April 11, 2018
It’s quite likely that each diamond in your own personal collection comes with a story. Some, perhaps heirlooms, while others were given as symbols of love. You may even have a piece or two that speaks of triumph, gathered as you reached milestones in your career or life. Similar legends accompany each diamond on earth, and with billions of years to collect history, many have a quite a tale to tell. Here’s a look at stories of four of the most famous diamonds that the world has ever seen.
1. The Taylor-Burton Diamond
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton had one of the fiercest on again, off again relationships of all time. They met on the set of Cleopatra, and were so enamored with one another that they each left their respective spouses. Their relationship was an absolute whirlwind of luxurious living, full of passion and glamour, yet with a dark side that so many Hollywood relationships hold. Burton, determined upon showing his devotion to his bride, decided he absolutely must get the most lavish diamond he could find for her. He set his heart on a 69.43-carat pear-cut gem, and instructed his representatives to obtain it at auction for him. Burton was outbid, and he threw a massive fit.
He insisted that his lawyer speak to the winning bidder, and procure the gem for him at any cost. In the end, Burton acquired it for $1.1 million, and gifted it to his beautiful wife. Interestingly, the gemstone’s previous owner had it set in a ring, and felt it was far too large to wear in public. Taylor seemed to concur, and, instead, had it made into a necklace. To put things into perspective, the gemstone’s insurance policy required that Taylor wear it in public no more than 30 days of each year, and that she be accompanied by armed guards when she did. When she opted to transport the necklace to Monaco, three different men carrying identical briefcases were sent along to ensure nobody could guess who held the actual gem.
After the couple’s second divorce, Taylor sold the necklace and used part of the proceeds to build a hospital in Botswana, where their second wedding had been held. It’s also worth noting that this is an entirely different gem than the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond- a 33.19-carat, Asscher-cut stone, which was last estimated to be worth more than $9 million.
2. The Orlov Diamond
There’s little doubt that the relationship was less than stellar between Russia’s Catherine the Great and her husband Emperor Peter III. The empress was reportedly so unhappy with his childish behavior that she began seeing numerous men on the side. One such gentleman caller was Count Grigory Grigoryevich Orlov. Most historians agree that two of the children born while Catherine and Peter were married were actually fathered by Orlov. At any rate, the empress was well-liked and was supported by a large group of people.
When she decided to have her husband dethroned, Orlov was right beside her. As both her lover and most trusted advisor, the count was the envy of all others. Although nobody knows if it’s true or not, those seeking to drive a wedge between the two told Catherine that Orlov had been with another. That was enough for her, and she moved on with a young officer. Orlov, highly distraught after losing the love of his life, knew he had to do something huge to try to win the empress back. He was aware that she had her eye on a very unique diamond. It was shaped like half of an egg, and was a whopping 189.62 carats.
Moreover, the Indian rose-cut gem was a rare and beautiful bluish-green hue, truly unlike any other that existed. Because of its distinctive properties, historians confidently believe the stone originated in India, and once adorned a temple as the goddess’ eye. Orlov gave the vibrant gem to the empress, but it was futile. Although she added it to her scepter and kept it with her, she never took Orlov back. Both parties moved on. Orlov married another, and it’s believed that Catherine may have married as well. Even still, when word of Orlov’s death made it to Catherine some years later, she was inconsolable, and said that his passing caused her to “suffer intolerably.”
3. The Hope Diamond
Very few gems have changed names, hands, and disguises as much as the Hope diamond has. There are legends that say it’s cursed, and that anyone who owns or wears it will be ill-fated. The Hope diamond glows a bright orange or reddish color when exposed to ultraviolet light. Previously, it was believed that the Hope was the only gem to display the behavior, which lent credibility to the gem’s ominous vibe, but it was later discovered that all natural blue diamonds do this, but to varying degrees.
When the gemstone was last weighed, it came in at 45.52 carats, though it’s believed to have been cut from a much larger stone. Due to its amazing size and unique characteristics, historians believe the diamond made its debut in the hands of Jean-Baptiste Tavernier in 1668. As Tavernier is well known for being an independent merchant, making numerous trips between France and India, experts feel certain that he collected the stone on one such trip.
The merchant’s journals do not discuss how he obtained it, though he mentions he is in possession of the Tavernier Blue, a 112-carat diamond. As with most of the jewels he collected, Tavernier sold the impressive gem to King Louis XIV, who then had it cut down to about 67 carats. After this, it became known as the French Blue or the Blue Diamond of the Crown. In the heat of the French revolution, many of the crown jewels were stolen, including the beautiful French Blue.
Approximately 20 years later, an impeccable 45-carat blue stone was spotted in London. A decade after that, the gem appeared in a portrait of England’s King George IV. In 1839, it reemerged as the Hope diamond. There are no true records to indicate why or under what means the massive stone was exchanged so much, and since then, it has found several other new homes. Today, it resides at the Smithsonian Institute.
4. The Millennium Star
Cut from a massive 777-carat stone, the Millennium Star is what legends are made of. It took cutters three years to carve out the 203.04-carat pear-shaped gem, but the result was worthwhile. It earned a true “D” grade, and it is totally flawless. Although it does not have a checkered past, as some of the other gems do, that may be because it was somewhat recently discovered in 1990. However, thieves took note of the precious stone, and devised a plan to snatch it while it was on display at the Millennium Dome in London in 2000.
In all, seven men cooked up the scheme, which involved busting into the dome, smashing the glass case, and riding off into the nearby water with an estimated £350 million in diamonds. Police noticed a flurry of attempted robberies in the area, and began to watch the group very closely. It wasn’t long before authorities realized what the real target was, and had the Millennium Star swapped out for a glass replica.
They watched as the group of thieves prepared to take action several times, and became somewhat bewildered by the false starts and delays. The men were waiting for high tide, and needed the water level at a specific height in order to be able to make their way to the Thames without issue. Eventually, police figured out the rationale, and even pinpointed days they felt the heist would take place. On the day of the raid, all employees of the dome were replaced by undercover officers, and a massive force of some 200 agents were standing by. The thieves were allowed to gain access to the dome, and they even released smoke bombs to obscure their actions. The thieves went to work, first weakening the glass display case with a nail gun, then smashing it with sledgehammers. Authorities descended upon the men, and what would have been the biggest robbery in history was thwarted. Six of the men were tried, and were given sentences ranging from 5 to 18 years. The seventh member of their party passed away while awaiting trial. The Millennium Star remains safe and sound to this day.
While diamonds that have been in circulation for a long time tend to wind up with some pretty amazing stories, even newly-found jewels seem to create an aura of mystique. Perhaps some gems are simply destined for great things. Then again, with the number of years and incredibly precise conditions it takes to produce each one, they could all be considered amazing as it is. Whatever the case, they all have a story to tell, and each one is as unique as the eyes that have yearned for it, and the hands that have been lucky enough to touch it.
Looking for Diamonds? 13 Countries You’re Likely to Find Them…
Diamonds only form in very precise environments, with just the right amount of heat and pressure. It takes billions of years for them to appear, and even then they’re still deep underground. It takes a volcanic eruption to force the gems upwards, and after that, it can take thousands of years for them to be discovered. Initially, they were only found in India. Then, they were discovered in Brazil. Not too long after that, they were stumbled upon in South Africa. Nowadays, they’re found in select locations all over the globe, and each region seems to produce a slightly different gem.
The Democratic Republic of Congo
Although Congo has a somewhat troubled past in regard to mining, the country is presently in good standing with the Kimberley Process. Per the KP records, Congo produced 15,681,984.89 carats in the last reporting year, and the country routinely ranks among the highest producers in the world. Congo is also responsible for the production of approximately 20% of the world’s industrial diamonds as well. Interestingly, the high-volume production of both industrial and gem-quality stones is mostly accomplished through artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), with miners using sifting and panning methods. Notable diamonds from the country include the Incomparable, at 890 carats, and the Millennium Star, at 777 carats.
Though respectively new to the game, Russia’s mines have really taken off over the past 60 years. The country brought 37,844,140 carats into the market last year, and much of this is done through the massive company Alrosa, which overthrew De Beers for market share some time ago. Most of their mining is done at high altitudes and in sub-zero temperatures, but they press on and generate about 21% of the world’s diamonds. Russia is known for unearthing high-volumes of small diamonds, so there haven’t been any overly-impressive gems uncovered thus far. However, a fist-sized rock was recently discovered, which contained 30,000 perfectly-formed, though incredibly tiny, gems. The country is also home to the world’s second-largest pit, the Mir Mine.
The small African land-locked nation of Botswana is one of the richest nations in the world per capita, largely due to their mining industry. With several mines producing, the country generated 23,187,580 carats last year. The Karowe Mine in Botswana has produced some of the largest rough diamonds known to man. Three of the stones came in at over 230 carats, while a fourth was a whopping 341.9 carats.
Mining in Zimbabwe contains a mix of artisan and industrial workers. Like Congo, it has a difficult past, though government officials have cleaned up the industry, and the country is in good standing with the Kimberley Process. Last year, rough diamond production stood at 10,411,817.65 carats.
The world was surprised to learn that Canada held diamonds in the late 1990s. Much like Russia, the conditions make mining difficult, and the bounty can only be trucked out during a few weeks each year. Air transit is necessary the rest of the time. However, the diamonds that are uncovered are of very high quality, and the nation produces a significant number of gem-quality stones each year. Canada is known for turning out ethical and conflict-free diamonds, and those that are collected in the Northwest Territories are laser-etched so that consumers can easily identify their origins. In the last reporting year, 10,599,659 carats were produced, with a value of $179.93 per carat. For comparison, Zimbabwe only managed $51.72 per carat, and Congo sat at just $8.84 per carat. So far, the largest diamond found in the Great White North was 35 carats.
With 9,360,469.88 carats gathered last year, Angola is another of the world’s top producers. Some sources indicate that only 40% of the resources there are currently being explored due to difficult mining conditions. Historically, governmental discord and smuggling have been an issue, though Angola authorities have worked to establish order and the nation is attracting long-term industrial mining companies nowadays. The country’s largest stone uncovered so far is the Angola Star, at 217.39 carats.
Although diamond production has drastically reduced over the years in South Africa, the country manages to maintain its presence on the list of world’s greatest producers. Last year, 8,143,256 carats were pulled from the mines, and dozens of the world’s largest gems have been discovered there. The famous Cullinan Diamond was 3106.75 carats before it was sectioned and installed into various pieces of the British Crown Jewels. The Excelsior Diamond at 995.20 carats, Golden Jubilee at 755 carats, and Jonker at 726 carats are notable finds as well.
Alluvial mining in Namibia has produced many high-quality stones. Unlike those gathered through open pit mines, those found in alluvial deposits have been carried away from their original sources by water. Weak and imperfect diamonds are broken along the way, which means that the vast majority of those found through alluvial mining are gem-quality. Last year, 1,689,048.46 carats were produced, valued at an amazing $805.24 per carat. Notable finds include a 5.26-carat light blue, 2.45-carat pink diamond. However, the most interesting discovery might be the 78-carat white diamond that went missing during a mining dispute in 2014. Estimated to be worth more than $5 million, the gem has yet to resurface.
The Kingdom of Lesotho is a mountainous country completely encircled by South Africa. The developing nation is largely supported by diamond mining, and the industry has aided in increasing quality of life and educational opportunities throughout. Many of the 414,013.62 carats unearthed there belong to high-quality gems, creating an average carat price of $584.88. The most notable diamond so far has been the Lesotho Promise, a D-color gem weighing 603 carats. The Lesotho Brown and Letseng Star are not far behind, at 601 and 550 carats, respectively.
The diamond trade in Sierra Leone was once incredibly brutal, and the nation was a leading contributor in the world’s conflict diamonds. In recent years, more ethical practices have been established, and the region is in good standing with the Kimberley Process. In total, 608,955.35 carats were produced last year, consisting of stones of mixed quality. The Star of Sierra Leone is by far the largest gem discovered so far, at a jaw-dropping 969 carats.
Another country with a somewhat difficult diamond mining past is Guinea. Nowadays, artisanal alluvial mining is highly regulated, and the nation participates in the Kimberley Process. Industrial mining also occurs, and the methods combined generated 202,365 carats last year. The most notable stone discovered thus far is the Guinea Star, a D-color, internally flawless 255.10-carat gem.
The Argyle Mine of Australia is the only significant source of pink diamonds in the entire world. Unlike other diamond colors, the rosy hue is not caused by impurities leaching in as the gem is formed. Scientists are still working to uncover the exact cause, though it’s believed that the color is the result of defects in the crystalline structure of the gem. It’s believed that 90% of all pink diamonds to hit the market originate in the Argyle Mine, which is also the source of a great deal of the world’s stock of blue diamonds as well. Interestingly, the same mine is the first plentiful lamprolite mine, as most others are on kimberlite pipes, or the gems are gathered from alluvial deposits. Despite the high number of rare gems discovered, the Australia’s carat price was just $32.50 last year. Total production came in at 11,728,657.41 carats. The Argyle Pink Jubilee, at 12.76 carats, is the country’s largest pink diamond so far.
