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What Do Diamonds Look Like When They Are Found?

What Do Diamonds Look Like When They Are Found?

Finding diamonds is not an easy task. And we really mean it when we say it; just look at the statistics. The chances of you finding a diamond are one in ten million. And those numbers are for the small ones! 

Let’s say that you’re looking to spot something bigger, like a diamond that has a diameter of over 8mm and weights north of 2 grams – that would be a good find, but the chances of it are one in a billion. Yet, here we are, and you want to know more about this painful job.

Well, we get you. It may seem impossible, but it’s a profession that will most certainly pay off under the right circumstances. But if you’re at the beginning of this possible career, you could be looking for some lessons and some guidance. 

The first thing we all want to know is simple – what do diamonds look like when they are found? It’s an important question, and the answer requires you to know a few things about diamonds in general. But hey, whatever it takes, right? Well, let’s get this party started!

A Guide For The Untrained Eye: How To Spot A Rough Diamond?

You really don’t need to be some expert or scientist to spot a possible diamond while on a search. There are always mistakes that can be made, like in any field, so don’t expect to find something too easily. After all, you can’t tell if something’s a diamond just by looking at it, but you can make an educated guess. So let’s get you educated:

There are a couple of basic things you need to know to be able to go looking around for diamonds. What shape they can be, what size, their general appearance, and their color. Sure, all diamonds are made by the same process in nature, but the chances of the result being the same every time are nearly impossible. 

Learn More: How Long Does A Diamond Take To Form And Grow?

So let’s cover those basics:


The simpler the diamond’s shape is, the more it will be worth. Now don’t get us wrong, rough diamonds can be all kinds of shapes and sizes. But to determine how much a diamond is worth, it needs to be cut. Once it is, experts can determine the level of clarity, which is also one of the crucial parts of the assessment.

But why is a simple shape good? 

Well, because the diamond needs to be cut into a specific familiar shape, it would be more valuable. If the diamond has a weird portion sticking out on one side, that portion will likely get cut off to achieve the desired shape. 

This actually brings us to the simple answer to our main question – diamonds can look really weird! We weren’t joking when we said that they get found in all kinds of shapes and sizes! Experts know what they’re looking at right away, but to an inexperienced eye, they may just seem like a plain mineral at first!


Diamonds can be big, and they can be small; there really are no rules. But unfortunately, when we say the word “big”, we are not talking about something that you can spot from the other side of the room. 

In this field, the word “big” would be used for diamonds that are heavier than 200 carats. That is at least where the list starts for the largest rough diamonds ever found. This doesn’t mean that anything under 200 carats would be considered a light find, far from it!

Finding a 100-carat diamond would put a smile on anyone’s face, believe us. But it’s important to stay grounded in reality. Hoping to break a world record is always recommended; there’s no harm in staying optimistic. 

Here’s the list, just in case you were wondering:

3167Sergio (carbonado)Brazil1895
3106.75Cullinan DiamondSouth Africa1905
1109Lesedi La RonaBotswana2015
1098Not Yet NamedBotswana2021
998Not Yet NamedBotswana2020
995.20Excelsior DiamondSouth Africa1893
969Star Of Sierra LeoneSierra Leone1973
910Lesotho LegendLesotho2018

As you can see, the 21st century has been pretty darn great for diamond folks. Half of the top ten biggest rough diamonds list consists of ones found in the last twenty years. Of course, you’ve probably noticed the big drop in the number between second and third place. 

The Cullinan Diamond is actually considered the biggest rough diamond ever found on Earth. Or, to be more precise, the biggest one that our planet has managed to produce, as far as we know! The Sergio diamond is bigger, yes, but it was found on land, not in a mine. This has led researchers to believe that it’s actually a part of a meteor that found its way here from space.

The most common diamonds that are found on our planet are ones that are under 2 grams (10 carats). This may seem a bit disappointing, especially after the Sergio and Cullinan diamonds, but it’s the harsh truth. Well, it’s not that harsh reality; a 10-carat diamond can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars! 

You might have noticed by now that we’re using the word “carat” for weight, not size. While we’re here, we might also cover this basic fun fact for those unfamiliar. Aa carat is a weight measurement; one carat equals ⅕ of one gram. 

To put that into perspective, the Cullinan weighs 3106.5 carats, which equals 621.35 grams. That literally makes Cullinan a heavyweight champion, pun intended. 


The appearance of rough diamonds is a complicated subject. They are pretty far from the perfectly cut image of a 20-carat diamond ring we might have in our heads when we hear the word.

Rough diamonds come in a myriad of shapes and sizes, and they’re only limited to the conditions in which they were formed. When found, they can look like minerals, rocks, or anything else that might have been formed beneath the ground. But once they’re cut, that’s when the magic starts.

We all know what the perfect diamond looks like, but that look (and shape) comes at a price. And the currency in which that price is calculated is, you guessed it, diamonds! 

