GEMS April Birthstone: Diamond
13 Minute Read
What is April's Birthstone?
The birthstone representing April is diamond. The vast majority of diamonds are transparent, colorless, and show an extraordinary display of well-defined white and multi-colored flashes. Rarely, diamonds also occur in a rainbow of exciting body colors.
Diamond is perhaps most famous for its superior durability. The gem gets its strength from a symmetrical atomic structure which is made from pure carbon. Diamond is difficult to damage, and, coupled with its fiery appearance, it is the most popular gemstone option for engagement rings. In fact, diamond jewelry of any kind can last so long that it is treasured by multiple generations.
In addition to being the birthstone for April, diamonds are traditionally presented as gifts to commemorate 60th and 75th wedding anniversaries.
What is the Color of the April Birthstone?
The vast majority of natural diamonds - somewhere near 98% of the total global product - are colorless. Colorless diamonds may express small amounts of yellow, brown, or gray. If all other factors are the same, colorless diamonds with lesser amounts of these colors are rarer, thus more valuable, than those with more.
The precise level that these colors present, if any are there at all, has such a powerful impact on the price-per-carat value of a diamond that a standardized scale describing the exact amount of color in a stone, the D-Z color scale, was developed by the GIA and is now accepted globally. Diamonds with a color of D have absolutely no color in them while Z gems have the most color allowed to still be considered colorless.
While colorless diamonds with less color are valued more than those with higher amounts, that doesn't mean that gems whose color grade falls lower on the alphabetic scale are any less beautiful. Beauty truly is measured in the eye of the beholder and different people are attracted to different colors. Some do prefer to stick with the pricer colorless grades (D, E, and F), which have a pure color and look especially amazing in white gold or platinum mountings. Others gravitate towards stones that have warmer tones, especially if they are placed in non-white mountings (ie, rose gold) as diamonds absorb light from their surroundings and then reflect those colors back to your eye.
The remaining 2% of diamonds are considered "fancy-colored" gems. Fancy-colored diamonds can fall anywhere on the color spectrum, including pink, blue, green, black, brown, and gray. The various body colors are all caused by different factors which include the presence of internal chemical impurities and the environmental conditions that stones were exposed to while still in the Earth.
Like many colored gemstones, fancy-colored diamonds are evaluated based on the combination of their hue, tone, and saturation. Tone and saturation certainly influence the cost of gems within individual color categories (usually high saturations with deep but not overly dark tones are the most valuable), but the hue usually dictates the price range you will see.
Yellow and brown are the most common of the fancy colors, and there are some jewelry companies that specialize in them. You will frequently see brown stones listed by romantic names like "chocolate" or "champagne" diamonds. As these colors are more numerous, yellow and brown diamonds may fall into similar or overlapping price categories with colorless diamonds. If you are looking for an unexpected variation of April birthstone jewelry, yellow or brown diamonds might be a great fit!
When it comes to many of the other fancy colors, the story regarding value is quite different. These gems can fetch astronomical prices - some of the best are sold for upwards of a million dollars per carat.
What is the Meaning of Diamonds?
Diamonds have represented both love and life for thousands of years and across many cultures. In the Hindu religion, it was believed that the deity Krishna gave a diamond to his sweetheart to reflect her natural beauty. The ancient Romans believed that if Cupid's arrows tipped with diamonds hit you, they inspired unbreakable love.
From a physical wellness standpoint, diamonds are often associated with brain health as well as a good sense of balance and having lots of energy. Diamonds have a very good thermal conductivity that makes them feel cool to the touch. Perhaps this enduring coolness inspired the belief that they also promote mental clarity. Additionally, it was thought that the gem could pull toxins out of the body if held close.
Where Do Diamonds Come From?
Natural diamonds formed deep within the Earth. Diamond-bearing rock is found in many places across the globe where volcanic activity carried them to the surface. Sometimes, gems are still in hard rock. Other deposits have large quantities of diamonds that weathered out of their host rock and washed into surrounding areas, some carried into the ocean to be recovered by specialized ships.
While India is no longer a major player in terms of diamond mining, it is credited with introducing the gem to the world. In fact, it remained the only major source of diamonds globally until the 18th century. The diamonds that you will find on the market today may not come from India, but an estimated 90% of them are processed there.
Today, there are important diamond mines on many continents. Among these sources is Brazil, the first country to overtake India as the primary diamond supplier. Unlike the warm climate of South America, Canadian miners toil in incredibly cold conditions to extract the gem from deep open-pit mines. African mines churn out millions of carats per year in places like Botswana, Namibia, and Sierra Leone and some of the largest diamonds ever uncovered come from South Africa. There are a few places in Russia that house massive deposits.
