Birthstones: April - Diamond
One of the world’s most luxurious, glamorous and sought after gemstones, those born in April have a wonderful excuse to ask for an exceptionally sparkling gift! The April birthstone, Diamond, is often poised upon solitaire rings, taken centre stage as pendants and encrusted within timeless tennis bracelets.
Graff Rough Diamond, Source - Forbes
Another Lillicoco university article, the Diamond gemstone guide, sheds light upon this cardinal gemstones’s rich history, whereabouts it is mined and its scientific components.
Yet, as Diamonds are a gemstone that is so ubiquitous with luxury and with gift giving, we thought our April birthstone guide could take a closer look at April birthstone jewellery, and Diamond jewellery as a whole.
A Little History of Diamonds from Ancient Civilisations to Medieval Period
In the past we have written a wonderful blog on the history of the Diamond industry, and why it is a billion pound corporation today. It is no secret that the fascination and love for Diamonds has dated back thousands of years, with an abundance of ancient creations featuring with the sparkling gem.
One of the reasons as to why Diamonds are one of the most popular gemstones is their ability to catch and refract sparkle, creating a bright appearance that other gemstones literally pale in comparison to. This ability alone led ancient Buddhists 3000 years ago to believe that Diamonds were able to ward off evil spirits as talismans.
Ancient Roman Diamond Ring, Source - Medium
Like most gemstones, Diamonds were attributed with healing powers. In the early Middle Ages, it was believed that if the sick or suffering held a Diamond whilst making the sign of the cross then they would be healed. However, it wasn’t long before the world began to notice the value in Diamonds.
From this, Diamonds started to be cut and set into a wide variety of noble and royal jewellery. However, they are far from the glittering pieces you can find today.
The first documentation of Diamond cutting is from 1407, where there was an active guild including Diamond cutters. Until this point, only well-formed Diamonds were used in jewellery. As cutting techniques sophisticated, a wider variety of rough Diamonds can be used, eventually this developed into the three point cut Diamond which became a staple in Renaissance jewellery.
Up until this point, Diamonds were only found in India, and throughout these years the sources were quickly becoming depleted, making Diamonds incredibly expensive and rare to find.
In fact, it wasn’t until the Georgian and Victorian period that more Diamond mines were discovered, allowing these societies to explore more ways of decoration, how to cut them, and how to use them.
Antique Diamond jewellery
Although a small Diamond mine was discovered in Brazil in 1725, larger Diamond deposits wouldn’t be discovered until 1866, meaning that Diamonds in Georgian jewellery are exceptionally rare and expensive.
In the Georgian period, between 1714-1750, jewellers pretty much used Diamonds exclusively within their creations as coloured gems didn’t become fashionable until after 1750. What’s more, it wasn’t until 1780 when Paste jewellery became en vogue.
The most popular Diamond cuts you can find within the Georgian period were the table cut and rose cuts. The Diamonds here did not have as many facets, which meant they were naturally greyer and more silvery in tone.
Spanish Table-Cut Diamond Ring, c.1700-1750, Source - The Victoria and Albert Museum
Spanish Gold Table Cut and Rose Cut Diamond Pendant, late 17th century, Source - The Victoria and Albert Museum
Some of these Diamond pieces were also foiled, so they would be enhanced under candlelight. In 18th century France, the Marquise Diamond cut was created, allegedly inspired by the shape of Madame du Pompadour’s lips.
Portrait of Madame Du Pompadour, 1756, Francois Boucher, Source - Wikimedia Commons
During the Victorian period, Diamonds were still fashionable, yet they actually had a major decrease in value between 1866 and 1880 as a large deposit was found in South Africa, today known as the Kimberly Mine. Due to this, Victorian men and women started commissioning expensive pieces with coloured gemstones like Emeralds, Sapphires, Rubies and Paste gems as Diamonds were seen as common!
Diamonds had a major overhaul in image after 1880 when the De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd was opened, and the rest they say is history!
Today, antique Diamond jewellery is incredibly sought after amongst collectors and jewellery aficionados for many reasons. Firstly, the natural hardness of the Diamonds means that they are still infinitely wearable, and are likely to have been unscathed from time. Secondly, antique Diamond cuts are hardly recreated today, and thirdly, many original Diamond jewellery pieces were melted down and recreated over time if the pieces weren’t deemed fashionable!
Brilliant Cut Diamond, Pearl and Garnet Peacock Brooch, Charles Ashbee, c.1900, Source - The Victoria and Albert Museum
Yet, one of the most pressing concerns surrounding the Diamond industry is the demand for ethical Diamond jewellery. As explored in both our Diamond gemstone guide and history of Diamond industry blog, the Diamond industry does have a dark past, associated with both human and climate exploitation.
Whilst you cannot be certain as to what the working conditions were for mining antique Diamonds at the time, buying antique Diamond jewellery today is considerably more sustainable than purchasing new Diamond jewellery. Not only does it have less impact upon the planet, (as it reduces the demand for virgin materials), but also it means that you are no longer investing your hard-earned money into a Diamond trade that could be causing harm to others!
Famous Diamond Jewellery Pieces
Now that we have given our little altruistic shout out, we can shift our attention to the sparkling famous Diamond jewellery pieces that have graced icons and monarchy alike for the last few centuries.
- The Cullinan - The largest rough Diamond of gem-quality ever found, the Cullinan Diamond weighed an incredible 3106.75 carats. As can be expected, the piece was cut into 105 separate Diamonds including the Cullinan I and Cullinan II. The Cullinan I, also known as the Great Star of Africa is within our British Crown Jewels, isn’t the Queen just so lucky?
- The Hope Diamond - Originally owned by Louis XIV, the hope Diamond was an stunning shade of blue, and was named the Blue Diamond of the Crown of France. Unfortunately, during the French revolution, this magnificent jewel was stolen, and only resurfaced after the statute of limitations for its theft expired (coincidental!). What’s more, there were rumours that the hope Diamond is cursed by the Hindu Goddess Sita. Harry Winston, the last owner of this Diamond, donated this piece to the Smithsonian Institute hoping that a national gem collection in the United States would be created.
- Koh-i-Noor - Translating to “mountain of light” in Persian, the Koh-i-Noor is a brilliant 105.6 carat Diamond that has been passed through the hands of some of the worlds’ most prestigious Indian leaders since the 13th century. During the Victorian era, it is debated whether the Diamond was gifted or surrendered to the Queen as she assumed the Empress of India title. Currently on display within the Tower of London, the true ownership of the stone is still a matter of contention between the Indian and British governments.
- The Centenary Diamond - The 273-carat Centenary Diamond was unearthed by the De Beers Diamond company in 1986. Considered perfectly flawless, the company waited 2 years to announce its discovery on the De Beers 100 year anniversary. Weighing 600 carats in its rough state, a specialised underground facility was built to cut the Diamond and only the very best were hired to perform the job - sixth generation Diamond cutter Gabi Tolkowsky. A beautiful heart shaped Diamond was chosen, and allegedly this piece has an 100 million dollar insurance policy!
- The Tiffany Yellow Diamond - The founder of Tiffany and Co, Charles Lewis Tiffany purchased a 287 carat yellow Diamond in 1877, the largest yellow Diamond ever mined. Fashioned into a dazzling cushion-cut, this Diamond was displayed within a glittering necklace, which Audrey Hepburn wore to promote Breakfast at Tiffanys. Since this, the stone has been re-set twice, and today she can be viewed at Tiffany’s flagship store in New York. Most recently, the Diamond was worn by Lady Gaga at the 2019 Oscars.
- Orlov Diamond - The Orlov Diamond has an incredible story. Mined in India’s Kollur mine, the Diamond was once set into the eye of a deity in Srirangam, a South Indian island. The Diamond was reportedly stolen in 1747, eventually finding its way to Amsterdam where she was sold to Count Grigory Grigoryevich Orlov, a Russian Nobleman who bought it as a gift for Catherine the Great. Catherine had the piece mounted into the Imperial Sceptre in 1784. What is so unusual and peculiar about this Diamond is its shape and hue, exuding blue-ish green tints that are incredibly rare to find.
- Daria-i-Noor - Called the “Sea of Light”, the Daria-i-Noor is one of the world’s oldest and largest cut pink Diamonds. Found today in the Iranian crown jewels, the Diamond is a very delicate blush tone, a hue that is incredibly rare to find in the world.
Daria-i-Noor Diamond, Collection of National Jewels of Iran, Source - Wikimedia Commons
Popular Diamond Cuts
So, what are the different Diamond cuts? As one of the world’s most multifaceted gemstones (pun intended!), Diamonds have been cut into various shapes throughout history.
Antique Diamond cuts
There are a few antique Diamond cuts, old mine cut, rose cut, single cut and old European cut, that are rarely found within the jewellery world today. The old cut Diamonds generally have a higher carat weight than say brilliant cuts and other round facets as they retain more of the original gemstone. Many of these Diamonds were individually cut as centuries ago the technology to create immaculate, precise and symmetrical cuts were not possible.
A single cut Diamond has a large table and octagonal girdle, generally with 18 facets. This type of diamond cut dates back to the 14th century!
A rose cut Diamond, as mentioned previously, was extremely fashionable during the Georgian period, and first appeared in jewellery in the 16th century. This consisted of a flat bottom, dome-shaped crown, and cuts to a single apex meant to represent a rose bud.
An old mine cut Diamond is a squarish cut Diamond with slightly rounded corners, not too dissimilar to the modern cushion cut today! Yet, old mine cut Diamonds have a high crown, small table and a large flat culet. Dating to the 1700s, old mine cuts are peppered throughout Georgian and Victorian jewellery.
Old European cut Diamonds are similar to the old mine cuts in that they have a high crown, small table and flat culet. However, they are more circular in shape with 58 facets in total, paving the way for the round brilliant cut. Emerging on the scene in the 1800s, old European cuts were exceptionally popular during the Victorian, Edwardian, and Art Nouveau.
Art Deco Old European Cut Diamond Trilogy Ring, Source - Lillicoco
These are the most well-known antique Diamond cuts, yet there are even older and rarer ones including the point cut - the earliest known cut and often seen in Tudor and Medieval Diamond jewellery. Other old cuts include table cut, mazarin cut and peruzzi cut.
Guide to antique and vintage Diamond cuts, Source - Diamond Rocks
Modern Diamond cuts
The Diamond cut that we most associate with these glittering gems today is the round brilliant cut. Exuding plenty of the Diamonds natural fire and brilliance the round brilliant cut has a circular girdle and 58 facets, yet lacking the culet that other older Diamonds have.
There are many other Diamond cuts that are known as fancy cuts including princess, cushion, heart, pear, marquise, radiant, asscher, emerald and oval. These fancy cuts are often chosen by Diamond cutters when the raw Diamond is an oddly shaped crystal, so less of its carat weight is lost through the process of cutting and polishing.
Affordable Diamond Jewellery
So why are Diamonds so expensive? Well, Diamonds are a product of mother nature’s 50 million year careful craftsmanship, and thus are relatively difficult to find. What’s more, Diamond price can vary depending on carat, clarity and cut.
Despite the April Birthstone being the most luxurious and sought after, it is also one of the most expensive. So if you are looking for affordable April Birthstone gifts, there are many other semi precious gemstones you can choose from that exude a similar glamorous look and feel to Diamonds.
A colourless variety of topaz, white topaz jewellery would be the perfect cheap april birthstone gift to buy for a loved one. In fact, Topaz’s purest form is colourless as the various other Topaz hues result from impurities present in the material. What’s more, like Diamonds, white Topaz occurs naturally.
White Topaz, Source - Pailin Gemstones
In comparison to Diamonds (Mohs hardness of 10), Topaz has a Mohs hardness of 8, meaning that it is still an incredibly wearable and hard gemstone. Yet, you can expect white Topaz to still scratch slightly over time, yet this depends on how often you wear that piece of jewellery.
For white Topaz to remain beautiful and bright, you will need to have them professionally polished every once in a while. However, Diamond jewellery needs careful maintenance too as their sparkle can dull from the build up of oil, dirt and general grime.
Click here to see our antique white Topaz collection.
Quartz and Rock Crystal
Quartz is a hard, crystalline mineral composed of silicon and oxygen atoms. It’s striking ‘ice-like’ look led many ancient philosophers to believe that it was a form of super-cooled ice. There are many major varieties of quartz including Amethyst, Citrine, Chalcedony, Agate and Tigers Eye.
However, in terms of similarity to Diamonds, the type of Quartz you should be looking for is Rock Crystal, the perfect choice for affordable April birthstone jewellery!
Tibetan Quartz Crystal Cluster, Source - Wikimedia Commons
In antique and vintage jewellery, Rock Crystal was used extensively as a Diamond replacement as it was far cheaper to find. What’s more, Rock Crystal has powerful refractive properties, giving beautiful sparkle. Classic antique rock crystal gifts are pools of light which is pure undrilled Quartz crystal fashioned into a smooth sphere!
Early Victorian Rock Crystal Riviere Necklace, Source - Lillicoco
On the Mohs hardness scale, Quartz is a 7, meaning that it is significantly softer than a Diamond. However, this shouldn’t deter you from buying Quartz jewellery altogether! Stunning Quartz statement jewellery, like dramatic necklaces, briolette earrings, and elegant pendants will be the perfect addition to your jewellery wardrobe.
To see our amazing range of antique rock crystal jewellery, perfect for a loved one born in April, click here!
Swarovski Crystals and Paste
Swarovski crystal jewellery is one of the leading affordable jewellery makers in the world, it is essentially a crystal glass by melting a mixture of quartz sand, minium, potash, which lets in light through a rainbow spectrum. What’s more many of the Swarovski crystals are coated in special metallic coatings.
Before Swarovski crystal, there was Paste. Antique paste jewellery is exceptionally collectable, meaning that although it is generally cheaper than diamond jewellery, in a few instances it is more expensive! Paste jewellery was a form of lead glass that cut in the same way that Diamonds were with a high refractive index. Paste jewellery was incredibly fashionable amongst the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian elite, so these pieces would be a fantastic unique April birthstone gift!
Antique Paste Teardrop Earrings, Source - Lillicoco
Paste jewellery was actually more labour intensive to create than Diamond jewellery, meaning that fine quality Paste pieces would fetch a higher price, and it showed the prestige of craftsmanship.
As a leading antique jewellery company online, we have a gorgeous array of antique Paste jewellery for you to peruse, click here to see our collection!
Antique Diamond Jewellery
As previously mentioned, antique Diamond jewellery is a sustainable April birthstone gift choice. Yet also, in comparison to new Diamond pieces, antique Diamond pieces are far more cost-effective. For example you can get a 1 carat Diamond engagement ring way cheaper than brand new ring, and you get the added bonus of a romantic mysterious story behind the piece.
Classic Diamond Jewellery Gifts
However, if you do want to get an authentic April birthstone gift or you are looking for 60th wedding anniversary gifts, it is no secret that Diamonds are a girl's best friend! Yet, what Diamond jewellery should you purchase? Read below for our handy and easy guide!
Diamond Solitaire Engagement Ring
If you are thinking of proposing to your partner a Diamond engagement ring is the quintessential perfect piece! Not only is it because they are incredibly wearable, due to the Diamond’s strength, but also as Diamonds are notorious for their price tag, it shows to your partner how much you mean to them.
If your fiance-to-be has a preference for coloured gems, then you could look at getting her coloured diamond ring like a pink Diamond ring! Yet, coloured Diamonds are more expensive as they are far rarer than white Diamonds. On the other hand, you could opt for another hard-wearing precious gemstone like Sapphire, Emerald or Ruby. Yet Diamonds are forever!
Diamond Five Stone Ring or Diamond Trilogy Ring
If you aren’t getting engaged, or you are already married, a Diamond five stone ring or Diamond trilogy ring would also be a gorgeous choice! Five stone rings are symbolic of momentous occasions like five year anniversaries, and trilogy rings are symbolic of the past, present and future!
Even if you are planning getting married, then a Diamond five stone ring or Diamond trilogy ring would also be a gorgeous engagement ring!
Diamond Eternity Ring
Diamond eternity rings were incredibly popular in the Art Deco era, and they are the perfect sparkling wedding band to add to your jewellery collection. As the name suggests,eternity rings symbolise forever, commitment and love.
Diamond Tennis Bracelet
A timeless and classic piece of jewellery, a Diamond tennis bracelet is a gorgeous birthday gift for your loved one. Plus, we think it would be an apt 18th or 21st gift due to its radiant sparkle! The history of the tennis bracelet only dates back to the 1970s and 1980s, as Chris Evert a professional USA tennis player famously had her diamond bracelet fall off her wrist during a tennis match.
Another sophisticated and infinitely wearable Diamond jewellery gift would be a Diamond pendant! Whether it’s an elegant round facet piece or a pear droplet, a Diamond pendant will add a subtle touch of sparkle to a date night outfit.
We have a stunning array of antique Diamond jewellery gifts, an ethical and affordable way to get that extra special gift for your loved one! From old European cut Diamond rings to Art Deco Diamond engagement rings and rose cut Diamond pendants, we have everything and more.