Although Tanzania isn’t widely-known for producing loads of massive or special gems, the country still ranks among the world’s largest producers overall. Last year, 179,633.21 carats were mined, with an all-inclusive value of $256.15 per carat. Tanzania’s Mwadui Mine, also known as the Williamson Mine, is one off the world’s oldest continuously operating diamond mines. As one of the first sources discovered outside of South Africa, the Mwadui has produced over 19 million carats so far. The Williamson Pink Diamond, weighing 54.5 carats rough, was discovered there. It was presented as a wedding gift to the, then, Princess Elizabeth and her groom Prince Philip. Queen Elizabeth continues to wear the dazzling gem on a regular basis to this day.
There are still numerous untapped mines throughout the world, and many others are presently being explored have years of solid production ahead. For this reason, it’s not possible to determine which countries or mines will lead the pack in production in the years to come. Equally, one never knows where the next massive diamond or rare gem will appear, so almost any nation could be the source of the next big diamond rush. Artisan alluvial mining still occurs across the globe, and helps encourage growth in developing nations, which means a true rags to riches story can emerge at any point as well.
February 19, 2018
While the diamond trade may be incredibly ancient, it’s not even close to the age of that glittering gemstone on your finger. That beauty is at least a billion years old, though it could be more than three billion years old. Mother Nature knew what she was doing when she designed these icy crystals, and to ensure their rarity, she insisted that they only be created under very precise circumstances. They must have an incredibly intense amount of pressure, as well as extraordinarily high temperatures, in order to develop. Black diamonds, for instance, are only created when a meteor breaks through the atmosphere and strikes the earth. The only other location diamonds may form in is deep underground, as if Mother Nature has planted them there herself. These stunning stones only make their way to the surface when an uncommonly deep-rooted volcano erupts, forcing gem-laden rocks upward on a cushion of searing magma. By the time your diamond was first born into the light of day, it had already been on quite a journey
Where Your Diamond was Found
If you purchased a diamond today, odds are that it originated in one of four countries. Presently, Russia generates more than 22% of the world’s stock, followed by Botswana and Congo, which are responsible for approximately 19% each, and Australia comes in at a little over 13%. In prior years, South America led the pack, though now only about 9% of the global production originates there. Each of these regions have the environment necessary for diamonds to form, and the gems were pushed up through the earth in either a kimberlite pipe or a lamproite pipe.
Kimberlite pipes are known for their carrot shape- they form a “V,” with the point reaching deep into the earth. Lamproite pipes are very similar, but take on the shape of a martini glass, or more of a “Y” shape. It was believed for quite some time that diamonds were not found in and around lamproite pipes, though Australia has proven this theory wrong. Much of the time, diamonds remain embedded in and around the pipe, though erosion can send them into alluvial, or sediment deposits, in and around rivers.
How Your Diamond was Mined
It’s said that for each diamond that’s found, somewhere between 200 and 250 tons of earth must be moved, and the average size of rough gem is just 0.10 carats. When diamonds are mined in alluvial deposits on riverbanks or in shallow water, simple sifting methods are used. When the gems are discovered underwater, the area is generally sectioned off and pumped dry before mining begins. Pipe mining is usually handled on a commercial level these days, though just a few decades ago men with pickaxes would descend on a mound. Miners do what’s called “open pit” digging, which simply means that they start removing dirt in a graduated bowl shape. At some point, the hole becomes too deep to be able to easily cart debris back out safely, so workers will begin tunneling underground, spiraling around the pipe.
The Miners Who Found Your Diamond Probably Never Saw It
Because the process is so industrialized nowadays, miners almost never see actual diamonds. Instead, large mining companies use massive diggers and earth movers to collect the diamondiferous material, and it’s poured into vehicles for transport. At a secondary location, which may or may not be near the mine, the diamonds are separated from the rest of the material. This is typically done using a crushing machine, which essentially pulverizes everything until the diamonds break free.
When smaller diamonds are likely to be found, milling works best. In this process, the material is poured into drums and water is added. The drums are rotated, and the residue around the diamonds dissolves. Very fine diamonds may also need to be washed, and often screened. Each load of diamondiferous material will have to be run through several times, as the water and debris is filtered out. A liquid separation technique may also be used, in which water is thickened so that the diamonds float to the top. Some processors still rely on an additional method called the grease belt system to separate the crystals from the rubbish. Grease is applied to a moving belt, similar to what you might use at a grocery checkout, but on a much grander scale. The mix of material is poured on the belt, and the diamonds will stick, but the rest is scraped away.
As a final check to ensure no diamonds have slipped by unnoticed, debris may also be run through an x-ray scanner. Due to their unique properties, any diamonds left in the heap at the end will fluoresce after being exposed to radiation, and the machine will either process the material again or drop just the section with the valuable stone into a collection bin. It’s worth noting that some very small-scale operations still exist, and the stones are processed by hand. This is usually done using a series of filters or screens.
After it was Cleaned, Your Diamond was Sent off for Sorting
Around 80% of all the diamonds found are not suitable for any kind of jewelry or décor, so human sorters have the difficult task of sifting through each stone and classifying it. Mind you, these are still rough diamonds that don’t look like what you see in the stores. Around 55% of them go to independent sorters in places like Antwerp, London, Moscow, and Johnannesberg. The rest are handled by De Beers, which splits them up into 16,000 categories, based on quality, size, shape, and color.
Your Diamond was then Sold in Bulk to a Cutter or Manufacturer
A large portion of these diamonds are sold only to groups of bulk buyers on a list maintained by De Beers. These entities are known as sightholders, and they’re some of the most-respected names in the industry. Those that aren’t handled by entities on the sightholder list meet a similar fate regardless. In some cases, a manufacturer may purchase the gems, and will intend to cut them in-house. Other times, companies or individuals who specialize in cutting gems will purchase a lot with the intent to resell them afterwards.
Finally, Your Diamond Took the Shape it Has Now
Cutting a diamond is an incredibly complex process. A diamantaire, or master cutter, will examine the stone carefully and will then decide how best to cut it. He may mark directly on the gem or use a newer computer-aided design system to analyze and mark the gem with a laser. If the gem has a flaw in the center, he may opt to split it into two smaller gemstones by cleaving or sawing it.
This is a delicate process, as the diamantaire must take care not to break the gem, and he must also divide it exactly where the imperfection is, to preserve carat-weight. After this, your diamond underwent bruiting, which gave it the shape it has now. Older techniques relied on machines for this, but lasers are commonly used now. Finally, the gem was polished, which is also quite an undertaking. Each facet is polished with a coarse disc or material. Then, the disc or plate is changed out for a finer disc, and each facet is polished again. The process may be repeated numerous times, until a very fine disc is used. Arguably, the most popular shape today is a round brilliant, with 57 facets, so it’s easy to understand how much time even a skilled diamantaire will put into each work. He’s truly an artist, examining a piece and working with it until it is as beautiful and sparking as possible.
After it was Perfected, Your Diamond Made its Way to a Manufacturer
As noted, the manufacturer may have been the one to purchase the rough diamond and cut it. If it was purchased by a diamantaire instead, he would then sell it to a wholesaler or a manufacturer. When the gem is passed from a diamantaire to another entity, it often gets sent to a grading laboratory, like GIA, but this isn’t always so. Many companies trust their diamantaire explicitly, and work with him on an ongoing basis. Other times, a manufacturer or wholesaler will use an in-house grader to determine the gem’s value.
The Manufacturer then Created Your Jewelry
As with many of these steps, there is no one entity who handles manufacturing- many agencies can be responsible for the task. If you purchased your jewelry at a big box store, the manufacturer was likely a separate entity, who creates pieces inexpensively in bulk. On the other hand, many retail outlets have in-house design teams to create special pieces, but they may outsource the manufacturing. At the other end of the spectrum, a high-end jeweler would have likely created and manufactured the piece on its own or through its subsidiaries. This is probably the case if you have a limited edition or one-of-a-kind piece. Regardless of who created the piece, it eventually wound up in the hands of a retailer.
At long last, the gem belongs to you. It may have taken billions of years to get there, but perfection never comes with ease.
February 07, 2018
On the surface, some might simply see a diamond as a beautiful, glistening gemstone. Although it’s true, the stunning gemstone has been gifted and collected through the ages, and there’s often a deeper meaning behind each one that’s given. Take for instance, the gorgeous 6.1-carat pink diamond engagement ring that Ben Affleck had custom-made for Jennifer Lopez. While it was absolutely stunning, and is one of the most extravagant engagement rings that has ever given, there may have been something more behind Ben’s choice of stone. If you’re curious to know what your diamond means, want to uncover the symbolism behind gemstones of the stars, or simply need to know when diamonds are traditionally gifted, you’ll find out here.
What Does the Color of Your Diamond Mean?
A true “white” diamond is actually colorless, though if another material works its way in at the right time, or something unusual happens during formation, it will change the hue of the gem. Just as each flower has a particular meaning, each fancy, or colored, diamond has a particular meaning, and may also inspire a certain feeling (besides awe).
Blue: Peace, loyalty, confidence, strength, health, spirituality, or honesty. Blue diamonds are created when boron is present as the gem forms, and they are among the rarest of the colors. The 45.52-carat Hope Diamond is an example of a well-known blue.
Black: Prosperity, health, sophistication, fidelity, or strength. Black diamonds are only found in two places in the world, and are generally believed to be the result of a meteor strike. Unlike other colored diamonds, the black stones do not have other elements mixed all the way through them. Instead, they have inclusions of iron or graphite, which slice through the gem. For this reason, they’re generally opaque, with bits of clear or smoky crystal surrounding the inclusions. The 67.5-carat Orlov Diamond is an exquisite specimen of this black gemstone.
Brown: Stability, harmony, earth, practicality, and dependability. Brown diamonds are very common, though they’re normally referred to by a more pleasant-sounding hue, like champagne, chocolate, cognac, or coffee. Their tone can be the result of lattice defects, irradiation treatment, or nickel impurities. One of the most famous brown diamonds is the 545.67-carat Golden Jubilee, which was given to Thailand’s king on his 50th anniversary. It’s the largest known faceted diamond in the world.
Gray: Wisdom, neutrality, or dedication. Gray diamonds are fairly common, and they often take on a silver hue. They can be created when boron is present at their formation, though sometimes they’re actually black diamonds that aren’t totally opaque. One notable gray is the Sultan of Morocco Diamond, which is a whopping 35.27 carats.
Green: Money, fertility, luck, nature, harmony, or longevity. Some sources indicate as few as ten green diamonds are sold each year, which means they’re very rare. Although some have been found to contain small amounts of nickel, their color is usually the result of radiation. Interestingly, it tends to only affect the outside layer of the gem, so many lose their green hue when they are cut. The Dresden Green is an amazing example of an emerald-tone diamond. It’s 41 carats and said to be internally flawless.
Orange: Creativity, energy or enthusiasm. True orange diamonds are very rare, as the stones are often mixed with brown or yellow. They obtain their hue from the way the nitrogen atoms line up during formation. The largest known true orange is 14.82 carats.
Pink: Creativity, hope, love, or romance. Color shifts in diamonds are usually caused by “impurities” sneaking in as a diamond develops, but pink diamonds occur because they’re exposed to abnormal pressure and heat as they’re being formed. This makes them one of the rarest colors to find, which may be why pink was Ben’s choice for Jennifer.
Purple: Nobility, pride, luxury, spirituality, enlightenment, or serenity. Sometimes called violet, plum, or grape, purple diamonds are the second rarest hue. There’s still some debate over how they get their color, but it’s generally believed that it comes from plastic deformation that occurs as they are formed. Natural purple stones will not have consistent color. Instead, the hue tends to radiate out from the “imperfect” sections. The largest known vivid purple is the Royal Purple Heart Diamond, which weighs 7.34 carats.
Red: Power, energy, passion, strength, or love. Red diamonds are actually considered a deep shade of pink, and they’re the rarest of all the colors. In some cultures, they’re also believed to bring good luck. The most well-known is the Moussaieff Red Diamond, which was 13.9 carats rough, and 5.11 carats after cutting.
White: Harmony, elegance, innocence, or integrity. Traditional white diamonds are actually tinted yellow more often than not, though a true colorless (white) gem is the ideal form, and is rare. One of the most famous white diamonds is the Great Star of Africa, which is part of the British Crown Jewels. It’s 530.4 carats of perfection.
Yellow: Optimism, friendship, happiness, energy, or playfulness. While most white diamonds actually have a slight yellow tint to them, a diamond isn’t considered to be yellow unless the shade is very deep. For this reason, yellow-tinted or white diamonds are fairly common, but fancy yellows are rare. The color is a result of the stone’s nitrogen atoms absorbing blue light. One of the largest fancy yellows ever found is the 128.53-carat Tiffany Yellow Diamond.
When Are Diamonds Traditionally Given?
