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April Birthstone - Diamond

The diamond is the birthstone for April babies. The diamond is not only seen as a symbol of eternal love, it is said to provide the wearer with better relationships and internal strength. The name stems from the Greek word, “adamas”, which translates to “invincible”; very appropriate considering diamonds are the hardest substance known to man.

Art deco step cut dimaond brooch
Art deco step cut diamond brooch.

An early history of diamonds

For as long as humans have known of their existence, diamonds have captivated cultures across the world. Ancient Hindus believed that the vibrations of a diamond strengthened every organ of the body. Ancient Greeks believed that diamonds represented the tears of weeping gods. Ancient Romans viewed diamonds as the parts of the outer rings of stars which had fallen to earth. Roman historian, Pliny, states in the first century AD, “Diamond is the most valuable, not only of precious stones, but of all things in this world.” Diamonds were seen to support winners, making up the talisman of Julius Caesar, Louis IV, and Napoleon.

It is believed that diamonds were first discovered washing ashore on streams and rivers in India in the 4th century BC. Since their first discovery, diamonds were highly prized for their strength and brilliance. They were also sought after by blacksmiths, who used the stones to cut and engrave metal.

DIAMONDS: NO LONGER JUST AN INDIAN DELICACY

Diamonds were thought to only come from India, until a small deposit was discovered in Brazil in 1725. It was not until the late 1800’s when diamond mines were unearthed in South Africa, substantially impacting the world’s supply. In the 1870’s, annual diamond production was below 1 million carats; by the 1920’s, annual diamond production was close to 3 million carats. In the 1990’s, annual diamond production surpassed 100 million carats. These newfound mines reduced the demand for diamonds among the upper class; by 1919, diamonds had been devalued 50% from what they were worth in 1880.

Today, the world’s diamond mines are slowly becoming depleted. 75-80% of all diamonds mined are not gem quality, and are used solely for industrial purposes. Generally, more than 250 tons of ore must be mined in order to produce a one carat, gem quality diamond.

HISTORY OF THE DIAMOND ENGAGEMENT RING

The use of rings as a symbol of love dates all the way back to Roman times. These “truth rings” (also given as a sign of friendship, not just marriage) were often made of twisted copper or hair and were placed on the third finger of the left hand. The rings were worn on this finger, because it was believed that a vein in the third finger ran directly to the heart.

Victorian yellow gold and rose but diamond earrings
Victorian yellow gold and rose but diamond earrings.

The tradition of using rings to symbolize marriage began in 1215, when Pope Innocent III decreed that there must be a waiting period between betrothal and the marriage ceremony. It was also at this time that rings became a major part of the wedding ceremony, and the Roman government required that all marriages take place in a church. While these rings were seen as a symbol of love and commitment, they were also a sign of social status, as only members of the elite social class were permitted to wear rings with gemstones.

Because of the rarity of diamonds, they were not commonly used in early engagement rings. The first recorded use of a diamond engagement ring was that given by Archduke Maximilian of Austria, when he proposed to Mary of Burgandy in 1477. This created a trend amongst European aristocrats who could afford these rare stones.

In 1947, De Beers coined the slogan, “A diamond is forever”, in a large-scale marketing campaign aimed at making diamonds the only choice for engagement rings. This campaign was a success, and by 1965, 80% of American brides wore a diamond engagement ring. This newfound popularity (combined with new technology) sparked the creation of new shapes of diamonds, including round brilliant, oval, marquise, princess, cushion, and emerald cuts.

MYSTICAL PROPERTIES OF DIAMONDS

Throughout history, diamonds have been thought to hold many mystical abilities. It was thought that heating the stone and taking it to bed would draw out harmful toxins from the body. The diamond is associated with opening up many spiritual doors and symbolizes perfection because of their clarity and indestructability.

These powerful crystals were also thought to have a significant impact on the user’s balance, clarity and energy levels, especially when worn with other powerful gemstones, such as amethyst. The stone has also been believed to attract abundance, strength, power, courage, creativity, imagination, harmony, faithfulness, and increased feelings of love and self-respect. It is believed to have the power to stop stress, fear, emotional pain, memory loss, fever, fatigue, skin disease, and nightmares.

In Ancient Greece, soldiers wore diamonds in battle in order to strengthen their muscles and bring them invincibility.

Edwardian oval european cut diamond ring
Edwardian oval european cut diamond ring.

MORE FUN FACTS ABOUT DIAMONDS

  • Alexander the Great, of Macedon, was the first to introduce diamonds to Europe, after reaching India
  • Diamonds typically form about 100 miles beneath the earth’s surface
  • Diamonds are the hardest substance on earth: 58 times harder than anything else in nature
  • Fifty light-years from earth, there is a star made up of a 10 billion-trillion-trillion carat diamond
  • The Rose Cut (the first recognized cut for diamonds in jewelry), was created in 1520, resembling the bud of a rose
  • Most diamonds found in nature are between 1 and 3 billion years old
  • While South Africa has the most famous diamond mines, the top three diamonds producing countries in the world are: Botswana (24 million carats), Russia (17.8 million carats) and Canada (10.9 million carats)
  • The Cullinan Diamond was the world’s largest uncut, gem-quality diamond, weighing 3,106 carats
  • Most diamonds are white, but they can be brown, yellow, blue, green, red, orange, pink, and black
  • The most expensive diamond (per carat) ever sold was a 7.03 carat fancy vivid blue modified rectangular brilliant-cut diamond. It sold in 2009 for $1,375,938 per carat ($9,672,844.14 total)
  • The most expensive diamond ever sold is a 59.6 carat internally flawless pink stone known as the “Pink Star” sold in 2013 for $83 million
  • In the Thirteenth century, a French law declared that only the king was allowed to wear diamonds
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