher than its even-sized counterparts, but still not quite the value of the higher weight category. Example: 1.47 versus 1.05 carat. They're in the same weight category but the price per carat will be higher for the 1.47 (close to a 1.50) due to its greater rarity.

Diamond Trade Language in Weight

It is important to possess an accurate understanding of dealer jargon or trade language concerning weight so misunderstandings are avoided. The following will be commonly used terms in the trade.

Carat weight can be expressed in points instead of carats, or as a combination of both. For example, a 1.47 carat could be expressed as: "one forty seven" ; "one point forty seven"; "a carat forty seven"; "one point four seven carats"; a hundred forty seven points"; "a carat and forty seven points". The most common usage among dealers is the first example, "one forty seven". A .58 carat would commonly be called a "fifty eight" or a "fifty eight pointer". It is common for anything under a carat to add "pointer" at the end. Uncommon would be the example "a hundred forty seven points" or "a carat and forty seven points". Many times a dealer can tell how inexperienced you are or how long you've been in the business by the terms that you use. You'll quickly become accustomed to these terms as you deal with more and more people in the trade.

Small diamonds, called melee (rhymes with "jelly"), don't see the substantial price increases as weight increases as compared to larger stones since they are very much more common. Melee would include any diamond that weighs less than 0.18 carat. Most dealers consider 0.18 the beginning of the 1/5 carat category. We are Diamond Buyers in NYC Sell Diamond in NYC to us for Great Cash for Diamond prices.

Grainers

Many dealers use the term grainer. A grainer represents a 1/4 ct.

One Grainer = 1/4 
Two Grainer = 1/2 ct. 
Three Grainer = 3Ú4 ct. 
Four Grainer = 1.00 ct. 
Five Grainer = 1.25 ct. 
Six Grainer = 1.50 ct. 
Seven Grainer = 1.75 ct. 
Eight Grainer = 2.00 ct. 
Etc.

General Weight Categories:

0.01-0.03 - melee

0.04-0.07 - melee

0.08-0.14 - melee

0.15-0.17 - melee

0.18-0.22 - 1/5

0.23-0.29 - 1/4

0.30-0.37 - 1/3

0.38-0.45 - 3/8

0.46-0.49 - Light 1/2

0.50-0.69 - 1/2: This is where a weight increase within a weight category will affect price more readily.

0.70-0.89 - 3/4: Again, the PPC on an 0.88 is going to be perhaps 10 to 15% higher than a 0.70 ct.

0.90-0.99 - Light carat: Since there is a smaller weight variance in this narrow category the difference between a 0.90 and 0.99 carat may only be 5 to 7%.

1.00-1.49 - One carat: This of course would be a very loose definition of a size category since there are perhaps three categories within one. 1.00+ ct.; 1.25+ ct.; 1.40+ ct. The price increases as you move closer to the 1.49 mark and will be quite obvious at that point. Again, the 1.40-1.49 ct. diamonds are going to be much more difficult to find and therefore demand a much higher price per carat than the more common 1.00 carat sizes.

1.50-1.99 - 1 1/2 carat: Usually a jump in price starts at 1.70 and again at 1.90 ct. A 1.97- 1.99 ct. will likely be priced close to the 2.00 ct. price.

2.00-2.99 - Two carat plus: The same rules will apply for this size category and larger. Watch for price increases in 2.40+, 2.70+ and 2.90+, and again 2.97-2.99 will be very similar in price to 3.00 ct.

Note: Proportions will always have a direct influence on the value of the finished diamond. Example: A fine make that weighs 1.98 carats, could easily be valued higher than an inferior make of the same grade, that weighs 2.00 carats. Best place to sell diamond in NYC Best place to sell diamond new york Selling diamond in New York Sell diamond NYC

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Cut Versus Shape

The term cut is commonly interchanged with the term shape of a diamond. Many dealers today use the word "cut" referring to the shape but for the purposes of clear understanding in this course and in your trade practices the two should be clearly distinguished. "Cut" will refer to proportions and detailed characteristics of the proportions.

The three terms, brilliance, dispersion and scintillation are very important to understand since they are what a cutter strives for in a well-cut (well-made) diamond. They will determine a large part of the overall beauty of the particular stone, the value and naturally, its salability.

Brilliance is the richness or intensity of reflections of white light in the face-up position of the diamond. The reflections will increase with a well-cut diamond since the light is contained for a longer period of time before being allowed to escape toward the viewer's eyes (as compared to a poor-cut).

