Diamond, the birthstone for April, is crystallized carbon and seen by many to be the ultimate gemstone – bearing many strengths and few weaknesses.
Diamond symbolizes everlasting love, and is thought to provide the wearer with better relationships and greater inner strength.
Diamonds come in a wide range of colors, from black, blue and green, to pink, red, purple, orange and yellow. The color is dependent on impurities present in the stone – for example, yellow diamonds have minuscule traces of nitrogen while blue diamonds contain boron.
The transparency of a diamond's appearance, known as its clarity, varies depending on inclusions (structural imperfections) present within the stone. These affect how it reflects light, and in turn affect its value. More information about grading a diamond on factors such as clarity can be found in other Jewelry Info pieces.
It is well-known that diamonds are the hardest substance found in nature, measuring a perfect 10 on the Mohs scale. But less well known is that the stone is actually four times harder than the next most durable mineral, corundum. Nothing can scratch a diamond other than another diamond – and a diamond can scratch anything, even a sapphire. This is one of the many reasons that the stone is so commonly used for jewelry.
Diamond are also renowned for the way that they reflect light, and they conduct heat better than anything – five times better than silver.
Almost half of the world's diamonds originate from Central and Southern Africa, although significant sources of the mineral have been found in Canada, India, Russia, Brazil and Australia.
The word diamond comes from the Greek ‘Adamas’ meaning invincible or unalterable – and diamonds have a rich and colorful history, having always been highly sought after.
The ancient Indians believed diamonds had magical powers, and after conquering the Indian forces at the Battle of the Hydaspes in 326 BC Alexander the Great brought the stones and their legends back to Greece. The Greeks believed the only way to destroy a diamond was by first steeping it in goat’s blood.
Roman scriptures refer to diamonds as the “most highly valued of human possessions” – but the connection between diamond and everlasting love began in medieval Italy. The first recorded instance of a diamond engagement ring was the 1477 marriage of Mary of Burgundy to the future Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I.
In the late 1800s, British entrepreneur Cecil Rhodes bought mines in Africa and formed De Beers, the company that would come to dominate the diamond industry right up until the late 1990s.
The value of a diamond depends on what is known as the 4 Cs of diamond grading – color, clarity, cut and carat (weight). Generally speaking, heavier and clearer diamonds fetch higher prices – with the most 'perfect' diamonds being called 'flawless'.
There is really no limit to what a diamond can cost, with some fetching millions of dollars at auction. The most expensive diamond ever, the Cullinan diamond, was auctioned off at $400 million.
More information about diamond value, and how grading affects value, can be found in other Jewelry Info pieces.
There are several techniques which can be used to treat, or enhance, a diamond and improve its visual characteristics – but treated diamonds tend to have lower values than naturally sourced stones.
Laser drilling and fracture filling is used to reduce the visibility of inclusions, thus increasing a stone's clarity.
The color of a diamond can also be enhanced, using high-pressure and high-temperature treatment, irradiation and the application of colored coatings using either foil or thin layers of diamond. Coatings are not permanent, and will often wear away over time.
Diamond is the most durable and most valuable gemstone in the world – and because of its long-held appeal and its connection to everlasting love, it has inevitably become the most popular and important gemstone when it comes to jewelry.
Although the gemstone is so widely known and used, people born in April should perhaps feel lucky that diamond is their birthstone – not only does it possess so many strengths, but it is said to positively affect the balance, clarity and energy of the wearer.