If two identical diamonds are placed side by side and one is less brilliant and fiery than the other, the fault lies in the cutting. Such a stone cannot demand as high a price as a well-cut diamond.
It is important to distinguish between cut and shape. Some of the more popular shapes of diamonds include Round Brilliant, Oval, Marquise, Pear, Heart and Emerald. Within each of these shapes, however, it is the cut that determines the quality of the stone. For example, most diamonds are cut with 58 facets, regardless of their shape.
When nitrogen combines with the diamond crystals during the formation stage it causes a surplus electron in the bonding. This surplus electron absorbs blue light, thus giving off a yellow colour. Yellow diamonds also occur when aggregates of three nitrogens combine and cause surplus bond.
The elements of boron may also be substituted within a diamond during its formation. Boron absorbs red light, hence in the absence of nitrogen, diamonds containing boron are blue in colour. An example of a diamond containing boron is the famous Blue Hope diamond. Diamonds containing boron also exhibit unusual electrical properties and are semi-conductive in nature. Hydrogen is another impurity that, in high quantities, can cause grey or blue colouring in diamonds. However, these diamonds are not semi-conducting.
A vacancy in the regular lattice of atoms within a diamond results in a green colouring. Carbon atoms being knocked out of their regular position by other particles cause vacancies. The depth of colour usually extends about 2mm below the diamond's surface. At extremely high temperatures the vacancies can become mobile and can combine with nitrogen to form other colours such as mauve, orange, blue or gold.
It has been suggested that dislocations in the regular lattice of atoms, caused by severe forces deep in the earth, may be responsible for the brown colouring of champagne and cognac diamonds. The dislocated bonds may affect the light wavelength, thus producing a diamond which is coloured, but which contains no impurities.
It has also been suggested that combinations of dislocations, vacancies, and non-nitrogen impurities cause the much sought-after colouration in pink diamonds. However these theories are still being developed.
Inclusions may not always be visible to the naked eye, however they do interfere with the passage of light through the diamond. Therefore the fewer inclusions a diamond has, the more valuable it is.