April Birthstone: Diamond

2 April 2023

For the history of the diamond, April’s birthstone, we need to travel back to India in the 4th Century BCE which is probably where it was first “officially” discovered and sold.  It took until the early 1700s for that supply to decline when a lode in Brazil made it the “go to” country.

Then in the late 1860s we hear from Kimberley, South Africa, and Cecil Rhodes (as in Rhodesia and the Rhode’s Scholarship) who founded DeBeers Consolidated Mines Limited and the world’s largest diamond, the Great Star of Africa, which you can see at the Tower of London as part of the Crown Jewels.  The famous blue Hope Diamond probably originated in the Indian Golconda and was sold to King Louis XIV of France.  It is currently housed and on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Now they are mined all over the globe including the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), the Soviet Union, Canada, the Argyle mine in Australia, and in Arkansas in the United States.  Its name stems from the Greek adamas, or unbreakable.

The characteristics attributed to the diamond are longevity, strength, beauty and happiness.  Because of their translucence and shine, they also connote enlightenment.  Some think that if you dream of wearing diamond earrings, you will receive good financial advice.

Their formation was originally credited to lightning or tears of God, depending on the country.  It is said that Buddha’s throne was made of diamonds.  In the second century someone decided that a diamond would thwart the evil eye that brought sickness and other malevolence.  It was thought to be an antidote for poison and the plague and that it could cure problems with the pituitary gland and brain.

In addition to its title as April’s birthstone, it is the traditional gift for both the 60th and 75th wedding anniversaries.  Of course, we all recognize it as an engagement ring.

The diamond is very durable and it is fine to clean it using an ultrasonic system.  However, if it is flawed or has been treated, just use a solution of warm water, mild soap and a toothbrush.  You may wish to have your stone examined by a jeweler from time to time to be sure it is still in good shape and to get an updated valuation for insurance purposes.

If you are in the market for a diamond, be sure to understand the four “C” characteristics.

  • Color – Actually the less color, the better the diamond. They are usually graded alphabetically with the more color the higher the letter.
  • Clarity – This looks at how many blemishes or imperfections there are, where they are located, and how it affects the appearance of the stone.
  • Cut – This is how the diamond is shaped. Yes, this can mean whether it is a round, marquise, pear, etc.  However, truly this refers to how the expert fashioned the facets, or faces, to be symmetrical and how it reflects light to the best advantage.  The terms to understand are brightness, fire, and scintillation.
  • Carat – We often judge the quality by its size, which is appropriate since the larger stones are more difficult to find. A carat is 200 milligrams.

The last thing you need to think about are stones that are referred to as “blood diamonds” or “conflict diamonds”.  These are jewels that are illegally mined and often sold by forces opposing the legitimate government and the funds are used to support rebellious military action or to enforce denial of human rights.  To prevent illegal sales, diamonds are now engraved with a serial number and logo.

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