Diamond
 
Diamond is the modern Birthstone for April.   It is also the symbol for a 60th Anniversary Representation, Modern Gift, and Gemstone; 10th Anniversary Modern Gift and Gemstone; and, 30th Anniversary Modern Gift.
 
Fancy colored Diamonds are not advertised everywhere and sold in great numbers.   Fancy colored Diamonds are almost as much fun as colored gemstones!   Like colored gemstones, each one is different.   They come in pale pinks and blues, pale to bright yellows, oranges, greens, and all those brown colors that are now given names like Cognac and Champagne.
 
Diamonds have been known to mankind and used as decorative items since ancient times; some of the earliest references can be traced to India.
 
One of the first occurrences of the Diamond engagement (or wedding) ring can be traced back to the marriage of Maximilian I (then Archduke of Austria) to Mary of Burgundy in 1477.    Other early examples of betrothal jewels incorporating Diamonds include the Bridal Crown of Blanche (ca. 1370–80) and the Heftlein brooch of Vienna (ca. 1430–40), a pictorial piece depicting a wedding couple.
 
 
The popularity of the Diamond ring as an engagement ring for a much wider audience can be traced directly to the marketing campaigns of De Beers, starting in 1938.   Such a campaign had become necessary to sell the large quantity of Diamonds suddenly available because of the large Diamond finds particularly in South Africa.
 
References to Diamonds date back as far as 300 BC.   Diamonds eventually spread throughout the world with India as the first mega-center, until the discovery of Diamonds in Brazil (1725 A.D.) and South Africa (1867 A.D.)
 
Myth and Legends
 
 
Different cultures throughout history have claimed that Diamonds possess supernatural powers:
     ~ A Diamond gives victory to he or she who carries it bound on his left arm, no matter the number of enemies.
     ~ Panics, pestilences, enchantments, all fly before it; hence, it is good for sleepwalkers and the insane.
     ~ It deprives lodestone and magnets of their virtue (i.e., ability to attract iron).
     ~ Arabic Diamonds are said to attract iron greater than a magnet.
     ~ A Diamond's hardiness can only be broken by smearing it with fresh goat's blood.
     ~ In traditional Hinduism one should avoid contact with a Diamond whose surface area is damaged by a crack, a crowfoot, a round, dull,    
         speckled area, or which is black-blue, flat, or is cut other than the (ideal) hexagonal shape.
 
Because of their extraordinary physical properties, Diamonds have been used symbolically since near the time of their first discovery.   Perhaps the earliest symbolic use of Diamonds was as the eyes of Hindu devotional statues.   In Hinduism, Indra uses Vajrayudham, or the thunderbolt, as his primary weapon.   Vajra is the word for Diamond and ayudham means weapon in Sanskrit.   Another name for it was Agira which means fire or the sun.   In fact, there are 14 names counted to be given to a Diamond in traditional Hinduism.
 
The oldest dated printed book in the world is called the Diamond Sutra, a Chinese text that dates from 868 A.D. and was found in the Mogao Caves. Sutras are most used to describe the teachings of Buddha.   In this case the title of the Sutra refers not to the Diamond itself, but to a 'Diamond blade that will cut through worldly illusion to illuminate what is real and everlasting'.   Jewel imagery forms a central part of Buddhism: the triple-jewel represents 'Buddha', his teachings 'Dharma' and the spiritual community 'Shangha'.   The book presently resides in the British Library.
 
Many cultures use divine intervention to explain the origin and creation of gemstones, and diamonds were no exception to this.   In Greek mythology for example it was the youth on the island of Crete that disturbed Zeus and who were then (as a form of punishment) transformed into the adamas.
 
Philosophers, however, had a more naturalistic approach to explain the origin of gems: Plato for example believed gemstones were a consequence of fermentation in the stars, where a Diamond actually formed the kernel of gold-bearing mass.   In fact, often Diamonds were linked to gold, which may have found its origin in the joint occurrence of diamonds with quartzite, quartz veins and an occasional occurrence of gold in them.
 
In later times, Robert Boyle, a 17th Century English natural philosopher and chemist, actually believed that gems (including a Diamond) were formed of clear, transparent water and that their colors and characteristics were derived from their metallic spirit.
 
The Romans valued the Diamond entirely on account of the supernatural powers they ascribed to it.   Pliny wrote that a Diamond baffles poison, keeps off insanity, and dispels vain fears.   The medieval Italians copied these beliefs and added some to it: they called it the "Pietra della Reconciliazone" (stone of reconciliation) because it maintained concord between husband and wife.   On this account it was recommended as the stone to be set in wedding (or espousal) rings—not because of its beauty.   In fact, Isidore of Seville described Diamond as a small stone devoid of beauty.
 