Dispersion relates to a diamond's ability to refract (bend) white light, displaying the spectral colors, red, orange, yellow, blue and green. Most transparent materials will bend light, but diamond's refractive index is exceptionally high, thus producing more distinct colors in the overall light spectrum.

Scintillation is the movement of the reflections (brilliance) and dispersion (spectral colors), as the diamond (or other gemstone) is rotated or tilted before the viewer's eyes.

Moder Round Brilliant Diamond

The modern round brilliant cut with proportion and descriptive terms included.

The cut or "make" of a diamond is the key that unlocks the hidden beauty within a piece of rough. Many people including not-so-knowledgeable dealers, believe the brilliance, scintillation and dispersion has something to do with the stone's quality. This couldn't be further from the truth. How a diamond handles light is what determines its overall B.S.D. (brilliance, scintillation and dispersion). There are a couple of exceptions to quality affecting B.S.D. When a diamond. The modern round brilliant cut with proportion and descriptive terms included. falls into the imperfect range (I1, I2, I3 or worse), the light traveling through the stone is filtered by the inclusions (and possibly severe blemishes). When a diamond is a darker fancy color the light again will be filtered (absorbed) to reduce the B.S.D. To illustrate, place a D Flawless (the best color and clarity) with a 55% depth and 68% table, next to an H SI2 (average color and clarity) of the same size, but with superior proportions such as 61% depth and a 56% table. Which do you think will be the more attractive? The H SI2 will be the clear winner.

The Anatomy of a Brilliant Cut Diamond

The image to the left illustrates a "modern round brilliant cut" but the same term can apply to all other brilliant cuts, (pear shape brilliant, oval shape brilliant, etc.?). Step-cuts, such as the emerald cut, will not have upper and lower girdle facets or star facets -- which distinguishes them from brilliant cuts.

Designing the Modern Cut

The concept of designing the modern brilliant cut was to formulate an optimum angle, depth and table percentage relationship. The properties that had to be understood to accomplish this task included both transmitted light and reflected light. "Transmitted light" is what enters the diamond and reflected light is what bounces from the surfaces of the diamond.

Refractive Index

Different gems or substances have varying refractive indexes. Diamond's is unique in the sense that it has the high refractive index of 2.417. Cubic zirconia's is about 2.15. The higher the RI (refractive index) the more ability it has to bend light. Light bends because the specific material structure slows it down as it enters. We see this in the dislocated image of an object immersed in a liquid, such as the apparent bending of a straw sitting in a glass of water. In vacuum conditions (such as interstellar space), light travels at approximately 186,000 miles per second, with an effective refractive index of 1. Once light hits our atmosphere, it slows down slightly due to a refractive index of 1.00029. Through diamond, light travels at closely 77,000 miles per second (186,000/2.417).

Single and Double Refraction

Diamond is singly refractive -- but some gemstones are doubly refractive such as alexandrite, aquamarine, citrine, kunzite, corundum (ruby/sapphire), spinel, tourmaline, moissanite etc. Light in doubly refractive gemstones travels at different speeds depending on the direction it enters the material. This is another method of distinguishing diamond from some of the imitations such as moissanite. Viewing the subject stone through a crown bezel facet, tilt it until the culet lines up in the center of the crown facet. With double refraction you will see two culets or at least a slight doubling, (overlapping) of the culet. Many times this doubling may be difficult to identify depending on the stone size, so don't rely on that alone for identification.

Not only does the light bend as it enters the diamond but it also separates into the spectrum that we see in prisms or rainbows. This occurs because the different colors of the spectrum each travel at their own speed once they've hit the refractive material. Since they each travel at different speeds, they will each bend at a slightly different angle producing the dispersion we appreciate in a diamond. The slower the color in the light spectrum, the more time it has to bend while traveling through the diamond.

Diamond's Containment of Light

The design of the modern round brilliant is such that it "contains" the light that enters it as long as possible. To understand this, we must first know a little more about how light works. For those of you who play pool or billiards, angle of incidence will be easy to grasp. When an object ball rolls across the pool table striking the side cushion (with no additional influences to sway its course), it leaves the cushion at exactly the same angle that it met the cushion. The same thing happens to light when it strikes a strongly reflective surface. If a light beam hits a reflective surface, for example at 30¡, it ricochets off the surface at exactly the same angle, 30". In simple terms, the angle of reflection equals the angle of incidence.

