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Amazing Carbon

Soot from a smoky candle - soft, black, opaque, so worthless it is wiped away as a nuisance. This is the element called carbon.

The diamond in a queen's tiara - harder than any other natural substance, colorless, transparent, flashing with all the brilliance of fresh dew, so costly it is worth a king's ransom - this is also carbon, nothing more, nothing less.

The difference between them - soot forms at ordinary temperature and pressure; diamond at a temperature and pressure so high it is equivalent to that existing 150 miles below the earth's surface.

Billions of years ago, the elemental forces of heat and pressure miraculously transformed the carbon into diamond in the cauldron of boiling magma that lay below the surface of t
he earth. The volcanic mass, in which this crystallization took place, then thrust upwards and broke through the earth's surface to cool in Kimberlite pipes that most diamonds are found today.

Thus, when you pick up your diamond jewelry - ring, earrings, pendant, cuff link or brooch - you are literally holding a piece of geological history in your hand.

Shapes of a Diamond

The precision and delicacy with which your diamond is cut will determine its brilliance, its fire, and its ultimate beauty. The shape you select is a matter of individual taste and today your choice is only limited by the skill and imagination of  the craftsman. The round brilliant is the most popular shape, but there is a wide variety of other shapes that range from the traditional marquise, pear, emerald, oval, baguette or heart, to the more fanciful and creative.
An Enduring Symbol of Love

Until the 15th century, only kings wore diamonds as a symbol of strength, courage and invincibility. Over the centuries, however, the diamond acquired its unique status as the ultimate gift of love. Indeed, it was said that Cupid's arrows were tipped with diamonds which have a magic that nothing else can equal. Since the beginning, diamonds have always been associated with romance and legend. The very word 'diamond' comes from the Greek 'adamas' meaning unconquerable, suggesting the eternity of love. The Greeks also believed the fire in the diamond reflected the constant flame of love.

But it was not until 1477, when Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave a diamond ring to Mary of Burgundy, that the tradition of diamond engagement rings began. Even the reason a woman wears it on the third finger of her left hand dates back to the early Egyptian belief that the vena amoris (vein of love) ran directly from the heart to the top of the third finger of the left hand (counting the index finger).

How To Care For Your Diamond

A clean diamond not only reflects light better, but actually looks bigger than one that's been 'dulled' by skin oils, soap, cosmetics and cooking grease. Diamonds have an affinity for grease and should be cleaned once every month to keep their fire at its brightest.

Buy one of the brand-name liquid jewelry cleaners with its kit, and follow the instructions.

Some Don'ts and One Do

1. Don't let your diamond come in contact with chlorine bleach when you're doing housework. It won't hurt the diamond, but it can pit or discolor the mounting. Long exposure in the swimming pool can also have the same effect to the mounting.

2. Don't wear your diamond when you're playing sports, doing rough work or doing the dishes. Even though a diamond is durable, it can be chipped by a hard blow along the grain.

3.  Don't jumble your diamond pieces in a drawer or jewelry case, because diamonds can scratch each other and also scratch other jewelry.

4.  Do take your diamond to your jeweler for a 'check-up' at least once a year. he will check your ring for loose settings and signs of wear. He'll usually give them a professional 'shine-up' too.
Why Diamonds Are So Valuable

Anything extremely rare is precious. Diamonds, formed billions of years ago are rare in that only a few survived the hazardous journey from the depths of the earth to reach the earth's surface. Indeed, you may be surprised to learn that even though diamond production has increased in recent years, it is estimated that as little as 350 tons have ever been mined in recorded history to date. Of diamonds mined today, only about 50% are judged to be of gem quality. Even fewer are large enough to be cut into diamonds that are much bigger than the head of a match.

To recover the relatively small amount for both gem quality and industrial diamonds is not easy, even with today's technology. Approximately 250 tons of ore must be mined and processed from the average Kimberlite pipe in order to produce one carat polished diamond of gem quality.