Diamonds 101

What is a Diamond? 

A diamond is a mineral composed of carbon, formed under immense heat and pressure. It is the hardest naturally occurring substance and gemstone known. 

Fun fact: Diamonds can only be cut with diamonds. 

This means that diamonds, if cared for properly, will literally last forever. It is a diamond’s combination of beauty, rarity and timelessness that people value. 


Types of Diamond 

Natural/Mined Diamond 

Natural diamonds are created under the pressure of earth's crust over millions of years, then they are mined, cut and polished. Natural diamonds are very rare and takes a lot of effort to mine and extract, therefore are highly valuable. 

Lab-grown Diamond 

Lab-gown diamonds are real diamonds. These diamonds are placed through the same circumstances as a natural diamond, but in a controlled lab setting. They display the same physical, chemical, and optical characteristics as natural diamonds, and are also graded the same way.  Lab-grown diamonds more affordable as they are less rare compared to natural diamonds of same grade. 

Diamond Simulant 

A diamond simulant has appearance similar to a diamond. The most common diamond simulants are cubic zirconia and glass (e.g. rhinestones), which are completely unrelated to diamond at the atomic level, with different optical and physical characteristics. Diamond simulants are not diamonds and are therefore much more affordable than both lab-grown and natural diamonds. 

Diamond 4Cs – Colour, Clarity, Cut, Carat 

The creation of the Diamond 4Cs and the GIA International Diamond Grading System™ meant that diamond quality could be communicated in a universal language, and customers could now understand and know more about the diamonds that they are purchasing.   


The typical diamond colour scale begins with the letter D, which is the best grade representing colourlessness. The grading continues with increasing presence of colour to the letter Z, representing light yellow, light brown or light grey. The 23 colour grades on the GIA Color Scale are subdivided into five subcategories, which are: colourless (D-F); near colourless (G-J); faint (K-M); very light (N-R); and light (S-Z).  

Chart image credits to GIA 



Diamond Clarity refers to the absence of inclusions and blemishes. The closer it comes to purity, the better its clarity. 

The GIA Diamond Clarity Scale has 6 categories, some of which are divided, for a total of 11 specific grades. 

  • Flawless (FL) No inclusions and no blemishes visible under 10x magnification 
  • Internally Flawless (IF) No inclusions visible under 10x magnification 
  • Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) Inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification 
  • Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) Inclusions are observed with effort under 10x magnification, but can be characterized as minor 
  • Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) Inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification 
  • Included (I1, I2, and I3) Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification which may affect transparency and brilliance 



Diamond carat weight measures how much a diamond weighs. A metric “carat” is defined as 200 milligrams. Each carat is subdivided into 100 ‘points.’ This allows very precise measurements to the hundredth decimal place. All else being equal, diamond price increases with diamond carat weight because larger diamonds are rarer and more desirable. 


The typical cut grades are: Ideal, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor. Achieving the best cut for a diamond reflects in the stone’s final beauty and value. This is the most difficult to analyse among the 4 Cs but some factors that affect the evaluation include:  

  • Brightness/Brilliance: Internal and external white light reflected from a diamond onto eyes 
  • Fire: The diamond’s ability to disperse and refract white light/scattering of white light into all the colours of the rainbow 
  • Scintillation: The intensity of sparkle that a diamond cut produces, and the pattern of light and dark areas caused by reflections within the diamond