A Practical Guide to Diamonds Part 1 : History and Geology

medieval diamond ring
15th Century Italian gold ring featuring an early point-cut diamond. Via Medieval Visions Tumblr.

Since antiquity, man has been captivated with and fascinated by diamonds. Present in the cultures of ancient India and Greece, diamonds were long revered as items of material and spiritual value, and were worn to project qualities of strength, courage, and wisdom . In European court culture, diamonds were associated with romance and love, and have since been used as a symbol of commitment and strength in a relationship.

Uncut diamond rough displaying the crystal's octahedral growth structure
Uncut diamond rough displaying the crystal’s octahedral growth structure

Despite their incredible rarity and value to us, diamonds are actually made of one of the most common elements in the world, carbon. However, unlike coal, diamonds have a remarkable atomic structure that makes them transparent and incredibly hard. Diamonds are the crystallized form of carbon, formed into a regular, repeating structure called a crystal lattice by prolonged exposure to tremendous heat and pressure. Diamonds are created deep within the Earth’s crust, where such environments exist, and most are around 3 billion years old, dating to the early history of the planet itself.

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