Lab-Grown Diamonds vs Mined Diamonds

Lab-grown diamonds or cultured diamonds are grown using highly advanced technology and research, under strictly controlled laboratory conditions of high pressure and temperature, to precisely imitate the conditions under which mined diamonds were formed in the earth’s mantle. Their chemical structure is characteristic of the diamond crystal structure which is made up of actual carbon atoms. The result is a lab-grown diamond that exhibits the same physical, chemical and optical properties as a mined diamond, since they are composed of the same element, under the same conditions.

Yes! Lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) defines a diamond as pure crystallized carbon in the isometric cubic system; irrespective of whether it is grown in a lab or mined from the earth’s mantle. This definition of a diamond includes both lab and mined diamonds as they have the same properties chemically, physically and optically. Thus, regardless of where or how the diamond originated, a diamond is a gemstone composed of crystallized carbon.

Chemical Composition: C (Carbon)

Crystalline Structure: Cubic

Hardness (MOHS): 10

Density: 3.52

Refractive Index: 2.42

Dispersion: 0.044

Mined diamonds were brought to the earth’s crust from its core, where they were formed by volcanic eruption. It is believed by scientists that diamonds were formed 145km below the surface of the Earth, by the effects of extreme heat (1482OC+) and pressure (511 131kg/cm2 or 50 125 bar) on carbon dioxide.

The processes used to grow lab diamonds are much more efficient. There are two processes under which lab-grown diamonds are created, namely Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) and High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT).

A small diamond seed is placed into a piece of carbon when the HPHT method is used, . Using either a cubic press, a belt press or a split-sphere (BARS) press, the carbon is pressurised to approximately 103 500 bar.  Simultaneously, the carbon is also exposed to temperatures over 1480 Celsius. This pressure and heat melts the carbon, resulting in the formation of a diamond around the initial diamond seed. The newly formed diamond then undergoes careful cooling.

Like the HPHT process, CVD uses a small diamond seed (often an HPHT diamond). In this process a sealed chamber is filled with carbon-rich gases (typically methane and hydrogen) and is heated to over 760 Celsius with the diamond seed placed inside. With the use of technology similar to microwaves or lasers, these gases are ionized into plasma; in which the molecular bond of the gas is essentially broken down.  A new diamond forms as the molecular bond in the gas is broken down and the pure carbon begins to bond to the diamond seed. after the diamond is grown, additional treatments can be used, such as irradiation or heat, to change or enhance the diamond’s colour. 

Mined diamonds are said to have taken billions of years to form under the earth’s surface. Lab grown diamonds take between 5-10 days to grow 1 carat of fancy colour and 2+ weeks to grow white diamonds. If the process of growing diamonds is rushed, it will cause the crystal structure to fracture, thus it is important not to rush the process.

A mentioned before, the two types of diamond are identical optically and chemically. It is impossible to tell the difference between lab grown and mined, even by the trained eye. Traditional methods of identification such as a diamond-tester or observation cannot distinguish between the two. This requires extremely sophisticated equipment that is specifically designed for the identification of lab grown diamonds, used by a qualified and experienced gemologist. The minor differences observed by a gemologist, with the use of this specialized equipment, are found in nuances of crystal growth and trace elements.

Lab diamonds come with a grading report, just like mined diamonds. The most common being from the International Gemological Institute (IGI).


  • They are equally as beautiful as mined diamonds
  • They are socially responsible: peace of mind that they are not in anyway linked to the blood diamond trade (however, our natural diamonds are also ethically sourced)
  • They have smaller environmental impact
  • They are less expensive
  • You can get better quality (colour, clarity, cut) for the price

The decision is a personal one. One should draw a conclusion for oneself based on the above information. It all boils down to what is important to you, what look you want to achieve and what your budget allows for the end goal.

Which precious metal should I choose for my engagement ring?

Platinum is the hardest and most durable precious metal, but it is also the heaviest and most expensive of the lot. Platinum’s density is 21.45 g/cm3 compared to gold at 19.32 g/cm3 and silver at 10.49 g/cm3. That means, for the same volume of metal, platinum has more mass than the other metals, i.e. there are more grams to pay for. Platinum is also more labour intensive to work with, and therefore ads even more to the cost of a platinum ring. Platinum is purer and rarer than gold, therefore more sought after and has a much luminescent white colour than the likes of white gold, which has to be rhodium plated to maintain its white colour.

