How to tell if you have a rough diamond

Written by jane ellis
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How to tell if you have a rough diamond
A diamond in the rough may be difficult for the average person to spot. (Jeffrey Hamilton/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

The metaphor, "A diamond in the rough," refers to something that could be made valuable or special with a little polishing. An actual diamond in the rough typically looks like a small, nondescript stone that most lay people would hardly notice and would not recognise as a precious gem. If you have a stone that you believe could be a diamond, there are certain characteristics to look for and also tests that can be done to help you determine whether you have a valuable gem or a worthless dud.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging


  1. 1

    Research the area in which you found the stone you suspect of being a rough diamond. If the area is known for having diamonds, such as Arkansas's Crater of Diamonds State Park, then there is a possibility that you have stumbled on a diamond.

  2. 2

    Study the stone's features. Most diamonds are small. A one-carat gem is approximately the same size as a green pea. Rough diamonds should have a lustre or sheen to their appearance, and they may also feel slightly oily to the touch.

  3. 3

    Look into the stone. Most rough diamonds are translucent, so you should be able to see into a stone, but not through it, as if it were clear.

  4. 4

    Compare the shape of your diamond against pictures of diamond roughs. Many rough diamonds have a distinctive geometric shape, while others, such as those found in the Crater of Diamonds State Park may appear almost round and smooth.

  5. 5

    Place your rough diamond in water. Real stones will sink. Although some fake stones will also sink, many others will float to the surface.

  6. 6

    Take your rough diamond to a jeweller or gemologist. An expert can perform several tests, including one that uses electrical conductivity, on your rough stone to see if it is in fact a diamond.

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