We all know diamonds are the hardest substance known – in fact their name comes from the Greek word adamas, the unconquerable. Yet, despite their impenetrable nature, diamonds are sensitively used in the gift of love; set in stunning dress jewellery, or more commonly in an engagement ring.
It was back in 860 that Pope Nicolas the First decreed that a ring was required to signify betrothal or engagement. Then, in 1477 Archduke Maximillian of Austria gave Mary of Burgundy a diamond engagement ring, the first such ring recorded. At the time diamonds were thought to be magical and created in the ‘flames of love’.
It wasn't until the end of the 19th century, when large deposits were discovered in South Africa, that diamond engagement rings became affordable for the rest of us. Today, almost all the engagement rings we create are set with diamonds, often as a classic solitaire ring (single stone), with the popular convention of one to two months’ salary being used to set the budget.
A diamond’s beauty is extremely complex. They are simply beautiful, but understanding what makes them beautiful is not a simple task.
In short, their splendour and value is based on the 4C’s: Cut, Carat, Color and Clarity. The 4C’s are all valid, but if you were to prioritise them it is the Cut of a diamond that makes it sparkle.
In 1919, mathematician Marcel Tolkowski discovered the exact angles and proportions to cut a round diamond for maximum brilliance and ‘fire’ - what we know today as the Ideal Cut. Such a gem can be set in any design without losing any of its radiance.
A close second to Cut would have to be Carat or the weight of a diamond. In antiquity diamonds were weighed on scales using carob seeds as the measure. A one carat diamond weighs about as much as a carob seed – or in modern terms one fifth of a gram. Because size really does matter, we recommend the largest stone that can be afforded, provided it is an Ideal Cut to maximize its sparkle.
Clarity and Colour are also important. Easily visible fractures or other natural imperfections can detract from a diamond’s beauty and value – look for a clarity grade of SI2 or better. Whiter diamonds are more rare and sought after than those with obvious yellow hues so look for a colour grade of between D to G.
Choosing your diamond can be an exciting process, as long as your jeweller has the knowledge, skill and access to the best quality diamonds. Diamonds are forever, so it is worth taking the time to select the perfect one just for you. It will become an everyday showpiece to be admired now and for future generations.