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What is a diamond and what properties has a dimond

This network is not broken, except where there are found impurities and imperfections. Therefore a diamond crystal is actually one big molecule. This structure makes the diamond to the hardest material on earth with a strength of the degree of 10 on Mohr's scale. Therefore one can cut a diamond only by using diamond itself as a cutting material. A diamond is however to a certain degree brittle, and it does not manage much bending of any type before it breaks up. When a diamond breaks, it happens usually with a clean crack without any branching cracks. Therefore a diamond can be cleaved with a strong force applied with a sharp object.

The covalent crystal structure also makes a diamond able to bend light, spread the color of white light and reflect light from the innside in a considerable degree. Therefore a diamond have a strong reflection of lights in every color, so called brilliance. In a well cut diamond, the angles of the facets are made such that the reflection from the innside out of the diamond is maximized.

A diamond is usually not entirely pure chemically. Other materials can exist in the crystal lattice. These materials will often color the stone yellow, green, blue, brown or black. The color will often reduce the value of the diamond, but can occationally elevate the value if the color is especially beautiful without destroying the brilliance and clearity of the stone. Most diamnonds ar not perfectly crustallized, and consist of imurities of carbon in other physical configurations, making the color grey or black. Such diaminds have little value as gemstones, but are useful in technical applications.

To produce a diamond, carbon must be subjected to high temperature and high pressure in an oxygen-free environment. This is possible deep in the mantle of the earth. It is also possible to make diamonds artificially, nut until recently big enough diamonds of jewel quality have been difficult to make this way.

As the production of synthetic diamonds is perfectionated, diamonds are expected to be used in many new technical applications. The hardness of the substance makes it well suited for micromechanic constructions. The high refractive index and durability of diamonds make them suited for use as lenses and prisms in microoptical devices. Since also diamonds are highly elecrically insulating and have virtually no piezoelectric properties, they can be used as insulating and encapsulating devices for the active modules in microscopic detector devices, measuring devices and signalling devices of various kind.

Diamonds are not as rare as people is likely to think, but most diamonds are of bad quality aestetically. Those are however used extensively industrially in abrasive and cutting appliances.

There is also a rumour that also diamonds of high quality are fairly common, but that most diamonds taken up from the earth are hidden in great repositories and only gradually brought out to the market in order to keep the prize high.

An uncut diamond in a rock (A free picture from Wikipedia)

An brilliant-cut diamon (A free picture from Wikipedia)

Diamond craft and mineralogy definitions

Blue-White: This is a property of a diamond that glows (fluoresces) blue under ultraviolet light. Such a diamond often looks oily and milky in sunlight. However, Blue-White diamonds are not always oily and milky in daylight. There are two kinds of fluorescence, good and bad. "Good" (blue) fluorescence makes a faint yellow diamond look whiter because it cancels some of the yellow appearance. A white diamond looks crisper, like a "bluing" agent on a white shirt. A blue-white diamond used to be well prized and greatly demanded. But this term was so much misused that it was banned from use by the trade. "Bad" fluorescence detracts from the beauty of a diamond.

Brilliance: Internal and external reflection of white light to the eye from a gemstone.

Brilliant: A round diamond with 58 facets.

Carbon: This is chemical element of which diamonds consist. Occasionally a diamond will contain tiny pockets of carbon of other crystallic configurations (graphite) which can be seen as black spots within the stone.

Carat-Weight and carat This is the weight of a diamond. Its unity size equals to 200 milligrams and this is called a carat. In ancient times one carat was equal to one carob bean or four grains of rice. The term originates from Greek word "keration", meaning a carob bean, and a small weight; later becomming the Latin "carratus," and still later, the Arabic word "qirat," meaning 'bean pod' or a 'small weight.

Clarity: The degree to which a diamond is free from tiny marks of nature, called inclusions.

Cloud: A cluster of small inclusions, or internal defects, within a diamond.

Color: Diamonds range from colorless - the rarest and most valuable - to yellowish, with a spectrum of shadings in between. Some diamonds have however strong exceptional colors and still have perfect clarity. Such diamonds can achieve a very high value.

