“Diamond is the most valuable, not only of precious stones, but of all things in the world.” Pliny the Elder 77AD
A beautifully cut diamond in a gorgeous setting has always been entrancing. Diamonds have a fascination like no other gemstone, one that people are prepared to invest heavily in to show their love. Yet how much do we know about them, where they come from, how they’re created and how we classify them
Beauty forged in the depths of the Earth
The story of diamond creation goes back deep into the ancient history of the Earth.
All of todays gem quality diamonds were created over 3 billion years ago, 90 miles beneath the Earth’s surface under conditions of intense heat and pressure causing carbon atoms to crystallise forming diamonds.
The same conditions create eruptions forcing magma containing the diamonds to the surface, where they are mined from riverbeds or deposits of volcanic Kimberlite rock.
Centuries of trade along the Silk Road
Diamonds have been at the centre of exquisite jewellery since Indian artisans started using them over 4,000 years ago. With a limited supply recovered from riverbeds they quickly acquired a cachet with the wealthy and affluent.
Over the centuries increasing trade along the fabled Silk Road from the East to Venice in Italy meant that by the 15th Century diamonds were became coveted accessories for Europe’s elite.
In the early 1700s, as India’s diamond supplies began to decline, Brazil emerged as an important source. Diamonds were discovered in the pans of gold miners as they sifted through the gravels of local rivers. Once it reached its full potential, Brazil dominated the diamond market for more than 150 years.
While sources changed, the diamond market experienced its own evolution. The old ruling classes—diamonds’ biggest consumers—were in decline by the late 1700s. Political upheavals like the French Revolution led to changes in the distribution of wealth.
African market dominance
The 1800s brought increasing affluence to Western Europe and the United States. Explorers unearthed the first great South African diamond deposits in the late 1800s just as diamond demand broadened.
The huge 21.25ct Eureka Diamond was discovered on a bank of the Orange River in South Africa in 1866. Twenty years later English colonialist and entrepreneur Cecil Rhodes founded DeBeers, a company that still dominates the trade today.
Since then South Africa has been the world leader in diamond production, though diamonds are now found in many southern African countries plus Canada, the United States, Brazil, Australia and Russia.
Understanding the 4Cs: Colour, Clarity, Cut, Carat
When searching for the perfect diamond there are four essential characteristics to consider: Colour, Clarity, Cut and Carat Weight. Your diamond should have a delicate balance between these elements allowing the stone to express its beauty in all of its glory.
One of the two natural attributes of diamonds when they are created is their colour.
The most sought after white diamonds are colourless, but stones can range from completely clear to slightly tinted; they are graded on an internationally recognised scale (the GIA Scale) from D - Z.
The most valuable diamonds are those closer to colourless in the D –H grade.
When diamonds are forged deep underground under intense pressure the carbon does not always crystalise into a totally clear gemstone.
In fact nearly all diamonds have imperceptible, tiny imperfections known as inclusions, making each stone unique.
The most rare and valuable gemstones have the fewest inclusions, even though they are almost always invisible to the naked eye with only a trained expert capable of finding them.
If you’re interested you should ask your jeweller to show you inclusions in a stone under magnification.
When they are discovered diamonds are not the beautiful crafted gemstones we treasure in our jewellery.
In fact rough diamonds often resemble lumps of rock with their beauty only revealed once the expert cutter gets to work polishing facets of the stone at precise angles to unleash its fire and brilliance.
The most popular diamond shape is the round brilliant but there are more than ten other shapes you can consider.
A square brilliant is known as a Princess cut, there are also oval or pear shapes, marquise and emerald cuts, Asscher, cushion, radiant and even heart shaped cuts.
This range of choices means you can find the perfect stone that will be personal just to you.
Diamond carat is often misunderstood and refers to a diamond’s weight, not necessarily its size. In strict terms Carat is a measure of weight, 1 carat is equal to 0.2 grammes.
But assessing value by weight alone is like valuing a painting by the size of the canvas, there are other factors that are just as important.
You should always take the cut into consideration; with diamonds it’s not always all about size. For example a high-carat diamond with a poor cut can look smaller than a diamond with a smaller carat weight and a better cut.
Ethics and Blood Diamonds
The Kimberley Process began in South Africa in 2000 to challenge the trade in conflict or blood diamonds – those mined in appalling conditions within rebel controlled war zones, often used to purchase arms.
By 2003 the scheme was ratified by the United Nations who have renewed their support every year since.
The diamonds we use at David Rodger Sharp are purchased from suppliers with a Kimberly Process Certificate, which tracks a diamonds journey from discovery through the supply chain.
You can be assured that the diamonds we supply come from a legitimate conflict free trader.
Lovers & the April Birthstone
Those born in the month of April are lucky enough to have the diamond as their birthstone. Seen as a symbol of clarity, love and strength a diamond makes the perfect gift for those born during the month and of course for lovers everywhere.