Debunking Myths and Misconceptions on Diamonds

With a hardness of 10 on the Mohs hardness scale, diamonds resist scratching better than any other material and are thus considered the hardest material on earth. Although scientists have created harder substances, they are extremely brittle and were found to have no practical use, unlike diamonds.

Diamonds naturally occur in nature, but there are laboratory-synthesized versions also, which primarily serve as abrasives. However, these synthetic diamonds are also making their way into the jewelry industry. For this reason, they have become more accessible to the general population where, during the earlier centuries, they were solely reserved for royal families and the ultra-rich. Furthermore, the movie industry made diamonds even more popular as a status symbol for the rich and famous by draping their most glamorous actresses with these stones. You might have probably seen Marilyn Monroe’s performance of the song, “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”, for the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Even if diamonds have been around for centuries, they have retained their sense of enigma. According to an article from The Atlantic, they are associated with love and engagements up until the present. Thanks to the well-executed marketing campaign by the world-leading diamond manufacturer De Beers Consolidated Mines.

With its continuous popularity, how much do you really know about diamonds? Have you verified if they are facts or myths? This article will debunk some of the popular myths and misconceptions surrounding diamonds by presenting you with actual facts. 

 

Diamonds are rare

It is not uncommon for many people to think that diamonds are rare. De Beers Consolidated Mines, a former monopoly that ruled the diamond industry, had successfully run marketing campaigns that created the illusion of the diamond’s rarity and value. Increasing the demand for diamonds and controlling their supply allowed them to increase their sales and monopolize the industry.

Though they were considered rare a few centuries ago, expansive diamond mines found in South Africa in 1870 as well as other diamond mines discovered in different countries like Australia, make this untrue now. If you ask yourself how many people you know own at least one diamond jewelry and how many of them also own other gems like rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, you will definitely agree that diamonds are not rare anymore as they used to be. In addition, if you will go back to your current knowledge of gem formation, you will be able to confirm that diamonds are the most common gem in nature.

 

Diamonds are white

You might have seen most of the engaged people you know are wearing white diamond rings. When visiting a jewelry boutique, these are probably the most common pieces you will see. It is then not surprising if you believe that these precious stones are sparkling white. This is not true.

Diamonds actually come in a vast array of colors and shades, according to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Aside from white ones, there are also blue, yellow, brown, green, red, and pink diamonds whose colors depend on the substances they contain and the locations where they have formed. Yellow and brown diamonds appear to be available in a wide range of saturations, while other colored ones, especially blue and red diamonds, are not.

According also to GIA, ” very slight color differences can have a big impact on value.” In fact, the most expensive diamond in the world is the “Blue Moon”, a 29.6-carat blue diamond discovered in South Africa in 2014. Check List of the World’s Most Expensive Jewelry to view other popular jewelry with diamonds that cost millions of dollars. 

 

Diamonds are indestructible

The word “diamond” actually comes from the ancient Greek word “adamas”, which means indestructible or unconquerable. While they are considered the hardest material on earth, unfortunately, it is possible for diamonds to get scratched, chipped, or broken apart when hit on the line of cleavage.

Diamonds are made of very tight lattice-like bonds of four carbon atoms. Because of their stability, there is no big room for the atoms to move positions after an impact. However, diamonds lack the flexibility to oppose an enormous amount of pressure from a special tool so it can break. Unlike steel, atoms can shift around as it absorbs the impact, so it does not break easily.

 

Diamonds with larger carat weights are better

By definition, carat weight is the standardized measurement for the physical weight of gems, including diamonds. One carat weighs around 0.2 grams.

For any type of gem, the larger the carat weight is, the more expensive it becomes compared to its smaller counterparts. However, according to GIA, the diamond’s value and quality depend not only on carat weight but also on clarity, color, and cut—the four Cs. This means that a one-carat diamond will cost more than twice a half-carat diamond if all other Cs are the same.

Diamonds with a highly-rated cut are often regarded to have high visual attractiveness and come at a high cost. For example, round brilliant cut diamonds are the most expensive ones because of the high amount of rough diamonds discarded during the cutting process, plus the high global demand for this cut.

Similarly, color grade and clarity are important to consider, especially when buying an emerald-cut diamond. This is because emerald cuts hide inclusions poorly.

 

Diamonds are the most brilliant gemstone

In the world of colored gems, the term brilliance is commonly misunderstood. In ordinary language, it is synonymous with words like “shiny”, “glittering”, and “bright”. Technically, it refers to the light that is reflected from a gem’s interior and not from its surface. If a gem is well-cut, its pavilion facets will reflect most or all of the light and returns the reflected color to the eye through its crown. In short, a gem’s brilliance is determined by two factors—the faceting and the refractive index.

If properly cut, diamonds can generally reach a very high refraction index of 2.41, which exhibits exceptional brilliance. This value is not the highest among the gemstones, as rutile can have a refractive index as high as 2.90. Excluding synthetics, there are at least 8 minerals that have higher RI than diamonds.

 

A person can make a lot of money selling diamonds

Margins on cut diamonds have grown enormously thin because of the establishment of well-accepted diamond grading standards. Frequently, dealers make gross margins of only 5%. Another problem is that buyers are the ones controlling the price, so sellers usually cannot dictate the price of the diamond to make larger margins.