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Type IIa Diamonds – The Rarest Diamond of Them All
Hard Carbon Inc. based in the GTA is one of the world’s leading diamond retailers. With decades of experience and clients across the globe we can source the best diamonds on the market. Due to our extensive knowledge we are often able to source diamonds that the majority of dealers are unable to find due to their lack of experience. One category of these rare diamonds is the Type IIa diamond.
Most people believe that diamonds are divided by cut, clarity and carat size – but in fact there are many more classifications. There are scientific methods which are used to examine diamonds and then classify them based on their chemical makeup, including any impurities and inclusions which may be present. There are five types of diamonds currently recognized: Type Ia, Type Ib, Type IaB, Type IIa and Type IIb. Diamonds can be measured at an atomic level of the diamond’s crystal lattice, which is made up of carbon atoms, and incredibly a single diamond can be a mix of two types – Type Ia and Type 1B for example. The majority of diamonds are Type Ia; these diamonds contain more inclusions that Type IIa diamonds and are therefore of lower quality – most people don’t realize this!
Type IIa diamonds are incredibly rare, it is estimated that they make up only 1%-2% of diamonds available. Many of these diamonds have next to no impurities and have incredibly high thermal conductivity. Interestingly some Type IIa diamonds can also have slight variation of color. As they rise through the earth’s mantle different pressure can cause plastic deformation which changes the internal lattice structure of the diamond which can, rarely, result in giving the diamond a color hue such as light pink, yellow, light gray/brown and light blue.
People familiar with diamonds may have heard the term ‘Golconda diamonds.” For over 2,000 years diamonds mined in the Golconda region in India were the only diamonds in existence. Nearly all diamonds from Golconda were Type IIa and at one point from the 16th to 18th centuries there were 23 mines operating and it is estimated that up to 30,000 people worked at one time in just one of these mines. While difficult to determine, it is thought that this region of India had produced approximately 10 million carats of diamonds. Over time ‘Golconda diamond’ and ‘Type IIa diamond’ have become to be used interchangeably and represent the highest quality of diamond available.
Type IIa diamonds, due to their rarity, have become some of history’s most famous diamonds. Fascinatingly these diamonds are both colorless and colored.
The Koh-I-Noor is one of the most infamous colorless diamonds in history, weighing a whopping 105.6 carats (uncut it is estimated to have weighed 186 carats) and after an illustrious journey it now sits in the United Kingdom as part of the Crown Jewels. It is currently set in a Crown for the late Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Koh-i-Noor means ‘Mountain of Light’ in Persian and its first verified appearance is from the Mughal Peacock Throne which contained many priceless gems, it was looted in the 1740’s by Nader Shah. After changing ownership several times, it eventually ended up being give to Queen Victoria in the mid 19th century. In 1951 the British public were able to view the Koh-i-Noor for the first time at the Great Exhibition in London. At the time it was cut in the style as many diamonds from the Mughal era were, which was a rectangular shape – Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, felt that this cut did not due the diamond justice and had it recut to an oval brilliant shape which is how it remains today.
The Dresden Diamond is another example of a Type IIa diamond which is the world’s largest green diamond. A ‘Golconda diamond’ the Dresden Diamond’s history has twists and turns that can be difficult to decipher. It was discovered by a British merchant in the early 1700’s and was valued at approximately $110,000 ($7 million in today’s dollars).
As was customary at the time the stone was first presented to the British King who, shockingly, was not interested and it subsequently ended up in the Royal Court of Saxony. It was named the Dresden Green after the capital of the Saxony state where it has been displayed at the Dresden Castle. Fortunately, the Dresden Green was on loan, a rare event, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in 2019 and was not part of the infamous jewel heist of November 25, 2019 where an estimated €113,000.00 diamonds and jewels were stolen.
Perhaps not as well known, but just as incredible, is the colorless Orlov Diamond – sometimes called The Great Mughal Diamond is also from the Golconda region and was found in the 17th century. While details on its history are murky the common understanding is that it was purchased by Count Grigory Grigorievich Orlov for Catherine the Great of Russia. Catherine the Great had it incorporated into a sceptre with the Orlav diamond set on top. It is a rare example of an Indian rose-style cut and has been described as ‘half of an egg’ shape. While never formally weighed it is estimated to be about 190 carats.
At Hard Carbon Inc. we advise both experienced and new clients to work with us to purchase any Type IIa diamonds – many less reputable retailers attempt to pass off lab grown diamonds as earth mined diamonds which are not investment grade diamonds. There is a difference in quality and our experts ensure that our Type IIa diamonds are all earth mined and of the highest quality. We can source both colorless and colored Type IIa diamonds that are very difficult to find. Give us a call today to learn more about Type IIa diamonds.