Happy Birthday, Diamond!

Updated: Apr 6

Perhaps the most famous and popular gemstone in the world, diamond is the birthstone for April. Whether like the Romans, you believe that diamonds are splinters of falling stars, or agree with the ancient Greeks who considered them to be tears of the gods, one thing is for sure, there is certainly something magical about those sparkly gems!

Today, we dive deeper into the world of all things sparkly!

round diamond, 6 prong, white gold engagement ring on a white background

Lets begin with some fun facts:

  • Diamonds that exist today were delivered to the surface between 2.5 billion and 20 million years ago (Earth is about 4.6 billion years old)

  • They were first discovered in India

  • Diamonds are the hardest substance on earth but can still be damaged

  • They are graded based on the 4Cs (clarity, colour, cut and carat weight)

  • There was not much scientific knowledge about diamonds until the 20th century

  • In the past 50 years, scientists have learned a lot about how diamonds are formed and transported to the surface, making it easier to predict diamond deposits

  • Scientists have discovered a star that could potentially consist of diamonds. It has been named by astronomers as “Lucy” from the Beatles song, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”


a selection of loose natural diamonds on a polishing cloth next to a jewellers loupe and tweezers

Where do diamonds come from?


Diamonds formed almost 200 km below the earths surface and were eventually brought closer to the surface by volcanic activity.


Primary deposits consist of giant excavations and open-pit mining where mineral-bearing ore is removed in search for diamond rough. Due to improved technologies, this way of mining is becoming increasingly popular and profitable. These deposits can be found in Russia and Canada.


open pit diamond mine

Secondary deposits are created when rough diamonds are carried away from the primary deposits by floods, streams and rivers. These are called alluvial deposits and include river beds and beaches (marine deposits). People have been recovering diamonds this way for over 2,000 years, mainly in Africa.


alluvial diamond mining

Although diamonds are mined in areas which at some point experienced volcanic activity, this does not mean that they travel up in lava during an eruption. For example, recent eruption near Mount Fagradalsfjall in Iceland will not be bringing us any new diamonds.


Mount Fagradalsfjall in Iceland, volcano eruption


Source


India was the original source of diamonds, followed by Brazil. Since then, diamonds have been discovered in Africa, South America, Australia, Russia and Canada.

It has been suggested that Canadian diamonds and Russian diamonds actually come from the same deposit that formed billions of years ago, before Pangea slowly separated into different continents. Similarly, sources in Africa and South America were at some point one deposit.


Pangea before and after separation, world map

Ethical Sourcing


Ethically sourced materials are of utmost importance to me and I take pride in working with companies who supply responsibly sourced, conflict-free diamonds that adhere to the Kimberley Process.


Upon request, I also source diamonds of Canadian origin. Typically, they are inscribed with a maple leaf logo or other symbols associated with Canada, accompanied with a serial number laser inscribed on the diamond’s girdle.


loose diamond displaying a laser inscription on girdle under magnification

To learn more about Canadian diamonds, check out my previous blog post here


What are diamonds made of?

Did you know that diamonds and graphite are both made entirely of carbon? Diamond is the hardest substance on earth and graphite is soft and is used in pencils, so what makes them so different? The answer lies in the way the carbon atoms are connected together.


In diamonds, the atoms are bonded together in a strong arrangement, imagine clasping your hands together, with interlaced fingers. When it comes to graphite, there is a weaker bond, imagine two hands being simply held parallel to each other.

graphite pencil and loose diamond comparison on a blue background

Myth Buster: Diamonds Are Indestructible - FALSE


Although the word diamond comes from the Greek word “adamas,” meaning invincible or indestructible and it is "the hardest substance known to man", diamonds CAN be damaged, especially by other diamonds if they are not stored properly.


a broken loose diamond held in tweezers on a black background

There is a difference between calling something "hard" and "strong." Although diamonds rank at 10/10 on Mohs hardness scale, all that means is that it will only be scratched by another diamond but it does not mean that diamonds cannot be broken.


For example, if a diamond has a large inclusion like a fracture, it can actually crack even further if you accidentally hit your diamond ring on a table or a door.


This is why I advise not to wear your jewellery to the gym, the beach, or while baking or gardening, even if it is diamond jewellery.

For more myth busters, check out my previous posts:

Myth Busters, Vol. 1

Myth Busters, Vol. 2


a solitaire diamond pendant and chain in white gold, on a white silk background next to a dry purple flower


Quality - the 4Cs



Clarity


Clarity refers to a diamond's freedom from clarity characteristics such as inclusions (inside the diamond) and blemishes (diamond’s surface). The factors that affect the clarity grade are: the number, position, colour and nature of the characteristic. For example, a large fracture within a stone has a larger affect on the clarity grade and value of the diamond than a small white pinpoint.

To learn more about clarity in gemstones, check out my previous blog post here

5 stone diamond anniversary band in white metal platinum or white gold on a white background

Diamonds are graded on the following scale:


Flawless (F)

Internally Flawless (IF)

VVS (very very slightly included)

VS (very slightly included)


SI (slightly included)

I (Included)


The majority of diamonds in jewellery consist of SI and I graded diamonds.

a pair of diamond stud earrings in white gold on a white background

Inclusions are often viewed as a negative when it comes to diamonds and are sometimes referred to as imperfections, but we have to remember that diamonds really are a miracle of nature, formed billions of years ago under incredible circumstances.

No two diamonds have the same clarity characteristics, each diamond is unique and one-of-a-kind and that is what makes it special and interesting. In fact, many customers in search for something different are opting for “salt and pepper diamonds” that are heavily included, showing a combination of heavy, visible white and black inclusions. For all you trend setters out there, I would be delighted to source a very special

“salt and pepper” diamond for you!


a pear shape salt and pepper diamond held in tweezers on a white background

Colour


The colour or the lack of it is what counts when grading diamond colour. The less the colour a diamond shows, the higher its value and more rare it is. Diamonds are graded on the D-Z range as developed by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).


Fun fact: diamond colour is graded with the stones upside down.


GIA scale of colour grading from D to Z, 4 diamond comparison, on a white background

Diamonds are typically colourless (or white) but also occur in gorgeous yellow and pink shades, as well as brown, black, purple, orange, green and blue. These are know as “fancy-coloured” diamonds and are graded on a different scale. They significantly range in prices and availability. In this case, the stronger the colour, the more valuable the stone is.


a loose pear shape pink diamond, a loose elongated cushion yellow diamond, on a white background

With the recent closure of the main pink diamond source - the Argyle mine in Australia, the already high prices of pink diamonds are only going to go up, so grab them while you can!


Most diamonds on the market range from colourless or nearly colourless to light yellow and brown diamonds (also known as “cognac” or “chocolate” diamonds).


a pear shape diamond engagement ring, diamond halo, white gold, on a white background


Cut


The cut of the diamond refers to how well a diamond’s facets interact with light.

It is what gives the diamond its brightness, fire and scintillation and makes it sparkle!

The cut is the most complex and difficult of all the 4Cs to analyse. The grader has to consider proportions, polish and symmetry and assign a grade ranging from Poor to Excellent. With modern cutting technologies available, the majority of diamonds range between Good, Very good and Excellent cut.


The shape refers to the outline of the diamond, for example, round, princess, oval, etc.


a diamond from rough to cut and polished, comparison, on a white background, diamond cutting process

Carat weight


Diamonds and gemstones are weighed in carats. The name comes from the carob seeds which were used by early gem traders as counterweights on their balance scales.


1 carat (ct) is 0.2g and should not be confused with karat, which refers to gold purity, e.g. 14K, 18K etc.

Just like a dollar is divided into 100 cents, a carat is divided into 100 points. For example, a 50-point diamond refers to 0.50 carats or half-a-carat. The majority of diamonds used in fine jewellery weigh one carat or less.


There are of course, some gorgeous, larger options available upon request, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me for something truly spectacular!


a lady's hand wearing a diamond engagement ring, profile view, side view on a black background

April - Diamond


  • linked to love, eternity and strength

  • promotes a feeling of inner peace and calmness

  • opens up doorways to the spiritual realm

  • enhances psychic abilities

  • helps you achieve your dreams and bring desires into reality


lady's hand wearing a selection of vintage inspired stacking bands by Tsarina Gems, wearing a frilly white blouse, light pink nails, typing on a laptop


Synthetics and Simulants

Synthetic (man-made) diamonds have the same crystal structure and chemical composition as their natural counterparts and can be developed by scientists in labs.


For example, natural and synthetic diamonds are essentially the same, however there are slight differences that can only be detected by a trained gemologist, with the use of special equipment. The main difference being: natural diamonds are grown by nature and are mined out of the ground where as synthetic diamonds are grown in a controlled lab environment.


a selection of rough diamonds next to a pair of tweezers on a grey background

The perfect conditions to synthetically grow a diamond are: temperature of 900-1,300C and pressure of 45-60 kilobars. In nature, these conditions are present in the earth’s upper mantle, between 140-190 km under ground. If there is a slight variation in temperature or pressure, the result is graphite, not a diamond, that’s how perfect the conditions have to be!


a selection of rough diamonds, stacked on top of each other, on a white background

Synthetic gemstones should not be confused with imitations or simulants which just look like gemstones. For example, synthetic moissanite (on the left) can imitate a diamond (on the right) and is often marketed as a diamond alternative, however this does not mean this stone is a synthetic version of a diamond, is is an imitation or a simulant. There are synthetic diamonds that are grown in labs and can be confused with natural diamonds.


a loose round synthetic moissanite and a loosed round diamond next to each other, comparison on a white background

As a certified gemologist and jewellery expert I love sharing my knowledge with you!

Do get in touch with me if you have any further questions regarding diamonds, gemstones and jewellery!

Are diamonds on your wish list? Tsarina Gems will be delighted to hear about it!

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