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FEW THINGS ARE SO CAPTIVATING to both men and women as diamonds! Way back in the roaring twenties, New York’s famous Mayor Diamond Jim Brady entranced his supporters with his lavish display of diamond jewelry; he could have been a modern-day Las Vegas high-roller!  Today, celebrities compete with one another to see who can snarl the biggest, most fabulous diamond, from black to yellow to pure, clear white.  Diamonds are all lusted after enthusiastically. 

 

Major jewelers outfit top entertainers with the most lavish of diamonds for televised events such as the Oscars; everything and everyone glistens and glitters, and the diamond merchants enjoy the free publicity!

 

On the other side of the globe, the Taj Mahal is studded with magnificent diamonds, along with other spectacular gemstones, adding to its fascination, beauty and allure. Everywhere on the planet, diamonds are rare, expensive, gorgeous. Whether huge or tiny, they are prized by their owners, jealously admired by others.

 

                                 Up from the Center of the Earth

 

DIAMONDS ARE INCREDIBLE ROCKS, carbon in its most concentrated form.  They are the hardest natural gems on earth, formed deep inside our planet at dizzying depths of 90 miles, or more, over millions and often billions of years and at white hot temperatures of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1100 Celsius). 

 

   —If it weren’t for magma (molten rock) upsurges that bring the diamonds to the surface, we wouldn’t even know they exist! But the magma roars upwards in volcanic-like action, raising diamonds with them, and the rocks formed by the magma (called kimberlite) indicate that diamonds might (note we said might) be present. It’s enough to start the mining process going, at any rate.

 

DIAMONDS HAVE ALSO BEEN found in glaciers. And some extremely small diamonds (of no real value) are sometimes formed when meteors strike the earth. Actually, the connection between diamonds and outer space is compelling. For example, there are indications that diamonds exist under the moon’s surface, and scientific evidence suggests that diamonds may exist in abundance on Neptune and Uranus.  

   —Surprised?  It’s all really fascinating, and proves there is nothing commonplace about these wonder-stones!

 

The bulk of diamonds are mined in South and Central Africa by the DeBeers Group, a company that has had a stranglehold on the market since its inception in the late 1800s.  The DeBeers African cartel controls about 40 percent of the diamonds marketed worldwide, although mining is also done in Brazil, Canada, Australia, and Siberia. In recent years, however, it is African mining that has hit the headlines and caused much international concern.

 

                                               Conflict Diamonds

 

THE ROUGH DIAMOND TRADE in Sierra Leone is a story of tragedy and despair, of slave labor, torture and murder in the mining of diamonds in rebel-held areas along the Ivory Coast.  The stones so mined are called conflict diamonds, and have caused a global outcry whereby reputable buyers are (after much delay) finally demanding to know where diamonds come from, and under what conditions they are mined. The recent moves have helped lessen the trade in conflict diamonds, but haven’t stopped it. The human toll in diamond mining goes on.   

 

A MAJOR BENEFIT OF SIMULATED DIAMONDS IS THAT THEY TAKE NO TOLL IN HUMAN LIVES.  AND JUST LOOK AT HOW BEAUTIFULLY THEY MIMIC THE REAL THING AT A FRACTION OF THE PRICE:

 

 

 

 

 

                               Simulated versus Synthetic Diamonds

 

BRIDES LOVE DIAMONDS, and the stone, set elegantly as an engagement ring, has become a symbol of lifelong love and fidelity. Elizabeth Taylor was given a 69.42 carat diamond engagement ring by Richard Burton, although the ring lasted longer than the marriage. Following Burton’s death, she sold the diamond for charity; it was last seen in Saudi Arabia. 

 

Of course, not everybody chooses an engagement diamond.  Princess Diana was one of the first modern brides to choose a sapphire ring.  The choice was interesting but it didn’t really catch on.  Diamonds seem impervious to competition!  Besides, as all women know, Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.   –Diamonds, my friend, diamonds!

 

                                          Technically “Real”

 

There are all sorts of “diamonds.”  Artificial or synthetic diamonds are technically “real” diamonds.  They are another phenomenal story!  Made from the same crystalline carbon structure as real diamonds, the only difference is how they are formed.  Instead of incubating in the earth for millennia, they are made in laboratories that reproduce the deep earth conditions to create real diamonds in a matter of days! These man-made diamonds may be priced anywhere from 20% to 90% of naturally occurring diamonds.

 

FAUX DIAMONDS ARE SOMETHING ELSE AGAIN.  Often awe-inspiring, they are not at all real, although they may mimic diamonds superbly. Faux diamonds run the gamut from rhinestones to CZs, and include almost anything that catches light and fire and reminds people of the exquisite natural stones.  Each of these remarkable categories has its own story, and we’ll talk about them in more length in upcoming weeks.                                               

 

                                                       Diamond Qualities

 

Oh, there is so much to say about diamonds! This is truly a magical geological world!  But for now, we’ll just include a few more important details.  Like how the value of a diamond is determined, based on four major points, often referred to as the four “Cs”

 

–CARAT refers to the weight of the diamond, or how large it is.

 

-COLOR is determined by impurities in the stone.  Grays and blues are the result of boron impurities.  Nitrogen causes the stone to appear yellow or brown.  Irradiated diamonds have green hues. A totally colorless diamond is graded “D” and is extremely valuable. On the other hand, intense color also raises the diamond’s value. The Hope Diamond, for example, is a very valuable blue diamond.

 

–CLARITY refers to the diamond’s flawlessness.

 

–CUT is perhaps the most critical of all the diamond’s characteristics.  Diamond cutting is a very fine art and refers to the shaping and polishing of the stone itself.  A diamond must be carefully cut and shaped in order to produce its characteristic fire and brilliance.

 

MANY DIAMOND PRETENDERS HAVE A HIGH LEVEL OF FIRE AND FLASH,

OFTEN MAKING THEM INDISTINGUISHABLE FROM REAL DIAMONDS.  HERE ARE SOME GLISTENING CLEAR FAUX DIAMOND PIECES TO PRIZE:

 

 

 

 

  • Charming CZ butterfly and flower necklace set.
Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Monday, August 17th, 2009