You love your partner to the moon and back, and you’re ready to place a very special ring on her finger. But when should you propose? Over the holidays? During a romantic summer getaway? Why wait? Do it now! Diamond is April’s birthstone, so this is a perfect month, especially if your love has an upcoming birthday. Learn more about this spectacular, precious gem!
What are Diamonds?
Natural diamonds are one-of-a-kind stones that were formed billions of years ago between 90 and 120 miles below the Earth’s surface, according to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). They’re composed of 99% carbon, making them the only gemstones to have just one element in their chemical structure. Diamonds are also special because they’re extremely durable. They score a perfect 10 on the Mohs Hardness Scale – a scale that ranks the durability of diamonds, gemstones and other minerals.
Already sold on the idea of a natural diamond? It might be difficult to get your hands on one, as these stones are pretty rare. But diamonds are sustainably created in laboratories too! The main procedure for generating lab-grown diamonds actually replicates the high pressure and high temperature conditions that formed the natural versions beneath the Earth’s surface. As a result, lab-grown stones have the same composition, durability and sparkle as natural gems, and they cost 30-40% less!
Both natural and lab-grown diamonds go through a strict grading process before making their way to stunning engagement rings. Each stone is evaluated on color, cut, clarity and carat weight (aka the 4 C’s). When shopping for a diamond, you’ll want to pay attention to all of these aspects, but the stone’s cut – or how well a diamond’s flat surfaces interact with light – is said to be the most important characteristic.
You’ll find diamonds in a variety of shapes and colors. Most are given a D-Z color rating on GIA’s color grading scale. To put it simply, D represents colorless stones and Z represents those with a light yellow hue. Diamonds with less color appear purer and are more valuable. But if you’re specifically looking for fancy color diamonds, such as blue or pink, these fall outside of the standard color grading scale. Therefore, stones with more intense color make great choices.
The best part? Diamonds are known to represent love, strength, clarity and marriage. So, they’re the perfect gift for your special someone!
History of Diamonds
Given their durability, diamonds appropriately get their name from a Greek word meaning “unbreakable.” Several ancient cultures believed these gems were created by lightning strikes and could protect against many ills, such as brain disease, the plague and toxins in the blood.
According to historians, diamonds were first seen in India around the fourth century BCE – where they were found in nearby rivers, traded and reserved for elite members of society. The stones eventually traveled to Western Europe. And by the end of the Middle Ages, diamonds were considered a fashion statement among Europe’s wealthy citizens. A few centuries later, India’s diamond resources began to wane, and Brazil emerged as an important supplier for the next 150 years.
But the modern diamond market didn’t truly take shape until the late 1800s, when diamonds were unearthed in Kimberley, South Africa. Politician and businessman Cecil Rhodes founded De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited in 1888. Just 12 years later, De Beers and its South African mines produced about 90% of the world’s rough diamond supply.
During the 20th century, diamond production soared. When the 1920s arrived, about 3 million carats were generated annually, but that number exceeded 100 million annual carats in the 1990s! Around this time, major rough diamond producers included South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (previously known as Zaire) and the former Soviet Union. New deposits were also discovered in Australia and northern Canada.
Today, nearly one-third of the world’s rough diamond supply comes from Russia, making the country the largest diamond producer by volume. Similarly, Botswana is another top supplier, as 40% of international rough gems are sorted and valued there.
Diamond Fun Facts
- Diamonds are the official stones for celebrating 60th and 75th wedding anniversaries!
- A diamond is the most scratch-resistant material in the world! The only thing that can scratch a diamond is another diamond!
- For every million rocks found in most mines, you’d find just one natural diamond!
- The first well-known diamond engagement ring dates back to 1477, when Archduke Maximillian of Austria presented one to Mary of Burgundy. The ring reportedly featured small, flat diamonds in the shape of an “M.”
- The biggest rough diamond to date was discovered in South Africa’s Premier mine in 1905. The stone weighed an incredible 3,106 carats (equivalent to 621 grams) and was transformed into 105 polished diamonds! One of them was the Cullinan I (aka the Great Star of Africa), a pear-shaped diamond weighing 530 carats. It was set in England’s Royal Sceptre with Cross, which has been used for every crowning ceremony since 1661.
- The term “carat,” which indicates a diamond’s weight, gets its name from the Greek word for a carob tree. For centuries, carob tree seeds were used to weigh precious stones, like diamonds. However, these seeds sometimes varied in weight. So, in 1913, the weight of one carat was deemed equivalent to 0.2 grams.
- Diamonds will burn if exposed to a flame that ranges from 1290-1650 degrees Fahrenheit. Warning: House fires have the potential to reach these temperatures.
- Arkansas is home to the world’s only diamond mine (Crater of Diamonds State Park) that’s open to the public and allows visitors to freely dig for diamonds. More than 75,000 diamonds have been extracted from the area since the early 1900s, including the Uncle Sam Diamond. This 40-carat diamond is apparently the largest rough diamond ever discovered in the U.S.!
- The world’s largest, polished blue diamond, called De Beers Cullinan Blue, is heading to auction. The stone weighs a whopping 15.10 carats and is valued at $48 million!
- BUT, the biggest diamond EVER isn’t found underground or in a laboratory. It’s actually located 50 light-years from Earth! According to astronomers, a burned-out star in the constellation Centaurus section of the sky is now just a “chunk of crystallized carbon” – similar to a diamond’s composition. The star is named “Lucy” in honor of the Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.” And its weight is equivalent to a diamond that weighs 10 billion trillion carats!
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Gage Diamonds is Chicago's premier jewelry showroom and online retailer of engagement rings, wedding bands, and fine jewelry. We offer a selection of dazzling handpicked diamonds, including certified natural and lab-grown diamonds.
We’re committed to helping you find the ring of your dreams. For inspiration, browse our selection of natural and lab grown diamonds, or set up an appointment with a member of our trusted staff at our in-person showroom.
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