It’s All About A Girl’s Best Friend

Katie Young
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Wednesday - May 16, 2007

Ahhh ... diamonds. Ice. Bling. Every girl’s fantasy.

Well, maybe not every girl’s, but I am one of those females who has been fascinated by diamonds ever since I was a teen. I never owned any until a few years ago, and those came in the form of some earrings. Small, but still sparkly.

Then, for my 30th birthday, I received a diamond necklace from my boyfriend. But nothing could beat the beauty and sentimental value of the diamond engagement band that now encircles the ring finger of my left hand.

I can’t stop staring at it. I look at in different lighting. I check to make sure the diamond is securely fastened in its prongs. I polish its surface non-stop.

Diamonds aren’t for everyone. And I’m sure there are those who consider it mere hype and a marketing scam to insist that every engaged couple needs a pricey symbol of love - or any material symbol at all, for that matter.

But to me, (a professed jewelry fanatic) my ring, while beautiful in its own right, is more beautiful to me because of the time and effort my fiancé went through to get it, and because of what it symbolizes to me about the commitment we share toward our future as husband and wife.

Before we began the search for my ring, I really knew nothing of diamonds, their various qualities, shapes and sizes or what these stones are really all about.

First, there are the four “C’s” of diamond quality: cut, color, clarity and carat weight.

Cut: A diamond’s cut is what gives it its sparkle. The better the proportions of the stone, the better the diamond is able to handle light, creating greater sparkle.

Color: The majority of diamonds range from those with barely perceptible yellow and brownish tints to very rare pinks, blues and greens known as “fancies.” The best color for a diamond, however, is “colorless.”

Clarity: most diamonds contain tiny inclusions, not discernible to the naked eye. The fewer there are and the smaller they appear, the less likely they are to interfere with the passage of light through the diamond.

Carat weight: One carat is divided into 100 points, so a diamond of 75 points weights 0.75 carats.

Two diamonds of equal weight can have very different values, depending on their cut, clarity and color. All these factors together make up the total value of the diamond.

There are several countries around the world that mine diamonds, and movies like Blood Diamond have recognized the problem of dangerous mining conditions for the workers in some of these countries.

“Diamonds, like any other commodity, can be abused,” says Michael Han, president of The Wedding Ring Shop. “But there is an international agreement called the Kimberly Process made by all these industrialized nations that trade diamonds. Adopted in 2000, it’s an agreement between 40 countries and the United Nations to regulate the diamond industry, and control import and export of diamonds across all borders. We all agree that we have to have proof that our diamonds come from a legal source and are conflict-free.”

Now that you know a few basics about diamonds, here are some other interesting diamond facts, courtesy of the San Diego Natural History Museum.

Presenting the “Nature of Diamonds”:

* Most diamonds are over 3 billion years old, two-thirds the age of the Earth. There are a few “youngsters,” though, which are only 100 million years old.

* Most diamonds were formed more than 100 miles below the surface of the Earth, some from perhaps 400 miles down.

* India was the only known source of diamonds before the 6th century and the predominant source for more than 2,000 years.

* Romans believed that diamonds had the power to ward off evil and wore them as talismans. They inherited this belief from Indian mythology.

* Because diamonds can withstand extremely high temperatures and corrosive conditions, and because they are transparent to most forms of light and electromagnetic radiation, they are ideal for use as windows in industry and in space probes, including the 1978 Pioneer space probe to the surface of Venus.

* In the 1950s, the Gemological Institute of America developed the first internationally accepted diamond grading system. This system provides unbiased opinions about the quality of polished diamonds by applying uniform criteria to their grading.

* The largest rough diamond ever found was the Cullinan, 3,106 carats, discovered on Jan. 26, 1905 in the Premier mine of South Africa. It was cut into nine major stones, including the largest gem diamond, the Cullinan 1, or Star of Africa, 550.20 carats. This is mounted in the British Royal Scepter and housed in the Tower of London.

Knowing the intricacies of these jewels makes me appreciate the uniqueness of the one on my finger that much more. It’s oneof-a-kind - just like the love I share with my husband-to-be.

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