Diamonds take shaped deep inside the Earth’s crust under extreme temperatures and tremendous pressure. The name comes from the ancient Greek “adamas”, meaning unbreakable, as a diamond is the hardest naturally formed substance on Earth. A diamond goes through a long complex process – from mining to being sorted, polished and cut before being delivered to laboratories for grading and finally sold and turned into beautiful jewelry or used in manufacturing.
Approximately 130 million carats of diamonds with a value of about 9 billion U.S. dollars are mined every year mostly from five top producing countries in the world with Southern Africa accounting for more than 47% of the total.
The Journey Of A Diamond From The Mine To The Consumer
Mining And Sorting
Diamonds are mined and brought to the surface in the form of rocks and crystals where they are sorted according to categories. Rough diamonds are sorted according to three distinct categories:
1. Gem Quality
About 20% of mined diamonds are gem quality composed of a minimum of 99.95% carbon with some up to 99.99% pure carbon. These diamonds are sent to jewelers who will further sort them according to color and clarity.
2. Industrial Quality
About 80% of diamonds less than 3 carats are used for industrial use and classified according to weight and number of points. These diamonds are used in machines, tools and abrasive compounds; in fact most of the things we use in our daily lives today contain industrial diamonds.
A very small percentage of the worst quality diamonds are boart or crushing boart and are crushed into dust for use in the diamond polishing process.
There are currently 8 cutting centers in the world where diamonds take hours and sometimes weeks to cut depending on their size. Some of the largest and most famous diamonds took years to cut. Expert diamond cutters shape diamonds into different shapes to achieve perfect symmetry, proportions, alignment and polish in order to display each individual diamond’s exceptional brilliance and sparkle.
Diamonds are graded and documented by industry experts in accredited laboratories. Today some private high-end brands grade their own diamonds.
Properly accredited and documented diamonds are then sold to dealers, manufacturers, collectors and retailers. Famous diamonds have found their way into the hands of private collectors while others are in museums such as the Smithsonian Museum.
Diamonds For The Consumer Market
It takes about 5 months from being sorted for diamonds to reach the consumer market and used in three different stages of circulation:
– Marked for the manufacturing process;
– In the manufacturing process;
– Finished for certification at the laboratory and readied for market.
It is important to understand how diamonds are graded before purchasing in order to determine the exact value. Grading is determined by taking into account the quality of each individual diamond and accrediting four distinct grades known as the 4 Cs: Cut, Color, Clarity, Carat (weight). Brilliance and value are always key priorities to keep in mind when selecting a diamond.