Rough Diamonds

Diamonds: A Billion Year Journey

Many people own, wear and love diamonds, but few know the incredible story that brought them from the depths of the earth into their jewellery. They are not only the hardest natural substance on earth, but also one of the oldest. Forming deep in the earth’s mantle over 1 billion years ago, with some of the oldest diamonds dating back over 3.3 billion years, they have a story to tell.

Diamond Formation

Diamonds form in the earth’s mantle, the molten part of the planet deep beneath the crust, about 140 to 190 kilometres beneath the surface. Here, carbon atoms are subjected to extremely high pressure and temperature. The pressures can range from 45,000 to 60,000 times the regular atmospheric pressure at sea-level, with temperatures as high as 1300C. In these extreme conditions, the carbon atoms are forced into a crystalline arrangement, forming diamond. No one is sure where exactly the carbon comes from, but a possible theory is that the carbon may have originated on the surface of the earth in the form of prehistoric plant and animal material, and was subducted into the mantle through plate tectonics. If this theory is correct, the carbon in your diamond may have come from some of the earliest life on earth!

Diamond is the only gemstone made entirely out of one element (not considering inclusions and small amounts of trace impurities). Nature is not always perfect, so often many other minerals or defects will form in the diamond as it grows. These are the inclusions that affect clarity grading. Under heavy magnification, some inclusions can even be identified as other minerals, such as garnet, peridot, zircon and even other diamonds! Other elements may also make their way into the diamonds, causing changes in colour. Nitrogen, for example, causes the yellow colour, while boron causes diamonds to be blue. Eventually the diamonds cool in their host rock, and may wait millions or even billions of years for the right conditions to make their way to the surface.

An Explosive Ride to the Surface

When the right conditions arise, diamonds are brought to the surface during massive volcanic eruptions. These kinds of cataclysmic eruptions are extremely rare. The diamonds hurtle to the surface, carried by streams of magma, rock and gas. During this explosive transport of the stones, they can often be broken or cracked. Many inclusions also form during this stage as the diamonds are battered through crevices in the crust. The diamonds eventually get trapped in these crevices, or they explode onto the surface of the earth along with other rocks and magma. The majority of the best diamonds are trapped within a central core, forming a vertical, triangular area of new rock called a pipe. These pipes often reach the surface, but can extend hundreds or thousands of metres into the earth. The most common type of rock that forms these pipes is called kimberlite, named after the famous town of Kimberley, South Africa, where the first major commercial diamond mine opened.

Finding Diamond Deposits

Nearly all diamonds found today were deposited hundreds of thousands or even millions of years ago. These diamonds are either found in the eroded remains of ancient, extinct volcanoes, still in their pipes, or in riverbeds and oceans where the diamonds had already been eroded out of the volcanic rock and deposited elsewhere by the forces of erosion. Diamonds that are deposited in riverbeds, called an alluvial deposit, can either be found in still-flowing rivers, or they can be found in ancient riverbeds that have now dried up.

Depending of the type of deposit, diamonds can be prospected in multiple different ways. In the case of diamonds still in their host rock, geologists will often find known volcanic pipes, and drill core samples. These samples are analyzed to search for microscopic diamonds, as it is extremely rare for larger diamonds to be deposited close to the surface. The core samples are also analyzed to detect other minerals that could indicate the presence of diamonds. A strong presence of garnet and peridot indicates a possible diamond deposit, as these minerals often form in the same environments as diamond. In the case of alluvial deposits where the diamonds are deposited in rivers, these stones were often found by accident by lucky farmers or swimmers, which led to the opening of mines. In more modern times, geologists analyze records of eroded diamond bearing pipes, and determine how it was eroded and where the diamonds could have been transported to.

Diamond Mining

Depending on the type of deposit, the mining process can look vastly different from mine to mine and from region to region. For diamonds still in their primary pipe deposit, this can look like an open pit mine or a subterranean mine. These two types of mining operations are the most common, and are what most people picture when they think of a mine. In either case, the mine blasts and drills directly into the rock. These rocks are then removed, crushed and bathed in acid. Since diamonds are relatively immune to acid, the rock dissolves away and leaves the diamonds behind. These diamonds are then sent to a sorting facility.

