Diamonds: Fact and Fiction
In this article,
I will answer many questions with one collection of interesting
facts about the Hope Diamond and many other topics.
Statistics that Make You Think
The average couple
in the United States pays twice what they should for an engagement
out of every 3 diamonds sold in the United States is laser-drilled.
out of every 20 diamonds sold in the United States is fracture-filled.
out of every 3 diamonds sold in the United States has been treated
to some degree, including doublets, coating, and irradiation.
of all round diamonds are cut poorly to salvage weight, resulting
in diamonds that lose 2/3 of their potential sparkle. [Editorial: We feel
2/3 is loss of brilliance is a bit exaggerated.]
of all fancy diamonds (pear, marquise, emerald cut, etc.) are
poorly cut to salvage weight, resulting in diamonds that lose
2/3 of their potential sparkle. [Editorial: We feel this number is
a bit exaggerated.]
average diamond sold in the United States has been over-graded
in quality by two grades to enhance its salability.
out of every 3 diamonds have fluorescence (a diamond's reaction
to ultraviolet light) that causes the diamond to look oily and
milky in sunlight. [Editorial:
In our opinion, this applies only to very strong fluorescence
for higher colors such as D, E, or F.]
out of every 5 diamonds are weighed incorrectly to increase the
profit margin of the jeweler. [Editorial: This will not apply to independently
average diamond sold in the United States has cracks, breaks,
or carbon that you can see with your own eyes.
we define a good diamond in general terms as a diamond that is
big, white, clean, sparkly, and will appreciate in value over
time, less than 25 out of every 1,000 diamonds sold in the United
States would classify as good.
-- By Fred Cuellar, from his best-selling book, "How
to Buy a Diamond."
We offer a very good article
to help you avoid all the common
scams, and another
about the basic
for all diamond buyers.
How Diamonds Are Created In Nature
The great story
of diamonds began about 1 billion years ago under 200 miles of
rock, deep within the Earth. Diamonds can only be formed under
such extreme pressures, and temperatures must reach 5,000 degrees
Centigrade. Conditions must also remain relatively stable for
thousands or perhaps millions of years for a crystal to form
and grow to any significant size. Just recently (a few million
years ago), a few volcanoes pushed the diamond-bearing ore up
to the surface where it can be found and mined. Erosion flattened
the volcanic swells, often taking diamonds many miles down river
beds or to the oceans. A few direct volcanic pipes have been
discovered and mined, such as the Kimberley, the first great
diamond mine in South Africa.
Diamonds in the Rough
would easily be passed up on the beach, looking like nothing
more than broken glass that may have washed up on the shore.
The famous beauty of a diamond only appears with the skills of
the cutters. Here is a picture of a fine specimen of rough diamond.
A diamond is
composed of almost pure carbon, one of the Earth's most common
substances, just like graphite and pencil lead. But... millions
of years under consistent extreme heat and pressure deep inside
the Earth changes the bonding between the atoms -- making it
extremely dense and giving it unique properties.
Crucial for Modern Life
The unique properties
of a diamond make this precious gem material crucial for everyday
life. Diamond is used to coat drill bits at your dentist's office,
for making filaments in your light bulbs and for protecting delicate
circuitry that transmits the signals to your TV and radio.
If you have
ever been to a dentist to have a cavity filled or get a root
canal, you have experienced the hardest substance on earth. Every
drill bit in a dentist's office is coated with microscopic diamonds
to make it tougher than your toughest bones (your teeth).
so tough, and so resistant to heat, that they are the perfect
substance to extract tungsten filaments for most light bulbs.
A hole is drilled into a small, wafer-shaped diamond. Then the
heated metal for the filament is drawn through the tiny hole
to make the thin filament.
Radio and Television
heat more efficiently than any other material known. Critical
wiring in powerful radio and TV transmission equipment is coated
with crude diamond dust to take away built-up heat and protect
the delicate circuitry.