Why platinum?

  • Whiter and more luminescent than white gold and silver
  • Strong and durable therefore suited to everyday wear
  • Most secure metal to set stones such as diamonds and gemstones
  • Extremely pure, with only 5% other metal in the alloy (ruthenium or copper)
  • Exclusive and luxurious
  • Does not tarnish
  • It is 100% hypoallergenic

Gold is an extremely versatile metal and is available in various colours and purities. Gold is a great metal to work with as it is extremely malleable and therefore suited for very intricate designs. It is ideal for jewellery as it does not tarnish from every day use and is highly resistant to corrosion. Gold is available in many different forms as it is alloyed with other metals to increase its strength and to reduce its cost. As its purity declines from 24k (100% pure), 18k (75% pure), 14k (58.3% pure) to 9k (37.5% pure) so does its cost, but with increase in strength. Fun fact: gold and copper are the only two pure metals that don’t have an inherently white or greyish colour. They absorb violet and blue light, therefore reflecting yellow light, where all the other metals reflect all the colours of the visible spectrum equally, resulting in white light.

Why gold?

  • Available in various degrees of purity and cost
  • Available in various colours: white, yellow and rose gold
  • Can be used to make a wide range of intricate designs
  • Suitable for everyday wear
  • Resistant to tarnishing
  • Only colourful precious metal

Silver is the most affordable precious metal used in jewellery making. It is extremely versatile, combined with its affordability makes it perfect for jewellery at a fraction of the price. It is great for big statement pieces and fashion jewellery which would otherwise be unaffordable in gold and platinum. Silver is however considerably less dense than gold and platinum and is therefore not as durable. Silver is relatively soft and therefore not suited for everyday wear nor for setting stones, especially expensive stones like diamonds and precious gemstones. Due to its relatively soft character, jewellery will bend, buckle and become misshapen over time, especially when used for everyday wear. Unlike platinum and gold, silver is not hypoallergenic and can be problematic for people with sensitive skin. Silver tarnishes and requires frequent cleaning.

Why silver?

  • Inexpensive
  • Very versatile
  • Bright in colour
  • Great for fashion jewellery pieces

Which is the best for my engagement ring?
If your budget isn’t restricted platinum is definitely the best option for an engagement ring as it is the strongest and most durable. If you’d like a yellow or pink coloured band, then 18k gold is definitely your go to. If your budget is restricted and you’d prefer to spend the majority of your budget on the stones, then we advise 9k gold. Silver is not advised for an engagement ring.

*All RA 9k gold jewellery is plated with 18k gold when it leaves the workshop. However, with wear the bright colour will fade and the true 9k colour will show. 9k Yellow Gold and Rose Gold look very similar due to the lack of purity of the alloy.

Moissanite vs. Diamond – the question on everyone’s lips

What is a Moissanite?
Moissanite was first discovered in 1893 in a crater created by a meteorite that struck Earth. When Henri Moissan, French scientist and Nobel Prize winner, discovered it in Arizona he initially thought that he had stumbled upon microscopic particles of diamond. He took to chemistry and discovered that the crystal structures were made up of silicon carbide (SiC).

Is Moissanite natural?
Yes, and no. Moissanite was born in the stars and discovered on earth in a very small quantity. However, after years of trial and error, the process of synthesizing Moissanite was perfected. So, all Moissanite available today is lab-created.

Is Moissanite a fake diamond?
NO! Moissanite is not a fake diamond. Moissanite is a gemstone, just like diamond is also a gemstone, and ruby, emerald, sapphire, morganite, etc. Moissanite was born in the stars and brought to earth by a meteorite – it is definitely not a fake diamond.

Will my Moissanite scratch, chip or change colour?
No, Moissanite is the second hardest gemstone known to man. It is practically just as hard as a diamond and is a whopping 9.25 on the Mohs scale. To put it into perspective, it falls between diamond at 10 on the Mohs scale and Sapphire at 9; a masonry drill bit is 8.5. It won’t scratch, chip or change colour but for peace of mind, they come with a lifetime warranty directly from the supplier.

