The Diamond is known as the “King of Gems,” and justifiably so. The ancient Greeks called it adamas, meaning unconquerable,” to convey the phenomenal hardness of this material. The Diamond possesses a beauty, rarity and durability that have never been matched in any other substance known to man, and the mystique of diamonds has helped foster an international trade like no other in the world.
The Diamond is composed of an exceptionally pure form of carbon that is produced at very high temperatures and pressures deep within the earth. The movement caused by the earth’s plate tectonics pushes the diamonds up from deep in the mantle to the surface of the earth in the necks of old volcanoes primarily composed of a rock called kimberlite. Diamonds also are found in the gravel of ancient river beds. The extreme hardness and luster of the diamond is due to its inner atomic structure, which is composed of carbon atoms stacked in a regular cubic pattern.
Believed to have been first discovered in central India, the diamond trade developed over centuries near the city of Golconda in the state of Hyderabad. The expansion of cutting centers in Antwerp in the 15th century facilitated the distribution of cut diamonds in Western Europe, where they were immensely prized but hard to come by. In 1725, diamonds were discovered in Brazil, and these mines managed to produce the world’s supply for almost 150 years until diamonds were discovered in South Africa in 1867. The deposits of South Africa and neighboring countries have proven to be extremely rich and still produce to this day. Other locations where diamonds are mined commercially include Russia, Canada and Australia.
Diamonds can be colorless or exist in any color of the spectrum. Most people are familiar with near colorless diamonds, where the absence of color is what is most desired. When cut at optimal angles, near-colorless diamonds exhibit colored flecks of light due to their unusually high dispersion. In 1953, the Gemological Institute of America greatly aided the diamond industry and the public when they devised a valuation system for grading diamonds based upon color, clarity, cut, and carat weight, now more commonly known as the four C’s. This valuation system has changed the way that diamonds are traded internationally and has helped the consumer to better understand diamonds.
Chemical composition: Carbon
Colors: Colorless, gray, yellow, brown, black, orange, pink, blue, violet, green, red.
Crystal system: Cubic
Refractive Index: 2.417
Specific Gravity: 3.52
Emerald Cut Diamonds
All Images by De Beers Group
Rough and Polished Diamonds
Diamond Mining at Sea