Transmitted Light

This part is a little more involved -- but not much. Transmitted light is the portion of light that enters the material, or a diamond in this case. Again, reflected light does not enter the diamond, but bounces away at the same angle that it met the surface. Transmitted light is that which enters the diamond. Imagine yourself skipping stones off the surface of a perfectly calm lake. You understand that in order to actually make the stone reflect off the surface, the angle of incidence must be fairly slight, say 2° to 10°. If you heaved another stone at the surface at say 30° (from further up the embankment), the chances of it skipping are greatly reduced. At 60° the stone will more than likely be swallowed into the blue water every time. At 90° above the surface, the stone would be virtually impossible to skip or reflect off the surface. It would be "transmitted" into the water every time. The same principle works with light. The slighter the angle of incidence, the more likely the light will reflect off the surface of the diamond. On the other hand, at 90°, almost all the light is transmitted into the diamond.

Lets get back to refraction for a moment. The light that is reflected off the surface of a diamond is lost forever. But the light that enters (transmitted), reflecting inside the diamond is part of what makes it beautiful. Since light is traveling in many different directions simultaneously the necessary amount to make a well cut diamond come to life can be very little. All light that is transmitted is also refracted or bent into the array of spectral colors, which then reflects inside the diamond's surfaces, and is eventually released as the rich dispersion that sets diamond apart from other gemstones.

The Critical Angle

The third aspect of light travel in a diamond deals with the internal containment (and distribution). This is the key component in designing the angles of a well cut diamond. It isn't just an accident that light enters a diamond, refracts, reflects and disperses into a kaleidoscope of color. The containment of this light was critical in making diamond shine the way it does in the modern cut. If you understand the way light is reflected or is transmitted by a diamond, this part is easy. Inside the diamond there is a very specific path for the light to follow and escape forever. This escape route is the critical angle, which is 24.5 °. This is actually more accurately described as an imaginary cone where the point starts at the surface entry or exit point and flares outward at 24.5 °. After light enters the diamond, the bottom angles are designed in such a way that the light reflection creates an angle greater than 24.5 ° and as a result the escape route is eliminated. As you can see in in the following illustrations, the final escape route is planned in order to allow the disperion and brilliance to be viewed from the crown facets. Just as in the stone that enters the water at too steep an angle, the light also will escape by contacting the surface at too steep an angle.

Pavilion Angle

The original ideal pavilion angle is 40.75 °. The major gem labs do agree that slight variations from this angle will still produce a well-cut diamond. This chosen angle accommodates light traveling through the table, reflecting off the inside of the pavilion facets, bouncing to its opposite pavilion facets and leaking through the crown facets surrounding the table. As you can see in the previous illustrations the angle of incidence and angle of reflection inside the diamond creates its own angle greater than 24 1/2 °, which will not allow the light to leak from the bottom of the stone. In the following illustration you will see that, if the pavilion angles are too steep the light will exit out of the opposite side after first reflecting once inside the diamond. The most obvious visual indication of this is the dark center in a diamond. If too flat, the light would exit the stone immediately, since the angle of incidence falls within the 24.5 ° critical angle.

Crown Angle

The original ideal angle for the crown is 34.5 °. Here again, the major gem labs do agree that slight variations from this angle will still produce a well-cut diamond. This angle was designed to provide the final escape route for the reflected internal light so that the dispersion and brilliance could be viewed. It was also important to provide an angle great enough for light to enter and exit from more diverse directions. These diverse directions are multiplied when the star and upper girdle facets are added. But the angles could not be so steep that the light reflection from the pavilion traveling back up to the crown would be reflected back (trapped) into the stone.

At 34 1/2 °, the angle of dispersion is at its greatest. At 30 °one would have to look in a more parallel direction to the table of the diamond to observe its dispersion. At 34 1/2 ° the diamond could be tilted further away from parallel and still portray the dispersion of a well cut diamond.

Measuring Crown Angles

Diamond cutters use a star gauge to measure the crown angle from the table, which should --if the stone is accurately cut -- coincide with the crown's angle to the girdle plane. In cutting, consistent angles and depths, are a must, to end up with acceptable symmetry. This also leaves a table that is dead center and parallel to the girdle plane. Other methods of determining crown angles will be discussed shortly.

Proportionscope

A proportionscope, first designed and manufactured by GIA in 1967, is an instrument that casts a silhouetted image of the diamond It allows us to check the proportions of the stone in question. This is a handy gemological tool to include in one's lab, but not an absolute necessity to start off with.

