A Diamond is Forever
I'm sure that you have all heard the words "A diamond is forever", and have witnessed the excitement caused when a diamond engagement ring is received. Perhaps it was someone in your family, or perhaps one of your close friends. In any case, you didn't have to ask what that diamond on the third finger of her left hand meant. Today the diamond is as closely associated with being engaged as the license and the honeymoon are with being married. If I were to ask you why the diamond is the traditional symbol of betrothal or how the custom came to be, I'll bet there wouldn't be too many who know the answers. I'd like to talk to you today about a tradition that almost all of you will follow -- how it began, when it began, and how it will affect you.
I mentioned the words "A diamond is forever" just a few seconds ago. Those few words sum up the tradition. When two people decide to spend their lives together, they make a decision which they expect to last. What better way is there to symbolize that decision that with the gem that lasts forever...the diamond. Love endures...the diamond lasts forever. So, the diamond is the symbol of enduring love.
The tradition of the diamond engagement ring dates back only about 500 years, but diamonds have been considered very special stones ever since their discovery 2,000 years ago in India. The name "diamond" comes from the Greek word "adamas" which means "unconquerable" or "invincible". The superstitious Greeks thought that the fire in a white diamond reflected the constant flame of love, and called it the "sunstone".
The first diamond engagement ring was presented in the 15th century, but the betrothal or pledge ring is a much older tradition. By Biblical times, the ring was the accepted symbol of the performance of a promise. Nobles used rings of heavy gold, while those not as wealthy used rings of less costly metal. The ring of marriage was always put on the third finger of the left hand, and for a good reason. The ancients believed a vein led from the third finger of the left hand directly to the heart. Therefore, it was only natural that the ring which pledged love should be worn on this finger.
THE FOUR C’s
Color, Cut, Clarity and Carat are the four universal determinants of what makes a quality diamond. The C’s help to determine a diamond’s value and is a good measure of price. It is important to note that no one variable outweighs the other. Each one is equal in importance of determining the quality of a particular diamond. The 4 C’s distinguish the rare from the rarer, the pretty from the exquisite, and the expensive from the ultimately unaffordable.
Cut is the term used to determine the angles and proportions of a diamond. A well-cut diamond will contain mirror-like facets that will reflect light from one panel to another and disperse and reflect it through the top of the stone. The cut has a tremendous affect on the sparkle of the diamond. A well-cut diamond is neither too shallow, nor too deep, which would allow light to leak through the side or bottom. The extra time put into this perfection results in a great amount of brilliance and fire.
The cut can also be referred to the shape of the diamond. The most common shapes of diamonds are: round, princess, pear, heart, emerald, oval and marquise. The round cuts are the most brilliant because of the symmetrical shape, which allows it to capture all the light that enters.
Color is the term used to determine to which degree a diamond is colorless. Diamonds come in a wide range of colors that vary from white and yellow, to dark brown. There are also colored diamonds that are black, pink and even red. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has established a color scale on which diamonds are measured. The scale ranges from D (colorless) to Z. The more colorless the diamond, the more expensive it is. Color is very hard to determine because it is so subtle. This is why they are carefully compared to a master set under very controlled lighting conditions.
The term clarity refers to the presence of inclusions found in a diamond. Inclusions may appear to look like feathers, clouds or crystals. This is how we know that diamonds were formed in the earth. Grades of clarity are determined by the number, size, location and type of inclusions a diamond contains. They are based on a clarity scale ranging from F (flawless) to I (inclusions). The ratings are based on the visibility of inclusions under a 10x magnification. In nature, there are very few diamonds that are found without inclusions. Those found flawless are very rare and highly priced.
The term carat is used to determine the weight of the diamond. One carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams. One carat can also be broken up into 100 “points.” For example, a .75-carat diamond is the same as 75 points or 3/4-carat diamond. Most people are aware of the fact that the higher the carat, the heavier the diamond, therefore, the higher the cost. What they don’t usually know is that since larger diamonds are typically harder to find in nature, the cost of a single 1-carat diamond would cost much more than two 1/2- carat diamonds of the same quality.