When my father proposed to my mother, he did it in the middle of the jewelry store. He got down on one knee and was so nervous he asked her “Will you be my woof?” instead of “Will you be my wife?” My mother, being her sarcastic self asked: “Should I bark once or twice for yes?” And then, after she said yes, he was still so nervous that he put the engagement on the wrong hand.
When my best friend was proposed to by her husband, he did it in a rose garden where the flowers had yet to bloom. He asked if he could give her rose and she was confused as to where he would get one from. He pulled out a silver rose shaped ring box and he said the look on her face was a mixture of shock and disgust, which she claims was really confusion. Inside was her beautiful engagement ring adorned with black diamonds- which I mistakenly thought were onyx.
Besides the fact that these stories are both funny to recount, they have another common element to them: a diamond engagement ring.
So we know how the story of how the diamond ends up on a person’s finger, but we don’t know the story of how the diamond gets to that point. So if you’re interested in learning the story of how a diamond journeys from mined rock to polished gem, read on for the adventure.
Starting From the Bottom
The journey of a diamond has four steps. The first step starts deep underground in mines around the world. Diamonds can even be found in seabeds and some rivers. No two diamonds have the same journey, so each diamond carries its own unique story with it.
The hunt for diamonds begins with a prospector and a small search team. Like prospecting for gold, diamond prospectors make educated guesses based on previous finds. They search relentlessly for secondary sources, known as hitting pay dirt. Once they hit pay dirt, the real excitement begins. Mines are created and the extraction process begins.
Mining for Diamonds
Most diamonds come from Kimberlite ores that are found around the world. The majority of diamonds are found in Russia, but can also be found in Botswana, Canada, South Africa, and Australia. Though Russia may be the leader in diamond mining, they don’t have the largest mine in the world, Botswana does. The Opara diamond mine is located 240km west of Francistown city in Central Botswana. This open-pit mine has been operating successfully since 1971 and is
estimated to contain 85.7 million carats of diamond reserves!
Let the Sorting Begin!
Once they’ve been mined and extracted, rough diamonds go through several sorting processes before making it onto your finger. These diamonds are sorted into a variety of categories such as color, shape, size (carat weight), and quality to name a few. Each company has a different sorting process, so other companies might sort their diamonds using different categories.
The primary purpose of diamond sorting is to determine whether the diamond is industrial-grade or jeweler grade. Only about 20% of the world’s rough diamonds make the cut to proceed to the next step to becoming jewelry. The remaining 80% industrial-grade diamonds- also known as “boart” or “bort” diamonds- are used for a variety of purposes. The lowest grade of these diamonds might be ground up to be used as an abrasive, with higher grades being used in tools to cut very hard substances.
Because of this very in-depth and detailed process, you are ensured that every piece of diamond jewelry you purchase is the best quality diamond possible.
Once the gen-grade rough diamonds are separated from the lower quality diamonds, they are sent to an expert diamond cutter. These experts take the diamonds from their rough form into one that is closer to the one we recognize today. Through this cutting process, diamonds go through several steps. Depending on what category the diamond fell under, they will be cleaved or sawed and bruted or gridded before finally being polished.
Essentially, this process takes a rough chunk of glittery rock, separates the rock into usable pieces, shapes the pieces into recognizable shapes, and shines those shapes into the intensely-sparkling piece that are then placed in stunning jewelry.
Making the Grade
After all that hard work, diamonds are graded at special laboratories. Diamonds originally received different grades from different jewelers, but the American Gem Society established one standard for grading diamonds in 1966. This standard has been followed for over 50 years.
The American Gem society grades diamonds based on the 4 C’s: cut, color, clarity, and carats. Each category can achieve a numerical score from 0 to 10, with 0 being the best. A high-quality diamond that weighs one carat would be labeled: 0\0\0 – 1.000 carat.
So when purchasing a diamond, the retailer will give you a rundown of the grading report of each diamond you look at. These grades matter when purchasing a diamond as the grade will have the biggest impact on what you pay for the piece of jewelry you purchase.
Time to be Beautifully Adorned
Once a diamond has gone through those three steps, it’s time for a jewelry designer to create a unique design that best compliments the sparkling gem.
The jeweler can choose to turn the diamond into a ring, necklace, earrings, or something else.
This is where the grading process comes in handy as it helps jewelers find matching diamonds so a set of earrings or a consistent gem-inlaid band can be made.
This final process will depend on the jeweler, customer, or retailer. However, the end result is always a beautifully sparkling adornment sure to make your partner very happy.
The journey of a diamond is a long one, but it’s a journey that ends in happiness for the person wearing the diamond. At Diamond Consultation, we are happy to guide you throughout your diamond journey, ensuring that you feel confident from the start up until the end. We ensure you’re getting the best quality for your money and all our diamonds are conflict-free. So give us a call today and get started on your diamond journey!