Discover the Art of Identifying Unpolished and Unrefined Diamonds

The Unrefined Beauty of Natural Diamonds

Diamonds are the most sought after and revered gemstones, but have you ever wondered what makes them so precious? Although diamonds start out as rough, unattractive rocks, the intricate process of their formation beneath the Earth's surface is what makes them unique. Delve into the fascinating world of natural diamonds and learn how to distinguish them.

Many may wonder why diamonds are so valued and why they make people go to great lengths to acquire them. The answer is simple: diamonds are unmatched in their beauty and rarity. Their creation process starts far beneath the earth's surface, below diamond deposits that were long ago formed by volcanic activity. These natural resources have always existed, waiting for the perfect conditions to be coaxed through to the surface. What sets diamonds apart from other resources is the length of time this process takes; most diamonds take millions and even billions of years to form.

Under intense conditions of heat and pressure, diamonds are slowly formed from carbon atoms. These crystalized atoms are arranged immaculately to create diamond's precious molecular structure, unlike graphite, another form of carbon that is soft and black. Further, diamonds are subjected to tremendous heat and pressure, residing between 80-120 miles below the Earth's surface and are only brought up by volcanic eruptions.

Though diamonds are a valuable commodity, it takes a major effort to retrieve diamonds from the rough stone. Mining 250 tons or 500,000 pounds of earth will produce only 1.00 carat of rough diamonds. Once the raw diamonds are extracted from the earth, they lose a significant amount of weight, around 50-60%, after being polished and cut. Their rarity adds to their value, making larger diamonds more exceptional, so a 2.00 carat diamond is double the cost of two 1.00 carat diamonds. Only around 20% of mined rough diamonds yield gemstones.

The weight of a diamond is called its "carat," which is equal to 200 milligrams. Carat weight is specified by either points or fractions. One carat has 100 points, and 0.33 carats is often expressed as 33 points or 1/3 of a carat.

Diamonds have an enormous capacity to endure heat; they melt at 6,420 degrees Fahrenheit and boil at 8,720 degrees Fahrenheit. The largest diamond ever discovered was the Cullinan, which weighed 3,106.75 carats and was excavated from South Africa in 1905.

Natural Rough, Raw & Uncut Diamonds

Uncovering the Natural Rough, Raw, & Uncut Diamond

Natural Rough, Raw & Uncut Diamonds

Identifying natural diamonds can be a challenge, as they may appear rough and unremarkable to the untrained eye. However, the subtle differences in the color and texture of these diamonds provide clues to their authenticity. Natural rough, raw, and uncut diamonds have a unique appearance, different from their polished, refined counterparts. Knowing how to identify these stones can be valuable for those interested in acquiring precious, uncut diamonds.

Natural Rough, Raw & Uncut DiamondsNatural Rough, Raw & Uncut Diamonds

Find Genuine Raw Diamonds

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Diamonds are highly prized for their durability and dazzling beauty. Although it's easy to recognize a cut diamond, it's not easy for an untrained eye to differentiate a raw or uncut diamond from other common rocks. Raw diamonds bear a striking resemblance to quartz pebbles, but if you know how to spot them, you can identify them with certainty.

This guide provides you with essential tips on how to discern raw diamonds from other stones. You'll learn how to test suspected raw diamonds to confirm if they're genuine or fake.

However, finding a rough diamond is a rare occurrence. Therefore, it's possible that you may not have a diamond or did not find a diamond. To determine this, ask yourself these questions: Is the diamond larger than 8mm or weigh more than 2 grams (10.00 carats)? Did you find more than one suspected diamond? If any of these questions' answers are yes, then you're probably not holding a diamond.

Gem quality diamonds over 1.00 carat are one in a million, one in five million for 2.00 carat, and one in 15 million for 3.00 carat. The odds of finding a diamond weighing over 8mm and exceeding 2 grams in weight are one in a billion.

