Thursday, April 19, 2007


The Diamond is probably the most written about gemstone in history. So much has been reported on this carbon crystal that I have put off writing my own article numerous times. Until my mother passed away and I received one of her rings, which was set with Diamonds.

She called it her cocktail ring. Dad had given it to her as a reward for moving in and out of seven different houses in almost as many years (10), there are seven stones in the ring. Coincidentally there are six of us kids and six of the stones are set in a circle surrounding a center stone. Which now (for my interpretation) represents my mother and her six children.

Even with this special gift, I still wasn't ready to dig into Diamond crystals. After all, because of its highly manufactured rarity, it is not an easy stone for people to afford. There are so many other teachers and guides in the crystal world that are much easier for most of us to attain. Except the crystals kept pestering me.

At first I thought perhaps it was just a need on my part to feel that connection to my mother when I wore her ring. Besides the ring itself is a bit gaudy to be wearing everyday. However, each time I put the ring back away after a family event or holiday, I would hear "it's time to stop ignoring us". Still, I pretended not to hear and allowed the months to slip past.

Then on Mother's Day I got mom's ring out of its safe place to spend a little time reminiscing about her. As I put the ring on, this chorus rang through my head "just give us a chance", "we have something to share", "please give us a voice", "listen, listen". That's just a little sample of their assault on my thoughts. So I promised that before the end of the Summer I would allow them to teach me about Diamonds.

Diamonds are crystallized carbon, one of the most basic elements of life. Carbon is not an easy element to crystallize, more often it is found as a soft, easy to powder mass called Graphite.

The temperatures and pressures needed to form this carbon crystal are far more extreme and intense than what any other gemstone developed under. In fact the Diamond crystal itself will only melt when subjected to temperatures well over 3500 degrees Kelvin (3820 to be exact).

As the Diamond crystal grows, one carbon atom bonds itself to four other carbon atoms forming a tetrahedral crystal (pyramid shape). Each bond is exactly the same length as the others. It is this consistency in its formation that makes the Diamond so strong. Most references claim it to be the strongest substance on Earth. I did find one reference to a cubic boron nitride (borazon) which is suppose to be stronger.

Carbon crystals twin frequently and occasionally the surface of the crystal's face will be round. It also occurs as pebbles and grains, and is easy to confuse with Quartz in the field.

The process that causes carbon to crystallize begins deep below the surface of Earth. The temperatures and pressures needed to form this durable gemstone can only occur in Mother's subterranean molten heart. For this reason, geologists are unable to determine exactly what type of event is the catalyst for morphing this element.

Once the metamorphis is complete, Diamond crystals are thrust to the surface via volcanic pipes or plugs consisting of Olivine (aka kimberlite). Gemstones are then mined by either crushing away the kimberlite, or collecting them from placer deposits (places where gemstones and precious metals collect when their host stones are washed and worn away by weather).

India was the first and for a few thousand years the only place where Diamonds were mined. Many of India's largest and most legendary gemstones ended up in the British treasury, about the same time she won her independence from the Royal Crown. Eventually, with the discovery of the Americas, the crystals were found in Brazil and then the motherlode was discovered in West and South Africa. Suddenly the Diamond was not so rare. Can you imagine the surprise of the DeBeers conglomerate when Diamonds were found in Arkansas in 1906?

If you are not familiar with the name, DeBeers, in conjunction with the Diamond Promotion Service are responsible for a choke hold grip on the flow of Diamond gemstones into the marketplace. The high cost of Diamond jewelry depends almost solely on the ability to control how much gets to us, the consumers.

According to a variety of industry "experts" it can take from 250 to 500 tons of rock to mine a single, perfect finished gemstone weighing less than a carat. While exact proof is difficult to uncover, I suspect that 250 tons of stone for one tiny Diamond is a bit exaggerated. One truth in Diamond marketing, a gem cutter will normally cut away about 50% of the gemstone to achieve the final faceted product.

Other known locations that have produced these carbon crystals are Russia and California. Tiny Diamond nuggets were often found mixed in with Gold flakes in several placer deposits during the Gold Rush.

Unlike other gemstones with rare colorless specimens and many colorful ones, the rare Diamond is one with color. Yellow is the second most common color after clear, however the occasional pink, blue, orange, green and a variety of browns with fancy names like champagne or cognac are found. Heat treatments and irradiation can color some clear gemstones, but real Diamonds of color are indeed unusual and truly valuable.

