April's main birthstone, the diamond, has been lauded in song and movies as the promise of forever. A diamond can speak volumes. It can say I love you, I'm proud of you and I'd marry you all over again. It shouts 'Will you marry me?' and whispers 'You're enchanting and beautiful'. A diamond on the third finger of the left hand tells the world that your heart is taken. Diamond can be worn by anyone. They are the classic symbol of achievement, of love and of promise.
For all the volumes it speaks, though, the diamond has its lesser known secrets as well, fascinating tidbits for those who collect stray information - or to dazzle your friends with if the diamond is your birthstone. Most people are aware of the famous Four C's of diamonds - carat, cut, color and clarity - but there are fun facts to know associated with each of those C's.
Did you know, for instance, that the word carat comes from the Arabic word for carob seed? In ancient times, diamonds were weighed in a scale with the other side weighted by carob seeds. The seeds are a remarkably precise instrument of measurement. Even today with electronically calibrated scales, we can't detect more than 1/3000ths of an ounce difference in weight between individual carob seeds. One carob seed weighs 1 carat - or 200 milligrams.
Diamonds, most of us know, are made of pure carbon, compressed for centuries by heat and the weight of the earth. The clarity and color of the stone is determined by the purity of the carbon. Even minute traces of other minerals can change the color or cloud a diamond. That knowledge is relatively recent though. Until the latter half of the 20th century, with the advances in spectrographic microscopes, determining the precise chemical composition of a gemstone wasn't always easy. In trying to explain the variances in the color of diamonds, the ancients offered fanciful and romantic theories. The most common and lovely was that diamonds took on the color of the sky at the moment that they became diamonds. Thus, a diamond formed at dawn might have a trace of gold or orange, or even that shimmering pale green that is rarely seen, and one created at noon would reflect the pure azure of the noon sky. Those formed under cloudy skies would have a hint of gray or even black, and those that were formed under the night time sky would be colorless and completely transparent.
Those colorless diamonds are the ones that are the most valued and highly prized as a general rule, but there is a class of diamonds called 'fancies' - colored diamonds - and among those fancy diamonds are some of the most famous diamonds in the world. Did you know, for instance, that the Hope Diamond, better known for its famous owners and its curse, is a blue diamond? Its color is such a deep, intense blue that the enormous diamond is nearly opaque. The Hope diamond was the model for the Heart of the Ocean necklace worn by Rose in the movie Titanic.
Did you know that the Hope has a sister diamond? Generally considered to be the only diamond that approaches the Hope for rarity and value, the Dresden diamond was owned by the royal house of Saxony in the 1700s. It weighs 40.70 carats - just shy of five carats less than the Hope diamond - and is a clear, shimmering apple green. A third famous diamond - the Tiffany diamond - is a canary diamond, a deep, rich topaz in color.
Diamonds are associated with romance, their rarity and value making them the gift of choice to show the value you place on the one that you love. But diamonds have other qualities as well. In India, the diamond is called the King Gem (with the pearl as his Queen), and are bequeathed the property of aiding clear thought and determination. They symbolize constancy and love, devotion and purity, and - according to tradition - in order to carry those qualities, they must be pure - colorless and transparent. A flawed diamond, it used to be believed, is so unlucky it can deprive the gods of their highest heavens.
Diamonds are at the top of the Mohs hardness scale with a hardness of 10, and are generally acknowledged to be the hardest mineral in the world. Besides being the birthstone for April, the diamond is the modern traditional stone for engagement rings (because, after all, a diamond is forever) and of the 75th wedding anniversary. With its multitude of symbolisms and meanings, though, a diamond is the perfect stone for any occasion. Diamonds - the tradition of the ages and the promise of forever.
A diamond is forever, and of all gemstones, these bits of fire and ice come the closest to fulfilling that promise. In chemical composition, diamonds are pure carbon, subjected to heat and pressure until the molecules are compressed to the familiar crystalline structure.
Diamonds are arguably the most well-known of all gemstones in today's world. While it's generally thought that diamonds are the most expensive stones on the market, there are rarer stones that command a higher price per carat.
In addition to being the birthstone for those born in April, diamonds are the traditional gemstone for the 10th, 60th and 75th anniversaries.
Diamond buying guide
Most people know the four C's of diamond buying - color, clarity, carat weight and cut. Many focus on size as the determining factor of price and quality, but there's far more to valuing a diamond than how big it is.
Ice. Pure, colorless diamonds generally are scored the highest in color. Yellow or blue casts to the stone will lower its value, generally, but there are exceptions. Fancies are naturally colored diamonds that can fetch high prices, depending on the purity and saturation of the color. As with most other gems, yellow/brown diamonds are the least valuable of the fancies though champagne diamonds are particularly striking and lovely. If you're a fan of the unique, you might find that a high quality champagne diamond makes a stunning ring at an affordable price.
Unlike other gems, diamonds are examined for clarity upside down at 10x magnifications. Even the tiniest flaw or inclusion will reduce the grading (and the price) of a diamond - which means that you can often get an excellent price on a stone that looks perfect to the naked eye if you shop carefully.
Looking for a bargain price on a diamond? Some experts recommend that you look for 'off' size diamonds. Prices per carat tend to jump at round weights - for example a .5 carat diamond costs more per carat than a .45 carat diamond.
It's believed that there are optimal proportions in the shape of a diamond, and diamonds are graded by cut from Ideal to Poor. The cut is what determines the brilliance of a particular stone. Generally, even the difference between an ideal cut and a poor cut is difficult for untrained eyes to discern.
While diamonds may be the hardest substance on Earth, they still require special care to keep them looking their best as well as to keep them safe.
Diamonds are vulnerable to breaking if they are hit along one of their cleavage lines, though one of the functions of a proper setting it to prevent the diamond from being struck from a direction that will cleave it. Even so, you should exercise some common sense. Remove diamond jewelry before engaging in exercise or physical work that might expose your diamond to being struck or banging against things.
Because chemicals can damage your jewelry, put your rings, earrings and necklaces on AFTER applying hair spray, perfume and makeup. Avoid chlorine bleach, which can pit and damage gems.
Wear gloves when doing dishes - or remove your rings entirely. Diamonds have a particular affinity for grease and oil and will literally attract the grease in dishwater.
When not work, your diamond jewelry should be stored in a soft pouch in a jewelry box. Keep in mind that diamonds can scratch and damage other gems and metals - wrapping your diamonds in soft cloth is as much for the protection of other jewelry in your jewelry box as it is to protect the diamond from damage.
Dirt, dust and body oils that collect behind the diamond can dull its sparkle. Regular cleaning to remove surface oils and dust will help keep your diamond looking its best. You can use most commercial jewelry cleaners with diamond jewelry, but it's not necessary. A soak in warm water with a little mild dishwashing soap will help loosen dirt and grease so that it can be cleaned away with a soft toothbrush.
At least once a year, have your diamond jewelry examined to be sure that settings and prongs aren't loosening. Many jewelers will also clean your diamonds when you bring them in for an examination.
|June||Pearl, Alexandrite||White or Color Change|
|October||Opal, Tourmaline, Pink Sapphire||Mulit-Color or Pink|
|November||Topaz, Citrine||Yellow or Orange|
|December||Blue Topaz, Turquoise, Tanzanite||Blue|