Quick Guide to Diamonds
Almost every married man (and many married women) have bought at least one diamond during their engagement and marriage. But many of these shoppers rely heavily on friends, family, and the Internet for their diamond knowledge. This can lead to misinformed shoppers who buy overpriced diamonds.
The knowledge and experience of a Chattanooga jeweler, however, can help you balance all the considerations of purchasing diamond jewelry. These experts will guide you in selecting the engagement rings, wedding bands, and other custom jewelry that fit your budget and style. Here are a few FAQs about diamonds to get you started:
What is a diamond?
A diamond is a gemstone that is formed from a crystal lattice of carbon atoms. This means that a diamond has the same chemical composition as coal or pencil graphite. However, intense heat and pressure experienced inside the Earth cause carbon atoms to align in a diamond cubic structure rather than sheets as in coal or graphite.
The crystal structure makes diamonds the hardest naturally occurring element at 10 on the Mohs hardness scale. Moreover, the crystalline structure gives most diamonds their clarity since very few chemical elements can fit inside the crystal to contaminate it.
Why do engagement rings include a diamond?
Rings have been used since ancient Roman times to signify a contract or bond. Thus, they were a natural symbol to be used to identify the bond between a married couple.
Likewise, engagement rings are a physical representation of the promise to marry. This was affirmed in 850 A.D. by Pope Nicholas I who decreed that an engagement ring manifested the groom’s intent to marry the bride.
Gold has been the metal of choice for engagement rings since Roman times. However, before the 1940s diamond engagement rings were rare. In 1947, De Beers began marketing diamonds for engagement rings by pointing out that diamonds last forever just as marriage lasts forever.
What affects the price of a diamond?
The price of a diamond is primarily influenced by four factors, called the four Cs:
- Carat, meaning the weight of the diamond.
- Cut, meaning the way the diamond has been shaped.
- Color, ranging from colorless to a wide variety of tints.
- Clarity, meaning the size and number of flaws in the gem.
Carat is the easiest factor to understand — larger and heavier diamonds are usually more expensive. One carat is equal to 200 milligrams or 0.00705 ounces. This mass is defined by international standards, so a one-carat diamond purchased in South Africa will weigh exactly the same as a one-carat diamond purchased in Knoxville.
How does the cut affect the diamond?
When they are mined, diamonds have an appearance like salt or sugar crystals — clear, colorless or tinged with color, and rough. Diamond cutters transform uncut diamonds into gems by cutting facets into the crystal. In doing so, diamond cutters impart both the shape and the brilliance of the stone.
Diamonds can have many different shapes, including round, square, oval, cushion, rectangular, pear, and marquise. Within these shapes, the number and arrangement of facets can further distinguish diamonds. For example, Asscher cuts and radiant cuts are both applied to square diamonds, but Asscher cuts emphasize luster while radiant cuts emphasize brilliance or sparkle.
The crystalline structure of the diamond allows for both transmission of light into and out of the diamond and reflection of light off the facets. By controlling the number and angle of the facets, the diamond cutter dictates how light interacts with the diamond. As a result, the same size diamond will have a very different appearance depending on how it is cut.
What is the difference between color and clarity of a diamond?
The color of a diamond is affected by impurities or distortions in the crystal lattice that impart a colored tinge to the stone. These impurities and distortions allow some wavelengths of light to be reflected while trapping other wavelengths.
The clarity of a diamond is also affected by impurities and flaws in the crystal lattice. However, clarity is focused on the size and appearance of specific flaws (called inclusions) that appear like spots, cracks, or clouds suspended inside the stone rather than changing the color of the entire stone.
There are a wide variety of engagement rings Chattanooga jewelers sell. If you have trouble choosing one, consult a knowledgeable expert at a local jewelry store.