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April’s Brilliant Birthstone: A Girl’s Best Friend

The diamond, the birthstone for people lucky enough to have been born in April is famed for its price, its hardness, and for its friendliness to girls. Consisting of just one element, carbon, the diamond is a paradox, made with a material that is usually deepest, purest black, but when in gem form is the most brilliant of all the gems.

A diamond is suitable for all occasions, but it is only the lucky people born in April who get to have them as a birthstone gift!

Diamonds In History

As early as 2,500 years ago India was engaged in trading diamonds. Their rarity meant that diamonds were only available to the wealthiest of Indians, but over time some diamonds found their way to Western Europe, but it took until the 15th century for these gems to become a fashionable item for the wealthiest people in Europe.

By the 18th century, Indian diamond supplies went into decline, but as good fortune would have it, diamonds were found in Brazil whose production dominated the world diamond market for 150 years.

As western Europe and the United States became wealthier, the demand for diamonds was met by new diamond mines in South Africa. At the same time, smart marketing, by De Beers, kept prices high. By 1900 South African production, controlled by De Beers, accounted for around 90% of the global output of diamonds. By the 1990s output was at 100 million carats per year, up from 3 million carats in the 1920s. With those numbers, diamonds would seem to be not so rare!

By the 1970s diamonds were being produced in Congo, and Russia as well as South Africa. In 1982 Botswana started production. Today, Australia and Canada are also significant diamond producers. These changes have led to the end of the De Beers monopoly control over diamond production, marketing and sales but the general flow of diamonds from mines to customers through cutting centres remains unchanged.

The Chemistry And Geology Of Diamond

The diamond is made of carbon that has been treated with a massive amount of heat and pressure transforming the structure from a loose lattice of atoms into a tight, crystalline structure that is the hardest of all naturally occurring materials. We usually think of diamonds as being clear, but they can be found in several colours: red, yellow, blue, pink and green. The hues may be very faint to vivid. A coloured diamond may be more costly than a clear diamond of equal size and quality. Today, some diamonds are coloured in laboratories. Buyers should always be told if the diamond they are buying has been treated.

There have been many stories about how diamonds came to be; even today children are often taught in school that they are formed from coal. That’s not true! Diamonds are very ancient and were formed deep within the Earth in a layer of the crust called the mantle. Under very high pressure and temperatures, carbon is changed into the crystalline structure that we know as diamond. The diamonds are moved toward the surface of the earth through volcanic eruptions, carried in the pipes from the earth’s mantle through pipes through the rocks. Not every volcanic event leads to diamonds, so they are scarce on, or near, the surface of the earth.

Tiny diamonds have been found near to meteorite strikes on the Earth, but these are less than 1mm in size. All commercial diamond production comes from diamonds created deep under the Earth’s surface at a depth of 80-150 km.

In addition to treating diamonds to add colour to clear stones, it is now possible to make synthetic diamonds of high enough quality to be used in jewellery.

Meanings And Beliefs Associated With Diamonds

Ancient Romans believed that the vein in the left-hand ring finger was connected directly to the heart. This is the basis of the wearing of the engagement ring on this finger.

The diamond is believed to be an infallible test for faithfulness in a relationship. A diamond placed on the chest of a sleeping lover will cause the sleeper to tell their most intimate secrets, while they sleep.

According to the Talmud, a diamond can show the guilt or innocence of its wearer by changing colour to dark or bright depending upon their guilt or innocence. The stone would become darker with each new sin.

The Ancient Greeks held that diamonds could resist both fire and water and protect the wearer from poisoning.

Due to the hardness of diamond, many cultures have shared the belief that diamond was the most powerful of talismans; able to withstand great evil and banishing it away.

Modern beliefs about diamond centre upon good luck and happiness with the wearer receiving strength of body and character and the moral fortitude to resist temptations.

Diamonds In Jewellery

Diamonds are the most popular of all the gemstones, famed for their brilliance and sparkle enhanced by expert diamond cutters.Diamond is the hardest of naturally occurring substances with a 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness. For all its hardness, a diamond can be brittle.

The quality of a diamond is assessed using the 4 Cs: Cut, Colour, Clarity and Carat (weight). The 4 Cs impact on the appearance of a diamond as well as its price. No two natural diamonds are identical, each is unique. When buying a diamond, you should always check its certification, the most reputable grading organisation is the GIA (Gemological Institute of America).

The setting is the key to enjoying your diamond as jewellery. The setting style needs to match the stone and its intended use.

Many buyers are concerned that diamonds should be ethically produced and not mined by child labour or forced labour. Almost all stones sold are conflict-free.

A diamond can be worn every day if the setting is designed well to meet the needs of the wearer. Diamonds are commonly used in engagement rings precisely because they are strong enough to withstand normal daily wear.However, there are some precautions: don’t get chemicals on your diamond, grease and oils, even from your fingers will dull the gem. Have your jewellery cleaned professionally, some recommend doing so twice a year. When being cleaned the setting will be checked for damage so preventative maintenance can be carried out. You can clean your own diamond jewellery using a solution of dish washing liquid in warm water, soaking and then brushing with a soft toothbrush. Let the piece dry in the air.

Perhaps the most fortunate person is the one born in April, receiving the most valuable of gems as gifts, but almost nobody will turn down such a gift bringing, as it is reputed, such good fortune and happiness.

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