Avatar photo

By Citizen Reporter


Did I really just pick up a diamond? Here’s how to test it at home

Think you struck it rich with that pretty rock you picked up? Do these three quick tests before heading to the jeweller.

If you ever find yourself picking up a pretty stone that gets your heart pounding, there’s some important things you should check before planning that holiday to the Maldives.

The recent “diamond” find in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal had locals rushing to the area to make their fortunes and build a new life for their families.

Unfortunately, their dreams were shattered when a technical team of Department of Mineral Resources officials, the Council for Geoscience, the South African Diamond and Precious Metals Regulator and Mintek found the stones locals mined in the area are quartz crystals.

ALSO READ: KZN authorities confirm stones found in KwaHlathi are not real diamonds

The value, if any, of the quartz crystals is yet be established but it must be said that the value of quartz crystals is very low compared to that of diamonds.

According to John Betts Fine Minerals, the chances of picking up a rough diamond are extremely rare – one in 10,000,000 actually. The odds of you picking up a diamond that’s actually worth anything – a diamond over 8 mm, in excess of 2 grams in weight that is – is one in a billion!

But, should you ever find yourself on Lady Luck’s good side, here’s how to identify a diamond at home: 

  • Scratch test: Scrape the crystal against a piece of corundum. Corundum is another kind of crystal that’s slightly less hard than a diamond. You can buy it quite inexpensively. Hold the corundum firmly against a table and scrape the “diamond” against the corundum. If it creates a visible scratch, the crystal is a diamond. If it doesn’t create a scratch, then it is a different mineral.
  • Count the sides of the stone: Diamonds are cubic (four sided), while other similar stones like quartz are hexagonal (six sided). Look down at the point of the crystal and count the number of sides. If there are four sides, there’s a possibility the crystal is a diamond. If there are six sides, it means that it’s likely a quartz crystal
  • Location, location: Did you find the crystal near kimberlite pipes? Kimberlite pipes are igneous stones, or stones that formed from molten magma and can found under the surface of the soil. Naturally occurring diamonds are mostly found in these kimberlite pipe deposits. If your crystal was originally sourced from a kimberlite pipe, there’s a greater likelihood that it is a diamond rather than another stone.

How to identify a diamond

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits