How Are Diamonds Transformed from Rough to Polished?
By Bryan Boyne G.G. (GIA) , Wednesday, May 02, 2012 3:20 AM
There was a time when cutting rough diamonds was a rudimentary and very slow process of polishing a few strategic facets just to give the diamond a little flash and capture a little fire. Even the earliest cut and polished diamonds were pretty.
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But today, modern technology has give us tools to do amazing things in transforming rough diamonds into polished diamonds, maximizing the fire, brilliance and scintillation of this remarkable form of crystalized carbon. And state-of-the-art light ray tracing computer software is enabling new diamond designs to be created, some of which have hundreds of facets!
Today laser technology plays a big role in diamond cutting. Precision measuring instruments using laser technology are used to measure every facet of the diamond during its crafting. Lasers are also used to do some of the initial sawing of the rough, separating distinct facetable pieces, each to be turned into a finished diamond, and thereby utilizing the material for maximum yield.
And advances in faceting and polishing machinery that reduce vibration and deviations allow for more precise control of angles and alignment of facets. These capabilities enable the most skilled and dedicated cutters to produce ideal and super ideal diamonds, taking diamond light performance to the extreme.
But in some ways, the process is the same. First the rough must be planned. Master diamond cutters are involved at this crucial stage. They must be able assess color and clarity, which is very tricky in a piece of rough which typically has a “skin” on the outside of it. The planner must take several crucial things into account including the potential of the rough to produce a variety of shapes and sizes along with market factors in order to be able to plan a combination that will maximize value. His calculations at this stage are crucial to the eventual profitability of the polished diamonds.
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Once the planning is done, sawing is usually the next step. From there each piece is ground into its basic diamond shape. Then, main facets are cut into the diamond. Careful measurements are made during this process to make sure the diamond is still on plan. At each stage the process is subtractive. That is, once you grind or polish some diamond away, you cannot put it back on! If you make a mistake, you will have a poorly cut diamond or you will have to cut it down in size even further to correct the mistake. Even small mistakes are extremely costly.
Finally, the full complement of facets is cut and each one is polished to a mirror finish. The whole process can take days, weeks or even months. Large and important stones are sometimes held in the planning stage for extended periods as the decisions on the proper approach are so critical and there is so much uncertainty with some rough diamonds. Diamonds that are planned for the finest cut quality, such as A CUT ABOVE® Hearts and Arrows Super Ideals, require much more time, effort and skill because the level of precision required is extreme.
We naturally admire fine polished diamonds for their fire, brilliance and sparkle. With a full understanding the skill and craftsmanship that goes into transforming them from the rough, they are even more extraordinary and precious.
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