Judging Angles

For buying purposes, many dealers rely on their judgment of determining proper specs with only a 10x loupe, cleaning cloth and a pair of tweezers. This takes a lot of experience and even then mistakes may occur. The following illustrations should be studied for the purpose of familiarizing yourself with side profiles of various crown angles. Judging angles and percentages is very challenging but with a lot of practice it can be accomplished with the assistance of the following methods:

The Pavilion Main Method

The Pavilion Main Method is another effective way to estimate crown angles without the use of instruments. The elongated kite-shaped "pavilion main" can be viewed through the crown with the table facing toward you. You will see shape distortion where the image of the pavilion main passes under the kite-shaped bezel (top) main facet. The amount of distortion indicates the approximate angle of the crown main facets. Where the pavilion main passes under the crown main, you will notice that the image expands to a wider shape. At 34.5 °, it is double the width from the table side to the crown main facet side. As the crown angles decrease, the thickened pavilion main shrinks. At less than 25 °, there is virtually no change in shape. This image distortion is caused by the crown angle's refractive effect. It bends the image projection toward the center or culet of the diamond. With extremely high crown angles, 39 ° +, the image is a kite shape itself.

Typically you will also note misaligned crown and pavilion facets when using this method of crown angle determination. This makes it a little more challenging to use, and it also points out a non-symmetrical stone.

Eventually you will have the ability to estimate crown angles by looking closely at the side profile of the diamond. Note: When viewing a side profile, it's important to remember to be very careful when holding a diamond in tweezers when the culet is contacting the tweezers' metal surface. A culet or extremely thin girdle are easily broken even with light pressure.

Estimating Pavilion Angle

The ideal pavilion angle of 40.75 ° corresponds to a pavilion depth percentage of approximately 43%. Again this is important to bear in mind for understanding ideal depths and for communicating these facts to other dealers or to retail clientele. In the figure below, note the relationship of flatter and steeper angles to the corresponding depth percentages.

In addition to correct pavilion angles, consistent pavilion angles are also important to achieve proper symmetry in the finished diamond. You will often see diamonds with off-center culets. This is caused by the cutter's choice in leaving the pavilion angles inconsistent. For example, one side is 39.5 ° and its opposite is 42.5 ° allowing the culet to favor the higher angled side.

An off-center culet may also be caused by inconsistent depths of the pavilion main facets. This is obvious when viewing the girdle plane, which should run parallel to the table.

The Pavilion Depth

The pavilion depth is the measurement between the top edge of the pavilion (where the lower edge of the girdle ends) and the culet. Some might confuse this measurement as being taken from a parallel line that runs along the pavilion angle. This would be incorrect. The imaginary line would run perpendicular to the girdle plane downward to another imaginary line parallel to the girdle and at the same depth as the culet, as in the Figure below. This number would be divided by the diameter of the diamond, the result being commonly expressed as a percentage --the depth %. (For those mathematic wizards, that's essentially the same as the tangent of the angle.) Of course without a proportionscope, the pavilion depth would be very difficult to measure.

Table Reflection Method

The Table Reflection Method furnishes a fast and relatively accurate estimate of pavilion depth. In the diamonds that you get the chance to examine, you will see a reflection outline of the table onto the lower portion of the pavilion, when looking through the crown. The size of this reflection indicates the depth of the pavilion in question. For the ideal 43% depth, the reflection covers about 1/3 of the distance between the culet and the edge of the table where the stars join. If the reflection reaches one half of the distance, the depth is approximately 44.5% (too deep). As the reflection gets smaller the depth becomes shallower, and with a greater depth, the reflection becomes larger. It's easy to remember larger is deeper, smaller is shallower. Again the ideal marker is the 43% depth (40.75 °) with the reflection extending 1/3 of the way between the culet and the table corner (where stars join). It is a relatively accurate and simple method.

When looking for this reflection, make sure the culet is centered under the table by holding the stone parallel to your loupe. The image of the octagon-shaped table itself consisting of eight surrounding star facets, is the landmark you will search for when identifying the reflection. These eight star reflections will probably be slightly distorted, but the distance from the culet will still be easy to estimate by eye. With very shallow pavilion depths, the reflection will be more difficult to distinguish due to its smaller size and lack of clear geometric shape. You will see the reflection, but it will not be as clear as say, in the 42 or 43% depth stones.

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