The word ‘type’ is quite unclear in most circumstances. However, when it comes to diamonds, the phrase refers to a highly particular categorization system that examines these sparkling gemstones at the molecular level. So put on your scientific hats and read on for a full explanation of the many varieties of diamonds, why they’re important, and how to make an informed purchase in the future.
We went to industry expert Richard Pesqueira to learn more about the many sorts of diamonds, their categorization systems, and gemology-specific nomenclature. The ins and outs of this intriguing (although occasionally complicated) topic are outlined ahead.
What Is a Diamond?
A diamond is a valuable stone made up of a transparent and colorless crystalline in a lattice arrangement form of carbon that gets its name from the Greek word adámas (meaning “unbreakable”). Diamond is known as the hardest naturally occurring substance.
The Diamond Classification System
The presence or absence of atoms other than carbon in the crystal lattice mentioned above is the simplest approach to think about the categorization of diamond kinds on a molecular level. It’s also needed to tell the difference between natural, treated, and lab-grown diamonds. “Although diamonds are virtually pure carbon, the majority of them include tiny levels of nitrogen and are categorized as Type I,” Pesqueira adds. “Diamonds designated as Type II have no detectable nitrogen.” Type I and Type II each have two more levels of differentiation.
Pesqueira explains that gemologists use “an established scientific technique called infrared spectroscopy” to discern between these distinct varieties of diamonds. “Jewelers can also use diamond testing tools like the GIA iD100 gem screening system to distinguish between Type I and Type II diamonds.”
Here’s what to know about diamond types:
In nature, Type Ia is the most frequent. Pesqueira explains, “The nitrogen atoms are grouped in pairs or single nitrogen atoms coupled with a vacancy—a missing carbon atom in the crystal lattice.” “The nitrogen atoms in Type Ib are isolated in the sense that each nitrogen atom contains nearby carbon atoms.”
The sub-grades of Type II are less complicated. “Type IIa has a simple crystal lattice including adjoined carbon atoms with no nitrogen or other visible components,” he explains, “whereas Type IIb comprises boron atoms, which can sometimes result in a blue hue.”
Natural diamonds of type IIa are extremely rare and usually cost more than diamonds of type I.
Elizabeth Taylor’s renowned Krupp Diamond is one of the most famous Type IIa natural diamonds of all time. This 33.19-carat Asscher cut white, colorless diamond, acquired by Richard Burton at an auction for $307,000 (now valued at excess of $9,000,000), was a massive 33.19-carats.
Terminology to Know
When buying a diamond, you’ll almost certainly come across some unfamiliar lingo, but that’s not a big deal. While it is not important to know ahead of time, there are a few ideas and terminology to review if you enjoy learning new words. To begin, “gemologists employ the 4Cs and the GIA grading system terminology to characterize diamonds,” Pesqueira explains. He also recommends getting to know the terms fluorescence, diamond treatments, origin, and laboratory-grown diamonds.
“Diamond fluorescence is how diamonds respond to ultraviolet light,” he continues. “Diamond treatments are modifications to improve a diamond’s color or clarity, origin is where a diamond originates from, and laboratory-grown diamonds…are developed in a laboratory or factory over a period of days or weeks.”
Understanding Diamond Types
Beyond the Type I and Type II classifications, there are a few prominent consumer-facing diamond kinds available on the market that don’t have a gemology degree to properly appreciate; one of them is form. “The majority of diamonds are round; the remainder are fancy-shaped diamonds, which are any form other than round,” Pesqueira explains. Princess, oval, cushion, emerald, marquise, and heart are examples of fancy forms. “These forms are determined by the diamond cutter and polisher, who are typically affected by the shape and quality of the original mined rough diamond.”
Natural vs laboratory-grown is another major distinction that has previously been mentioned. Natural diamonds are formed deep inside the ground under harsh conditions such as high temperature and pressure, as you may know. “That formation took place millions, if not billions, of years ago, and the diamonds were brought to the surface by volcanic activity,” Pesqueira adds.
Laboratory-grown diamonds, on the other hand, are generated in a laboratory or factory over a period of days or weeks. He claims that “laboratory-grown diamonds have basically the same chemical, physical, and optical qualities as natural diamonds, and the two cannot be discriminated with the naked eye.” “However, because of the very different circumstances under which they arise, GIA specialists can distinguish them with 100 percent confidence using specialized gear.”
Fancy-colored diamonds are another form of diamond that Pesqueira mentions. “Any natural diamond with a color—often yellow or brown, but also blue, red, green, and other colors outside of the GIA D-to-Z color-grading scale,” he explains. The beautiful hues are caused by trace components or the crystal’s formation under unique geological circumstances. “Fancy blue color, for example, is created by boron, while fancy green color is caused by exposure to a certain sort of radiation.”
Rarity, like most other categories, frequently equates to higher value. As a result, Type IIa natural diamonds (which are highly uncommon) are expected to fetch a premium price. It’s worth mentioning that the majority of natural diamonds are Type I, which means they include traces of nitrogen. Colorless to near-colorless lab-grown diamonds, on the other hand, are Type IIa diamonds with no traces of nitrogen. As you can see, knowing the difference between a Type IIa natural diamond and a Type IIa lab-grown diamond is crucial since one accounts for around 1% to 2% of all natural diamonds while the other can be manufactured in a lab.
How to Choose the Best Diamond For You
Diamond kinds don’t impact the beauty of the gemstone in general, therefore unless you’re a rare gem collector, this may not be the most crucial attribute to look for in a diamond while looking for your own (whereas something like the 4Cs will play a bigger part in the decision process). The most important option you’ll have to make is between a natural diamond and a lab-grown diamond, which has advantages and disadvantages on both sides and is fully up to you.
With the information provided above, you should be in a much better position to select your ideal diamond. Congratulations on your future wedding and happy reading.