Diamonds: The History of April’s Birthstone
Whether they’re in a beautiful necklace or engagement rings, diamonds are a mineral that is synonymous with longevity and beauty. While the meaning assigned to them has changed over time, the fact remains that they are still appreciated today as they have been in the past. This brief overview of the gemstone, April’s birthstone, will show you the important aspects of diamonds including history, how they ended up in rings and the four “C’s” regarding these gems.
The Rich History of Diamonds
Diamonds were not always the prized mineral that they are today. While they were found in rather small amounts in places like India or Brazil, diamonds became far more common around the world following a major discovery in South Africa. In the 1860s, vast amounts of diamonds were found in South Africa as well as in parts of central Africa. During the 1870s, there was a scramble to secure these reserves, and the so-called “Diamond Fields” of South Africa remains a major source of the minerals into the modern day.
Presently, they are used in a variety of industries, but we’re going to focus on how they became the gem of choice with jewelry.
Diamonds in Engagement Rings
Diamonds are a featured gem in engagement rings, but they did not always function in that capacity. While there are many factors that went into diamonds becoming the chief gem in engagement rings, one of the reasons was certainly the hardness of the mineral. After all, they are notorious for resisting scratches and damage.
Diamonds in engagement rings became more common during the Victorian Era. However, the fact is that the marketing campaigns by companies like De Beers with “A Diamond is Forever” led to people associating the gem with the hope for longevity in a relationship. Now, they’re the most popular stone in engagement rings, even though their popularity sometimes dips during economic depressions.
More Information about Diamonds
There are four “C’s” concerning diamonds that are important to examine when you’re looking at the gems from a jeweler’s standpoint. They are color, cut, clarity, and carat weight. We’ll look through each of these concepts individually.
The color of a diamond is rated from the letter D to the letter Y (and sometimes Z for a fancy diamond). Basically, the scale denotes saturation of the diamond from a colorless without any trace of other colors as a D and Y being indicative of a yellow color.
Another important thing to note is the cut of the diamond. When you think of the gem, you probably imagine a certain cut known as the brilliant cut. However, you can also get diamonds that are called a pear, princess, marquise, and more. Each comes with its own benefits for the wearer.
The clarity scale is easier to look at than describe.
Source: American Gem Society
Basically, the scale works from Flawless/IF down to different levels of included such as I3. Some of these diamonds have flaws you can see with the naked eye, and others you will need magnification to see along with a trained eye.
A carat is equal to 0.2 grams, and the higher the weight on an individual stone increases the value of the gem. This is a good way of knowing how big of a diamond you are buying with a ring, necklace, or other jewelry. Some people want a subdued engagement ring and others want a “rock” that can gleam in the sun.
Local to the seacoast of NH, I have a jewelry gallery in Portsmouth and invite you to visit when I’m open or set up an appointment. Visit my contact page for more information. I am a GIA Graduate Gemologist, so whether it’s diamonds or other gems, I can be trusted to provide only high quality and beautiful stones for your jewelry.