Diamond Gemstone Information
About Diamond - History and Introduction
Diamond is the transparent, gemstone-quality crystalline form of carbon and it is indeed the hardest known natural substance on earth. Diamonds are not only prized and famed for their exceptional hardness, but also for their high refractive index (brilliance) and their remarkably high dispersion rate of visible light (fire). Although traditional colorless or 'white diamonds' are by far the most popular colored diamonds, yellow and brown diamonds (champagne and cognac) are actually the most commonly occurring diamonds. Other fancy diamond colors include blue, pink, red, green, orange and black. Red diamonds are actually one of the rarest gemstones in the world. Rather than owing their color to traces of chemical impurities like most other types of colored gemstones, the color of red diamonds is the unique result of minute defects formed in the crystal lattice.
The name 'diamond' was taken from the Greek word, 'adamas', meaning 'invincible', a sheer testament to its remarkable and superior hardness. The superlative physical qualities of diamond are credited to the strong covalent tetrahedral bonding between its transparent crystals. Each individual carbon atom is connected to four other carbon atoms, all of which are very closely packed. This formation yields a remarkably strong three-dimensional cubic structure. Diamond's cubic crystal pattern is also completely symmetrical, which allows it to refract light in all directions at the same velocity (singly refractive).
Identifying Diamonds Back to Top
Diamonds can be very easily identified through thermal conductivity testing, which is in fact one of the most common tests done today by jewelers to distinguish diamonds from glass. Diamonds are one of the few singly refractive gemstones available and they have an unmistakable carbon-only composition (the same as graphite). Diamond is the hardest known substance on earth (10 on the Mohs scale) with a cutting resistance approximately 140 times greater than that of sapphire and ruby (9 on the Mohs scale). Diamond has a high refractive index and a considerably high level of dispersion. It is often imitated, but no other substance can rival its superior hardness. Many well-experienced gemologists can often identify diamond by its strong luster alone.
Diamond Origin and Gemstone Sources Back to Top
Approximately half of the world's diamonds come from Central and Southern Africa. The production levels of diamonds vary year by year, but as of 2010, the top diamond producers were Russia, Botswana, Congo, Angola, South Africa, Namibia, Guinea, Ghana, Australia and Canada. There have also been significant deposits found in India and Brazil. Canada has recently become a main commercial source for fine white diamonds.
Buying Diamonds and Determining Diamond Gemstone Value Back to Top
Diamond Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details of gemology-related terms.
Diamond: Similar Or Related Materials: Back to Top
Diamond is pure carbon and is chemically the same as graphite. There is no other gemstone in the same family as diamond, although there are a variety of very similar gemstones. Diamond also occurs in more than one color, and often, specific colors will trade under specific names. There are many diamond imitations and simulants available, but none that can even compare to the adamantine luster and hardness of authentic natural diamond.
Diamond Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers Back to Top
Historically, diamonds have been claimed to possess many supernatural and metaphysical qualities. It is believed that diamonds can protect against panic, pestilence and enchantments. Diamonds can amplify thoughts, whether positive or negative, which means if they are given with love, they can return mutual feelings; but if given with ill intentions, they can become 'cursed diamonds'. Diamonds are the stone of truth and victory. They were worn by many with the belief that they help the wearer to conquer their enemies and win their battles.
Diamonds are also especially helpful for those with sleepwalking disorders and for those considered to be mentally insane. Diamond is the official modern birthstone for April and it is also used as an official 60 year anniversary gemstone. The popular term 'diamonds are forever' is based on the belief in diamond's ability to strengthen relationships between couples.
Diamond Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas Back to Top
Diamonds are the most important jewelry gemstones available today. The diamond market alone is worth over $30 billion USD (as of 2012), while all other colored gemstones combined are valued at only $10-12 billion USD. When it comes to bridal and engagement jewelry, diamonds are the number one traditional stone of choice. Today, there are more engagement rings and wedding bands made with the use of diamonds than any and all other gemstones combined. Other popular jewelry designs include bracelets, charms, earrings, pendants and men's accessories.
Owing to their remarkable brilliance, fire and superior hardness, diamonds can be worn with anything imaginable. Diamonds possess perfect cleavage, which means they can be split with a single blow, much like topaz. Therefore, extra care should be taken when setting, repolishing or recutting diamonds. Diamonds are one of the few gem types guaranteed to be available in local jewelry stores, although selection and quality can vary tremendously. Many people are now buying diamonds from online dealers rather than buying in-store as a way to cut costs, but buying online makes it difficult to consult and compare.
Note: Buy colored gemstones by size and not by carat weight. Colored stones vary in size-to-weight ratio. Some stones are larger and others are smaller than diamonds by weight, in comparison.
Gemstone Care and Cleaning your Diamond and Gemstone Jewelry Back to Top
Diamonds are remarkable gemstones which require very little maintenance. They can be wiped clean using plain soapy water and a soft cloth. Ultrasonic cleaners are generally considered safe, but always take care when using this cleaning method, especially with fragile settings. Diamonds are typically insensitive to chemical reactions, but the same cannot be said for the mounting or prongs holding the diamond in place, so avoid harsh chemicals when cleaning diamond jewelry.
Diamond facets can be etched on under high temperatures, so avoid extreme heat and take extra care when soldering diamond jewelry. Always store your diamonds separately and away from other gems and jewelry, including other diamonds. If possible, wrap them individually in soft cloth or place them inside a fabric-lined jewelry box. Always remove diamonds and diamond jewelry before playing sports, exercising or performing harsh household tasks. Be careful when removing jewelry so as to always ensure you are not pulling from the stone.
- First Published: January-09-2014
- Last Updated: May-29-2014
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