April born are very fortunate to share the almighty diamond as their birthstone. An enduring symbol of love, romance and commitment that has captivated mankind with its alluring beauty. It represents clarity and strength and is known to be one of nature’s finest and most precious creations. Given for a proposal or as a gift for a 60th and 75th wedding anniversary. It is so strong that it derives its name from the Greek word ‘adamas’ which means “invincible” or “unbreakable”.
Diamonds have the ability to disperse light like no other gemstone, almost magical in the appearance of their own internal fire. A gemstone with a long and wonderfully interesting history. We intend to explore where diamond came from and how it came to be the worlds most desirable jewel and object.
When was diamond discovered and how are they formed?
Diamonds were first discovered in India in 4th century BC in rivers and streams. Some historians estimate that India was trading in diamonds as early as this point. The earliest diamonds were formed over 3 billion years ago deep within the Earth’s crust under conditions of intense heat and pressure that cause carbon atoms to crystallise (forming diamonds). Diamond is 58x harder than anything else in nature. They are found at a depth of approx. 150-200km below the surface of the Earth. Temperatures average 900 to 1,300 degrees Celsius and at a pressure of 45 to 60 kilobars (which is around 50,000 times that of atmospheric pressure at the Earth’s surface). Geologists believe that the diamonds in all of Earth’s commercial diamond deposits were formed in the mantle and delivered to the surface by deep-source volcanic eruptions.
Ancient Greek & Roman Diamonds
In the first century AD, the Roman naturalist Pliny stated: “Diamond is the most valuable, not only of precious stones, but of all things in this world”. There is strong evidence of trade between India and the Romans who went on to find many uses for the diamond aside of jewellery. It was a popular tool for engraving and was commonly used for bead drilling. Roman and Greek mythology held this gemstone in a hugely powerful regard. Plato the Greek philosopher went so far as to write about there being living celestial spirits embodied in stones, further adding to the awe that surrounded the stones. Cupid’s arrows were supposedly diamond tipped, a highlight of the mystical powers they attached.
The First Ever Diamond Engagement Ring
Diamonds appeared for the first time on an engagement ring in 1477 when Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed to Mary of Burgandy. According to gia the ring featured long and narrow diamonds mounted in the shape of an M. Up to this point in time diamonds had been reserved for royalty and the elite only. Despite this being the first diamond engagement ring it was not until 1947 when De Beers, the British company that mined diamonds in South Africa launched an advertising campaign with the help of Hollywood stars and the strap line ‘A diamond is forever’. This was the point diamond engagement rings soared in popularity and became a traditional staple for a proposal. Now a powerful symbol of eternal love.
Modern engagement rings
Despite diamond engagement rings being the traditional style for a modern engagement, there has been a rise in popularity in the want for coloured stones to feature and for more unusal designs. Black and fancy colour diamonds are often being favoured. As well as colourful gemstones. Princess Diana of Wales set a trend with her engagement to Prince Charles in 1981 where her ring consisted of 14 diamonds surrounding a 12 carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire set in 18 karat white gold . Prince William also proposed to Kate Middleton with a sapphire centre stone ring. People are often throwing away the rule book with their individual tastes.
The Cullinan Diamond
The largest gem quality rough diamond ever found weighed 3,106.75 carats and was discovered at the Premier No.2 mine in Cullinan, South Africa, on 26 January 1905. It was named after Thomas Cullinan, the mine’s chairman. The diamond was on the market for over two years before it was finally sold to the Transvaal Colony government and given to King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, who had it cut by Joseph Asscher & Co. in Amsterdam. The stone was cut into many diamonds, two of which feature in The Crown Jewels and are some of the largest diamonds in the world.
The Sovereign Sceptre and The Imperial State Crown
The Tiffany Yellow Diamond
The Tiffany Yellow Diamond is one of the largest yellow diamonds ever discovered and was purchased by Mr Tiffany in 1879. Its carat weight was originally 287.42 carats (57.484 g) but was later cut into a smaller stone and went on to become the Tiffany emblem. Charles Tiffany commissioned his gemmologist George Kunz who was just 23 years old at the time, to cut the original diamond. He studied it for a year before doing so. It was cut into a cushion shape of 128.54 carats with 82 facets – 24 more than a traditional round brilliant in order to maximise its brilliance. It was displayed on 5th Avenue and attracted millions of admirers.
Lucy in the Sky
Lucy in the sky named after the famous Beatles song ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ is a white dwarf around 50 light years away from earth. A remarkable discovery in the 90s uncovered a proven theory by a scientific study of the composition of the star also known as V886 Centauri and BPM 37093. It was proven to be made of the same crystallised chemical composition as diamond and is estimated to be 10 billion, trillion, trillion carats. Undoubtedly the largest diamond to ever to be found!
Where are diamonds mined?
Diamonds were discovered in India first which became the main early source of supply to ancient civilisations, royalty and the elite. Brazil then uncovered an important source of the stone which lead to a 150 year market domination. The birth of the modern diamond market arose when a South African deposit discovery was made in 1866. British Entrepreneur Cecil Rhodes set up De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited in 1888 which controlled over 90% of the worlds rough cut diamond production. The demand for technological advancements in the way that diamonds were mined and cut grew vastly and innovation was inevitable. Russia, Australia and Canada have all become important recent sources of diamond, establishing prolific mines and creating a growing middle class. Lab created diamonds are also now being explored and establishing a market of their own.
Diamonds at The Northcote Jeweller
At The Northcote Jeweller we are known for our trusted quality diamond jewellery. All of our diamonds are ethically sourced with a wide variety of GIA certified diamond rings. Notably renowned for our opulent Art Deco inspired gemstone and diamond collection.
An exquisite engagement ring alternative.
We have featured some of our favourites below.
Please see our recent blog post for more information about diamond engagement rings and the GIA diamond certification process, ‘The 4 Cs’ by clicking here