In the case of oceanic or alluvial deposits, the diamonds must be sifted and filtered out of the mud and silt. Since diamonds are quite heavy, they will sink. In smaller alluvial mines, diamonds are found very much in the same way that one pans for gold. Once filtered out, the diamonds are sent for sorting and cutting.

In most diamond producing countries, there are strict regulations on mining processes. Mines are monitored on a regular basis by regulatory committees and government agencies to ensure they abide to environmental, safety and human rights standards. Thanks to the Kimberley Process, a certification scheme that mandates a documented chain of custody for loose diamonds, consumers can be assured that their certified diamond is 100% conflict free. In many cases, mines are also required to abide to a reclamation program, wherein the mined area must be naturalized after the mine closes to ensure no long lasting negative effects on the environmental health of the area. Due to these regulations, diamonds are now one of the most ethical of all mined materials, even when compared to other gemstones like emeralds, rubies and sapphires.

Sorting and Cutting

Sorting takes place in a separate facility. Here, under high security, trained staff sort through the rough diamonds. They sort them into categories based on colour, size, shape and relative clarity. These rough diamonds are then packaged up into large collections of various types, and are sold and shipped to a small handful of diamond cutters. These diamond cutters will first examine the rough stone before cutting it. It is the goal of the diamond cutter to maximize the carat weight of the diamond without any significant sacrifices on quality. That being said, a cutter may decide to optimize carat weight at the expense of cut quality, colour or clarity, so long as it maximizes profit on the stone. Depending on the shape and placement of inclusions in the stone, the cutter may decide to cut the stone into multiple smaller diamonds of various shapes or sizes, or into one large stone. Usually the first scenario is the most common.

Thanks to modern technology, a scanning laser computer is now often used in the industry to map the rough diamond. The computer will then automatically determine the best way to cut the stone to maximize profit on the rough material. Even with this advanced technology, a skilled diamond cutter still has the last say on how to cut the stone.

Diamonds are cut and polished, usually by hand, on a device called a lapidary. A similar technique is used to cut and facet all gemstones. First, the rough diamond is cleaved or laser cut to form the basic shape. The diamond is then attached to the end of a rod called a dop. By placing this rod at certain precise angles and rotations, the diamond can be positioned to precise measurements for cutting and polishing. The diamond is ground against a rotating disc, called a lap, which is coated in water and diamond powder. Since only diamond can cut diamond, a diamond powder is used for this process. By rotating and angling the stones to precise measurements, and grinding the stone using finer and finer grits, the stone is eventually cut and polished.

The Final Steps

Once the stone is cut and polished, and it passes a quality control inspection, it is sent to a gemmological lab to be graded. Once graded, it is sold to distributors, who then sell the stone to manufacturers, who then set the diamond into finished jewellery. They then sell this to a retailer, who eventually sells it to you!

It can take billions of years before a diamond is even mined. Then the process from the mine to the finished piece of jewellery can take months or years to complete, and requires a lot of labour and skill. At Kimberfire, we cut out the middlemen and connect you directly with the diamond cutters and distributors. This way we can provide you with a beautiful diamond, and with the exceptional in-person service you would expect from a high end retailer, but at a fraction of the cost when compared to a traditional store.

Image credits: Lucara Diamond Corp., Rio Tinto’s Diavik Foxfire, Rio Tinto’s Argyle Pink Jubilee

GIA Certified Round Diamond

Natural Diamonds, Diamond Simulants and Synthetic Diamonds

Diamonds are the most well-known and popular gemstone, desired for their colourless appearance, hardness and fiery brilliance. The diamond is often the first choice for an engagement ring, as its durability and strength symbolize a lasting union. People who are in the market to buy a diamond usually learn about the 4 Cs – a grading system which experts use to determine a diamond’s quality. By evaluating the Cut, Clarity, Colour and Carat, a diamond can be given a grade and priced accordingly. These 4 Cs are very important for the diamond buyer to be aware of to ensure they get a fair price. There are some other terms which may be encountered when buying diamond jewellery that are also very important for the buyer to know. The terms “Diamond Simulant” or “Synthetic Diamond” are relevant in the jewellery business, but little known to the public. We are going to explore these terms, and what they mean, to better educate those who are interested in buying a diamond.