The Diamond has an interesting opposite twin in another carbon mineral, Graphite. A simple switch in the way the carbon elements bond changes everything. Graphite is dark and dull, Diamond is transparent and brilliant with high light dispersion (breaks light down into the color spectrum). Graphite is very soft, Diamond is very hard. Graphite is used as a lubricant, Diamond is the most abrasive material available. Diamond is a perfect electrical insulation, Graphite conducts electricity.

In the 1950's industry was able to use Graphite to create Diamonds for manufacturing applications. Gigantic hydraulic presses are used with extreme high temperatures to imitate Mother's creation process. A metallic catalyst is added, and within a few hours the Graphite will convert to tiny flawed carbon crystals. Excellent for industrial applications, but not suitable for jewelry. The process is called High Pressure High Temperature Synthesis (HPHT).

The vast majority of Diamonds come to the marketplace faceted, and a fair percentage of those arrive set already in jewelry. Faceting is the art of cutting and polishing tiny edges (using a fine Diamond grinder) that allow light to flow through and reflect back out of a gemstone. It is these facets that make a gem sparkle.

The most popular cut for Diamonds is the round brilliant with 58 different facets. Each face on a cut stone is considered a facet, including the top flat surface. Depth of the cut is critical to the ability of light to play off of it. A shallow gem allows light to "fall through it" without reflecting back out. Too much depth and the light becomes "trapped" in the bottom of the stone.

Other cuts include: marquise, pear, oval, emerald, princess, heart (one of the more expensive cuts) and baguettes (which are used primarily as tiny accents with other stones).

Next month we will explore the history with this legendary crystal and how to work with it in our lives.

Diamond is not the oldest gemstone known to humans, however it could easily be one of the most influential.

The crystal appears to have first surfaced around 1200 to 1300 BC in India. Which was the only known source for Diamonds until they were discovered in Brazil in 1725. The African Diamond deposits were not found until 1866 and Arkansas' Crater of Diamonds began yielding her glittering gifts about 60 years later in the 1920s.

The earliest legends and traditions associated with Diamonds come out of India's Vedic and Hindu practices. One of sixteen offerings in a traditional Hindu worship ceremony was an offering of gemstones that included a Diamond. The offering of these precious gems would be returned to the giver in an "immense and endless quantity".

Vedic traditions cautioned against women wearing Diamonds. It was believed that a woman who wore this crystal, especially in great quantities or size would become like the stone. Hard and resistant toward her husband and children.

Red inclusions or a red Diamond could bring death to its owner. Supposedly even capable of killing the "master of death", aka the grim reaper. Fortunately red Diamond crystals are incredibly rare.

Diamond's name comes from a Greek word, adamas meaning invincible or unconquerable. Many traditions during 1500 - 1700 AD attached qualities to the gem attributed to its resistance to harm. Several protective powers are assigned to the stone; protection from poisoning, nightmares, demons and disease are a few.

During the Middle Ages, when the plague was ravaging Europe, the rich decided that it was their Diamonds that had kept them from getting ill. In reality, it was their isolation from the crowded ports and marketplaces that had saved them. Mary Queen of Scots used a large Diamond to prevent her from being poisoned, unfortunately she needed protection from a different sort of threat.

Another tradition from that time was the belief that a Diamond must be gifted in order for its power to be effective for the user. The stone's Spirit was said to be offended when the crystal was purchased and would vacate the gem. If the Diamond was offered to another individual as a gift, without strings, then the crystal's Spirit would shower the owner with all manner of good fortune, courage, invincibility and long life. For maximum results, you would set the gem in gold and wear it on your left hand or arm.

The very first Diamond engagement ring was given to a Mary of Burgudy by Archduke Maximilian of Austria during the 1600s. During the 1900s publicity efforts by DeBeers and the Diamond Promotion Service has made the presentation of a Diamond engagement ring an almost invincible tradition.

Famous Diamonds are plentiful throughout gemstone history and lore, with the Hope being one of the most notorious. The Hope Diamond may have been a gem stolen from an idol in India. Or simply one of the many stones that french Diamond merchant Jean Tavernier brought back with him during his numerous buying trips to the orient during the 1660s.

While the Hope's distant past might be murky, the misfortune and tragedy suffered by its chain of owners is well documented. Smallpox, the guillotine, financial ruin, suicide and tragic accidents are just a partial list of the ill fortunes suffered by its owners. Today, this infamous blue crystal resides in the Smithsonian, in the possession of the United States. Perhaps we should have a ceremony and give it back to Mother.

