6 things you may not know about diamonds

Throughout writing our series, there’s been lots of research… and I do mean lots!  Not only did we get to check out jewellery sites where you’d have to sell your first-born to even get in the door, but there were the mining and technical aspects.  For me, I read about how diamonds were formed, how old they can be, how to judge a good cut, what kind of cuts there were (square cut is my favorite, in case you’re thinking of buying me one 😀 ).  And of course, pictures of diamonds in not-so-flattering settings so we’d have an idea of what the Blackstone Rose actually looked like.   So for the purposes of this blog, I managed to narrow all those facts down to six:

1. The name diamond derives from the ancient Greek word adamas, meaning “invincible”, and they come in various colors ranging from blue, green, champagne, canary, yellow, pink, white and black.

2. Our ancestors were enjoying diamonds long before their true value was known.  The first recorded history of the diamond dates back around 3,000 years to India, where they were probably used for decorative purposes and as talismans to ward off evil spirits. 

3. A diamond is the hardest known material on earth, and can only be scratched by another diamond.  Its hardness and high dispersion of light makes it perfect for use in industrial applications (cutting and grinding tools)… and of course, jewelry, especially in engagement and wedding rings, where every-day wear durability is paramount.  The hardest diamonds in the world are from the New England area in New South Wales, Australia.  And not all diamonds are found on Earth – a carbonado diamond, found in South America and Africa, was deposited via an asteroid impact (not formed from the impact) about 3 billion years ago.   

4. The richest diamond deposit in the world was discovered in 1979 near Lake Argyle in Western Australia.  Since then, Argyle has become the world’s largest volume producer of diamonds, producing over a third of the world’s diamonds every year.  The pink diamond is the world’s most rare and valuable, with the Argyle producing 95% of the world’s supply.  However, pink diamonds are not abundant – less than one tenth of 1% is classified ‘pink’.

5. A carat is the unit of measure used to determine the weight of a diamond. The term “carat” is derived from the original method of using carob tree seeds to weigh diamonds. One seed from this tree was equivalent to one carat and the actual weight of one carat is now established at 0.2 grams.  The worth of a diamond is judged on the 4C’s – cut, colour, clarity and carat. Of all the 4C’s, cut is the only characteristic directly influenced by man.  A skilled diamond cutter can unlock the brilliance of a diamond, which will, in turn, demand a higher price.

6. The Monaco Grand Prix isn’t just about racing cars – it’s also a lucrative time for diamond company, Steinmetz, in partnership with Sotheby’s, to showcase their glittering goods on a yacht for their valued clients. Some of the world’s most expensive diamonds are on display in a private cabin (including a rare pink diamond worth $10M), guarded by eagle-eyed security.  And if that’s not enough exposure, drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton were presented with special diamond studded race helmets.  In the past, McLaren Mercedes drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya had their steering wheels emblazoned with diamonds.  In the 2004 Grand Prix, both the Jaguar Racing R5 cars ran with Steinmetz Diamonds livery to represent the upcoming film, Oceans 12 starring George Clooney and Brad Pitt (who were present at the race). But when driver Christian Klien crashed in the first lap, it took two hours to get a crew to the site and by then the diamonds had been stolen.  Talk about a brilliant idea for a story involving blackmail, greed, revenge, glamour..!

I found it hard to stop at six, actually!  I was going to include the 60th wedding anniversary = diamond but figured most of us would know that 😀  Do you have any interesting snippets you’d like to share? 


17 Responses to “6 things you may not know about diamonds”

  1. Paula, wow, you unearthed facts I didn’t even trip over during the continuity research! Love that Grand Prix story. Goes to show, truth is stranger than fiction. LOL! 🙂

    And oooh, the thought of diamonds in space! The possibilities are endless!

  2. amazing what you learn at the gym watching Fox Sports, isn’t it? Apparently the stone on the car bonnet was worth something like $2M. Imagine what someone could do with two million?

  3. I know what I could do with 2 million! *g* And, yes, I would definitely buy a diamond but not for my car bonnet and one where I had plenty of change from the 2 mill. Fascinating post, Paula, with loads of interesting stuff I didn’t trip over either.

  4. Thanks for the wealth of information about diamonds, Paula.

    Interestingly, the Melbourne Sunday newspaper had an article on Australian diamond jeweller, Nic Cerrone, who was two-time winner of the De Beers Diamond International Award – the most coveted diamond prize in the world. He says “he loves the energy of diamonds, and that staring at a diamond transports you to another place.”

    He sounds like a romantic, doesn’t he? A rich one.