Natural Diamonds

Natural Diamonds are diamonds that were naturally created within the earth, with no human intervention. Diamonds need very specific conditions to form and there are two places in the earth where this is possible – the earth’s mantle below the continental plates and at the site of a meteor impact. Diamonds are composed of the element carbon that has been exposed to extremely high temperatures and extremely high pressure. Natural diamonds are between 1 to 3.3 billion years old. Diamonds are carried to the earth’s surface by deep volcanic eruptions which create pipes in the earth that are filled with magma. The magma carries the diamonds upwards as it flows and cools into igneous rocks called kimberlite. The diamonds are discovered through mining the earth to reach the kimberlite layer, or from this layer being naturally eroded over millions of years and depositing near water sources. Although rare, scientists have also found deposits of small diamonds at meteor impact sites where the diamonds were formed under the heat and pressure of the impact. Diamonds are the hardest natural material found on earth, and when they are cut into gem shapes they maintain their polish and facets better than any other gemstone.

Diamond Simulants

Diamond Simulants are materials which have gemological characteristics similar to a diamond, but they do not share the same chemical structure. A simulant may be artificial, natural, or a combination of the two. The most common diamond simulants used in jewellery are cubic zirconia, moissanite, and high-leaded glass, or rhinestones, which are usually only found in fashion jewellery.

Cubic zirconia (CZ) is a cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide that has been commercially produced since 1976. Cubic zirconia is optically flawless, usually colourless, and displays a nice brilliance. It is not as hard as a diamond, so it is less durable and more prone to scratching. It is very easy for a diamond expert to tell the difference between diamond and cubic zirconia using a magnifying loupe. CZs are inexpensive to create and therefore cost a fraction of what a real diamond costs. You may also encounter diamond-coated cubic zirconia being sold in jewellery. A chemical vapour deposition (CVD) process is used to deposit a thin film of polycrystalline diamond onto a cubic zirconia core. This increases the material’s hardness, loss of luster through wear, and imitates a diamonds dispersion. This process should not significantly increase the cost of the CZ.

Moissanite was discovered in 1893 by Henri Moissan (where it got its name) in a meteor crater in Arizona. At first he thought he had discovered diamonds but later he identified them as silicon carbide. Naturally occurring silicon carbide is extremely rare and all forms of it found today are created in a laboratory. The company Charles and Colvard was the first to create and manufacture the moissanite gemstone, which entered the jewellery market in 1998. Classic moissanite has a slight gray, yellow or green hue which is especially noticeable in sunlight. Charles and Colvard have come out with newer lines of moissanite which come closer to the colourless look of diamond. Moissanite is quite strong and durable for everyday wear, however it is not as hard as diamond. Moissanite displays strong brilliance but it is different than that of diamond, in that it exhibits rainbow flashes that can have a “disco ball” effect. Moissanite costs significantly less than diamond of the same size and weight. A diamond expert is able to determine if a stone is moissanite or diamond.

Synthetic Diamonds

Synthetic diamonds are produced in an artificial process, such as a laboratory, rather than a geological process. A synthetic diamond is the same material as a natural diamond – pure crystallized carbon. Since the discovery that diamonds were made of pure carbon in 1797, scientists have been looking for a way to convert it into diamond. There are two ways that synthetic diamonds are created, by HPHT and CVD methods. HPHT stands for High Pressure High Temperature, which is mimicking the way a natural diamond would be formed in the earth. This process places a carbon source, a small diamond “seed” and a metallic solvent in a large press which is then placed under extreme pressure and high temperatures to produce a diamond. These machines are extremely expensive and the process must be very carefully controlled. The other process is by CVD, or chemical vapour deposition, in which a diamond seed is planted into a chamber which is then exposed to a gas, such as methane. The gas is then activated and broken down by microwaves which causes the carbon atoms to accumulate on the diamond seed. Traditionally these processes have had difficulty creating colourless diamonds. HPHT was more commonly used for creating synthetic fancy coloured diamonds, as doping the process with nitrogen or boron would create a coloured diamond. CVD often produces brown diamonds, which are then HPHT treated to remove the colour. However, the companies that create these diamonds are becoming more advanced all the time, and are frequently making large and colourless diamonds. These diamonds sell for 20-30% less than a natural diamond and should always be disclosed to the buyer. To determine whether a diamond is natural or synthetic a diamond expert would use various gemological equipment to determine its origin.

