Treasure or Trinkets?

It's arguable that in today's world diamonds don't really deserve to be classed as treasure. They're not especially rare or difficult to extract. So why do they cost so much to buy?

Part of the answer lies in the action - some might say manipulation - of market forces. In addition, the diamonds we buy in jewelry stores have been carefully selected, graded and cut which adds a premium to the price.

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What Are Diamonds?

A diamond is in essence a highly compressed lump of coal. More technically, diamond is an allotrope of carbon formed naturally when rock high in carbon deposits is placed under extreme pressure. Diamond formation normally takes place beneath the earth's surface, hence the need for diamond mines, however they are sometimes produced as a result of meteor impacts.

Jewelry and Gem Grade

The vast majority of natural diamonds are of poor quality and are used for industrial purposes - diamond is the hardest known natural mineral. A small percentage of natural diamonds are considered gem-grade and these top quality stones are cut and polished, usually for use in the jewelry we buy in stores or online.

Diamonds are graded according to the "4 Cs": Carat (weight), Colour, Clarity and Cut. It is the combination of these four factors that distinguishes gem quality diamonds from their industrial counterparts and largely determines the relative price of a particular stone. The vast majority of diamonds for sale are clear, however they can also be found in a wide variety of other colours. Canary yellow is popular, as is the rare natural blue variety. Brown chocolate diamonds have become popular in recent years.

High quality white diamonds are a particularly popular choice for engagement and wedding rings.

Over the years there have been a number of famous diamonds such as the Cullinan Diamond and the Kimberley Octahedron.