April's Birthstone – Diamond
Those born in April can consider themselves lucky to have the prestigious diamond for their birthstone, and it's a stone that has a long association with a number of powers and superstitions.
Tiffany & Co.'s Gregorian Birthstone Poem, published in 1870, has this to say about April's birthstone ...
"She who from April dates her years,
Diamonds shall wear, lest bitter tears,
For vain repentance flow; this stone,
Emblem of innocence, is known."
What is a diamond?
Most people know that "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend", at least according to Marilyn Monroe in the movie "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes", but what exactly is a diamond?
Diamonds are the hardest natural substance yet discovered. They were formed when pure carbon (possibly pre-historic rotting forests, or carbon from the atmosphere) was crushed under immense pressure deep within the earth. All diamonds discovered are over a BILLION years old, and made their way to the earth's surface (or, at least, mineable depths) in ancient volcanic eruptions. Maybe that's why they have such fire! The name 'diamond' comes from the Greek 'Adamas', meaning unbreakable, or invincible. It's certainly true that this stone is exceptionally hard and durable, and the only thing that can cut a diamond is another diamond. Tiny diamond fragments and 'bort' (imperfectly formed 'scrap' diamond crystals) are used to create blades for diamond cutting saws and polishing tools.
Diamonds are rated by the 'Four Cs'; carat, clarity, cut and colour. Carat refers to the diamond's weight (one carat weighs 0.2 grams), clarity is the lack of 'inclusions' and flaws, cut refers to how well the lapidary (gem cutter) has chosen the facets for the best light refraction (not the final shape), and colour is the overall transparency of the gemstone, or the colour of a 'fancy' diamond. Diamonds aren't always clear; they can occur in grey, black, blue, yellow, pink, green and red depending on the chemical inclusions at its time of creation. Coloured diamonds are known as "fancies". Diamonds can even be brown, but as 'brown' has unattractive connotations, jewellers prefer to refer to 'brown' diamonds as 'champagne' or 'cognac' to give them more appeal! Black diamonds are only found in South America and Central Africa, and are believed to have arrived on Earth in meteorites and giant asteroids. Until the mid-nineteenth century it was believed that the world's diamond reserves were running out. Most diamonds until that point were found in India and Brazil but they were becoming increasingly rare, which led to a huge rise in their value. Then, in 1867, 15-year old Erasmus Jacobs discovered a huge diamond in a river bed in Africa. Africa proved to have an almost infinite supply of diamonds and by 1880 almost 90% of the world's diamond mines were owned by the hugely successful De Beers Company. De Beers didn't want to see the price of diamonds fall, so they continue to hold vast quantities in reserve, releasing only a small percentage of those mined to the market each year to perpetuate the myth of their 'rarity and value'. The truth is, we aren't likely to run out of diamonds any time soon, and they're actually very common! Did you know, Australia has a growing reputation as a source of good quality diamonds, especially coloured diamonds like pink, champagne, and bourbon. Now might be a great time to go fossicking in your own back yard! What do diamonds symbolise?
April's diamond symbolises purity, strength, and innocence. It is the stone to wear when you want to ensure success and good health. Diamonds are also believed to increase feelings of love and respect, making them a perfect choice for engagement rings. Peggy Olson, a copy writer for the De Beers company, coined the phrase "Diamonds are Forever" in 1947, and the company has used the slogan in every advertising campaign since. It's very apt considering their durability, and they certainly do symbolise eternity!
Diamond improves energy and endurance, and reduces pain and mental anguish. It is renowned in many cultures for bringing clarity of mind, peace, and focus to the wearer. Ancient Hindus believed a diamond's specific vibration has a positive effect on the heart and mind. If you're feeling unwell or a little down, drop a diamond into a glass of water, and leave it overnight to infuse the water with the diamond's mystical healing properties. The following day, sip regularly from the water and you'll soon be feeling better. A diamond placed over the kidney can also assist in the passing of kidney stones and treatment of urinary tract infections.
*NOTE: Any medical 'advice' is not to be taken as proven. It is merely based on historic superstition and belief. If you are suffering any worrying symptoms, please seek the help of your doctor or trained medical professional before seeking the help of a gemstone!
Superstitions and Beliefs
Diamonds strengthen the muscles of warriors and makes them invincible, or so ancient warriors thought. They would wear diamonds on their armour and shields to make them protect them in battle. Ancient Greeks believed that diamonds were the tears of the gods, and Romans considered diamonds to have fallen to the earth from fragmented stars.
In Biblical times, a diamond was thought to prove the guilt or innocence of an accused criminal. If guilty, the gem would grow dim; if innocent it would shine brightly. You'd have to hope you were accused on a sunny day! Wearing a diamond can protect your from the 'evil eye' as it reflects bad wishes away from you and back onto the sender. That goes for witches' spells too! Diamonds can also protect you from lightning strikes.
Early humans used diamonds as an engraving tool because of their hardness.
The first recorded use of a diamond in an engagement ring was in 1477 when Archduke Maximilian of Austria commissioned a ring for his proposal to the eminently desirable Mary of Burgundy. The ring spelled out the letter 'M' in flat cut diamonds (faceting of diamonds hadn't been discovered yet!) and was reputedly so expensive that it cost the Archduke ten-year's income! In the 13th Century, diamonds were considered so rare, that Louis IX of France passed a law declaring all diamonds be reserved for the king! It's also around this time that mine owners began to spread the belief that diamonds were poisonous to deter their workers from swallowing them to smuggle them out! There are many famous rare and cursed diamonds that have interesting stories attached to them. You can read all about them in the links below.
Any Alternatives? Yes! Don't feel that you have to spend a fortune to own your birthstone.
Originally it was only the colour of the birthstone that was significant, not the type. Making birthstones a specific gem is basically a marketing ploy to increase revenue and turnover, but traditionally any clear stone can be considered the birthstone for April. And with so many 'political' and humanitarian considerations around diamond mining, many people are choosing to seek an alternative for ethical and conscientious reasons. You may have heard that 'White Spinel' is an alternative birthstone for April, but if you want a truly 'diamond-esque' look, a high quality cubic zirconia could fit the bill. Cubic Zirconia is a man-made diamond simulant that so closely resembles real diamond, the difference can only be detected by a trained jeweller with a special tool called a loupe. Cubic zirconias are ALWAYS flawless and can be created to any size you want, and they're incredibly affordable. We have lots of high quality cubic zirconia jewellery right here on our site!
Were you born in April?
If you are an April baby invest in, or request, a gift of diamond or other clear white crystal. As your birthstone all its magical properties will be enhanced for you ensuring a successful life with good health, and remember, April-born people are brave, affectionate and natural born leaders, though sometimes impatient and vengeful. Does that sound like you?
You might also enjoy reading: https://www.crystalvaults.com/crystal-encyclopedia/diamond
Next week: "Gemology: Gemstones Beginning With L..."