There are special anniversaries in which diamonds are considered to be the traditional and proper gift, as well as certain days that the diamond has been selected to symbolize.
April Birthstone: Those born in the month of April were blessed with the diamond to honor the occasion. Although nobody knows for sure how the birthstones were chosen, it’s a time-honored tradition. Diamond jewelry and décor can be given to someone with an April birthday at any time, though it’s most appropriate to gift the gem on the individual’s birthday.
Entering a Committed Relationship: Some couples choose to exchange promise rings long before they’re prepared to be engaged. Although they don’t symbolize a long-term commitment, they do represent an agreement to remain faithful. Some promise rings look more like wedding rings, while others are simplified engagement rings. Some couples also use the opportunity to select fanciful or fun rings, with more focus on the metalwork than the bling.
Engagement: The first known diamond engagement band was placed on the hand of Mary of Burgundy by Archduke Maximilian of Austria in the 1400s. With that said, diamonds did not become the stone of choice until the 1900s, though they are they are by far the most common gems in engagement rings today. Modern engagement rings tend to have a single large stone.
Wedding: Diamond wedding bands are highly popular both among men and women. Groom’s rings typically consist of several diamonds or equal size, and although the bride’s band is similar, it’s often designed to pair with the engagement ring.
10th Anniversary: Each wedding anniversary has a traditional and modern gift associated with the date. Emily Post created the first printed gift etiquette list in 1922, though it has been expanded upon quite a bit since then. Diamonds are the modern choice for the 10th anniversary. Concerning anniversaries, an eternity band, totally encircled in diamonds, is often chosen. There is also a trend for three-stone pieces in both rings and necklaces. The gems represent the couple’s past, present, and future.
30th Anniversary: Diamonds are also the modern gift for the 30th anniversary.
60th Anniversary: For both a traditional and a modern gift, diamonds grace the gift chart once more on the 60th wedding anniversary. It’s also worth noting that the diamond can represent any 60th anniversary, as some might recall the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, which was held throughout 2012. Celebrations were held all year long to honor her accession.
(Insert Your Special Day Here): Nowadays, diamonds are used to commemorate all kinds of events, from graduation to the birth of a baby, or any other milestone in life. In these cases, rings, necklaces, earrings, broaches, and bracelets are also very popular.
When are Diamonds Used for Spiritual or Metaphysical Reasons?
Astrology: Diamonds have been linked with the astrological signs of Cancer, Libra, Aries, and Leo, as well as the sun and Venus.
Amulets and Talismans: Some people believe that diamonds can be used for protection or to increase one’s power and stamina.
Chakras: Diamonds are also associated with activating the sixth (third eye) and seventh (crown) chakras.
So it would seem that a pink diamond was the perfect choice for Jennifer Lopez, as it speaks of creativity, love, and romance. Although we’ll never know if Ben chose it with that in mind, or simply because it was rare and beautiful, it certainly adds novelty to the story to think there was more meaning it. If you’re in the process of choosing a diamond gift for someone you cherish, take these alternate meanings and symbolism into account. While the icy gemstone is always a welcome gift, it can be even more thoughtful if it starts with a story of its own.
January 26, 2018
Anyone who lived through the dot com era, or even the Tickle Me Elmo craze, knows how people react when something potentially fantastical is at stake. They’ll wait in line for days, engage in fist fights, or jump into “opportunities” without properly assessing the risk. The same thing happened when the world realized what treasures the earth had been hiding in plain sight. The 1800s was all about precious gems and metals, and people would stop at nothing to get their hands on some.
Diamonds, and Silver, and Gold, Oh My!
People across the globe loved diamonds, but they were incredibly difficult to obtain. Most of the world’s stock had come from India, but miners did a fairly good job of picking it clean. Then, all eyes turned to Brazil, as lucky prospectors began uncovering the icy gemstone there as well. In the United States, a few lucky prospectors discovered gold on the West Coast, which sparked the California gold rush of 1849.
The population of Sacramento Valley boomed from about 1,000 to 100,000 seemingly overnight. People came from the other side of the country, and even from other countries, to try to grab a piece of the pie. Before the gold rush was through, more than $2 billion in gold was found, and countless people had struck it rich. In 1859, the same thing happened with silver in Nevada.
America became a place where anyone could be someone - all a person had to do was be in the right place at the right time. By the 1870s came, the world was hungry again, and South Africa was happy to oblige. Approximately 50,000 miners descended upon Kimberley when diamonds were found. The miners set to work and brought out 14,504,566 carats before they laid their pickaxes down.
Excitement Swept Across the Southwestern United States
The rest of this story varies somewhat depending on whom you ask, but the key details remain the same. Prospectors headed out west, eager to get in on the excitement happening in California and Nevada. They also flooded nearby states, like Arizona and Utah, hoping the climate was similar enough to Kimberley, or that the areas were close enough to other hot spots, that they’d find precious gems and metals.
Occasionally, a piece or two would turn up, but the areas would be largely unfruitful. Still, the prospectors pressed on. Two such “prospectors” stumbled into the office of George Roberts, a prominent business man, one February evening in 1871. The gentlemen said they wanted to leave something at a nearby bank, but the bank was closed. The businessman was intrigued, but the prospectors remained tightlipped, and motioned to a small satchel. Roberts persuaded the men to tell him what they were up to, and they agreed to talk, but only if he promised to keep a secret.
Diamonds Had Been Found in San Francisco
Philip Arnold and John Slack were a pair of prospecting cousins, driven west from Kentucky for the same reasons that so many others had come. Arnold had already spent two decades in the area as a miner, though he routinely went back to Kentucky to be with family. By this point, however, he had retired from mining and worked as a bookkeeper for a company that manufactured diamond drill bits. Very little is known about Arnold’s companion. Upon receiving Roberts’ vow of secrecy, Arnold opened his satchel and poured the contents on the surprised businessman’s desk. Rough garnets, sapphires, and rubies tumbled out, along with a fair amount of glistening diamonds. The businessman tried to pry more information out of the prospectors, but they wouldn’t budge.
All he could get them to admit was that they’d found the treasures in Indian territory, and that they planned to go back and look for more. Somewhat frustrated, but mostly excited, the businessman bid the prospectors goodnight. He immediately got in touch with some of his investor friends. He called William C. Ralston, the founder of the Bank of California and an incredibly successful investor. Then, he got in touch with a group of investors often referred to as the Big Four - Mark Hopkins and Charles Crocker, Collis Huntington, and Leland Stanford. Because all the men had money tied up in other ventures, and Roberts knew this discovery was big, he reached out as far as he could to obtain enough money to buy the boys outright. His reached out to Asbury Harpending in London, who hurried to California as fast as a ship could take him.
The Investors Would Be Rich Beyond their Wildest Dreams
Word spread quickly about what the prospecting cousins had found, and getting investors on board was a walk in the park. Arnold and Slack continued to be mum about where their gems had come from, but disappeared and returned with an even bigger haul. The investors wanted the riches all to themselves, and they repeatedly tried to buy the prospectors’ shares. Eventually, Slack agreed, and collected $50,000 up front for his troubles. An equal sum would be paid after the boys made one more trip out to the field. According to their reports, that trip was indeed successful, and they were able to gather another $2 million in gems. Sadly, their raft overturned and they lost one of their two satchels of stones to the waters. However, the remaining bag was bursting at the seams, and indicated that there was plenty of riches yet to be found in the San Francisco diamond fields.
They Brought a Geologist and Charles Lewis Tiffany on Board
Bear in mind, all the investors had great track records. These were intelligent men, and so they made sure to verify everything. They hired a mining engineer to examine the site, though the weather kept him away for quite some time. Then, the investors took some of the gemstones to Charles Lewis Tiffany of Tiffany & Co., and he verified the stones were of very high quality in front of an audience of potential investors. He kept the gems for a couple of days, and eventually deemed that they were worth $150,000. When the mining engineer finally became available, the prospectors took him and three other men out to the diamond field. They got lost along the way, and it took four days, but they eventually made it there. In no time, the group was digging up numerous precious gems. Slack and one of the other men stayed behind to guard the area, while the remaining four headed back into town to share what they’d found. Slack and his newfound companion had a falling out. The pair split up, and Slack was never seen again.
Then, Trouble Began at the Diamond Field
Arnold collected his dues, sold some of his shares in the diamond field, and headed back to Kentucky. His “lucky find” had brought him $500,000. In an interesting twist of fate, the mining engineer that had accompanied the group to the field found himself on a train with a well-educated geologist and his team who had been surveying the area. It became readily apparent that either the geologist had not been thorough, or something was amiss. The geologist and his team used clues from the mining engineer and his own knowledge of the area to locate the diamond field. It was a bittersweet find when they realized the area was loaded with diamonds. On one hand, they were excited for the riches. On the other hand, the group should have known that the area was a diamond field. After a night of rest, they began to scour the area again. It was then that they realized that the gemstones were being found in clusters. A single diamond would have several rubies with it. Then, there would be nothing more in the vicinity. Because this is not how Mother Nature works, they continued looking for clues, and they noticed that the stones were only found in disturbed areas. Plus, there were almost always footprints by the finds.
The Greatest Diamond Hoax was Revealed
As it turns out, there were never diamonds, or any other valuable gems, in the area at all. Arnold and Slack had seeded the area, or stashed gems there to be found by inspectors. All the stones found there were actually purchased by Arnold in Europe. His initial satchel contained stones he likely pilfered from his employer, and a few gems he’d picked up from Indians in a neighboring state. The geologist saw the situation for what it was and published his findings.
The banker Ralston returned $80,000 to each of his investors, but the $100,000 given to Slack was never recovered. Arnold settled out of court with one investor for $150,000, though he too, kept the remaining sum. It’s widely believed that none of the other investors wanted to pursue a lengthy court battle due to the bad publicity it would bring, so neither man had to answer for his crimes. It’s also worth noting that Clarence King, the geologist who uncovered it all, went on to be the first director of the United States Geological Survey.
January 09, 2018
It can be difficult to bite back gem envy when an acquaintance flaunts her new diamond ring, especially if it happens to have a stone the size of Australia on it. Inevitably, people begin to whisper in hushed tones, wondering if it’s authentic. Could a fake diamond truly look like a real diamond? Can it have the fame fire and radiance? How can you tell whether your acquaintance or the gem dealer is holding a real diamond? In some cases, the answer might be easier than you think.
It takes billions of years for a natural diamond to form. Geologists believe they have nailed down why diamonds form in some areas on earth and not in others. There are two main ways that they develop naturally, though both include the perfect recipe of carbon, high heat (2,000+ degrees Fahrenheit), and immense pressure (725,000 pounds per square inch).
People have been creating imitation gems seemingly forever, because when mankind’s love affair with diamonds began, they were only found in India. Over time, more sources have been discovered, but they’re still incredibly rare. Because of this, Practices have improved drastically over time, and many methods have been utilized to create fake diamonds, or to enhance the appearance of discolored or cloudy gemstones.
“Fake” is often used to describe anything that isn’t a real diamond, plucked from the earth, but there are three main categories these “non-diamonds” fall into.
- Simulants are items that resemble a natural diamond. Sometimes they’re other minerals and stones, though ancient societies often created pastes to mimic the color and shape.
- Enhanced diamonds are natural diamonds that have been altered to appear clearer, have better coloring, or repair defects.
- Synthetic diamonds have the same composition of a diamond, and are technically considered genuine diamonds, though they’re created in a lab and not by the earth.
How to Spot a Fake Diamond
Most methods of gem-fakery leave telltale signs, which can help you spot a counterfeit or artificially-enhanced gem fairly easily. Although the best way to check a gem is to take it to a gemologist, even a novice can use the following tests to weed out many deceptive stones.
- Check the setting. Because real diamonds are expensive, jewelers take great care to have them set properly in a high-quality metal. If the setting is loose, bent, or crooked, it might be holding a fake gem.
- Examine the stone for damage. Diamonds are the hardest material on earth, so if the piece you’re looking at is scuffed, scratched, or dull, it’s probably a simulant. Bear in mind that genuine diamonds can be nicked, especially if they’re stored with other diamonds, so you should be watching for multiple marks to indicate that a stone might be soft.
- Look for perfection. The earth rarely makes perfect diamonds, which means that even a small fraction of a carat of a near-perfect diamond will cost hundreds of dollars. In a true colorless gem, the price will be even higher. If the diamond looks too perfect to be real, it probably isn’t.
- Ask for a loupe. Any reputable jeweler will be happy to hand you one so that you can appreciate how high-quality their pieces are. While you’ve got it, look for flaws inside the stone. You should also take a moment to examine the gem’s facets. They should be precisely geometric, and you may also see an inscription or identification number on the stone.
- Breathe on it. Because diamonds rapidly disperse heat, the fog on an authentic stone will disappear almost instantly, while it may remain on a simulant for two or more seconds.
