How to Identify a Raw Diamond?

How to Identify a Raw Diamond?
 
 
 
 

Are you wondering how to identify a raw diamond or differentiate it from the regular ones sold in jewelry stores? You’ve come to the right place. Diamonds, as we know them, involve a lot of work to look the way they do. It’s a process that starts deep within the earth’s core when extreme heat and pressure forces carbon atoms to fuse together in a specific structure. They end up forming crystals, which are then mined from their natural forms and refined to the sparkly gems you see in jewelry shops. Uncut rough diamonds look like water-worn quartz pebbles and can be hard to tell whether it’s the real thing or not. Luckily, we’ve curated a guide to help you learn what uncut diamonds are and how to identify a raw diamond.

Raw diamonds, also known as uncut rough diamonds, are gemstones that haven’t undergone any treatment after they were mined from the earth. They are still in their natural form after years of formation and retain their original look.

The diamonds sold in jewelry stores are cut and polished to give them the specific shapes you see. Raw diamonds resemble transparent stones with yellowish or brownish tints. Generally, the more solid the tint, the less valuable the stone. In other words, rough diamonds with a less visible tint or hue are more valuable than those with a stronger tint.

You can also find colorless diamonds, although these are quite rare and extremely valuable. While they still have high quality in their natural, uncut form, raw diamonds must be cut and polished to be used for jewelry.

raw-diamond
Image: Shutterstock

You may have heard or read about the various methods to identify a real diamond. Most of them, however, are unreliable. The best and most reliable way to check whether the stone is a real diamond is to test it with a portable diamond tester.

This device checks its conductivity by passing electricity or heat through the stone. However, unless you specialize in hunting diamonds, the chances of owning such a device are slim. Luckily, there are other ways to identify a raw diamond at home.

Even without the ‘sparkle’, an uncut diamond is still worth it. The cut is what determines the worth of the diamond, and the quality of the raw diamond has a significant impact on the value and quality of the final product.

For uncut diamonds, the price is determined by their carat, clarity, and color. Carat refers to the weight of the diamond, where the higher the carat, the higher the price. Of course, the quality has to be high.

Diamonds are typically cubic or isometric. Take your piece of uncut diamond and look down at it from the top, with the point of the crystal aimed at your eyes and count the sides. If there are four sides, chances are high the stone is diamond. If you count six sides, the crystal is likely a quartz, which is hexagonal.

A loupe is a special magnifying glass that you can find at jewelry shops. It's mostly used to check diamonds and jewelry in general. When looking at the diamond through a loupe, check for blemishes and imperfections.

A real diamond will have minute imperfections known as inclusions, while a fake one is more likely to be perfectly constructed.

fractures-raw-diamond
Image: Shutterstock

When a diamond breaks, it cleaves, creating a smooth, flat surface. Glass and quartz crystals, on the other hand, will create conchoidal surfaces.

Remember, diamonds are formed with very strong minerals. That’s why they are scratch-resistant and durable. However, fakes like moissanite and cubic zirconia also possess near-similar characteristics.

So, while you may have heard that you can perform a hardness test on glass, don’t use it. The only hardness test to identify a real diamond is scratching corundum. Corundum, like sapphires and rubies, are slightly hard than diamond.

You can purchase a cheap piece of corundum or a mineral test kit that includes corundum. To proceed with the test, hold the corundum firmly against a table and scrape the potential diamond against the corundum. The Mohs Hardness Scale rates diamonds at 10 and corundum at 9.

So, if it creates a visible scratch, the crystal is diamond. If not, then you know it’s a different mineral.

f you really want to know how to identify a raw diamond, you must learn about specific gravity. The test shows the ratio between the gemstone’s density and a reference liquid, usually distilled water, which has a density of 1 g/mL.

Diamonds have a specific gravity ranging from 3.5 to 3.53, while quartz has a specific gravity of 2.6 to 2.7. It's this property of diamonds that makes it possible to separate them from other gemstones via shaker tables or similar tools.

To perform a specific gravity test, you’ll need an electronic scale, water, and paper or plastic cup. Once you're ready, proceed with these steps:

  1. Place the stone on the weighing scale and record the weight on a piece of paper. Remove the stone from the scale and zero the scale by pressing “Tare”.

  2. Fill the cup with enough water to fully submerge the crystal.

  3. Wrap the stone with a paper clip or something similar and suspend the crystal in the water. The stone shouldn’t touch the sides or sink to the bottom.

  4. Once you’ve submerged the entire stone in water, record the weight.

  5. Now, divide the weight of the crystal by the weight of the stone in water. What you get is the gemstone’s density, which should fall between 3.5 and 3.53 g/cm3.

A simpler way to check if the diamond is real is to fill a regular-sized drinking glass 3/4 with water. Take your stone and carefully loose it into the glass of water. If it sinks, it's a real diamond. If it floats below or on top of the surface of the water, it’s a fake.

Still unsure about the tests you’ve performed at home and want to be absolutely sure it’s the real thing? Consider taking it to an appraiser to have it expertly evaluated. This is the most definitive way to identify a raw diamond.

Any thoughts? Let us know your comments!

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