Gem of the Month: Diamond

The gemstone for April is diamond – truly the “King of Gems”. Also representing a 60th anniversary, diamond is given as the birthstone for April or the zodiac stone for Taurus.

Gemmology Matters: With a chemical composition of C, diamond is simply a transparent crystal of the element Carbon. The very strong network of tetrahedrally bonded carbon atoms is the reason for the hardness of diamond. Measuring 10 on the Moh Scale, diamond is the hardest naturally occuring substance and is ideally suited to jewellery, particularly when worn everyday.

Diamond is an excellent gemstone with with a wide range of colour (white or colourless being most popular), excellent lustre and high refractive index meaning a well-cut diamond will show great fire and brilliance. Having said that, diamond is not invincible and can be damaged. Diamond has perfect cleavage and so is vulnerable to splitting along a cleavage plane if hit in the right spot. Good cutters will orientate the crystal to minimise the chance of this happening.

Diamonds are predominantly mined in Africa although other countries also have significant deposits. Australia is also a major producer with the main area being the Kimberly region of northern Australia – the Argyle Mine being most famous for its unique natural colour pink diamonds. Diamonds are also found, although in only very small quantity, in the New England region of NSW (near Copeton and Bingara) – this area is currently subject to commercial testing by Cluff Resources.

Diamonds are valued according to a grading system based on the 4 C’s – Colour, Cut, Clarity and Carat (or weight). There are many resources on the internet describing this system and many expensive diamonds will be sold with a grading certificate as price is largely determined by the grading results. The links above provide a starting point for researching diamond grading.

Mythology and Lore: The name diamond derives from the Greek work “adamas” meaning invinvible. Many ancient cultures have sought to explain diamond’s superlative properties through divine or mystical affiliations. Perhaps the earliest symbolic use of diamond was as the eyes of Hindu devotional statues – these diamonds were cherished as gifts from the gods. It is not known when diamonds were associated with divinity but early texts indicate that it was recognized in India since at least 400 BCE. It is said the Greeks believed diamonds were tears of the gods while the Romans believed they were splinters of fallen stars.

Western cultures have used diamonds to symbolise fearlessness and virtue although they are also associated with power and wealth due to their high value. Today, diamonds are used to symbolize eternity and love – accordingly, they are a popular choice for engagement rings. The popularity of this modern tradition can be traced directly to the marketing campaigns of De Beers, starting in 1938. Prior to the De Beers marketing campaign, engagement rings had no one particular stone associated with them.

Alternatives in White: Although diamonds come in a variety of colours, white (or colourless) is still the most popular. There are a number of alternative gemstones in white – these are all more affordable but all are inferior in some way to diamond. Gems used as alternatives to diamond include sapphire (or colourless corundum), zircon, topaz and quartz. Diamonds also have a number of synthetic imitations of which cubic zirconia is the most commonly used (not to be confused with zircon which is a natural gemstone). Moissanite is a newer synthetic used in place of diamond. Beware of misleading names such as “Killicrankie Diamond” or “Alaska Diamond” – these refer to topaz and quartz respectively . See here for more information on diamond simulants.

Links of Interest:
A comprehensive article on diamond at Wikipedia
Argyle Diamonds from Australia – company website and gemmological information.
Diamants Infos – the Universe of Diamond
Emporia State University – Everything about Diamonds

Remember that while we unfortunately do not produce diamonds from our own mine, we can source diamonds to your specifications if you would like to add diamonds to your order. Just contact us for a quote anytime.

That is all for now from Aussie Sapphire

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One Response to Gem of the Month: Diamond

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