- Try to read through it. If you have a loose diamond, you can turn it upside down on a piece of paper, and you’ll be able to read the letters through it. Most other gems don’t disburse light the same way, so you can’t see through them. Cubic zirconia is an exception to this, so make sure to run other tests.
It’s also worth noting that a UV light can be used to test gems. Real diamonds, with the exception of very rare high-quality stones, will fluoresce blue. Other gemstones and materials may glow in alternate hues, or not at all. Electronic diamond testers are also available, though it costs at least a couple-hundred dollars to purchase a reliable one that can detect Moissanite. (Traditional units will register Moissanite as if it was a diamond.)
How to Identify What Kind of Fake Diamond You’re Holding
If, after testing, you realize you’re not looking at a real diamond, you can do a little detective work to find out what kind of gem you have.
Cubic Zirconia- Not to be confused with zircon, which is at the end of the list, cubic zirconia is one of the cheapest stones people use to deceive others. A CZ stone, as it’s sometimes called, weighs almost twice as much as a true diamond. It’s also not as hard, so it can’t scratch glass, and the edges will show wear over time. In the jewelry store or on someone’s finger, it will look “too perfect” because it’s synthetic.
Moissanite- The most difficult gem to differentiate from a true diamond is probably Moissanite. Older stones are natural, but those on the market today are mostly synthetic, which means they look “too perfect.” They also reflect light differently, so instead of a sparkle of colors, you may liken it to a disco ball as you twirl it in the light. The biggest difference, however, is that they have a very slight green or blue hue in certain lighting. Under a UV light, you’ll see it glow in greens or yellows.
Quartz- The surface of a quartz stone may appear much smoother than a diamond under a loupe. It will also stay foggy for a while if you do the breath test.
Rhinestone- Made from glass or plastic with a metallic coating on the back or bottom, rhinestones are probably the cheapest way to add sparkle to anything. If you see a gem with any kind of metallic coating masquerading as a diamond, you can be sure you’re not working with any kind of reputable jeweler.
Russian Diamond- A “Russian diamond” is not necessarily a diamond that was mined in Russia. It’s a crafty name, sometimes trademarked as a “Russian Brilliant,” that the company readily acknowledges got its start as basic cubic zirconia. Yes, they’ve honed in the technique, and they hand-cut the stones, but realistically, a Russian Brilliant is still just a higher-quality (more expensive) CZ.
White Sapphire- The white sapphire does a fair job of resembling a diamond, but it won’t give a rainbow effect as you twist it. It can only refract white light.
Zircon- Although Zircon very closely resembles a diamond, it doesn’t have the same hardness and is prone to breaking or chipping. Stones that aren’t properly cut can look blurry, due to how it refracts light. It isn’t often used as a false-diamond, because there are other far less-expensive alternatives.
Enhanced diamonds are real diamonds, but they have been altered to appear more perfect. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, they’re less valuable than they would have been if Mother Nature had created them that way. A jeweler has a duty to tell you if you’re getting an enhanced gem, as it can sometimes be very difficult to tell.
Color enhancements are done to create less-expensive “fancy” diamonds or to diminish the yellow of a white stone. It can be very difficult or simple to detect changes in color depending on the method used. Intensity is key here, as more vibrant colors are rare in nature. If you happen to be looking at a very vivid shade, that should give you a red flag to ask questions.
- Coating- Sometimes ink or metal oxide thin films are used to change the surface color of a gem. Either of these coatings can often be scraped off, but not always without causing damage to the stone. Ink coatings can be removed with alcohol or other solvents, and sometimes even hot water will melt them away. Films can be removed with acid. Although there are not any certain ways to check for coatings on a new stone, you can try breathing on it, rubbing it, or scraping it with your nail. With a loupe, you can check the stone for defects. In some stones, you’ll be able to see a deeper concentration of color around internal inclusions. Natural fancy diamonds don’t always present with consistent color, so if you see slight differences inside the gem, there’s a greater chance the color is authentic.
- Heat and Irradiation- Both heat and irradiation create irreversible change inside the gem. The shade can be changed to a fancy color or a white diamond can be made clearer. If there are any telltale signs left behind, it takes a professional with special equipment to find them.
Clarity enhancements are made to cover up or remove defects in the stone. These alterations are difficult to detect without 30-times magnification.
- Drill- Laser technology enables cutters to make microscopic slices into a gem to remove inclusions. White stones commonly have black spots within, which are dissolved with acid once an access hatch is opened. The tunnels that are created are permanent, but they can’t be seen by the naked eye. They’re obvious under strong magnification, though.
- Fill- Sometimes spaces within the diamond diminish the sparkle. Filling them with a material that allows the light to pass through tricks the eye into thinking the diamond is solid. While moving the gem under magnification, the repairs give off a neon purple flash. The fill is considered semi-permanent, as it will only come out if the gem is recut, or exposed to heat or acid.
Most of the time, synthetic diamonds are created for industrial use. Those that are made for jewelry tend to have a yellowish tint to them, and they’re frequently large and “too perfect.” It’s said that there are 10,000 naturally-occurring white diamonds for each fancy diamond that is made by Mother Nature. Because colored diamonds are so rare, they’re often made in a lab.
Any of the fakes listed here are less valuable than a genuine, untreated diamond, though many of them still hold significant value. For instance, if you’re aware that you’re purchasing an enhanced or synthetic diamond, and pay a fair price for one, it may enable you to get something that’s beautiful to the eye at a price you can afford. On the other hand, some people intentionally deceive, which is why it’s imperative to only work with a reputable and honest dealer or jeweler.
It would be difficult to find a person who doesn’t like diamonds. They’re a mainstay in today’s culture and are usually a symbol of elegance or refinement. Celebrities grace the red carpet dripping in gems, and just about any classy lady can kick it up a notch by pairing diamond studs with something as basic as denim. Like anything, however, this bedazzling can be taken to extremes. When nothing says “luxury” like a diamond, surely 1,000 or more of them screams it, right? Here’s ten such gem-encrusted items to help you decide for yourself.
1. The Most-Expensive Toy Car Hot Wheels Ever Made
It’s rumored that Richard Burton would often walk in on his wife, the lovely Elizabeth Taylor, only to find her sitting on the floor with her exquisite jewelry collection spread around her. One day he asked her what she was doing, and she simply replied, “Playing with my jewels.” Of course, that was just the boring 68-carat Taylor-Burton Diamond. Imagine if she’d had a diamond-studded Hot Wheels car to play with, too. Ok, maybe Hot Wheels doesn’t suit a sophisticated woman like Taylor, but the car is still pretty sweet. The company had it decked out for their 40th anniversary, and it contains about 3,000 diamonds set in 18 karat white gold. Most of the car is smothered in a total of 2,700 blue diamonds, while the engine contains a mix of black and white. Even the tires are covered in diamonds, though the brand skimped a bit and went with red rubies for the tail lights. Upon completion, the car was valued at a little over $110,000.
2. A Mouth Guard Fit for a King
Anybody can have a blinged-out grill made these days, but a mouth guard is somewhat new. The net was all abuzz when word got out that Tyrod Taylor intended to wear a $3,000 diamond-encrusted mouth piece for his first game with the Bills. The football player went so far as to tweet about the company that made it for him, even while sources close to him said it was untrue. The “dentist to the stars” has reportedly made a couple of these dazzling mouth pieces already, though they don’t reveal client names due to regulations. Unlike other mouth guards, they don’t require a strap because they’re magnetic, and the diamonds are covered with a special coating so individual stones won’t get lost either. As an added bonus, if Taylor’s game is a bit off, at least the sparking guard may distract his opponents enough that he can still gain an edge.
3. The Outdated iPhone that’s Always in Style
If you get frustrated every time Apple upgrades their phones (which always happens right after you buy… why, Apple, why?!?), imagine what it would be like if you had just purchased the $8 million iPhone 4 Diamond Rose. Designer Stuart Hughes can be a little over-the-top when it comes to his creations- as he did up an $8 million iPad 2 as well. Even still, the world’s most-expensive phone is pretty impressive, even if it is several generations behind in technology. The outer frame is made of rose gold, with over 100 carats in flawless gems to adorn it. The navigation button is embellished with a 7.4-carat rare pink diamond, and the Apple logo tops the phone off with 53 more gems, which makes for an incredibly impressive piece. It’s enough to make a person want to take up Angry Birds, just to have an extra excuse to keep the bling front and center.
4. A Multi-purpose Lure: Fish, Women, and Mermaids
There’s really no telling what the people at the Bisbee’s Black and Blue were thinking when they unveiled a million-dollar lure as the star of their 26th annual marlin fishing tournament. It’s doubtful that the fish actually care that it’s loaded with 4,000 diamonds and rubies, so one can only guess that there must be mermaids lurking in Baja California. Since the tournament has come and gone with no word of who got to take the prize home, we can only assume that either some very unlucky angler got it snagged on something, or mermaids did, in fact, steal the gems for themselves.
5. A Real Human Skull
Understandably, the artist who created the piece named it “For the Love of God,” and much like the bedazzled iPhone, one has to wonder why. Damien Hirst somehow got his hands on real human skull from the 18th century and decided to make something of it. His other works include equally shocking things, like a shark forever suspended in a tank of formaldehyde, and a guppy done up the same way. Even still, the $99 million skull takes the cake. Hirst began by covering the entire skull, except the teeth, in platinum. Then, he added a rare 52-carat pink diamond to the center of the forehead, which he then surrounded with 8,600 flawless diamonds. Most of the skull is done up in white diamonds, though he chose black to cover the eye sockets and sinus cavities. Overall, it’s an astonishing 1,100 carats of deadly sparkle.
6. The World’s Most-Epic Chess Set
Artist Charles Hollander fancies himself as a creator of “toys for the billionaires,” and his collection is certainly proof that it’s true. His designs include things like a 30-carat black diamond pen, 33-carat black diamond lighter, a 200 carat roulette wheel, a 2071.48 carat backgammon game, and of course, an even more impressive chess set. The entire thing is set in 14 karat white gold, though the 330 artisans who worked on it also included some silver. The board is simple and elegant, though the pieces are incredibly decadent- totally encrusted in white or black diamonds. The piece contains 9,900 gems overall, for a total carat-weight of 186. There aren’t any prices or values listed on the website, but it’s safe to say that it’s well outside of an average person’s budget.
7. A TV that’s Crystal-Clear, Regardless of Reception
The world likes bling, which is probably why the Swarovski crystal phase kicked in. The less-expensive gems have covered everything from blenders to vacuums, and even BMWs, though not nearly as elegantly as diamonds could have. That’s probably why Keymat opted for the real thing when the company blinged up the Yalos TV. The edging around the screen is dotted with 160 beautiful diamonds, totaling at least 20 carats. Word on the street is that the world’s most expensive TV, at $130,000, can actually show images on its massive LCD screen as well. Of course, nobody will turn it on, because they’re all hypnotized by the sparkle. Who needs a TV when you have fire?
8. Earphone Covers to Coordinate with Your Blinged-Out iPhone or iPad
Obviously, the person who owns a diamond iPad or iPhone probably has everything he could ever want, which poses a problem when the holidays roll around. Thankfully, the good people at DEOS have come up with a solution for that difficult to buy for billionaire on your list. They’ve designed earphone covers (yes, covers, not actual earbuds), that are specially created to add pizzazz to Apple earphones. The covers come loaded with 9.5 carats of sparkle, scattered across 904 diamonds. While the white gems are grand for the low price of a few-thousand dollars, one can opt for colored stones as well, which can cost as much as $80,000.
9. A Golden Spoon, Free with Purchase of a Haute Chocolate Dessert
Apparently, Serendipity 3 in Manhattan wanted to do something huge for the restaurant’s 50th anniversary. Stephen Bruce, owner of the posh establishment, says that proceeds from the $25,000 Haute Chocolate dessert are donated to charity, which almost makes it a noble cause to order one. The mix itself is a blend of milk with 28 different rare and lavish cocoas, poured into a crystal goblet that is lined with gold foil. It’s topped off with whipped cream, the world’s most expensive truffle, and real gold flakes. Those who are lucky enough to taste one can take home the crystal goblet and diamond and gold spoon it’s served with. If the price tag is too steep, the restaurant also offers a $10,000 sundae, but there’s no mention of a free spoon with the dessert.
10. A Manicure Befitting of an Aspiring Starlet
Kelly Osbourne may have kicked off a unique trend with the manner in which she wore diamonds to the 2012 Emmys. Unlike other celebrities who slathered boring polish on their nails for the award ceremony, Ms. Osbourne’s fingernails glistened with $250,000 in crushed black diamonds. About a year later she topped herself with an impressive million-dollar mani, when she opted for white diamonds instead.
If you’ve ever wondered how the other half lives, this is it. Edible golden desserts eaten on diamond-encrusted spoons, fancy toys, and even fancier tech, make for a quite glamorous lifestyle. Unless, of course, you passed away in the 17th century and happen to be missing your head.
