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September 05, 2019 6 min read

What is a Diamond?

Diamond forms under high temperature and pressure conditions that exist only about 100 miles beneath the earth’s surface. Diamond’s carbon atoms are bonded in essentially the same way in all directions. Another mineral, graphite, also contains only carbon, but its formation process and crystal structure are very different. Graphite is so soft that you can write with it, while diamond is so hard that you can only scratch it with another diamond. Diamonds are the hardest material on earth, 58 times harder than anything else in nature.

Description of a Diamond

Diamond is the only gem made of a single element: It is typically about 99.95 percent carbon. The other 0.05 percent can include one or more trace elements, which are atoms that aren’t part of the diamond’s essential chemistry. Some trace elements can influence its colour or crystal shape. The way a mineral forms helps determine its identity. Diamond forms under high temperature and pressure conditions that exist only within a specific depth range (about 100 miles) beneath the earth’s surface. Diamond’s crystal structure is isometric, which means the carbon atoms are bonded in essentially the same way in all directions. Another mineral, graphite, also contains only carbon, but its formation process and crystal structure are very different. The result is that graphite is so soft that you can write with it, while diamond is so hard that you can only scratch it with another diamond. Without any one of these factors, diamond might be just another mineral. Fortunately, though, this special combination of chemical composition, crystal structure, and formation process gives diamonds the qualities that make them extraordinary. 

Diamond education

Diamond as we know it.

diamond chemical make up

Chemical make up of a diamond structure.

Diamond Desire, A History

Diamonds have a long history as beautiful objects of desire. In the first century AD, the Roman naturalist Pliny stated: “Diamond is the most valuable, not only of precious stones, but of all things in this world.” The earliest diamonds were found in India in 4th century BC, although the youngest of these deposits were formed 900 million years ago. A majority of these early stones were transported along the network of trade routes that connected India and China, commonly known as the Silk Road. At the time of their discovery, diamonds were valued because of their strength and brilliance, and for their ability to refract light and engrave metal. Diamonds were worn as adornments, used as cutting tools, served as a talisman to ward off evil and were believed to provide protection in battle. In the Dark Ages, diamonds were also used as a medical aid and were thought to cure illness and heal wounds when ingested. The country’s resources yielded limited quantities for an equally limited market: India’s very wealthy classes. Gradually, though, this changed, Indian diamonds found their way to Western Europe in the caravans that traveled to Venice’s medieval markets. By the 1400s, diamonds were becoming fashionable accessories for Europe’s elite. In the early 1700s, as India’s diamond supplies began to decline, Brazil emerged as an important source. Diamonds were discovered in the pans of gold miners as they sifted through the gravels of local rivers. Once it reached its full potential, Brazil dominated the diamond market for more than 150 years. While sources changed, the diamond market experienced its own evolution. The old ruling classes—diamonds’ biggest consumers—were in decline by the late 1700s. Political upheavals like the French Revolution led to changes in the distribution of wealth.

Mary of Burgandy gemstone rings

The 1800s brought increasing affluence to western Europe and the United States. Explorers unearthed the first great South African diamond deposits in the late 1800s just as diamond demand broadened. In 1866, 15-year-old Erasmus Jacobs was exploring the banks of the Orange River when he came across what he thought was an ordinary pebble, but turned out to be a 21.25-carat diamond. In 1871, a colossal 83.50-carat deposit was unearthed on a shallow hill called Colesberg Kopje. These findings sparked a rush of thousands of diamond prospectors to the region and led to the opening of the first large-scale mining operation which came to be known as the Kimberly Mine. This newly discovered diamond source increased the world’s diamond supply substantially, resulting in a significant decrease in their value. The elite no longer considered the diamond a rarity, and began to replace this “common” stone with coloured gemstones. Emeralds, rubies, and sapphires became more popular choices for engagement ring stones among the upper class. In 1880, Englishman Cecil John Rhodes formed De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd in an effort to control the diamond supply. Although DeBeers was successful in their efforts to control the supply of diamonds, demand for the stone was weak. By 1919, diamonds were devalued by nearly 50%.

