April Birthstone – Diamonds
You probably already know a lot about this months birthstone, you know that its the hardest natural material in the world, you know that it only forms under intense pressure and you know that it’s a girls best friend. You guessed it, we’re talking about diamonds!
A diamonds structure makes it 58 times harder than anything in nature and can only be cut with another diamond, and therefore ranks 10 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness and is the only gem made of a single element: It is typically about 99.95 percent carbon. The other 0.05 percent can include one or more trace elements, which are atoms that aren’t part of a diamond’s essential chemistry. Some trace elements can influence its colour or crystal shape.
Diamonds come in several colours, including yellow, red, pink, blue, and green, and range in intensity from faint to vivid. Generally speaking, the more saturated the colour, the higher the value. In fact, diamonds sparkling with intense colour are rare and may be priced higher than a colourless diamond of equal size. Because fancy-colour diamonds are very desirable, colour is sometimes introduced in a laboratory. These are correctly called colour-treated diamonds.
Diamonds form under high temperature and pressure that exist only within a specific depth range (about 100 miles; 160 kilometers) beneath the earth’s surface. The conditions are extreme: Temperatures must be between 1150 to 1200 ºC; the pressure must be between 50 and 70 kilobars – up to 70,000 times greater than atmospheric air pressure at sea level. Carbon atoms in this environment in the mantle may form diamond.
A diamond’s hardness is due to the way the carbon atoms bond. Diamond’s crystal structure is isometric, which means the carbon atoms are bonded in essentially the same way in all directions. Graphite, a mineral used to make pencil lead, is also made of carbon, but because the molecules bond differently, this mineral is not nearly as hard.
Diamonds have been admired for centuries, and some historians estimate it was traded as early as 4 BC. One of the reasons it is so admired and valued is because of the process by which a diamond must be formed well below the earth’s crust, then forced upward until it is uncovered. But before this process was understood, many ancient civilisations believed that diamonds were lighting made real on earth. Perhaps this is the reason that diamonds have often been associated with great healing powers. Many thought the diamond could cure brain disease, alleviate pituitary gland disorders and draw toxins from the blood.
Historically, the diamond first became a popular gemstone in India, when the Moghuls and Imperial Colony easily mined diamonds from deposits along three major rivers. Today, the diamond is most widely known as the stone to give as part of an engagement ring.
Throughout history, however, the diamond has nearly always symbolised eternal and lasting love. So whether you’re getting engaged, or simply want to give yourself a truly meaningful gift, the diamond has both beauty and enduring symbolism.
In the early 1700s, as India’s diamond supplies began to decline, Brazil emerged as an important source. Diamonds were discovered when gold miners sifted through the gravels of local rivers. The country dominated the diamond market for more than 150 years.
The first great South African diamond deposits were unearthed in the late 1800s. The 1866 discovery of diamonds in Kimberley, South Africa, marked the beginning of the modern diamond market. Entrepreneur Cecil Rhodes established De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited in 1888 and, by 1900, De Beers controlled an estimated 90 percent of the world’s production of rough diamonds.
At the end of the 1970s, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (previously known as Zaire) and the former Soviet Union were the world’s most important rough diamond producers. In 1982, a highly productive new mine in Botswana added to world production, making the country third in the world in total diamond recovery and second in diamond value. Diamond mining expanded dramatically with the discovery of sources in Australia in 1985 and important new diamond deposits in northern Canada in 2000.
How to Buy Diamonds
In addition to being the April birthstone, diamond is the gift of choice for the 60th and 75th wedding anniversaries. And, of course, the diamond engagement ring has become a near-universal symbol of love and marriage.
Until the middle of the twentieth century, there was no agreed-upon standard by which diamonds could be judged. GIA created the 4Cs of Diamond Quality – the first, and now globally accepted standard for describing diamonds.
Colour – In most diamonds, the term refers to the absence of colour. The less colour in the stone, the more desirable it is. Differences can be subtle and difficult for the untrained eye to see, but directly impact the overall quality and value of the stone.
Clarity – Is a measure of the amount, size and placement of internal characteristics, called inclusions, and external characteristics, called blemishes. Grades run from ‘Flawless,’ with virtually no inclusions visible under 10× magnification, to ‘Included,’ which contain obvious inclusions.
Cut – Cut does not refer to a diamond’s shape, but to its proportions and the arrangement of its facets and the quality of workmanship. The amount of brilliance, sparkle and fire in a diamond is determined by cut. Cut grades range from ‘Excellent’ to ‘Poor.’ We focus more on the shape in this post here.
Carat – This measurement describes a diamond’s weight. Generally speaking, the higher the carat weight, the more expensive the stone. Two diamonds of equal carat weight, however, can have very different qualities and values when the other three Cs are considered.
Diamond Care and Cleaning
Clean your diamond by wiping it with a lint-free cloth; or use warm water, mild soap and a soft toothbrush or a commercial jewellery cleaning solution. Also have your diamond jewellery periodically cleaned and its setting examined by a professional jeweller to maintain its beauty and integrity over time.