The official gemstone for the month of April is diamond; a girls best friends according to Marilyn Monroe in the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes! And its no wonder as in skilled hands, rough diamonds can be transformed into the most beautiful gems. The name ‘diamond’ comes from the Greek adamas, which means something unbreakable and invincible. They are made from carbon, the most abundant mineral on earth, and are formed over millions of years of pressure a mile below the surface of the earth. Diamonds have some truly amazing properties. They have the densest atomical structure, will not react to acid or chemicals, a high level of thermal conductivity (meaning they always feel cold), the highest refractive ability and are the hardest natural material on earth. No one wonder they are so highly prized!
Pretty much every culture on earth has diamonds as part of their folklore and myths. The first known record comes from a Sanskrit text around 322 BC – 185 BC, the ancient Greeks and Romans believed they were tears of the Gods and King Louis IX passed a law stating only kings could wear diamonds. One of the most famous diamonds is the Koh-i-Nur, presented to Queen Victoria in 1850, and was reset into a platinum crown for The Queen Mother in 1937.
Not everyone can afford diamonds, and clear quartz or rock crystal is an affordable alternative. Its is one of the most abundant minerals on earth and comes in many different varieties such as citrine, amethyst and rose quartz. Herkimer diamonds are a particularly sought after variety from Herkimer County, New York. They are prized for their clarity and unique double pointed terminations.
In Europe and the Middle East quartz has been commonly used for jewellery, and up until the 19th century for figure carving, engraved cameos and even vessels like jugs and vases.