Decision Time

Knowing the difference between natural, simulant and synthetic diamonds helps the buyer make an educated decision. The main reasons people are interested in buying simulants or synthetics is that they cost less than a natural diamond, and the fact that they are created in a laboratory means less environmental impact and an absolute certainty that they are conflict free. People who are looking to buy natural diamonds also do so for different reasons. Some people are looking for something that will be an investment or hold its value over time. Other people are drawn to the traditional idea of the diamond as a symbol of love and strength. I am personally drawn to the natural diamond as a symbol of something that has endured over billions of years and is still strong and beautiful.

Diamond Shapes

Diamond Shapes to Wear and Love

When most people think of diamonds, they immediately picture the round brilliant cut diamond. While this is the most popular shape of diamond available, there are actually many more shapes to choose from. Each of these shapes has their own unique character, and also their own type of sparkle.

Round Brilliant Cut – The Classic

The most popular cut, the round brilliant diamond as it is known today was designed by Marcel Tolkowsky in 1919. Tolkowsky was an engineer from a family of diamond cutters. He calculated the exact ideal proportions, number of facets, and angles of the cut, using the physical and optical properties of diamond. He is recognized as being the first person to accurately design the ideal cut for a diamond to display a maximum balance of sparkle, fire and brilliance. His cutting design is now regarded as the North American standard for round brilliant diamonds.

As the name suggests, round brilliant diamonds are circular and round in shape and display even and symmetrical brilliance across the stone. Since the round brilliant cut is standardized, there is a standard cut grading system used to evaluate the stone, with grades ranging from “excellent” to “poor”. For a beautiful diamond, we always recommend to have a cut grade of “very good” to “excellent”. Anything below this standard, and the diamond loses its sparkle. Since only the round cut is completely standardized, it is the only shape of diamond that will have a cut grading on a GIA report.

The round brilliant cut is ideal for those who are looking for a classic look that will really maximize the sparkle of their stone. This type of cut looks great in all sorts of engagement ring designs, from the classic solitaire, to the modern halo design. For the gentlemen out there looking for an engagement ring, you can never go wrong with a round cut. It is the most popular cut, the most brilliant, and will be the safest choice for your other half if they haven’t told you what they like.

Oval Cut

The oval cut dates back to the 1950’s. It is essentially a round brilliant cut, but stretched out into an oval shape. Like the round brilliant, it also shows great sparkle, fire, and brilliance. Some oval cut diamonds can show what is called a “bowtie” effect, which usually occurs when the diamond is cut too deep or shallow, or if the diamond is too narrow and long. This effect appears as a dull area in the middle of the stone, resembling a bowtie, where there is less reflection of light. With oval cut diamonds, as well as other shapes that commonly have this effect, it is always recommended to examine the stone to ensure it does not have a noticeable bowtie.

The oval cut is a great option for those who like the look of the round cut, but want a diamond with a longer profile. When set in a ring, oval cut diamonds accentuate the length of the finger and look great in many different designs. As an added bonus, an oval cut diamond can also appear larger than a round diamond of the same carat weight.

Pear Cut

Otherwise referred to as a “teardrop” shape, the pear cut is essentially a modified oval cut where one end has been “pinched” to create a point. Like the oval cut, the pear cut is prone to displaying a bowtie effect as well. Care must also be taken when inspecting the diamond to ensure that the point of the stone is centered and the stone is symmetrical and evenly rounded on both sides.

The pear shape, like the oval, also accentuates the length of a finger when set into a ring. Due to the asymmetrical shape of this cut, it may be more difficult to pair this diamond with other stones in a three stone ring. As such, this cut is best reserved for solitaires and halo rings. They also look great in a pair of drop style earrings, or on a pendant. The teardrop shape of this cut gives the stone a very elegant and graceful look.

Marquise Cut

The marquise cut is rumoured to date back all the way to 17th century France, when King Louis XIV requested to have a cut made to resemble the smile of his favourite mistress, Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, the Marquise de Pompadour. Since then the cut has been perfected to make it even more brilliant. Resembling a pear cut, but with points at each end, the marquise cut is the cut most prone to a bowtie effect. A visual inspection of the diamond can help you ensure you don’t receive a diamond with this effect.

This diamond will have a long, slender appearance, and will be the longest of any diamond cut within a certain carat weight. Often seen in vintage jewellery, the marquise cut is a good choice for someone who is looking for lots of sparkle but also wants a more bold, unique, yet vintage look.

