Journey from the Center of the Earth: From Mine to Ring

Long before it was set in gold and sparkling on your finger, that diamond was nothing more than a lump of coal lying deep beneath the earth’s surface. At a depth of about 100 miles below the earth’s surface, under tremendous heat and pressure, the diamonds begin to form when the carbon forms eight-sided crystals. The intensity of the heat and pressure forms strong atomic bonds within the crystal, giving the diamond its trademark hardness.

 

diamond stones

Diamond Stones

After millions of years, volcanic activity or movements in the earth’s plate brought the lump crystal closer in the surface. The large lumps of diamond crystal were then broken down into smaller chunks. After being pushed to the surface by underground volcanoes, the diamonds then spread around the surrounding area through erosion. That is why diamonds are usually found close to one another in geographic hotspots such as central Africa, Russia and Australia.

 

Diamond Before Cut

Diamond Stones Before Cut

It is from these underground deposits that the diamonds can be mined, at a rate of some 130 million carats a year. Of course, most of these are the low-grade diamonds used in industrial equipment; only a small percentage are of high-enough grade for use in jewelry. The diamond ore is then crushed and the diamonds are identified by x-ray and picked out of the ore by hand.

 

Round Loose Diamonds

Round Cut Loose Diamonds

Once the diamonds are extracted and sorted, the jewelry-quality stones are sent to one of several diamond polishing centers to be cut and polished. Today, the world’s primary diamond polishing centers are in India, Antwerp, London, Tel Aviv, Amsterdam and New York City. Smaller stones are often handles in specialized centers near the city of Surat, India, while more valuable stones with a higher carat weight are usually cut in Europe or North America. Although diamonds are the world’s hardest mineral, they have planes that can be split in order to divide them into smooth planes. Diamond cutters use specialized equipment and skills to divide the rough stone into a faceted jewel with angles and facets that will reflect as much light as possible. Although some of the diamond must be wasted in cutting, skilled cutters attempt to minimize waste and create diamond cuts with the ideal number and placement of facets. After x-ray analysis and expert deliberation, the diamond is ready to be cut with a single sharp blow at the right point on the stone. After cutting, the diamond is polished—a slow, painstaking process in which flaws are gently polished down and the cut is enhanced.

 

professional diamond check

Professional Diamond Check

The diamonds, now gemstone quality, are sold on diamond exchanges, where wholesalers and retailers compete on their prices. The diamonds are certified by one of three or 4 independent gemological association, which rank their cut, color, clarity and carat weight—criteria that will become a major factor in determining the price. Two of these labs Whiteflash uses: AGS and GIA. However, labs used by Whiteflash are predominately AGS.

 

7.5 carat weight solitaire diamond ring

7.5 carat weight solitaire diamond ring

The retail businesses that purchase the diamonds then place them on the retail market either loose or set into jewelry. Many settings are kept empty until a customer purchases it with a specific stone, at which point that stone will be set into that setting and sent to the customer. Finally, the diamond sits nestled in a small, satin-lined box, ending a long diamond journey with a short question, “Will you marry me?”

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