December 15, 2017
It’s said that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but some gems have a reputation for being dangerous, if not deadly. The 45.52-carat exquisite blue Hope Diamond is one such stone, arguably the most infamous gem of all time. People have yearned for it, fought for it, and stolen it repeatedly over its lifespan. Over the course of hundreds of years, countless owners of the stunning stone have suffered immeasurably. Is it possible that the gem is cursed, or are the tales of those who touched it simply embellished lore?
A 112-carat sparkling blue gem first appeared in the hands of Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, and some sources indicate the merchant was a thief. He made several trips to India, from his homeland of France, between 1640 and 1667. While there, he befriended Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. It’s unclear whether he did so in order to bolster his gem buying-power, or in preparation to deceive the ruler and steal the beautiful blue stone. As the legend goes, the massive gem was affixed to a statue of the goddess Sita, as was the case with several magnificent stones at the time.
Shah Jahan became ill in the late 1650s, and was dead within a matter of years. Many believe he was poisoned by Tavernier, who then pried the gemstone from the idol, thus beginning the diamond’s curse. He dubbed the stone “The Tavernier Blue,” took it back to France, and sold it to King Louis XIV. Despite their ongoing business relationship, the king eventually began making life difficult for his Protestant subjects. Louis XIV went so far as to issue an edict, forbidding Protestant subjects from leaving France. Tavernier ignored the law and fled to Russia. Some records suggest that he lived out his days in Moscow, while others indicate that he met an untimely demise, devoured by a pack of wild dogs.
In 1678, King Louis XIV had the stone cut down to 67 or 69 carats, and it was then referred to as the Blue Diamond of the Crown of France or the French Blue. It’s said that his mistress, Madame de Montespan, wore the gem, and was shortly thereafter forced into exile due to a massive scandal. It’s believed that the stone was also once worn by Minister of Finance Nicholas Fouquet, who immediately fell out of favor and was imprisoned by Louis XIV. The king kept the French Blue, though he was plagued by health problems for much of his life. He became overweight, and had symptoms of diabetes, as well as gout, periostitis, tooth abscesses, boils, an anal fistula, fainting spells, dizziness, and headaches. After a long and grueling battle, the king succumbed to gangrene.
After the gruesome death of King Louis XIV, the gem was worn by Louis XV, who subsequently died of smallpox. King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette were next to be ill-fated, arguably as a result of the diamond’s curse. Times were very turbulent, and the royal family became part of numerous alleged scandals. Antoinette was accused of everything from thievery to adultery, and discord grew among the people. The French Revolution ensued. Louis XVI was charged with undermining the government, and was beheaded at the guillotine in January of 1793. In October, his wife was found guilty of treason and was executed as well. Princess de Lamballe, a dear friend of Antoinette, is also rumored to have worn the gem once. Approximately a year before the king and queen were killed, the princess refused to denounce them. With the revolution underway, she was thrown to an angry mob, and died a horrific death. It’s said that her head was put upon a pike, and paraded under the queen’s window.
The French Blue was stolen with many other Crown Jewels during the revolution, and was missing for nearly 20 years. During this time, a large blue stone appeared in a portrait with England’s King George IV. He suffered a fate similar to King Louis XIV of France, though he died from gastrointestinal bleeding, with a massive tumor attached to his bladder and clear indicators of advanced heart disease. It is believed that the French Blue was cut down to the 45-carat Hope Diamond by a Dutch jeweler named Wilhelm Fals. He was murdered by his son, who then took his own life. Francis Beaulieu allegedly brought the stone to London and sold it to a dealer named Daniel Eliason. Beaulieu died in prison before receiving payment. It’s worth noting that the diamond did not resurface publicly until almost 20 years after it went missing in France, thus the statute of limitations made it impossible to prosecute the thieves.
Daniel Eliason, the first person on record to hold the Hope Diamond, sold it to Henry Thomas Hope around 1830. Eliason killed himself shortly after the sale. Hope included the impeccable blue gem in his jewelry catalogue. Within a year of its publication, he too, was dead. A huge family court battle over the Hope estate ensued, which lasted ten years. The gem was awarded to one of Henry Thomas Hope’s nephews, Henry Philip Hope, and it was passed down to Henrietta Hope. She then married Henry Pelham-Clinton, 6th Duke of Newcastle, who was plagued by gambling debts. Lord Francis Hope was the next owner of the gem, and he was forced to sell it due to his own debts, but not before his wife, May Yohe, wore it. She was a fairly successful musical theater starlet, though after coming in contact with the gem, the two divorced, her fame faded, and she muddled through several tempestuous relationships. A destitute Yohe openly blamed the Hope Diamond for her struggles before dying of kidney and heart disease in 1938.
Records of what occurred when the gem left the Hope family are sketchy, though each of the alleged new owners went mad, suffered financial ruin, or died under questionable circumstances. Some say Hope sold the diamond to Jacques Colot, who suffered a mental breakdown and killed himself. He sold it to Russian Prince Ivan Kanitovski, who lent the gem to, Mademoiselle Lorens Ladue. Like Yohe, Ladue was a starlet of the stage, and was incredibly unlucky in love. The prince, irritated that his affections were being wasted on Ladue, shot her during one of her performances. Kanitovski was executed with several of the royals a few years later, during the Russian Revolution. The Hope was also reportedly held briefly by a Greek dealer named Simon Maoncharides. Although it’s unclear whether he died by his own hand or was murdered, Maoncharides’ car veered off a cliff. His wife and young child perished with him.
Historians then place the Hope with diamond dealer Simon Frankel. Although Frankel was able to pass the Hope Diamond off, his business ran into financial difficulties and he dubbed the gem the “hoodoo diamond.” The dealer reportedly attempted to sell the radiant blue several times, but each of the new owners faced ill-fates as well, and subsequently sold it back to Frankel. Whether these individuals are fictional, or are of the aforementioned group, remains unclear. However, records indicate that Frankel managed a successful sale of the gem a Turkish collector named Selim Habib, who purchased it on behalf of Sultan Abdulhamid, the final authoritarian sultan the Ottoman Empire. Abdulhamid began to suffer from insanity, became increasingly paranoid, and even refused to go outside. Though Habib sold the gem in 1909 to cover his own personal debts, the sultan was deposed, and died in confinement in 1918. Habib allegedly drowned. It’s also worth noting that while the gem was in the sultan’s possession, a servant who polished it was jailed and tortured, one of the sultan’s concubines was stabbed to death after wearing it, the sultan’s treasurer was hanged for attempting to steal it, and the person in charge of guarding it was also hanged.
Simon Rosenau, a French dealer, was apparently able to hold the gem briefly without suffering any harm, and he sold it to Pierre Cartier, who then sold it to Evalyn Walsh McLean in 1911. Sadly, many of her family members became victims of the curse thereafter. Mrs. McLean did not believe in the $180,000 diamond’s curse. She wore it daily, and even fought with her doctor about having to take it off for a surgery. It’s also rumored that she affixed it to her dog’s collar for kicks, and hid it during parties to engage the guests in a game of hide-and-seek. Just two years after obtaining the gem, McLean’s mother-in-law died of pneumonia. A few years after that, her young son was hit by a car and died. Her husband suffered a mental breakdown, and the couple separated. He later died of alcohol-related issues in a sanatorium, and was followed in death by their daughter, who succumbed to a drug overdose at the age of 25. When McLean passed away, the gem was sold to cover her debts. She, too, had suffered financial difficulties.
Harry Winston purchased the Hope Diamond, and sent it away on tour before donating it to the Smithsonian Institution. Though people associated with the museum feel certain the diamond’s curse has been broken, it claimed one last victim before settling in. Within a year of delivering the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian, the postman who handled it was involved in two car accidents. One seriously damaged his leg, while the other left him with severe head trauma. His wife died of a heart attack, his dog was strangled on his leash, and the man’s house caught fire.
Some people claim that the curse of the Hope Diamond was invented by Harry Winston, in an attempt to get McLean to purchase the gem. Others believe that Yohe fabricated events, hoping to use the stories to edge her way back into the spotlight. On the other hand, the trail of disaster left in the stone’s wake may indicate otherwise.
December 02, 2017
Today, diamonds are generally thought of as a symbol of love, or are purchased to add an extravagant touch to a person’s wardrobe. Over the years, however, they’ve been considered tokens of good luck, as well as incantations of power, balance, health, and more. Certain cultures even believed the gemstones were evil, while others felt certain they had the ability to ward off evil. Each generation and group of people has had its own idea of where the stones come from, and also of what magical, mystical properties they might possess. Pulling from cultures all over the globe, here’s a quick look at what people have thought about diamonds over the centuries.
1. Diamonds can tell if an accused person is guilty of a crime.
When faced with the difficult task of determining someone’s guilt or innocence, Jewish high priests once relied on diamonds. They believed that the gem would glimmer and shine in the presence of someone who was blameless, but it would grow dark and dull if the person was impure or at fault.
2. Any ailment can be cured if a diamond is placed on the corresponding body part.
During the middle ages, the miracle stone would be placed on a person’s head to cure depression, nightmares, memory issues, and even fatigue. Laying the stone on one’s skin could also rid the individual of everything from gangrene to blisters. Regardless of the ailment, diamonds could cure it. If, for some reason, the diamonds failed, it was generally accepted that there weren’t enough gems present. In especially precarious situations, the afflicted person might also ingest diamond powder.
3. Diamonds are toxic and deadly.
Once people finally realized that the diamonds weren’t curing anyone, they figured the gemstones must be the cause of death. Thieves were discouraged from swallowing diamonds whole due to their toxicity, and powdered diamonds were used to poison people. Catherine de Medici reportedly used her own concoction to dispose of her opponents, and the mixture was effective. Nowadays, people tend to believe it was because her special blend contained a very potent toxin- arsenic. It’s also sometimes thought that crushed or powdered gems will damage the digestive tract, causing an excruciatingly painful death as the individual’s internal organs shred apart. This, too, has been debunked. Although it is possible to be injured by ingesting a diamond, it’s incredibly rare. Even the sharp ones typically pass through the body without causing an issue.
4. Diamonds can cure tooth decay.
People in Ancient India once filled their dental cavities with a mixture containing diamond powder. It’s largely believed they thought it would rid them of their decay, though it could have just been an attempt at a modern filling. Given the brilliance and hue, the mixture would have likely been near-undetectable and natural-looking once it was set.
5. Diamonds can make a person invincible.
The word diamond actually stems from the Greek word adamas, which roughly translates to impenetrable or indestructible. The gemstones were aptly named so because of their hardness, and those in Ancient Greece were hopeful that the properties of a diamond would rub off on them if they wore them. As such, soldiers often bedazzled their armor, believing it would make them stronger, and perhaps even invincible. Because of this, the gemstone also became a symbol of bravery or courage.
6. The icy gem can protect a person from danger and ward off evil.
There’s an Indian proverb that loosely translates to “He who wears a diamond will see danger turn away.” In other words, it wasn’t just a way to make a soldier invincible, the diamond could also ward off any type of ill-will.
7. Clarity of thought can be attained by wearing a diamond.
People of Ancient India attached all kinds of spiritual qualities to gemstones. They believed that the wearer of a diamond would have inner balance and be at peace.
8. Love will be in your life if you have diamonds.
Those in Ancient India also associated the stone with love, and believed that simply keeping the gem would help ensure their life was full of affection. Roman mythology takes the concept a step further, and sometimes indicates that Cupid’s arrows are diamond-tipped. Another related interesting tidbit is that Ancient Egypt is thought of as the first civilized culture to exchange wedding bands. The rings were often adorned with sun symbols to represent eternity. At the same time, they used diamonds to symbolize the sun. Ancient texts also reveal that the Egyptians believed that the fourth finger on the left hand led directly to the heart, so they took to wearing their wedding rings on that finger. The Greeks later adopted the philosophy and called it the “vena amoris,” which means vein of love. Present wedding band traditions are a true amalgamation which draws from practices that originated in India, Egypt, Rome, and Greece.
9. The gemstone can assist women in childbirth and help solve reproductive woes.
Supposedly, a culmination of the diamond’s powers made it highly beneficial for a woman to have while she was giving birth. At the same time, the curative properties of the gemstone enabled infertile couples to conceive. The concept may have also arisen because Greek philosophers believed that diamonds could actually reproduce on their own, provided they were placed in the dark after being sprinkled by morning dew.
10. Black diamonds can repair a broken marriage.
Due to their unique coloring and opacity, black diamonds have lore all their own. In the middle ages, they were believed to have the ability to strengthen a marriage and could even mend one that had fallen into total disrepair.
11. Bad fortune and shame falls upon those who possess diamonds.
Although Persians were involved in initial diamond trading, they had a different outlook on the gemstones altogether. They believed that anything flashy or haughty was sinful, and that many shimmering stones and metals were created by Satan to entice people away from godly living. As such, those who kept or wore precious gemstones were sure to be ill-fated.
