birthstone of April.
Diamonds are thought to have been first recognized and mined in India at least 2,500
years ago. The earliest written reference can be found in a Buddhist text,
which was completed around 296 BCE and describes diamond's hardness, luster,
and dispersion. They quickly became associated with divinity, being used to
decorate religious icons, and were believed to bring good fortune to those
who carried them. Ownership was restricted by color, with only kings being
allowed to own all colors of diamonds. The name “diamond” derives from the
ancient Greek adamas (“invincible”).
Diamonds have been used in drill bits
and engraving tools that date to early human history. Popularity of diamonds
has risen since the 19th century because of increased supply, improved
cutting and polishing techniques, growth in the world economy, and innovative
and successful advertising campaigns.
Diamond is the hardest known natural material, and is the more costly of the two best
known forms of carbon with graphite being the other well know form. Diamonds have a hardness of 10 on the
Mohs scale, as a point of reference: Calcite is a 3, Flourite is a 4, Apatite is a 5, Labradorite is a 6, Amethyst is a 7, Topaz is an 8, and a Sapphire is a 9.
The hardness of diamonds contributes to its use as a
gemstone. It maintains its polish extremely well because it can only be
scratched by other diamonds, keeping its luster over long periods of time.
Unlike many other gems, it is well-suited to daily wear because of its
resistance to scratching, perhaps contributing to its popularity as the
preferred gem in an engagement ring or wedding ring, which are often worn
Industrial use of diamonds has historically been
associated with their hardness; this property makes diamond the ideal
material for cutting and grinding tools. As the hardest known naturally
occurring material, diamond can be used to polish, cut, or wear away any
material, including other diamonds. Common industrial adaptations of this
ability include diamond-tipped drill bits and saws, or use of diamond powder
as an abrasive. Industrial-grade diamonds are either unsuitable for use as
gems or synthetically produced, which lowers their value and makes their use
Diamonds produce a high dispersion of visible light. The
innate ability for diamonds to split white light into its component colors is
an important aspect of the diamond's attraction as a gemstone, giving it the
impressive prismatic action that results in the “fire” in a well-cut stone.
They are commonly judged by the “Four Cs”: carat, clarity, color, and cut.
It is thought to bring prosperity
to the wearer and when used with other stones it is also believed to increase
the properties of those stones.