Raw Brilliance: Your Comprehensive Guide to the World of Rough Diamonds

Diamond is obviously a highly prized and sought-after material. A variety of attributes are associated with the dazzling diamond, such as its awesome beauty when polished and its status as a symbol of love and status in many cultures. In spite of its popularity as a gemstone, diamonds in their natural state are not particularly eye catching.
The process of preparing diamonds for use in jewelry requires a great deal of skill and experience. The building block to all of this is a rough diamond – and rough diamonds take an amazing journey to end up performing their dazzling optical magic around someone’s neck, wrist or finger.
Vatche U-113 6-Prong Solitaire Engagement Ring
Vatche U-113 6-Prong Solitaire Engagement Ring
Everyone is familiar with the iconic sparkling diamond. But not everyone realizes what rough diamonds look like in their raw state before they are crafted into brilliantly faceted gems.
It is the time-consuming process of cutting and polishing that makes a rough diamond into a finished jewel. Expert diamond cutters have honed their skills for generations, passing down their craft to the next generation. A certified loose diamond represents that chain of specialized knowledge and expert craftsmanship.
The thought of diamonds usually evokes ideas of necklaces, earrings, rings and other brilliant jewelry glittering and scintillating to the eye. Understanding more about how rough diamonds are formed, how they are brought to the surface of the Earth, and how diamonds are graded, helps us to appreciate even more the King of Gems.

What is a Rough Diamond?

Natural Rough Diamond
A rough natural diamond crystal before it has been polished
The term rough diamond refers to an uncut and unpolished diamond. In nature, they can be found in a variety of shapes, including octahedral, cubic, and triangular (most commonly macles). As a result of extreme heat and pressure beneath the Earth’s crust where natural diamonds are formed, carbon atoms fuse in a specific structure.
Untrained eyes may see rough diamonds as mere shards of glass, or a common mineral like quartz. Their appearance is usually dull and not particularly impressive, and they come in a variety of colors. There is a reverence for rough diamonds because of their pure, untouched natural state, but it’s not surprising that the average person has very little understanding of the value of a rough diamond.
A 'makeable' stone is described as a diamond whose shape makes it possible to cut at least one polished diamond from it. Diamonds that are 'sawable' can be cut in half to create two or more diamonds.
In the processing stage, rough diamonds are sorted, evaluated, and made ready for distribution to the cutters. While the octohedron is the most common shape for a rough crystal, the array of different shapes that diamond can crystalize into is remarkable. here are some very rare and interesting forms that make mineral collectors salivate. Imagine a rough diamond that looks just like a soccer ball, or a hollow diamond that looks like a skull!

Rough Diamond Sourcing: How Does it Work?

Uncut rough diamonds are sourced from the earth in one of two ways: Pipe Mining or Alluvial Mining. Pipe mining refers to extracting diamonds directly 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 by erosion long distances by rivers and in some cases to all the way 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 can yield high quality rough diamonds that are greatly prized.

How Are Rough Diamonds Processed?

Planning is the first step in diamond cutting. Diamond cutters today analyze the rough diamond using imaging technology and their highly trained eyes to determine how to cut the loose diamond. As well as choosing a shape that will maximize the size of the finished stone, the cutter also strives to select one that will be popular and sell quickly.
Any inclusions or imperfections are noted and incorporated into the 3-D computer model, so that the cutter can remove or conceal them during cutting. It is critical to consider the crystallographic orientation in the plan as certain directional planes have different hardnesses, thus making it impossible to polish in some directions.
In the end, it is the expertise, creativity, and skill of the manufacturer that determines the end result.

1. Cutting Rough Diamonds

With this in mind, most rough diamonds that are amenable are cut in a round shape, as this provides the most popular shape with 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 with imaging software to determine the best cuts available, and cut with lasers. These advances also ensure cuts are more precise and effective than ever to ensure a diamond’s brilliance regardless of the cut or style.

2. Polishing Rough Diamonds

Polishing Rough Diamond
Rough Diamond Being Polished On Wheel
Once cut, the diamond is then polished – in this step the facets are added. A facet is any flat surface of a stone that acts as a tiny mirror and makes 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. Facets must be polished to a mirror finish in accordance with the original cutting plan on a diamond polishing wheel.
Advances in faceting and polishing machinery reduce vibration and deviations and 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.
In order to transform the world's hardest material into a beautiful and valuable finished gem, polishing rough diamonds requires an incredible amount of patience, skill, and contemplation. A diamond cutter’s general goal in polishing is to obtain the most saleable diamond possible. Often making compromises on cut quality is a way of increasing yield and thereby keeping per carat costs low. This allows the savings to be passed on to the customer. Maximizing the quality of polished diamonds requires a different strategy - one that prioritizes light performance and beauty over carat weight.

3. Examining Rough Diamonds

Each facet of the diamond must be carefully examined before and after it has been polished. Rough diamond sorting is a very specialized skill, very different from assessing a polished diamond.
Once polished, the finished diamond is scanned and graded by an in-house gemologist. It will then be possible for the polishing company to predict with great accuracy the grade that the diamond will ultimately receive.
It is now ready to be assessed by the grading lab. Each manufacturer operates differently; some hold diamonds to the highest standards of excellence, while others focus on mass-producing diamonds at a low cost.

Rough Diamond Grading: How is it Done?

Now the diamond is ready for analysis from one of the many 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, carat, and cut will be assessed in one of these facilities before being distributed to diamond dealers and jewelry retailers.
A unique report number is assigned to each certified diamond. Diamonds can be purchased by retailers for their own inventory, but are often provided to them by brokers on consignment. Internet sellers tend to base their offerings on inventory data lists provided by manufacturers, rather than holding the diamonds in-stock.
There is something mesmerizing about this melding of ancient knowledge and modern technology, and it is not difficult to see why a dazzling diamond is a symbol of everlasting love and devotion. It is natural for us to admire the fire, brilliance, and sparkle of fine polished diamonds. They become even more extraordinary and precious when you understand the skill and craftsmanship that go into transforming them from raw crystals.
Diamonds are coveted for their strength, durability, and beauty, and symbolize these traits in the people who wear them. Next time you are planning to buy diamond jewelry, consider how it began as an uncut rough stone.
Take a moment to appreciate all the work, people, history and efforts that have gone into bringing you this magical treasure.

Ideal And Super Ideal Cut Diamonds

While most diamond manufacturing is still driven by yield, a few modern cutters and retailers, such as Whiteflash, have dedicated themselves to the goal of maximizing light performance and beauty. A relatively small niche of merchants offer Ideal and Super Ideal cut diamonds due to the pricy practice of forgoing some carat weight in order to produce the best-performing diamonds.
Among these merchants, a diamond report from the American Gem Society Laboratories (AGSL) is the most preferred document. The cut grade system at AGSL is the most scientifically advanced in the industry. In order to measure the fundamental aspects of light performance; brightness, contrast, dispersion, and leakage, sophisticated ray tracing technologies are employed.
Ideal diamonds are those with no significant deficiencies in any of these aspects.
Even more restrictions apply to the super ideal category. As part of the criteria for this designation, three-dimensional precision as well as other characteristics are evaluated, further distinguishing this elite category from ideal diamonds.
Among the most celebrated super ideal brands, A CUT ABOVE® presents a complete collection of published specifications and qualifications, allowing these diamonds to be some of the finest ever produced.

Find Your Perfect A CUT ABOVE® Super Ideal Cut Diamond

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