Moissanite vs. Diamond Characteristics

DurabilityOn the Mohs scale, moissanite scores a 9.25, a very good score that makes it one of the hardest substances on earth, and very suitable for everyday wear as an engagement ring.Diamonds are the hardest known mineral and receive a 10 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness. Because of this exceptional score, diamonds are very durable and ideal for everyday wear. This contributes to their popularity as engagement rings’ center gemstones.
BrillianceMoissanites exhibit a different kind of brilliance than diamonds do, as their faceting pattern is different. The fiery, rainbow flashes emitted by moissanites are beloved by some, but others feel that moissanite’s heightened brilliance can create a “disco ball” effect, especially in sunlight. The bigger the moissanite, the more likely it is that the difference will be noticeable. Moissanite has a refractive index from 2.65 – 2.69, which is higher than a diamond.A different type of brilliance is what makes it possible to distinguish a moissanite from a diamond. Diamonds reflect light in three different ways. The white light reflected back is referred to as brilliance, while the rainbow of colors refracted through the diamond is referred to as dispersion. The surface sparkle of a diamond, known as scintillation, is a third type of diamond light return. The combination of these three gives diamonds their famous sparkle.
ColorWhile moissanites are labeled as “colorless”, the gems can still project a yellow or grayish hue in certain lights. Here again, the larger the moissanite, the more noticeable the color.A colorless diamond, whether natural or lab created, has a natural body color that contains no traces of yellow, brown, or grey, resulting in a dazzling, bright white appearance.
PriceFor the same size from the top view, moissanites are dramatically lower in pricing than diamonds of that size. Moissanite gems typically vary in price only based on size and whether the stone is Premium or Super Premium.Natural diamonds and lab created diamond prices vary based on shape, carat, cut, color, and clarity. Lab created diamonds are more affordable than natural diamonds.
SourcingBecause moissanites are lab created, they are an appealing option for those seeking an eco-conscious gemstone as they require no mining.We go above and beyond the current industry standards to offer both conflict free diamonds, as well as lab created diamonds that are ethically grown with minimal environmental impact.

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So which one should I choose?
The decision lies in your hands and is based on the end goal with your engagement ring design. Is there a specific look you want to go for, but can’t carve out hundreds of thousands for a huge diamond? Or would you rather have something extremely rare like a natural diamond and settle for a smaller version? It is your personal decision as one is no better than the other. Always remember: beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the value of a gemstone is only as much as you are willing it pay for it.

Affordable Engagement Rings in Cape Town

If you’re looking for an affordable engagement ring you’ve come to the right place!

No, we don’t have an Engagement Ring Special “GET 60% off” like those shops that market that 365 days a year. Certain brown box jewellers come to mind. At some point you have to wonder to yourself, “are those really on special?” or do they just slap a ridiculous 200% markup on their prices so that they can tell you that you are special enough to get a discount. We are in the business of giving honest prices. So, I guess you could say that our engagement rings are always on special. Our engagement ring prices are low and honest because we don’t believe in false marketing. If we’re comparing engagement ring prices, you can save between 30% to 60% on retail store prices when purchasing an engagement ring from Ring Artisan.

Whether you’re looking for a custom design engagement ring that is a diamond ring or a precious gemstone ring such as ruby, emerald, sapphire, morganite, etc. – we do all shapes and sizes. Our engagement rings can be crafted in platinum, white gold, yellow gold, rose gold or even silver. All of our engagement rings are handcrafted by artisans exactly to your desires and needs. Whether your need is a cheap engagement ring that is high quality and unique, or if you’re a big spender with expensive taste – we make engagement rings within any budget, big and small. What is a good engagement ring budget? This is a question we often get, well that depends on you. There are no rules on how much you should spend on an engagement ring. It is important to stay true to yourself and your income – be careful not to spend more on the engagement ring than what you can afford.

We also specialize in custom design wedding bands and bridal jewellery. If you’re looking for affordable custom design wedding bands in Cape Town or anywhere in South Africa – pop us an email for a quote. You’ll be surprised to see the difference in price compared to other jewellery retail stores.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Pop us an email at hello[at]

Help Combat Climate Change by Purchasing Jewellery from Ring Artisan

Say what!? Yes, you read that correctly. Ring Artisan will plant 5 Spekboom for every item that you purchase.

