What You Need to Know about ‘Raw’ Diamonds

Raw diamond engagement rings are up and coming trend for the alternative bride. But what are they, and what should you know about them?

‘Raw’ or ‘rough’ diamonds are simply diamonds that have not been cut or polished into the kind of glittering stones we’re used to seeing on engagement rings. With the search for unique and alternative engagement rings continuing full steam and intensifying year on year, it was only a matter of time before brides-to-be went ‘back to basics’ and opted for this crafty, ethereal look.

Rough diamonds are usually sold wholesale to jewellers or diamond traders, who will then cut, polish and set them into jewellery pieces or release them to the retail market. Lately however, jewellers are taking these ‘raw’ diamonds and just using them as they are, setting them into simple rings or other settings. They make for unique designs guaranteed to get people talking. If you’re considering a rough diamond engagement ring, keep these tip in mind.

The 4Cs don’t matter. Take everything you’ve learned about the 4Cs and flush them down the toilet. Cut is completely irrelevant – the diamonds haven’t been cut, remember! Clarity follows not too close behind, again because the diamonds have not been cut. And colour and carat size are pretty much down to your own personal tastes. So just go with what you like, and with what fits into your budget.

Your buying source DOES matter. Raw diamonds are still subject to all the usual guidelines about buying from a reputable source. Since they haven’t been cut and polished, they won’t come with GIA or other premium gem lab certificates; which means you should be even more vigilant than usual. Do your research, make sure you trust your jeweller utterly and completely, and insist on buying a stone that’s fully traceable all the way back to the mine.

You probably can’t cut and polish your raw diamond. It’s a nice idea that one day you’ll upgrade your engagement ring by doing this, but it’s not always possible. Your rough diamond may have internal inclusions that would result in a poor quality cut and polished gem, or may affect the durability of the stone when cut. When all the rough edges are smoothed down, you could also be left with a gem that’s too small to do anything with. If you have your heart set on this, get your diamond fully analyzed by an expert.

Your raw diamond ring may require more maintenance. This is especially true of rough diamonds in prong set rings; your diamond is a non-uniform shape, and it’s the toughest natural substance on the planet. A couple of knocks or bumps and one or more of the prongs could be pushed out of place. Over time, it could loosen further and you could risk losing a stone. The non-uniform and non-smoothed surface also means you’ll be more likely to scratch and scrape other things, too.

Bezel settings are best. Bezel settings aren’t the most popular choice for ‘normal’, cut and polished diamonds. They block light from entering the lower half of the ring, which reduces their sparkle. With raw diamonds however this doesn’t matter. A bezel setting is one of the most secure for any ring, so you should strongly consider this for your raw diamond. In fact, many raw diamond engagement rings are designed with bezel settings anyway.

Yes, raw diamonds CAN be cheaper. Because they haven’t been cut and polished, raw diamonds are automatically a little cheaper than their counterparts. They’re also likely to have inclusions which makes them less valuable, too. Hurray! As always there are exceptions and it depends on many factors, of course. But your wallet will most likely thank you.

And now, time for some inspiration. Here are a couple of rough diamond engagement rings from around the web that we can’t get enough of…

All rough diamonds, all beautiful. This is like something from Lord of the Rings, and we love it.

A standard looking scuffy diamond gets the wow factor with a fabulous art deco setting. Fab.

A pave diamond ‘cage’ keeps the raw diamond from falling out or scratching anything, and looks great too!

Accentuate the rough and ready look with a higgledy-piggledy band to match. Gorgeous.