Diamonds – The Celebrities of the Gem and Mineral World
1,109-carat Lasedi La Rona Rough Diamond. Source: Monty Adams.
Diamond. The word alone conjures up images of wealth and opulence. It stems from the Greek word ‘atamas’, which means ‘unbreakable’, and the name certainly fits. Measuring 10 on the Mohs hardness scale, the diamond is considered the hardest substance on the planet. It is also one of the most coveted. And for good reason. The only gem made almost entirely of a single element (carbon); a diamond is a beautiful investment that can truly stand the test of time.
History of Diamonds
Cullinan I, from the British Crown Jewels. Source: Jewel Envy.
A symbol of clarity and strength, the diamond holds a unique and singular place in the world of precious gems. First found in India around 800 BC, diamonds were widely prized and traded throughout ancient civilizations. Once those supplies began to diminish in the 1700s, Brazil became the world’s top producer, dominating the diamond trade for about 150 years. However, the modern diamond market truly came into being when deposits were found in South Africa in the 1860s. Cecil Rhodes established De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited in 1888, and by 1900, De Beers controlled almost all the world’s production of rough diamonds. These days, diamonds are also found in Botswana, the DRC, Russia, Canada, and Western Australia.
A few other fun facts:
- They are more than a billion years old
- They form at depths between 90 and 120 miles beneath Earth’s surface
- Romans believed them to be fallen stars
- Greeks thought they were the tears of gods
- Because of their durability, diamonds were initially used in India to engrave other gemstones
- The first diamond engagement ring on record was from 1477, when the Archduke Maximillian of Austria gave one to his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy
- Believed to have healing powers and act as an antidote to poison
- The Cullinan Diamond (also known as the Great Star of Africa), weighing in at 3,106 ct (621 grams), is considered the largest diamond ever found
- Other famous diamonds include the Hope Diamond, the Golden Jubilee (the largest faceted diamond in the world), the near-perfect Millennial Star and Centenary Diamonds, and the Koh-I-Noor (which is now part of the British Crown Jewels)
- More than 40% of the world’s gem quality diamonds are bought in America
Available in just about every color of the rainbow, this cultural symbol of wealth, status, and power has retained its rank as the celebrity of gems.
The Legendary Hope Diamond. Source: Ancient-Origins.net.
A Diamond Is Forever
Initially, diamonds were not the stone of choice for engagement rings. However, in the 1940s, two events changed that. The first was when an ad agency behind a campaign for De Beers created the catchphrase, ‘A diamond is forever’, cleverly playing upon the diamond’s reputation as a practically indestructible stone as well as implying the gift of one is a testament to an everlasting love.
The second event was the ultimate celebrity endorsement – the Queen of England was gifted a diamond ring by her soon-to-be husband, Prince Philip. It was created from stones that came from his mother’s tiara. As a result, the diamond became THE most desired centerpiece stone in engagement rings and a near-universal symbol of love.
In the market for an engagement ring? We can help you find the perfect match for YOUR perfect match. Check out our online guide or schedule an appointment with one of our fine jewelry experts to walk you through the process.
The Hamilton Silhouette 1.75CT Diamond Engagement Ring
The Four C’s – Color, Carat, Cut, and Clarity
When it comes to diamonds, the four Cs have it. Introduced by De Beers in 1939, these criteria – color, carat, cut, and clarity – help consumers make informed choices when it comes to the stone they choose and factor heavily into the value of each gemstone. Though some aspects are more subjective depending on the buyer’s preferences for factors such as shape, color, and fire (AKA sparkle), they ALL matter in some way or another.
When it comes to diamonds, less is more, at least when it comes to color. Fancy color (AKA natural colored) diamonds aside, colorless diamonds are considered the most valuable. Based on the GIA’s color grading system, diamonds range from D-Z, with D being colorless, the most desirable, and the most expensive of the colorless variety. Most engagement rings feature diamonds that range from D to G.
