Diamonds of the First Water – Diamond Purity

Diamonds of the first water and of the finest purity

The Relationship Between Water & Diamonds

The transparency and qualities of high clarity diamonds have often been compared to water and ice.

Diamonds are the hardest substance known to man yet water is the softest, most fluid substance. But given time, water can wear even the toughest rock formations. Water is routinely used by the diamond mining industry to recover diamonds from alluvial deposits in areas like Namibia. Water and diamonds have many similarities. These similarity have been documented through history. The Ancient Greeks believed diamonds were tears of the Gods. One of the oldest terms in diamond grading draws upon a striking similarity between water and diamonds.

Diamonds of the First Water

The comparison between diamond clarity, and water purity relates directly to the highest clarity grade of a diamond.

Diamonds are graded by many factors [see our diamond education]. Clarity is one of the four attributes leading to the value of a diamond. The presence of internal characteristics or inclusions result in the clarity grade of a diamond. ‘Diamonds of the First Water’ is a very old term used to describe the very best purity in diamonds. A perfectly clear diamond relates to a perfectly clear drop of water.

Diamonds & Water in History

Early editions of the Chambers Encyclopaedia include the following wording to go with the entry for the word ‘Diamond’.

“The first water in Diamonds means the greatest purity and perfection of their complexion, which ought to be that of the clearest drop of water…..”

The connection between diamonds and water can also be identified within one of the best examples, from the works of William Shakespeare. Found within Pericles, Prince of Tyre, from 1607 /1608.

Heavenly jewels which Pericles hath lost,
Begin to part their fringes of bright gold.
The diamonds of a most praised water
Doth appear, to make the world twice rich.”

Modern References to Purity

To learn more about modern terminology for diamond clarity, please see our guidance page on diamond clarity which uses the GIA system adopted by most of the jewellery industry worldwide.

Mark Johnson

About Mark Johnson

Mark attended Liverpool University and went on to pursue a career in the diamond industry. After more than a decade working in polished diamonds, Mark moved to the Isle of Wight where he launched Serendipity Diamonds. He works most days from their busy Ryde showroom, photographing jewellery and writing for the Serendipity Diamonds website. Anyone interested can connect with Mark on Linkedin via the profile link.

Mark Johnson

About Mark Johnson

Mark attended Liverpool University and went on to pursue a career in the diamond industry. After more than a decade working in polished diamonds, Mark moved to the Isle of Wight where he launched Serendipity Diamonds. He works most days from their busy Ryde showroom, photographing jewellery and writing for the Serendipity Diamonds website. Anyone interested can connect with Mark on Linkedin via the profile link.