Diamond gemstone is the hardest gem known to humanity in addition to being the most valued. It has derived its name from the Greek word adámas, meaning “unbreakable.” No other stone is as intensely mined or strictly regulated as this shimmering beauty. Though it is formed of pure carbon, its hardness is due to the atoms being compacted by high pressure and temperature in the earth’s upper mantle.
Diamonds are Combustible: Sir Issac Newton
Diamonds, in most cases, are found to have been formed between the depths of 80 and 150 km in the earth’s crust. As it is composed of carbon, the stone burns in air that is heated to very high temperature. It will be interesting to note here that the idea of this gemstone being combustible was first suggested by Sir Issac Newton in 1675. The first case of incineration of diamond was achieved 19 years later by two Italians, Averani and Targioni.
Measurement of Diamond in Carats
This gorgeous gemstone is among the most important gems that are measured in carats. However, it would be interesting to note that the value of the carat varied in different countries until it was standardized as 0.2 grams (200 milligrams) in 1907. It will not be out of place to mention here that the term carat was perhaps derived from the Mediterranean carob seed pods that have for long been used to weigh gems/stones. The name itself stems from the Greek word kerátion that means “carob seed.”
Forms and Cuts of Diamond
This vibrant gemstone possesses flawless crystal form and high symmetry. Uncut crystals might appear to be greasy and a tad rounded. However, once they undergo cutting, they emit lustre and dispersion. This is what gives the stone its sparkle and radiance.
The brilliant cut enjoys maximum popularity today as it best displays the fiery brilliance of this majestic stone. Some of the other popular diamond cuts include princess, pear, baguette, and emerald. Diamond jewelry enjoys lasting popularity among masses.
Classification of Diamond
This vibrant stone can be classified as Type I or Type II according to its physical properties. Type I are gems that include nitrogen. This category can further be divided into Type IA that has nitrogen in layers and Type IB that has nitrogen dispersed. It will be worth noting here that almost all diamonds are Type I diamonds.
Type II diamonds, like the natural blue variety, contain no nitrogen and are laminated. Type IIA diamond does not conduct electricity, unlike Type IIB. Fine specimens are found in both types. Some diamonds are a mixture of the types.
The Largest Known Diamond
The largest gem discovered so far was found in Premier Diamond Mine near Pretoria, in Transvaal, South Africa in 1905. The stone weighed 3,106 carats and was named after the owner of the mine, Sir Thomas Cullinan. It was cut into nine large stones and 96 smaller stones. The largest of the cut stones was named Cullinan I, also known as the Great Star of Africa, and is perched on the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.
Facts and Trivia about Diamond
There are many interesting facts and trivia attached to this magnificent gemstone.
- It is the hardest gem known to man.
- Only a diamond can cut and polish another diamond.
- More than three-fourth of the mined diamonds belong to industrial quality. However, this percentage might vary from mine to mine.
- Mostly available in colored grey to brown, these finely granular diamonds are termed as ballas, carbonado, bort, etc.
- These are sub-standard stones and are normally used in styli for record players, drill bits, die that draw fine wire, glass cutters, etc.
- Indians knew about this gorgeous stone even 2,300 years ago. However, they did not cut or broke it as they believed that doing so would destroy its magical properties.
- Some of the places where this scintillating beauty is found today are India, Guyana, Borneo, Tanzania, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Congo, Brazil, Australia, Botswana, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Guinea, China, Canada, Ghana, South Africa, Russia, Angola, and Russia.
Diamond Engagement Rings
It will be interesting to note that it was the wedding of Maximillian of Austria to Mary of Burgundy in the 15th century that brought the diamond jewelry to everyone’s notice and established it firmly on the world’s map.
Until then, the difficulty involved in mining, cutting, and polishing the stone, diamond jewelry wasn’t readily available. However, this momentous occasion changed everything and jewelry made of this vivacious gem have continued its march to glory.