Celebrating April’s Birthstone: Diamond
The month of April has a birthstone like no other – the diamond. With an incredibly rich history and universal charm, this stone is the gem to rule all gems.
Diamonds, the world’s hardest material, are created deep below the ground. They were first mined in India, where they enchanted many with their stunning clarity and shine. Early jewelers would polish and cut these stones until they shined even more. Over the next hundred years, they soon became cherished in Western Europe and Asia as treasures.
Diamonds were later being found in Brazil and South Africa. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the De Beers company emerged as a giant in diamond retailers. As diamonds became more accessible, new methods of mining, marketing and diamond cutting were discovered. Soon, diamonds reached ultimate popularity as accents in engagement rings, necklaces and crown jewels.
Nowadays, diamonds are known as not only the birthstone for April, but the gemstone for the 60th and 75th wedding anniversaries. The original diamond is a colorless stone, and is graded on a letter scale, from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow). Colored diamonds are increasing in popularity and value, and can be found in colors like brown, yellow, and black. The most expensive gemstone ever sold is a 59.6 carat pink diamond, known as the “Pink Star”.
The most common way of grading the quality of a diamond is by determining four factors: its color, cut, clarity, and carat weight. Colorless (D color) diamonds are known to be the most valuable, though colored diamonds are rarer. The cut of a diamond also determines its value; the way a diamond is cut can affect its brilliance and shine. Round brilliant diamonds are the classic diamond shape, but diamonds can also be found in fancy shapes such as marquise, pear, oval, and princess.
Diamonds are naturally grown in the earth, and are made of over 99% carbon. By chance, inclusions may occur in the stone when it is being developed. The clarity scale determines the amount of inclusions in the stone, and is taken into account when valuing a stone. At the top of the clarity scale are Flawless diamonds. These diamonds do not have any visible inclusions or scratches. Diamonds in the middle of the eleven-level clarity scale have inclusions visible only under extreme magnification and are not visible to the naked eye.
Carat weight is the fourth factor in the grading of a diamond. One metric carat is two tenths of a gram. The difference between fractions of a carat can impact the diamond’s price. Larger diamonds, especially diamonds over one carat, are rarer and are worth more.