Diamonds sold to fund weapons of war used against recognised governments are known as conflict diamonds. In 2002, fifty-two governments from around the world ratified and adopted the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in order to fully combat the scourge of conflict diamonds.
The total number of governments involved today is 74. In essence, these countries have agreed that they will only allow the import and export of rough diamonds if they come from or are being exported to another Kimberley Process participant. South Africa is one of the participants.
In order to strengthen the credibility of the Kimberley Process agreement, a System of Warranties for diamonds has been implemented. Under this system, all buyers and sellers of both rough and polished diamonds must insert a clause on all invoices, stating that the diamonds they have invoiced have been purchased from legitimate sources in compliance with United Nations resolutions.
All members of the Jewellery Council only sell conflict-free diamonds and have adopted the principles to trade only with companies that include warranty declarations on their invoices.
Technological advances have made it possible for natural diamonds to be enhanced, which increases their beauty and affordability. Diamonds can also be grown in a laboratory environment.
These are diamonds that are grown in a laboratory under controlled conditions. Synthetic diamonds have all the same properties of a natural diamond and it is very difficult to separate them from natural diamonds without special training and equipment.
Technology to improve the colour and clarity of certain types of diamonds is currently being used on a small number of diamonds. It is not possible to determine if a diamond has been enhanced just by looking at it.
Your jeweller is required to inform you if a diamond is synthetic, enhanced / treated as this affects the price of the stone. The certificate provided by a laboratory will clearly state if the diamond is natural or synthetic and will highlight any treatments.
The 4 C’s in buying a diamond
The most important step in buying a diamond is to choose one that appeals to you personally. While it is key to understand the technical aspects of diamonds, it is most important to fall in love with your diamond.
Diamonds are the hardest natural substance known to man. The four factors that determine the value of a diamond is known as the ‘Four Cs’.
Carat weight measures a diamond’s weight and size. Originally, the weight of a diamond was measured against the weight of the Carob seed, from here the name ‘carat’ originated. One carat is equal to 100 points. Examples are: a half carat is a 50-pointer and a three quarter carat is referred to as a 75-point diamond.
Clarity refers to the inclusions which naturally occur in diamonds.
Characteristics such as internal spots or lines are called inclusions. Although these marks make each diamond unique, the fewer the inclusions, the more valuable the diamond.
Diamond Grading Laboratories use an internationally standardised scale to indicate the clarity of a diamond. All clarity grades refer to inclusions visible under 10X magnification, thus a diamond with slight inclusions may still look clear to the naked eye.
The following terms are used in certificates issued when grading a diamond’s clarity: (inclusions under 10 power magnification)
(No visible inclusions under 10 power magnification)
(No internal inclusions)
|VVS1||Very very slightly included 1|
|VVS2||Very very slightly included 2|
|VS1||Very slightly included 1|
|VS2||Very slightly included 2|
|SI1||Slightly included 1|
|SI2||Slightly included 2|
|SI3||Slightly included 3
(Between SI3 and I1 you could start seeing the inclusions with the naked eye)
Colour of a diamond refers to how colourless the diamond is.
Laboratories use an international scale to determine colour in a diamond. The Chart below illustrates the colour scale from colourless to the yellow diamonds:
Diamonds also come in a spectrum of very prominent majestic colours, known as ‘fancies’ and are valued for their depth of colour. These are exceptionally rare and valuable.
Cut is used to describe the shape of a diamond. Each diamond is cut to very exacting standards. The most common cut, the round brilliant, has 58 facets, or small, flat, polished planes designed to yield the maximum amount of light to be reflected back to the viewer.
This reflection, known as brilliance, is an extremely important factor in evaluating the quality of a diamond’s cut. A poorly cut diamond will lose light and appear dull.
A diamond grading laboratory will indicate the specifications of the stone on all diamond certificates.
Example of a grading report