Diamonds: Be Dazzled, Not Bewildered

Here’s how to spot fake diamonds, how to judge them fast, and how not to get ripped off when you buy one. 

Real diamonds are incredibly old, having formed at least a billion years ago deep inside the earth.  Back then they were formed when violent streams of hot frothy magma were ejected to the surface of the earth.

Today, great effort goes into mining diamonds and shaping them into objects of beauty that artistically refract light. There are really only a few basic things you need to know about diamonds, chief among them the “4cs” a guide developed by the  Gemological Institute of America.  The four 4c’s are:

Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat  

Cut refers to the physical shaping of the diamond, and is crucial to creating sparkle and brilliance by capturing and refracting light.

Clarity is about blemishes and inclusions in the diamond. Oftentimes small imperfections will occur as the gem is formed. Inclusions can be beautiful, like a special signature.  However, clear, flawless diamonds fetch the highest prices.

Color relates to the relative colorlessness of the diamond. The less color, the more valuable the diamond, according to the International Gem Society.

Carat is a unit of measurement related to weight in metric units called carats. For the imperialists among us, a carat equals .02 grams.


Diamond Purchasing Tips

It’s smart to buy from trusted sources to ensure that you are purchasing a high-quality diamond. The Gemological Institute of America has these 10 tips for buying diamonds online, including how to check with the organization to certify the authenticity of a diamond. In general, research the seller and carefully check and verify the documentation that comes with the gem.

Unfortunately the news is filled with stories about fake diamonds passing for the real thing.

Spotting Fake Diamonds

In a pinch you can test a diamond yourself using a few simple tricks. Artificial (synthetic) diamonds have certain properties that differ from real diamonds. For instance, a fake diamond will fog up when you huff a hot moist breath on it, whereas a real diamond will not fog up. In addition, a natural  diamond usually has inclusions, but a synthetic one will not. Lastly, one can see through a synthetic diamond to read letters on a printed page; one cannot perform such a feat with a real, natural diamond.

Cover image courtesy Ayswaryak via creativecommons, ring finger by Jim Harper, modified by curiousmatic

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