Saturday, March 26, 2011

Diamond: April's Birthstone

How lucky is the lady born in April? With diamonds as her birthstone, why would she want anything else? After all, as Marilyn Monroe so breathlessly sang in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes ... 

A kiss on the hand may be quite continental
But diamonds are a girl's best friend
Diamonds ... Diamonds
I don't mean rhinestones
But diamonds are a girl's best friend
Diamond Solitaire 14K Gold Engagement Rings ($695 to $995 each)
Diamonds have been treasured for their brilliance and beauty for many centuries. When diamonds became a part of our lives is unclear but where they entered is completely certain -- in India. An old Indian text from the 4th century BC notes that diamonds were known, traded and even taxed in India at that time. The Romans treasured diamonds and examples of Roman diamond jewelry can be found in several museums.

The European love of diamonds was subdued after the fall of the Roman Empire, as Christianity took a dim view of the Roman's superstitions about diamonds. Contrary to the European situation, the gem maintained  its popularity in the Indian and Islamic world, reappearing in Europe in the 14th century.
Two gold rings with old diamonds that were re-set in the 1940s. Left: Old European cut diamonds ($2295). Right: Old table cut diamonds ($975).
Early diamonds were simply polished crystals, but when the diamond industry revived in Europe, the process of cutting and polishing diamonds was established. (FYI: Indian artisans not only polished diamond crystals, but had learned to cleave, cut and polish diamonds early on.) The history of diamond cuts is an interesting one. The brilliant cut which we are all familiar with today, did not emerge until the 19th century. The earliest cuts were the pyramid and table cuts. Today we also hear much of "old mine cut" and "old European cut" diamonds used in 19th century jewelry.
Victorian Jewelry with center Diamonds. Gold-filled Locket ($95) and 14K Gold Pin with Enamel Decoration ($165)
Old mine cut diamonds in enamel pansies. These were re-set in 14K gold in early the 1940s into these gorgeous pieces ($2950 each)
Diamonds have also produced many unique and whimsical sayings through the years: 

• Diamonds never leave you ... men do. (Shirley Bassey)
• I don't exercise. If God had wanted me to bend over, he would have put diamonds on the floor. (Joan Rivers) • I have always felt a gift diamond shines so much better than one you buy for yourself! (Mae West)
• I never hated a man enough to give his diamonds back. (Zsa Zsa Gabor)
Art Nouveau-style 14K Gold Rings. Left is a wedding set with a large fresh water pearl ($295). Right is a floral designed ring ($695)
Over the years, famous diamonds have been given names. Some of the most well-known gems are the Blue Hope diamond (which is in the Smithsonian), the Taylor-Burton diamond (a gift from Richard Burton to his lover Elizabeth Taylor) and the great Star of Africa diamond (the largest cut diamond in the world).
Taylor-Burton Diamond
Hope Diamond
Great Star of Africa Diamond
While here at Vintages, we do not have any of these great, famous stones, we do have several wonderful pieces of diamond jewelry. The gallery below features jewelry that have diamonds without other gems in the setting. However, we have a number of lovely pieces that feature diamonds with gems such as blue topaz, rubies, emeralds, garnets and more. Check out our online selection, and stop in the shop to see more.
Platinum and Diamond Bracelet ($1995)
14K Gold Brooch with Diamonds and Carved Rock Crystal ($695)
Multi-colored Gold Cross with center Diamond ($245)
18K White Gold Ring with Diamonds and center Turquoise Cabochon ($1295)
Online References:History of Diamonds Famous Diamonds Historical Diamond Cuts

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