What is Spekboom? Scientifically known as Portulacaria afra and more commonly known as Elephant’s food or Pork Bush. Spekboom is an environmental warrior indigenous to South Africa; it is an evergreen plant, which uses two (C3 and CAM) of the three types of photosynthesis to produce oxygen with the use of carbon dioxide (via complex biochemical pathways). Most plants only use C3 photosynthesis. Spekboom has a very advanced system in which it is able to store solar energy during daytime, while simultaneously performing regular C3 photosynthesis, in order to perform Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM) photosynthesis at night; when water vapor pressure deficits are lower and air temperatures are cooler. Spekboom switches to CAM photosynthesis to adapt to harshly dry conditions during drought. During CAM photosynthesis, the plant closes its stoma to avoid the occurrence of wasteful transpiration from its leaves, in order to conserve water while maintaining regular photosynthesis. During the night, acid builds up in the leaves, which is stored as carbon dioxide, and is broken down in the day, thus using very little water and plenty carbon in the process. This allows the spekboom plant to sequester more carbon dioxide per hectare than the Amazon rainforest. It is in fact 10 times more effective in fixing carbon per hectare than any tropical rainforest. (Kirsten, 2019)

Ample research has been carried out on spekboom in the Thicket Biome. It has been found that spekboom can have a net carbon sequester potential between 3.2 t C ha-1 yr-1 (van der Vyver et al., 2013) and 4.2 t C ha-1 yr-1 (Mill & Cowling, 2006). In arid regions of the Baviaanskloof and the broader Eastern Cape, it has been observed that spekboom can, in some cases, have a total carbon accrual between ~71 to 88 t C ha-1 (Powell 2009, Mills 2010). It is believed that carbon accrual can be even higher in less arid regions where spekboom is found in intact Thicket.

Apart from improving the quality of the air that we breathe, spekboom also has many other amazing characteristics:

  • It is very high in vitamin C
  • It is waterwise
  • It is evergreen
  • Its flowers are rich in nectar and therefore attracts bees and birds
  • It prevents soil erosion as it is excellent at soil-binding
  • It is very resilient and can therefore withstand the most severe weather conditions
  • It is drought tolerant
  • It can live up to 200 years
  • It can grow up to 3m high
  • It is very high in basic nutrients and is therefore an excellent food source for wildlife
  • It can treat dehydration, heat stroke and exhaustion
  • Its sap can treat skin ailments, as well as, blisters and sunburn

(Shamwari , 2019)

Assist us in combating the toxic effects of Carbon Dioxide and GHG in our atmosphere by supporting Ring Artisan with your purchases.


Mills, A.J. & Cowling, R.M. 2006. Rate of carbon sequestration at two thicket restoration sites in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Restoration Ecology 14 (1): 38–49.
Mills, A.J. & Cowling, R.M. 2010. Below-ground carbon stocks in intact and transformed subtropical thicket landscapes in semi-arid South Africa. Journal of Arid Environments 74: 93-100.
Powell, M.J. 2009. The restoration of degraded subtropical thickets in the Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve, Eastern Cape South Africa – the role of carbon stocks and Portulacaria afra survivorship. MSc. Thesis. Rhodes University, Grahamstown.
SA wonder plant removes more CO2 than Amazon [Online] / auth. Kirsten Elise // Getaway. – March 20, 2019. –
Shamwari Private Game Reserve [Online] / auth. Shamwari . – Shamwari , March 21, 2019. –
Van der Vyver, M.L., Cowling, R.M., Mills, A.J. & Difford, M. 2013. Spontaneous Return of Biodiversity in Restored Subtropical Thicket: Portulacaria afra as an Ecosystem Engineer. Restoration Ecology 21 (6): 736-744.

Custom Diamond Engagement Ring Design

Purchasing a custom diamond engagement ring can be one of the most stressful experiences known to man. Not only is the ring that you are going to purchase and propose with going to be on your loved one’s finger for the rest of her life, but ladies also like to think that their engagement ring says something about them and men like to show-off a little as a taste of their ability to provide for their future family. No pressure.

Custom diamond engagement ring options are endless. It’s definitely not an easy choice to pick a ring design for your future fiancé, but we want to help you make it easy. Since we’re able to custom make anything, we are able to combine several designs into one to create the perfect ring for your future wifey, especially if she likes something unique.

Here are a few pointers on how to choose or create the perfect engagement ring design for your future wifey:

Have an insider: ask one of her bff’s to chat to her about what ring designs she likes; she won’t suspect a thing. Ladies talk about rings all the time and there’s a very good chance that her bff might already know exactly what she wants.

