What makes a diamond?

Diamonds are one of Mother Nature's longest kept secrets - these gemstones were formed in the earth's crust billions of years ago.

Carbon makes up the structure of a diamond; each carbon atom strongly bonds to four adjacent carbon atoms, forming very strong covalent bonds, making diamonds one of the hardest materials on earth.

Volcanic eruptions starting 2.6 billion years ago delivered diamonds to the surface, allowing human beings to discover these gemstones and begin utilizing them in gemstones.

There are four major factors that make up the price and beauty of a diamond.


The most complex factor affecting a diamond’s price is the cut of a diamond. Diamond cutting is still done by human hands. When a diamond cutter cuts a stone, they must make difficult decisions about how large it will be, what shape it will become, and how many imperfections will be left in the final product. After these decisions are made, it is the craftsmanship and fine motor skills of the diamond cutter that determine how much the stone will sparkle and how much attention it will draw. The slightest mistake can ruin a diamond’s symmetry and, in doing so, dramatically decline the beauty and price of the stone. Even a flawless and colorless stone can become dull when badly cut.

When properly cut, a diamond will reflect almost all of the light that enters it through its top. If improperly cut, some to most of the light will exit out of the bottom or side of the stone. A properly cut diamond will have symmetrical facets (the windows and mirrors of the stone), good proportions (not too deep or too shallow), and careful finishing details (like flawless polishing and permanent treatments). If properly cut, the diamond will return a white shaft of light from its top (called brilliance), sparkle every time that it moves (called scintillation), and send rainbows out of its many facets (called fire or dispersion).


Diamonds naturally come in every color of the rainbow, but the most common are those with a slight yellowness. The more common diamond colors are ranked on a scale from D (absolutely colorless) to Z (naturally yellow).

The rarest and most expensive diamonds are either D-colorless or of a natural fancy intense color such as blue, yellow, pink, or the most rare - red. However, not all colored diamonds are natural; some are treated with harmless radiation to artificially enhance color. These diamonds are significantly less valuable than natural colored diamonds because they are not as rare.

A diamond’s color should be determined when it is loose - not yet set in a piece of jewelry. This is because the color of the jewelry can play visual tricks on the human eye making a diamond appear more yellow in yellow gold or whiter in platinum.


Clarity refers to the number of inclusions that are found inside a diamond. Inclusions are scratches, trace minerals, or other tiny characteristics that can detract from the way that light bounces from mirror to mirror (known as facets) within a diamond.

It is extremely rare to find a diamond without inclusions; when one is found it is ranked as flawless and is very costly. Inclusions are distinguishing characteristics which represent the uniqueness of each diamond and are often called the diamond's fingerprint because no two stones are exactly alike.

The number of inclusions in a diamond is ranked on a scale based on the visibility and location of these little characteristics when the diamond is under 10x magnification. Two common diamond grading houses are the Gemological Institute of America [GIA] and the American Gem Society [AGS]. Each has its own unique way to rank and grade a diamond’s clarity. 

Carat Weight

When jewelers refer to a diamond’s carat they are actually referring to the weight of the stone, not the size. In jewelry, the size of gemstones are measured in millimeters and, since diamonds can be cut shallow, deep or ideally, it is impossible to accurately convert a diamond’s carat weight into an exact mm size. However, a very rough conversion can be made. Despite the ability to very roughly convert carat weight to size, the only accurate way to know the true carat weight of your diamond is to weigh it. Thus, 1 carat has become universally known as being a metric weight of 0.02 grams. The weight of a diamond has the most significant impact on its price. Since the larger a stone is, the rarer it is, one 2 carat diamond will be more expensive than the total cost of two 1 carat diamonds of the same quality. The carat of a diamond is often very important to people when shopping but it is a mistake to sacrifice too much quality for sheer size.