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And now...The Diamond

Ah! The Diamond. The official modern birthstone for April and the official 60 year Wedding Anniversary gift.

Diamonds go through so much before they are set in that beautiful ring or pendent. The Diamond is the transparent, gemstone-quality crystalline form of carbon, which is indeed the hardest known natural substance on earth. Forming deep in the earth’s mantel, diamonds are created 250 miles or more beneath the earth’s surface.

They endure billions of years of heat and pressure until they are brought to the surface through deep volcanic eruptions of a rare types of magma, called kimberlite. This is just one of the four ways scientists have discovered that diamonds are formed. But that’s a whole other story!

The history of Diamond: Diamonds were first mentioned in Sanskrit texts found in India from around 400BC. In 1725, a large deposit was discovered in Brazil. But the largest yet was discovered by Erasmus Jacobs in 1865 in Kimberley, South Africa.

Why are diamonds so expensive? This question answered here....

This South African diamond cache was soon bought and exploited by Cecil Rhodes. He established The DeBeers company in 1888, which came to control about 90% of the world production of rough diamonds. With this monopoly, which they held onto for many decades, DeBeers could control the prices...and the prices went up and up. Along with money and coercion, the DeBeers Company forced other diamond producing countries to trade and sell only through them at their prices.

Only recently, and through many legal actions around the world, the DeBeers Company no longer has a monopoly of the diamond trade. And these prices could not be justified today since diamonds are so common. There are diamonds on my files sitting my humble bench right now!

Since the 1800’s, rich diamond deposits have been discovered in Russia, Botswana, Canada, Angola, Australia and many other African countries besides South Africa. The market determines the price now, not one large company.


Diamonds can be found naturally in a variety of colors other than crystal clear. Champagne, Cognac, Yellow, Blue, Black, and even Red. Most naturally colored diamonds get their color from impurities in the surrounding stone. Only a trace amount of the element Boron gives the Hope Diamond its rich blue color. However, the Red Diamond, the most rare gem on earth, gets its red color from tiny defects in the crystal lattice.

Diamonds can also be heat treated or irradiated to create colors. Treated diamond colors are very intense, but these diamonds are not nearly as expensive as naturally occurring colored diamonds.

Legend and Lore

Diamonds have been long thought to possess many supernatural and metaphysical qualities. It is believed that diamonds can protect against panic, pestilence and enchantments. It was once believed that diamonds were helpful with those with sleepwalking disorders and mental insanity.

In the middle ages, diamonds were used to heal brain and pituitary gland related diseases. And by heating the diamond and taking it to bed, it was thought to draw out the harmful toxins that were crippling the body.


Diamonds can amplify thoughts and feelings, so if given with love, that love is returned; if given with ill intentions, they become “cursed” diamonds. Such is the case of both the Hope Diamond and the Black Orlov Diamond which are said to be cursed. After acquiring these diamonds, many aristocrats, wealthy owners, as well as Russian and French royalty lost their lives due to the curse (or so it is said).

But diamonds are also considered to be a stone of truth and victory and were often worn into battle. They are a symbol of invincibility and are said to enhance physical strength. Seems logical, as they are almost invincible! Being a crystal of truth, it was also believed that if you put a diamond on the chest of a sleeping lover, he or she will sleep-talk and tell all!

Some interesting facts…

  • With a MOHS rating of 10 of 10, the diamond can scratch or cut any of the natural stone or substance.

  • The name Diamond comes from the Greek word adamas meaning “invincible”

  • 1200’s: France’s King Louis IX allowed only Kings and royalty to own diamonds.

  • Scientists believe that meteor impacts may be responsible for the formation of some diamonds; as diamonds have been found in and around the craters of meteor impact sites.

  • 1447: Austria’s Archduke Maximilian gave his fiancée Mary of Burgundy a diamond ring, thus forever cementing this gem as a token of love.

  • Diamonds were used in trade in India as early as the 4th century

  • The “cursed” Black Orlov Diamond’s owners suffered terrible deaths until it was recut in 1950 to rid it of it’s “demons”, which seems to have worked, as there have been no other fatalities associated with ownership since that time.

So, Happy Birthday April! Your birthstone is the most invincible of them all. Give the diamond for love, for strength, or just to find out the truth!

Next month, we explore a branch of the Beryl family tree and look at May’s birthstone: The Emerald.


The Jeweler’s Directory of Gemstones by Judith Crowe

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