A Parisian Oracle of mystic subjects, the Baron d'Orchamps, announced the Diamond, if worn on the left (hand) warded off evil influences and attracted good fortune.  Since he had fashionable clients, the word spread and the wearing of the Diamond on the left hand became in itself a fashion.
 
 
Where to Find Diamonds
 
 
Today, 92% of the world's Diamonds are cut and polished in India.  85% of the world's rough Diamonds, 50% of cut Diamonds, and 40% of industrial Diamonds are traded in Antwerp, Belgium which is known as the Diamond center of the world.   Antwerp's association with Diamonds began in the late 15th century when a new technique to polish and shape the gems evolved.   The Diamond cutters of Antwerp are world-renowned for their skill.   More than 12,000 expert cutters and polishers are at work in the Diamond District, at 380 workshops, serving 1,500 firms and 3,500 brokers and merchants.
 
In the 21st century, the technology to produce perfect Diamonds synthetically (in a labratory) was developed.   Diamonds produced by the latest technologies are visually identical to mined, naturally-occurring Diamonds.   It is too early to assess the effect of future wide availability of gem-quality synthetic Diamonds on the market, although the traditional Diamond industry has already taken steps to try to create a distinction between Diamonds dug from the ground and Diamonds made in a factory.
 
 
Gemological characteristics
 
The hardness of Diamond and its high dispersion of light give the Diamond its characteristic "fire" – make it useful for industrial applications and desirable as jewelry.   Diamonds are such a highly-traded commodity that multiple organizations have been created for grading and certifying them based on the Four Cs, which are carat, cut, color, and clarity. Other characteristics, such as presence or lack of florescense also affect the desirability of a Diamond used for jewelry.
 
The most familiar usage of diamonds today is as gemstones used for adornment.   The dispersion of white light into spectral colors is the primary gemological characteristic of gem-grade Diamonds.   In the twentieth century, gemologists have developed methods of grading Diamonds and other gemstones based on the characteristics most important to their value as a gem.   Four characteristics known informally as the Four Cs are now commonly used as the basic descriptors of diamonds: carat, cut, color, and clarity.
 
Diamond is named from the Greek word 'adámas' or unbreakable.   Its carbon atoms are arranged in a variation of the face-centered cubic crystal structure called a Diamond lattice.   Renowned as a material with superlative physical qualities, most of which originate from the strong covalent bonding between its atoms, the Diamond has the highest hardness, 10.0 on the Mohs hardness scale, thermal conductivity of any bulk material.   Those properties determine the major industrial application of diamond in cutting and polishing tools.
 
Because of its extremely rigid lattice, it can be contaminated by very few types of impurities, such as Boron and Nitrogen, giving Diamond remarkable optical characteristics.   Combined with wide transparency, this results in the clear, colorless appearance of most natural Diamonds.   Small amounts of defects or impurities (about one per million of lattice atoms) color the Diamond.   Impurities in the Diamond are what give it color - blue (boron), yellow (nitrogen), brown (lattice defects), green (radiation exposure), and purple, pink, orange or red.  Diamond also has relatively high optical dispersion (the ability to disperse light of different colors), which results in its characteristic luster.   Excellent optical and mechanical properties, combined with efficient marketing, make Diamond the most popular gemstone.
 
Most natural Diamonds are formed at high-pressure, high-temperature conditions existing at depths of 140 to 190 kilometers (87 to 120 mi) in the Earth's mantle.   Carbon-containing minerals provide the carbon source, and the growth occurs over long periods of time.   Diamonds are brought close to the Earth's surface through deep volcanic eruptions by magma, which cools into igneous rocks known as kimberlites and lamproites.  Diamonds can also be produced synthetically by a high-pressure, high-temperature process which approximately simulates the conditions in the Earth's mantle.   An alternative and completely different growth technique is Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).   Several non-diamond materials, which include Cubic Zirconia and Silicon Carbide, are often called Diamond simulants resembling Diamond in appearance and many properties.   Special Gemological techniques have been developed to distinguish natural and synthetic Diamonds and diamond simulants.
 
As a general rule, gem-grade Diamonds are traded on the wholesale market based on single values for each of the Four Cs; for example knowing that a diamond is rated as "1.5 carats (300 mg), VS2 clarity, F color, excellent cut round brilliant" is enough to reasonably establish an expected price range.   More detailed information from within each characteristic is used to determine actual market value for individual stones.   Consumers who purchase individual Diamonds are often advised to use the Four Cs to pick the Diamond that is "right" for them.
 
Other characteristics also influence the value and appearance of a gem-grade Diamond.   These include physical characteristics such as the presence of florescense as well as the Diamond's source and which gemological institute evaluated the Diamond.  Regular cleaning of Diamond jewelry will  also dramatically enhance a Diamond's beauty.
 
There are two major non-profit gemological associations which grade and provide reports (informally referred to by the term certificate or cert, which is a misnomer for many grading reports) on Diamonds.  While carat weight and cut angles are mathematically defined, the clarity and color are judged by the trained human eye and are, therefore, open to slight variance in interpretation.   These associations are listed below.
 
          Gemological Institute of America(GIA) was the first laboratory in America to issue modern diamond reports, and is held in high regard
          amongst gemologists for its consistent, conservative grading.
 
          Diamond High Council (HRD) Official certification laboratory of the Belgian diamond industry, located in Antwerp.
 
Within the last two decades, a number of for-profit gemological grading laboratories have also been established, many of them also based in Antwerp or New York.   These entities serve to provide similar services as the non-profit associations above, but in a less expensive and more timely fashion.   They produce certificates that are similar to those of the GIA.
 
 
Quality
 
The quality of a Diamond's cut is widely considered the most important of the Four Cs in determining the beauty of a Diamond; indeed, it is commonly acknowledged that a well-cut Diamond can appear to be of greater carat weight and have clarity and color appear to be of better grade than they actually are.   The skill with which a Diamond is cut determines its ability to reflect and refract light.
 
In addition to carrying the most importance to a Diamond's quality as a gemstone, the cut is also the most difficult to quantitatively judge.   A number of factors, including proportion, polish, symmetry, and the relative angles of various facets, are determined by the quality of the cut and can affect the performance of a Diamond.   A Diamond with facets cut only a few degrees out of alignment can result in a poorly performing stone.   For a round brilliant cut, there is a balance between "brilliance" and "fire."   When a Diamond is cut for too much "fire," it looks like a cubic zirconia, which gives off much more "fire" than real Diamond.   A well-executed round brilliant cut should reflect light upwards and make the Diamond appear white when viewed from the top.   An inferior cut will produce a stone that appears dark at the center and in extreme cases the setting may be seen through the top of the Diamond as shadows.
 
Several different theories on the "ideal" proportions of a Diamond have been and continue to be advocated by various owners of patents on machines to view how well a diamond is cut.   These advocate a shift away from grading cut by the use of various angles and proportions toward measuring the performance of a cut stone.   A number of specially modified viewers and machines have been developed toward this end.   Hearts and Arrows viewers test for the characteristic pattern observable in stones exhibiting high symmetry and particular cut angles.   Closely related to Hearts and Arrows viewers is the ASET which tests for light leakage, light return, and proportions.   The ASET are used to test for AGS cut grade.  Proponents of these machines argue they help sellers demonstrate the light performance of the Diamond in addition to the traditional 4 Cs.   Detractors, however, see these machines as marketing tools rather than scientific ones.   The GIA has developed a set of criteria for grading the cut of round brilliant stones that is now the standard in the Diamond industry and is called Facetware.
 
 
Process
 
The process of shaping a rough Diamond into a polished gemstone is both an art and a science.   The choice of cut is often decided by the original shape of the rough stone, location of the inclusions and flaws to be eliminated, the preservation of the weight, popularity of certain shapes amongst consumers and many other considerations.   The round brilliant cut is preferred when the crystal is an octahedron, as often two stones may be cut from one such crystal.   Oddly shaped crystals such as macles are more likely to be cut in a fancy cut—that is, a cut other than the round brilliant—to which the particular crystal shape lends itself.
 
Even with modern techniques, the cutting and polishing of a Diamond crystal always results in a dramatic loss of weight; rarely is it less than 50%.   Sometimes the cutters compromise and accept lesser proportions and symmetry in order to avoid inclusions or to preserve the carat rating.   Since the per carat price of diamond shifts around key milestones [such as 1.00 carat (200 mg)], many one-carat Diamonds are the result of compromising "Cut" for "Carat."   Some jewelry experts advise consumers to buy a 0.99 carats (200 mg) Diamond for its better price or buy a 1.10 carats (220 mg) Diamond for its better cut, avoiding a 1.00 carat (200 mg) Diamond which is more likely to be a poorly-cut stone.
 
