Diamonds and how to choose them Featured

De Beers explains the different characteristics of diamonds and shows us how to buy an exceptional piece of jewellery

by 01 August 2011

The De Beers group needs no introduction. Since its creation in 1888, the company has gone global and is now the leading authority in diamonds, following its foray into creating its own jewellery collections in 2001by establishing De Beers Diamond Jewellers, a joint venture with Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy, the world’s leading luxury products group. De Beers is one of the few jewellers who understand how to fully emphasize the beauty and the sparkle of these precious, magical and eternal gems. One of the most frequently asked questions is how to recognize a real diamond. Is it by its size, its carat or its shine? We asked diamond experts De Beers to answer our questions.

The “4 C’s”
In 1939 De Beers became the first to create the concept of the “4 C’s” (colour, clarity, carat and cut) which has since been used as a global standard by which to judge a diamond’s value. First, let’s start with the colour. The clearer a diamond, the rarer it is. The De Beers Institute of Diamonds evaluate the colour of each stone in accordance with a precise scale ranging from the letters D to Z. The clarity allows us to measure a diamond’s purity, which is a key criterion in establishing its price. This happens in the De Beers laboratories where the inclusions and imperfections of the gems, often invisible to the naked eye, are analyzed.

Equally important is the carat, which corresponds to the weight and, subsequently, the volume of the stone. The term carat historically derives from the African carob tree which can be identified by its fruits and seeds which all weigh the same: exactly 0.20 grams. The diamond sellers would weigh their gems against the seeds of the tree and this practise of weighing has remained the same ever since. Today, one carat weighs approximately 0.20 grams. It is its shape which gives a diamond that special something. Gemmologists use the term ‘cut’ to depict its pear, oval or marquise shape. The classic cut is the round shape, known as the ‘round brilliant’ which has 57 facets. If the diamond is particularly well cut, it optimizes the reflection and creates an exceptional brilliance, a sort of optimal beauty.

The De Beers Iris
Not only has De Beers become synonymous with diamonds, but it has equally established itself as the global expert on the subject, an achievement which many other jewellers could only dream of. Over the last 30 yeas, the company has had professionals based in London, headed by leading diamond expert Andrew Coxon. They select the gems one by one, choosing only the most brilliant and perfectly cut diamonds. To ensure that the client is totally satisfied, De Beers has gone the extra mile by creating the ‘De Beers Iris,’ a device which is installed in all of its boutiques. It is the only jeweller to offer this service. This apparatus measures the perfection of the light reflected by the diamond, projecting a prism in the form of a rosette. The homogeneity of the eight points is proof of the quality of the cut.

More on the Beauty Scan
The De Beers LV Beauty Scan system is based on fibre optic technology. The fibres are used to inject light into the facets of a diamond, creating an image illustrating the quality of the stone based on light reflection and dispersion. It is essentially a visual way of demonstrating De Beer's more scientific evaluation of a stone - which take fire, light and brilliance into account as well. In the scan, assymetrical proportions and misaligned facets cause the diamonds to leak light, producing areas of darkness on the scan image, while a perfectly-cut diamond projects regular, luminous prisms of light. De Beers boutiques have a special area in which this equipment is installed.

De Beers’ different collections
As the creator of the slogan ‘Diamonds are forever,’ De Beers wants to cater to all of its clients worldwide with diverse jewellery collections in line with the brand’s strict criteria. Not to be missed is the second instalment of the Talisman collection, first launched in 2001, and its vintage style jewels made from rough, round brilliant and rose cut diamonds, as well as the Rose Adonis and Enchanted Lotus collections which emphasize the De Beers’ excellence with their micro pavé diamonds. With these collections which offer a wider price range, De Beers has succeeded in demystifying the diamond by emphasising its eternal side.

Further reading:
Interview with De Beers Creative Director Raphaele Canot
The rough diamonds trend
De Beers and the undying fascination of diamonds, both cut and rough
Diamonds, glittering stones with infallible attraction