Birthstone of The Month: the Diamond, April’s Birthstone

Diamond solitaireAPPEARANCE

Everyone is familiar with April’s birthstone, the Diamond, so where do we begin? Well, how are they formed? Diamonds are formed by intense heat and pressure acting on carbon atoms over millions of years. These carbon atoms come from either trapped carbon dioxide gas or from the melting of pre-existing rocks deep (at least 75 miles) beneath the earth’s crust. Over time volcanic forces push the diamonds to the earth’s surface revealing the intensely clear cubic crystal structure. Scientists believe that the oldest diamonds are somewhere around 3 billion years old.

But not all diamonds are clear. In fact some of the most valuable diamonds have colors ranging from pink to blue, and most colors in between. During formation, intrusion of atoms of nitrogen, boron and phosphorous creates colored diamonds; nitrogen and boron causing the yellow and blue color, respectively. However, given that the diamond is the most transparent of all known solid and liquid substances, it’s not a surprise that clear diamonds are the most popular and sought after.

HISTORY OF THE DIAMOND

It is believed that the first diamonds were discovered in India some 3000 years ago and were initially used for simple decoration because of their clear, crystalline beauty. They would soon come to be worshiped by the Greeks for being indestructible.

In fact, the word diamond comes from the Greek word, “Adamas” which means “unconquerable”.

In medieval day Kings would wear breast plates studded with diamonds because warriors feared the magical powers they believed the diamonds possessed. Diamonds were thus associated with strength, courage and invincibility, often being used as amulets and medical aids to ward off or even cure illness or injury.

However, over the centuries, the interest in diamonds began to shift from their magical properties back to their simple beauty and their timeless association with romance. It was in 1477 that the first diamond engagement ring was introduced when Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave a diamond ring to Mary of Burgundy.

MODERN TIMES

Throughout the years, famous diamonds have added to the legend surrounding this brilliant gemstone. The largest cut diamond in the world, The Star of Africa, 530.20 carats, was found in South Africa in 1095 but was eventually cut into 96 smaller stones. The Hope Diamond, when found, was originally 116.18 carats, but was cut to 45.52 carats for King Louis XIV of France in 1668. After being stolen in 1792, then somehow acquired by King George IV of England, it mysteriously showed up as part of Henry Thomas Hope’s gem collection in 1839. Changing hands numerous times since, it was donated to the Smithsonian Institution in 1958, where it has been ever since, leaving on only four occasions for exhibits and cleaning.

Bearing a Mohs’ Hardness rating of a perfect 10, the Diamond is four times harder than the next hardest gemstone. The ultimate gemstone is also believed to have the strongest tensile strength and best heat conductivity of any element. The “4 C’s” refers to a diamonds “cut”, “clarity”, “color” and “carat”, each contributing to the value of any particular stone. A brief but informative description of the 4 C’s can be found here: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/4-cs-of-diamonds-cut-clarity-color-carat.html.

Diamonds have found their way into every kind of jewelry imaginable, but are most traditionally used in engagement rings. Consider owning this “ultimate gemstone” in a beautiful Black Hills Gold setting, by Landstroms. Black Hills Gold engagement rings are made only in America in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and are steeped in American tradition.

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