Crown: This is the top part of the diamond above the girdle.

Cut: Cut refers to the arrangement of a diamond's facets. A diamond which is "ideal cut" captures and reflects back from the interior of the stone the maximum play of light. This is not the same as the shape of a diamond.

Cutlet: This is the bottom facet of a diamond, usually very small. If itoo large, when you look it will look like the diamond has a hole in the middle, straight down through the table. Dispersion: Dispersion is the ability to create spectral colors as light exits the diamond.

Eye-Clean: Refers to a diamond that has no inclusions or blemishes visible to the naked eye.

Facet: A polished surface on a diamond. A round, full-cut diamond usually has 58 facets, 33 on the crown and 25 on the pavilion.

Fire: Rainbow colors resulting from the dispersion of light.

Flawless: Diamond without external or internal blemishes or inclusions seen under 10X magnification are calld flawless.

Fluorescence: A diamond will absorbe energy from ultraviolet (UV) light, causing the stone to glow this energy out egain as visible light in various colors.

Full-Cut: A diamond with 58 or more facets.

Gemologist: A person who has been trained and certified in diamonds and colored stones.

Girdle: This is the circumference of a diamond which is usually held by prongs of a setting and separates the crown and pavilion. The purpose of the girdle is to protect the edge of the stone from chipping.

Head: The prongs which hold a diamond in its setting.

Inclusions: These are natural impurities in a diamond which were formed during the crystallization process.

Karat: This is another thing than carat-weight of a diamond. This is the measure of the purity of gold; 24-karat being pure gold. Jewelry is made from 18K and 14K gold, and contains other metals for strength.

Laser-Drilled: Treated with a laser to remove carbon spots.

Light Return: The light that is returned from the diamond and not leaked through the pavilion (bottom) of the diamond.

Loupe: A small magnifying glass used to view gemstones.

Off-Make: An ill-proportioned diamond.

Pavé: A method of setting diamonds very closely together, giving the illusion of one or more larger diamonds.

Pavilion: The bottom part of the diamond below the girdle. It has an ideal angle of 40.75 degrees. The pavillion acts as a very highly polished and precise mirror that throws the light back through the other facets.

Point: One-hundredth of a carat.

Refraction: Refraction refers to the bending and slowing of light passing at an oblique angle from the medium of one optical density (such as air) into a medium of greater optical density (such as a diamond). The refraction on passing of the light from air into the diamond and from the diamond back into the air creates the fire of a diamond, because the various colors of the white light are refracted to various degrees and thus separated from each other.

Semi-Mount: A setting which is complete except for the main stone, which will be selected separately.

Shape: This is not the same as cut, shape means the geometric for of the stone. Popular shapes include the round brilliant, marquise, emerald cut, pear and oval.

Single-Cut: A diamond with only 16 or 17 facets.

Sparkle: Flashing effect produced when a diamond is moved in the light.

Symmetry: The symmetry is the quality of efficient light reflection and return. It is a function of proper attention to cutting angles.

Treated diamonds: No diamond is wholly perfect, but a diamond of high quality does not need any tratment to look bettert. A diamond that is less that of high quality can be made to look better by certain physical methods. Cracks can be filled with a glassy material. One can drill a hole with a laser, then burn out impurities and then fill the hole with som glassy material. One can also let the diamond undergo physical processes to change the color. Treated diamonds do not increase in value by the treatment, since the treatment does not necessarily last and can make yte diamond weaker.

Table: This is the largest and most important facet in a diamond situated at the top

Tiffany: A simple, elegant 2-3 mm ring setting with a head with prongs that holds a single diamond.

Transparency: The degree of which the diamond gives back the light that it resceives. Impurities reduces the transparency.

Other useful information about noble metal and stones

Defititions about noble metals

Some useful definitions about diamonds - down at this page

Chemistry and physics of gemstones

About the minerals and gemstones in the quarts group

Gemstones in the corundum group - rubines and saphires

Beryl group gemstones

Topaz gemstones