Monday, April 13, 2015

4.13.15 April showers

...bring wildflowers, with an especially bountiful crop of bluebonnets this year, and hopefully
some drought relief for Central Texas. 

April also brings...DIAMONDS!  Yes, those crystals of perfectly aligned and bonded carbon atoms formed deep in the earth, the hardest known natural substance, are also the birthstone for those (including me) born in April.

Diamonds have a long and fascinating history - with references to them occurring as far back as the 4th Century BC.  Many of the same characteristics that we value in diamonds today - clarity, size, hardness - were valued by the ancients as well.  Faceted diamonds can cut through metals, other stones and light - splitting it into the colors of the rainbow.

My personal interest is in gemstone diamonds, rather than industrial ones - and I am fortunate to have a number of wonderful pieces of diamond jewelry.  I have several that have been gifts from my husband, and others that have resulted from creating new things from old stones.

Diamond cutting has always been both a skill and an art, and with increasingly sophisticated technology has come a wider range of shapes and cuts for diamonds.  The contemporary round or "brilliant" cut dates to the early 1900s, and while there have been modifications in the past hundred years, the basic shape has remained the same.

The piece of jewelry most often associated with diamonds is the engagement ring.  While DeBeers created the modern "a diamond is forever" campaign, the tradition of diamond engagement rings can be traced back as far as the Middle Ages.

My grandmother's wedding band
Like cuts, engagement ring styles change over time.  My grandmother's ring is a "bypass" design, typical of the late 1930s and 1940s.  

My engagement ring is about as simple as you can get, except that I have an emerald cut stone, which is considered to be a "fancy" cut.  I also have an anniversary band - a gift from my husband to mark our first decade together.  It has ten stones, and each of them are ten points - very clever on his part. 

No matter what else I'm wearing, I've always got these rings on.

In addition to fancy shapes - diamonds also come in "fancy colors" - shades of yellow, pink, red and blue.   One of the largest, and most famous diamonds in the world - the Hope Diamond - is blue.

Photo credit: Smithsonian Institution
Because not everyone wants (or can afford) a diamond, there are several other gemstones that are used as April birthstones -  clear or "white" stones, such as sapphire, topaz, moissanite and "herkimer diamonds" also make lovely jewelry.  In fact, this year my birthday bauble is a herkimer and white topaz pendant from Etsy seller GreenGem.

Photo credit: GreenGem
I confess, I am like a crow - attracted to shiny things.  I do love my jewelry - but when I stop and think about it, more than the intrinsic value of any item, it is the story and sentiment that makes each piece a treasure.


Until next time.

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