The diamond, April’s birthstone, is very special. The ancient Romans called diamonds “the tears of the gods”, believing them to be of divine origin. Discover fascinating diamond birthstone history, myths and meaning in this article.
Where do diamonds come from?
Diamonds were formed more than 3 billion years ago underneath the Earth’s crust, through intense volcanic heat and pressure.
They were then pushed up closer to the surface inside clusters of rock. They travelled upwards through what geologists call “kimberlite pipes”.
It’s mostly at the site of kimberlite pipes, where diamonds are mined.
The diamonds we wear
When you slip on a beautiful diamond ring, it’s hard to imagine the time, expense and sheer work that has gone into producing it.
Tons of earth and rock must be shifted before miners find one diamond.
Often a diamond will have spent several years travelling between continents – being sorted, cut, polished, graded and set into jewellery – before you get to wear it.
Why the word “diamond”?
Diamonds have a unique molecular structure which makes them, as you probably already know, incredibly hard.
Scientists give diamonds the highest rating, 10 out of 10, on the Mohs Scale of mineral hardness.
The English word “diamond” originates from the Greek word adámas, which means “unbreakable”. Diamonds are so hard that they can only be shaped by other diamonds.
A modest beginning
Despite their revered status today, diamonds had a humble start. They were first discovered by people around 4,000 BC, in the South Asian region that is now called India.
But instead of being regarded as valuable jewels, archaeological evidence suggests that this early civilization used them to sharpen and polish tools.
How diamonds evolved
By the era of the Roman Empire, diamonds had become very popular among European nobility. Imported from India, they were seen as rare and valuable objects that only the rich could afford.
However, unlike other gemstones that were carved into attractive faceted shapes, the diamond’s hardness continued to defeat all human attempts to cut or break them.
It wasn’t until the Middle Ages, when Venetian jewellers discovered how to shape diamonds by using other diamonds to break them and grind them down. The first diamond shape was the “point cut” with eight identical sides, as seen below.
Why a symbol of love?
Its toughness and beauty makes the diamond an obvious representation of everlasting love. But the idea of wearing diamonds as a symbol of commitment wasn’t born until 1476.
It was the Archduke Maximilian of Austria, proposing to Mary of Burgundy with a diamond ring, who unknowingly set the trend that still lasts today.
Diamond birthstone beliefs
Diamonds are the traditional birthstone for April and also for the star sign of Aries. According to astrology and healing lore, wearing diamonds could have a positive effect on your life and health.
What’s more, these positive effects are thought to multiply when the diamond is your birthstone, or if the diamond aligns with your zodiac sign. The lore says that wearing a diamond can give you strength of character, balance and clarity of mind. It can also benefit your marriage, making it last longer.
During the Middle Ages, people believed in the healing power of diamonds, in particular the pituitary gland and the brain. They were also thought to boost their wearer’s energy when combined with the amethyst.
The world’s biggest diamond
The biggest diamond ever found is the Cullinan, weighing a staggering 3106.75 carats. It was cut into two magnificent gems, the Cullinan I and Cullinan II.
The first one is the so-called Star of Africa, which belongs to the British crown jewels.
Sir William Crookes, the expert who evaluated the stone shortly after it was found, said it had broken clean off from a much larger diamond. According to him, the other half “still awaits discovery by some fortunate miner”.
Round diamonds are the most sought after
Although diamonds come in many shapes, stones with a “round brilliant cut” are by far the most popular in engagement rings and solitaire gift jewellery. So much so, that of all the diamonds sold, more than three quarters are round. Why? Because a round diamond has the most facets (sides that reflect light) and therefore give off more sparkle than any other diamond shape.
Before you go, take a look at this necklace made of round cut diamonds, to see how much it sparkles when it catches the light!
Discover jewellery now at TheDiamondStore.co.uk.