You probably know that diamonds are the most valuable and sought-after stones on earth, for two reasons that are really quite simple when you break it down. First, diamond is the hardest substance on the planet, and thus its name comes from the Greek word “adamas,” which means “invincible” or “unbreakable.” Secondly, polished diamonds can refract and reflect light to sparkle with a particular brilliance that has captivated the minds of people for millennia.
A little history about diamonds in jewelry:
Special attention for this stone began in India where diamonds could be gathered from rivers and streams - how easy compared to today! As early as around 400 BCE diamonds were being bought and sold and adorned by royalty, but it wasn’t until the 1400s that Europeans were seen sparkling in these new gems.
The first diamond engagement ring we know of was gifted to Mary of Burgundy by her fiancé the Archduke Maximillian of Austria in 1477. The largest diamond ever found came from South Africa’s Premier mine in 1905, weighing 3,106 carats (621 grams). From this was cut the 530-carat pear-shaped diamond now set in the Royal Sceptre, part of the Crown Jewels held in the Tower of London. (Click here for more fun facts about diamonds.)
As a birthstone:
For those born in April, diamond represents clarity and strength. It was once thought to be an antidote to poison and a ward against plague, and also believed to be a boon for longevity, strength, beauty and happiness. These qualities also came to make diamonds a valued token to give in a proposal of marriage. Diamond is also the traditional gift for the 60th and 75th anniversary.
Types of Diamonds:
You might already know that there are several different types of diamonds used in the jewelry industry. Most common are Natural Diamonds, mined from the earth’s crust. These stones, while entirely carbon, will have wide ranges of color and clarity (two of the four C’s considered in grading diamonds, see below). Black, white and gray “inclusions” are bits of carbon within a diamond’s structure that can affect not only its value but also its durability.
Lab-grown diamonds are developed in either a vacuum chemical process or a high pressure, high temperature procedure. Both methods produce real diamonds, the same chemical composition as those found in the ground (essentially 100% carbon). The regulation of these is high - the US Federal Trade Commission makes sure that diamond vendors make it clear to all consumers which stones are genuine or lab-grown.
Salt and Pepper diamonds:
Salt and Pepper diamonds are relatively new to the jewelry industry. Historically they were not considered precious but “industrial-grade,” used in factory and grinding equipment. Thankfully today they are some of the most interesting and exciting stones!
Salt and Pepper diamonds are full of inclusions: black, white and gray speckles that swirl like galaxies inside the stone’s structure making each one truly unique. The sparkle and luster are irresistible as the stone catches the light in the most spectacular ways! As a bonus, they are more ethical and holistically mined - a planet-conscious way to get a truly one of a kind piece of jewelry.
Grading & buying a diamond:
The value of each diamond is determined by the Gemological Institute of America’s international diamond grading system, better known as “the four C’s.” Cut, clarity, color and carat weight. When you’re in the market for a diamond, it’s best to educate yourself on these to help decide which diamond (and which price) is right for you. Here is a link to see GIA’s website for more on this subject.
Ethics and Diamonds:
Here at EBJ we put special emphasis on the ethical sourcing of our diamonds. One way we do this is by using your heirloom stones in our custom jewelry pieces, like from a grandmother’s engagement ring. Another way is that we use recycled diamonds for most of the side stones set in our alternative engagement rings and wedding bands. Since salt & Pepper diamonds are the seconds of the industry these are a holistic option. And of course lab-grown diamonds. We source our stones from the Diamond Foundry a carbon-neutral lab that utilized solar power in Washington state.
For more information:
To find our more about who we work with to source ethical and holistic diamonds, please contact us and we'd be happy to discuss it!
Shop our diamond jewelry or design something custom with heirloom stones, click below to browse our selection of ethical rings or make a custom appointment.