April Birthstone: Diamond. October Birthstone Color is Clear White
By Devorah Isenberg
, Tuesday, August 23, 2011
By Devorah Isenberg
, August 23, 2011
Q: What is the April birthstone?
For any fine jewelry lover, April is the best month in the year. Not only does the weather turn warm and flowers bloom, but April’s birthstone is the diamond—the king of the gemstones. In fact, for a month often filled with color in the form of flowers, plants and birds, the birthstone for April can seem like a surprising choice. With its clarity, hardness, and otherworldly sparkle, diamonds are often compared to ice. Wouldn’t that be more suited for the winter months? Surely there is another birthstone April is more suited for.
Whiteflash A CUT ABOVE Diamond
But the more you learn and discover about the birthstone of April, the more you will realize that its uniqueness and individual beauty make it perfect for the month of April. A diamond seems simple in its shape and color—any child can tell you what it looks like—but it is remarkably complex in its ability to reflect and refract light, turning the visual spectrum into a dazzling display of rainbow colors. Diamonds have been studied more closely by gemologists than perhaps any other stone, and have been the number one gem in the world for many decades. But of course, the history of the April birthstone stretches back much farther than that.
The ancient Hindus revered the diamond, calling it “vajra,” meaning lightning, as a testament to the superior strength and light-reflecting qualities of the stone. In Buddhist teachings, a diamond was supposed to be so hard as to pierce through the false perceptions of the world and reveal the mystical secrets behind it. In Greece, diamonds were known as “adamas” and were said to have been created when Zeus transformed a group of rebellious youths into stone. In fact, the mystical associations with the diamond were so strong that for many centuries, Christians avoided diamonds for their pagan implication.
Ultimately, however, the diamond’s natural beauty won them over and medieval royalty used diamonds to embellish only the most revered objects such as crowns and swords, while doctors told patients to wear diamonds close to their hearts to help heal them. Soldiers wore diamonds into battle as a protective amulet, as they were said to help avoid panic and fear. Even scientists of the early modern era could not resist ascribing almost spiritual notions to the diamond—some said it was made of pure water, others that it came from the stars.
Diamonds have come to represent the superlative qualities in many other things as well. Queen Victoria’s celebration of the 60th year of her reign was known as the Diamond Jubilee, while the 60th wedding anniversary is now known as the diamond anniversary.
Diamonds are formed deep under the earth’s crust, under tremendous heat and pressure. Carbon molecules react to that pressure by crystallizing and turning in diamonds, which are then brought to the earth’s surface by volcanic activity. Once near the surface, all it takes is a few diamonds to wash up in a river for the establishment of a mine and the discovery of billions of dollars worth of diamonds. Although diamonds were first mined in India, today diamonds are found in Australia, Africa and Russia.
Everyone knows that the diamond is the hardest naturally-occurring mineral, but not everyone realizes the extent of that superiority—in fact, the diamond is four times harder than the next-hardest minerals. As many people know, a diamond is so hard that is traditionally cut only with another diamond. Diamond dust is used commercially for the most durable and sharpest knives and cutting tools. A diamond does, however, have points of cleavage, where a well-aimed blow can separate it along a distinct plane. While cutters make use of these planes when cutting a diamond, jewelers must take care to set the stone so none of these points are exposed and vulnerable to strike. Besides for its hardness, diamonds are also set apart for their high refraction, intense fire, unusual brilliance, rarity, and durability. While diamonds can naturally occur in several colors, such as yellow and pink, traditionally the April birthstone color has been attributed to the classic, colorless diamond.
Of course, a diamond in the rough looks nothing like the sparkling, polished birthstone of April that adorns thousands of engagement rings every year. Gemstone cutting techniques did not approach their modern-day standards until the 16th century. At first, it was considered taboo to alter the natural state of the diamond, but as cutting techniques improved, people began to realize how much potential for beauty was contained in every single rough diamond. Today, a great percentage of the value of a diamond is dependent on how skillfully it is cut and polished.
Above all, the diamond symbolizes everlasting love and loyalty. What is the birthstone for April? Nothing less than the most valuable, powerful and beautiful stone in the world.