April Birthstone - Diamond
Since inception, diamonds have been the undisputed rulers of the gemstone kingdom. In spite of so many other beautiful gemstones, they are the chosen one for the most important moments - engagement, wedding or baby shower.
Derived its name from the Greek word 'adamas', meaning invincible, diamonds have been the spectacular choice for representing power, passion, strength, commitment and devotion.
The history of diamond mining is as old as 4000 years. It was believed that the Indian peninsula was the first place where diamonds were discovered. The Golconda mines in India are world famous for producing the most beautiful and significant diamonds on the entire planet. Khohinoor and the Hope diamond are the most astonishing examples for proving the contribution of Golconda mines to the world.
The other places of diamond origin include Brazil, Central and Southern Africa, Russia, Canada and Australia.
Diamond is especially known for its play of light and hardness. It is the hardest gemstone on the earth and scores a 10 on the moh's scale of hardness. White diamonds have the great capacity to reflect 100% light, thus giving a beautiful effect of rainbow.
In ancient times, diamonds were used for religious purpose for they were considered sacred and divine. Due to their hardness, they were the gem to reflect strength and power to bear extreme pressure.
During the Dark Age, these rocks were greatly used as medical aid. An anecdote written during the Dark Ages by St. Hildegrade, explains the healing effect of diamond when it was held in hand while making a sign of cross.
They were worn as adornments, used as a cutting tool and a talisman against evil during this time.
These allotropes of carbon were formed under extremely high pressure of approx 45 to 60 kilobars and at a temperature of 900 - 1300 degree Celsius. Mostly the stones were formed at a depth of 120 to 200 kilometers under the earth surface but they could also be found at more than 300 kilometers.
It was believed that the stones were formed some 990 million years ago. However, some diamonds were estimated to be formed 4.5 billion years ago, that means even before the life on the planet. While that was a mystery how diamonds were formed during that time, the history of diamond is most about its use as a precious adornment and a power shower.
In ancient and medieval history, only kings and queens used diamonds. They were forbidden for common people to use. In Asian countries, diamonds were sacred and used as an adornment for the deities.
In the middle age, these rocks were more used for their beauty than their mystical powers. Although, the symbolic factor was still there, diamonds were more used for jewelry and dresses.
When Indian diamond mines were depleting in 18th century, the quest for new diamond sources were on peak. The mines in Brazil, which were discovered in 1725, were a major turning point in this search.
Later, Erasmus Jacobs, a 15-year-old prospector in 1866 was exploring the banks of the Orange River when he came across to a 21.25-carat diamond. A colossal 83.50-carat deposit, in 1871, was found on a shallow hill named Colesberg Kopje. These findings sparked a diamond rush and opened the gateways for a large-scale mining known as Kimberly Mine.
The discoveries brought a dramatic slowdown in diamond buying. The elite were no longer interested in diamonds for the rocks were a common thing now. But by 1880's, Cecil John Rodes, an Englishman, formed De Beers Consolidated Mines to control the devaluation and supply of diamonds. It was his efforts that the rock regains its old shine by the early 1900's.
Diamond in Jewelry and Engagement rings
The most primitive usages of diamonds for engagement rings were dates back to ancient history when the stone was highly valued as a symbol of lifetime commitment. It was given by Romans as the betrothal rings and was worn on the third finger of the left hand, as they believe that the vein of this finger goes directly to heart.
Later in 1215, Pope Innocent III in the middle ages, declared a waiting period between a betrothal and the marriage. Therefore, the trend of giving engagement rings as a symbol of being committed in the interim came into existence. During the same time, the Roman government mandated wedding rings.
In all those times, it was not necessary to present a diamond ring. The trend of presenting a diamond ring started when Archduke Maximilian of Austria, in 1477, proposed Mary of Burgundy with a diamond ring. It was since then that the trends of presenting a diamond ring started in the royal house and later became necessary have tradition for all.
Similarly, diamond jewelry was the prime choice along with pearls for wedding ceremonies. The combination of diamond and pearl has been thought the most auspicious and divine of all. The royal brides usually adorn a diamond tiara along with few jewels for their wedding ceremony.