March 18

What Does a Diamond Look Like When It Is First Found? | Guide to These Extremely Rare and Precious Gems


Author: David Kopelman

Key Takeaways

  • The best way to identify rough diamonds is to take them to a diamond expert.
  • Rough diamonds have a density of between 3.5 and 3.53 g/cm3.
  •  Scratch tests, portable diamond testers, crystal form, fracture, fog tests, and sparkle tests are the methods you can use to test diamonds at home.
  • Raw uncut diamonds are categorized based on industrial quality, gem quality, and crushing boart.
  • What Does a Diamond Look Like When it is First Found?

    If you’re enthusiastic about natural diamonds, you must have been asking yourself several questions. What makes natural diamonds so rare and special? Why do individuals make such a massive fuss about a small rock? Natural diamonds are in a class of themselves for good reasons only, as these diamonds are extremely rare and precious.

    Diamonds wait millions of years before reaching maturity, so what is their appearance when first found? There are many ways to identify rough diamonds that have reached maturity. Below you'll find the different ways and additional information about rough diamonds, including what they are and factors to consider when buying them.

    Raw diamonds

    What is a Rough Diamond?

    Rough or raw diamonds are uncut and unpolished gemstones that haven’t been altered or tampered with after being discovered. Raw diamonds look like transparent stones with brownish or yellowish tints. Diamonds that have a less visible brownish or yellowish tint are of more value. On the other hand some diamonds look colorless, but they're extremely rare.

    What Are Gem Quality Diamonds?

    Experts use gem-quality diamonds to create jewelry, as they aren't used for other purposes like their industry-quality counterparts. Real gem quality diamonds are cut to enhance their beauty and value. Similar to other minerals like gas and oil, natural diamonds can be drilled.

    Identifying Natural Rough, Raw, and Uncut Diamonds

    In order to identify whether the stone you have is a fake or real diamond, you can perform a quick optical evaluation using the naked eye. From there, you can carry out a more precise examination using an electronic diamond tester or a corundum piece.

    diamonds on a palm of a hand

    You can also do a gravity test to identify the specific gravity of your gemstones. Here are the different ways of identifying raw diamonds.

    Hold it in the Light to See How it Sparkles

    Raw uncut diamonds uniquely reflect light; they sparkle white or gray inside and reflect rainbow colors on flat surfaces. Reflectivity consists of both the white light sparkle (brilliance) and colored light (fire) that glosses off the flat surface.

    A different gemstone will show rainbow colors inside it and diamonds don't sparkle like a rainbow. While they do sparkle, they display a gray color. Any other mineral that exhibits rainbow colors inside isn't a raw diamond.

    Look at the Diamond Through a Loupe

    You can use a loupe to identify your raw diamond. A loupe is simply a special magnifying glass that diamond experts use to differentiate between real diamonds and other gemstones. You can buy a loupe at any jewelry shop.

    When using this magnifying glass, look for imperfections and blemishes within the raw diamond. But keep in mind that some suspected diamonds have minor imperfections known as inclusions.

    Fog Test

    Hold the suspected diamond between your two fingers and spread a puff of air on it using your mouth. When you spread the air, white fog forms on the diamond, and if it dissipates right away, your diamond is natural. If it takes some seconds to disperse, it's likely a common mineral and not a diamond.

    A professional diamond testing

    Crystal Form

    One of the quickest ways of differentiating diamonds from similar stones is by looking at the crystal shape or form. Most diamonds are isometric in shape, and a common mineral that looks like a diamond is quartz, as it has a hexagonal form.

    When you look at the crystals from above, with one point of the crystal aimed directly at your eye, a diamond and a quartz will have four and six sides, respectively. If your stone displays six sides, then you've found quartz.

    Test for Thermal Absorption

    Rough diamonds are good heat absorbers compared to other common minerals. Different portable diamond testers are available in the market to help you identify a suspected diamond. 

    These testers have a metal probe that transfers heat to the uncut diamond and then measures the speed of absorption. If the absorption speed is very high, then rough diamonds are found.


    You can also do a fracture test to find if an uncut diamond is real. When real diamonds break, they'll slice, creating a smooth surface. Other minerals like glass and quartz will create conchoidal surfaces, which indicate that your suspected diamond isn’t real.

    Test Specific Gravity

    A specific gravity test can also help you identify a raw uncut diamond. Specific gravity is the relationship between the density of a reference liquid and the rough diamond in question. 

    The reference liquid is usually distilled water that has a 1 g/ml density. A polished diamond will have a specific gravity of anywhere between 3.5 and 3.53.

    A person testing the diamonds

    Test Hardness

    You can’t use scratching glass to test the suspect diamond. Most minerals scratch glass, which is 5.5 on the hardness scale, so you shouldn’t use this scratch test to determine if a rough diamond is real.

    Scratching corundum is the only hardness test that’ll help you identify a real diamond, which is 9.0 on the hardness scale. Any other hardness test will not help you differentiate between a fake and a real diamond.

    Testing a Real Diamond with High Profile Weighing

    Gemologists and jewelers use a fine-tuned scale to measure smaller differences in uncut diamonds. The weight of an uncut diamond is usually lower than that of other stones, such as cubic zirconia. A real uncut diamond should weigh 55% less than what cubic zirconia stones weigh.

    How to Buy a Rough Diamond

    If you shop around, you can be lucky to find a good uncut diamond, however, there’s no guarantee of high quality in terms of rough diamonds. You’ll also find it expensive if you include the cost of a mineral testing kit and cutting fee. 

    However, there’s still hope if you do your homework well. Make sure any rough diamond you buy comes with a Kimberly certificate.

    Raw diamonds on the dark surface

    Final Thoughts: The Best Way to Identify Raw Uncut Diamonds

    Most rough diamonds have inclusions, also known as flaws. Diamond inclusions determine whether a rough diamond has a higher or much lower clarity grade. Aside from diamond clarity grade, rough or uncut diamonds are also valued based on cutting capacity and color of the diamond.

    If you want to determine whether a rough diamond is real or not, don’t do it at home; look for an expert who uses a proven diamond tester. That's the only way to differentiate between raw uncut diamonds and other stones.

    FAQs about Suspected Diamonds

    How Do You Tell If a Rock You Found is a Diamond?

    To tell if the rock you found is a diamond, scrape it in corundum. Alternatively, take it to an expert for more tests.

    Are Raw Diamonds Worth Anything?

    Raw diamonds are worth it, especially when they're real. They're worth in terms of  beauty and raw materials, but most individuals are unaware of how much they cost after the polishing process.

    What do Diamonds Look Like in Real Life?

    A real uncut diamond appears white and gray inside when you expose it to the light. It reflects rainbow colors onto other surfaces.

    What Shape is a Diamond when Found?

    Diamonds are octahedral-shaped. They also come in different types, including industry-quality diamonds.

    About the Author:

    David Kopelman

    In every article I write, I share my experience as a GIA Graduated Gemologist so that you learn everything about diamonds and other precious stones.

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