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What is a diamond?

A diamond is composed of crystallised carbon and is the hardest natural substance known to man. 58 times harder than anything else in nature, in fact. Only Mother Nature can make a natural diamond. A natural diamond is identified using only the single word, "diamond".

The 4 C’s

The 4 C’s are considered the global language of diamond quality. The four C’s helps determine the value of each individual diamond. These are the measures by which diamonds graders assess the variations in these stunning natural wonders, as each natural diamond boasts its own unique characteristics.

Once the rough diamonds are mined, the artisan who creates the finished gem plans their cut accordingly, producing a masterpiece with a unique size, shape, clarity, number of facets, and scintillation.


Cut (proportions, symmetry, and polish) is a measure of how a diamond’s facets interact with light. Together, these measures rate the cut facets from “Excellent” to “Poor”, regardless of shape. Jewellers often use the term “cut” to describe the shape of a diamond, as well as the quality of workmanship. A round shape is a favourite for engagement rings. Princess, emerald, pear, marquise and ovals are among the many other shapes available.


The less colour, the higher the grade. Even the slightest hint can make a dramatic difference in value. Diamonds are graded for colour on a scale from "D" or colourless, to "Z" or dark yellow. A chemically pure and structurally perfect diamond is completely transparent with no hue or colour. The colour of the diamond may be affected by chemical impurities and structural defects in the crystal lattice.

A "D" colour diamond is considered colourless–and the standard for a "white" diamond. Deeper tones, up to H, are often considered "near colourless". Generally, the hue and intensity of a diamonds colouration can enhance or detract from its value. Diamonds with deep yellow, pink or other significant colour have become especially prized and are extremely rare.


Flaws inside a diamond are commonly referred to as inclusions. Clarity grades assess the number, size, type, position and visibility of inclusions and blemishes. These imperfections may be crystals of a foreign material, another diamond crystal, or structural imperfections (tiny cracks that can appear whitish or cloudy). Diamonds are graded from "flawless" (FL grade) to grades of VVS, VS, SI and "included" (I or P grade).


The carat weight measures the mass or size of a diamond. One carat is defined as exactly 200 milligrams. The value of a diamond increases exponentially in relation to carat weight, since diamonds of larger sizes in gem qualities are rare.

Diamond grading is a subjective task due to the non-standardised nature of diamonds. Whilst diamond grading is subjective in nature, there are recognised standardised methodologies in place internationally to reduce subjectivity.

Grading is intended to quantitatively and qualitatively describe a diamond’s unique characteristics so that any diamond can be identified based on its own diamond grading report. Grading can only be carried out before a diamond is set. It does not give any value for a diamond, however it is the main tool used to determine the value of a diamond in the marketplace.

The JAA recognises independent grading laboratories that work to internationally recognised and respected grading rules and guidelines. Any diamond grading laboratory needs to be independent of the diamond selling process, thereby transparent and free of conflict of interest.

The JAA monitors the international diamond grading "landscape" and recognises the following diamond grading laboratories*:

  1. American Gem Society Laboratories (AGS)
  2. Australian Diamond Grading Laboratory (ADGL)
  3. Diamond Certification Laboratory of Australia (DCLA)
  4. Gem Studies Laboratory (GSL)
  5. Gemmological Institute of America (GIA)
  6. HRD Antwerp (HRD)
  7. Independent Gemmological Laboratory (IGL)
  8. International Gemological Institute (IGI)
  9. International Institute of Diamond Grading & Research (IIDGR)
  10. Scientific Gem Testing Laboratories (Auscert)

* Due to ongoing monitoring of Diamond Grading laboratories this list is subject to change over time and will be updated as and when required. JAA recognition is based on the information currently available however it advises consumers to always do their own research. A laboratory is only deemed independent if it is not in any way involved in the sale of diamonds.

Last updated 19 January 2015

What does a grading report include?

A grading report should include:

  • A statement that the diamond is a natural diamond
  • A report number
  • The accurate carat weight
  • The shape and measurements
  • The colour and fluorescence grade
  • The clarity grade
  • The cut grade (not applicable on fancy shapes)
  • The plot to show where inclusions are located and the type of inclusion
  • Any applicable comments

Laser Inscription?

Most JAA recognised laboratories will offer laser inscription services. Laser inscription is minute writing, not visible to the naked eye, applied on the girdle of the diamond. The main purpose is to be able to identify the diamond.

This will ensure that the diamond matches the report and will minimise the possibility of your diamond ever being switched. The safest laser is a cold laser system which is guaranteed not to damage the diamond and which has no effect on the purity.

Treatment or enhancements to natural diamonds with the goal of improving the diamond's overall appearance are common. These treatments are acceptable and have their place in the jewellery world, provided the consumer understands if a particular diamond was treated and exactly what enhancement/treatment was performed on the diamond and why. Treated diamonds are a way for consumers to own lovely jewellery at affordable prices.