As we already mentioned, these beauties can be found as small squares, cubes, or any other shape imaginable. Well, not ANY shape, but you get the picture. The problem with this is that if the rough diamond was formed in conditions that allowed it to have a part of it poking outward, that part can sometimes be considered useless.

Unless the found rough diamond is huge, like 100, 200, 500 carats, it’s possible to turn those small bits into sellable diamond pieces once the cutting starts. So as long as the diamond was formed into a simpler object, most of it will get used and sold – which means that the profit will be bigger. 

If we take a look at those historically huge rough diamonds, they kind of look funny, even when they get cut and cleaned up. Sure, the clarity is there with most of them, but the shape looks like some toy model of a mountain! The cutting is the final process in which you can determine how valuable a diamond is.

The more pieces you manage to pull from rough diamonds, the more valuable it is as a whole. This means that you need a diamond that doesn’t need to get cut too much, so there’s not too much waste. 

The Sergio, for instance, was cut up into nine smaller pieces and then sold that way. Some rough diamonds can be cut up into, say, one giant piece, as long as the remaining pieces can get turned into valuable profit as well. 

Sometimes the shape just doesn’t allow this! 

Related Read: Are Raw Uncut Diamonds Worth Anything?


As far as color goes, rough diamonds can tell you right away whether or not the value will be worth it. See, the less color there is, the better. Clear diamonds are just worth more! The more color there is, the less the diamond will be worth. Some are yellow, some brown, some just off-white. 

The rule of thumb for the color of rough diamonds goes like this – if it looks clear, there’s a chance it will be clear once cut. The percentage of clarity depends on a couple of factors which we’ll explain in a moment. But if it looks, say, yellow or brown, once everything is cleaned off the surface – you’re not looking at a high percentage of clarity.


The clarity of a diamond depends on how it was formed. But why do they form in the first place? Let us explain: 

Diamonds are the result of carbon getting exposed to incredible amounts of heat and pressure. How that carbon gets exposed to those things tells us what it will look like on the inside and out.

The characteristics diamonds retain after formation are called inclusions and blemishes. 

Inclusions are found on the inside of diamonds, while blemishes are found on the outside. These can vary from scratches to spots – they are basically any kinds of imperfections that can be spotted under magnification. Here’s how it works : 

FLFlawlessA flawless diamond is just as good as it sounds. No faults on the inside or out. These are incredibly rare and hold the most value.
IFInternally FlawlessAs you can guess from the name, this means that these diamonds are flawless on the inside, but do have faults and blemishes on the outside. These are still very valuable.
VVS1, VVS2Very Very Slightly IncludedThis means that the diamond has slight flaws that are seen with a 10x magnification.
VS1, VS2Very Slightly IncludedIt is very hard to distinguish between the VVS1/VVS2 grade and this one, but under 10x magnification there’s more flaws to be found.
SI1, SI2Slightly Included There are slight flaws that can be found under 10x magnification, as well as with the human eye.
I1, I2, I3Included This is the least valuable group as the inclusions can be seen without magnification.

All the imperfections that we are mentioning here are only seen once the diamond is cleaned. When found, the diamonds are rough in appearance, and those faults are unnoticeable.

Basically, there are ways of figuring out whether or not a rough diamond will be worth a lot of money. Firstly an expert needs to make an estimate on how clean the diamonds can be. Notice that we’re saying how clean it CAN be – because this will be known once the diamonds are completely cleaned and cut. 

The next stage is for the rough diamonds to get cleaned and cut. This is when it’s determined how much cutting gets done and how many inclusions and blemishes are found on the diamond.

Now, if you’re looking to figure out how a nicely cut diamond looks like when compared to other gemstones, here’s a PRO TIP: As far as shape goes, the easiest way to differentiate a diamond from any other mineral is to figure out how many sides it has. For example, quartz has six sizes, which means that they have a hexagonal form. 

So how many sides do diamonds have? Diamonds have four sides. It doesn’t matter what kind of shape the diamonds may have formed into over the years and years of their formation. A diamond will, when viewed from the top, have four sides. 

Now you might be thinking back to your school days and asking yourself, how can a diamond have a cube form? Isn’t that a rhombus? Well, yes, it technically is, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.

When we say that diamonds form in a “cube,” we mean that they have four sides. We feel as if it’s important to mention that that’s a relatively easy way to spot them, considering that other minerals that don’t fall into the same categorization have six sides. 

The actual shape of the diamond can have an infinite amount of variations! But as far as its form goes, after a professional has cut them, they’ll have four sides.

Related Read: How Can You Tell if an Uncut Diamond Is Real?

Final Words

So there you have it – rough diamonds require a lot of work, but the result is more than worth it. Let’s get something straight, these kinds of crash courses won’t make you a diamond expert.

But hey, that’s what the real experts are for! Maybe you think that you might have found something valuable. It doesn’t hurt to know a thing or two about the whole business! So keep educating yourself, and who knows, maybe your diamond will crack that top ten list one day.

Read Also: Raw Uncut Diamond Price List: Rough Diamond Prices Guide