Heart Cut

Probably the most romantic of all the diamond cuts, and the most feminine, this diamond shape is very seldom seen being worn. It takes a certain personality to pull this one off, but it can really make a statement. Similar to the pear cut, but with a cleft and two lobes at the top of the stone, the heart cut is also prone to showing a bowtie effect. Though, this is often not as prominent in the heart cut compared to some of the other fancy cuts. With this cut, it is all about symmetry. It is important to ensure that the cleft is indented enough, but not too far, and that it is properly centered. The two lobes must also be of equal height and width, and must have an even, rounded profile. A heart cut is one of the hardest diamond cuts to accomplish, and requires the skill of a master diamond cutter to produce. As such, it can be one of the most expensive cuts on the market.

While difficult to cut, and selling at a premium for this reason, the heart cut makes the ultimate statement in an engagement ring (or any other gifts for your significant other!). As the saying goes, a diamond is forever… so a heart cut diamond is the ultimate symbol of eternal love.

Princess Cut

The princess cut originated in the early 1980’s in London, England. With a square shape, sharp corners, and straight edges, this diamond shape is definitely striking. Princess cut diamonds are known to show a lot of sparkle. This cut also provides a few extra benefits when compared to other shapes. Due to its cutting style, the princess cut can hide inclusions more easily than some of the other shapes. Another great bonus is that princess cuts are one of the most economical cuts of diamond available as they minimize wastage of the rough diamond during cutting.

The princess cut is ideal for those who want a stone with a distinctly square shape, but still want to maximize the sparkle and brilliance of their diamond. It holds up very well in a solitaire setting, but can also look beautiful in a halo design.

Cushion Cut

The cushion shape is one of the oldest diamond shapes still in use today. Some of the world’s most famous historical diamonds are cut in the cushion shape, but not with the same brilliance that the modern cushion cut has. Thanks again to Marcel Tolkowsky, the cushion cut was modified to have more facets to rival the brilliance of the round cut. Many cushion cuts now on the market will be officially classified as a “modified brilliant cushion cut”. These stones have enough sparkle, fire and brilliance to rival the round brilliant diamond. While the cushion cut is usually more square in shape with rounded edges and corners, they can come in more rectangular shapes as well.

Cushions carry a lot of their weight in their pavilion (the bottom half of the diamond), and so will accentuate any colour in the stone. This is why they make a great choice for fancy coloured diamonds. For this very same reason, you may need to pick a stone with a slightly higher colour grading if you choose this cut for a colourless diamond. The cushion cut is a great choice for those who want the look of a square diamond, but don’t like the sharp edges and corners of the princess cut. Despite its long history, it is a modern cutting style, while still keeping to a more classic semi-rounded shape.

Emerald Cut

The ultimate vintage shape for a diamond. The emerald cut, as the name suggests, was originally created for emeralds in the 1920’s, and was soon adopted for diamonds as well. While this cut was created in the 1920’s and officially called an emerald cut, its basic elements have origins dating back to the older “table cut” from the 1500’s. The emerald cut was immensely popular during the Art Deco period, and has seen a resurgence in popularity in the past number of years. While not as brilliant as some of the other cuts in this list due to their larger and fewer facets, this cut is very popular for those looking for a diamond with a vintage look. Due to the large facets and large table (the largest facet, which is in the center of the diamond), inclusions are more visible in this cut of diamond than in other cuts. This cut is also fairly deep, so it will accentuate any colour in the stone. For these reasons, it is important to select a diamond with higher colour and clarity than what you would normally select in a round brilliant cut stone. This cut of diamond is also well suited for fancy coloured diamonds since the depth of the stone will really capture and show off the colour. When selecting the diamond, ensure that the keel of the stone (the bottom part of the stone resembling the keel of a ship) is straight and aligned properly. Also look for the “hall of mirrors” effect, wherein the bottom facets of the stone should resemble a hall of mirrors, reflecting light back to your eye.

This cut is the most popular choice for those seeking a vintage look. The long, rectangular shape of the diamond also accentuates the length of a finger when worn in a ring. It can look great in a solitaire, but can also be quite stunning in a three stone ring. In a halo design, the emerald cut shows great contrast with the rest of the ring and can create an interesting look.

