By Sherrie Newman
I ATTENDED A lovely wedding last summer,
and at the reception the bride proudly flashed
her sparkling diamond ring as guests admired
its incredible beauty. I started wondering what
it takes to turn a hard stone that comes from
the depths of the earth into a beautiful, universally treasured gemstone. That journey, I
found, is a testament to endurance and
strength—the ultimate symbol of love.
Rough to magnificent
The word “diamond” comes from the
Greek word adamas, which roughly means
“unbreakable.” Natural diamonds are an
amazing creation of nature, formed over millions of years at high temperatures and up to
100 miles deep in the Earth’s mantle. Brought
to the Earth’s surface during rare volcanic
eruptions, the raw material is then obtained
through underground mining.
The arduous process of mining extracts
rock and dirt to yield what is called “blue
ground.” This contains “rough” diamonds,
which need to be cut and polished into gemstones. By some estimates, it takes about one
ton of blue ground to extract less than a half
carat of rough diamonds.
Diamond mining houses extract rough
diamonds from various areas around the
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world, including Africa, India, Brazil,
Australia, Russia and Canada, and sell them
through contracted buyers to diamond manufacturers via auction or other formats. Then
the artistic process of transforming rough
rocks into dazzling gemstones begins.
Rough to ravishing
A Costco jewelry manufacturer I spoke
with explains, “Experts known as ‘diaman-
taires’ use specialized tools and technology to
plan the diamond. This most important ini-
tial step is vital to ensure that the best cut, size
and facets are identified in the rough and
marked correctly in order to prepare for the
cutting and polishing process.”
Diamantaires have the expertise and
experience to see the various characteristics
of a rough stone that dictate what the final
diamond will look like. Gifted artisans, these
craftspersons then saw or cleave the rough
diamond, either manually or using lasers, pre-
paring it for the delicate task of shaping,
which will determine the stone’s size and carat
weight. This process is extremely demanding
as the slightest mistake can shatter a diamond,
making it worthless.
The final process of polishing is the most
exciting, as it reveals the diamond—now a
work of art—with its final proportions and facets. Polished diamonds are then classified by
cut, color, clarity and carat, also known as the
Four C’s. The entire process can take one to
two months, but it results in a timeless gemstone that can be treasured for generations.
Natural diamonds refract light, which
gives them their brilliance. Perfect specimens
should be clear, transparent and colorless crystals that reflect and refract light in the form of
brilliance and scintillation. However, colored
Gifted and skilled artisans
craft rough diamonds into
dazzling, beautiful jewelry.
Examining a rough diamond
prior to cutting and polishing.
A look at what makes
diamonds so desirable