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What is a diamond?
The mineral diamond is a crystalline form, or allotrope of carbon. It is formed by prolonged exposure of carbon bearing materials to high pressure and temperature, deep below the surface of the Earth. It is then pushed to the surface by volcanic force, or deposited in formations known as volcanic pipes. These pipes contain material that was pushed towards the surface by volcanic action, but did not erupt before the volcanic activity ceased.
History & Symbollism of Diamonds:
Because of their extraordinary physical properties, diamonds have been used symbollically since near the time of their first discovery. Diamonds are thought to have been first recognized and mined in India, where significant alluvial deposits of the mineral could then be found. The use of diamonds as gemstones of decorative value is the most familiar use to most people today, and is also the earliest use. Today, diamonds are used to symbollize durability, status, virtue, wealth, eternity, and commitment to never-ending love.
What determines a diamonds value?
The gemological appeal of diamonds lies in their hardness and optical properties. Diamonds used as gems are cut and polished into a number of faceted shapes in order to accentuate these attractive qualities. The hardness of diamonds allows them to hold a polish extremely well and resist scratching, giving excellent luster. The dispersion of white light into a rainbow of colors, known in the trade as fire, is the other primary characteristic of gem diamonds, and has been highly prized throughout history.
A diamond's value is determined by four criteria, commonly referred to as the 4 C's. Each of these criteria are graded to determine how rare or how pure the diamond is. Of the 4 C's, three are dictated by nature, color, clarity, and carat weight. Cut is directly influenced by man.
Most gem diamonds are traded on the wholesale market based on single values for each of the 4 C's, for example - knowing that a diamond is rated as 1.5 carat, VS2 clarity, F color, Excellent cut, is enough to reasonably establish an expected price range. More detailed information from within each characteristic can then be used to determine the actual market value for individual stones.
To learn more about the 4 C's, click on the respective link below: