Diamond Stories Diamond Stories

The History and Mystique of Diamonds By SJD

Perhaps no gemstone has captured our imaginations through the ages more than the diamond. It has been prized, revered and coveted by cultures around the world for centuries due to its unparalleled beauty, rarity, mystery and strength.

Diamonds are the ultimate expression of love.

This regal stone, which derives its name from the ancient Greek word "adamao," translated as "I tame" or "I subdue," also represents the ultimate gift of love and romance. Its strength and durability have made it an enduring symbol of matrimony and eternal commitment. The first engagement ring on record was presented by Austria's Archduke Maximilian to his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy, in 1477. The ring was placed on the third finger of her left hand, based on an ancient Egyptian belief that this finger contained a "love vein" that ran directly to the heart. Ever since then, couples around the world have pledged their love and devotion with a diamond.

To the ancients, diamonds were magical, mystical talismans.

It was believed they could do everything from bringing luck, wealth and success to their wearers to bestowing power, fearlessness, invincibility and even heightened sexual prowess. Roman soldiers wore diamonds in battle to protect them and give them courage. In the Middle Ages, diamonds were used to ward off the effects of poison and illness. The Jewish High Priests believed the stone could determine innocence or guilt.

Diamonds come from the center of the earth.

Diamonds are incredibly old. They were formed deep in the earth - 100-200 miles below the surface - as much as 3.3 billion years ago. Diamonds are made of pure carbon, crystallized by intense heat and pressure in the earth's interior and forced to the surface by volcanic eruption.

Aside from their uniqueness and beauty, diamonds are extremely durable. In fact, they are the hardest known substance on earth - four times harder than rubies or sapphires, the next hardest materials. Due to their hardness, diamonds can only be scratched or polished by other diamonds.

Where are diamonds found?

Diamonds are found all over the world, but 80% of all diamonds come from just seven sources: Angola, Australia, Botswana, Namibia, Russia, South Africa and Zaire. Modern mining - and the rise of the great De Beers diamond empire - began in South Africa in the mid - 19th century. Legend has it that Erasmus Jacobs, an eight-year-old farm boy, found a 21-ct. yellow "pebble" in 1866 near the Orange River that turned out to be a diamond - the first of many discovered in South Africa.

Why diamonds are so rare.

Powerful volcanic activity formed what are known as "pipes" - openings in the earth - and forced the diamonds up through the pipes to the surface, along with other minerals such as kimberlite. Some of these diamonds made their way into streams, rivers and seas; however, these are only considered secondary deposits. Most of the diamonds forced up through the earth settled back into the kimberlite pipes, and it is these primary sources that have been the basis for the world's diamond mines. Only one in 200 Kimberly pipes will contain diamonds in economically viable quantities - one reason why diamonds are so rare.

Approximately 250 tons of ore must be mined and processed to produce a single one-carat, polished, gem quality diamond. This ore goes through many stages of blasting, crushing, processing and advanced x-ray techniques to release the diamonds. More than 100 million carats are mined each year, but only a quarter of these will be considered gem quality.

Diamonds were first mined in India more than 4,000 years ago.

The ancient Greeks and Romans believed they were tears of the gods and splinters from falling stars. The Hindus believed that diamonds were formed by lightning striking rock and attributed such power to these precious stones that they placed them in the eyes of their statues. Kings and queens throughout history have adorned themselves with diamonds and fought bitter battles to gain possession of these unique jewels.

Cutting and polishing determine the value.

The next step for the rough diamond is cutting and polishing. This is a great skill, with meticulous techniques that have been practiced and perfected for generations. The main diamond cutting and trading centers are based in Tel Aviv, Israel; Antwerp, Belgium; Mumbai, India; New York; and Johannesburg, South Africa. China and Thailand have most recently developed their own centers.

Although some of the polishing process is computerized, most of the work is still performed by hand. First, the cutter uses cleaving, sawing or laser cutting to separate the original rough into smaller, more workable pieces. Then, the girdler uses a process called bruiting that grinds away the stone's edges and provides its outline shape. Faceting follows, usually in two steps. The first 18 facets (table, culet, bezel and pavilion of a stone) are cut and polished by the blocker. The brilliantine cuts and polishes the final 40 facets, including the star, upper girdle and lower girdle. Finally, the cut gem is boiled in acids to remove dust and oil. Once polished, most diamonds are sold and traded in one of the 24 registered diamond bourses around the world.

At this point, the polished gems are ready to be set into finished pieces of jewelry, which is the manufacturer's job. They are then either sold to a wholesaler, who works as a middleman to sell the manufacturer's goods to the retailer, or sold directly to the retailer by the manufacturer.

TERMS TO KNOW

Name Description
Brilliance: Total brightness of light radiated by a diamond with positive contrast effects. The exact proportion of the diamond cut maximizes each diamond's brilliance.
Carat Weight: Although commonly thought to refer to the size of a diamond, a carat is actually a standard unit of measure that defines the weight of a diamond. One carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams. Since it is a unit of measure and not size, two diamonds of the same carat weight may appear to be different sizes depending on how the diamond is cut. Some diamonds will have extra weight on the bottom part of the stone and therefore appear smaller.
Certification: Gemstones are frequently sent to an independent laboratory to be graded against a master set of gemstones according to industry-wide guidelines. GIA is the most known gemological laboratory for grading diamond certificate, However many more international labs are used in the diamond industry such as, HRD, IGI, WGI etc. for worldwide markets. The difference in lab grading is usually due to different master set used.
Clarity: A characteristic that makes every diamond unique are tiny traces of other elements or gasses that may have been trapped inside at the time the diamond was formed. These are called inclusions, nature's fingerprints, or a diamond's birthmarks. The clarity scale measures the number, size and location of these within each diamond. The most valuable and rare designation is flawless (FL/IF).
Color: Many diamonds appear colorless, but may actually contain very faint traces of yellow or brown. The less color a diamond has the rarer and more valuable it is. The color scale describes the degree of body color, from D (completely colorless) to Z (dark - but not fancy colored).
Fancy color: Even though white is the most common and colorless is more rare, at some color level diamonds are becoming even more rarer due to over color, which is known as fancy color, starting at light fancy (for lowest fancy level) and ends at vivid (the strongest and most rare level). These diamonds are usually very rare and come in many colors. The most common is yellow fancy colors but you can find orange, green, pink, blue, red and many more.
Crown: The crown is the area of a gemstone above the girdle - including the table, main facets and brilliant facets. Light is projected to the observer through the crown in the form of brilliance, fire, and sparkle.
Culet: The culet is the tiny facet at the point of the pavilion, or bottom, of a diamond. The culet is used by cutters to center all faceting of a diamond as well as to protect the point.
Cut: Cut refers to the shape, style and finish of a diamond. The quality of the cut determines how well a diamond will reflect and refract light. The more perfectly cut, the more brilliance, fire and sparkle.
Depth Percentage: All percentage measurements are based on the diameter of the gemstone being 100%. The depth percentage is simply the height of a gemstone, measured from the culet to the table, divided by its diameter.
Facet: The flat polished surfaces on a gemstone. These surfaces act as both windows and mirrors in a diamond - allowing light to pass through and/or reflect. A round, brilliant-cut diamond has 58 facets.
Finish: The quality of each facet's polish and symmetry, the condition of its girdle, and the overall precision of the cut determine a diamond's finish.
Fire: The spectral colors of light reflected and refracted from within a diamond through its crown. Fire is maximized by cutting all 58 facets of a round brilliant diamond to the correct proportions.
Fluorescence: Some diamonds glow when exposed to ultraviolet light. This is often a very faint blue, but may occur in other colors. Subtle fluorescence that is not visible under normal light conditions does not affect the value of a diamond.
Girdle: The girdle is the thin band around the circumference or widest portion of the diamond. This edge is secured in jewelry settings and protects the diamond from damage.
Inclusion: Inclusions are trace minerals, fractures, and other characteristics that make up the unique internal fingerprint of a gemstone. Inclusions are created during the gem's formation within the Earth.
KP (Kimberley Process): As a leading diamond manufacturer, SJD has joined the treaty of the United Nations, all diamond-producing countries and non-governmental organizations in adopting an international agreement known as the Kimberley Process (KP) to stem the flow of conflict diamonds – rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments.

Today, over 99% of the world's rough diamonds are documented with Certificates of Origin to ensure that they come from conflict-free sources. In order to curb any potential for illicit trade in diamonds passing through troubled areas, a System of Warranties (Sow) further ensures that KP diamonds cannot be tampered with during transit. A written statement must accompany diamonds and diamond jewelry, to guarantee they are from legitimate sources.

SJD is proud to endorse and fully comply with all the requirements of the Kimberley Process (KP) and the System of Warranties (SOW).

Measurements: The first two numbers of a diamond's measurement represent its maximum and minimum diameter. The third number represents the depth of the diamond from its culet to its table.
Pavilion: The pavilion is the bottom portion of a diamond, which extends from the girdle to the culet. In a classic round brilliant the pavilion consists of eight main and sixteen brilliant facets.
Polish: Polish is the term that describes the external finish of a gemstone. Because diamonds are the hardest substance known, they are capable of taking the highest level of polish known as adamantine. Poorly polished diamonds do not achieve this level of finish.
Proportions: Proportions are the set of measurements used to describe the various angles and percentages of a finished gem diamond. They define the footprint of the diamond relative to its size. It is well known that very particular proportions create the best visual results in a diamond.
Round Brilliant Cut: Round is the shape with the highest degree of symmetry. That is why round diamonds have always been considered top performers. The brilliant cut has 58 facets. This cut makes the best possible use of light to increase brilliance, fire and sparkle.
Scintillation-"sparkle": Commonly called “sparkle” – and known scientifically as dynamic contrast brilliance - scintillation refers to the tiny flashes of light when the diamond, the light source, or the observer moves. Scintillation is affected by the number, size, and position of all facets, as well as the quality of their polish
Solitaire: A piece of jewelry that is set with only one gemstone is often referred to as a solitaire. The gemstone itself is also often referred to as a solitaire.
Symmetry: Symmetry describes the overall shape of a diamond as well as the alignment, shape and positioning of all its facets. Perfect symmetry greatly enhances a diamond's ability to reflect and refract light.
Table: The table is the largest facet of the diamond, located directly on the top. The table is the window through which we see most of a diamonds magic.
Table Percentage: The width of the table divided by the diameter of the diamond gives us the table percentage.










  


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