April's birthstone is the diamond, probably the most famous gemstone. Diamonds are the hardest substance in existence and have a variety of uses across different industries making them hugely valuable.
Diamonds were first found in India somewhere between 3,000 and 6,000 years ago, and were used in religious icons. The name comes from a Greek word meaning unalterable or unbreakable.
Although wedding and engagement rings can be reliably dated back to Roman times and were probably used before that, the idea of a diamond being essential to an engagement ring comes from the 1940s. The slogan 'a diamond is forever' was first used by De Beers in 1947.
Orbit ring with diamondA diamond's optical properties are one of it's most unique qualities, and the faceted cuts which are very popular make the most of these to increase the sparkle. Along with clear diamonds also come in a variety of natural colours including blue, green, brown, pink and red, and opaque varieties.
Grey opaque diamond rings in 9ct gold
These opaque grey diamonds are a very different look to a traditional faceted clear stone, but still have wonderful optic properties alongside a more rustic feel.
Buying a diamond can be a complicated business, each stone is graded according to it's clarity and many different levels of quality might be available.
There are also complex ethical concerns regarding exploitation, (Have you seen Blood Diamond?? Such a good film.) All the diamonds I buy are certified conflict free according to the Kimberley process. I think it's unlikely you will find much on the UK market now which isn't.
I'm generally a fan of natural materials, but this is often because their imperfection makes them more interesting than mass produced identical items, so if what you are looking for is perfect clarity and sparkle then it is worth considering an alternative like a moissanite. These really don't look any different to the naked eye, and the price is a little less eye watering.
I would love to know what you think. Does it have to be a natural diamond? Do coloured or opaque versions have the same magic?