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All About Diamond Polishing Loss

By Frank

Highly experienced diamond polisher who loves to share his knowledge with you. Continues to stun his colleagues with interesting - or simply bizarre - facts about diamonds and gems.

August 13, 2020

Every now and then I have a customer who asks about polishing loss. Or actually: what happens to it? Can we use the diamond polishing loss for something? Well, the answer can be yes and no. It depends on how you look at it.

What is polishing loss?

Polishing loss is exactly what it sounds like. A rough diamond has the shape of an octahedron. This looks like two pyramids with the bottoms to each other. Before I can polish it, a diamond cleaver splits the rough diamond in two parts. The first part is large. This will become the polished diamond. The other part looks like a smaller pyramid or triangle. This is the first part we call polishing loss. The small pyramid serves like the tool to polish the first part. After all: diamond is the hardest natural material. Only a diamond can polish a diamond.

two parts of an octahedron When an octahedron gets split, there is polishing loss (left) and the bigger part that will become the polished diamond (right).

Then there is other polishing loss. The big part of the sawn diamond is getting polished into shape. As you can imagine, this also leads to polishing loss. The small “pyramid” is like a small chunk of diamond. But everything that is polished off of the rough diamond in order to get it into shape, is immediately lost. It turns into small grains of diamonds. Almost like diamond dust.

Can we do something with the polishing loss?

The short answer is no. Especially everything I directly polish off of the diamond is lost. At most we can use the top part that was sawn off to polish the larger part of the diamond. But we can also use it as diamond dust. Together with a mixture of olive oil, diamond dust is applied on the polishing wheel. This makes the wheel able to polish the diamond.

One exception to the rule

However, there is one exception to the rule. There is one option in which we can use the diamond residue. When the rough diamond is very big, sometimes the top part that is sawn off is also quite large. When this top part is at least 0.50 carat, it is possible to transform this into a polished diamond as well. However, this takes a longer time as this part does not have an ideal shape. To transform this part, you will have a polishing loss of at least 50%. Therefore, we only do this when the top part is large enough and promising enough.

So, unfortunately, it is not possible to put the polishing loss of diamonds into jewelry. But doesn’t that make diamonds and diamond jewelry even more special? Only 5% of all the diamonds that are found is suitable for diamond jewelry. Many of these (rough) diamonds have a loss of 50 to 60%. This means there is not much left. But what is left is even more remarkable. Are you looking for a loose diamond or diamond jewelry? Contact our diamond consultants. They can help you to find your perfect piece.

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