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Miller Indices

Oct 9th, 2015

Miller Indices

Miller Indices (Notation) in Diamonds

Miller indices were developed in 1839 by the British mineralogist William Hallowes Miller. In its simplest form, Miller indices is the description of how many of the three crystal axes, a crystal plane may intersect.

Cube plane intersects only one axis as can be seen in the image below and is given the number of 100 (intersecting 1 axis and missing two, hence 1,0,0 or 100)

Octahedral plane (tetrahedral plane)  intersects three of the axes and has the number 111.


Dodecahedral plane intersects two axes and misses one and therefore has the number 110.Among academia we would always refer to crystal faces by their Miller notation. This is not the norm in the diamond cutting industry where the words 4 point for 100, 3 point for 111 and 2 point for 110 is used. This is however not a scientific approach, but they make do with it.

Diamond Grain?

Diamond cutters would often refer to the notion of ‘finding the grain’ on a diamond. This is a total misnomer as a diamond is not organic like wood and meat to mention two. Diamonds do not have grain. Diamond is a crystal and crystals have planes.  If diamonds had grain, it would become visible during the polishing process like in the case with wood. Some diamonds may have ‘graining’ which is caused by micro and nano twinning where some of the lamelae or atomic layers are rotated to the host material by 60°, which form a line, either partial or completely through the diamond. Sometimes this can be seen on the surface of a rough diamond in the form raised striae.

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