If you are one of the lucky ones who found a raw diamond, the next step is to confirm its authenticity. There are a few DIY tests to perform before seeking a gemologist's help:

  • How to Determine if a Diamond is Real

    Test Raw Diamonds at Home

    How to Determine if a Diamond is Real
  • Testing Natural Cut and Polished Diamonds.
  • How to Determine if a Diamond is Real
  • Testing Natural Rough, Raw and Uncut Diamonds.

1. Examine the Diamond with a Loupe

A loupe is a magnifying glass used for inspecting diamonds, gemstones, and jewelry. Observe the diamond's surface for any blemish or imperfection. Inclusions or tiny imperfections are a sign of authentic diamonds. Fakes are typically flawless.

Testing Natural Rough, Raw And Uncut DiamondsTesting Natural Cut And Polished Diamonds

2. Crystal Structure

An effective and efficient method of distinguishing diamonds from minerals that strongly resemble them is through crystal structure analysis.

Crystal structure.

One distinct characteristic of diamonds is their cubic (isometric) structure, whereas minerals like quartz exhibit a hexagonal structure. By looking down onto the crystal surface and aiming towards your eye, you can count the number of sides present to differentiate between the two minerals. A diamond will only have four sides, while quartz will have six. If you observe six sides, then it is likely that the mineral is quartz and not a diamond.

Crystal Form

3. Fracture Analysis

An important indicator of a diamond's authenticity is its fracture pattern. Unlike quartz and glass, diamonds create smooth, flat surfaces when they break.

Fracture analysis.

An easy way to identify a mineral that is not a diamond is to examine its fractured surfaces. If the surface is curved and looks like a shell (as shown in the photo above), then the mineral is not a diamond.

4. Hardness Test

Scratching diamond with glass is not an effective means of validation because glass is only a 5.5 on the Moh's Scale of Hardness. A variety of minerals may scratch glass but are far more common than diamonds.

Fracture

Hardness test.

It is imperative not to scratch the suspect diamond with glass. Many minerals can scratch glass and may resemble diamonds, such as Albite, Grossular, Quartz, Beryllonite, Marialite, Sanidine, Boracite, Oligoclase, Sillimanite, Corundum, Orthoclase, Spodumene, Danburite, Petalite, Topaz, Elbaite, Phenakite, Zircon, Euclase, Pollucite, and Zoisite. The only hardness test that efficiently identifies a diamond is scratching it against corundum, which includes all rubies and sapphires. Corundum ranks 9 on the hardness scale. If a suspected diamond scratches corundum, there is a high probability that it is a genuine diamond. However, a professional loupe tool or a thermal conductivity test may offer more accurate results than the scratch test.

It is worth noting that though diamonds are made of incredibly strong materials, some imitations like moissanite and cubic zirconia are durable and scratch-resistant. Thus, the scratch test may not reliably indicate the authenticity of the mineral.

5. Thermal Absorption Test

The ability to absorb heat more effectively than other minerals is an exclusive feature of diamonds, and several portable diamond testers are available in the market.

Thermal absorption test.

These portable diamond detecting devices furnished with a metal probe are utilized by holding the probe against the presumed diamond in order to produce a small amount of heat which is measured for the speed of absorption into the crystal. These devices can accurately distinguish between diamonds, moissanite, and other minerals.

Test for Thermal Absorption

You don't need to purchase a diamond tester yourself as most reputable jewelers own one. It is a quick and straightforward process, so try visiting your local jeweler and request them to test your suspected diamond.

6. Specific Gravity

An essential aspect to identify raw diamonds is to understand specific gravity. Specific gravity is the ratio between the density of a gemstone and a reference liquid. Normally, distilled water, with a density of 1g/mL, serves as the reference liquid.

Diamonds have a specific gravity range of 3.5 to 3.53. On the other hand, quartz has a specific gravity range of 2.6 to 2.7. By learning the specific gravity of a gemstone, it is possible to confirm if it is indeed a raw diamond. This property of diamonds can also be used to separate them from other gemstones using shaker tables or similar tools.

