The mid-1500's were an energetic time; Martin Luther of Germany
and Henry VIII of England had broken with the Church of Rome; Ivan
IV (the Terrible) expanded Russia to its present-day borders, and
Ottoman sultan Suleiman extended the Turkish empire as far west
as Vienna. It was during this time of ferment that the first diamond-cutters'
guild was formed in Antwerp, located in present-day Belgium. An
industry soon developed for the purpose of appraising loose diamonds,
giving birth to the modern diamond jewelry market. Antwerp continues
to be the center of the international diamond jewelry trade.
Diamond jewelry has been valued and worn throughout most of
recorded history, although the art and science of cutting
loose diamonds is relatively new - and diamond jewelry has
only been available to the general public for the last 150
years or so.
Prior to that, diamond jewelry was worn almost exclusively
by royalty. The earliest example of diamonds being placed
in a setting dates from the time of the Norman Invasion of
England; at that time, one of the ?rp?d kings of Hungary,
possibly Andrew I, had rough-cut diamonds set into a crown
for his queen. However, cut diamonds would not be available
for another half-millenium.
The gems that are used in diamond jewelry is 75% science and 25%
art. Together, these make up the "4 Cs" that are used to evaluate
"Carat" of course refers to the weight of the gem;
a carat is equivalent to about 2 decigrams, or a mere 1/150th of
an ounce. That means the largest cut, polished diamond in existence
- the famed Star of Africa - weighs just a little over 2-1/4 pounds.
Although we generally think of clear or white diamonds, they come
in a wide range of colors ranging from crystal-clear white to dark
amber. Pink, green, blue and even purple diamonds are not unusual,
and some colored diamonds are far more valuable than their white
Clarity refers to just that - how clear the stone appears. All natural
and artificial diamonds have internal flaws; the fewer or the less
apparent these flaws are, the higher the appraisal is likely to
These three qualities are objective, and easily measured and quantified.
Cut is a more subjective quality; selecting gems that are appropriate
for use in diamond jewelry requires a good eye and aesthetic sense.
Of course, loose diamonds are not really jewelry until they are
placed in a setting, such as a ring or necklace. Even the finest
diamonds' value can be affected by the setting; it is a value-added
aspect of diamond jewelry.
Resource: Jonathon Blocker writes about diamond jewelry, colored
diamonds, and buying loose diamonds. He is a consultant for GemFind.com,
a trusted name in the jewelry industry since 1999.