What is Diamond?

A Diamond is a gem which is transparent and is made of pure carbon which has crystallized. They were formed millions of years ago by heat and pressure within the earth. The youngest diamond is 900million years old. It is thought to be nature’s most perfect creation. “They are a gift from the Gods” (Pliny the Elder – Roman Historian)

The word ‘diamond’ comes from the Greek word ‘adamas’ which means indomitable. ‘Diamonds are forever’

Only out 25% of diamonds mined are of sufficient quality to be able to be cut into gem diamonds. The rest are used in industrial settings.

The closer a white diamond is to being colourless, the more valuable it is.  However, some of the most valuable varieties of diamonds are those in a variety of  rare and brilliant colours, such as blue, pink and yellow.  Diamonds can be found in virtually all colours.

A large amount of diamond production comes from South Africa and Namibia. Zaire is the country which produces the most diamonds, accounting for about 20% of the world’s production. Other diamond producing countries include Angola, Botswana, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Tanzania.

Diamond cutting takes place in New York, Antwerp and Israel.

The finished diamond may have any of several shapes:

  • Round or brilliant cut
  • Oval cut
  • Emerald cut
  • Square cut
  • Baguette
  • Triangle

The beauty of a diamond is affected by the way it handles light. Brilliant cut diamonds reflect the maximum amount of light through the stone.

The value of a diamond is affected by:

  • Rarity
  • Beauty
  • Durability
  • Symbolism

But the main determining factors are the four ‘C’s:

  • Carat weight
  • Colour
  • Clarity
  • Cut


Diamonds were first found in India, along the river banks, more than 2,500 years ago. The diamond was known in India during the Buddhist period from about 400B.C. Travellers brought these diamonds to the Mediterranean.

There is mention of diamonds in the Old Testament and in the histories of Greek and Roman times.

In the eighteenth century, diamonds were found in Brazil and in 1866 the first diamond was found in South Africa.

Diamond cutting affects the way the diamond reacts to light and creates the beauty of the diamond. In 1476 a Flemish cutter discovered that a diamond would shine more brightly if facets were ground on to the surface of the diamond. The 58 facet form, which is used as the basis for diamond cutting today, was discovered in the eighteenth century.

The earliest recorded diamond engagement ring was given in 1477 to Mary of Burgundy by Maximillian of Hapsburg.


In the middle ages, it was thought that the diamond would give protection against the plague. The Queen Elizabeth the First wore a diamond in order to protect against infection. Napoleon believed in the powers of the diamond and had a diamond put into the sword he carried at his coronation.

Legend gives the diamond the power to protect from evil, especially if worn on the left side and this may explain why diamonds have always been the gem of choice for engagement rings.

One of the most famous diamonds is the ‘Koh-i-nor’. It was safeguarded in the 19th century by an Afghan prince who endured days of torture to safeguard it. It is now in the Queen Mother’s Crown.

Another famous diamond is the Star of Africa which is the largest cut diamond – 530.20 cats. It is now to be found at the Tower of London.

The diamond is associated with purity, innocence and marital harmony.

The diamond is a symbol for love and affection.

The birthstone for April is the Diamond. It signifies eternity, courage and health.

‘The April girl has a brave defense
The Diamond guards her innocence’
 (source unknown).

The diamond is associated with the 60th wedding anniversary.


Caring for Diamonds

Although diamonds are very hard, they are not unbreakable. The crystal structure is such that a blow to the diamond can cause the diamond to crack or shatter.

They should be kept way from other diamonds to prevent scratching.

Heat and chemicals should be avoided in a fracture-filled diamond.

They act as a magnet for grease and so should be taken off before bathing or washing dishes.

They can be cleaned using an ultrasonic cleaner (unless fractured) or by using a soft toothbrush with a mild soapy detergent or ammonia based cleaner.

Caring for Diamonds (summary)

•    Keep away from other diamonds
•    Avoid grease
•    Avoid heavy blows
•    Clean in an ultrasonic cleaner (unless fractured)
•    Clean with mild soapy water or with a ammonia based cleaner, using a soft toothbrush.


Diamonds are the hardest, most imperishable and most brilliant of all minerals. It is the hardest substance known to man and measures 10 on the Mohs hardness scale.

Diamonds have a specific gravity of 3.52.

The crystal system is cubic.

They are not affected by temperature changes and will not burn until the temperature reaches 1,440 degrees Fahrenheit and will melt at 6442 degrees Fahrenheit.

Diamonds can only be cut by diamonds.