Feature Gems & Gemology, Summer 2009, Vol. 45, No. 2

The “Type” Classification System of Diamonds and Its Importance in Gemology

Diamond “type” is a concept that is frequently mentioned in the gemological literature, but its relevance to the practicing gemologist is rarely discussed. Diamonds are broadly divided into two types (I and II) based on the presence or absence of nitrogen impurities, and further subdivided according to the arrangement of nitrogen atoms (isolated or aggregated) and the occurrence of boron impurities. Diamond type is directly related to color and the lattice defects that are modified by treatments to change color. Knowledge of type allows gemologists to better evaluate if a diamond might be treated or synthetic, and whether it should be sent to a laboratory for testing. Scientists determine type using expensive FTIR instruments, but many simple gemological tools (e.g., a microscope, spectroscope, UV lamp) can give strong indications of diamond type.