Private Reserve 18k White and Yellow Gold Fancy Yellow Diamond Earrings
The carat is a standard unit of weight for all gemstones. A carat is divided into 100 points, so a 75-point diamond would weigh .75 carats. However, the size of a stone can be exceptionally misleading when it comes to the value of it. A large stone with many inclusions may mean it does not have the same structural integrity as a smaller stone, meaning it’s more likely to crack or chip. It also may have more inclusions that affect its ability to reflect light, which reduces its brilliance. When it comes to diamonds, size might matter to some people, but the quality of the stone matters more overall.
Diamonds have an excellent ability to refract light. When properly cut, they will catch light rays and funnel them towards the stone’s center, where they are then reflected through the top (AKA the ‘table’) to provide the greatest possible brilliance. As a result, cutting can make a vast difference in a stone’s brilliancy (or ‘fire’) as well as in retail price. There are many different cuts and shapes a buyer can choose from to suit their personal preference.
18k Yellow Gold and Oval East West Diamond Ring
Clarity is a measure of a stone’s blemishes and inclusions. The fewer of either, the better the quality of the gem.
While no stone is truly flawless, a precious few come close, and these are rated IF on the GIA Clarity Scale. This scale grades from 1-11, and considers aspects including size, position, and quantity of clarity characteristics visible under 10× magnification. When it comes to fine jewelry, most diamonds fall between VVS (very, very slightly included) and SI (slightly included). There are IF stones, but they are few and far between, and they are incredibly valuable (and priced accordingly).
Want to know more about the 4 Cs? Visit our educational resources online.
A Classic Takes Center Stage
One of the best things about a diamond is that you can wear it with pretty much anything. For example, diamond studs transition perfectly from casual everyday attire to black-tie evening wear.
14k Birthstone April Diamond Stud Earrings
Heirloom Pieces to Pass Along from Generation to Generation
Diamonds are considered great investments because they don’t lose their value, which makes them not only a beautiful addition to your fine jewelry collection, but also the ideal family heirloom to be passed down through the generations.
Diamond and Yellow Gold Fan Earrings.
Elegant Without the Fuss
Another quality of diamonds is that they are incredibly versatile. There’s good reason for the saying ‘diamonds are a girl’s best friend.’ Like the little black dress, they never go out of style. So, whether you need something that commands a room, or you just want something that adds a touch of sparkle to your look, diamonds are perfect for your fine jewelry companion pieces.
Wave 18k White Gold and 1.07CT Diamond Necklace
Diamond Care and Cleaning
While diamonds are considered the hardest substance found in nature, that does not mean a diamond cannot crack or chip. Even the hardiest of substances need some TLC, and your diamonds are no different.
However, though diamonds register at 10 on the Mohs hardness scale and are usually durable enough for an ultrasonic cleaner, diamonds with inclusions or those that have been treated might not handle that type of cleaning too well. To be on the safe side, we recommend cleaning your diamond jewelry in one of the following ways:
1. Gently wipe it with a lint-free cloth
2. Using either a homemade solution of warm water and mild soap, or a jewelry cleaning solution, gently brush away any dirt or dust using a soft toothbrush.
It’s also advisable to have your diamond jewelry periodically inspected and cleaned by a professional jeweler. If you are local to one of our stores, bring in your fine jewelry and one of our trained professionals will thoroughly inspect and clean them for you. They will also check the setting and prongs to ensure the stone is not loose or in danger of falling out.
Diamonds are one of the most treasured and sought-after gems on the planet, which, unfortunately, also makes them easy targets for fraud. Man-made diamonds can deceive uneducated buyers, so be careful with stones that seem ‘too good to be true’. They usually are. Lab-created diamonds are not the same as real diamonds, which is why it is wise to go to a reputable jeweler or dealer when purchasing any diamond jewelry.
Looking for more guidance? Reach out to our experts in person or through our digital concierge and
our experts will guide you in finding the perfect diamond.