12. Diamonds come from lightning bolts, and are gifts from the gods.
People of Ancient India didn’t know how diamonds were formed, so the legend that they were created by lightning strikes was passed on throughout generations. Vajra, or lightning, is what the gems were called, and Indra, the god of weather and war was responsible for their formation. Many historians believe this is why the Hindus often included the diamonds in temple artwork. Sometimes, the gems were also placed at the corners of a home to protect it from lightning strikes.
13. Diamonds can enhance psychic powers.
Perhaps it’s the stone’s clarity, or it coincides with the concept that the gem creates clarity of thought, or maybe it’s even a nod to the gods who created the gems, but the ancients often believed that possession of a diamond could enhance one’s psychic powers. On a side note, it’s believed that some of the largest diamonds in history were not only installed as accessories on temples, but they were used to represent the goddess’ third eye.
14. Diamonds are slivers of the stars that fell from the sky.
Romans, on the other hand, believed that the gemstones were a natural creation. They were simply bits of the stars that dropped down to earth. Interestingly, Greek culture doesn’t mirror them in this belief. Those in Ancient Greek tended to think the glistening stones were tears from the gods.
15. Certain diamonds hold extra powers, which can either ruin an individual’s life or ensure they rule the world.
The Koh-i-Noor, for example, is now part of the British Crown Jewels, and legend states that its owner can control the world. The infamous Hope Diamond comes with a legacy of bad luck, and anyone who owns it is sure to suffer and face trials.
It’s easy to see that there was no real consensus among ancient people about why diamonds were created and what purpose they might have. Even philosophers from the same time period and region would disagree about their origins. In medieval times, one apothecary would conclude the gemstones were poison, as he’d watched people pass away after coming in contact with them or ingesting them.
Another would argue that they could heal, because he, too, had seen their uncanny powers with his own eyes. Their dazzling brilliance could be the work of the devil, or a gift from the gods. The answer was wholly left up to the culture a person belonged to, and his or her own belief system. As the diamond trade spread and became a global affair, these differing beliefs merged, and formed the view that many people share today. While they can be a bit showy, or downright gaudy depending on who dons the gem, they are also still used as amulets for good luck and protection, and are included in both engagement and wedding bands today.
November 20, 2017
Whether you think of them as a “girl’s best friend,” a symbol of love, or a sign of class, diamonds have always held a special kind of allure. It’s as if each one was handcrafted to enchant, even though there are dozens of variations and particularities that can be graded. Because of the diversity, it’s easy to get lost in the options when searching for that special gemstone or piece of jewelry. Whether you’re shopping or just looking, it’s nice to be able to decode what each salesperson or description means, so you can browse with confidence.
1. Not all diamonds are natural.
Be aware that synthetic stones are commonly made, and sometimes jewelers will artificially enhance a colored stone’s hue. While this isn’t inherently wrong or bad, an artificial or enhanced gemstone is not as valuable as a natural one. Most retailers will openly tell you that your stone has been altered, but if you are specifically seeking a natural diamond, be sure to ask for certification or work only with reputable companies.
2. Authentic gem-quality stones go through a rigorous process.
Diamonds are mined throughout the world using various processes, and the natural ones are at least one-million years old. The stone that is produced is referred to as a “rough diamond.” Shortly after being mined, the stones are cleaned and sorted. Only the best ones are transferred to buyers for polishing and cutting- the rest are sent off to be used for industrial purposes.
3. Most of the world utilizes the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), and it’s a good idea to ask for your stone’s certificate.
Just about every reputable jeweler sources his diamonds from an industrialized and fair market. However, some miners use child labor or finance rebel movements with the money earned from the sale of their gemstones. These are referred to as “conflict diamonds” or “blood diamonds.” Stones that come with a Kimberley Certificate come from a trusted rough diamond seller and can be expected to be conflict-free.
4. Individual stones then are cut, polished, and graded.
There are various techniques used in diamond-cutting. The cutter works like an artist, choosing the form and shape that’s best to bring out the natural radiance of each stone. The cut and polished stone is what you will normally see in jewelry, though some jewelry makers also work with raw diamonds.
5. Once the cutter finishes, he will usually send the gem to a lab to have it graded, before it gets passed on to a jewelry maker.
Bear in mind that each jeweler and each jewelry-maker (which may be the same entity) have their own process, and long-term business arrangements often form between the cutter and the jewelry maker. As such, cut diamonds may be sold in bulk, with or without grades. Sometimes the jewelry maker will want to examine each individual stone, or will send them out for an additional grade-check. Labs who grade gemstones vary quite a bit as well, but a few are widely trusted and reputable.
- Gemological Institute of America (GIA)
- American Gemological Society (AGS)
- European Gemological Laboratory (EGL)
- International Gemological Institute (IGI)
6. Labs grade diamonds based on the Four C’s.
Of the four labs listed, GIA has a reputation for having the most-stringent requirements for a gemstone. When a gemologist assigns a grade, he looks at each stone’s carat weight, cut, color and clarity.
Carat weight is straightforward, and isn’t open to debate. This is the weight of the stone, and each carat is equal to 200 milligrams. It is abbreviated as CT. Generally speaking, the larger a stone is, the more imperfect it is likely to be, so if you want quality, do not purchase based on size alone. A large gemstone with many flaws may be less expensive/ less valuable than a small one that is near-flawless.
Cut is a little more complex. Diamond-cutters need to make very precise adjustments to each stone, so that it shines its very best.
Gems are Commonly Available in the Following Shapes
- Round Brilliant
- Emerald (rectangular)
- Princess (square)
- Radiant (octagonal)
Despite the variants, it’s not the shape of the stone that matters. What the gemologist truly wants to know is how the gem responds to light. If it is clear and cut well, it will catch the light beautifully. One trademark commonly seen in precisely-cut round stones is the “hearts and arrows” effect. If you look at the stone from the bottom, you’ll see perfectly symmetrical heart shapes, with the points all angled to the bottom point of the diamond. From the top, you’ll see perfectly symmetrical arrows pointing downward. Again, this is a hallmark of quality craftsmanship, but what the diamond-cutter is really trying to do is to enhance how light hits the stone and reflects outwardly. Ultimately, labs will typically assign a grade that falls somewhere between “Excellent” and “Poor” in regard to cut.
Cut is Graded on the Following Attributes
- Brightness/ Brilliance (the amount of light returned by the gem)
- Fire (the flashes of rainbow colors that reflect off the gem)
- Scintillation (overall sparkle, which can be seen as the gem moves)
- Weight Ratio
Color is usually determined by the naked eye, though some labs have sophisticated computer programs to assign a color grade now. The most highly sought-after gems are colorless, or near-colorless, though the vast majority of white diamonds tend to have some yellow in them. The color-scale begins with “D” and goes all the way through “Z.”
Diamond Color Scale
- Colorless (D, E, F)
- Near Colorless (G, H)
- Near Colorless/ Slightly Tinted (I, J)
- Faint Yellow (K, L, M)
- Very Light Yellow (N, O, P, Q, R)
- Light Yellow (S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z)
- True Yellow or Naturally Colored Diamonds are called “Fancy”
Clarity is complex, and is somewhat open to interpretation. In a broad sense, the lab is examining defects, and then determining how much of an impact each one has on how light reflects or on how well the gem glistens. The gemologist examines each piece at 10-times magnification, and makes note of any blemishes, or surface flaws, and also of any inclusions, or defects within the gem.
Things that Affect Clarity
- The size of the flaw
- The nature of the flaw (blemish or inclusion)
- The number of flaws
- The location of the flaws
- The relief of the flaw (how distinct it is)
Understandably, a diamond is more rare or valuable when it has fewer flaws, so those with better clarity scores are more desirable. However, different labs use alternate rating scales, and decoding the grade is not always simple to do. For better guidance, the next part will have the scale that the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) uses, as well as the grading system from the American Gemological Society (AGS).
Clarity Grading Scales
- Flawless or Internally Flawless (Flawless, IF / 0)
- Very Very Slightly Included (VVS1, VVS2 / 1, 2)
- Very Slightly Included (VS1, VS2 / 3, 4)
- Slightly Included (SI1, SI2 / 5, 6, 7)
- Included (I1, I2, I3 / 7, 8, 9, 10)
7. Fancy or colored diamonds are the result of another element integrating when the diamond formed.
For example, nitrogen will make a diamond yellow, while boron will give it a blue hue. The intensity of the color will vary from stone to stone, and these will receive a color grade of Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Vivid, or Fancy Intense.
8. No two diamonds, even of the same grade, are alike.
If you’re shopping and examining individual gemstones or similar pieces of jewelry, prices may differ for this reason. If you’d like to understand why one is more valuable than the other, ask the jeweler. A reputable jeweler takes pride in his stock, and will gladly show you how two seemingly similar stones differ.
9. You can have your gemstone etched.
If you’d like to have another unique identifier added to your diamond, many jewelers can have it laser etched. A hopeless romantic may opt for a name or a date, but most people choose to have the diamond’s certification number etched into it for identification purposes.
Regardless of a particular stone’s grade and estimated value, what really matters is its value to you. Although these things are helpful to know if you want to make sure you are paying for what you receive, and also if you want to insure your piece, your personal opinion is what matters most. If you want a colored stone, versus a traditional white one, go for it. If you prefer to have a larger gem, and love it despite its inclusions, that’s ok. If you want a flawless gem, but your budget requires that you choose one with a low carat weight, that is just fine as well. In the end, you will be the one to wear it, and you deserve to love it, regardless of what a certificate says or what its financial value is. If you choose the stone that speaks to you, you will never go wrong.
November 15, 2017
Diamonds. Bling. Ice. No matter what you call them, the term always has a glittering connotation. It’s no wonder, considering that this highly sought after gem is the go-to sign of glamour and beauty. Set into jewelry, or adorning exquisite works of art, the diamond has always been a sign of luxury and privilege. Don’t let their radiance fool you, though, these beauties are also incredibly tough. The Mohs scale, a system of determining and ranking minerals by hardness, was actually designed with them in mind. They rank as a 10, sitting at the top of the scale, while super-soft talc, for example, rates a mere 1. This means that they’re incredibly useful for things besides displays of wealth, and are integrated into many everyday items. More than likely, you’ve come across the gemstones, or quite likely used them, without even realizing it.
1. Dental Work
Dental tools have changed a lot over the years, but all modern dentists, and their patients, are familiar with the drill. Just as a handyman would change out the bits on the end of his drill, the dentist uses different burs for each kind of restoration. Carbide has been the material of choice for burs for a long time, due to its strength and durability, but nowadays, more dentists are choosing to use diamond-plated steel burs, because they hold up even better.
2. Taking X-Rays
Interestingly, real diamonds do not show up on x-rays. They’re also resistant to heat, and because they’re resilient, as well as transparent, they make ideal covers for the tubes on x-ray machines. Manufacturers often choose to use thin diamond membranes instead of glass on lasers and vacuum chambers, too.
3. Industrial Cutting
Tools made of diamonds are used in other professions besides dentistry. Just about any time someone has to cut through something extremely hard, a diamond tool is used. Like the dental bur, most of these tools are made of a durable metal, and are then given a gem-coating. Drill bits are often used in the mining and oil industries, while saws are routinely utilized in construction, stone-cutting, woodworking, and numerous other industries. It’s worth noting that these tools don’t actually cut. They work more like abrasive sandpaper, grinding away small bits at a time.
Have you ever wondered how they make granite counter tops so shiny? A lot of the time, diamonds are used to polish granite, and also things like marble and concrete. Industrial machines or polishing discs are used, just like sandpaper. The pros start out using very coarse discs, and go over an object repeatedly, each time switching the disc out for one with a finer texture. Eventually, all the blemishes are gone, and the surface is smooth and shiny. Even concrete can take on a sleek, glossy finish if it’s handled properly.
5. Listening to Music or Conferences
Silence may be golden, but to achieve crisp, clear audio, it requires diamonds. Most speakers rely on the vibration of a dome to reproduce sounds. Inexpensive loudspeakers use aluminum or other cheap materials for the dome. High-quality, high-frequency systems produce better sound because they use diamond domes. While aluminum can bend and distort, especially with heat, diamond domes remain stiff and unchanged. This is largely why a high-end system sounds better right away, and will continue producing superior sound for a longer period of time.
6. Micro-Bearings in Mechanical Devices
Many mechanical devices, such as watches and medical equipment, have tiny ball-bearing systems within their internal workings. As these balls move and glide, they can become hot or damaged. Because diamonds resist this, they’re often used in micro-bearings on high-end mechanics to deliver exceptional performance and to improve longevity.
7. Durable Mechanics
Sometimes, especially with things like luxury mechanical watches, manufacturers need to be sure that parts won’t wear out or become damaged over time. Wheels, gears, dials and other integral parts are often coated with diamonds to help ensure they stand the test of time. In these situations, synthetic diamond vapor is usually used. Parts that are prone to wear are exposed to the vapor, and it settles on the top, creating a hard outer shell.
