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Diamonds - Facts About This Beautiful Gem
Everyone knows their birthstone. It graces Mother’s Rings, class rings, engagement rings, and many other pieces of jewelry. For the month of April, the traditional birthstone is the famous and beautiful diamond.
What Makes the Diamond Special?
This is one of the most simple of gems on the planet. It can come in a variety of colors but as a birthstone it is the clear diamond. If it’s clear, why is it so special? Because it glitters.
A true, perfect diamond reflects light and splits into a rainbow of color. It’s as though it has magical properties. In addition to that, the diamond is the hardest thing earth. It’s so hard that diamond chips are used on saws and blades to cut what most items such as metal and rock that we see as unbreakable. Its edges can cut glass and scratch any surface, and that is just from the edge of a piece that can form a ring. Many people have tested diamonds by using them against a pane of glass. If it doesn’t scratch it, it’s not real.
Their uniqueness and their beauty have been the reason for royalty throughout history to lust for the gem and have it as part of their royal jewels.
How are Diamonds Made?
Heat, Pressure, Time. Those are the three biggest factors in making diamonds. Wherever these three combine to work together on carbon, you get a diamond. That is why you will see many analogies about coal and diamonds. Coal is essentially a lump of carbon. If a chunk of coal had just the right amount of heat, say from a volcano, and enough pressure, such as the weight of the volcanic mountain, and time, such as a billion years give or take a few hundred. The result would be a lump of diamond that just awaits a master jeweler to cut it to the desired shape.
Now, that being said, man has found a way around that. Of course! Who wants to wait a billion years? No one. So, scientists got together and found a way to speed things up. More than speed things up. A billion years? Nope. How about less than a week? Yep, that is how long it takes to grow diamonds in a lab. There is a slight catch in that lab produced diamonds are not really clear. They are real diamonds but they come with a yellow tinge to them.
In nature, diamonds are not just clear though the vast majority are. There are colored ones that are extremely rare which is way most of us have never heard of them. There rare status makes them very expensive. See where this is going? Labs are producing rare diamonds which means they are worth a lot more than you would think from a lab produced gem.
What Makes a Perfect Diamond?
Perfection, of course. That perfection comes from what is commonly known as the 4Cs: Color, Cut, Clarity, Carat.
Color – A jeweler looks at the color of the diamond. Colored ones are rarer and tend to be pricey, but the demand is on the clear diamond. That is the one people recognize the most and look for. Therefore, this is the most sought after color and the most perfect. There are yellow, pink, blue, and many other colors that diamonds can be found naturally as.
Cut – How a diamond is cut impacts its value. Keep in mind that diamonds do not come out of the ground in perfect condition ready to go straight into a ring or necklace. It is a lump of diamond that can be rough on the outside. In fact, there is not much to see in one as it does not have the radiance you are used to. The rough diamond has to be cut to bring out these qualities. It is up to man to cut the diamond perfectly and give it more value. The more perfect of a cut, the better the reflection and refraction of the light that enters it. That is the perfect diamond you are looking for.
Clarity – Don’t expect a perfect diamond to be perfect. It will have flaws, but how many? The fewer the number of flaws within the hardest substance on earth, the more valuable it is. Nature forms these intricate patterns which means there are exceptions and areas where the clarity is just not as good. When the jeweler puts that eye glass magnifier against his eye and peers into a gem, he is looking for these flaws. They tell him the value of the diamond.
Carat – No, Bugs Bunny, we don’t mean carrot here. We’re talking the size of the diamond and how much it weighs. The larger the carat the more expensive it is which is why you won’t see the average person sporting a carat or more of diamonds in one setting. But you can easily find 1/3, ¼, and ½ carat pieces everywhere. They can still be beautiful.
Different Cuts of Diamonds
You might think you know all the cuts a diamond can be found, but think again. There are several you probably have never heard of. You might even get a few of them confused from a distance because their shapes might be the same as in square but the cut of them can make all the difference.
Round – This is the most popular cut. It contains 58 facets or smooth cut angles over its surface. The purpose behind the number of facets is to give maximum reflection. It is said that a good three-quarters of all diamonds appear in this shape.
Emerald – This is a beautiful cut that is nowhere near as common as the round but it’s beauty can be just as striking as it also has 58 facets. It has a rectangle flat surface with cut edges and ‘steps’ on the each side leading up to the top.
Radiant – This cut is usually square or rectangle with 70 facets over it. You see why it is called the radiant cut. This one is one of the most sparkling of diamond cuts.
Princess – This cut is square with uncut corners and has 50 facets. It is another popular cut for bridal settings.
Heart – This is basically a pear shape where the cutter has put an indention in the rounded section causing it to look like a heart. It can contain 59 facets and look beautiful. This cut is not as popular in rings but can be found more commonly in necklaces.
Cushion – Though the majority of cuts today are the circle ones, it is the cushion one that is the most popular of all time. The vast majority of diamonds in the 1800s were cut in the cushion shape which did not have the ‘pointy’ bottom and was not cut to maximize the refracting quality. It is said to be designed for candlelight.
Marquise – I love this cut. It is an oval shape with pointed ends and can have 58 facets. It is a striking cut that is rumored to have been created by the King of France based off the brilliant smile of a Marquise.
Trillion – This cut is a triangle shape with 50 facets. Not a very popular piece today.
Oval – This cut is…..oval. Nothing more to be said except that it can have 58 facets.
Pear – This is an oval shape that is tapered and pointed on one end (usually the top). It can have 58 facets and is beautiful as a pendant.
Asscher – This is a square shaped diamond with the look and cut of an emerald cut diamond. It has 57 facets.
Many in today’s world protest the selling and purchase of diamonds. Not because they want them for themselves or because they are bad for you. They protest because many of the diamonds that are mined come from the war zones of Africa such as Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the Congo. The war and bloodshed is known to be funded by the sale of these diamonds that avoid the legal and traditional channels. When you buy a diamond today, many stores will have certificates to show you where it was mined so you can feel a little better that you are not funding death. Because of where they are mined and the purpose behind them, conflict diamonds are commonly known as blood diamonds.
Legends Surrounding Diamonds
There are many legends about diamonds with most of them being attributed to specific diamonds such as the Hope Diamond. But down through the years, they have been sought after by royalty, used in celebrations, and have been thought to cure illnesses. Diamonds have been found in many myths and legends because of its clear color and its hardness.
This is the one gem that will outlive us all.
April is the month that can lay claim to the beauty of the diamond. It lasts forever and is a girl’s best friend. If you have someone with a birthday in April, look for a diamond to reflect the love you have for them.