Diamond is the ultimate gemstone, having few weaknesses and many strengths.
It is well known that Diamond is the hardest substance found in nature,
but few people realize that Diamond is four times harder than the next hardest natural mineral, corundum (sapphire and ruby).
But even as hard as it is, it is not impervious.
Diamond has four directions of cleavage, meaning that if it receives a sharp blow in one of these directions it will cleave, or split.
A skilled diamond setter and/or jeweler will prevent any of these directions from being in a position to be struck
while mounted in a jewelry piece.
As a gemstone, Diamond's single flaw (perfect cleavage) is far outdistanced by the sum of its positive qualities.
It has a broad color range, high refraction, high dispersion or fire, very low reactivity to chemicals,
rarity, and of course, extreme hardness and durability.
Diamond is the April Birthstone, and
an alternate Zodiac stone for the
Constellation of Aries.
Diamond is the ultimate gemstone in several ways:
Diamonds may be nearly any color in the rainbow plus browns, grays, and white. Shades of yellow are most common, followed by colorless. Blue, black, reddish, and greenish are more valuable (some extremely so).
Hardness: Diamond is a perfect "10", simply the hardest substance known by a wide margin.
Nothing can scratch a diamond other than another diamond. And a diamond can
scratch anything, even a sapphire.
Clarity: Pure diamond is completely colorless and transparent over a larger range of wavelengths (from the ultraviolet into the far infrared) than is any other
solid or liquid substance - nothing else even comes close.
Thermal Conductivity: Diamond conducts heat better than anything - five times better than the second best element, Silver!
This characteristic is the basis for "diamond tests", as it is simple and cannot be faked.
Refraction: Diamond has a relatively high index of refraction
(ability to bend light), which gives it the high luster called adamantine.
Dispersion: Diamond has a relatively high optical dispersion which gives diamond the "fire" that makes it so
Diamonds are found in a type of rock called "Kimberlite", which comprises the
core of certain volcanoes over especially thick portions of the earth's crust.
This hard stone is mined and then crushed between giant steel rollers. The
kimberlite is reduced to fine gravel, yet the extremely hard diamonds come out
unharmed! Water is added and a grease covered roller sorts the diamonds
from the gravel, as the diamonds stick to the grease. Typically, a single carat
of diamond is recovered from a ton of rich ore.
Diamonds are found in many areas including South Africa, Russia, and even in
Arkansas in the USA. In all cases, the diamonds formed deep within the earth's
mantle, and were brought to the surface in volcanic eruptions. In many
cases, the diamonds weathered out of the kimberlite by natural processes, and
were transported downstream by water. Many diamonds are mined in the
resulting alluvial deposits in areas such as along the coast of South Africa.
To see our natural diamond specimens, see the
diamond specimens pages.