Asscher Cut

The asscher cut was originally developed in 1902 by the Asscher Brothers of Holland, and closely resembles the emerald cut. The primary difference here is that the asscher cut does not have a keel like the emerald cut, and is more square in its shape (while still maintaining the cut-cornered octagonal look). This cut of diamond has all the same characteristics as the emerald cut when it comes to how the stone shows colour and clarity. The asscher cut is a great choice for those who want a vintage look, but prefer a square shape as opposed to the more rectangular shape of the emerald cut.

Radiant Cut

Probably one of the least-known and under-appreciated cuts, the radiant cut is usually seen in fancy coloured diamonds and rarely in colourless diamonds. It was originally invented in the 1970’s, yet many are still not familiar with this cut. The radiant, like the cushion and emerald cuts, also has a heavier pavilion. This means that the stone will show colour more than a round brilliant cut. What makes the radiant cut a great option is that it has the same cut-cornered, semi-octagonal shape as an emerald or asscher cut diamond, but has much more brilliance due to its larger number of facets. Like these cuts as well, the radiant cut can be found in both square and rectangular shapes, while still having the same brilliance.

The radiant cut is a great option for those who are looking for a unique shape, but do not want to compromise on the brilliance of the diamond. It is a versatile cut style that can be utilized in many different ring designs, both in colourless and fancy coloured diamonds.

A Shape for Everyone

There are diamond shapes for all different types of personalities and preferences. From the classic round cut, to the vintage emerald and asscher cuts, to the more unique marquise and heart cuts, there are many different options to choose from. What is your favourite diamond shape? Let us know in the comments!

fancy coloured diamonds

A Rainbow of Fancy Coloured Diamonds

We are all familiar with diamonds – that beautiful gemstone which is prized across the globe. Known for its sparkle and strength, and priced on its cut, carat, clarity and colour. Typical diamonds are valued based on their absence of colour, with the most valuable and rarest stones being completely colourless. However, there is another category of diamonds called fancy coloured diamonds and these diamonds can be worth much more than the colourless diamond. Coloured diamonds come in all different colours, and their price goes up the brighter and more intense the colour hue is. These fancy coloured diamonds are quite rare which is why they command such high prices.

How Diamonds Are Formed

Diamonds are composed of carbon and were formed at extremely high temperatures under extremely high pressure, deep within the earth’s mantle. Diamonds were brought close to the earth’s surface by deep volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. The volcanic material carried the diamonds within it and cooled into a hard material called Kimberlite, which is where we find most of the earth’s diamonds. Pure carbon creates a diamond that is completely colourless, but these stones are very rare, as little impurities, inclusions and other minerals get trapped with the carbon during a diamond’s creation. This is what causes some diamonds to be lower quality, as they are more yellowish and aren’t clear to the naked eye. But for fancy coloured diamonds it is the impurities and “defects” in the carbon structure which give the diamond its specific colour.

There is a colour scale for fancy coloured diamonds, which starts at pale shades and continues to very bright and saturated ones. The categories are Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Deep, Fancy Intense and Fancy Vivid. Fancy Vivid diamonds are the rarest.

All the Natural Colours of the Rainbow

Yellow: Yellow diamonds are the most commonly seen fancy coloured diamond. They are also one of the most common in nature, next to brown diamonds. They are less rare and correspondingly less expensive to purchase, but still cost as much and often more than a high quality white diamond. These diamonds are often referred to as canary diamonds. Yellow diamonds get their colour when nitrogen replaces some of the carbon atoms in the structure. The more nitrogen “impurities” in a stone, the more yellow the diamond appears.

Blue: Blue diamonds are very rare and because of this they are extremely expensive. Usually they will be a grey-blue colour and rarely will they be a strong blue colour like a sapphire. Only one out of 200,000 diamonds will have a hint of blue and it is usually very pale. The most famous blue diamond is the Hope Diamond, which weighs an impressive 45.52 carats. Blue diamonds get their colour from boron that has been trapped in the crystal structure as it was forming.

