April's Birthstone: Diamond
As one of the most precious and sought after gemstones, Diamond is commonly accepted as April's Birthstone. Diamonds are created by natural conditions that only occur about 100 miles under the surface of the earth. Before we ever see what beauty a Diamond holds, it goes through several processes. After it is taken from the earth, the rough gemstone must be cut and polished in a specific way to enhance their luster.
The Diamond has been admired and beloved for many years. Getting their start in India, Diamonds were gathered from rivers and streams throughout the country. It is possible that India was trading in Diamonds as early as the fourth century BC, and over time Indian Diamonds traveled all the way to Venetian markets where they quickly became popular among British nobility by the 14th Century.
At the start of the 1700's, India's Diamond supply began to decline, and around this same time Brazil emerged as an important World Diamond source, and they dominated the market for more than 150 years. However, political changes and upheavals changed the distribution of wealth, and the 1800's brought about the affluence of western Europe and America. At the end of the 1800's, rich Diamond deposits were discovered in South Africa, and demand broadened. With the founding of De Beers, by 1900, 90% of the Diamond market was controlled through its mines in South Africa.
The four characteristics that generally determine a Diamond's quality are called the 4 C's: Color (or how close to colorless the Diamond is; for "fancy" colored Diamonds, this refers to the intensity of the hue), Cut ( accurate proportions, symmetry, and polish), Clarity (how many inclusions are visible within the stone), and Carat (the Diamond's weight). All of these factors are carefully considered to determine a Diamond's value.