ruby and diamond ring

Ruby and Diamond ring €1200

Emerald and diamond ring €2000

Coral and diamond ring

Coral and diamond ring €1600

Diamond Engagement Ring History 

The use of rings as a symbol of commitment dates back to ancient history, specifically to the betrothal (truth) rings of the Romans. These early rings, often formed from twisted copper or braided hair, were worn on the third finger of the left hand. The placement of the ring was significant, as Romans believed that a vein in the third finger (vena amorous) ran directly to the heart. For Romans, betrothal rings were given as a sign of affection or friendship, and did not always represent the rite of marriage. The history of the engagement ring began in 1215, when Pope Innocent III, one of the most powerful popes of the Middle Ages, declared a waiting period between a betrothal and the marriage ceremony. The rings were used to signify the couple’s commitment in the interim. It was around this same time that rings were introduced as a major component of the wedding ceremony, and it was mandated by the Roman government that all marriage ceremonies be held in a church. In addition to serving as symbols of an intention to marry, these early rings also represented social rank; only the elite were permitted to wear ornate rings or rings with jewels. The first recorded presentation of a diamond engagement ring was in 1477, when Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed marriage to Mary of Burgundy. Although engagement rings were common at this time, diamonds were a rarity and were reserved for royalty and the upper elite class.

Mary of Burgandy gemstone rings

The use of rings as a symbol of commitment dates back to ancient history, specifically to the betrothal (truth) rings of the Romans. These early rings, often formed from twisted copper or braided hair, were worn on the third finger of the left hand. The placement of the ring was significant, as Romans believed that a vein in the third finger (vena amorous) ran directly to the heart. For Romans, betrothal rings were given as a sign of affection or friendship, and did not always represent the rite of marriage. The history of the engagement ring began in 1215, when Pope Innocent III, one of the most powerful popes of the Middle Ages, declared a waiting period between a betrothal and the marriage ceremony. The rings were used to signify the couple’s commitment in the interim. It was around this same time that rings were introduced as a major component of the wedding ceremony, and it was mandated by the Roman government that all marriage ceremonies be held in a church. In addition to serving as symbols of an intention to marry, these early rings also represented soIn 1947, DeBeers commissioned the services of leading advertising agency N.W. Ayer, and the slogan “A diamond is forever” was coined. The premise of this large-scale marketing campaign was the suggestion that diamonds should be the only choice for engagement rings. The DeBeers advertising campaign was wildly successful, and was a contributing factor to today’s widespread embracing of the tradition of diamond engagement rings. In today’s fine jewellery market, more than 78% of engagement rings sold contain diamonds. With the surge in popularity of the precious stone, many companies and organisations began campaigns to educate jewellers and consumers about what to look for when selecting a diamond. As jewellers experimented with ways to enhance the diamond’s visual appeal and presentation, new cutting techniques were adopted to help increase the stone’s brilliance. Over time, several prominent shapes emerged as the most popular varieties, including round, oval, marquise, square (princess), and rectangular (emerald). Today, the world’s diamond deposits are slowly becoming depleted. Less than 20% of the diamonds mined are of gem quality; less than 2% are considered “investment diamonds.” 75-80% of mined diamonds are used for industrial applications, such as grinding, sawing, and drilling. Typically, more than 250 tons of ore must be mined in order to produce a one-carat, gem-quality stone. The diamond’s rarity, beauty, and strength make it a fitting symbol of the resilience and longevity of marriage. In addition to engagement rings, diamonds are traditionally given as gifts to commemorate the milestone of the sixtieth anniversary. With their rich history, sense of permanence, and lustrous brilliance, diamonds are a natural choice to signify a lasting union.

Discovery.com ;The History of a Diamond


McGuire Diamonds
9 Esmonde street Gorey Co. Wexford Ireland.


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