  5. How wierd, I thought I already posted here…fascinating stuff, Paula. i could read about these beauties all day. I cannot believe that in the middle of a car race and in the middle of an accident, no less, people would swoop in and steal the diamonds!! then again, they do funny things to people.
    Great post!
    I’m going to look up Nic Cerrone right now Maxine.

  6. Linley Maroney Says:

    I have no diamond stories (not yet anyway) but I loved reading all of these. I shall keep dreaming of a rock of my own. 😛

  7. Linley, make sure you get the cut, clarity and colour of your preference very firmly in your mind. Imagine the fire that flashes in the light, imagine the looks of envy as others notice your special stone…then let us know when you get it! 🙂

    I had an interesting ‘diamond’ experience in a seminar last year (related to the day-job which wasn’t writing at that time) where the seminar leader was trying to say that it was unprofessional to wear jewellery at work. Personally I don’t believe that jewellery interferes with your ability to do your job in an office and it’s part of who you are and what makes you happy. Sure, in an engineering or production situation it’s a definite ‘no, no!’ Anyway, she asked me what I would think if I saw a dental assistant (I worked in a combined dental and law practice) wearing a massive diamond ring on her finger. I told the leader that I would think that the woman must really love her job because with a rock that size she obviously didn’t need to work 🙂 The seminar leader had never thought about it from that perspective. She didn’t approve of jewellery in the workplace, and yes, in a surgery it is a hygiene issue but you don’t expect your dental patients to remove their jewellery when they walk in the surgery door.

  8. Hi Paula,
    Diamonds are amazing, aren’t they? Hard to believe that they’re made up solely of carbon – as is graphite (as in lead pencils!) and carbon gas (as found in air). Don’t suppose you want a chemistry lecture? LOL (Yeah, I’m a chemistry major) I also like square cut diamonds and have one set in white gold as my engagement ring.

    Congrats to all you lovely Diamonds Down Under Desirebelles! I can’t wait to buy and read the series. A guaranteed winner I’m sure.


  9. Hi Serena! I just splurged on a pretty keyring fashioned as an over-sized ring with a pink (glass) diamond. Now, with my stubby sausage fingers, I’ve never thought any ring looks nice on my hands. But I must admit, the sight of a massive pink diamond somehow hijacks my eyes and even my sausage fingers look elegant and glam – yes they do.
    Moral of the story. Buy diamonds, the bigger the better.
    An even better alternative is getting someone else to buy you one!

  10. Have to jump in on the subject of getting someone else to buy you one. Now I love a nice gift as much as the next person, but I must say I’m rather enamoured with the idea of jewellery as a gift-to-self, especially to mark an occasion or to celebrate a milestone. I love those celebration rings — are they Tiffany’s? — which are made specifically for that purpose. Now, if only I could afford to buy them… 🙂

  11. And diamonds are the birthstone for April (my birth month of course!) Wish someone would give me one!

  12. I’m May and emerald is my birthstone. I would much prefer diamonds, if only for another excuse…er valid reason, that is…for buying myself something with diamonds. Which I’ve actually just done. I loved the pendant we chose as a prize for the Diamonds Down Under Treasure Hunt so much that I bought myself one! 🙂

  13. Bron, I knew you couldn’t stop yourself from buying one of those gorgeous pendants. It was only a matter of time before you did. What a lovely Christmas present to yourself. And a well-deserved one for writing such a wonderful book to open our Diamonds Down Under series. No one could do it better.


  14. Hi Serena – I find it fascinating that diamonds are millions of years old and were formed by stuff happening underground LOL!

    Bron – my traditional birthstone is alexandrite (a stone I thought wasn’t very exciting, until I found out it’s rare and hardly ever made into jewelry, has the amazing ability to change color from green to red and was named after the Russian tsar Alexander II) . My modern stone is moonstone – a gorgeous catseye opal-y stone. Very mystical! Interesting site on gems here: http://www.gemstone.org

    Keziah – you can always buy a CZ 😀 Unless someone has a loupe, no one can tell the difference!

  15. My birthstone is amethyst although I am VERY partial to diamonds… 😉 Especially when there are lots of them.

  16. Karen King Says:

    Got to admit, I own three little beauties, handpicked and set in white gold crown and gold ring, intended to come apart one day, as in one for each of my daughters. They say diamonds are forever. I just luv em!

  17. hi.
    Diamonds in India were and are still used mostly for jewellery and the uncut variety is also used for a different type and pattern of jewellery especially involving lot of gold with it. But one thing I love more about India is that Jewellery is cheaper here than most of the other countries so if you guys need to jewellery shop, you know where to look.

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