Diamonds, precious gems made of carbon plus some additional elements, have been treasured for centuries for their uncommon beauty and extraordinary strength.

Until recently, white diamonds were the diamonds of choice on wedding rings and other diamond jewellery. Ranging from a colourless, clear stone, to one barely off-white, colourless diamonds were what consumers meant when they thought of diamonds. Today, however, diamond buyers know and appreciate the full range of colours inherent in diamonds, such as pink, yellow, and violet. Known as fancy colour diamonds, these stones, produced naturally deep within the earth, make a beautiful addition to any piece of jewellery – or investment portfolio.

It is believed that diamonds were discovered in India, and, in fact, they have been mentioned in texts since the 4th century BCE. Coming from the Greek meaning “unalterable” and “unbreakable”, diamonds are the hardest material on earth and have been used as adornments and industrially, for cutting and engraving, for thousands of years. Today, approximately 80 per cent of mined diamonds are used for industrial purposes; they are so hard, they are even employed in polishing and cutting other diamonds.

Diamond Jewellery

That leaves 20 per cent to be cut and manufactured for jewellery.

Raw, loose stones go through an extremely specialised process before becoming the brilliant diamond that is ready to be set in a bracelet or pair of earrings.

First, highly skilled and experienced cutters choose the best cut for the stone, working to bring out the brilliance and fire within. The cut is quite important to the overall beauty of a stone. Afterwards, it is polished before being ready for sale.

Before buying a diamond, it is important to be sure the stone has been certified. Certification proves authenticity, of course, but the top certifiers will also provide a list of characteristics particular to that stone. For example, when the GIA, which is used extensively to certify diamonds in the UK and worldwide, grades a diamond, it lists the 4Cs as well as the stone’s proportions and other measurements.

All diamonds can be evaluated by the 4Cs: cut, clarity, colour, and carat weight. The widely-used 4Cs were developed by the GIA, the Gemmological Institute of America,as a kind of shorthand to describe and compare one diamond to another. On this scale, white diamonds appear from D, which is no colour, to Z, which describes a diamond that is a light brown or yellow. The best diamonds, the exceedingly rare “collection diamonds”, are those rated D,E, and F.

Coloured diamonds, formed naturally in the ground with the addition of trace elements, can appear in a variety of colours. They are described by their colours, such as black, blue or pink, and intensity rather than the by the D-Z scale. Both loose colour diamonds and set stones are in demand by diamond connoisseurs and investors.

In terms of value, the 4Cs play an important role. Other variables, such as fluorescence, can also factor into the value and beauty of a diamond. Clarity looks at the overall appearance including how any imperfections affect it. Clarity grades range from Flawless to Included. Cut relates to a diamond’s proportions. This affects the light and sparkle of a stone. Carat weight measures how much a particular diamond weighs. One carat is 200 milligrams.

Diamonds are precious.