If there is one precious stone that gathers most of the attention, it is diamonds without a doubt. Popular for their use in engagement rings, for being featured in classic movies like Breakfast at Tiffany’s or for being the central focus in songs like Marilyn Monroe’s Diamonds are a girl’s best friend to name but a few and thanks to its magnificent shine, diamonds have become a classic in jewelry. But how much do we really know about diamonds? Let’s start by distinguishing between diamond facts and myths.
FACT. If you hold a rough diamond in you hand you probably will not realize it is a diamond. Raw diamonds look like pebbles and they need to be skillfully polished to bring out the shine. The polishing and cutting process can be very time consuming, consisting of different phases, and needs to be carefully planned and done by a professional. Well cut diamonds allow the light that enters into the stone to bounce within the diamond walls and ultimately come back out through the top, giving it more shine and thus increasing its value.
MYTH. A carat is the unit of measure of a diamond’s weight and the grams to carats conversion rate is exactly 0.2 to1. In other words, 0.2 grams or 200 milligrams is equal to 1 carat. Carats do not measure the size of a stone. For instance, sapphires are more dense than diamonds while opals are less dense than diamonds. Thus, at equal carats, a sapphire will be slightly smaller in size than a diamond whereas an opal will be bigger in size.
MYTH. Diamonds are formed in the Earth’s mantle, more than 100km below the surface. Once they are formed, they are transported into the surface through the pipes formed by a type of volcanic eruption. Being formed at such depth means that great pressure is needed to form a diamond. In fact, 5,000 Newtons per square millimeter are required to produce a diamond. That is similar to holding the total weight of the Eiffel Tower in your hand. Wow!
FACT. Diamonds are old, really old. The oldest diamond we know of was created more than 3 billion years ago whereas the younger diamonds known where created several hundred million of years back. Some of these diamonds have been forged in the Earth. In case you are wondering (I did wonder) the Earth was created 4.5 billion years ago. However, some diamonds came from outer space, contained in meteorites that fell into atmosphere and collided with the Earth’s surface.
MYTH. Diamonds are broadly used and admired in jewelry nowadays because of the beautiful light they project. Its use in engagement rings is also notable as a symbol of love and commitment. However, this practice started in the 1930s. While it is true that Egyptians began placing a diamond ring on the fourth finger of the left hand in the believe that a vein of love run from there straight to the heart, it was not until the Beers started popularizing the concept of diamond rings that April’s birthstone surpassed other gemstones in demand also for engagement rings. Up until then, sapphires and rubies where the preferred stones of consumers.
FACT. Yes, you read right. You can hunt for your own diamonds at the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas (USA), one of the largest diamond-bearing craters. Diamonds in the State Park come in white, yellow and brown colors and if you find one, you are allowed to keep it for free.
To prove that a visit to Crater of Diamonds State Park might be entirely worth the time just know that the biggest diamond found in the United States was dug out in the premises in 1924 and called the Uncle Sam diamond. It weighted 40.23 carats. Since 1906, more than 70,000 diamonds have been discovered there. Not bad considering that some lucky ladies and gentlemen got to go home with such a precious stone.
If you are not lucky enough to find a diamond, you can find other stones of lower value but incredibly beautiful and colorful like amethyst, agate, quartz, garnet and jasper.
MYTH. Millions of carats of diamonds are dug each year, 133 million to be exact. Most of these diamonds come from large mines in countries so apart such as Botswana and Russia. However, only a small portion of 10 to 20% of those diamonds are jewelry-grade and thus apt to be used as gemstones. The remaining 80% is destined for industrial uses that include polishing and cutting. Industrial diamonds have the same molecular structure as jewelry diamonds but are more heavily included and are smaller in size. In industrial processes size and shine do not matter as much as hardness and heat conductivity.
FACT and MYTH. Well, the stunning diamond necklace that is the object of the heist in the last Ocean’s all-female franchise was real. It was designed by Jeanne Toussaint, Cartier’s creative director in 1931 for a man, the Maharaja of Nawanagar. The weight of all the diamonds in the necklace was approximately 500 carats (wow!) and it is believed it could be well worth €150m today. Unfortunately, the necklace no longer exists as a single piece. It was taken apart and the diamond stones were used to create other jewels.