Q - Where do diamonds come from?
A - Diamond is the name given to the crystallized form of the element Carbon. Diamonds were formed under extreme heat and pressure at our Earth's core. They traveled to the surface through volcanic pipelines known as Kimberlite, during the Earth's formation.
Q - How can I asses the quality of a diamond?
A - The quality of a diamond is assessed using the 4Cs. Click here to learn about the 4Cs.
Q - How is a diamond cut?
A - A newly mined rough diamond looks a bit like a piece of glass washed up on the beach. Bringing out its beauty requires the skill and art of a trained diamond cutter. While incredibly precise, with some diamonds, computerized machinery is now used at certain points of the cutting process. But most of the work is still performed by hand, using exacting and meticulous techniques passed down over the generations.
As a first step, cleaving or sawing is often used to separate the original rough into smaller, more workable pieces that will each eventually become an individual polished gem. Next, bruting grinds away the edges, providing the outline shape (for example, heart, oval or round) for the gem. Faceting is then done in two steps: during blocking, the table, culet, bezel and pavilion main facets are cut; afterward, the star, upper girdle and lower girdle facets are added. Once the fully faceted diamond has been inspected and improved, it is boiled in hydrochloric and sulfuric acids to remove dust and oil. The diamond is then considered a finished, polished gem. Once the fully faceted diamond has been inspected and improved, it is boiled in hydrochloric and sulfuric acids to remove dust and oil. The diamond is then considered a finished, polished gem.
Q - How does a diamond get from the mines to the stores?
A - The first step is finding the rough diamonds. Once diamonds have been mined and processed out of the 'overburden' (the Kimberlite rocks in which they are imbedded), the rough crystals are sorted and categorized according to their size, color, shape and other characteristics. At this point, a diamond can follow one of two routes.
The most common route is through the channels of DeBeers' Central Selling Organization (CSO). Many people are familiar with DeBeers mainly because of their advertisements and commercials, and because of the famous motto that they coined in the early half of the 20th century: "A Diamond is Forever."
While DeBeers' market influence has decreased somewhat over the last few years, they still control the majority of the world's diamond production (30% to 40% of annual diamond production). The purchasing arm of the CSO not only buys diamonds from member mines around the world; it also finances mining technology for governments which do not have the means to mine their own deposits. Most of what is bought through the CSO is sent to London to be offered to buyers through DeBeers marketing arm, the Diamond Trading Corporation (DTC).
The DTC holds ten week-long selling sessions called 'sights' each year. These sights are by invitation only, and only a handful of diamond manufacturers from around the world (called 'sightholders') are allowed to attend. These sightholders may chose to cut the rough diamonds they buy themselves, or they may chose to sell some of the rough diamonds to smaller manufacturers. These smaller manufacturers cut the rough diamonds and sell the polished gems either to jewelry manufacturers (who set the diamonds into finished pieces of jewelry and then sell the jewelry to jewelry retailers), or to diamond wholesalers (who then, in turn, sell the diamonds to diamond retailers).
In the less common route from mine to market, some independent miners elect not to sell their mine production to the DeBeers cartel. Instead, they offer newly mined diamonds directly to other world buyers. These buyers, in turn, may chose to cut and sell the diamonds themselves, or pass the diamonds along within the industry in a manner similar to that described above.