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April Birthstone: The King Of Gemstones Or A Humble Quartz?

By Antonia Čirjak January 31 2020

Raw translucent Rauchtopaz (Smoky quartz) mineral stone.
Raw translucent Rauchtopaz (Smoky quartz) mineral stone.

The primary birthstone for April is the king of gemstones, and the best-known gem in the world; the diamond. Diamond is not only the most romanticized, but it is also the most heavily marketed gemstone in the world. It is not a rare stone; its yearly production reaches 10 tons, with some percent of it being a gem-quality stone. But it is not at all as rare as similar quality ruby or emerald.

Quartz is the most abundant naturally occurring mineral on Earth and comes in many varieties, from purple amethyst to sunny citrine, pink rose quartz, and many more. Rock crystal, colorless quartz, is prized by carvers. If you choose this alternative birthstone for April, you are in luck, because you can find many pieces with unusual cuts and even carvings for very affordable prices. The natural color of crystal is clear. 

What Does Rock Crystal Symbolize?

The rock crystal name comes from the Greek word meaning "ice": Greeks believed that it was the pure eternal ice created by the Gods. This is why it remains hard forever. Clear crystals symbolize transparency, honesty, loyalty, and truth.

Where To Get The Best Rock Crystal

Although most famous rock crystals come from Herkimer, New York, and Burmaut, there are many more places that mine rock crystal around the world such as Swiss Alps, Brazil, Japan, Madagascar, Australia, Canada.

What Do Diamonds Symbolize?

The word diamond comes from the Greek word "adamas," meaning "the hardest." Diamonds are often used in engagement rings because they are incredibly sturdy, so they have become a symbol of an unbreakable bond, eternal love, faithfulness, and loyalty. 

Qualities of Diamond

Diamonds are essentially pure carbon, sometimes with other trace elements in case of inclusions of colored stones. Diamonds are the hardest known natural gemstone on Earth: they are ten on the Mohs' scale of hardness. This means that diamonds are 140 times harder than sapphires and rubies, which are a nine on the Mohs' scale. It makes the stone very durable in polishing and wear. However, this does not mean diamonds cannot be broken. They do have a weakness called cleavage which means that they can split along certain planes in their crystal structure. One lucky knock in the right direction and the diamond can break. Jewelers know about this quality and exercise care when working with diamonds.

Diamonds not only last for a long time due to their hardiness, but they are also ancient gemstones; some of the oldest known specimens are 3.3 billion years old. The way they form is equally impressive. They come from the Earth's mantle where they form under extreme pressure, in temperatures up to 2372°F and at depths of 100 miles. This set of conditions is essential for diamond formation; if at least one is not met, the carbon takes the form of softer materials like graphite. 

We can only reach diamonds when mantle proliferates closer to the surface through the "pipes" or tubes. These pipes are known as kimberlite, and all the rocks in them are vastly different from the surface, reflecting the high pressure of their formation. Synthetic diamonds are made at pressures as high as 100,000 atmospheres and temperatures around 9032°F, the requirements that make synthesizing diamonds a difficult task. 

Famous Diamonds

Some of the largest rough diamonds ever found include the Cullinan (3106 carats, white, South Africa, 1905); the Excelsior (995.2 carats. white, South Africa, 1893), the Star of Sierra Leone (968.8 carats, white, Sierra Leone, 1972), and the Great Mogul (787.5 carats, white, India, 1650). 

Cullinan 1 and 2 belong to British Crown Jewels. The location of Great Modul is currently unknown: intriguing, isn't it? Some of the other most famous diamonds are fancy-colored, such as blue, green, or orange. 

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