Mineral Review

Why are small diamonds cheap?

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 Brilliant24.ru, 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 brilliant24.ru, 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 brilliant24.ru 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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Some diamond jewelry can seem surprisingly cheap. It seems that a ring set with 10 diamonds would cost as much as a house – but no, you can buy it without breaking the bank. Therefore, a fair question arises: what makes up the price of small diamonds? Why are they cheaper than the big ones?

To answer this question, we need to tell you what makes up the price of larger diamonds. After all, diamonds are always diamonds, no matter the size. Therefore, the price of small diamonds is influenced by the same factors as the cost of large ones – clarity, color, density and quality.

Price and value of small diamonds

Let’s talk about the value of small diamonds. What is the difference between large and small diamonds for the buyer?

The difference between small and large diamonds is the difference between a simple engagement ring and a ring that is so dazzling with glitz and glamor that it attracts the attention of everyone around. It’s the difference between an everyday piece of jewelry and a true family heirloom that will be passed down from generation to generation. It’s the difference between a design that’s pleasing to the eye and a luxurious, shiny, intricate, glamorous look.

When it comes to a luxurious luxury ring, it can only be achieved by using large diamonds. Small diamonds will still be diamonds, they will sparkle in the light, but unfortunately, in most cases they lack that expensive glamor and prestige.

But the choice of jewelry is based not only on emotions, but also on reason. So let’s talk about numbers. It is important to understand that small diamonds are not purchased individually, but in batches – of course, from reliable miners and suppliers. They are sorted by cut, color, size and clarity. A jewelry workshop, when ordering small diamonds, receives “parcels” of dozens or hundreds of approximately identical stones – and their characteristics are of paramount importance when creating elegant jewelry.

What makes up the price of small diamonds

Speaking only in numbers, the price of small diamonds fluctuates depending on the quality of the stone, which, in turn, is determined by the following factors:

  • Color. The most valuable stones are colorless. If there is even a slight yellowness, the cost drops.
  • Purity. Flawless diamonds are very rare; most stones have some kind of inclusion. If defects are not visible to the naked eye, such a diamond will be more expensive than one with flaws.
  • Cut. Most small diamonds are either single cut (17-18 facets) or full cut (57-58 facets). The second option is preferable – it adds radiance, shine and a special halo of light called “pave”. Single cut diamonds are typically used in inexpensive jewelry, watches, and bracelets.
  • Weight in carats. The carat price of small diamonds is significantly lower than that of large diamonds. Thus, the cost of one stone weighing 1 carat will cost no less than 10 times higher than a scattering of small diamonds weighing a total of 1 carat.

Cut, color, size and clarity affect the price of diamonds – and, as a result, the cost of jewelry containing them.

The reason why large diamonds cost many times more than small ones is quite simple – scarcity. Large diamonds are very rare. Therefore, the task of jewelers is to highlight their beauty using complex cutting methods. Cost also increases in proportion to purity. If the stone has no visible inclusions at all, its price will be quite high.

Therefore, when buying diamonds as an investment, it is important to understand three parameters – carat weight, color and clarity.

Small diamonds, despite their size, are still diamonds, and can add sparkle, sparkle and wow factor to jewelry. For example, they can surround a large central stone, visually increasing its size. This is why small diamonds are often used in rings, bracelets, earrings, pendants and other stunning jewelry. They are, so to speak, a great way to get more shine for your money!

So, how valuable are small diamonds? Their value largely depends on the talent of the jeweler. They help create beautiful, impressive, vibrant and eye-catching jewelry. And while the diamonds themselves are small, they can certainly make a huge impact.

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