Diamonds Explained: Your Guide to Different Types of Diamonds

Diamonds might be your best friend, but how much do you really know about them? Unless they work in the industry, the most that the majority of people will know about diamonds is the 4C’s: cut, colour, clarity, and carat weight. While this is essential information to know when buying a diamond, there are many other factors to consider.

One of the most important things to know when selecting a diamond is the different types of diamonds that are available, and the unique characteristics they each offer.

Diamond types can be broken down into several categories, such as how they are made, their colour, and their classification. Some of these identifying factors might not affect a diamond’s appearance but having this knowledge can expand the options you’re considering and give you a better idea of how a diamond is valued.

At Made You Look, we have the diamond expertise to assist you with your selection, and are happy to have you come in for an in-person consultation. Whether you’re buying a diamond engagement ring or some bling for yourself, we always recommend visiting jewelry stores in Toronto in-person to see stones.

Feel free to drop by our Toronto store to chat in person, and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.

14K Yellow Gold Teal Sapphire Diamond Engagement Ring Jilian Maddin

Natural and Lab Grown Diamonds

Natural diamonds are diamonds that are formed by nature, mainly in Earth’s mantle and brought to the surface by deep-source volcanic eruptions. Natural diamonds are formed about 150 kilometres below the Earth’s surface through very high temperatures and pressures and are then mined to use for fine jewelry production.

Lab grown diamonds, on the other hand, are diamonds that are created in a lab. The same kind of extreme heat and pressure is used to create these diamonds, however they are manufactured in a lab rather than occurring naturally. Diamonds grown in a lab can be created in just a few weeks.

To the naked eye, there is no difference between natural and lab grown diamonds. It would be impossible for even a professional gemologist to tell the difference without specialized equipment.

Using magnifying equipment, a professional can make out tiny contrasts in the inclusions of the diamond, determining if it’s natural or lab grown. If you’re shopping for wedding and engagement rings, no one will know whether your diamond is natural, or lab grown unless you tell them.

The most significant difference you’re likely to notice between these two diamonds is in price. Because natural diamond supply is limited, the price is correspondingly high. Meanwhile, there’s really no cap on how many diamonds can be made in a lab, which causes the prices to drop as supply increases.

As a result, the value of natural diamonds tends to remain steady, whereas lab grown diamond prices fluctuate. When they first started appearing on the market years ago, they were more expensive than natural diamonds, but as supply increased, prices dropped.

Many people also see lab grown diamonds as a more sustainable and humanitarian alternative to mined diamonds and are very popular with millennials and Gen Z consumers. However, there is little data available to compare carbon footprints of mined and lab grown diamonds.

Which one you buy is entirely up to you. Keep in mind that even if you don’t care about how a diamond was made, it’s important to purchase diamonds from reputable shops. The way a diamond is made has a significant impact on its price and resale value and is something you should be aware of when buying a diamond.

Coloured Diamonds

While the most popular diamond ring types are clear, diamonds come in various colours, like pink, blue, yellow, and even black. Some colours are more common than others. Colours can range from very light to vivid intensity. To be classified as a coloured diamond, the colour has to be noticeable when the diamond faces upwards.

The pricing of coloured diamonds is determined by the rarity, beauty and intensity of the colour, and of course, demand. Prices can range from affordable for more common colours to millions of dollars per carat for the rarest of coloured diamonds.

Coloured diamonds make an interesting choice for engagement rings as well. There is a rising trend towards coloured diamonds for people who prefer a more offbeat style. Those who want to keep things a bit traditional but still do something different might consider looking at different colours of diamond rings, like black diamond engagement rings in Canada.

Type Ia and Type IIa Diamonds

When classifying diamonds based on their physical properties and colour, diamonds are classified as either Type I or Type II diamonds. Knowing the different diamond types helps gemologists identify natural, lab grown and treated diamonds. While diamonds are composed of essentially pure carbon, most contain trace elements such as nitrogen or boron, acquired naturally when formed.

Type I diamonds are most common and contain nitrogen atoms as their main impurity. There are no measurable nitrogen impurities in Type II diamonds. The classifications are broken down even further to Type Ia, Type Ib, Type IIa and Type IIb.

Type Ia diamonds

Type Ia diamond types contain nitrogen atoms in clusters and make up approximately 95 per cent of natural diamonds. These diamond types typically range from near-colourless to a light yellow colour.

Type IIa diamonds

Type IIa diamond types have no measurable nitrogen or boron impurities and are the most chemically pure diamonds. These are generally colourless; however, they can also be found in gray, light brown, light yellow or light pink colours. They are extremely rare, as only one or two per cent of natural diamonds are Type IIa.

When you’re shopping for a diamond or choosing an engagement ring, it’s also a good idea to have the different types and classifications in the back of your mind as you look around and make your purchase. Being equipped with knowledge of how different types of diamonds are made, the different colours they come in, and how they’re classified might broaden your options and help you find the perfect diamond for you.

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