The thought of diamonds usually evokes ideas of necklaces, earrings, rings and other brilliant jewelry glittering and scintillating to the eye. However, it takes a very long time to get diamonds ready to be set in such exquisite designs. The building block to all of this is a rough diamond – and rough diamonds take an amazing journey to end up around someone’s neck, wrist or finger.
A rough diamond is one that is uncut and unpolished. Uncut rough diamonds are sourced from the earth in one of two ways: Pipe Mining or Alluvial Mining. Pipe mining refers to extracting diamonds from volcanic fissures or “pipes”. Near the surface of these pipes an initial collection of diamonds can be found but once this is exhausted, tunnels are made to reach the deeper sections of the pipe. When diamond pipes are formed, some diamonds are occasionally whisked away long distances along rivers and in rare cases to oceans. Alluvial mining is the process of finding and collecting these diamonds from riverbeds and coastal beaches. The work in either process is laborious and exhausting – but will yield rough diamonds to be examined and prized.
After the rough diamonds have been collected, they are scrutinized to determine how they should best be cut to ensure the maximum amount of volume, or carat weight, while maintaining the best shape possible for the final diamond. With this in mind, most diamonds in rough are sought to be cut in a round shape, as this provides the highest possible brilliance and fire, while preserving much of the carat weight. Early Egyptians discovered that diamonds could be cut and polished by rubbing them against each other. Now however, with the strides of technology, rough diamonds can be scanned to determine the best cuts available. These advances also ensure cuts to be more precise and effective as ever to ensure a diamond’s brilliance regardless of the cut or style.
Once cut, the diamond is then polished – in this step the facets are added. A facet is any flat surface of a stone that helps add depth and make the diamond sparkle and flash. Most round brilliant diamonds have 58 facets (or 57 if the culet is excluded) to help make the diamond dazzle.
Now the diamond is ready for analysis from one of the diamond grading laboratories in the world. Two of the most notable grading facilities are the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Gem Society Laboratories (AGSL). The diamond’s color, clarity and carat will be assessed by one of these groups and then it will be distributed to fine diamond dealers and jewelry manufactures.
After all of that… the diamond is ready for wear and setting for you! It’s amazing how diamonds are desired for their strength, durability and beauty – and usually worn by women who share the same attributes. So the next time you consider buying a new piece of diamond jewelry, think about how it began as an uncut rough diamond. Consider all the time, people, history and work done to bring this beautiful gem to you. Display it with the pride worthy of all that time and effort. You’ve earned it.