Adopted from the Greek word, ‘Adamas’, meaning ‘invincible’, diamonds come in a wide range of colours such as black, blue, green, pink, red, purple, orange and yellow. The colour is dependent upon the type of impurities that are present in the stone. For instance, yellow stones have minuscule traces of Nitrogen while blue ones contain Boron.
While tradition has dictated colourless diamonds as the most norm, we actually do have more choices than ever with fancy colour and cut combinations.
Fancy-coloured diamonds are natural, rare and truly exotic gems of the Earth. They come in hues of yellow, red, pink, blue, and green, ranging in intensity from faint to vivid. Generally speaking, the more saturated the colour, the higher the value. That’s because a naturally fancy-coloured diamond is rare, and they will always be priced higher than a colourless diamond of the same cut and clarity.
In today’s gem and jewellery industry, coloured diamonds are being used more frequently. The colour is sometimes introduced in a laboratory and are correctly called colour treated diamonds. When purchasing a fancy-colour diamond, you should ask if any enhancements or treatments were used to improve its colour and/or clarity.
Diamonds as April’s Birthstone
Symbolic of eternal love, and thought to be one of the hardest substances on the globe, diamonds date back billions of years.
The diamond is the traditional birthstone of April and holds significant meaning for those born in that month - it’s thought to provide the wearer with better relationships and increase inner strength. Wearing a diamond is also purported to bring other benefits such as balance, clarity and abundance.
During the Middle Ages, diamonds were thought to hold healing powers and to cure ailments stemming from the pituitary gland and brain. By heating the crystal and taking it to bed, it was thought to draw out the harmful toxins that were crippling the body.
It was also believed that diamonds could have an effect on an individual’s balance and clarity, and could boost their energy when combined with other crystals like amethyst.
Deemed as the “King of all Birthstones,” diamonds make the ideal choice for an April birthday gift.
The Origin of Birthstones
It’s uncertain how the specific months became connected with the various stones. However, some speculate that the origin of birthstones dates back to biblical times when the breastplate belonging to a priest was decorated with 12 assorted coloured gems. As time passed, the 12 gems became associated with the zodiac and the months connected to it.
This started the tradition of wearing a coloured stone each month as a sort of good luck charm. Initially, people wore all twelve stones, rotating according to the month of the year to derive the greatest benefit from each stone.
Believing that the various gems held magical powers for the individual born within a given month, people started to wear the stone associated with their birth month for the entire year.
In 1912, the American National Association of Jewelers designed a list dedicating different gems to various months. What was once thought to be controversial based on its commercialism is now widely accepted as the official birthstone list.
Synthetic Diamonds or Cubic Zirconia
There is no synthetic gemstone on the market that has had a greater impact on the jewellery industry than cubic zirconia. ‘CZ’ as it is sometimes referred to in the industry, came into the market around 1978. Initially, prices were quite high when compared to current price levels. A one carat ‘Russian’ cubic zirconia was sold for around US20.00+ per carat wholesale, and business was no doubt good
The first question that usually comes to mind is why cubic zirconia was first made. Just as synthetic diamonds and synthetic corundum had their beginning in industrial applications, so did cubic zirconia.
The first cubic zirconia was made in Russia, for the purpose of laser technology. It seems the Russians did not have enough natural rubies that were required at the time to generate laser beams. So they set about to find a synthetic material that would have the properties of ruby.
Their development: Cubic Zirconia. Though CZ is not particularly close to a ruby geologically, it optically served the purpose for the Russian laser technology.
Following which, someone noticed that the new material would be very nice in jewellery since it also looked a lot like a diamond. So the ball started rolling and CZ was being produced as jewellery items, leading us to where we are today.
The Gemology of Cubic Zirconia
The reason for CZ being manufactured only in the late 1970s is because of the amount of heat it takes to get the zirconium oxide mixture to melt. The temperature is so high that there is no crucible or container that will withstand that much heat. Which is why we did not see cubic zirconium on the market until the late 1970s to early 1980s.
What we needed was a microwave oven, which allowed for synthetic crystal growth called a skull melt. This means that the material itself makes its own crucible. Since a microwave oven heats from the inside out, this allows for the interior of the substance to become very, very hot, while the outer layer stays cools and forms a crust that holds the molten interior. This is how the skull is formed and how we got the term skull melting.
When the Russian scientists discovered how to actually grow these crystals using a synthetic process, they named their synthetic crystals ‘Djevalite’. It was under this name that they began to market them as simulated diamonds.
Djevalite never really impacted the jewellery marketplace until Swarovski jumped into the market with its own version of cubic zirconia. Swarovski coined the abbreviated term CZ for cubic zirconia. This was the jumpstart the crystal needed. It was nearly 90 years after it was first discovered that CZ became a popular and cheaper substitute for real diamond jewellery.
• The weight of a CZ crystal is about 75 percent more than that of a diamond. This means that if you compare one-carat diamond to a similarly-sized CZ, the CZ comes in weighing around 1.75 carats.
• You might expect CZ to be as hard as a diamond. In reality, CZ is softer and more brittle than a diamond, so it can't be used to cut glass the same way a diamond can.
• Unlike diamonds that have inclusions or imperfections, CZ is flawless.
• CZ is fairly cheap to purchase and makes a great substitute for more expensive diamonds in some jewellery applications.
Now, however you cut it, it still remains that all you ladies born in April have just one more excuse to go out there and get yourself a new sparkling piece of jewellery.
Contributor: Anaita Thakkar, Founder of Lustre Jewellery
Helmed by Anaita Thakkar, Lustre Jewellery specialises in handcrafted semi precious jewellery that combines traditional techniques with contemporary design for the modern woman.