The Eternal Diamond
Plus Opals, Bloodstones, Jasper and Topaz
The April birthstone is the diamond, according to the official list from the American National Association for Jewelers. Traditionally, the diamond is thought to represent eternity, courage, purity and innocence. No doubt it is because of these imputed attributes that the diamond is so closely associated with engagements and weddings. After all, we all want to come to our marriage with a sense of purity and innocence; we want our love to last for eternity; and we know that sustaining any relationship takes a lot of courage. The diamond is the perfect reminder of all these attributes. The lucky women who are born with this birthstone often have a great reason to wear diamond jewelry throughout their lives, whether or not they are ever married or engaged.
While the diamond is the primary April birthstone, there are also alternate birthstones that appear on modern, traditional, zodiac and ancient birthstone lists. Women may wish to select one of the alternate birthstones for the April. Bernardine Fine Art Jewelry has compiled a list that combines all the different alternatives, so that women have a full range of choices. For April, their list includes opals, bloodstones, jasper and topaz. While these stones all make delightful pieces of jewelry, most women will want to have at least one diamond in their life.
What is a Diamond?
The word Diamond comes from an ancient Greek word that meant unbreakable. Natural diamonds are formed when carbon is put under high pressure at a high temperature for between one billion and 3.3 billion years. They are generally formed between 140 and 190 kilometers deep in the earth’s mantle, and come to the surface as a result of volcanic eruptions and natural movement below the earth’s surface.
Synthetic diamonds can also be created in a high pressure and high temperature process which mimics the natural conditions, but is much faster. Simulated diamonds, such as cubic zirconia, are actually made of non-diamond materials, although they can closely resemble the appearance of diamonds.
Natural diamonds were probably first mined inIndiaabout 6,000 years ago. They were treasured as gemstones, but were also used as engraving tools because of their extreme hardness. Although their most pleasing use has long been for adornment, diamonds are still used for commercial purposes today. Blue diamonds, for example, are natural semiconductors. In fact, about 80% of mined diamonds are not suitable to be used as gemstones, and they are used for industrial purposes, instead.
During the 20th century, gemologists developed a system for grading diamonds, as well as other gemstones. Their value is determined by the 4 C’s: carat, cut, color and clarity. In other words, the larger the stone, the fancier the cut, the purer the color, and the clearer it is (without flaws), the more valuable the diamond will be.
Another system for evaluating gemstones is known as the Mohs scale of mineral harness. On this scale, the diamond is rated a 10, or the hardest mineral. It is because of its hardness that the diamond often lends itself so well to commercial or industrial purposes.
What are Opals?
Although virtually every woman will want a diamond at some time in life, she may prefer to use a different stone for her birthstone. Sometimes she will want to wear the alternate stone alone, and at other times she will want to have it set with a diamond bezel. One alternative for the month of April is the opal. Nearly all of the world’s supply of opals comes fromAustralia, which has named the opal as its national gemstone.
Unlike other stones that reflect light, the internal structure of opals cause them to diffract light; as a result, it can appear to contain many different colors, including blue, gray, orange, red, white, green, yellow, magenta, rose, slate grey, brown, pink, black and even appear clear in some spots. This unique mixture of colors is one of the reasons why opals are so well suited to being turned into jewelry.
What are Bloodstones?
Bloodstones are actually a form of the mineral heliotrope. Although there are different colors of bloodstones, the name comes from the stones that are made of dark green quartz and have some inclusions of red. The tiny blood red spots are the reason these stones are called bloodstones. Bloodstones are frequently found inIndia, although they can also come fromAustralia,Brazil,Chinaand theUnited States.
What is Jasper?
Jasper is an opaque variety of silica. It is usually red, yellow, brown or green, and is appreciated because of its impurities which cause the stone to be threaded with fine lines. When the colors in a piece of jasper are in stripes or bands, it is called striped or banded jasper. The name jasper actually means spotted or speckled stones. It comes in a variety of colors, so you can select the color that is most appealing to you as a birthstone.
What is Topaz?
There is still another choice for the person looking for an alternative to the diamond as an April birthstone. This last stone is Topaz. Pure topaz is almost transparent and colorless, with hints of impurities that give it bits of color. Some of the tints you might find in a piece of topaz could be wine, red, orange, gray, yellow, blue or brown.
Choosing the Best Birthstone for Your Loved One
If your loved one wants an item of birthstone jewelry, and her birthday is in April, there is no doubt that she hopes to receive something adorned with diamonds. However, diamonds can be expensive. It is not unusual to select another stone, as well, and then have it set with a small diamond as an accent. This is the least expensive way to honor the diamond as the April birthstone, while staying within a reasonable budget.
Where to Buy Birthstone Jewelry
Diamonds are readily available in any store that sells fine jewelry. They can be purchased at jewelry stores and high end department stores throughout the world. Because diamonds are such a popular stone, it is possible to find a large selection of diamond jewelry anywhere diamonds happen to be sold. They can also be purchased online from sites like Amazon, as well as the websites for many jewelry stores.
The other birthstones on this list are less plentiful in fine jewelry stores, although they may have a small selection. Since opals, bloodstones, jasper and topaz are all considered semi precious rather than precious stones, your selection in a store is going to be more limited. If you are interested in purchasing jewelry made with one of these stones, you may want to at least comparison shop online, to see what is available.
Buying Jewelry Online
The best way to select a diamond is to purchase it in person, since you want to be certain that you get the luster and clarity that you are expecting. However, if you decide to purchase jewelry online, you need to be prepared for the fact that it will not look exactly like the item of jewelry depicted on your computer screen. Since these are natural stones, no two stones are going to look exactly the same. You need to be prepared to enjoy the unique qualities of the stone you receive.
Source for alternate birthstone selections: bernardine.com/birthstone
Source for information about specific stones: wikipedia.com
Source for photos of finished birthstone jewelry: amazon.com
Gorgeous Diamond Earrings
Affordable choices from Amazon.com
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Diamond Wedding Ring Sets
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Opal Jewelry is an April Birthstone Alternative
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(price as of Jan 30, 2015)