To test if a diamond is genuine, take a typical drinking glass and fill it ¾ of the way with water. Then drop the loose stone into the glass. If the gemstone sinks, it's a genuine diamond. If it floats underneath or on the surface of the water, it's most likely a counterfeit. A real diamond has a higher density, and the water test indicates if your stone matches that density.

7. Fog Test

Hold the diamond or ring between two fingers and gently breathe on it. Moisture and heat from the breath will cause a light fog to form on the diamond.

If the fog disappears immediately, it is a genuine diamond. However, if it takes several seconds for the fog to dissipate, it is probably a fake diamond. As diamonds are good conductors of heat, they disperse heat quickly.

8. Check the Setting & Mount

If the diamond is already mounted in a ring, check the type of setting and mount used.

As diamonds have a high cost, genuine ones are set in high-quality jewelry, such as white gold, platinum, yellow gold, pave or side-stone setting, and halo setting rings. To confirm the material, look inside the ring's center for markings such as 10K, 14K, and 18K, which indicate gold type, or PT and Plat for platinum. A number such as 585, 770, 900, and 950 represents platinum or gold.

If you spot a "C.Z." stamp or engraving, the gemstone is cubic zirconia and not a real diamond.

9. Heat the Stone & Check for Shattering

Diamonds are composed of incredibly robust materials and do not react to high heat.

Using two pairs of pliers or fireproof gloves, hold the stone and heat it with a lighter for roughly 40 seconds. Then, drop the stone directly into a glass of cold water.

If the stone shatters, it is made of weaker materials and is not genuine. A real diamond will not react.

By running this test, you can verify the quality and strength of the stone. Weak materials like glass or cubic zirconia are prone to cracking and breaking due to quick expansion and contraction of heat. Consider a glass or Pyrex dish used for cooking. If you remove the dish from the hot oven and wash it immediately, the abrupt temperature change could cause the dish to shatter.

Due to the strength of diamonds, they can endure heat tests without being affected. When subjected to heat, the dispersion of the diamond will occur quickly, and the temperature change will not change the diamond.

10. Test with UV Light

An alternate method to test a diamond involves placing it under UV light and monitoring its reaction. Most diamonds emit a blue glow, but some do not. Lack of fluorescence does not indicate that the stone is a counterfeit diamond, as not all diamonds fluoresce. These results are not conclusive, so it is preferable to have a professional gemologist use their advanced equipment to verify the stone.

11. Observe How it Sparkles in the Light

The way diamonds bounce light is exclusive to them. When observed under normal lighting, a diamond will glitter grey and white within the stone while reflecting coloured light onto other surfaces, known as "fire." This reflection incorporates both colour and white light sparkle, referred to as "brilliance."

A counterfeit diamond will display rainbow colours inside the gem.

The misconception that diamonds produce rainbow colours is prevalent, but they don't. Although diamonds offer a brilliant sparkle, it is usually grey. Rainbow colours within the stone may suggest that it is not a genuine diamond.

Perform the sparkle test to examine the reflectivity.

The Sparkle Test

Use your eyes to observe the diamond in question held under a normal lamp to conduct the sparkle test. Watch how the stone reflects light. Can you perceive white light shimmers striking off the diamond? Is there any colourful reflection?

Real diamonds express exceptional sparkle from the reflection of white light. Additionally, they exhibit brilliant fire and colour reflection. A remarkable difference is visible between a real diamond and a synthetic one like cubic zirconia concerning white and coloured light sparkle.

12. Check the Stone's Refractivity

A diamond's ability to refract and bend light is the reason behind its sparkle. When light hits the angled surfaces on the lower part (pavilions), it bounces and refracts through the top (table) to the naked eye. This action causes scintillation, making diamonds appear radiant.

Although glass, quartz, and cubic zirconia can imitate the brilliance of a diamond, they possess lower refractive indexes. Non-diamond stones will lack brilliance and refract light poorly.

Place the diamond over a newspaper if it is unset. A real diamond will scatter the light, so the black reflection will not be seen through the diamond, while a fake diamond's black reflection will be visible, and the newspaper's letters may even be legible, depending on the stone's size.

