Geological classification

When did they learn to process diamonds?

It seems impossible to make sense of the diamond scatterings in store windows. The price for identical-looking stones can vary several times. How are they different and where do these prices come from? Meduza, together with the jewelry supermarket, has compiled a short guide to diamonds for beginners. Ivan Knyazev for Meduza

Diamondswhat’s this?

A diamond is a cut diamond, a form of carbon, a hard and rare mineral brought from the depths of the earth’s crust by lava flows. Its closest chemical relatives are graphite and coal. But due to high pressure and temperatures, the diamond acquired special beauty, transparency and radiance. Diamonds suitable for cutting into brilliants are rare in nature, although the mineral itself is common; its large deposits are found on all continents except Antarctica. In the old days, mines often arose along the banks of rivers, where stones lay on the surface – geologists call such deposits alluvial placers. But the main industrial extraction of stone began with the development of kimberlite pipes – special rock zones that formed on the site of magma flows escaping from the depths. Such a pipe was first discovered in southern Africa in the Kimberley province – hence the term. Developing kimberlite pipes is expensive and difficult. The quarries of rich deposits go 300–500 meters deep with a crater diameter of 1,5 kilometers. Their view from the air is especially impressive. Most of the diamonds obtained are of technical quality. They are used in a variety of equipment – in drills, drills and saws. Gem-quality stones are distributed throughout the world under the supervision of several large corporations. This is a closed market, prices for stones are stable, so many dealers in diamond exchanges consider diamonds to be the most reliable currency equivalent – their compactness is especially valued. Ivan Knyazev for Meduza

How did diamonds become so sought after?

Diamond is known for its hardness – namely hardness, not strength: a diamond can only be scratched by a diamond, but it can also be burned or broken. Therefore, the stone could not be processed for a long time. The technology of diamond cutting was discovered only in the 15th century by Indian jewelers who mined stones in the Golconda mines. They crushed small diamonds into powder, and then applied it to a rotating grinding disk – this is how the diamond crystals received edges in which light was refracted. Over five centuries, diamonds have established themselves as the most expensive and desirable stone for jewelry. And since the 1990th century, it has been considered the most popular stone for engagement and wedding rings. The tradition developed not without the participation of the De Beers company, which monopolized the diamond market at the end of the 40th century, and immediately after World War II explained in a historical advertising campaign that diamonds are forever. Of course, marketers drew parallels with love and marriage and suggested that men spend three salaries on an engagement ring. The monopoly lasted until the mid-XNUMXs. Today, the once great “diamond syndicate” owns only XNUMX% of the market. Before getting to the jeweler, the diamond changes owner several times. The first transactions take place between brokers on the stock exchange (at the same time the diamond is cut into a diamond), and then the stones go to dealers and jewelers. Ivan Knyazev for Meduza

How do diamonds differ from each other?

The beauty and quality of a diamond are described by four characteristics: color, clarity, cut and carat. All of them are regulated by certificates from different laboratories. The most famous are GIA (Gemological Institute of America), HRD (Higher Diamond Council), IGI (International Gemological Institute). The rest of the foreign laboratories, unfortunately, did not perform well in the recent Forbes investigation.


There are diamonds that are valued for their colorlessness; they are the majority on the market. But diamonds come in every color of the rainbow. Thanks to micro-differences in chemical composition, reaction to radiation and plastic changes in the atomic lattice, stones acquire different shades. Yellow and blue colors are of a chemical nature (thanks to nitrogen and boron, respectively), greenish shades are radiation. The pink and red tones appear due to plastic transformation as the mineral travels upward through the kimberlite pipe. Ivan Knyazev for Meduza The most affordable of colored diamonds are yellow. Then there are pink, green and blue. Reds are very rare; the price per carat, even for a stone the size of a match head, fluctuates around a million dollars. And black diamonds are a marketing ploy. Stones of this color simply do not exist in high quality. They work interestingly as supporting stones in contrast to others, but they have no intrinsic value. In general, colored fancy diamonds make up only 2% of the market and are valued according to a complex system (in Russia, technical requirements have not been fully formed). When talking about the different colors of a diamond, we most often refer to the presence of a yellowish tint to a clear stone. Here in the photo are diamonds with different saturations of this shade. Ivan Knyazev for Meduza