Pop into a jewellery store ‘to look at watches’: she will quickly pull you towards all the diamonds and give herself away immediately. This is also a good tactic to get her to try on a few rings and thereby not only determine her style but also her ring size and it will all seem like it was her idea. Just don’t seem TOO eager.

Comment on other friend’s engagement rings: say something like, ‘you know, Bob really went all out on Sally’s ring’ and she will reply with something like ‘oh no, it’s not my taste’ or ‘oh yes, it’s stunning isn’t it?’ – then ask what she likes/dislikes about it.

Scroll through her screenshots on her phone: this isn’t a favourite, because it can be slightly invasive, but you will definitely find screenshots of rings she’s been collecting as ideas for her future engagement ring.  You can also view our gallery and / or online shop.

Use the available resources: all women have a Pinterest account. Create an account with an incognito name and have a look at what boards she’s created. There will almost definitely be a ring board. You’ve struck gold (excuse the pun).  You could also browse our Instagram and see how she reacts to the styles.

Take note of the jewellery that she wears: this will give a direct indication of what her style is and we will be able to advise what kind of ring design or style she will like. Other items in her wardrobe will also reveal some of her character, like, if she likes genuine leather shoes or handbags, or if she wears expensive perfume or makeup, we know that she has an eye for quality and luxury, etc.

Ask her: some ladies aren’t phased by surprises and would rather prefer to be assured that she will be getting exactly what she’s been dreaming of her entire life.

If you use the above pointers and pay a little bit more attention to detail, it can be very easy to hack into your future wifey’s mind and determine exactly what she wants her engagement ring to look like. Happy 007-ing 😉

Determining ring size

Determining ring size can be a daunting experience when one wants to protect the element of surprise. This blog post will cover various ways in which one can determine ring size accurately, without eliminating the element of surprise, as well as, a few practical ways in which you can measure your own finger size accurately.


The best and most accurate way to determine ring size, is to pop into a jewellery store with your loved one to determine her ring size. They will use a set of finger gauges, which is a metal hoop holding a series of metal rings in half size increments. The fit should feel secure and comfortable, taking into consideration the temperature, humidity and time of day as these can affect the size of your fingers. It needs to fit snugly on your finger in order not to fall off, but also loose enough to slide over your knuckle.

You can also order on of our free ring sizers. The sizer has measurements from which you can read the size of her ring finger.


If you wanted to protect the element of surprise by determining your loved one’s ring finger size without her knowledge, there are a few ways in which you can do it quite accurately.

If your loved one is a heavy sleeper, you can slip the free ring sizer (coming soon) onto her ring finger and read the size from it. The fit should be snug, but you must be able to slide it over the knuckle comfortably.

Ask one of her girlfriends or a family member. Girls share their every detail with their close girlfriends and their mums. They will most likely know the size of her ring finger.

NB: For all of the following options you will need a ring that she already wears on her left or right ring finger, or one you know fits one of her ring fingers:

‘Steal’ one of her rings that she already wears on her ring finger and to have it sized at a jeweller. If it is one that she wears on her right ring finger and she is right handed, her left ring finger will be a half size to a size smaller; the opposite applies to left-handed individuals (their left ring finger will be bigger). Do not use a ring that she wears on any of her other eight fingers, as these are completely different sizes to one’s ring finger size. If the ring is destined for another finger, use a ring she already wears on that finger.

If you can’t ‘steal’ her ring for long enough to take it to a jeweller, would be to use a bar of soap. Create an impression of the ring in a bar of soap, by pressing the ring down into the soap bar with some force. A jeweller will be able to determine the size of the ring from the impression of the ring. You can also measure the diameter in mm and compare it to a ring sizing chart.

Trace the inside of the ring’s circumference with a sharp pencil on a piece of paper. When doing this it is important to hold the ring very still, and to trace as close to the ring as possible in order to get an accurate measurement. The ring should preferably be as unadorned and plain as possible. You can determine the size of the ring by measuring the diameter of the traced circle in mm, then comparing it to a ring sizing chart. Here one should always rather go half a size up as the traced circle will always be slightly smaller than the actual ring’s diameter.

Jam it onto one of your fingers carefully noting its position, then visit a jeweller to determine the size with a ring gauge. This one could be a little risking in terms of accuracy.

PRO TIP: rather always go a size larger. Rather have it be too big than too small when popping the question. You can always have the ring resized afterwards.

