As humans, we love to touch and hold things that seem rare and priceless. Diamonds are a perfect example. In its rare beauty, the diamond can communicate a message that can not be expressed in words.
Fire of Love
A diamond will of course only live up to its promise of perfection on the person for whom it was purchased. But the process from the origin to customer is a long one. As with all other things that signify perfection, the basic structure is simple.
The diamond as the hardest substance known to man started life as carbon, and exactly how it crystallised in the depths of the earth, under enormous pressure and in temperatures that cannot be imagined, remains a mystery. But we are well familiar with how it obtains its pefect form: by applying the perfect combination of the four C's – Cut, Colour, Clarity and Carat.
Diamonds with their incomparable beauty express things that words cannot say. The alluring sparkle of a diamond has always been captivating, perhaps because the immense hardness of this precious stone gives us a feeling of immortality, perhaps because diamonds are born deep in our earth. One thing is indisputable, however: through the ages, diamonds have given wing to man's imagination. For some, diamonds were the tears of the gods, for others a symbol of strength and invincibility. And diamonds have always been the token of steadfast love, because in our hearts we know that such love cannot be vanquished. Diamonds as the eternal fire of true love.
Cut & Colour
The brillance of a diamond is the product of correctly proportioned cutting. Achieving optimum full inner reflection of the light is a science per se. Usually, the type of cut to be applied derives from the natural raw shape of the diamond. Whatever cut is finally chosen, the designation 'brilliant' can only be applied to particularly diamonds which are cutted round with at least 57 facets.
Cut in correct proportion, a diamond will reflect the light from one facet to the other; the inner light of the stone will be returned directly into the eyes of the beholder.
If the diamond is cut too deep (too thick), a portion of the light will be absorbed inside the stone. If however the cut is too shallow, the light will escape, unreflected, downwards.
Although diamonds are usually encountered in their transparent form, a stone of flawless transparency is extremely hard to find. Cut diamonds often come in very fine shades of yellow to brown. So-called fancy diamonds are just as rare as high-white ones. These cognac- and rose-tinted, blue, green or intensive yellow collector's stones change hands for top prices.
Clarity & Carat
No other gem offers the brillance of a perfect diamond. However, a stone can only be termed absolutely pure if it has no inclusions whatsoever. Too many or rough inclusions prevent the light from being fully reflected. The 'internally flawless' (IF) qualify grade is awarded if internal features can no longer be detected even by experts at enfold magnification. It must be noted, however, that even diamonds with very small inclusions (VSI) are difficult enough to find.
The size of a diamond is expressed in carat, which is a unit of weight. A one-carat stone is much more common than a two-carat one; the larger diamond is therefore more valuable. However, the size of a diamond will increase the value of the stone only if the other quality criteria are also met. This is quite rare, due to the fact that the probability of small inclusions is correspondingly higher with diamonds of several carats. One carat (1 ct) weight 0.2 grammes and breaks down into 100 points. So a diamond with 25 points weights 0.25 carat.
A Brief History
Some 2 billion years ago, violent volcanic eruptions forced crystallised carbon up onto the surface of the earth, where the crystals cooled in the volcanic rock of so-called kimberlite pipes, the principal place where diamonds are found.
However, only a small proportion of diamonds actually survived this adventurous journey through the crust of the earth, which is why diamonds are so rare. From the outset of diamond prospecting till today, only about 400 tons of these precious stones have been found, of which just half are suitable for use as jewellery. And very few stones are ultimately larger than one-quarter of a carat. Although state-of-the-art prospecting equipment is applied to the task, diamonds remain difficult to locate. To obtain a rough diamond the size of a one-carat cut stone, 250 tons of kimberlite rock must on average be processed.
According to historical documents, the first diamonds were discovered in India more than 2800 years ago. The modern diamond industry did not develop until the late 19th century, in South Africa. Supplying more than 80% of the raw diamonds traded world-wide, the mines in Australia, Canada, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Botswana and the former Soviet Union are amongst the world's richest. The deposits in Namibia are of slightly lesser significance, followed by operations in Angola, Brazil, Guyana, Venezuela, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Central African Republic, China, Indonesia and India. The major cutting centres are located in Antwerp, New York, Bombay and Tel Aviv. For the true beauty of a diamond to be unveiled, it must pass through up to four continents and the hands of several hundred people of a wide range of trades.