Diamonds may have various inclusions and defects. They can usually be seen with a tenfold magnifying glass. With the naked eye, it is very difficult to discern the difference between the purest stone and an analogue with a couple of inclusions. Gemologists distinguish between different defects: pinpoints, clouds of small dots (cloud), feathers (feather) and empty cavities (cavity). The most inconspicuous ones are light and have no volume inclusions. The most noticeable ones are the voids. In the gif you can see three stones: in one the inclusions are not visible, in the second – small black dots are barely noticeable, in the third – they are visible to the naked eye A subtle point: diamonds with the same characteristics can be valued differently, depending on the location of the inclusions. If the points are located at the back or on the edges, the stone will be worth more than one whose flaws are in the center. It also happens that one small dot is reflected in the inner edges of the diamond – and it seems that the entire stone is dotted with dots. Such diamonds are much cheaper. Diamonds have one more characteristic – fluorescence. This is the stone’s reaction to ultraviolet light. It rarely affects how a colorless stone looks in natural conditions. But sometimes such diamonds become dull in sunlight and look faded Ivan Knyazev for Meduza


Before diamonds are cut, the stones are analyzed and marked using a computer system. Trying to minimize waste and taking into account the purity of the raw materials, experts choose the cut shape. The most popular is the round shape (initially only it was called a “diamond”, in English – until now), 90% of stones give it. But there are also shapes like “marquise” (boat-shaped), “oval”, “pear”, “princess” (square), “emerald”, “heart”, etc. The choice of cut type does not affect the beauty of the diamond, but slightly affects its cost. Thus, a round-cut stone will be 15–20% more expensive compared to similar stones of other shapes. So you can buy a 1-carat princess or oval for the same amount of money that would only buy a 0,8-carat round diamond. It is also important to take into account the quality of the cut – correct proportions (Cut), symmetry (Symmetry) and polishing (Polish); all this affects the play of light in the stone. In Russia, there are ranges of geometric parameters according to which only round diamonds can be classified into one of four groups: A, B, C or D; for other popular cuts there are no clear canons. Therefore, it is better to focus on the gradation of GIA certificates. According to it, the cuts are Excellent (there are no more than 10% of such diamonds on the market), Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor. If you want a high-quality cut, you should focus on the first two. Anything lower is likely to result in failures in the play of light. Ivan Knyazev for Meduza


The most noticeable characteristic is the carat, that is, the weight of the stone. Knowing the canons of cutting, you can predict the size of the stone based on carat content. The larger the diamond, the more expensive it is. In ancient times, carats were the name given to the grains of a tree common in the east; local gem traders used them to weigh goods. Now a carat is 0,2 grams. A classic one-carat round diamond will most likely have a diameter of 6,4 millimeters. Other weight and size ratios for different cuts can be found in the table. By the way, the smallest diamond in the world weighs only 0,0003 carats (it was cut by an Indian record-breaking jeweler), and the largest is 530,2 carats (this is “Cullinan-I” – one of nine diamonds that appeared as a result of cutting the largest in world of the Cullinan diamond). Ivan Knyazev for Meduza

What does the price consist of?

The rough and polished market is artificial. The approximate cost of the stone is determined by Rappoport’s price list, which reflects the average market value. Smaller, lesser-known brands that sell diamonds and simple jewelry often offer better deals, simply because they rely only on conventional grading systems and don’t ask the buyer to pay for a recognizable design and brand. In addition, when buying a diamond without a setting, it is easier to make sure that a small defect has not been hidden from you – a barely noticeable inclusion and the diamond has been assessed fairly. Using these computerized meters, the weight of stones is calculated based on their size.
Ivan Knyazev for Meduza

How to choose a diamond based on price/quality ratio

Only a specialist can notice the difference between several stones of different shades standing in a row. And looking at an engagement ring with a colorless-looking stone up to three carats, few people can say without guessing whether it is color 2 (E according to GIA) or 4 (G according to GIA). And in some stud earrings, the error in assessing purity may be even greater. Most of the nuances are visible only with a magnifying glass, so it is important to decide on the size and color, and then experiment with purity. For example, you can save money by choosing a distinctly yellow stone at the end of the color scale, but bet on its size and clarity so it looks like a sparkling drop of champagne. Today, many stores that sell diamonds offer the buyer “cheat sheets” with illustrations of characteristics – simplified versions of reference materials. Often even in the form of a construction set or calculator, in which you can “assemble” a stone with the characteristics of interest. Ivan Knyazev for Meduza

