DIAMONDS

A BRIEF DIAMOND HISTORY

by Daniel Kohl

 

History records few stories more exciting and more exciting than that of the diamond.  I think that you will find it interesting even if you do not intend to purchase the King of Jewels. Buying a diamond means buying the BEST – something that will be passed down through the generations of family and always be treasured. It is a purchase which deserves research and thoughtful consideration. The hope is, as was believed in India centuries ago, that your diamond will bring you good fortune, friends and wealth.

The Earth’s first diamonds were found in India in Ninth Century B.C.  They were found in streams and were panned

by hand much like gold was.  In Tenth Century A.D., the Golconda Mines in India were worked for the first time. 

From then until about 1750, India supplied most of the world’s diamonds. Discoveries of diamonds were made in

Brazil in 1725, and Brazilian mines still produce about 2% of the world’s supply. But diamonds were rare and limited

almost entirely to royalty until the middle of last century. The accidental discovery of a “pebble” near Kimberly, South Africa led to the opening of the largest diamond field ever known.  In the first sixteen years these mines yielded approximately thirty-six million carats of gem and industrial diamonds.  Nowadays, three-fourths of the diamonds in existence come from South Africa.

Ancient civilizations believed diamonds were born of lightning and gave them names which can be translated as “Fire”, “Thunderbolt” and “Sky”. But actually, the word diamond comes from the Greek word “asamas”, which means "hard". It is a logical name since the diamond is the nature’s hardest substance. They are eighty-five times harder than rubies and sapphires.

Take your pick.

Mother Nature takes her sweet time squeezing coal to make a beautiful diamond.

So nature is ready when she is.

A diamond is one of nature’s deepest secrets and one of her most common substances. It is the simplest and purestof minerals. Its chemical elements form the hardest and softest products – the dullest and most brilliant. These statements may sound contradictory, hence why diamonds have puzzled man for centuries. Chemically, they are made of pure carbon, just like charcoal and graphite (like the lead in your pencil). But in a diamond, this carbon is crystallized thousands of years ago, far under the Earth’s surface. This crystallization madethe diamond harder than any other substance.  And this hardness, in part, produces the unsurpassed brilliance we cherish today.

What makes a diamond so brilliant?

A trio of confusing words define the characteristics of what make a diamond brilliant:  Reflection, Refraction and Dispersion.

 

Reflection:  Of course, this is the return of light, as from a mirror. In a diamond, we find internal reflection because of the inner surfaces the stone reflect the light from facet to facet.  A diamond has the highest internal reflection quotient of any gemstone.

 

Refraction:  This is the bending of light when it passes from the air to another substance, such as water, glass, or a diamond. Diamonds again surpass all other gemstones in their degree of refraction.

Dispersion:  This is the separation of white light into its components. Actually, white light is composed of a blend of colors. A diamond breaks down the light into shades of violet, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red.

These are the major reasons for a diamond’s natural brilliance, and its hardness is a factor as well.

Why is a diamond so valuable?

To answer this question, let’s take brief look at the process of diamond mining.  Diamonds are no longer found on the surface of the Earth—at least not in any appreciable amount. In the great Kimberly fields in South Africa, diamonds are brought from mines four-thousand feet below the Earth’s surface. Of all of the diamond ore, also called “blue ground”, that is mined from this depth, one part in twenty-three million is diamond. And of this, 95% of the diamonds are fit only for industrial use. This leaves 5% for the world’s jewels. This 5% is reduced to about 2% after cutting.

 

Only one-fourth of the stones found are of the treasured colorless (or blue white) variety. Others tend to be yellowish or brownish, which make them far less valuable.

 

Most people would be shocked to hear that in order to produce one half carat diamond of good quality, roughly 150 tons of diamond ore must be mined.

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KOHL DIAMOND 1912

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