Way before it reaches the case of your local jeweler, diamonds are created in the depths of the earth through continuous pressure (1,000 degrees celsius) and time. Because of this process, and the acclaim it has garnered over the centuries, there is no other gemstone more coveted than the diamond.
Iconic in nature, the April birthstone has a history that dates back ages. Yet, its status as you know it today can be traced back to the first century A.D. It was a Roman statesman and scholar Pilny that stated: "Diamond is the most valuable, not only of precious stones but of all things in this world."
The word diamond itself is derived from the Greek word "Adamas," which means invincible. Rightfully so, the diamond is the hardest gemstone on earth. The process a diamond goes through just to exist is quite something that adds to its value.
There are many "theories" as to where diamonds come from and much lore surrounding their spiritual and healing properties, yet there is one that we know of for sure, they take a long time to form.
Many believe the diamond is created from a piece of coal similar to those found in mines. However, that explanation is a gross oversimplification of the process. It's carbon atoms that help to form diamonds, and while carbon is similar to coal, they are not quite the same.
These carbon atoms are created deep within the upper mantle layer of the earth; it only reaches the surface through a series of volcanic eruptions. This whole process takes billions of years, so the diamonds that are on the planet now began their formation long, long ago.
When they are cultivated from the earth's surface, they are not the brightly polished and shaped diamonds that you see in the stores, but rather large (or small) rock formations. Once it is mined, it is then taken polished, shaped, and inspected for value before being sold.
The value of the diamond, on the surface, can be broken down into what many know of as the four c's:
Before the middle of the 20th century, there was little agreement on the exact way to measure the value of diamonds. Then the Gemological Institute of America developed the world's first standard by which all diamonds are now measured.
When we think of how a diamond is cut, our brains automatically think of its shape. Yet, the actual definition of cut refers to how the diamond itself interacts with light.
Of all the C's, the cut of a diamond is the most technically precise aspect of the process since one of the most coveted elements of a diamond is its sparkle that makes this one of the most important of the four c's.
The clarity aspect of the inspection looks for any imperfections within the diamond. When a diamond is free of any flaws, it is considered to be flawless.
There are six grades to consider: Flawless, Internally Flawless, Very Very Slightly Included, Very Slightly Included, Slightly Included, Included. These determinations are challenging to make unless you are a trained jeweler.
Currently, on the market, you can find many "diamonds" that are a variety of colors. However, when looking at the color of diamond jewelers, look for yellow hues, how many there are, and how visible they appear.
There are five grades when it comes to color: Colorless, Near Colorless, Faint Yellow, Very Light Yellow, Light Yellow.
Pure diamonds are entirely transparent in color and show no signs of discoloration.
The weight of a diamond affects more than just it's size. Higher carats do not always mean a larger scale. For example, a square-cut diamond that is classified as a full carat is often more substantial than a round cut diamond of the same weight.
While the carat of a diamond does affect other aspects of the gem itself, the C that has the most impact is the cut.
Each month of the calendar has a gemstone that it represents. This tradition dates back in an official capacity to 1912 when the Jewelers of America decided to assign each month its corresponding gem.
There are varying theories about how the birthstone classifications were inspired. Even now, the history and inspiration behind their placement are somewhat foggy, but the most popular lore dates back to Biblical times.
This time, dating the tradition back to the times of Moses in ancient Jerusalem. History states that his brother Aaron, the first High Priest of the Israelites, wore a garment adorned with twelve gems. Initially, it was said that these gems represented the twelve tribes of Israel.
There were four rows of three gems. Each gem was said to have a therapeutic power and was to be associated with varying astrological signs. Eventually, the gems were associated with months of the year.
In 1912 the Jewelers of America made this their official list, and it has been that way ever since. The official list of birthstones is as follows:
There are many ways to define value, yet the purpose of a diamond is not solely found in a price tag. The April birthstone is more than just a rock that glistens in the sun. It's a part of the earth's history that was billions of years in the making.
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