April Birthstone – The Diamond
April’s birthstone pulls out all the stops! The most prized precious stone on Earth, the diamond has been coveted for centuries for its breathtaking brilliance and symbolic meaning. They are the classic gemstone, the one that everyone thinks of, but how much do you know about the worlds favourite gemstone?
Where do they come from?
Diamonds are the hardest natural substance on earth, and are formed 90 to 120 miles beneath the earth’s surface, under immense heat and pressure, where carbon atoms bond in a unique way that result in a diamond’s beautiful and rare crystalline structure. Diamonds are nearly as old as the earth and are increasingly rare as they take billions of years to form. Rough diamonds are carried to the surface by volcanic eruptions, very few actually make it to the earths surface to be mined. No two diamonds are the same and they carry their unique properties such as internal inclusions and colour. Although they can be sourced from all over the world the majority come from South Africa, Russia and Canada. Some even come from outer space! Well, some diamonds do. Carbonado diamonds found in South America and Africa are thought to have been deposited by an asteroid that crashed into the Earth 3 billion years ago.
Diamonds come in every colour, usually pale yellow to colourless, but can be brown, blue, green, orange, red pink and black.
Diamonds in history.
Ancient Romans and Greeks believed that diamonds were tears cried by the gods or splinters from falling stars. Romans also believed that cupids arrows were tipped with diamonds, and therefore begining the long relationship of diamonds with romantic love. The word diamond derives from the Greek word ‘admas’ which means invincible or indestructable, which makes sense as the only thing that can scratch a diamond is another diamond!
In the first century AD the Roman naturalist Pliny is quoted as having said, ‘Diamond is the most valuable, not only of the precious stones, but of all things in this world.’
The first known use of a diamond as an engagement ring was in 1477 when Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave Mary of Burgundy a gold ring featuring an M spelled out in diamonds.
Diamond weight is measured in carats (not carrots or karats). The word carat is derived from keration, the Greek name for the carob tree whose seed was used for centuries as the standard of weighing precious stones. Because the seed could vary slightly in weight, in 1913, carat weight became metric; one metric carat is equivalent to 0.2 grams or 0.007 ounces.
In order for a rough diamond to reach its full potential it will undergo a cutting and polishing process; during which, the diamond will lose up to 50% of its original rough carat weight on average. The trade off? A diamond cut to perfect proportion and symmetry will display the ultimate combination of fire, brilliance and scintillation.
Diamonds in space
Scientists have discovered a planet that they believe is composed mostly of carbon and is one third pure diamond! Discovered in 2004 the planet orbit the a nearby star in the Milky Way and is named ‘55 Cancri e’ Scientists have also discovered a star that is essentially a diamond of ten billion trillion carats. They named the star lucy after the Beatles song ‘ Lucy in the sky with diamonds’
In 2017, scientists recreated the diamond rain they think falls on Neptune and Uranus inside a lab on Earth. To re-enact the magical moment, the scientist shocked a sheet of polystyrene with soundwaves to imitate the high pressure of the planets. The result was almost every carbon atom turning into a tiny diamond, just nanometres wide. Scientists think the diamonds on Neptune and Uranus could be much larger – possibly millions of carats in weight!
Our Diamonds come from three sources, one in London, one in Canada and one in Botswana, all three sources are committed to ethical, conflict free mining. In particular the salt and pepper diamonds which a speciality of my jewellery collection come from the Jwaneng Mine which is run in partnership with the Botswanan Government, there’s a link for more information below.
If you would like to learn more specifically about the incredible world of Salt & Pepper Diamonds head to this blog post.