Weekly Dish Blog - Where did that thing on my hand come from?
If you’re an engaged or married woman, chances are, you have a diamond ring on your left hand. Actually, 80% of today’s “betrothed” ladies, wear a diamond ring! But how did that custom ever start? Why diamonds? And where do all these diamonds come from? Well, glad you asked! Here’s everything you’ve ever wanted to know about that rock on your hand!
“Betrothal rings” date back to Roman times, but weren’t recognized by the Western World till the 13th century. Way back in ancient Egypt, women wore their “engagement” ring on the 4th finger of their left hand because it was believed that the “vena amoris” (vein of love) ran from that finger, all the way to the heart.
In the mid-1900’s, the idea that a man should spend 2-3 months of his salary on his lady’s engagement ring began. Not surprising, this concept was developed by the DeBeers diamond mine company in an effort to increase the sale of diamonds!
Now let’s talk about the diamond itself! The actual word “diamond” comes from the Greek word meaning “unbreakable”, so it’s no wonder that it became the symbol of eternal love! Natural diamonds are formed deep in the earth in carbon-containing minerals and the growth takes from 1 billion to 3.3 billion years. They’re then brought to the earth’s surface through deep volcanic eruptions through magma. Diamonds can also be produced synthetically in a lab, but are usually yellow, blue, pink or green in color, and are mainly used for industrial purposes.
Okay, that’s the scientific background of diamonds, but let’s get to the good stuff!
As any newly engaged woman soon learns, diamonds are based on “The 4 C’s”- color, cut, clarity and carat. As anyone who’s seen the Hope Diamond knows, diamonds come in many colors, not just sparkling white/clear. What makes one diamond cost more than another is mostly based on the clarity (meaning no occlusions in the diamond), and carat (weight/size). Cut is often determined once a diamond cutter or cleaver, looks at the stone, allowing them to cut the biggest stone possible, avoiding any occlusions. Cut is pretty much personal preference, but ALL diamonds are gorgeous!
Here are some fun facts you may not know about that diamond on your finger!
• The previously mentioned DeBeers company (based in Johannesburg, South Africa) controls a significant portion of the diamond trade. One of their mines, the Jwaneng Mine in Botswana, produces between 12,500,00 to 15,000,000 carats every YEAR! (Wonder what Mrs. DeBeer’s ring looks like?)
• 92% of the world’s diamonds are cut & polished in Surat, India.
• A diamond with numerous facets (angles cut into the diamond to allow full refraction of white light, giving the diamond its sparkle), can have half its original weight cut away in the process of facet cutting.
• 80% of mined diamonds aren’t suitable for use as gemstones, so instead are sold for industrial use. The hardness of the diamond makes it ideal for cutting purposes, such as drill bits, saw blades, etc.
• To produce a single, one-carat diamond, 250 tons of earth will be moved.
• In their purest state, diamonds are brilliant & entirely colorless.
• Diamonds are virtually fireproof
• Australia accounts for producing the most diamonds, in volume.
• The largest diamond ever found in the US was at The Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas, and weighed in at a whopping 40.23 carats! It was dubbed “The Uncle Sam Diamond”.
• To maintain the high price of diamonds, De Beers creates an artificial scarcity: they stockpile mined diamonds and sell them in small amounts.
• All in all, diamonds are NOT a good investment. It’s very unlikely that you’d be able to sell your diamond for more than you paid for it.
• All natural diamonds are at LEAST 990,000,000 years old, with some as old as 3.2 BILLION years old!
• Richard Burton gave Elizabeth Taylor a stunning 69.42 carat pearl-shaped diamond back in the 60’s. The rough diamond originally weighed 240 carats, but was “cleaved’ or cut down to the perfect 69.42 carat diamond that Liz wore till the day she died. The “cleaver” that cut the diamond was surrounded by television cameras as he cut this most-precious stone.