Where to buy diamonds

We wrote this article together with the website, which offers a large selection of diamonds. The site’s database contains more than 18 million stones. Despite such an extensive catalog, finding the right diamond will only take a few minutes (especially if you know what to look for): all diamonds can be filtered by price, weight and other characteristics. The stones in the database are of Russian origin (rough diamonds were mined from the Yakut and Arkhangelsk deposits) and are certified by GIA or SGC (Smolensk Gemological Center). After purchasing a stone, you will be able to immediately arrange diamonds into jewelry – you can choose a design on the same website, having decided on the color and gold purity. This company also has jewelers who work with a more complex and precious metal – platinum.

For Meduza readers offer a 10% discount using the promo code meduza2017 (offer valid until 31.12.2017/XNUMX/XNUMX).

What kind of diamonds are in fashion?

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The beauty of diamonds is mesmerizing, and the history of the origin of these stones is shrouded in mysteries, which scientists have been working on for many years to unravel/Photo:

Diamonds are nothing more than polished diamonds. Therefore, when telling about the history of humanity’s discovery of “girls’ best friends,” we will call these precious stones diamonds. When, how and where did people first see this beauty?

1.When and how the world learned about diamonds

Humanity has known the value of diamonds since ancient times/photo:

In fact, diamonds were discovered by man quite a long time ago – back in the fourth millennium BC. They have been spotted in India. According to historical data, these stones were considered valuable by the ancient Romans. But the beauty of diamonds was discovered to Europeans only later – in the 5th-6th centuries BC.

People learned that diamonds take on a very beautiful appearance after processing in the 13th century. But still, they tried not to process these stones, because they believed that this would lose the magical effect that people of that time falsely believed diamonds were endowed with. They began to process them much later. Diamonds began to be classified as precious stones about 5 centuries ago.

As history goes, the first diamond was made by Louis de Bernel in 1454. A skilled craftsman made it for Charles the Bold (Duke of Burgundy). The latter was completely delighted with such beauty. The shine of the stone amazed him so much that he decided to decorate his armor with diamonds. The Duke of Burgundy was the first person to enter high society wearing diamond jewelry. With his brilliant appearance at social events, the fashion for diamonds began.

Large diamond deposits were found in India and Indonesia, and later in Africa/Photo:

First, diamond-rich deposits were discovered in India and Indonesia. But over the years, their reserves have decreased significantly, and today the extraction of precious stones from these places does not bring high results. Later, in the second half of the 19th century, the African state would become a key supplier of diamonds.

In 1876, in Philadelphia, a new method of diamond processing was introduced to the world using special equipment – a stone-cutting machine. And the grinding of precious stones, used by modern jewelers in their work, began to be practiced only in 1910. In the first half of the last century, another diamond deposit was discovered. It is located on the Atlantic coast. Later (since 1961), people began to find sparkling gems not only in the bowels of the earth, but also on the seabed.

2.When diamonds were found in Russia

Diamonds were also discovered in the depths of Russian lands/Photo:

It should be noted that there are deposits of these precious stones in Russia. But, unfortunately, they are insignificant. Thus, the first Ural diamond was discovered in 1829 in an area located in the Perm province. Even the identity of the person who found this gem is known. The Ural diamond was noticed by the serf Pavel Popov. He performed work at the Krestovozdvizhensky gold mine.

At the end of the 19th century, a diamond was also discovered in Siberia on the Melnichnaya River, which is located near Yeniseisk. Later (around the middle of the last century) people learned about diamond deposits located in the Republic of Yakutia, on the Vilyui River. After these events, diamond processing factories began to operate in the Soviet Union. Thus, in 1963, the largest diamond cutting plant began work in Smolensk. It should be noted that the enterprise operates successfully today. Towards the end of the last century, two more deposits were discovered on the territory of the Russian Federation. Both are located in the Arkhangelsk region.

3.How diamonds are formed: the secrets of the birth of a gemstone

There is still no consensus among scientists about the origin of diamonds in nature/Photo: Pinterest

Despite numerous studies, scientists and archaeologists have not been able to provide the world with a clear and comprehensive answer regarding the question of how diamonds appear. The key feature of these stones is their incredibly high hardness. Perhaps, in this regard, no other stone is comparable to diamonds. Isn’t it surprising, because they look so transparent, weightless and fragile?

