“I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number of carats in a Diamond.”
Mae West (1892-1980)
The incomparable beauty of a Diamond
The name Diamond is derived from the Greek word ‘adamas’, meaning ‘indomitable’, underlining its unique hardness.
Chemical composition of Diamond
Diamond is composed of a single chemical element, the carbon crystal. Due to its compact atomic structure, the elements that give other gemstones their color cannot penetrate, although colored diamonds do exist. Boron, hydrogen, nitrogen impurities in the crystalline structure (centers of color) are what give Fancy Diamonds their hues. Colored Diamonds are extremely rare in nature, so the majority of the examples available in the market are artificially colored.
According to tradition, Diamond was already mined in India in 800 B.C., while another source from which to extract the gemstone was only discovered in 1725, in Brazil. New mining areas are also located in Russia and Canada. Currently, 65% of Diamonds are from Africa. The trade in so-called ‘Blood Diamonds’ (Diamonds extracted, smuggled and sold in war zones to fund wars and conflict) is severely restricted via state certificates attesting to their origins. The ‘Kimberly Process’, a United Nations program designed to eradicate Blood Diamond trade through a system of governmental regulation, was founded in 2000 and includes 40 participating countries; only participating countries may legitimately export raw Diamonds, and only to other participating countries.
The history of Diamond
The incredible fire of Diamond
Diamonds are the protagonists of many a myth and esoteric tradition: the philosophers of ancient Greece believed Diamonds were inhabited by subterranean spirits; the ancient Romans considered them the tears of the gods or splinters of stars fallen to earth, while Hindus believed Diamonds were formed by the encounter between lightning and rock. According to Jewish tradition, a Diamond, placed before a guilty person, would darken; if placed before an innocent it would shine brighter. During the entire Medieval period, and through the Renaissance, Diamonds were attributed a variety of esoteric powers against the adversities of life, including granting boldness, courage, invincibility, strength and virtue, as well as powers to dispel nightmares, push away evil spirits, placate wild beasts and even protect homes from lightning strikes. Despite an ancient decree (1214 - 1270) by Louis IX of France, who claimed exclusive use of Diamonds for Royalty, by the fifteenth century, this gemstone had already started to make its way from the monarchy towards the masses.
Properties of Diamond
Diamond is the hardest natural substance known, with ample brilliance (reflections of white light, accentuated by cut, color, transparency and fluorescence) and incredible fire (the capacity to disperse light into the colors of the spectrum) and amazing sparkle (play of light). This property of Diamond is best exhibited by a Brilliant cut. The standard number of facets in a Brilliant cut is 57 (58 including the culet). Also used for other gemstones, the Brilliant cut was introduced specifically for diamonds. Many diamond cutters contributed to the development and refinement of this particular cut, including Vincenzo Peruzzi (18th century Venetian), Henry Morse (who founded the first Diamond Cutting laboratory in the United States in Boston in 1860), and Marcel Tolkowsky (member of a large and powerful family in the Diamond trade, who presented his method for calculating the cuts necessary to create an ideal Brilliant cut in 1919).
Varieties of Diamond
In addition to the famed colorless or white diamonds, there are also colored examples (Fancy Diamonds): yellow, blue, brown, red and even black. The valuation of color and clarity of a diamond is based on the clarity and color scales for Diamonds defined by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America).
Colored Diamonds, or Fancy Diamonds
Care for Diamond
Diamond may be subjected to all traditional cleaning methods, including steam and ultrasound cleaning.