The dazzling spectrum of light reflected in a well-cut diamond has secured its reputation as the most desirable gemstone on earth. The near-colourless stone is steeped in symbolism and is often the stone of choice for wedding jewellery and for gifts expressing the purity of love.
The darker truth behind the romance is that diamond mining in some parts of the world has fuelled brutal civil wars in which millions have died and "blood diamonds" have become the stuff of film legend. Playing a part in ending this bloodshed underpins our business, so every diamond in Annette’s jewellery is certified as being mined in a conflict-free zone. You can rest assured that the purity of intention in its giving and receiving is untainted by suffering elsewhere in the world.
The value of a diamond is measured by four characteristics: Carat, Clarity, Colour and Cut. Known as the 4Cs System, this grading scale was devised by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in the 1940s and is now in use all over the world.
Carat is the unit used to measure the weight of a diamond. 1 carat is 0.2 grams, roughly the weight of a paperclip. A carat is the seed of a carob tree which has a uniform mass and was used by gem traders to weigh stones. Modern jewellery divides the carat into fractions or points, where 100 points is 1 carat, so a 50 point diamond would weigh 0.5 or half a carat. Most diamonds used in fine jewellery weigh 1 carat or less. The “carat” used in diamond weighing should not be confused with the “carat” used to define the purity of gold.
Clarity refers to the purity of the stone’s formation. Diamond is formed deep underground under extreme heat and pressure. During the formation, unique marks occur in or on the surface of each stone. Those within are inclusions and those on the surface are blemishes. Clarity is assessed under 10 X magnification and there are 11 grades of clarity on the GIA Clarity scale, ranging from Flawless (Fl), which are very rare, to Obvious Inclusions (I3). Most diamonds used in fine jewellery are Very Slightly included (VS) or Slightly Included (SI).
Colour describes the extent to which the diamond is colourless or tinted and only slight variations in colour make a big impact on the look and value of a diamond. The Colour Grading Scale starts at D, the top category in which there is no perceptible colour present, to Z where the stone is heavily tinted yellow. Grades D and K are the most commonly occurring, where D is the most desirable and valuable.
Cut is the factor which most affects the allure of a diamond and ranges from Excellent to Poor. Herein lies the skill of the diamond cutter to make the most of every stone by directing the maximum amount of light through the crown. There are 4 shapes into which a diamond can be cut: Brilliant (round), Princess (square), Emerald (octagonal) and Oval Marquis (eye-shaped). The three attributes to the cut are: Brilliance (the total light reflected by the stone), Fire (the extent to which the light reflected is dispersed into the colours of the spectrum) and Scintillation (the sparkle or flashes of light visible when a diamond is moved). Cut also refers to the proportions, symmetry and polish of the stone.