When you think of the word “diamond,” what comes to mind? Beautiful? Valuable? Expensive? Daunting? Mysterious? Clueless!
This air of mystique can make purchasing a diamond piece difficult - an anxiety-producing, sweaty mess! Breathe. Diamonds are knowable. They are simply minerals created by the earth. Exquisite, yes, but also within reach of both your understanding and your budget. To take the intimidation factor out of the process, start by learning a few key diamond terms. Knowledge is always the solution.
If you are wondering how to buy a diamond ring or other jewelry, a working understanding of the industry’s most-used terms is important.
You’ll notice that these terms are not in alphabetical order, as they are in a conventional “dictionary.” That is because knowledge of each term informs the next so you can build on your learning. And without further ado:
We’ll start at the beginning. This term describes a mined diamond created by natural conditions. No shortcuts, no labs, no chemicals… just carbon, pressure, and lots and lots of time. The term “diamond” always means natural.
A synthetic diamond is one developed in a lab. Scientists expose “diamond seeds” - intricate lattice-pattern arrangements of carbon atoms - to methane gas and hydrogen. The seeds are subjected to intense heat and pressure in a growth chamber where, over three to four weeks, the process creates the crystal properties of a diamond.
Synthetics are structurally identical to natural diamonds. While they can be quite beautiful, they do not have or retain the value of a diamond. There is nothing “wrong” with lab-grown stones, but they are simply not real.
Cubic zirconia and glass are the most common diamond simulants. Unlike synthetics, simulants don’t share the same physical makeup as diamonds. They are, essentially, low-cost stand-ins that can deliver some of the same aesthetic qualities - though they are readily identifiable as stimulants.
The Gemological Institute of America is the foremost authority on diamond grading. As an independent laboratory and educational organization, GIA’s priority is informing and protecting the diamond-buying public.
GIA meticulously tests each diamond submitted to its labs and issues a comprehensive report on its characteristics, including the 4Cs - cut, clarity, color, and carat. Certification allows consumers to feel confident in their stone’s authenticity, provenance, and quality.
Diamond Terms of Which To Be Cautious
Diamond terms can differ from marketing terms. When you see the following, proceed with caution and seek clarification - and proof.
Real/Genuine/Authentic/Natural Synthetic Diamonds
This terminology creates confusion. Let’s clear it up: only mined diamonds are real, genuine, authentic, and natural. Synthetics are grown in a laboratory under highly controlled conditions.
Natural-Treated and Treated-Natural Diamonds
Today, suppliers can improve the appearance of lower quality natural diamonds with techniques like fracture filling, laser drilling, and deep boiling. Your GIA report will indicate whether your diamond has been treated this way. Deep boiling exposes the diamond to a special acidic bath and intense pressure to improve clarity. It is the only GIA-sanctioned treatment method. For all others, be aware that treatment can impact value.
One more term for you: trust. When you select a diamond supplier with extensive experience and a sterling reputation in the industry, you can purchase with confidence. (And always, always, ask for the appropriate reports and documentation. Trust - and verify!). If you have any questions about diamond terms or how to buy a diamond ring, contact the K Rosengart team.