"Diamonds are a girl’s best friend". Diamond jewelry is almost indestructible. It captures the light around the wearer and captures the attention of those who are near. Marilyn Monroe got it right. Nothing enhances beauty and the loveliness of the gems it surrounds like a diamond. And, Marilyn was famously savvy: she knew that diamonds have held their value over the centuries.
Diamond is April’s Birthstone. How lucky can anyone get? Born in April, you should cover yourself with diamonds.
A diamond's internal structure leads to the clear brilliance of the gem. Rarely, a few impurities do get in giving us diamonds with hints of blue, yellow, brown, green, purple, pink, orange and red. These are all the more sought-after for their rarity and prices realized can reach the stratosphere. No wonder diamonds are associated with many mystical powers.
Diamonds take over a billion years to form deep in the earth. There is evidence that some diamonds may have been formed on asteroids in space and left on Earth at impact. Before modern technology permitted miners to dig deep into the bowels of the planet, most diamonds were alluvial - found where running water lifted them out of the earth.
Diamonds have been recognized and enjoyed for thousands of years, but it is only in the last few centuries that technology has allowed us to cut and polish them to show off their true brilliance and luster. Often, diamonds found in a really old antique jewel are not quite as appealing as those cut at later dates. Once technology allowed the brilliance of the diamond to shine through, there was no holding back. Many early diamonds came from the Golconda mines of India, supposedly with the most transparent of colors (due to an almost total lack of nitrogen) and synonymous with great wealth. One of the famous Golconda diamonds is the Hope Diamond. Until you see a Golconda diamond, you cannot understand what it means when they talk about a diamond that looks like water. These diamonds are truly mind-boggling. Sadly, the Golconda mines were depleted a few hundred years ago and few of these gems remain.
The diamond has become a symbol of innocence, virtue, purity and constancy - perfect for today’s use in engagement and wedding rings. In Medieval Europe knights wore them to ‘make them-selves invincible’. Then, as today, it was believed that diamonds increase the magical powers of other nearby gems. It is said the powers inherent in this gem are stronger when received as a gift.
Diamonds are the toughest material known to man. For this reason the only way to cut a diamond is with another diamond. As technology advanced, so our ability to cut a diamond and expose its superb reflective powers grew.
Until a few hundred years ago, technology only allowed for table cut diamonds. Diamonds were simply sliced and the exposed slice was shinier than the rough surface previously exposed. In India, to this day, very thin slices of diamonds are used in jewelry. For this reason, counting carats in Indian-cut diamond jewelry is different to assessing western diamond jewelry.
About 200 years ago, man learned to cut facets in diamonds. This was crudely done but an advance over the single table cut of before. These diamonds are known as rose-cuts. Rose cuts were surpassed by the various forms of the brilliant cut, but they are still in use today for their charm and aesthetic appeal.
A brilliant cut diamond has 58 facets. Each facet is calculated to best reflect a diamond’s play of light. The more exact and scientific the cut, the better the internal reflection of light and the brighter your jewelry will look.
There are other cuts for diamonds. They may be cut in a rectangle, like an emerald and this is known as the ‘emerald cut’. A square cut is the Princess. Pear shapes look like they sound. These cuts are calculated to save carat weight, but none is as bright as the brilliant cut which is the most wasteful and expensive cut.
Diamonds range in color from E, which is pretty much transparent, to M, which is borderline yellow. As mentioned above, specific impurities and radiation will color diamonds and in this case, they are judged differently to the normal color range.
Since we want our diamonds to look as ‘pure’ as possible, we prefer them to have no flaws. Unfortunately, the process that brings them from deep within the earth’s core to the surface, also often causes the inclusion of little flaws, be it specks of black carbon or a weakness in the structure of the stone. We refer to this as the ‘clarity’ of the diamond. Clarity may be flawless, which is very rare, to included. We can hope to find a diamond that is very, very slightly included and we refer to this as VVS. Very slightly included would be very slightly included. You get the picture.
While diamonds are still highly regarded and for good reason, there is some instability in the market. This is partially due to the progress of artificially created diamonds coming on to the market. Most people, including qualified appraisers, cannot tell the difference between a ‘God made’ and a ‘Man made’ diamond.
There are a lot of real diamonds being mined. A lot more than before. Up until the middle of the 20th century De Beers totally controlled the amount of diamonds coming onto the market. Today, diamond mining has become like the Wild West – with everyone out to get what they can, regardless of the effect on the market.