Since diamonds are a real luxury that is very expensive, scammers have become adept at making fakes of these stones. By the way, in appearance they are practically indistinguishable from the precious originals. Therefore, without knowledge of how to distinguish a fake diamond from a real one, you can make a mistake and buy the wrong thing.

But let’s return to the topic of the appearance of diamonds. As we said above, today there is no exact version of the origin of these stones. However, there is data regarding the time of their birth. According to scientists, the origin of diamonds occurred a very long time ago. The periods, called by specialists, are different – from 100 million to 2,5 billion years ago. Gemstones are formed from carbon under the influence of high temperatures and pressure. These factors can explain the significant depth of the deposits – from 200 kilometers or more.

Each version looks plausible and quite reasonable/Photo:

After extensive research, scientists have put forward several theories about the appearance of diamonds. According to the first version, these stones are formed on the surface of the earth. Scientists who adhere to this point of view believe that the precious mineral is generated as a result of contact between escaped frozen magma and hydrocarbons. Such contact causes the formation of a crystal lattice characterized by high density.

The overwhelming majority of researchers adhere to another version, according to which the formation of these precious stones is related to ultramafic rock. Scientists believe that during a volcanic eruption, the escaping lava throws small pebbles onto the earth’s surface. This is what diamonds look like in their natural form, the researchers are convinced.

4. Where do precious minerals come from in meteorites?

According to the meteorite version, diamonds arise from collisions of particles in the asteroid belt/Photo:

Scientists’ version of the meteorite origin of diamonds has caused heated discussions. It is worth noting that today most researchers agree that valuable minerals in meteorites were formed as a result of collisions in the asteroid belt. Those small particles that participate in these impacts contain carbon. Under a pressure of 40-50 GPa and a temperature of 2-3 thousand degrees Celsius, it is possible to transform it into diamond.

5.How to get diamonds

Diamond mining is a difficult process that requires the use of special equipment/photo:

Extracting diamonds from scratch is an incredibly complex and labor-intensive task that involves several stages. First of all, it is necessary to find a deposit of valuable minerals and develop it. It should be understood that not every deposit may contain valuable stones suitable for extraction. After complete completion of the preliminary stage, ore mining begins.

This operation is performed using special equipment. After extraction, the ore is crushed. This is the only way to extract kimberlite rock from it. Subsequently, kimberlite is delivered to production, where it is sorted in accordance with several parameters. This approach allows you to accurately determine the class and size of the stone. Of no small importance is the suitability of the latter for jewelry or various devices.

Although there are reserves of kimberlite ore in almost all corners of the planet, the largest volumes of it are found in deposits located in Russia, Canada and Botswana. It should be noted that attempts made back in the 17th century to extract valuable stones had a successful outcome.

6.How to distinguish a diamond from quartz

Diamond and quartz are very similar in appearance/Photo:

The earth is rich in many minerals. Among them there are many species that look very similar to valuable diamonds. Unfortunately, this similarity is often used by scammers in order to fraudulently earn big money. Using sweet speeches and effective advertising of the product being presented, they are able to sell a product decorated with cheap minerals for the price of a real diamond. The buyer, blinded by this verbal “dust,” looks at the sparkling beauty with a feeling of moral satisfaction, naively believing that this is a precious stone. A quick glance is enough for a skilled jeweler to distinguish a real diamond from a fake. And buyers who are partial to precious stones should be aware of the main differences between real diamonds and their cheap counterparts.

Plain water will help you determine whether you have a diamond or quartz/Photo:

So, how do you know if this is a real diamond? The easiest way to check is a completely transparent stone. For this purpose, the mineral must be placed in a glass of clean water and examined carefully. If the stone is quartz, then such a test will turn it into something invisible, lost in the water. A real diamond is a very dense mineral, so it retains its shape in water. True, such a test is not suitable for colored stones.

If we compare quartz and diamond in terms of hardness, the latter’s indicators are much higher. By applying pressure to a stone, you can easily identify whether it belongs to one type or another. Quartz deforms under extreme pressure. It is enough, for example, to squeeze a pebble between two coins, and also move them to the sides. After such a test, not even a scratch will remain on the precious diamond.

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