If you polled 100 people and asked them to name a precious stone that is used in jewelry, the Birthstone of April would be the overwhelming winner. The beauty of a polished diamond is difficult to beat, whatever the setting. It is also the stone most associated with love and affairs of the heart.
The enduring popularity of the diamond has a somewhat cynical chapter in its history. Although long coveted and used in jewelry and decoration, the diamond market suffered greatly after the start of the Industrial Revolution of the early 20th century. Suddenly, with mechanical means of cutting and polishing stones making it much easier to produce a finished stone, the market became flooded with high-quality diamonds, so the price fell dramatically.
Mining company De Beers, who had a virtual monopoly on the world’s supply of diamonds felt their profits threatened, and so embarked on an advertising campaign that revolutionized the art of selling. Their “A diamond lasts forever” campaign forever associated diamonds with love, and the connection is still strong today. And if James Bond says so, who are we to argue?
Myths About Diamond
Diamonds are the hardest natural substance known to man. Despite this, they are not indestructible, as seems to be a popular misconception. There is a difference, however, between hardness and toughness. A diamond gets its hardness from the fact that its atoms are extremely closely bonded. This allows it to cut through just about any other material with ease. But that close bonding also means the diamond has no way of absorbing energy. We know a sponge isn’t hard in any sense, but drop it on the floor and it bounces. That’s because its structure means it absorbs impacts very easily.
The structure of a diamond means if it hits something hard enough it is likely to be a lot more brittle than most people expect. Diamonds can – and do – suffer from chips and even full fractures. Hard, certainly, but not so tough.
Locations Of Diamond
For centuries, India was a center of the diamond world but, in the past two hundred years, or so, other countries have become major centers of production. Africa, in particular, along with Russia dominate the diamond industry today, although India is still an important region for the quality of the deposits if not the volume.
Australia has been an important region for diamond production in the past 30 years, but its deposits are fast becoming exhausted. The country has been the major resource for pink and rare red diamonds, responsible for 90% of the entire world’s production of these two colors.
Cultivating The Stone
The various colors of diamonds – everything from white to deep red – are caused by the inclusion of non-carbon elements in the structure of the diamond. Yellow, by far the most common color of the non-white diamonds is caused by nitrogen. All color irregularities require only minute trace quantities of the rogue elements, with higher concentrations meaning more color.
Black diamonds do exist, but it is not impurities in the carbon which causes this color of the diamond. Instead, it is the presence of a great many inclusions within the stone which means the light entering the diamond can’t be reflected back out. By being absorbed in this way, the internal area of the diamond appears black.
Diamonds take a long time to produce. Up to 3 billion years long, actually. The carbon crystals of which diamond is made from are subjected to enormous heat and pressure deep down in the earth, before being brought closer to the surface by volcanic activity. The shape we are used to seeing to depict a diamond is a broad representation of the way the rough crystals are formed.
We mentioned above about diamond being the hardest natural substance known to man. This is confirmed by diamond having a level of 10 on the Mohs Hardness scale. So hard is diamond, in fact, that is is nearly 4 times harder than those minerals at level 9 on the scale. The nest hardest precious or semi-precious stones are emerald and topaz with a hardness level of 8. This is about 1/8th the hardness of diamond.
Diamond In Jewelry
The majority of diamonds used in engagement rings and other jewelry today are round brilliant cut diamonds. This cut actually uses less of the rough stone, meaning less profit per rough carat, but is a very popular choice. Square or near-square cuts are more profitable for the designer but don’t have as high a level of demand, Many of the “off-cuts” from the rough stones go on to make diamond tips for industrial use.
Of course, an engagement ring almost wouldn’t be an engagement ring without a diamond. The use of diamonds in engagement rings goes back almost to the first rings. Ancient Roman culture dictated that a man would put a ring on his wife’s finger as a warning to others that she was taken. Diamond and other precious stones soon found their way into the rings.
Diamonds are by far the most popular precious stone used in jewelry of all types.
Picking The Right Diamond For you
The 4Cs of color, clarity, cut and carat weight dictates the price of a diamond. Any of them can affect the price, which can bring an individual stone into the reach of most people. That doesn’t mean you would be getting a sub-standard stone though. Far from it, in fact.
Taking a slightly lower color grade, or a slightly lighter weight might make no visible difference. Except it could mean a saving of up to 40% on the grade above. Don’t aim too high, as most flaws can’t be seen by the naked eye, but will reduce the price more than you might think.
You can also be smart with the weights. Diamonds are usually priced in half or full carat divisions. This means a 1.9ct diamond will be priced as though a 1.5ct stone. Shop wisely, and you can get a lot more for your money than the ticket suggests.
Caring And Cleaning For Diamond
Although very hard, diamonds can be dulled by months or years of a build-up of grease and dirt. In most cases, warm, soapy water and a soft baby toothbrush will get the job done.
See our guide on How To Clean Your Engagement Ring to bring your ring back to its best.
Getting An April Birthstone Ring
At Estate Diamond Jewelry we have a wide range of engagement rings containing your April Birthstone. Our vintage and antique engagement rings cater for all tastes and all budgets. To view any of our diamond engagement rings, feel free to email us.