Archduke of Austria gave his beautiful bride-to-be, Mary of Burgundy, a large diamond set in a simple ring. As he placed this ring on the fourth finger of her left hand and said, "Will you marry me?", a tradition was born. And no nobler tradition exists today than that of giving nature's most beautiful gift to someone you cherish as a representation of the love you share.
There is no better gemstone to represent our deepest and most personal emotions than the diamond. Not only is it the hardest natural substance. It is also the purest - pure carbon - crystallized under amazing amounts of heat and pressure deep within the earth's mantle.
The ancient Greeks believed diamonds to be crystallized dewdrops and splinters from the stars given to mortals as gifts from the gods of Olympus. They referred to the diamond as "adamas" or unconquerable - suggesting the eternity of love it so rightfully represents.
Did you know that diamonds are more than just pretty?
The diamond is one of earth's most rare gifts. Statistics show that an average of a million carats of diamonds must be mined to find a one-carat stone. That means a one-carat diamond is really one-in-a-million! About 250 tons of earth must be excavated to find that same one-carat stone. You really are moving mountains for your loved one when you give the gift of a diamond!
The beauty of the diamond, even in its unpolished state, has long been cherished by civilizations around the world. African Shamans, holy men within a tribe, treasured the diamond for its beauty and power. It was an ancient and eternal symbol of a perfected man whose divine spirit shines forth through the protection it offers.
Diamond has long been heralded as the philosopher's stone. It is said that he (or she) who possesses the philosopher's stone can find supreme and unalterable wisdom, knowing Truth, the greatest of all treasures. To the mystic the diamond represents perfect love - a love that transmutes all that is lifeless to immortal.
The diamond has long been a symbol of man in search of his divine spirit. As the rough diamond is born from the ground dull and lifeless, so the spiritual man begins his journey in the world with his true luminosity hidden. In the hands of a skilled lapidary, the diamond is transformed into a crystal of light and fire. Such is the spirit of man revealing its inherent beauty as it is ground and polished by the life he lives.
Because it was believed that diamonds endowed the wearer with gifts from the gods, they were often mounted into the swords and breastplates of Kings. Thought to provide personal strength, invincibility, courage and magical powers over enemies, warriors stayed clear of anyone wearing diamonds in battle. It's no wonder the King always came out of battles alive. But was it the fact that warriors avoided them or was it because diamonds are indeed magical?
And you thought diamonds were just pretty!
Quality + Beauty = Value
You may have heard or read somewhere that the value of a diamond is determined by it quality or grade. The fact of the matter is, that while quality is very important to a diamond's value, it's real value can't be determined without considering how it looks to you - the buyer - and whether or not you find its beauty appealing. No matter how high the grade, if you don't fall in love with the diamond you're buying, it's not a good value.
With that said, let's review the quality factors that go into grading a diamond. These factors are collectively known as the four Cs - cut, clarity, color and carat weight.
Diamonds have been graded using the four Cs for about fifty years. The Gemological Institute of America pioneered the system back in the 1950s. The system has steadily gained acceptance worldwide. In fact, every major diamond grading laboratory in the world uses the GIA diamond grading nomenclature or something very similar on the reports they issue.
Cut - It's all about beauty
When most people hear the word "cut" they think of shape. Most diamonds are round, but diamonds are also cut into almost any shape imaginable. When diamond graders thinks of shape, they consider both the shape of the stone and the way each individual facet or flat polished surface is placed on the diamond. Most experts agree that it is the arrangement and positioning of the diamond's facets that has the most affect on the diamond's beauty.
Let's Talk Shape
There are many popular diamond shapes. Some are traditional, dating back to the early 1900s. Others are much more recent in their development.
The shapes you see here are no longer commonly cut. These early faceting styles date from about 1840 to 1920.
Let's Talk Angles and Proportions
The shape of a diamond is important, but even more critical is the way the facets are arranged on the stone and the angles and proportions they create. A diamond owes its beauty to the way it handles light. A well-cut diamond is the most brilliant and sparkling of all gemstones. A poorly cut gemstone, no matter how high its other quality factors, will seem lifeless and unappealing to the eye. That's just another reason to spend some time looking at diamonds before you decide to make a purchase.
A traditional round brilliant cut diamond has either 57 or 58 facets or flat polished surfaces. Sometimes the diamond cutter won't cut a tiny flat facet on the point of the stone. If this is the case, you'll have a diamond with 57 facets. With the tiny facet (called a culet) you get 58 facets. Don't worry if your diamond doesn't have a culet. It doesn't make a difference when it comes to the value or looks or your stone.