Understanding Diamond Varieties

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Understanding Diamond Varieties

When discussing diamonds, the ‘4C’s’ are commonly mentioned, but did you know that there’s a fifth ‘C’? This stands for ‘classification’ which is often overlooked. Although it’s not as important as the other 4C’s when determining the value of the stone, it’s still got an important role to play.

Like many of the C’s, ‘classification’ can prove confusing when you’re shopping for the perfect diamond, so let us clear it up for you now. The type of the diamond does not necessarily affect the price of diamonds. The ‘classification’ or ‘diamond-type’ means two different things depending on who you’re talking to and whether they’re a gemologist or a customer.

Firstly, it’s important to understand that any particular diamond can be more than one diamond type. It can help when trying to understand these types to think of the elements, to get a little scientific, every diamond forms from a base of carbon but when it grows other atoms, such as nitrogen, come into the base. Although not visible to the naked eye, these atoms can cluster together producing after-effects on the colour and appearance of the stone. A diamond’s type will be assessed by an expert and noted down on its certificate.

So, let’s get down to what the different classifications are specifically for gemologists.

Type IA Diamonds

This is the most common of the diamonds; typically these emit a yellow tone due to the large amounts of nitrogen present. These diamonds are well known for their fluorescence, as well as their capacity to absorb infrared and ultraviolet light. It’s also important to note that this classification can be further broken down into type IaA and IaB; the differences are in the structure of the nitrogen atoms, so this information may not be relevant to the average diamond purchaser.

Type IIA Diamonds

These diamonds are incredibly rare, representing just 1% of all diamonds. These stones contain almost no nitrogen, meaning there’s no visible light absorption, so no yellow tint. These gems are created with an incredibly high amount of pressure and a range of fluorescence levels. You’ll find that a lot of the world’s most famous diamonds are this type.

Type IB Diamonds

These diamonds are even rarer, just 0.1% of natural diamonds are this type. The nitrogen atoms are scattered throughout the diamond here, not clustering and therefore absorbing a large amount of light resulting in a strong yellow tint.

Type IIB Diamonds

These diamonds don’t contain any nitrogen at all; instead, they contain boron, which absorbs light in a different way resulting in a diamond with a bluish tint. Similar to that of IB diamonds these consist of 0.1% of natural diamonds.

But, what about for customers?

Things are a bit simpler here, with no talk of nitrogen and atoms. Customers tend to split diamond types into natural diamonds, enhanced diamonds, lab-created diamonds (it’s important to know that these are not fake) and natural fancy colored diamonds.

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