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Monday 25 November 2013

Why it pays to buy a certified diamond.

Diamonds represent the epitome of luxury, decadence and absolute excess. Diamonds have long been held in high esteem by humanity for their, beauty, radiance and unbridled sheen. When diamonds are bought and sold however, some diamonds are more expensive than others, and this happens solely because some gems are of a higher grade than others. These grades include, but are not restricted to the 4Cs (Cut, Color, Carat and Clarity), and pre-determined tests that are conducted by a 3rd party laboratory to determine the grade of the stone in question.

The history of Diamond Certification:

We all know that by the late 1800s, De Beers was the world’s largest diamond miner and supplier. The stones mined from De Beers’ mines were bought and sold the world over. In the 1890s, the London Syndicate, a collaborative syndicate of buyers and sellers of diamonds mined in De Beers’ mines came up with a grading system for the merchandise they were purchasing.

Now the earliest system (i.e. the London Syndicate’s grading system) was quite rudimentary and basic, they based their decisions about a diamond on a loose color grading system. This meant that they would sort through rough diamonds and assess their grade based on an inconsistent color allocation system. Some of the earliest ‘certified’ diamonds therefore had vague grading like brown, yellow and almost transparent ascribed to the stones graded.

It wasn’t until 1931, when Robert M. Shipley, a former diamond retailer, founded the Gemological Institute of America, that the diamond industry got its first formal system of evaluating a diamond. The institute’s journey into being the foremost authority on gemstones the world over was one that saw it give the world a series of ‘firsts’, the most prominent among them were the 4Cs. Grading a diamond on its cut, color, clarity and carat weight, revolutionized the way diamonds have been bought and sold.

How diamonds are graded…

As stated earlier, the diamond is graded on its cut, clarity, color and carat weight. Now how are each of these determined is the next question.

Cut: A diamond’s cut isn’t just the natural shape of the stone or the shape in which it is cut. The term ‘cut’ represents the proportions, polish, and symmetry and facet uniformity. A diamond’s certificate lists these aspects under a grading system.

Clarity: Clarity of a diamond is determined through a battery of tests designed to tests the way light passes through the stone. Clarity tests also look for things like fracture filling, and would also evaluate if the stone is natural or synthetic (simply because synthetic stones can be made in a laboratory and are much less expensive as compared to a natural diamond.)

Color: The color of a diamond is determined against graded stones of a pre-existing color. Later microscopes with up to 10X magnification will check the diamond for flaws and blemishes.

Carat Weight: The carat weight of a diamond is checked on a very precise and sensitive weighing scale. This scale is specially formulated to make sure that the diamond’s weight is as precise as possible.

Diamond Certification: Advantages

Diamonds that are graded always fetch a higher price than their non-graded counterparts. Think of buying a non-certified diamond as akin to taking a trip without a map, it is ill-advised. A lay person buying a diamond isn’t always aware of whether the diamond is natural or synthetic, as to the untrained eye, both would look similar, a certificate vouches for the authenticity of a diamond and therefore simplifies the buying decision for the customer. 

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