PRECIOUS STONES AND THE HISTORY OF DIAMONDS

There are only four precious stones: diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires. The carat of these precious stones is purely a weight designation: 1 carat is equal to 0.2 grams.

Diamonds were indeed born with the universe, even before the formation of the earth and the sun. They are made of pure carbon (like coal!) crystallised in the earth's crust under the combined effects of pressure and heat.

The emblem of kings and power, this stone has always aroused the most extravagant dreams.

The word "diamond" derives from the ancient Greek word adamas, meaning invincible or untamed, as it was challenging to cut and polish diamonds with the methods available in ancient times. It is the purest and hardest of all stones. Nothing can destroy it, apart from extreme heat. The only way to scratch a diamond is with another diamond, and only diamond dust can shape or polish a diamond.

From India to South Africa

Up until the seventeenth century, the most beautiful diamonds were extracted from India, they came from the vast region of Golconda, near the current town of Hyderabad. The maharajah's jewels bear witness to the abundance of stones from the valley.

Koh-i-Noor 105.6 carat diamond

Sure Indian diamonds have become legends, such as the Koh-i-Noor (Persian for "Mountain of Light") which was extracted from the Kollur mine in the sixteenth century, it fell into the hands of the conqueror Baber, the Mogul emperor of India: it was later obtained by the Punjab rajahs and finally taken away by the English. In 1850, the Koh-i-Noor left its original home to adorns the crown of the Britsih sovereign. The legendary 105.6 carat diamond set in the Queen Mother's crown is on display in the Tower of London.

The Pink Star diamond 59.60 carats

One of the most valuable diamonds ever is The Pink Star diamond at 59.60 carats. Its the largest internally flawless fancy vivid pink diamond ever and graded by the Gemological Institute of America. It sold for a world record price of more than $83 million at Sothebys Geneva Magnificent Jewels sale.

Diamonds also come from Brazil. However, at the end of the nineteenth century, a significant revolution occurred in industrial diamond mining in South Africa. This country now produces the highest number of diamonds, mainly due to work for a company that holds a quasi-monopoly over the world market: De Beers.

Diamonds also come from Brazil. However, at the end of the nineteenth century, a significant revolution occurred in industrial diamond mining in South Africa. This country now produces the highest number of diamonds, mainly due to work for a company that holds a quasi-monopoly over the world market: De Beers.

Transparency and color

A beautiful diamond must be perfectly pure. When examined with a loupe, which magnifies an object ten times, the most beautiful diamonds show no defects or inclusions called "flaws." Transparent diamonds are the most common, but there are also coloured diamonds: blue, green, yellow, pink, and even red, along with brown diamonds with varying degrees of light and dark. These natural colors are and much more precious. For this reason, there is a temptation to change the color through specific procedures such as irradiation.

6.16-carat Farnese Blue diamond

Indeed one of the most famous diamonds is the Hope diamond: an intense blue stone, it is believed to have brought bad luck to its successive owners. Over the last 300 years, it has passed through the hands of royals from four European dynasties. In May 2018, the 6.16-carat Farnese Blue diamond will go on sale for the first time in its history at Sotheby's auction. The pear-shaped fancy dark grey-blue diamond was unearthed from the Golconda mine in India, where the Hope Diamond discovered. It was originally gifted to the Italian-born Elisabeth Farnese, queen if Spain, in 1715, following her marriage to King Philip V of Spain.

It would be passed down through more than seven generations and, as Elisabeth's descendants married into other European families, journey across the continent, travelling from Spain to France, Italy and Austria.

Antique and Modern Cuts

In the past, raw diamonds were simply polished and cut according to their natural form. Sometimes they were mounted in a closed setting (the metal grips the stone, and the pavilion is not visible), backed with a sheet of metal foil called a "clinquant," to accentuate the diamond's brilliance.

One of the oldest cust of diamonds is the rose cut. The difference is made very clear by merely placing a diamond of this cut next to a new diamond. There are fewer facets, giving the stone its "rose" shape, with a domed crown and flat base.

The brilliant cut with a set of 57 facets, invented in the seventeenth century, was conceived to maximise the light reflected from the stone. It allows a myriad of shapes to be created from the raw stone: oval, cushion (square or round), heart-shaped, pear (drop shape), Marquise (boat-shaped), or briolette (drop shaped with multiple facets).

The emerald and baguette cuts produce rectangular shapes that are relatively narrow with a flat top called the "table." Some people appreciate the older diamond cuts or even the polished raw stones. Their natural and mysterious glimmer is unlike the sparkling modern-cut diamond.

Today, cutting is computerised and automated. All the data about the stone is analysed by a computer, which allows the maximum profit and brilliance to be derived from the raw diamond while losing only the smallest volume.

Koh-i-Noor 105.6 carat diamond. 

Recreational Stories blog Koh i Noor diamond

6.16-carat Farnese Blue diamond.

Recreational Stories blog blog Hope Diamond Intense Blue Diamond

The legendary 105.6-carat diamond set in the Queen Mother's crown is on display in the Tower of London.

Recreational Stories blog post Koh i Noor Diamond

One of the most valuable diamonds ever is The Pink Star diamond at 59.60 carats.

The 59.60 carat pink star diamond $71.2

Diamonds are made of pure carbon (like coal!) crystallised in the earth's crust under the combined effects of pressure and heat. 

Recreational Stories Blog Post The History of Diamonds

 

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