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Top 10 Diamond Basics You Need To Know

| 4 min read

Diamonds are the most famous gemstone on the planet. You might think you know them, but how much do you really know? Test your knowledge with our Top Ten Diamond Facts.

1 - Name

The name ‘Diamond’ comes from the ancient Greek word ‘adamas’, meaning ‘invincible’.

2 - Hardness

Diamonds are the hardest natural material on the planet. At 10 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness, they are four times as hard as the next hardest mineral (Corundum). They are relatively brittle, however, and although you might have heard that they are ‘unbreakable’, this is not true! Most Diamonds would shatter if you struck them forcefully enough with a hammer.

3 - Fame

Diamonds have only become as famous as they are since De Beers Diamond Group increased the marketing of them in the 1940s. Before that time, people preferred Coloured Gems. It has been said that until Diamonds were discovered in South Africa in the 1870s, it’s thought that all the known Diamonds in the world would’ve fitted into a suitcase!

4 - Romance

These days, Diamonds are seen as the ultimate gemstone of romance. Due to their durability, as well as their chemical stability, they have come to represent eternity. This is in no small part because of the clever marketing of De Beers, who coined the phrase ‘A Diamond is Forever’.

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5 - Formation

You might have heard that Diamonds are formed from coal, but this is actually a myth. Coal is made from ancient plant life crushed under pressure. Almost every Diamond is at least 100 million years older than plant life, so the vast majority aren’t made in this way. It is thought that natural Black Diamonds were all formed in outer space and crashed to the ground as meteors!

6 - Dispersion

Diamonds are well known for having incredible Dispersion. This is how well a gemstone breaks white light up into spectral colours, known as Fire. When you look into a Diamond, you should see a rainbow of sparkles glinting back at you. You might think that Diamonds have the best Dispersion of any gem, but Sphalerite, Demantoid Garnet, and Sphene all have more fire than a Diamond.

7 - Fluorescence

Around a third of Diamonds fluoresce under UV light. If the fluorescence is very strong, it can make the gem look oily. However, medium fluorescence shouldn’t have a negative impact on the look of the stone, and it often improves the colour of the gem in daylight by cancelling out any yellow hues.

8 - Cutting

When you think of a Diamond, you probably think of a Round Brilliant Cut, but this is a 20th Century invention. Before the Middle Ages, Diamonds were set into jewellery in their natural shape. They naturally grow as octahedrons (think of two pyramids stuck together at the base). Imagine early man spotting such an angular shaped stone – almost every other gem would’ve been found in riverbeds, rounded over time by water – a Diamond would have seemed very magical indeed!

9 - Size

The largest rough white Diamond ever found was the Cullinan Diamond, weighing in at a whopping 3106 carats. The largest faceted Diamond is the Golden Jubilee Diamond, weighing an incredible 545cts. On the other end of the scale, it is said that only one in a million faceted Diamonds are over a carat in weight.

10 - Colours

Most people think of Diamonds as being a colourless gem, however Mother Nature produces an array of colours - grey, white, blue, yellow, orange, red, green, pink, purple, brown, and black are all possible. These colours are all produced through chemical impurities – (either Nitrogen, Boron, or Hydrogen), or by distortion of the crystal's lattice, natural heat or radiation.

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