The Game of Stones
Spring is in full force and with it comes the season of engagements and weddings that’s in full force through our beautiful falls and into the holidays. Diamonds, of course, play a big part. But anytime is diamond time—birthdays, anniversaries, promotions or just because. The reasons are endless. The U.S. is the largest consumer (47 percent) of gem-quality diamond jewelry worldwide. According to a CNBC report, in 2016, it had record diamond sales of $41 billion.
In a new and surprising growth segment, women aren’t waiting for someone to give them diamonds. They’re buying them for themselves with 31 percent of U.S. sales in 2016. No matter the economy, diamonds are forever, and may still be a girl’s best friend.
But do you know where your diamond comes from? You should. When shopping for a diamond, ask if it’s responsibly and ethically sourced. Although it’s unlikely that conflict (blood) diamonds are in reputable U.S. markets, your diamond’s certification should include the country of origin. That is, that it did not come from countries using their diamond industry to fund wars and human rights abuses.
Buying a diamond is a major investment, and knowing its origin is not only important but fun. According to Geology.com, among the world’s 25 diamond producing countries, the top five are Russia, Botswana, Canada, Australia and South Africa.
Did we say Canada? In 1998, in the remote and frigid Northwest Territories, the country’s first commercial diamonds were produced. It’s now the third largest producer of diamonds by value in the world, though gems from their mines are somewhat more expensive because of their strict environmental regulations.
How to buy a diamond? It’s complicated. When considering the purchase of a diamond, “Find a jeweler you know and trust,” says Russ Wiley, owner of Creative Gold, longtime custom design jeweler in Colorado Springs. “The first question would be to make sure the diamond has a grading report from the Gemological Institute of America. The cut of the diamond is the most important factor affecting its sparkle.”
“Ask your potential jeweler if they are a Graduate Gemologist,” says Wade Petersilie, owner of Distinctive Designs in Precious Metals in Colorado Springs. “And if wanting a unique custom design, are they a goldsmith and will they be making the piece.”
It’s also important to understand the 4Cs, the universal standard of measuring quality:
Cut is the most important factor in choosing a diamond. It refers to the way its facets interact with light. It’s not about the diamond’s shape. It’s about its brilliance.
Color. The best diamonds are white (colorless) because of the way they reflect light. The less color the more valuable.
Clarity. This measures the amount of a diamond’s internal and external blemishes. A flawless stone is the most valuable.
Carat is the diamond’s weight. And bigger is not always better.
A little history. The diamond trade had its start in India around the 4th Century BC, where alluvial gems were gathered from rivers and streams. They eventually found their way to Western Europe where they became must-haves for Europe’s elite.
By the 1700s, Brazil emerged as an important source. But everything changed in 1866 when massive diamond deposits were discovered in Kimberley, South Africa, and the modern diamond market began.
Since then, some behemoth diamonds have been found. Most recently in January 2018, the Lesotho, a 910-carat flawless diamond recovered in southern Africa, sold for $40 million. Roughly the size of two golf balls, it’s been named the Lesotho Legend. But so far nothing surpasses the Cullinan, the world’s largest diamond discovered in 1905 and weighing in at 3106 carats (1.36 pounds).
Well, not on Earth. In 2004, in a galaxy far, far away, the largest known diamond in the universe was discovered. Named Lucy after the Beatles’ song, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” it’s in the constellation Centaurus. The white dwarf star, technically known as BPM 37093, is a mass of crystalized carbon about 50 light years from Earth, that would equal a diamond of 10 billion trillion trillion (yes, trillion trillion) carats.
That’s a lot of bling.
But here on Earth, we have more than enough.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Gemological Institute of America: www.gia.edu/gia-news-research-diamond-fun-facts, http://4cs.gia.edu/en-us/4cs-diamond-quality
CNBC Diamond report: www.cnbc.com/video/2017/06/02/record-us-diamond-sales.html
Lucy, the Biggest Diamond in the Universe: www.bpm37093.blogspot.com
Creative Gold: www.creativegoldjewelry.com
Distinctive Designs: www.wpetersilie.com