While yellow and brown diamonds are commonly found alongside colorless gems, many of the other fancy-colored diamond hues come from specific places, rather than popping up randomly, because they require unusual conditions to form. For instance, the recently shuttered Australian Argyle mine was a primary source of rare red and pink diamonds.
Are Diamonds Durable?
Diamonds are the standard to which all other gemstones are measured in terms of durability. They are the hardest naturally occurring substance on Earth. Because this is such an important part of why diamonds are so valuable, both in the jewelry and industrial worlds, it is worth taking a closer look at what this means. Gemologists break down durability into three different criteria: hardness, stability, and toughness.
A stone's hardness depends on how likely its surface is to scratch. The Mohs scale was developed to show the relative hardness of different gemstones and minerals. Typically, gems can only be scratched by other members of the same type or those with a higher ranking. Diamonds represent the maximum score of 10. This means that the surface of your diamond will stay crisp and clean as long as another diamond doesn't scratch it. Thus, it is very important to store your diamond jewelry so that it cannot rub against itself or other jewelry items.
Stability refers to how well a gem holds up against the elements. Diamonds are very stable gems. Light, humidity, and brief exposure to many of the most commonly used chemical products won't hurt them. Diamonds might be damaged by changes in temperature, but these have to be extreme in order to do so.
Toughness, which talks about how likely a gem is to chip or break, is the weakest factor of a diamond's durability. Diamonds are most vulnerable at their girdle (the diameter), culet (the point at the bottom), and other sharp angles like the tips of pear cuts. Also, diamonds can split if they are unlucky enough to be hit at the same angle as their cleavage plane, a natural but invisible gap between carbon atoms.
Today and throughout history, the durability of diamonds led to them embodying permanence and stability. As such they are a natural choice for engagement and wedding rings for both symbolic and practical reasons. Even if you wear your diamond ring on a daily basis, stones can last a lifetime or longer. Many choose to wear personally meaningful heirlooms or vintage rings. If a diamond has outlasted its setting, it can usually be reset so that you can continue the tradition of wearing it.
How to Buy April Birthstone Jewelry
Diamonds are beautiful and tough. Because the crystal is so strong, it can be cut into all imaginable shapes. Jewelers then set these gems into any kind of jewelry type they please. Moreover, the pure colorlessness of diamond complements all design aesthetics, won't clash with settings of any color and can be paired with every colored gemstone out there. If you can picture a type of diamond jewelry in your mind, you are likely to be able to find something similar in the real world.
When it comes to diamond shopping, it is impossible to avoid hearing about the famous 4C's: cut, color, carat, and clarity. These four factors determine the quality and value of individual stones. We have already discussed color above. The remaining three C's are easy to understand:
- Carat makes sense, the bigger the stone, the more valuable it is.
- inclusions translate to lower prices. The best diamonds have flawless clarity but, for the majority of buyers, it makes the most sense to find a stone that is mostly, or completely, eye-clean. In terms of clarity, more
- The cut is tremendously important for diamonds as faceted diamonds owe the quality of their sparkle specifically to their cut. Gems that are cut well take in light, bounce it around a few times, then reflect out both white and rainbow-colored light. Poorly cut diamonds lack the angles and proportions necessary to do this. Cut is a "C" you don't want to compromise on if you don't have to.
If you juggle the 4C's wisely, you can make a smart buy of a stone that has all of the qualities which are important to you, and not pay for those that aren't a priority.
The first known example of a diamond engagement ring is from the year 1477. Thanks to their practical durability and sparkling appearance, the colorless diamond has become the single most popular choice for engagement rings. Whether you want a solitary big stone or a design with many smaller gems, there are diamond engagement rings to suit every style.
How To Save Money Buying Diamond Jewelry
Diamond jewelry can be expensive, but there are more affordable options out there if you know what to look for. Salt and pepper diamonds have lots of eye-visible inclusions which give the stones beautiful and one-of-a-kind internal patterns. You can easily handpick jewelry with gems whose unique spirit fits with the personality of the wearer. Also, diamonds don't have to have elaborate facets to be stunning. You can look for jewelry that features rough or minimally cut gems. Both of these options can be very affordable, making them appropriate as birthstone gifts.
A helpful shopping hint - there is a trend in price-per-carat costs sometimes known as "magic numbers." Put simply, magic numbers refer to specific sizes which see substantial jumps in value. Magic numbers are often round numbers like one and two or simple fractions like 0.25 and 0.5. Here is an example of how they work. If you like the size of a one-carat diamond, it makes financial sense to look for a stone that weighs just shy of that weight, like 0.98, and avoid stones that weigh just over, such as 1.03 carats. Your eye can't detect a difference of a few hundredths of a carat, but you could score some big savings shopping this way.
Frequently Asked Questions About Diamonds
Emily Frontiere is a GIA Graduate Gemologist. She is particularly experienced working with estate/antique jewelry.
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