Ice, Ice Baby
By Devorah Isenberg , Monday, September 19, 2011
Ever wonder why some people refer to diamonds as “ice”? Or why in some circles, diamond engagement rings are known as “bling” and in others, diamonds are said to be a girl’s best friend? Where did these terms come from?
have always had a mythical element to them. Almost every ancient culture that had access to diamonds had elaborate legends explaining how they came to be. To ancient Hindus, diamonds were the weapons of a god. To Buddhists, the diamond represented spiritual clarity and transcendence. Ancient Greeks believed that young men were transformed into diamonds after angering Zeus. Plato took a more scientific approach and posited that diamonds were fallen matter from the stars.
Once diamonds began to be used in engagement rings, new names were developed. The medieval Italians called it the “Stone of Reconciliation”—anyone who has ever bought diamond jewelry for a loved one will relate to that title!
Diamonds are not only called “ice” because they look like clear, colorless crystals of ice. Their high heat conductivity means that diamonds actually pull heat away from a warmer object they touch. That’s why a diamond will feel cool to the touch when held against the skin or lips.
However, the term “bling” has a slightly less scientific explanation. There are two primary reasons for this term. One is that the word bling is reminiscent of the sound an old-fashioned cash register makes when it is opened, as a reminder of the high value of diamonds. The other explanation is that “bling” is a characterization of the sound one imagines coming from the diamond’s sparkle. Either way, the source of the term is traced back to a song by Tupac Shakur, one of the founders of hip hop culture.
These days, many of the diamond terms you might hear refer to specific elements of the diamond’s cut and quality. A “princess” refers to a princess-cut diamond, a square shape that incorporates a similar facet structure to the classic round brilliant. A “hearts and arrows” is a diamond with a signature pattern in its facets that is a result of a precise cutting technique. But no matter what you call it, we can all agree with Marilyn Monroe’s ageless assertion that diamonds are a girl’s best friend!
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