Diamond; The April Birthstone

by Christopher Duquet

April has arrived, spring is slowly but surely making its way into Chicago, and those of you with birthdays this month get to celebrate with the one and only diamond. As I’m sure you’re already familiar with, diamonds have been the go-to center stone for engagement rings and wedding sets for centuries, and it’s no surprise – the diamond is not only one of the most beautiful gemstones, but also the most durable.

“The name Diamond is derived from the Greek word “adamao” (meaning I tame or I subdue), the adjective “adamas” was used to describe the hardest substance known, and eventually became synonymous with diamond.” [1]

Diamonds have been sought after for thousands of years, some historians estimate as early as the fourth century BC in India. In ancient Greece and Rome diamonds were thought to be tears of the gods and splinters from falling stars, Hindus were known to place them in the eyes of statues of deities to harness their powers, they have been eaten to aid healing of illness and injury, worn as charms to increase attractiveness, and even believed to embody celestial spirits. During the 14th century diamonds began to appear in royal jewelry of both men and woman, and by the 17th century among the greater European aristocracy and wealthy merchant class. By the 19th century, several mines with heady diamond deposits had appeared in South Africa making the gem potentially available to anyone who could afford it.

The diamond engagement ring was by no means a new concept, but did not really take off in popularity in the US until De Beers launched an aggressive marketing campaign titled A Diamond Is Forever. “The implied durability of a diamond conveyed the meaning in the American Psyche that marriage is forever. A diamond’s purity and sparkle have now become symbols of the depth of a man’s commitment to the woman he loves in practically all corners of the world.” [2]

“A diamond is the hardest material on earth, 58 times harder than anything found in nature.” [3] Composed entirely of carbon, diamonds form deep within the earth under extremely high temperature and pressure. The diamonds we find in mines have been forced to the surface by a deep-seated volcanic eruption which occurred many millions ago when the earth was a much warmer place. This eruption forced the diamonds to the surface at such high speeds that the carbon was locked into place before it could turn back into graphite.

Diamonds are graded with what we call the 4 C’s; cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. Each factor is a major element in a diamonds value and its beauty. There are several gem labs around the world that carefully study the stones and certify their grade before they go out on the market, the most well-known labs being the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) and EGL (European Gemological Laboratory)

While diamond grading takes years to master, the 4 C’s are a quick study and have been well summarized on the GIA website as follows; [3]
Clarity: assesses the number, size, relief, and position of inclusions (inside of the stone) and blemishes (on the surface of the gem)
Color: The less color, the higher the grade. Even the slightest hint can make a dramatic difference.
Cut: Proportion, symmetry, and polish are a measure of how a diamond’s facets interact with light.
Carat Weight: Rarity means larger diamonds of the same quality are worth more per carat.

A diamond’s beauty is like nothing else; light radiates from the inside out of this incredible gem and the facets create a rainbow of colors with every movement – is it really any wonder that this is one of the most valued and cherished materials in the world? We think not.

 She who from April dates her years, Diamonds shall wear, lest bitter tears
For vain repentance flow; this stone, Emblem of innocence, is known.


[1] http://www.cbsnews.com/news/diamonds-a-history/
[2] http://www.americangemsociety.org/the-history-of-the-diamond-as-an-engagement-ring
[3] http://www.gia.edu/diamond

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