Diamond Jewelry

Pamper Yourself With Diamond Jewelry

It's hard to believe that diamonds are made of the same stuff as charcoal, but it's true: diamonds are plain carbon, though it's arranged in an especially strong way. Brewed in the intense heat and pressure of the Earth's mantle, hundreds of miles underground, they're spat up by volcanoes to form the hardest substance known to humans. In fact, the only thing that can easily cut a diamond is another diamond. While a large proportion of diamonds come in a crude form called bort, and are useful for little more than industrial purposes, a small percentage are so superlative in their color and clarity that they can be used for what is surely the diamond's true purpose: as diamond jewelry.

The diamonds used in diamond jewelry are shaped in two different cuts: the step cut, and the brilliant cut. Step cuts results in a series of wide facets, or steps, on the diamond's surface; the emerald shape is the most obvious example. Brilliant cuts, as epitomized by the round cut, arrange the various facets so that the diamond's reflective fire is maximized. Occasionally mixed cuts are used that employ both the brilliant and step cuts. Trilliant, princess, and heart-shapes often use the mixed-cut method.

Diamond shapes

Cut diamonds come in nine basic shapes, which may result from the use of one or both types of cut. The aforementioned heart shape is one; it is most often used in novelty diamond jewelry pieces, especially necklaces. The other shapes are emerald, round, oval, pear, radiant, trillium, princess, cushion, and marquise. Emerald shapes use the stepped format originally created for brittle emeralds: a rectangular cut with trimmed corners. Round diamonds, one of the most popular types, are indeed round in cross-section, but cone-shaped from the side. Oval diamonds are self-descriptive, while pear-shaped diamonds are actually shaped like teardrops.

Radiant diamonds are cut square with trimmed corners, which enhances their brilliance; these diamonds tend to be scarce. Trilliant diamonds are triangular in cross-section. Princess-shaped diamonds are actually among the most popular: they're cut square in cross-section, without trimmed corners, and like the emerald shape is often less-expensive than other shaped diamonds. The cushion cut is shaped like its name suggests, and combines the characteristics of round and square cut diamonds. Finally, the marquise is shaped like an oval with pointed ends. It is quite brilliant, and very popular in some types of diamond jewelry, especially bridal ring sets.

The Four C's

No matter the type of diamond jewelry you select, the price will be controlled by the four C's of diamonds: color, cut, clarity, and carat weight. Unsurprisingly, the heavier the carat weight, the pricier the diamond jewelry will be. Cut is also important, with the emerald cut being among the least expensive (even though it shows clarity and color flaws better than most cuts). The average jewelry-quality diamond should be blue-white and clear, though diamonds that are perfectly so are very rare. While dull yellow and brownish tints are considered flaws, canary yellows and most other clear colors, from burgundy to blue to purple, actually add to the value of the diamond. Red diamonds are among the rarest and most valuable, bringing up to $1,000,000 per carat. Compare that to the $2,000 or so white diamonds bring per carat, and you just might be eager to go prospecting for red diamonds; but be forewarned -- the number that have been discovered so far can be counted on the fingers of both hands.
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