Treatment or enhancements to natural diamonds with the goal of improving the diamond's overall appearance are common. These treatments are acceptable and have their place in the jewellery industry, provided the consumer understands whether a particular diamond was treated and exactly what enhancement/treatment was performed on the diamond and why. Some diamond treatments are less durable that others, meaning that the appearance of the diamond may change over time.

Treated diamonds are a way for consumers to own lovely jewellery at affordable prices.

Laser drilling

This treatment is done to reduce or eliminate dark "flaws" (inclusions) in natural diamonds. A laser beam is used to drill a narrow path to the flaw. This path looks like a fine white thread starting at the surface travelling to the inclusion. The effects of the laser treatment are permanent and the diamond does not need special care.

A laser-drilled diamond is an affordable alternative to paying more for a natural untreated diamond.

Fracture filling

Fracture filling is a treatment to improve the appearance of a natural diamond. Surface cavities or fractures which reach or break the surface of a diamond, are filled with a substance (often times a type of epoxy or resin). This treatment does not remove the cavities or fractures but makes them appear less visible.

Fracture filling is not a permanent treatment since the heat of a jeweller's torch as well as ultrasonic cleaning can affect the filling used in the treatment. For example: the filling sometimes dries and therefore the cavities or fractures might reappear.

Selling a fracture filled diamond requires the seller to fully disclose and explain the treatment, and any special care requirements. Selling a fracture filled, treated diamond without proper disclosure is not an acceptable jewellery trade practice.

Additionally, heat must never be applied to a treated diamond; it should always be removed from the setting before any repair work is completed. A customer must advise their jeweller if a stone is treated so that any work being completed on a piece of jewellery is adequately handled. Failure to advise the jeweller may result in damage to the diamond and further costs for the customer, as a jeweller will not be liable if any treatments were not declared.

Created Moissantie

Moissanite, (chemical compositions: silicon carbide), is a laboratory-created, near-colourless jewel. While Moissanite closely looks like a natural diamond, it is not a diamond, synthetic diamond, brand of diamond nor is it marketed as a diamond substitute. Rather moissanite is marketed as a unique jewel. However, some people do purchase it as a diamond alternative.

Buying a diamond is an exciting process but can also be very confusing. Scientific and technological advances in the jewellery industry have made it possible for synthetic diamonds to be manufactured and laboratory-created (made by man).

There are even some very good imitations – you need to know what you are buying.

Synthetic diamonds also known as Laboratory (LAB) Created Diamonds.

Synthetic diamonds are NOT imitation diamonds. Synthetic means the product is made by man, in a laboratory, using the same chemical substance (pure carbon) found in natural diamonds. A synthetic diamond has the same physical, chemical and optical properties as a natural diamond. It's cut like a natural diamond but a synthetic diamond is created by man, not by Mother Nature.

Synthetic/Lab Created diamonds are less expensive than their natural counterparts.

Don't be fooled by look-alikes or imitations.

There are many varieties of diamond look-alikes or diamond imitations. These products are not diamonds. If you decide to buy a diamond simulant or a stone that closely resembles a natural diamond, but the stone is not a diamond, be sure you know what you are buying. It's easy to be fooled.

Simulant, diamond simulant or simulated stones are imitations.

A simulant or simulated stone IS NOT a diamond but rather an imitation man-made product that resembles a diamond. A diamond imitation should not be confused with a synthetic diamond which possess essentially the same physical, chemical and optical properties of a natural diamond. An imitation or diamond simulant can be made of glass, plastic or some other compound such as zirconia oxide, better known as CZ or cubic zirconia. Simulated/imitation stones are made by man and are usually very inexpensive to manufacture. Simulant/imitation stones should not be confused with synthetic diamonds.

Be aware that seller of imitation diamonds may use names that confuse consumers into believing that they are natural diamonds and not imitations. Remember if a stone is advertised as a diamond simulant or diamond alternative, it IS NOT a natural diamond nor is it a synthetic diamond. It is an imitation.

Be sure to ask if the stone you are buying is a natural diamond. Remember only a natural diamond can be identified using only the word "Diamond", no other description is needed.

Be wary when you see a name or word before or after the word "diamond". Example: Royal Diamond, Diamond Extraordinaire. Question the true identity of the stone. Ask the question "Is it a natural diamond?" The answer is a simple yes or no.

"The same as" or "Just like"

Don't be fooled into believing that one product is necessarily the same as or just like another. Natural diamonds are different to synthetic diamonds and diamond simulants such as CZ. Remember that simulants such as a CZ are not diamonds. While these products offer consumers options, it's so important to know what you're buying - ask questions and get the facts in writing.


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