Pink and Red: Red is the absolute rarest of diamond colours and only a small number have been discovered. Because of their rarity they command huge prices and are mainly bought by gem collectors or investors. Pink diamonds are also very rare and are extremely coveted. A pink diamond is considered the ultimate luxury item. 90% of the world’s pink and red diamonds come from the Argyle Diamond Mine in Northwest Australia. Unlike other coloured diamonds, no mineral impurity has been found to create the pink or red colour. It is thought that during the diamond’s voyage to the earth’s surface it undergoes changes in its electron structure, called plastic deformation. This deformation traps electrons so that they interact with light to produce a pink or red colour.

Green: Natural green diamonds are extremely rare and are usually a light and muted hue. Green diamonds get their colour as they are exiting the earth’s last layer of crust. It is at this time that they absorb naturally occurring radiation in the soil. The radiation usually only colours the diamond’s outer surface – they are not usually green all the way through the stone. Even advanced gemologists have trouble determining if a green diamond was coloured naturally or enhanced by man. Because of this, green diamonds are always regarded with suspicion and heavily examined in labs before they are given a grading.

Orange: Orange diamonds are not as rare as some of the previous colours, but still aren’t too common. These diamonds are coloured by nitrogen, just like yellow diamonds. But the nitrogen atoms in the orange diamond are assembled in a very specific way. To produce the orange colour, the particles absorb blue light and some yellow light.

Purple: Purple diamonds usually have tints of purple and a secondary shade, such as pink, red, blue, grey or brown. It is very rare to find a pure purple coloured diamond. It is believed purple diamonds get their colour from a combination of crystal distortion (such as the pink diamond has from deformation) and a high presence of hydrogen as the stone is forming.

Grey: Grey diamonds are a good option for those who are looking for a lower priced coloured diamond. While they are still very rare, they are not priced as high as the other colours. They get their grey colour from high levels of hydrogen. The one big plus for the grey diamond is that it is easily found in the round brilliant cut. The round brilliant cut is definitely the most popular diamond cut and yet most coloured diamonds are usually cut into radiant or cushion cuts. That’s because the brilliant cut was created to produce the most reflection of light, and thus make the stone appear whiter. Gem cutters don’t want fancy coloured diamonds to appear whiter so they will usually cut coloured diamonds in shapes that will help the stone retain the most colour.

Brown: Brown diamonds are the most commonly found fancy coloured diamond and are the most affordable. Brown diamonds were likely the very first diamonds to be used in jewellery. These diamonds are found in numerous shades, like the pale browns which are usually referred to as Champagne Diamonds, to the deep browns which can be referred to as Cognac or Chocolate Diamonds. These diamonds get their colour from plastic deformation.

Black: Black diamonds are fairly new to the jewellery world as designers only started using them in the 1990s. Before that these diamonds were mainly used for industrial purposes. Natural true black diamonds are very rare and the ones seen in jewellery are usually treated to become blacker. Black diamonds get their colour (or lack thereof) by a large amount of dark inclusions spread throughout the stone. Black diamonds do not reflect light, but rather absorb light and have an opaque, glossy surface. They are older than any other diamonds on earth and some scientists believe that they came from meteorites. Black diamonds are so hard that they can only be cut by other black diamonds.

White: Typically when people hear white diamond they think of the traditional colourless diamond, but there is actually a Fancy White diamond, which is actually white. These diamonds have tiny microscopic inclusions, thought to be nitrogen, that diffract light off of the stone. This light diffraction gives the fancy white diamond a milky, opalescent appearance.

Colour-Treated Diamonds

All the colours above have been in reference to natural diamonds, ones that were created in the earth without human influence. However, a lot of the coloured diamonds that are found in jewellery are colour-treated, meaning that undesirable coloured diamonds have been treated to enhance their colour. This process can take a light brown coloured stone and turn it into a purple diamond, or change a yellowish stone into a colourless one. There are a few different treatments that make this happen. The most common is High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) where the stone is put under those conditions to change the colour. There is also a procedure called Irradiation, where the diamonds are exposed to high energy electron or neutron particles which move carbon atoms out of place and physically alter the crystal lattice. Another treatment is that of surface coating where a thin layer of coloured material is deposited on the diamond, and this treatment is not permanent. Lastly there are synthetic coloured diamonds which are lab grown diamonds that are created under the types of conditions that natural coloured diamonds would be exposed to. All these different treatments significantly decrease the value of the coloured diamond, which is why you only want to buy a coloured diamond from a seller who will provide a grading report from a trusted lab such as GIA.