 
Light performance
 
In the gem trade, the term light performance is used to describe how well a polished Diamond will return light to the viewer.   There are three light properties which are described in relation to light performance: brilliance, fire, and scintillation.   Brilliance refers to the white light reflections from the external and internal facet surfaces.   Fire refers to the spectral colors which are produced as a result of the Diamond dispersing the white light.   Scintillation refers to the small flashes of light that are seen when the diamond, light source or the viewer is moved.   A Diamond that is cut and polished to produce a high level of these qualities is said to be high in light performance.
 
The setting Diamonds are placed in also affect the performance of light through a Diamond.   The 3 most commonly used settings are: Prong, Bezel, and Channel.   Prong settings are the most popular setting for diamond jewelry.   The prong setting consists of four or six 'claws' that cradle the Diamond, allowing the maximum amount of light to enter from all angles, allowing the Diamonds to appear larger and more brilliant.   In bezel settings the Diamond or gemstone is completely surrounded by a rim of metal, which can be molded into any shape to accommodate the stone.   Used to set earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings, bezel settings can have open or closed backs, and generally can be molded to allow a lot of light to pass through.   Channel settings set the stones right next to each other with no metal separating them.   This setting is mostly used in wedding and anniversary bands.   The outer ridge is then worked over the edges of the stones to create a smooth exterior surface.   This also protects the girdle area of the stone.
 
 
Fluorescence
 
About a third of all diamonds will glow under ultraviolat light, usually a blue color which may be noticeable under a black light or strong sunlight. According to the GIA, who reviewed a random sample of 26,010 natural Diamonds, 65% of the Diamonds in the sample had no fluorescense.   Of the 35% that did have fluorescence, 97% had blue fluorescence of which 38% had faint blue fluorescence and 62% had fluorescence that ranged from medium to very strong blue.   Other colors that Diamonds can fluoresce are green, yellow, and red but are very rare and are sometimes a combination of the colors such as blue-green or orange.   Some Diamonds with "very strong" fluorescence can have a "milky" or "oily" look to them, but they are also very rare and are termed "overblues."   Their study concluded that with the exception of "overblues" and yellow fluorescent Diamonds, fluorescence had little effect on transparency, and that the strong and very strong blue fluorescent Diamonds on average had better color appearance than non-fluorescent stones.   Since blue is a complementary color to yellow and can appear to cancel it out, strong blue fluorescence had especially better color appearance with lower color graded Diamonds that have a slight yellowish tint, such as "I" color or "J" color, but had little effect on the more colorless "D" through "F" color grades.
 
 
Conflict Diamonds
 
Conflict diamonds are diamonds illegally traded to fund conflict in war-torn areas, particularly in central and western Africa. The United Nations (UN) defines conflict diamonds as "...diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council." These diamonds are sometimes referred to as "blood diamonds."
 
Conflict diamonds captured the world's attention during the extremely brutal conflict in Sierra Leone in the late 1990s. During this time, it is estimated that conflict diamonds represented approximately 4% of the world's diamond production. Illicit rough diamonds have also been used by rebels to fund conflicts in Angola, Liberia, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo (also known as Congo Brazzaville).
 
Today, the flow of conflict diamonds has been reduced to considerably less than 1%.
 
In July 2000, the global diamond industry made clear to the international community its zero tolerance policy towards conflict diamonds. Dedicated to eradicating the trade in conflict diamonds, it worked closely with the United Nations, governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada to create the Kimberley Process Certification System. This system was formally adopted in 2003 and guards against conflict diamonds entering the legitimate diamond supply chain. The diamond industry also adopted a voluntary System of Warranties to assure consumers that their diamonds are from sources free of conflict.
 
Today 74 governments have enshrined into their national law the Kimberley Process Certification System, and now more than 99% of the world's diamonds are from conflict free sources. However, even one conflict diamond is one too many. The diamond industry continues to work with governments, NGOs and the UN to strengthen the Kimberley Process and the System of Warranties.
 
While diamonds have been used to fund conflict, the problem is not the diamonds themselves but the rebels who exploit diamonds (along with other natural resources) to achieve their illicit goals. The vast majority of diamonds come from countries at peace. These countries have been able to invest the revenue from diamonds into the development of infrastructure, schools and hospitals for the good of the communities in which diamonds are found. These countries include Australia, Botswana, Canada, Namibia, Russia, South Africa and Tanzania.
 
Today, more than 99% of the world's diamonds are from conflict free sources and are officially traded under the UN mandated Kimberley Process.
 
 
The Kimberley Process
 
    Global Witness:
 
    U.S. Department of State:
 
    Diamond Facts.org:
 
    Simple Folio Blog:
 
    Simple Folio Blog - How to Avoid blood diamonds:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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