What is a diamond?
Diamond is produced as a result of tremendous heat and pressure within the earth's
surface. Recent research has suggested that a temperature of 690°F would be
required, together with a pressure of 70,000kg to a square centimetre. Such conditions
would only be found at a depth of some 120 miles below the earth's surface. Diamond
is then brought to the surface as a result of volcanic activity; all this happened
between 75 and 120 million years ago.
Diamonds have been treasured by man for at least 3,000 years. Named from the Greek
word `adamas' which means 'invincible' diamond was prized for its hardness and rarity;
it was only in the Middle Ages that the full beauty of diamond, which is achieved
by the cutting of facets to its surface, could be realised. Until the l8th Century
most of the world's diamonds came from India and this included many of the famous
stones about which so many myths and legends have been woven. Stones such as the
Koh-i-noor (which means `Mountain of Light'), of which the first mention was made
in 1304, and is now to be seen in the Queen Mother's Crown at the Tower of London;
or the Orloff, which served as the eye of an Indian idol and was given by Prince
Orloff to his ex-lover, Catherine the Great.
Finds in Brazil in the l8th Century meant that for a hundred years or so that country
was the supplier of most of the world's diamonds, and then just as these mines were
being worked out, diamonds were discovered in South Africa in the 1860's. The largest
diamond ever found, the Cullinan, was discovered in the Premier mine in South Africa
1905. Weighing about 1.5 pounds (over 3,000 cts.) the diamond was presented to Edward
VII, who had it cut into 9 major stones and 96 smaller ones. The largest of these
is known as Cullinan 1, and at a weight of 530cts, still the largest cut diamond
in the world, is in the Royal Sceptre. Today, Australia is the world's major producer
of diamonds, followed by Zaire, Botswana, Russia, and South Africa. Stones do however
come from many other countries including Venezuela, China, Brazil, and other parts
of the African continent.
The 4 C's - Cut, Clarity, Colour and Carat
Cut is considered to be the most important of the 4C's because a well cut diamond
sparkles more than any other gem. Exact little planes called facets direct rays
of light into the diamond. The light is then reflected outward, creating the diamond's
fire and brilliance. Fire is the intensity of the rainbow of colours emanating from
a diamond, and brilliance is the liveliness of a diamond. It's important to distinguish
between the cut and the "shape" of a diamond.
In a diamond, the best colour is no colour, allowing the stone to cleanly reflect
and refract light. Diamonds are rated for colour on a letter scale beginning with
D, which is perfectly colourless, to Z, the lowest colour rating.
Carat refers to the weight of the diamond, not its size. There are 100 points in
a carat. Therefore, a diamond of 50 points weighs 1/2 of a carat. Larger diamonds
of one carat or more are rare and of greater value per carat. Understanding what
makes every diamond different ensures that your engagement ring will be a unique
symbol of enduring quality and love. Remember to shop from a reputable jeweller
and request a detailed, written gemological evaluation of any significant stone
you choose to buy.
*The 4C's tips are reproduced from non-copywrited publications