Diamonds have been a status symbol since first appearing in 13th Century Europe. At the time, faceting (adding planes to the surface of diamonds that catch the light) did not exist and so the diamond’s sparkle wasn’t known until the 16th Century. That’s when diamonds at royal courts and in wealthy societies became larger and more conspicuously fashioned. By the 18th Century, diamonds were ubiquitous symbols of prosperity as the exploration of the world by ship expanded.
When diamonds were discovered in Brazil in 1725, production increased. Previously only mined in India, diamonds from Brazil were to lead to growing public demand as the Industrial Revolution slowly began to shift resources outside the ranks of the historically wealthy. And the rest, as they say, is history!
Today, the diamond stands as the ultimate expression of eternal love. Once upon a time, there was only one type of diamond. But today, there are 5 and we’re going to talk about them in this post! Let the information here inform your search for ring bling, whether you plan to pop the question or celebrate another bling-worthy occasion!
- The Mined Diamond
Diamonds extracted from mines carved into the ground were once the only type of diamonds. Of course, cubic zirconia has been around since 1937, but the mined diamond is the original. Primarily sourced from South Africa, Canada, Botswana, the DRC, Australia, and Russia, mined diamonds are produced at the rate of 142 million carats per year.
The original mined diamond is created under intense pressure and heat, in the earth’s depths. This transformed carbon mass – created over at least 1 billion years – then rises closer to the surface through the work of small volcanic eruptions. But that’s where the natural process of mined diamonds concludes. For humans to extract these precious gems, the earth can take a beating through mining practices that scar it, creating a negative environmental impact.
But that’s changing, with new standards being applied to diamond mining to answer consumer demand for a more environmentally friendly gem. Ethically sourced mined diamonds are now a market standard, so it’s clear that producers are seeing the value of following renewed efforts to protect the environment. If you’re shopping for custom-made diamond rings, seek out a vendor stocking ethically sourced gems.
- Fancy-Colored Diamond
Mined diamonds sometimes have a natural tint, ranging from light yellow to dark brown. These exceedingly rare gems are the most costly in the world, with red-colored diamonds being the highest-priced of all, commanding as much as $1 million per carat. Accounting for just 0.1% of the diamonds in the world, fancy-color diamonds are much sought after but in scant supply.
These diamonds are classified into 4 categories:
- Fancy Intense
- Fancy Vivid
- Fancy Light
Created by the interaction of the carbon from which diamonds are made and minerals in the earth adjacent as diamonds are formed, not all colors of these rare diamonds are outrageously expensive, either. Shades of brown, gray, and yellow are more common, thus less costly. If you’re seeking a very special piece of ring bling, this type of mined diamond might be just the ticket – if you can find one!
- Lab-Grown Diamond
Recently enjoying a meteoric rise in popularity, the lab-grown diamond is taking its place next to the mined diamond. You must admit there is some advantage to a gem that can be produced in 5 days, versus 1 billion years! Undetectable as anything but a mined diamond, the only 100% reliable way to distinguish the lab-grown type from mined is by sending it to a geological lab for analysis!
While lab-grown diamonds aren’t “cheap”, they’re certainly less costly than the mined variety, costing substantially less. Boasting the same hardness as diamonds (Mohs 10), lab-grown diamonds won’t cloud over time, making them a cost-effective alternative that’s virtually undetectable as lab-grown.
Lab-grown diamonds can be the centerpiece of pear-cut diamond rings, ideal for engagements or the cushion cuts so favored for anniversaries. Whatever a mined diamond can do, a lab-grown gem can do just as well. This is ring bling that will neither break the bank nor give away its man-made origin.
- Diamond Simulants
Unlike lab-grown diamonds, diamond simulants don’t share the composition of a mined diamond. This type of diamond is made from natural semi-precious gems which can be treated to simulate diamonds (ie: zircon, sapphire, and topaz). Colorless varieties of these stones and others have served as diamond stand-ins for centuries.
Cubic zirconia and other man-made stones may also be classified under the heading of “stimulants”, with the difference being the natural origin of the gems used to mimic the appearance of diamonds. Neither version matches the copycat lab-grown diamond as a virtual duplicate for the mined variety, though. Diamond simulants, however, fill a market niche for less abundant budgets, while still putting on a sparkling ring bling show!
- Artificially Enhanced Diamonds
This last type of diamond is one to pay very close attention to. A small percentage of mined diamonds in the market have been artificially treated to improve color, clarity, or both. While the effect is convincing, it’s also not permanent. With time, the stone’s true nature (which is flawed) will make itself known.
While all enhanced diamonds should be expressly identified by a certificate, not all vendors follow the rules. By sight, an artificially enhanced diamond can be identified by exceptional “whiteness”. These diamonds are difficult to re-sell due to the effect of treatments on the integrity of the stone. The stone’s inferior quality prompts these treatments but further degrades its quality. Always seek out further information to avoid purchasing these stones, if possible, especially if you’re purchasing them as an engagement ring.
Know Your Ring Bling
A diamond, given as a promise or in celebration of a milestone is to be cherished. Becoming family heirlooms, diamonds are about as forever as anything gets. But these five types of diamonds aren’t created equal. Some diamonds aren’t really diamonds at all but are indistinguishable from them, while others are nothing more than clever fakery. While some of that fakery is beautiful, take care to ensure the durability and authenticity of the diamonds you’re buying. For whatever reason you’re looking into diamonds, I wish you success in your search for the ideal gem in the perfect setting to send your message of loving celebration.