The history of diamonds and their mystique, and a few things to know when you shop for that special diamond for that special someone
By: Zeke Hinojosa
For years, diamonds have captured the imaginations of all who encounter them. They have been prized by many cultures for centuries due to their rarity, mystique, strength and beauty.
Diamonds were first mined in India more than 4,000 years ago. Each culture had its own beliefs as to how diamonds arrived here. Some believed they were tears of the gods and splinters from falling stars; others believed they were formed by lightning striking rocks.
The truth is that diamonds are found all over the world, but 80 percent of all diamonds come from just seven main sources. These areas are:
Modern mining began in the mid-1900s in South Africa, along with rise of the DeBeers empire.
What makes diamonds so rare? Diamonds are thousands of years old, and they are made of pure carbon, crystalized by extreme heat and pressure. They are formed approximately 150 miles below the earth’s surface and forced up through volcanic eruption. It takes approximately 250 tons of mining and processing the earth’s ore to produce a single one-carat, polished, gem-quality diamond.
Once the diamonds have been mined and processed, they are classified and valued according to their size, shape, quality and color. The Diamond Trading Company (DTC) sorts rough diamonds into more than 16,000 categories. These rough diamonds are sold 10 times per year at regular, invitation-only sales called “sights.” Then sightholders choose to cut the rough they purchased or sell some of it to smaller manufacturers and wholesalers.
The next step for the rough diamonds is cutting and polishing. This skill is done with meticulous techniques that have been perfected for generations. Imagine if you cut a rough diamond and slightly miscalculate a cut or measurement, and the diamond suddenly drops weight to less than a carat. How much value is really lost at this point? There is a tremendous difference between an actual one-carat diamond and one that is even one point smaller (.99). These days, some polishing is computerized; however, most of the work is still performed by hand.
Now we have a finished diamond – the ultimate expression of love. The word, “diamond,” derives from the ancient Greek word, “adamao,” translated as “I tame” or “I subdue.” The first engagement ring on record was presented by Austria’s Archduke Maximilian to his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy, in 1477. The ring was placed on the third finger of her left hand, based on ancient Egyptian belief that this finger contained a love vein that ran directly to the heart. Ever since then, couples have followed along in tradition and continue to use the diamond as a symbol of their love and devotion to each other.
One of the more interesting things you will do in your life is take the time to shop around for that very special diamond for that very special someone. There are four very simple basics to be aware of when you have your favorite jeweler show you diamonds.
1. The cut: Always try to request and stay as close to an “ideal cut” of a diamond as possible. The ideal cut will ensure that your diamond has the maximum sparkle that everyone desires.
2. The color: The vast majority of folks prefer a diamond with little or no color. The color chart, which your jeweler should show you, will tell you that the colors known as D, E and F are colorless, and the colors known as G, H, I and J are near colorless. Letters K through Z represent the color range, which shows more prominent color.
3. The clarity: The fewer internal characteristics, the better. This allows maximum light refraction to enter and exit the diamond. SI1 and SI2 are diamonds that are clean with no eye visible inclusions, and VS1 and VS2 are diamonds that are totally eye clean and show limited internal characteristics under 10-power magnification. These two categories represent the greatest number selected by those shopping for diamonds.
4. The carat: Typically speaking, the larger the diamond with the aforementioned characteristics, the greater the investment. A smaller diamond with lower characteristics represents a lesser investment.
Knowledge of the four Cs gives you a starting point in looking for a diamond. Always shop with a jeweler who has earned an excellent reputation and/or comes highly recommended. Another very important thing to know before embarking on this venture is your budget. By sharing this with the jeweler, you’ll save both yourself and the jeweler a lot of time. Our recommendation is to always choose quality over quantity.
When shopping for that special diamond engagement ring, most guys aren’t thinking that diamonds are also a great investment, but guess what? Diamonds have proven to be one of the best overall investments anyone can make. This is particularly true with diamonds that are one carat and over.
Now you know the history and you’ve had a mini-lesson on what to look for when you decide to go shopping for that special diamond. Good luck!
Denny Bales Diamonds is located at 7009 S. Staples St., Ste. 101, in Corpus Christi, Texas. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo provided by Denny Bales Diamonds