Diamond is the most popular gemstone for jewellery around the globe. Most people visualise a diamond solitaire style when they think about engagement rings. What is it that makes diamonds so popular? Any jewellery lover will tell you it's due to diamond's unrivalled sparkle. Any gemmologist or jeweller will tell you it's because diamond has unique properties that are unrivalled in the gemstone kingdom.
Diamonds symbolise luxury, prosperity and glamour. They are a symbol of eternal love as they themselves can be up to three billion years old! There is no better way to celebrate an ever-lasting union of love and happiness than a piece of sparkling diamond jewellery.
It's believed that diamonds were traded in India as early as the fourth century BC as alluvial deposits would have been discovered in streams and rivers. The sub-continent had a limited supply of these magic gems and their beauty was reserved for royalty and the upper classes.
It wasn't until the late Middle Ages that diamonds became familiar to the Western World as exotic trade from India found itself along the Silk Routes to the Venetian markets. Diamonds became fashionable to the European Elite in the 1400s. By the 1700s, diamonds were so sought after that pioneering gem merchants like Jean-Baptiste Tavernier travelled to the East to bring back treasures such as the infamous Hope Diamond.
During this period, diamond deposits were discovered in Brazil as the Indian deposits declined. Brazil ruled as the major diamond source for 150 years until explorers uncovered the first South African diamond deposits in the early 1800s. This changed the path of diamond history and mining forever as modern mining began at the Kimberley deposit in 1866 and the de Beers company started its monopoly of the diamond market that lasted well into the twentieth century.
During the last century, the major sources of diamonds were South Africa, Zaire (now named the Democratic Republic of Congo) and Russia. In 1982, a highly productive new mine in Botswana added to world production, then in 1985 diamond deposits were discovered in Australia and then in Canada in 2000.
Diamonds are incredibly ancient - they were formed three billion years ago under the Earth's crust, under conditions of extreme heat and pressure - 900 to 1,300 degrees Celsius, and at a pressure of 45 to 60 kilobars. Under these conditions, molten lamproite and kimberlite (commonly known as magma) are also formed within the Earth’s upper mantle and expand at a rapid rate. This expansion causes the magma to erupt, forcing it to the Earth’s surface and taking along with it diamond bearing rocks in a type of 'diamond elevator'.
Moving at an incredible speed, the magma takes the path with least resistance, forming a ‘pipe’ to the surface. Once diamond deposits or precursor minerals are discovered near these lamporite or kimberlite pipes mining can begin.
Diamond is the hardest known natural substance to mankind. It is 10 on the Mohs scale, and is four times harder than corundum (ruby and sapphire).
Hardness in gemmology refers to the mineral's ability to scratch another mineral - thus no other substance can scratch a diamond. This is one of the major reasons that diamond is so popular for jewellery items, especially engagement rings.
The hardness of diamond is due to the chemical bonds on an atomic level - they are mostly covalent which are the strongest atomic bonds of all. Diamond is pure carbon with occasionally the smallest impurities of elements such as boron and nitrogen which can give diamond crystals colour. All other gem minerals are compounds, comprising more than one element, where diamond is the only gem mineral to comprise one element only.
Despite its superior hardness, diamond has perfect yet difficult octahedral cleavage which means that the crystal can break along the cleavage planes when hit at the appropriate angle. These planes have weaker atomic bonds than the rest of the diamond crystal lattice and are where a diamond marker will plan to cleave the stone.
Diamonds may have the reputation of being indestructible, however they can sustain damage and care must be taken when wearing diamond jewellery.
Another amazing property of diamond is its ability to fluorescence under short and long wave ultraviolet light. The most common series of diamonds, Type 1A (also known as Cape Series diamonds), can sometimes strongly fluoresce bright blue under long wave and weaker blue under short wave light. This is a useful indicator for gemmologists trying to identify natural diamonds.
Diamonds have fascinating inclusions such as feathers, clouds, pinpoints and tiny crystals of diamond or other gems such as pyrope garnet and olivine.
Diamond education is incredibly important to have when embarking upon that magical journey of selecting a diamond engagement ring. Most of us have heard about the '4 C's' - Carat, Colour, Clarity and Cut. At BUNDA we like to consider the fifth C - Character!
It's great to study up on the info available to everyone on the internet about the four C's and to have that fundamental understanding of what makes a great diamond. However, this foundation knowledge is then best guided by an expert diamantier and/or gemmologist who can help clients understand that top grades on a diamond certificate do not always translate to a wonderful stone.
At BUNDA we select premium diamonds using the latest technology and present to our clients the very best stones to suit each individual's personality and the beautiful setting that will best compliment the diamond's sparkling beauty. We understand that some people want the very best grades and are happy to choose a small yet perfect diamond where other clients want a big gutsy stone.
It's knowing how light travels through a cut diamond or how fluorescence can improve the look of a diamond with a lesser colour grade that can really help to decide the best diamond option possible. We offer comprehensive diamond education so please make an appointment to see one of our diamond experts who will help you find your ideal diamond.
Diamonds have been long valued for their magical properties. Hindus over fifteen centuries ago believed diamond could protect the wearer against evil spirits, fire, poison, snake bite and other assorted dangers!
Diamonds are thought to access the Divine energies - perhaps this is why they have been placed prominently in the crowns of Kings and Queens who were regarded as intermediaries between the Heavenly and Earthly realms.
Today we can imagine that diamond may assist us to access divine light during meditation and can help us to visualise our inner king or queen and bring us the qualities of sovereignty, power and knowledge and perhaps clairvoyant ability. When worn in everyday life, diamonds can help one focus on one’s consciousness and hopefully aid to manifest one’s dreams, goals and desires.