History of Diamonds

Traditionally, the diamond is the accepted birthstone for the month of April. And, besides being the most popular of all gemstone, is the accepted anniversary gem for the 10th and 60th years of marriage.

Since the very beginning diamonds have been associated with romance and legend. The very word "diamond" comes from the Greek word "adamas" meaning unconquerable, suggesting the eternity of love. The ancient Greeks believed that diamonds were splinters of stars fallen to the earth and that the fire in the diamond reflected the constant flame of love. Even the reason a woman wears it on the third finger of her left hand dates back to the early Egyptian belief that the vena amoris (vein of love) ran directly from the heart to the top of the third finger.

diamond shapesEven though the diamond is the hardest of all gemstones known to man, it is the simplest in composition. It is common carbon, like the graphite in a lead pencil, yet has a melting point of 6,900 degrees Fahrenheit, which is two and a half times greater than the melting point of steel. Billions of years ago, diamond crystals formed many miles below the surface of the earth in magma (molten lava containing many chemical elements, including carbon.) The magma is subjected to enormous heat and pressure. These conditions force the carbon atoms into an extremely dense and stable crystal structure, internally balanced in all directions. The volcanic material containing the crystals is then thrust upwards, breaking through the earth's surface to cool in Kimberlite pipes. It is in these Kimberlite pipes that most diamonds are found today.

Anything extremely rare is also precious. Diamonds, formed billions of years ago, are rare in that only a few survived the hazardous journey from the depths of the earth to reach the earth's surface. You may be surprised to learn that to recover the relatively small amount of both gem quality and industrial diamonds, 250 tons of ore must be mined and processed from the average Kimberlite pipe in order to produce a one carat polished diamond of gem quality.

diamond colorsAlthough diamonds are associated with being a colorless stone, the majority of diamonds found are various shades of yellow, brown, or grey. Truly colorless diamonds are very rare. The color of most diamonds is so subtle, however, that they appear colorless to the untrained eye. Fancy colored diamonds are also available in a variety of colors, including pinks, oranges, champagnes, intense yellows, blues, greens, purples. Red diamonds are the rarest of all fancy colored diamonds.

The Gemological Institute of America’s method for grading diamonds is recognized as the standard grading system for the jewelry industry. Diamonds are graded based on cut and proportion, color, clarity, and carat weight… which are known as the 4C’s. The combination of these four factors determines the quality and value of a diamond.

For information on how to select diamonds, and the diamond 4C's please click here.

Content provided courtesy of GIA and AGS