Diamonds, glittering stones with an infallible attraction Featured

A brief look at the history of this champion of gemstones.

by 01 July 2009

The history of diamonds goes back a long way, with one of the earliest written records dating from Ancient Greece. Described as “adamas,” which means  invincible stones, Ancient Greek literature identified diamonds as an incredibly hard mineral that was impossible to carve.

By the fifteenth century, Dutch jewellery craftmen invented a diamond-cutting technique, which was to use the hardest diamond to cut other diamonds. This technique transformed these gemstones into wearable accessories, and diamonds quickly became a girl’s best friend. Legend has it that during the reign of the French Emperor Charles IV, a noblewoman wore a sparkling diamond at the state’s banquet in the hope of attracting the ruler’s attention. She did win the heart of Charles IV, and ever since women have regarded diamonds as a true conqueror of hearts.

Natural diamonds are formed at a high temperature of 1100 to 1300 °C at considerable depth and high pressure. Approximately one carat of diamond is found in every 250 ton of earth. With a refractive index of 2.417, the diamond is the king of all gemstones, and the hardest mineral too. Cutting produces the multi-faceted sparkle, and an excellent cutter can turn a good diamond into la crème de la crème. Over the years, many a great diamond cutter have hailed from Belgium. The great duty of cutting large diamonds, however, falls on the proud shoulders of New York cutters. These years, we also see Israel joining the diamond cutting industry.

The criteria of the four C’s (carat, clarity, colour and cut) are well-known among both in the industry and the public. Every C is important, but collectible diamonds have a slightly different set of criteria. According to Quek Chin Yeow, Sotheby’s Director of Jewels for China and Southeast Asia, valuable diamonds for collecting purposes need to have at least 5 carats or above with a Flawless, “D” colour.

So next time when you consider purchasing a diamond, you might want to decide whether you intend to wear the gemstone or keep it as part of your collection. That will certainly change the way you make your purchase.

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