DON’T: use a string or a strip of paper. This is a very inaccurate method as these materials are not rigid or stiff enough to keep the shape that a ring would.


The Five C’s

A diamond’s beauty is not determined by the values on its certificate

Diamonds can often be very intimidating; leaving the consumer overwhelmed and confused. Jewellers can often mislead the consumer and persuade the consumer into buying something that they don’t fully understand, at a pretty penny. If you have insight on the product, your understanding of the product’s specifications and price will be meaningful and empowering.

The 4C’s is an age old concept that everyone has encountered when purchasing diamonds, namely: cut, carat, colour and clarity, in no specific order. I say this because, it all depends on what is more important to you. If carat is more important (which is the general trend among women; size does matter boys), then you can compromise on colour and clarity to stay within a given budget. If clarity is more important and size is unimportant to you, then you can compromise on carat to stay within a given budget. If both colour and carat are important, then one can compromise on clarity. The combination of the 4C’s equals the 5th C, cost. Cost will be discussed throughout the article. Always remember:  a diamond’s beauty is not determined by the values on its grading certificate, just as its beauty is not determined by the amount of money you spend on it. 

But what exactly do all these terms mean!? Here is an extensive guide that will educate you on the product, so that you can feel confident in the money that you are lying out. It is also important to acknowledge that a diamond is not an investment piece, but an eternal symbol of your love to your other half. So yes, if you consider time, it is can be seen as an investment, because your spouse will be wearing it for the rest of their life, but one cannot approach a symbol of eternal love as an investment. (because you will most likely never sell it).


Cut is definitely the single most important factor to consider when purchasing a diamond. The quality of a diamond’s cut results in the sparkle and fire of a diamond. A diamonds of high quality (colour and clarity) with a poor cut will result in a diamond that is dim and lacks fire.

In general, the word ‘cut’ is used to refer to the shape of a diamond, for example: round, marquise, oval, etc. Some diamond shapes appear larger than others even though they have the same carat weight. Shapes that generally appear larger than their carat weight are pear, oval and marquise cuts – these appear larger than round cut diamonds for the same carat weight. Shapes that generally appear smaller than their carat weight are square cut diamonds like princess, asscher and emerald cuts – these appear smaller than round cut diamonds for the same carat weight.

Cut isn’t merely the shape of a diamond, but, also refers to the quality of a diamond’s cut. The quality of a diamond’s cut is determined by various ratios in a diamond’s anatomy, such as: table (top of the diamond), depth (top to bottom), crown height, pavilion depth, crown angle, pavilion angle, girdle thickness, etc. The most important of these being depth, table and diameter, as the ratio of the depth to diameter and table to diameter are prominent in determining a diamond’s cut grade. The final grading of a diamond’s cut quality also takes the symmetry of the facets and polish into account. A round brilliant cut diamond is cut with 57 facets; some with a 58th facet known as the cutlet, which is located at the bottom of the pavilion. An ‘excellent’ cut means that the ratios are nearly perfect, allowing incoming light to reflect directly back, out of the table of the diamond, resulting in a diamond with beautiful lustre, sparkle and fire. A ‘poor’ cut means that a diamond is cut is too shallow or too deep, the light entering the table of the diamond is directed in a different angle. The stream of light either goes straight through the diamond (generally cut too shallow) or out through the side of the diamond (generally cut too deep). This prevents any light from reflecting back through the top of the diamond, resulting in a diamond that is dim and lacks sparkle. A diamond with this kind of low quality cut is said to “leak” light.

It is also important to note that there are numerous ratio combinations possible within the grading scale of excellent, very good, good, fair to poor, but also within a single grade category. This prompts the topic of diamond ‘spread’. The spread of a diamond refers to its size compared to its carat weight. A ‘spready’ diamond is cut slightly shallower resulting in a larger table, therefore, facing up larger than its carat weight (when observing it from the top) but will have a shallower pavilion (when observing it from the side). These diamonds aren’t necessarily ‘poor’ cuts as the ratios can still result in a ‘very good’ to ‘good’ cut grading, inhibiting beautiful brilliance and fire, but face-up larger than their carat weight. To put it into perspective, one can imagine two people of the same weight e.g. 70 kg, but of different height e.g. 1.6 m vs. 1.7 m tall. The 1.7 m person will appear to be a much larger person due to the added length. A diamond with a ‘poor’ quality cut will result in a diamond that faces-up much smaller than its carat weight (when observing the table of the diamond from the top), as most of the weight will be portioned to the pavilion of the diamond (when observing it from the side). The added weight on such a diamond will also reduce the diamond’s brilliance and lustre as it causes light to leak from the side of the diamond.

