Thursday, July 19, 2012

Gemstones: Diamond

The Hope Diamond @ Smithsonian :: All Pretty Things
The Hope Diamond
in its new setting, at the Smithsonian

Diamond is, as we all know very well, pure carbon. How come it is the hardest natural substance, then? Its hardness is a result of its internal structure being compacted by high pressures and temperatures in the Earth's mantle. Diamonds are formed at about 150 km depth.

Being pure carbon - it should burn, like coal, right? Correct - diamonds are combustible, although at very high temperatures or in oxygen.

Its name comes from (where else?!) the Greek word 'adamas' - meaning invincible, most likely because in antiquity people didn't know how to cut it, and thought of it as 'un-cutable', hence invincible. They were known in India over 2,300 years ago, uncut - because it was believed that cutting them will destroy their magical properties (when we don't understand something, we make sure to invent 'good' reasons :)). Romans also recorded their existence in the first century, but they give diamonds little value, as Romans couldn't find out how to cut the stone either. In the Middle Ages Europeans managed simple cuts; the brilliant cut as we know it today was discovered a few centuries later, and the industry flourished at the beginning of the 20th century, when industrial cutters were developed - the diamonds could now be cut in their many facets.

Diamonds are measured in carats - the name comes from Greek too, 'keration' meaning 'the fruit of the carob'. The carob seed were used for long time to weigh precious stones. Throughout the years carat meant different things to different cultures - today it is standardized to 0.2 grams.

Uncut diamonds are like any other gemstones (maybe even less) - what gives them today's power is the cut: the more faces a diamond has, the more light it reflects, the more brilliant it looks. Diamonds are used today in jewelry - but over 3/4 of the world diamond production is used in various industries: as cutters, polishers, saws for cutting other stones.

There are 4 properties a diamond is measured by: Colour, Clarity, Cut and Carat (the 4Cs). A diamond is better if it has no impurities, a proper cut, and many carats. Colour is an elusive property: some like it clear, some like it rare (red diamonds are the rarest) :)

There are, of course, some famous diamonds and true legends are weaved around their history.

One of them is the largest diamond ever: the Cullinan. Originally of over 3,000 carats (that is 600 grams, or about 1 1/2 lbs!) it was cut into 9 major stones and 96 smaller. The largest of the 9 was mounted in the sceptre of the British Crown, the second largest is in the Imperial State Crown - and the other 7 are currently in the possession of the British Royal Family.

Another famous diamond is the blue Hope - a 44.5 carats stone, currently in the Smithsonian. We had the opportunity to see it last year in the temporary new setting - it is an amazing stone! Its story seems to be one of unlucky and tragic events, but it sure is a beautiful diamond!

Interestingly enough - diamonds are not recognized as having energy or healing properties. However, they will amplify the energy of other stones, and the inner energy of the wearer. It is a symbol of purity, harmony, love: thus today is the most used stone in engagement rings.


  1. wow, what a great post and history behind the stone. thanks!

  2. Frumos !
    Oare o fi cineva să nu-i placă aceste minuni ale Pamântului şi de sub pământ ?


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