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Diamonds: What’s your type?

By Alethea Inns

Human beings love to classify and categorize items—and for good reason! This type of organization helps us better understand common attributes of things and simplify complex data.

Gemstones, of course, are no different. Look at the diamond industry: we have broken down diamonds into 11 grades of clarity, 23 grades of colour (not including the fancy colour diamond evaluation system, with its nine ranges and countless permutations of hues), and six grades of cut. This adds up to more than 1500 combinations of possible grades for D-Z diamonds alone. These grading attributes, however, do not tell us why a particular diamond is the way it is. For this, we must examine its type.

Unlike one of the worst pick-up lines ever (“Are you a keyboard? Because you’re just my type”), diamond type is a science-based classification based on a stone’s atomic makeup. Before you skip this article with the thought of, “No thanks, I’m not interested in learning about inorganic chemistry,” you should realize having sufficient information about diamond types can save you from making a bad off-the-street purchase; help you decide when to send a diamond to a laboratory for additional testing; and even allow you to determine if a diamond is mined, laboratory-grown, or treated.

Indeed, having basic foundational knowledge on this subject can help you become a confident and competent diamond expert. What’s more, you will have plenty of nerdy talking-points for when you find yourself chatting with another industry professional or putting together a sales presentation. Diamond type is fascinating, and determines much about the diamond’s growth, colour, and physical properties.

Further, typing is not just for laboratory gemmologists. The information gives jewellery retailers and salespeople an edge when communicating with customers, as they are prepared with the technical information to help facilitate sales conversations and answer questions presented by educated, informed consumers.

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The topic of diamond typing is often covered in an overly technical way, which does not translate to the layperson; however, this is an important subject to better understand diamonds and their properties. So, let’s break it down.

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