Avoid compromising for cut grades lower than ‘very good’ to save on the budget. It is best to compromise on colour or clarity.


Carat is commonly mistaken for the size of a diamond but in actuality refers to the weight of a diamond, which is generally proportional to the size of a diamond. One carat is equivalent to 0.2 grams or 200 milligrams; about the weight of a paperclip. The modern carat system and the word ‘carat’ originated from the very uniform carob seed, which was used as a counter balance on the scales of old gem traders. A 0.15 ct diamond is referred to as a 15 pointer and a 0.95 ct diamond a 95 pointer, etc. Diamonds above 1 ct are referred to as a ‘two point oh four carats’ (2.04 ct), for example. This allows for very accurate measurements as a carat can be divided into a hundred points, therefore, to the hundredth decimal place. The weight of a diamond is measured to a thousand decimal places (0.001), which is rounded to the nearest hundredth decimal place.

Carat weight is not the only determining factor in the value of a diamond; two diamonds of equal carat weight will have unequal value as the value is also dependent on the clarity, colour and the cut quality of the diamond. Two ½ carat diamonds will not have the same value as a 1ct diamond (assuming all other factors are the same); the greater the weight of the diamond, the more rare it becomes, hence the increase in value.

It is an obvious trend that the price of a diamond increases with increase in carat for the same given colour, clarity and cut. A diamond with a bad quality cut, one that is cut too deep, will result in a diamond that appears much smaller than its given carat weight as most of the weight is portioned to the pavilion depth (‘cone’) of the diamond. The added weight on such a diamond will also reduce the diamond’s brilliance and lustre. The same applies to a diamond that is cut too shallow, it will appear much larger as the weight is portioned to the table (top) of the diamond, but it will lack brilliance. However, a diamond that is cut slightly shallow, but still qualifies as a very good to good quality cut, will appear larger than its given carat weight and will still sparkle beautifully. This is referred to as ‘spread’; a ‘spready’ diamond will appear much larger than its carat weight, as most of the weight is portioned to the table (top) of the diamond (this will be discussed more extensively in the next post). One can roughly estimate the size of a diamond according to its carat, but, that is solely dependent on the quality of the diamond’s cut.

Budget hack: if you have a specific carat weight in mind, aim for just below that carat weight e.g. 2ct, opt for 1.90-1.99ct. You will not be able to notice the small difference in the diamond’s size, but this will allow you to save a significant amount of money. One should avoid ‘magic sizes’ which are ½, ¾ and 1 ct. These weights are thresholds for diamond pricing, above these weights the price per carat increases significantly. These weights coincide with popular diamond weights, as with anything, popularity results in demand which results increased prices. For example, two diamonds are exactly the same colour, clarity and cut. The one weighs 1.03 ct and the other 0.97 ct, the 0.06ct (6 pt) weight difference is visually undiscernible, but the difference in price can be up to 20% more. 


The diamond colour grading scale is between D (colourless) to Z (light yellow). Before this grading system existed, there were various other loosely applied systems, which made use of the beginning of the alphabet, roman numerals etc. Thus, GIA chose the letter D as the starting point to fully dissociate itself from the other archaic, inconsistent and inaccurate grading systems. The more colourless a diamond, the more expensive it is. The opposite is of course true for fancy colour diamonds, which increase in value with increase in colour saturation. Fancy colour diamonds are extremely expensive and rare as only every 1 in 10 000 carats is fancy colour. Qualified diamond graders determine diamond colour under precise viewing conditions and controlled lighting by comparing them to stones of known colour, or by years of experience. To the untrained eye, many of the colour distinctions between grades are subtle and unnoticeable, but the difference in diamond price and quality can be vast.

Similar to clarity, one can save quite a chunk of your budget with colour – it’s all about how you set it and what colour metal you choose. D colour diamonds are extremely expensive because they are completely colourless, therefore very rare. Where M colour diamonds, which fall into the “faint yellow category” for example, are less expensive and can still face-up white in colour. A diamond’s colour is determined by turning it face down on a white surface, this saturates the colour in the pavilion of the diamond to allow for accurate grading, but, when turned face up a diamond’s colour is less saturated and faces-up more white in colour than its grading.

