DIAMOND: APRIL'S BIRTHSTONE

| Fiona Tilley

If there is a gem that needs no introduction, it’s the diamond. It is strong, durable, and exquisitely beautiful. Diamond is the birthstone of April — the month of Aries, the bravest sign of the Zodiac, and Taurus, known for earthy sensuality and stability. With those qualities, it’s no wonder that the diamond is a perfect gift for any occasion.

Diamonds are the hardest mineral found on earth. Formed approximately one hundred miles below the earth’s surface in temperatures approaching three thousand degrees, they are made from pure carbon pressurized over billions of years. The diamond is fifty eight times harder than anything else in nature. Also known for its rigorously authentic sparkle—which is expressed through a process known as diffraction—a diamond will reflect all the colors of the rainbow. It’s most famous for its colorless, flawless clarity, but also comes in colors such as yellow, red, pink, blue, champagne and black. Diamonds of color are just as valuable as the clear variety. The saturation of color or its flawlessness is what usually determines its value.

Diamond trade began in India in 400 B.C. and they were treasured by the Indian elite. Trade to Western Europe began much later in the 1400s. By the mid 1700s diamonds were discovered in Brazil and they quickly dominated the diamond market. However, the story of the modern diamond industry begins in the 1800s when finally discovered in South Africa. In 1888 Cecil Rhodes established De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited and controlled 90% of the world’s diamond production. Today, much has changed as diamonds are also mined in Russia, Zaire, Botswana, Australia and Northern Canada. Diamond mines are now so diverse that De Beers could no longer hold on to its previous monopoly. Though to this day, the premier De Beers mine is the source of the world’s largest diamond—the Great Star of Africa. Discovered in 1905, it was shaped into a brilliant 530 carat gem and is set at the top of the Royal Scepter and Cross in the tower of London.  

A rough diamond sits as an octahedron—six sharp points, eight flat planes, and twelve straight and sharp ridges. It’s perfect shape alone has inspired ancient wonder. It has long been considered as material intermediary between human kind and the unseen forces of divine nature. The ancient Hindus placed diamonds in the eyes of their statues and believed bolts of lightening created diamonds out of the stones that they struck. Krishna, a beloved Indian deity, bestowed a diamond as a gift to his love Radha in order to reflect Radha’s moonlit beauty. The ancient Indians believed the possessor of a diamond was protected from danger. The remarkable purity and astonishing sparkle of diamonds led the Hindus to believe that they were a source of clarity and invincibility. The ankh—the ancient Egyptian symbol of life itself—had a diamond at its center, and the Egyptians considered it to represent the sun, power, courage, and truth. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato thought diamonds to be the living embodiment of celestial beings, and the ancient Greeks and Romans considered diamonds to be tears of gods or pieces fallen off stars.      

Of course, diamonds are most popularly set in engagement rings. A fitting occasion for such a striking and durable gem. But a diamond shines brilliantly in earrings, cuff links, bracelets and pendants as well. A diamond with the best possible sparkle is most desirable, and sparkle is mainly determined by clarity and cut. A diamond is by far the easiest gem to match with other types of jewelry, and because of its unbeatable durability it can be set into any kind of jewelry.                                 

You don’t need justification or explanation to give a diamond gift. It encompasses the scope of life’s most precious occasions and meets the humility of its most passing moments. May the invincibility and the simple profound beauty of a diamond inspire us all with the strength and sparkle to carry through even life’s most precarious moments.

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