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Recycled diamonds - what to look out for

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In recent years, we've seen a growing demand for recycled diamonds. More and more people have expressed a desire to repurpose diamonds inherited from family heirlooms, creating new and meaningful jewellery. This trend offers a compelling combination of cost-effectiveness, sustainability and a profound connection to the person from whom the jewellery was inherited.

This article explores how you can make informed decisions about creating new jewellery pieces that make use of recycled diamonds.

What are recycled diamonds?

Recycled, pre-owned or second-hand diamonds are gemstones extracted from previously owned jewellery and repurposed for new creations. These diamonds undergo a meticulous process to ensure their quality and authenticity. Like lab-grown diamonds, they can offer a sustainable and ethical alternative to mined diamonds, reducing the demand for new mining. Indeed, recycled diamonds are among the most sustainable diamonds possible!

How to check if your diamond is suitable to be recycled

The natural first step is to check the diamond's clarity by eye. Almost all diamonds have natural inclusions or blemishes trapped within the crystal. These might be black carbon specks, white clouding, small feathers (cracks), or bubbles. If you view a diamond under a 10x magnification jeweller's loupe, you will almost invariably find some minor blemishes even in a good quality diamond. If none are visible at 10x magnification, you are either looking at an internally flawless diamond, or a diamond substitute, most likely cubic zirconia.

The next step is to tilt the stone through the light. Diamonds are very hard, and adjacent facets are joined by extremely fine and well-defined edges. This means that when you tilt the diamond, the light will go from falling on one facet straight to falling on its neighbour, without any intervening halfway stage. With a diamond substitute, you will notice the edge between the facets briefly illuminate, as it's less defined than the edge you would see on a diamond. If you notice this effect and the stone is entirely free of inclusions, it's very unlikely to be a diamond.

Diamond Testing Devices

It's quite likely that you won't feel comfortable judging a diamond by eye if you have no gemological training. In that case, there are a couple of routes open to you. Firstly, there are electronic devices available that can differentiate between diamond and diamond substitutes based on their thermal and electrical properties. These work instantaneously and require almost no skill to use. However, they can be quite expensive (possibly over £200, depending on the brand), and while they will reliably identify a diamond, they will tell you almost nothing about its condition or value.

Gemological Reports

It's almost certainly better to send the stone to a gemological laboratory for inspection. If you plan to sell the stone, you would ideally have a full certificate. This isn't cheap, typically costing over £100 depending on the size of the stone. However, suppose you are planning to re-use the diamond yourself; all you need is peace of mind. In that case, some laboratories offer the option of a verbal assessment, which is much cheaper (typically around £50). This will reassure you that your gemstone is a real diamond and offer you a rough assessment of its quality and condition. If there are any chips or surface damage, you will immediately be made aware and can make an informed decision about how to proceed.


How are recycled diamonds different from mined diamonds?

Recycled diamonds are simply repurposed mined or lab-grown diamonds, serving as a sustainable alternative to newly mined gems. By choosing recycled diamonds, you contribute to minimal environmental impact and ensure the well-being of surrounding communities. These environmentally conscious gems offer a guilt-free option for conscientious buyers.

Are recycled diamonds ethical?

Recycled diamonds offer a fantastic alternative if you'd like to contribute to a more circular, sustainable and responsible jewellery industry, as they require no new mining.
As a result, they minimise environmental impact and address potential human rights concerns, making them one of the most responsible and ethical jewellery purchases.

Do recycled diamonds retain their value?

All diamonds have a resale value. However, the resale value of a diamond is almost always significantly less than the amount you paid to purchase the diamond in the first place. Once you account for the retail markup of a new diamond and the difficulty of selling it back to a jeweller at its true value, it becomes very unlikely that even a high-quality diamond will retain its value. Financially, the best option is usually to try and resell it directly to a consumer, but that can sometimes be more time-consuming.

Can you tell the difference between a recycled diamond and a new diamond?

The straight answer is no. Each diamond, irrespective of its source, possesses unique characteristics, such as cut, clarity, colour, and carat weight; and such characteristics don't change over time. Diamonds do not dull or stop sparkling during their life. Having said that, even though diamonds are known for their hardness – their ability to resist scratches and abrasions, they are not impervious to damage and can chip or scratch if not looked after properly. Recycled diamonds can have more scratch marks than newly-mined diamonds due to wear and tear or can even have a vintage cut that is less commonly used than the more modern Princess Cut, for example.


Using recycling diamonds can be a wonderful way of making use of an inherited jewel with great sentimental value to create a new piece of ethical jewellery in a cost-effective way. However, recycled diamonds present their own set of challenges. Before embarking on creating a new piece of jewellery that uses recycled diamonds, it is crucial to determine whether the inherited diamond justifies the expense. Moreover, there may be uncertainties about the diamond's authenticity or quality. Inherited pieces often lack information regarding the original jeweller or the diamond's source, raising valid concerns.

If you want to use your diamond to create a beautiful piece of jewellery, get in touch, and someone from our team will be happy to advise you further.

David Rhode
Together with Tim Ingle, David created Ingle & Rhode to offer a better alternative to the traditional luxury brands. Since 2007, we’ve provided our customers with genuinely ethical engagement rings, wedding rings and fine jewellery – free from conflict diamonds, dirty gold and child labour. With more than 16 years experience in the jewellery industry, David has deep expertise in diamonds, gemstones and jewellery design and manufacturing.