Diamond is the
hardest substance on earth-- measuring 10 out of a possible 10
on the Mohs hardness scale. In fact, diamond is four times harder
than its nearest competitor, which is corundum (sapphire and
ruby are both corundums). However, hardness (ability to
resist scratching) should not be confused with toughness
(durability or ability to resist chipping or breaking). Many
gems, such as jade, are actually tougher than diamond. Because
diamond has a very pronounced simple cleavage (plains of molecules
that can be split apart with relative ease), you can damage a
diamond with a careless sharp blow at just the right (or wrong)
angle. But a diamond cannot be scratched or cut except with another
first recorded in India over 5,000 years ago, but were exclusive
to royalty for thousands of years. Popular use of diamonds began
with the discovery of rich reserves in South Africa in the late
19th century. The top seven diamond-producing countries today
are: Botswana, Russia, South Africa, Angola, Nambia, Australia
and Zaire. These nations account for 80% of all diamonds in the
world. Mining to a smaller extent is conducted in Brazil, Guyana,
Venezuela, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Central
African Republic, Tanzania, China, Indonesia and India. Still,
diamonds are anything but commonplace....
over 200 million ounces of diamond-bearing ore must be transported,
crushed, sifted and sorted to glean just a single ounce of diamonds.
Eighty percent of all diamonds mined are industrial-grade stones
called "bort," which are not of sufficient quality
to use for jewelry. Of the 20% remaining, only one in about 10,000
diamonds is 1 carat or more in weight. When cut and polished,
the average yield is only 52% for round shapes.
Rough Diamonds: The largest rough diamond
ever found -- in South Africa in 1905 -- was the Cullinan, a
fine white stone weighing 3,106 carats. The Cullinan was about
the size of a man's fist, with one flat side indicating it was
actually just a chip off a larger diamond that was never found.
Other large roughs include the Excelsior at 995 carats, also
found in South Africa in 1893, the Star of Sierra Leone, found
in 1972 at 969 carats, and the Great Mogul, found in India in
1650 at 787 carats.
cut stones include the Cullinan I (from the Cullinan rough) at
530 carats, now in an elaborate scepter of the British Crown
Jewels on display in the Tower of London. The Cullinan II, from
the same rough, weighs 317 carats. The Great Mogul was cut to
280 carats, current whereabouts unknown. The Nizam diamond, 277
carats, was known to be in India in 1934. The Jubilee is owned by Robert Mouawad of the famous Mouawad gems and jewelry family, and weighs 245 carats. The Orloff
is in the Russian Diamond Fund in the Kremlin, weighing 189 carats.
The Hope Diamond:
most famous gemstone, the Hope Diamond, is not one of the largest
diamonds at all. It is a beautiful and rare, fancy dark-grayish-blue
diamond of "only" 45.52 carats in weight.
one of the most concentrated forms of wealth in the world. Let's
compare the price of gold with the price of diamonds... Gold
is considered quite valuable at about $300 per ounce. Now let's
consider diamonds, which are sold in carats. This will require
a little math for conversion. A nice-quality, 1-carat diamond
sells for about $5,000, and there are 142 carats in one ounce.
That means 1-carat diamonds sell for $5,000 x 142, or about $710,000
per ounce!! In one hand, you can easily hold several million
dollars in diamonds.
cut in many countries, but the major cutting centers are in New
York (USA), Antwerp (Belgium), Tel Aviv (Israel), and Bombay
(India). Each area has its specialty. For instance, India specializes
in small to very small diamonds because labor costs make it financially
viable for the tedious process of cutting small gems. New York
and Antwerp specialize in larger and finer goods.
India First, Then Africa
first discovered and mined in ancient India, at least as far
back as 5,000 years ago. It was not until 1866 that diamonds
were authenticated in South Africa, with the finding of the Eureka
Diamond near Hopetown in Cape Province. This was the beginning
of the big rush to mine diamonds, and the beginning of the modern-day
market, bringing diamonds outside the exclusive domain of royalty
and the extremely wealthy.
ancient Vedic traditions in India, diamonds (called Heera
in the ancient astrological texts) represent the planet Venus
(called Shukra). Venus is the planet that represents love
and all comforts in life both now and in ancient times. Wearing
a diamond increases this force of nature in your life.
The First Engagement Ring
We owe the modern
tradition of the diamond engagement ring to the Archduke Maximillian
of Austria, who presented a rough diamond set in elaborate gold
for his fiancee, Mary of Burgundy, at the end of the 15th century.
Origins of the Name
The word diamond
comes from the Greek word adamas, meaning the hardest
Formula: C (pure carbon)
Colors: Colorless, gray, shades of yellow, brown, pink,
green, orange, lavender, blue, rarely red.
Luster: Adamantine (highest luster of any material on
Hardness: 10 on the Mohs scale (hardest of all materials
Cleavage: Perfect in one direction. Considered brittle
along its octahedral crystal planes.
Optics: Isotropic, index very constant: N = 2.417
Dispersion: 0.044. This high dispersion creates the prismatic
"fire" responsible for much of a diamond's historic