Today a diamond is a undisputed symbol of everlasting love, but what makes a diamond the perfect choice for the most important gestures we will ever make?
Diamonds didn’t get where they are today because a New York copywriter hit on ‘a diamond is forever’ back in the 40s or because Marilyn Monroe sang a song about them. They are a very unusual and amazing substance, quite unlike any other.
The same stones that we give in engagement rings and eternity rings today are between one and three billion years old and were created hundreds of miles below the surface of the under enormous temperatures and pressures. They have only made it to the surface at all because they were carried up by volcanic eruptions.
It is the hardest substance known to man. Its name comes from the words at ‘adamas’ and ‘adamant’ derived from Greek and meaningful ‘unconquerable’. Although composed of one of the most common elements, carbon, it is the purest substance that occurs in nature. It has a hardness of between 10,000 and 50,000 Vicars, compared to steel at around 500. It is this unbelievable hardness which makes it so valuable, not only to the jewellery trade but also to industry.
Diamond was first discovered in India around 3000 years ago and this remained the only known source of diamonds from more than 2000 years. Today, diamonds mined in some 25 countries including Australia and Canada. Of all the diamonds mined around three quarters go for uses in industry such as cutting and grinding. Only about one quarter of everything mined is good enough quality for use in jewellery.
So, as 20 tonnes of rock must be mined to find just 4g of diamond and of these 4g only 1g is good enough to be used in jewellery, it is no wonder that diamond is the most precious commodity we have. Naturally, it is also no wonder that diamond certification is reassuring when you make the most significant purchases of your life.
Certificates provide a basis of comparison, especially when you’re not actually looking at the stone in the flesh, but remember, while they are helpful, there is no international standard. Certificates represent the opinion of the grader who studied the stone.
The certificate is like a C.V. it includes important information and provides a guide, but you still need to meet the diamond to know whether it is beautiful or not. That is why it is so important to look at diamonds individually and get advice from someone knowledgeable, before making a choice.
Most people have heard of the ‘four C’s’: colour, clarity, carat weight and cut. And most people understand colour, carat weight and clarity because these three aspects are more easily quantified. How white is the stone? How big is it? Can I see any bits in it?
The cut of a diamond however is more involved and is probably the most important characteristic of all. The cut of a diamond is not just what shape it is. The shape and size of every facet can affect the way light travels through the stone. Regardless of a diamonds’ other characteristics, the beauty of the diamond can only be released by good cutting. A good cut makes the diamond alive with light and beauty.
Although diamonds thought of as colourless, when well-cut they will give flashes of colour. As white light passes through diamond, its component colours are refracted to different degrees. They are separated from another and are returned as ‘flashes of colour’. This is called the ‘fire’ and demonstrates that the stone is well proportioned. This is referred to as the ‘life’ of the diamond.
Created deep inside the earth, billions of years ago, under immense pressure and heat, the hardest substance known to man, no other stone on earth has the life of a well-cut diamond. Each time we look into a diamond, we look for its life, its incredible characteristics and its unique talent for affecting light. However good a certificate is, it doesn’t look as good as a diamond.