If the diamond is mounted, check that the mounting is not visible through the diamond; if it is, the diamond is likely a fake.

To test a diamond's refractivity, use the following methods:

    'Read-Through' Effect

    To test the diamond's refractivity, gently place it face down onto a newspaper page with considerable lettering in a well-lit setting without obstructions casting shadows. If the letters are readable, even if they appear blurred, the diamond is likely fake. A genuine diamond's facets refract light in various directions, obscuring the letters and making them illegible.

    Loose diamonds can effectively be tested using the newspaper test. However, for diamonds already set, consider using the fog test or seeking the expertise of a diamond connoisseur.

    If newspaper isn't readily available, the dot test is a great way to test diamond authenticity. Place a white sheet of paper on a flat surface, draw a small dot with a pen, and place the stone on the dot with its flat side down. If a circular reflection appears within the diamond, it's a fake. If there's no reflection or dot visible, it's the real deal. Natural diamonds' refractive qualities cause light to bounce in various directions, making it impossible to see letters or dots through them.

    Jewelers and gemologists use a high-precision scale to weigh diamonds for minute differences in weight that may reveal the diamond's authenticity. Although real diamonds weigh less than fakes like cubic zirconia, you'll require a specialized carat scale to detect the difference.

    Electricity conductivity testing is another way of distinguishing real diamonds from fake ones. Diamonds conduct electricity better than other stones such as moissanite and cubic zirconia.

    An X-ray can determine a diamond's authenticity as a real diamond will show up on the scan unlike a cubic zirconium.

    Scrutinizing a diamond under a microscope is a quick and easy way to identify the precious stone by checking for inclusions and certain markings like indented triangles, parallelograms, or rotated squares. With a 1200x magnifying power on the microscope, a jeweler or gemologist can tell the difference in detail between moissanite and real diamond.

    With the rise in popularity of other stones, it's essential to recognize a real diamond and prevent buying a fake stone. Synthetic diamonds have similar qualities to natural ones, and it's often crucial to have an expert analyze them using conductivity testing and or a comprehensive magnifying examination. This information is vital when it comes to resale value and insurance claims.

    Distinguishing Cubic Zirconia

    Among the array of fake diamonds, cubic zirconia is the one that can be easily tested for its authenticity. You can use the sparkle test to determine the amount of fire and sparkle the stone emits and scrutinize its orange-tinted reflection.

    Unlike real diamonds, cubic zirconia is flawless and heavier in weight. Moreover, it lacks internal imperfections or inclusions, which are visible under expert diamond microscopes.

    Spotting White Sapphire

    Sapphires come in various colors, including white, which appears immaculate to the naked eye. However, they don't exude the same sparkle and bold contrast of dark and light areas as diamonds.

    If the stone appears blurry, lacking the sharp differentiation between dark and light areas, it is more likely to be a white sapphire instead of a diamond.

    Identifying Moissanite

    Synthetic moissanite diamonds are the most convincing fake diamonds, making it difficult for the naked eye to recognize them from real diamonds. You need a diamond expert's help to spot the difference.

    Conducting an electricity conductivity test reveals whether the gemstone is moissanite or genuine diamond. However, thermal conductivity tests are not reliable because both moissanite and diamonds have nearly identical thermal conductivity.

    Distinguishing White Topaz

    At first glance, a white topaz may resemble a diamond, but there are specific traits that differentiate the two.

    The exterior of a white topaz is softer and prone to scratching. Scrutinizing the surface using magnification can reveal any scratches, which are not present in diamonds due to their durable composition.

    In conclusion

    The chance of discovering a genuine diamond is low. Though several tests, such as the fog and thermal conductivity tests, can help identify authenticity, professional jewellers can provide a definitive answer.

    The only way to authenticate a diamond is to have it certified by the Gemmological Institute of America (GIA). GIA charges a fee to test and certify your diamond, providing a certificate that proves the diamond's authenticity, and returns the diamond unharmed. This certificate can be useful when selling your diamond.

    Investing in a diamond tester instead of opting for GIA certification is a waste of money.

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