The best value for money without compromising on colour are diamonds within the ‘near colourless’ grading class G-J. Diamonds in the K-M ‘faint yellow’ category are also good budget savers, but these should preferably be set in rose or yellow gold to neutralize the colour of the diamonds; they will appear much whiter than their grading, sometimes by 3 colour grades. The cost saving in these categories can be very significant compared to colourless diamonds between D-F. Colourless stones are more complimented by white gold and platinum settings to enhance the very white appearance of these diamonds; setting these colourless stones in yellow gold may show through the colour of the gold. Some diamond shapes also show colour more shyly than others. The more brilliant cut stones such as cushions, pears, ovals and radiants show colour less distinctly than step cut diamonds such as emeralds and asschers; these cuts have larger facets which reflect more colour. The size of the diamond will also influence the saturation in colour as larger stones, over 1 ct, show colour more easily.  A colour grading lower than H for a stone larger than 1 ct may be unfavourable. Beauty, however, is in the eye of the beholder; and there is no way to predict how a diamond will appear in a certain setting or a certain cut.


Diamonds were formed in four natural processes 1. In the earth’s mantle (commercial diamond mining), 2. In subduction zones (rocks subducted into the earth’s mantle during plate tectonic movements), 3. At asteroid impact sites, 4. In space (some meteoroids contain nano-diamonds). The majority of diamonds were formed at about 150-200 kilometres under the earth’s surface in its mantle; where temperatures are between 900-1200 Celsius and the pressure 45-60 kilobars (50 000 times more than atmospheric pressure). It is thought that these diamond stability zones, where diamonds were formed and stored, are mainly under the interiors of continental plates. Rare, deep-source volcanic eruptions, unobserved by the modern human, carried these diamond deposits near the earth’s surface. During these volcanic eruptions once the magma (kimberlite and lamproite), carrying diamond containing rocks, had erupted through the earth’s surface and cooled down, kimberlite and lamproite pipes were formed. These pipes are where most of the world’s diamonds are found. Bearing this incredible natural phenomenon in mind, one can have better insight on the flaws that a diamond may inhibit. We can think of these flaws as birthmarks.

The clarity of a diamond refers the purity of a diamond, which declines with the increase in natural inclusions found in a diamond. Flawless diamonds that are without any natural inclusions are extremely rare, therefore, extremely pricey. These inclusions manifest in many different forms such as: pinpoints, clouds, needles, knots, crystals, feathers, cleavages, internal grains, twinning wisps, indentations, cavities and chips – a mouthful. But, what do these actually look like and do they really matter? Although inclusions take on many different forms and grading categories, it is not necessarily such a negative thing. Firstly, most imperfections up to SI2 cannot be seen with the naked eye, i.e. they are only noticeable to the trained eye under a 10x magnification diamond loupe. Secondly, you can save a lot of money by opting for an imperfect diamond, which still appears perfect to the naked eye. No, Jealous Jenny’s will not be able to notice these imperfections (SI1 or higher grading) in your diamond when you are showcasing your brand new sparkler. In fact, some I (Included) graded diamonds may also be eye clean, depending on the location of the inclusions. Thirdly, it can also be used as an identification tool. If you get to know your diamond and know exactly where these inclusions are and what form they take, you will easily be able to identify your diamond. Fourthly, inclusions also make diamonds unique; no other diamond will ever be the same as your diamond, as no two diamonds will have exactly the same type of inclusion in the same place. Unless you’re a big baller and money is no object, opt for diamonds that aren’t flawless to get more bang for your buck.

When diamonds are graded under 10x magnification by a skilled grader, the quantity, size, nature, position and colour of the inclusions are considered. There are 11 possible categories in which a diamond’s clarity can fall:

*NB to remember that this is under 10x magnification*

  • Flawless (FL): no blemishes or inclusions are visible
  • Internally Flawless (IF): only blemishes and no inclusions are visible
  • Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2): inclusions are difficult to see
  • Very Slight Included (VS1 and VS2): minor inclusions that can range from difficult to somewhat easy to see
  • Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2): inclusions are noticeable
  • Included (I1, I2, and I3): inclusions are obvious which may affect brilliance and transparency