8. Cooling Electronic and Mechanical Devices
Electronics mechanical devices get hot when they operate, and they break down or malfunction when the temperature isn’t managed. These kinds of machines or gadgets rely on heat sinks to transfer the heat away from the working components, and into a fluid medium. To be clear, this is the definition of “fluid” as it applies in the realm of physics, so the fluid medium can be air, water, a coolant, or something else. A lot of the time, heat sinks are made out of aluminum, because it’s a cheap and moderately effective material. Copper does a better job, so it’s used in things like HVAC systems, geothermal heating and cooling systems, and electronic devices. However, it’s also more expensive, so manufacturers tend to use it as a mid-range option. Some things, like laser diodes, LED lights, and microelectronics, get extremely hot, and are incredibly sensitive to temperature variants. Whereas copper is about twice as effective as aluminum, diamonds are five-times more effective than copper, which makes them the ideal choice for keeping delicate devices cooler.
9. Listening to Records
Although records aren’t played as often as they used to be, newer phonographs use diamonds to produce better sounds than the older versions did. You probably know that records have grooves cut in them in a circular pattern, but what you may not be aware of is that it’s variations within those grooves that actually creates the sounds you hear. As the record turns, the needle hits these little imperfections, and it vibrates, producing what your ears interpret as music. If the grooves were wider, just about any hard material would make noise when it hits it, but records have very fine channels, which are loaded with beautiful-sounding “defects.” In order for the player to pick up on all the minuscule details, the needle has to be incredibly tiny, which means it also has to be exceedingly strong, so it doesn’t break or wear down too fast. This is where the diamond comes in. Older needles were typically made of steel or hardened steel. Newer ones tend to be made out of sapphire or diamonds, so they continue to produce quality sound for a longer period of time.
10. Beauty Treatments
Jewelry is the easy go-to when it comes to looking gorgeous with gemstones, but some stars have come up with incredibly novel ways to use them instead. For instance, entertainer Jennifer Lopez is rumored to be a fan of a diamond-dust exfoliating cream. Supposedly, she goes through a $250 jar of it every month, and she credits it with reducing her cellulite and enabling her spray tans to last longer. On the other side of the spectrum, personality Kelly Osbourne has gotten not one, but two, diamond manicures. For the 2012 Emmys, her finger nails glistened with $250,000 in black diamonds. About a year later, she received a million-dollar mani with white diamonds for another event.
Throughout the generations, many cultures have believed that diamonds have the ability to handle all kinds of medical ailments. Although there’s no scientific evidence they have any benefit in this respect, researchers at Cardiff University discovered they can actually help cancer patients. Apparently, nanodiamonds, which are incredibly tiny particles, 1,000-times smaller than a strand of hair, can be used as a carrier for drugs, depositing them directly inside cells. What’s more, is that they may also be used to help scientists see what’s happening inside tissues and cells. Many different materials are used as fluorophores, but organic ones tend to wear out fast, and inorganic ones are often toxic, and break down the cells. Nanodiamonds, on the other hand, are highly compatible with human tissues, long-lasting, and can help provide accurate measurements. Although scientists are still perfecting their techniques and working out ways to make the process less expensive, the concept could hit mainstream medicine in the very near future.
If you’re a gemstone aficionado, it probably mortifies you to hear that diamonds are wasted on industrial uses and other seemingly impractical things. Most of the time, these things are created with synthetic diamonds, not those mined for jewelry. Some sources indicate that almost 99% of all industrial diamonds are actually synthetic, or created specifically to be used on saws, drill bits, and such. Other times, diamonds that are mined just don’t make the cut where quality is concerned. It’s estimated that around 80% of all those that are mined fit into this category, and can’t be made into bling. These are the ones that are turned into powder or coatings for industrial or personal use. So, no, your dentist can’t really use them as his excuse for sky-high prices, because they work out to be an incredibly economical choice when made into tools. Jennifer Lopez’s exfoliating cream, though, that’s something else altogether.
November 05, 2017
Diamonds are eternal symbols of love and prosperity. Many of us are lucky enough to own a few of these beautiful gems, or perhaps even a piece or two of high-quality jewelry. For the average person, this is as much as we can aspire to attain, yet a select few have managed to amass incredibly lavish collections of the finest gems that can be found. Some collections contain pieces so extravagant that the carat weight of one gem is greater than the total number of carats the rest of us will touch in a lifetime. These are the stories of seven such collections, full of glittering decadence that few will ever behold.
1. The British Crown Jewels
When people think of amazing collections, the British Crown Jewels often top the list. It’s impossible to put a value on the stunning assortment, though the experts who have tried generally place it between three and five billion pounds. Mind you, these are the pieces owned by the government, and not by the family, and they’re usually set aside for coronations or other important events. Although the queen is known for wearing a few items out to public events, much of what the royal family wears on a regular basis belongs to them. The Crown Jewels tend to be on display at the Tower of London, where millions of visitors flock to catch a glimpse. It took hundreds of years to amass the extensive collection. A few of the most notable and well-known pieces are detailed below.
- Imperial State Crown (2,868 diamonds, including the 104-carat Cullinan II diamond, plus hundreds of pearls, as well as some sapphires, emeralds, and rubies)
- Sceptre with the Cross (dozens of diamonds, including the 530.2-carat Cullinan II diamond, plus emeralds, rubies, sapphires, spinels, and amethyst)
- Crown of Queen Elizabeth (2,800 diamonds, including the 105.6-carat Koh-i-Noor diamond)
2. The Aurora Gems
The Aurora gem collections aren’t as well-known as they deserve to be. Harry Rodman, a gold refiner who came from a family of notable jewelers, worked with fancy diamond expert Alan Bronstein to create two of the world’s most amazing collections of colored diamonds. Both of the sets have gone on museum tours and the Pyramid of Hope still resides at the Natural History Museum of London. Its unique display case allows visitors to view the sparkling gems in natural light, or watch them fluoresce under UV light. Either collection is truly a sight to behold.
- Aurora Pyramid of Hope (296 diamonds with representations of each color family, weighing a total of 267 carats, and set in a large artistic pyramid display)
- The Aurora Butterfly of Peace (240 diamonds, weighing a total of 167 carats, laid out in the form of an incredibly dazzling butterfly)
- A 2.5-carat rare chameleon diamond, which changes color from dark olive-green to an intense yellow (purchased by accident, Rodman thought it was a standard, but rare, green diamond)
3. The Iranian-National Royal Jewels
Iran has a rich history and was heavily involved in the early days of diamond trading. In fact, the famous 105.6-carat Koh-i-Noor diamond, which is now part of the British Crown Jewels, and is still claimed by India as its own, was also in Iranian hands at one point. Per Iran’s records, most of their precious gems were lost or stolen, and their present collection was largely pieced together several-hundred years ago. Even today, the country is rather secretive about the status of their gemstones, and will not permit some of the larger pieces to be photographed. Despite this, their collection is incredible, even if only a select few know what some of the pieces look like today.
- Thousands of loose diamonds, including the Taj Mah at 115 carats
- The Daria-i-Noor, a 182-carat pale-pink diamond
- Jewel-Studded Globe (51,000 gemstones including diamonds, emerald, rubies, and spinels)
- The Pahlavi Crown (3,380 diamonds weighing a total of 1,144 carats, including a 60-carat yellow diamond, plus 369 pearls, as well as several emeralds and sapphires)
- The Iranian Yellows (23 yellow diamonds, ranging in size from 152.16 carats to 38.18 carats)
4. Oprah Winfrey’s Private Collection
According to the American Gem Society, talk show host Oprah Winfrey has an impressive diamond collection worth over $100 million. Interestingly, she’s also quite generous with the gems, and has given away diamond bracelets, earrings, and necklaces to those who have attended her show over the years. She has also auctioned off several pieces of jewelry, including a $50,000 pair of pink diamond earrings. Unlike other celebrities who tend to borrow extravagant jewelry for galas and events like the Oscars, Oprah has said that she only wears her own. Of course, with a $100 million collection, one has little need to borrow. A few of her most notable pieces per AGS records are detailed below.
- A diamond eternity ring
- Diamond chandelier earrings
- A Riviera necklace (worn to the Oscars in 1996)
- A 7-diamond necklace, accented with a rare pink diamond
5. Elizabeth Taylor’s Private Collection
A jewelry collection amassed by Elizabeth Taylor fetched $137.2 million at Christie’s in 2011. Considering that her name is nearly synonymous with glamor, it seems a paltry price. Of course, this wasn’t her entire collection, as the maven sold off pieces throughout her entire life. For instance, she parted ways with the famous 68-carat Taylor-Burton Diamond, which she wore as a necklace, back in the 1970s. Perhaps what’s most interesting about Taylor’s collection is that, despite the extravagance of the pieces, she wore many of them in everyday life. Quite a few of the pieces that went to auction were gifts from her former husband, Richard Burton.
- The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond (A 33-carat potentially internally flawless D-Color diamond ring, which she supposedly wore almost every day)
- La Peregrina (a necklace with 203 pearls, as well as diamonds and rubies)
- Richard Burton Ruby and Diamond Ring (a massive ruby, encircled in diamonds, with a total weight of 8.24 carats)
- Bulgari Emerald Suite (a necklace, pendant, ring, bracelet, and earrings, all done up in emeralds and diamonds, with a total carat weight of 52.72 and an estimate value just shy of $6 million)
6. Huguette Clark’s Personal Collection
Although she wasn’t a star or royalty, the copper heiress Huguette Clark had an incredible collection of jewelry. Perhaps it seems odd to include her in this list when there are so many others that are well-known who certainly had larger collections. However, Clark is a little different in that she has a slight air of mystery about her, and she grew very reclusive as she aged. She lived to be 104 years old, and rather than spending her last 20 years in one of her three mansions, the healthy heiress surrounded herself with dolls in a small hospital room.
- A 9-carat purplish pink diamond, valued at almost $16 million
- An American flag broach (diamonds, rubies, and sapphires worth about $80,000)
- A 19.86-carat, potentially internally flawless D-color diamond ring
- An art deco diamond bracelet with approximately 100 gems, valued at about half-a-million dollars
7. Lily Safra’s Private Collection
It’s unknown how large Lily Safra’s total private collection is, but a grouping that she auctioned off in 2012 for charity fetched more than $35 million. The Brazilian billionaire came from more modest beginnings, and gained her wealth through several marriages. Since losing her fourth husband in a 1999 fire, Safra has become well-known for her global philanthropic efforts. The auction of her jewelry, entitled “Jewels for Hope” contained 70 pieces and the proceeds were intended to benefit 20 different charities. By the time it was complete, Safra had generated enough to benefit another 12 charities, and Christie’s had concluded the biggest charity auction in their history. Some of the most extravagant pieces from the auction are highlighted below.
- A 34.05-carat D-color VVS1 diamond ring, which sold for $5.1 million
- A pair of pear-shaped D-color VVS1 and VVS2 diamond earrings totaling over 38 carats, which sold for over $5 million
- A 32.08-carat Burmese ruby and diamond ring, which sold for $6.7 million
- A 31.21-carat Burmese sapphire and diamond ring, which sold for $676,588
- A peridot and diamond set consisting of a pair of earrings and a broach, valued at $171,575
- An art deco bracelet with approximately 200 individual gems, valued at $171,575
- Diamond and emerald eglantine necklace (wide-collar floral-design necklace totally covered in gemstones), which sold for $1.1 million
Looking at these amazing collections, it’s clear that the world has always had a love affair with diamonds. Royal families, celebrities, and the elite from every corner of the globe have been gathering gems for thousands of years. Perhaps it’s worth noting that each of these collections took decades, and even spans of 100 years or more, to accumulate. For instance, Elizabeth Taylor’s emerald Bulgari suite was pieced together over the span of five years, just by itself. Just as Rome was not built overnight, these extensive assortments represent years of dedication and effort as well. If you’re working on your own collection, and feeling gem-envy, take heart. With each new addition you’re building Rome.
October 20, 2017
Very few things on earth have the ability to take our breath away quite like a diamond does. Even ancient civilizations knew there was something special about the exquisite stones, and believed that they held all kinds of magical powers. These days, we know better, but that doesn’t diminish our fascination with the icy enchantress one bit. Despite their general allure, some of the gemstones are especially unique, incredibly valuable, or exceedingly rare. As if handcrafted by a supernatural force for royalty and the elite, these few diamonds are the creme de le creme.
All gemstones have a history, but none have a past quite as extensive as the Koh-i-Noor. It didn’t receive its name until the 1700s, which makes it difficult for historians to track it with total accuracy, but before it was cut, it weighed in at 186 carats, and was the largest diamond on record. So, although nobody can say for certain where it’s been, when word of a colossal diamond creeps up in ancient texts, experts can make a fairly solid educated guess as to whether it was the Koh-i-Noor or not. The first historical text to mention it, by any name, placed the gem in the hands of Emperor Babur in the 1500s. He was an Asian warlord who went into India, and established the Mughal Empire. Theoretically, he could have brought the massive stone with him after picking it up on a prior conquest, though most people agree it was actually mined in India, and adorned a Hindu temple as the Goddess’ eye at one time. This is only relevant because both India and Pakistan claim the Koh-i-Noor rightfully belongs to their country. For the record, the dazzler’s name is actually Persian for “Mountain of Light,” and it currently resides with the British Crown Jewels. Perhaps it’s the sheer value of the gem, or the legend that says its owner will rule the world, or the fact that the Brits took it “fair and square” when they began their rule in India, but whatever the reason, the monarch has no plans to let the Koh-i-Noor go anywhere anytime soon.
