From Stone to Gem
By Awake! correspondent in Belgium
BECAUSE of its great beauty, it has been a favorite gem for ages. Because of its hardness—it is the hardest natural substance known to man—it is widely used in tools and machinery. This fascinating stone is the diamond.
Some famous diamonds are surrounded by intriguing tales. The one named Koh-i-noor, meaning “Mountain of Light,” was found seven centuries ago in India. Originally, the lumpy stone was 191 carats, but it was later cut to 109 carats.* Then, too, there is the Cullinan, which is part of the British crown jewels and is the largest diamond ever found and cut.
From a Rock to a Gem
Diamonds do not start as beautiful gems. Most have to be dug out of the ground. On the average, 250 tons of dirt must be moved and sifted to obtain one carat of pure diamond. Of the 40 to 50 million carats mined every year, only a small fraction are suitable for jewelry.
Rough diamonds must be sorted for size, purity, color, and shape. In the rough, practically every diamond has impurities. But sometimes a section may be free or relatively free of impurities. In these cases the part that has no impurities is isolated by cleaving or sawing. When large and expensive stones are involved, craftsmen have been known to deliberate for months before making any cuts. This is easy to understand when you consider that one single mistake when cleaving can greatly reduce the value of the diamond or even ruin the entire stone.
Finally, polishing gives the diamond its facets, which must harmonize with its shape. These facets endow the gem with the capacity to reflect light, giving the diamond the brilliance for which it is so well-known.
The next time a diamond captures your attention with its brilliance and beauty, remember the hard work of the miners and the precision and skills of the craftsmen. Without them the diamond could never have been transformed from an unattractive glassy rock into a beautiful jewel.
A carat is a unit of weight equal to one fifth of a gram.