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Happy Birthday April: All about Diamonds

4736181261_f50796529f_s Photo by Seth Lemmons

The diamond is one of the most sought after gemstones in the world. People have been wearing diamonds as decorative items since ancient times. The diamond is characterized by its ability to disperse light and by its hardness. Diamonds are graded by their color, cut, clarity, and carat weight. Engagements rings traditionally include diamonds in the center as a solitaire or in its decorative characteristics, but it is also the birthstone for the month of April, and can be beautifully set in any piece of jewelry.

History

The diamond dates back billions of years, and is thought to give the wearer inner strength and the ability to have a better relationship with their partner, as it is the symbol of eternal love. Although the stone was thought to be found first in India, diamond cutting began in the 1300s in Venice. The industry began to flourish in the 15th century when trade routes were opened and Europeans started wearing the stone as a symbol of wealth. Brazil became an important source for the diamond in the 1700s as gold miners found them in rivers. In the 1800s, diamond deposits were found in South Africa as well. Eventually, and into the 1900s, diamonds were found in Russia, Australia and northern Canada.

Formation

A diamond is formed at around 100 miles below the surface of the earth at high temperatures and pressure. It is unique because it is the only gem that is made from only one element, and is 99.95 percent carbon. The other trace percentage is what gives the stone its color and original shape. Carbon atoms are isometric, which means they bond in all directions to form the stone. The diamond is so hard that it can only be scratched with another diamond. The stone is over 50 times harder than any other substance in nature. Once the stone is polished and cut, it becomes a brilliant and beautiful stone. Diamonds can be found in many colors including yellow, brown, black, blue, green, pink, red, orange, purple, and most commonly white. The impurities in the stone determine the color of the diamond. Many hours of hard labor are necessary before a diamond can go from the mine to the jewelry store case.

The 4 Cs

Diamond buying, whether it be for a birthstone or an engagement ring, has some guidelines that the buyer can follow to get information about the stone. The four Cs include cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. The cut is the type or shape of the stone. Diamonds can be round, oval, pear, princess or emerald cut, among many other shapes. The color of the diamond is determined by the hue in the stone. Colorless diamonds are rarer, but the scale goes from D to Z, so there are many hues, some of which are hard to see with the naked eye. The clarity depends on the inclusions or blemishes that the diamond has. Many times, these inclusions are hard to see with the naked eye. The brightness and contrast of the light is the brilliance. A brilliant stone shows the light through the top, as it is not too deep or too shallow in depth. Round diamonds show brilliance better than other shapes. The way the light is dispersed through the stone because of its clarity gives it a characteristic called "fire". A stone that is very reflective of the light, making it appear in rainbow colors has fire. The carat is the weight of the stone, and one carat equals one fifth of a gram in weight.

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