2. Carbonado do Sergio
If rare diamonds are of more interest to you, you may take an interest in the Carbonado do Sergio, or “Sergio” for short. For starters, it’s a natural black diamond, which makes it fairly rare already. These opaque beauties are sometimes called carbonados, and get their color from graphite. They are only found in two places in the entire world- the Central African Republic and Brazil. Many scientists believe it’s because they weren’t actually formed on earth. Instead, they’re the result of a supernova which occurred some 3.8 billion years ago, and fell to the earth about 2.3 billion years ago as a meteorite.
Experts hypothesize that the two regions where carbonados are found were once joined together, and that’s where the meteorite hit. Considering how unlikely it is for them to be here on earth in the first place, it’s almost astounding to find out that the heaviest diamond ever discovered is a carbonado.
Despite the fact that Sergio was found more than 100 years ago in Bahia, Brazil, no other rough diamond has come close to it for weight. Seeing as how it tipped the scales at 3167 carats, it would certainly be out of this world if another of its size was discovered.
3. The Cullinan Diamond
The closest rival Carbonado do Sergio has in regard to size is The Cullinan Diamond. In all fairness, though, the Cullinan takes the cake… and the sceptre… and the crown. If you’re thinking that’s because it’s part of the Royal Jewels, you’re correct. The 3106.75-carat stone was gifted to the King of England in 1905. As one would expect of a gem of that size, a fairly serious defect was found in the unfortunate center of the stone. However, most of it was beautifully-radiant, and so it was cut into 105 different stones. Although that may sound like a lot, nine of them were still incredibly massive, and look twice as stunning without the defect.
- Cullinan I aka the Great Star of Africa is the largest of the group, at 530.2 carats. It is normally set in the Sceptre with the Cross, though it can be worn as a pendant or in a brooch.
- Cullinan II aka the Second Star of Africa is the second-largest, at 317.4 carats. It is normally set in the Imperial State Crown, though it sometimes accompanies the Cullinan I in a brooch.
- Cullinan III, one of the two Lesser Stars of Africa, is 94.4 carats. It was used to adorn Queen Mary’s crown, though she took to wearing her crown as an unadorned circlet after just a few years.
- Cullinan IV, the second of the two Lesser Stars of Africa, is 63.6 carats. It shared the same fate as its sister, and both were eventually made into a brooch, which Queen Elizabeth II has worn in public on several occasions. It’s rumored that she affectionately calls the pair of gems “Granny’s Chips.”
- Cullinan V-IX do not have any special titles, and range in size from 18.8 carats to 4.4 carats. Each one is worn in a brooch, pendant, or ring.
4. The Incomparable
During the early 1980s, mines in the Congo took to discarding piles of rubble that were believed to be fruitless, by essentially abandoning them. It’s unclear whether a gentleman picked up the trash, and moved it to his home next door, or if his young niece simply ventured over to the mine’s rubbish heap out of childhood curiosity, but amidst the trash, she saw something glistening. It was an 890-carat rough yellowish brown diamond- one of the largest diamonds ever unearthed. The girl gave it to her uncle, who sold it for a tidy sum, and the gem changed hands several times until it wound up with a well-known jeweler.
The stone was almost perfect on the inside, but it was oddly-shaped and the exterior was a nightmare, even for an experienced cutter. As such, the owners went back and forth over a period of years, trying to determine whether they could top the Cullinan I for size, or if they should remove all the flaws, and have a near-perfect gem. In the end, they opted to shoot for perfection, and a 407.78-carat, internally-flawless, gem was the result. Although the Incomparable was rated Fancy Yellowish Brown, the 14 companion stones cut from it ranged quite a bit in color.
Ultimately, the largest of the group became known as the third-largest polished diamond in the world, and also the largest internally-flawless diamond in the world. In 1988 it went to auction, but didn’t sell. Although it fetched the highest bid a single stone had ever received up until that point, a cool $12 million, it didn’t meet the $20 million reserve. In 2002, it appeared on eBay for $15 million, but went unsold again. While it may be true that a gemstone is only worth what the market will bear, it’s undeniably clear that the Incomparable is doing pretty well for rubbish.
5. The Golden Jubilee
Interestingly, the Golden Jubilee is a Thai royal diamond that overthrew England’s Cullinan I for the title of world’s largest cut and faceted diamond. In its original state, it was part of a 755.5-carat stone that was pulled from the same mine as Cullinan I. It required two years of work to get the brown gem to take its final form, and all the cutting had to be done in a special underground chamber, designed to prevent vibrations from ruining the work. Unlike many famous gemstones, this one doesn’t have a sketchy past. In fact, quite the opposite.
Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej was in the hospital after suffering from a heart attack, and the Royal Grandmother had recently passed away as well. Much of the country was still mourning, and they had concerns over the health of their king. It was nearly the 50th anniversary of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s coronation, so a group of people wanted to do something extra special to brighten his spirits and encourage his health. Henry Ho purchased the gem, and took it on a tour of sorts. He had it blessed by Pope John Paul II, the Supreme Imam and the Supreme Buddhist Patriarch in Thailand. Finally, the one-of-a-kind beauty was presented to the king who, by the way, made a full recovery.
Perhaps diamonds do have mystic healing properties after all. Whether or not the blessings associated with the Golden Jubilee had an effect on King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s recovery, the world may never know. What we do know, however, is that these gemstones hold a special kind magic of their own. We truly can’t help but be enchanted by them. Regardless of size, color, weight, or clarity, each one is breathtaking in its own way, though without a doubt, some are sure to leave you absolutely speechless.
October 15, 2017
When you have something as mysterious and elusive as a diamond, people will always try to fill in the gaps of their knowledge with educated guesses. If something is repeated often enough, it eventually begins to be thought of as fact. For instance, those in Ancient India called the diamond “vajra,” a Sanskrit word which translates to lightning. They believed the gemstones were formed when lightning struck, and were therefore a gift from the gods. In Ancient Greece, the word was “adamas,” meaning indestructible, or unyielding, yet the underlying concept of their creation was similar. The diamonds were simply bits of the stars that had broken off and fallen to earth.
Nowadays, we know that some of the gems, specifically black diamonds, are the result of a meteorite strike that happened billions of years ago. Granted, people weren’t around then, but the ancients did a pretty fair job of explaining the presence of diamonds given their lack of knowledge and technology. They were still wrong, but the slivers of near-fact surely gave the explanations credit as they circulated all those years ago. We may have come a long way, but we still continue to perpetuate diamond myths, which means that there’s a good chance you’ve heard (and possibly even believe) some of them. Today, we’re debunking a few of those common misconceptions once and for all.
Myth #1: The Diamond Trade is a Monopoly, Completely Managed by the De Beers Company
Busted: The De Beers Company dates back quite some time. Initially, diamonds were found in certain riverbeds and shores in India. Then, they were discovered in Brazil. In the late 1800s they were discovered in South Africa, on a farm owned by a pair of brothers with the last name De Beers. The brothers sold their land, and 50,000 miners, both independent and corporate, descended on the property. Understandably, this was highly problematic. With no single leader managing all the activities, the area was chaotic and dangerous. The groups then joined forces under the name “De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited.” Yes, this amalgamation of companies took hold, and at one point experts said they handled as much as 90% of the world’s diamonds. Today, they only have about 20% of the market, though as much as 35% of rough diamonds are sold in bulk only to companies on a list created and managed by De Beers. For comparison, the Russian company Alrosa has a 27% market share, annihilating De Beers in terms of control. Any way you look at it, at least 65% of the market remains totally untouched by the De Beers Company, and of the 35% that use the bulk buyer list prepared by De Beers, about 14% are different African governments. That’s a lot of numbers to take in, but the bottom line is that De Beers touches 20% of the stock, 11 companies control about 73%, and the remaining 7% is managed by numerous other entities.
Myth #2: Sales from Diamonds Fund Wars and Rebel Activities
Busted: It came to light in the 1990s that rebel forces throughout South Africa were indeed using money made from diamond sales to fund their activities. Not only did they use child labor and slave labor to gather the gems, but they then used the profits to purchase weapons to attack established governments. The diamonds mined and sold in this fashion became known as “blood diamonds” and “conflict diamonds.” In 2000, leaders from various South African states met and collaborated on ways to put an end to the behavior. In the end, the United Nations General Assembly decided to run with the idea of the Kimberley Process. Jurisdictions that utilize certain policies to ensure their stock is fairly produced and sold are allowed to opt into the program, and their rough bulk sales receive Kimberley certification. These jurisdictions agree to trade only with other certification participants, and all exports must have documentation. Today, it’s estimated that 99.8% of the word’s producing countries participate in the program. Stock from the remaining 0.02% is not able to infiltrate the conflict-free supply, which means that if you live in, or purchase from, 99.8% of the world, you can rest comfortably knowing your beautiful gemstones are conflict-free.
Myth #3: Diamonds aren’t as Rare as People Think, only Gem Quality diamonds are rare
Busted: When people begin to dissect the industry, they see how huge mining is. The mere fact that much of it relies on heavy machinery and that the gems are collected in bulk indeed suggests that there are lots of them available for mining. Here’s the catch- it’s estimated that about 80% of all of those that are mined don’t meet quality standards to be gems, and they are used for industrial purposes instead. They’re ground down to coat tools and to perform other utilitarian tasks. So, when you look at the famous Cullinan mine of South Africa, it produces an estimated 800,000 carats annually, of which only 160,000 carats could be gem-quality. Even still, “gem quality” is a broad term.
A gem can be cloudy, have inclusions, and be discolored. It’s not so difficult to procure a gem that has light or very light color, but to find a D-grade colorless gem is indeed rare. Similarly, it’s not so difficult to find a stone with inclusions, but it is highly uncommon to find a flawless gem. So, yes, the world is full of inferior stones that are used in tools, and there are plenty of “gem-quality” stones that make their way into inexpensive box-store jewelry as well. However, the most beautiful, radiant diamonds are indeed rare, which is why they’re also expensive. Naturally, the larger they are, the more uncommon they are, which also adds to their value. You can purchase a drill bit, strap it to a band, and tell everyone you have a diamond ring. Obviously, it doesn’t have the same effect as it would if you show them a flawless 100-carat diamond, like the one that recently sold at auction for $22 million.
Myth #4: Colored Diamonds are Inferior or Less Expensive
Busted: The value of a colored, or fancy, diamond will vary depending on who you speak to. On the one hand, you will find people who say that they’re less valuable, because they don’t have the same rainbow of fire that a white diamond will. On the other hand, some people will say that fancy diamonds are more valuable, simply because they’re rarer than the white variety. The truth is that it’s a lot more complicated than that. Fancy diamonds are graded based on their color intensity. It’s not so difficult to find one that’s tinted yellow- this will still fall on the chart as a white diamond, though it will be graded on the lower end of the scale. If all other grades are equal, a vivid fancy yellow is likely to cost hundreds, if not thousands, more than a basic fancy yellow. This disparity is true across all hues of fancy diamonds. With that said, it’s possible that the scale can go either way, depending on how vivid the stone is, and how rare the individual color is.
When you get into extremely rare colors, like red, they will almost always be more expensive than their white counterparts. The Moussaieff Red Diamond, for example, is a 5.11-carat, fancy red gem, with an estimated value of $20 million. Considering that the auctioned stone mentioned in the prior section was a flawless 100-carat white worth $22 million, it’s easy to see that there is no comparison value-wise. The white was worth $2,200,000 per carat, and the red more than $3,900,000 per carat. One must also take into account trends and scarcity. When Jennifer Lopez received a 6.1-carat vivid fancy pink diamond engagement ring (worth an estimated $1.1 million) from Ben Affleck, you can bet the world took notice. Women all over the globe wanted one of their own, and stores everywhere began selling out of the rare gemstone. It wasn’t possible for stores to simply stock more, because there weren’t any, so the prices went up. On the other end of the spectrum, you might find a brown or champagne-colored gem for slightly less than its white counterpart, but, again, it truly depends on the intensity of the color. In short, you might as well be comparing apples to oranges.
As you can see, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions still circulating about diamonds and the industry as a whole. It’s kind of like a children’s game of telephone, where each child whispers a secret phrase into the ear of the kid seated next to him, and he repeats it to his neighbor, and so on. The phrase may start out as, “I want a 6.1-carat vivid fancy pink diamond like Jennifer Lopez had,” but by the end of it, the final person may say, “I want a fancy pink giant like General Lopez had.” Yes, that’s utter nonsense, but then again, so are some of these myths.