The Dresden Green is another fairly well known (and rare) Diamond. The stone arrived in London in 1726 courtesy of Marcus Moses (a big gem merchant of the day) where it was cut and polished. A couple of decades later the cut gem was sold to the King of Poland. From there the stone was broken into two different Dresden Green's; ended up in the possession of the German's during WW II, captured by the Russians at the end of that war and in 1958 it was finally returned to the city of Dresden by the Soviet Trophies Commission. A glass model of the original Dresden Green resides in the British Museum in London.

Russian czars loved collecting these brilliant gemstones. One of the largest cut Diamonds in the world is the 189 carat Orloff that is mounted in the Russian Imperial Scepter. Peter the Great is said to have given his queen, Catherine I a crown decorated with 2500 Diamonds.

The largest cut Diamonds in the world are in the possession of the British. A 530 carat pear shape called Cullinan I, aka the Great Star of Africa and a 317 carat stone decorating the Imperial State Crown called the Cullinan II.

"Uncle Sam" is the largest Diamond ever found in the US. It was recovered from the Murfesboro Crater of Diamonds in 1924, weighing 40.23 carats before cutting. The slightly rose colored crystal was cut into an emerald shape weighing 12.42 carats. First Lady, Hillary Clinton wore a natural, uncut Arkansas Diamond crystal set in a Gold ring to the 1992 presidential inauguration. This perfect, 4 carat specimen has such a brilliant natural luster that is was set in its original state, without any alterations. Another rather famous Arkansas Diamond is the Searcy Diamond. This pale yellow, 27.21 carat gem quality crystal was found in a cotton field by a young working girl. Pellie Howell later sold the uncut stone to Tiffany's for $8500. The stone remains in the company's possession and has still not been cut.

Today the Diamond crystal is an important tool for geologists in trying to unravel Mother's past. As one of the oldest things on Earth, approximately 3 billion years old, this crystal is one of the few survivors of our planet's violent birth.

The pressure needed to crystallize Carbon can only be achieved deep beneath the Earth's surface. Just like any other crystal, Diamonds capture elements in their vicinity as they crystallize causing inclusions. Microscopic studies of inclusions have revealed that many contain minerals like Garnet, Olivene and Pyrrhotite. Studying these inclusions is giving geologists new insights into the planet's core and in determining probable past events.

You might find yourself unraveling the answers to many of the Universe's mysteries through meditations with the Diamond crystal. This crystal's clarity is very effective at opening up the Third Eye and Crown Chakra. Its influence on these important points can assist you in achieving a higher level of self-awareness and your part in the chain of creation. It can also be highly useful in clearing blockages along the Chakra pathway allowing the Kundalini to be stimulated and energized.

Use this gem to give you a clearer insight into the workings of your life. It will assist you in seeing compromises and choices that you've made, but may not be benefitting you. You'll find it easier to overrule unnecessary restrictions that you have put on yourself and those around you. Diamonds promote courage, both spiritual and physical, and with courage you'll find the freedom to be your very best, without the need to judge others.

When you have a set back in your goals, or your plans don't work like they should Diamond makes a good companion. The crystal will help you get past the depression and fears that come from alleged failures. It allows you to analyze flaws and expectations without emotional influences. This ability to have a cold, clear perspective of your plans and dreams can improve not only the execution of them, but to know which ones are worthy of your pursuit.

Students may benefits from Diamond's influence as well. Clearer, more analytical thinking allows for quicker absorption and application of lessons. The gemstone can assist with problem solving, something I could have used help with when tackling those awful word problems in math. You know, the ones with trains, speed, people and miles.

There doesn't seem to be a great deal of agreement on the Diamond's true health benefits. Although it does improve mental health, and a healthy body starts with a healthy mind. Some of the older traditions recommended as a protection against poisoning, though other texts cited its use as one.

Diamond's ability to keep the Chakra clear of blockages probably benefits your body's hormonal and glandular system. Since the Chakra directly influence the main glands that produce the hormones you need.

It is sad that the fate of this lovely and talented crystal is controlled by greed. Still, I am a strong believer that when you work with a gem or crystal it is not the size of the stone that matters, but the size of your intent. If you are lucky enough to welcome a Diamond into your life, regardless of size, you have a powerful Gem Spirit that will inspire dramatic changes in your path.

No comments: