This month’s birthstone needs little introduction, as the gemstone associated with April birthdays is diamond.
Sparkling, clear gems that offer fire and brilliance, diamonds have been sought after for millennia. The first people to fall under their spell were Indians in the 4th century BC. The gems were found tumbling in rivers in India, where they were scooped up and set in jewels or traded with Europeans. This idyllic method of discovery is a far cry from today’s more industrial methods of diamond retrieval, but the romanticism around diamonds has not dimmed.
After their discovery, diamonds soon became associated with royalty, and some of the largest gems – including the gems cut from the famous Cullinan diamond – can be seen in the crown jewels of the British royal family.
While diamonds were the playthings of the elite for hundreds of years, they soon took on a more everyday role when couples started to use them as tokens of love. It is said that the first diamond engagement ring was gifted to Mary of Burgundy in 1477, presented by her soon-to-be-husband Archduke Maximillian of Austria.
However, diamond engagement rings didn’t enter the mainstream until the 1940s, when De Beers launched a campaign to encourage men to seal their proposals with diamonds. The slogan it led with, which remains popular to this day, is: A diamond is forever.
Durability is one of the qualities that endear us to diamonds, even though it is the sparkle that is talked about most. Diamond was formed millions of years ago, deep beneath the earth, when volcanic eruptions put carbon under huge amounts of pressure at a high heat. The result was diamond – a tough gemstone formed under pressure that is up to the knocks and scrapes that inevitable comes with everyday wear in jewellery.
When buying a diamond ring, we are taught to look for the four Cs – carat, colour, cut and clarity. The best – and, as such, most expensive diamonds – are large in size (measured in carats), colourless (the colour scale runs from D to Z, with D being colourless), have an ideal cut and are flawless, meaning they are free of dark marks known as inclusions.
This is the classic scale of beauty in diamonds, however in recent years we have started to appreciate the beauty of alternative diamonds. These gems would once have been rejected due to heavy inclusions or low colour grades, but now their differences are being celebrated and the stones are being rebranded, with names such as salt ‘n’ pepper diamonds.
The round brilliant cut offers the most sparkle, but other cuts have benefits too. Elongated cuts such as pear shapes and marquise diamonds can lengthen a finger, while antique-inspired rose cuts deliver a more subtle sparkle. There is also a rising trend for cuts that place design over sparkle, with unusual shapes such as kites, half moons and even star-shaped diamonds winning favour with the fashionable crowd.
Whether you prefer the traditional sparkle of a round brilliant diamond or something a little quirkier, the best advice is to follow your heart when buying diamond jewellery. While the Four Cs are a great guide when considering how much you should pay for a diamond, the true value is how a gemstone makes you feel, and often gems that fall outside the ideal set of credentials are the ones that make your heart sing.
10 diamond jewels for April birthstone jewellery…
18ct gold, ceramic and floating diamond Stellar necklace
£2,650, available at The Jewellery Cut Shop
20ct gold and diamond Double Shimmer Band ring
$11,500, available at Reinstein Ross
18ct Fairtrade gold, blue sapphire, green sapphire ruby and diamond Catkin Happenstance Plume earrings
£2,950, available at The Jewellery Cut Shop
18ct gold and diamond Eight Point Heart necklace
$4,150, available at Pamela Zamore
silver, aquamarine and diamond Diamond Lagoon earrings
£3,966, available at The Jewellery Cut Shop
18ct gold, tanzanite, sapphire and diamond Lily Dew ring
CHF5,900, available at Gübelin
9ct recycled gold and Canadian diamond Pinky Promise ring
£390, available at The Jewellery Cut Shop
Kavant and Sharart
18ct gold and diamond Origami Swan earrings
$3,300, available at Kavant and Sharart
18ct gold and diamond pavé Move ring
£4,480, available at Messika
18ct gold and diamond Smart earrings, with 18ct gold, Tahitian pearl and diamond charms, sold separately
£2,200 (combined price), available at The Jewellery Cut Shop