The diamond is the world’s most popular and sought after gemstone with around 26,000 kilograms (57,000 lbs.) of diamonds being mined around the world every year. It has been seen as a status symbol throughout history. The word “diamond” comes from the Greek word meaning unbreakable.
Hardness: A diamond is the hardest natural substance on earth and has a hardness of ten on the Mohs scale of hardness. It is 58 times harder than the next hardest mineral on earth. Excellent optical and mechanical properties, in addition to successful marketing, make diamonds the most popular gemstone.
Color: Most diamonds exhibit a clear, colorless appearance but impurities and lattice defects can cast a shade of blue, red, orange, yellow, green and even black on the stone. Vivid blue, green and pink diamonds are the rarest diamonds.
Birthstone: Diamond is the April birthstone and an alternate Zodiac stone for Aries.
Scarcity: Diamonds are found in abundance with thousands of them being mined every year. Most, around eighty percent, however, are not suitable for high quality jewelry.
Value: The quality of a diamond is measured by its cut, color and clarity and carat weight. The fewer inclusions a diamond has, the more valuable it is. Like color, clarity is categorized using international grading scales. The categories of clarity are based upon the number, size and position of the inclusions within the diamond. Diamonds are priced per carat, according to their size and quality. A higher quality smaller diamond is worth more than a lower quality large diamond.
Most Common Cuts: Diamonds are extremely hard, but they are also brittle. Therefore, diamond cutting is a fragile process that requires great deal of skill and experience. Each diamond is cut with considerable precision to optimize the luster and shine of each one. Some of the more popular shapes of diamonds include round brilliant, oval, marquise, pear, heart and emerald. Within each of these shapes, however, it is the cut that determines the quality of the stone. Most diamonds are cut with 58 facets, regardless of their shape.
Gradings: In the 20th century, gemologists developed methods of grading diamonds based on the characteristics most important to their value as a gem. Four characteristics, known as the four Cs, are commonly used to describe diamonds: these are carat weight, cut, color, and clarity. Diamonds are graded into categories defined by letters. The color range from exceptional whites (categories D, E and F) to tinted colors (categories M to Z).
Chemical Formula: The chemical formula for a diamond is C. Diamonds are the only gemstone made of just one element – carbon.
Synthetic Varieties: Today, synthetic diamonds are a big business, far outselling mined diamonds. Sometimes called cubic zirconia and synthetic moissanite, they are categorized and evaluated with the same grading scale process as mined diamonds but are far less valuable. The majority of commercially available synthetic diamonds are yellow and are produced by so called High Pressure High Temperature processes.
History: Diamonds were discovered in India over 3,000 years ago but have existed for much longer. Naturally occurring diamonds are formed over billions of years under intense pressure and heat. They are often brought to the Earth’s surface by deep volcanic eruptions.
Diamonds have a rich and long history among ancient civilizations. In ancient Egypt, diamonds were symbols of eternity and were used to adorn corpses. In India, each caste was permitted to own diamonds of a specific color but only kings could possess all colors of diamonds. Ancient Indians also used them as religious icons. During the middle ages, only men wore diamonds, as a symbol of courage and virility.
Archduke Maximillian of Austria started the tradition giving a diamond engagement ring in 1477 when he gave one to Mary of Burgundy. The popularity of diamonds has risen since the 19th century because of increased supply, improved cutting and polishing techniques, growth in the world economy, and innovative and successful advertising campaigns. The modern tradition of the diamond engagement ring is the result of a clever advertising campaign designed by N.W. Ayer in the 1940s.
Diamonds are mined in about twenty-five countries and on every continent except Europe and Antarctica. Antarctica may actually be a rich source of diamonds but international accords prohibit mining there. Currently the highest producing countries include Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Sierra Leone, Congo, Australia, Canada, and Russia.
Rumored Healing Properties: Diamonds have long been attributed with certain healing powers. They have said to purify and detoxify the body, rebalance metabolism, build stamina, strength and treat allergies and chronic conditions. They are also known for healing glaucoma, providing more clarity, treating dizziness and vertigo.