A Rare Beauty

Coloured diamonds are so coveted and so special because they are so rare. For any given colour to be created there were thousands of variables that had to be present at the exact right time. All those factors coming together to create lemony yellows, cool blues and pretty pinks is really science at its most beautiful. While not everyone may be able to afford a coloured diamond of their own, I think we can all appreciate such a beautiful natural creation.

Man Frustrated with Buying a Diamond Online

Pitfalls of Buying a Diamond Online

Let’s start with the obvious: I’m biased. I started Kimberfire almost two years ago because I truly believe we offer consumers the ideal platform from which to buy diamonds and diamond jewelry. While the web is a great place to buy many things (very happy with my new winter coat!), it is not a great place to buy all things.

With that out of the way – I have heard from many customers and friends that starting the diamond search is overwhelming, and it is challenging to know what to look out for. It’s convenient to start out online and definitely a good way to get a sense of design styles and what’s out there generally. If you’re thinking of actually buying online, though, here are some things to keep in mind.

Large Selection is Not Always a Good Thing

You check out a site and they have a huge list of inventory. Seems great, right? Not always.

A little known fact about the various online-only diamond merchants is that many of them don’t own every diamond that is offered for sale. These websites are all linked up to virtual inventory – diamonds currently owned by and sitting with diamond manufacturers around the world. In practice, this means that these online retailers may not be able to tell you what they think of a certain diamond, or how it looks. If asked, they will call the manufacturer and ask for an assessment of the diamond to relay back to the customer, who then has to make their own judgment call.

Unfortunately, many of these websites do not actually see the diamonds they sell… EVER. To save on costs, the diamonds often get shipped directly from the manufacturer to a jewelry sub-contractor who sets the stone in a ring and ships it to the customer’s door. An important purchase like this deserves a bit more quality control than that.

A Penny for Your Dollar

Ring builders are a lot of fun. But often when you select a given set of characteristics, a wide range of prices come up for similar diamonds. Certain things can make a big difference – for example, there is a bump in price when you hit 1 carat – so a 0.95 carat diamond and a 1.00 carat diamond will be priced further apart than, let’s say, a 0.70 carat and 0.75 carat diamond would be. Often times, though, the differences are not as clear.

I always advise my clients to see their diamond in person. This allows you to be confident that it was a good deal without having sacrificed anything on quality, or if a more expensive diamond is chosen, seeing the diamond in person will help you understand why it is more expensive. Without understanding exactly what is going on inside your diamond, it is just impossible to tell if a given price is justified, in either direction. I say this a lot because it’s true: no two diamonds are the same. There are very different types of inclusions within the same clarity grade, different tints within the same color grade, etc.

Recently, I brought a diamond into the country for a client and, on first look at both the certificate and an image, it seemed like a truly amazing stone – not just for the price (which was great too). The image showed minimal inclusions for a diamond of its clarity, and the inclusion plotting on the certificate seemed very minimal. The diamond even looked great on first glance in person. On closer inspection though, the diamond had a very apparent haziness to it, which was very off-putting when put side-by-side with another diamond of similar characteristics. It turns out the diamond received its clarity rating of an SI1 not due to any particular inclusion but due to a cloud of microscopic inclusions that were spread throughout. The material was not attractive and needless to say this diamond went back to the manufacturer and was replaced by a diamond the client was able to truly fall in love with.

If this client had received the diamond at his home, he may have been satisfied and carried on with it. Unbeknownst to him, though, he would have had a diamond that truly was not the great deal he expected it to be, did not shine like it should, and worst of all would not be an attractive option on the resale market if ever needed at any point in time.

Kimberfire, Your Diamond Expert

The bottom line is that buying a diamond is one of the most important purchases you will make in your life. Without a guide on your side, it is easy to be mislead, uncertain, or to be stuck having to exchange a number of diamonds for one that you’re really happy with.

Trust and knowledge are big parts of the diamond game. Traditional jewelry stores certainly offer a high level of service and quality control, but are not for everyone. This is why I created Kimberfire: to provide you with prices competitive to online merchants and at significant discounts to traditional retail, while still enabling you to inspect your diamond in person alongside someone you can trust.

If you’re interested in working with us to find your perfect diamond, be sure to check out our website or call us at (416) 861-8110 to book your free private consultation. I look forward to meeting you!