Updated: Aug 23, 2021
Ice, bling, or frosting.
Whatever you call it, this post is all about diamonds!
Yes, we are going to read about the hardest natural substance on earth, which consists of the same material as the grey stuff in any pencil.
(And why I don't work with them)
Fact about diamonds
Diamonds are billions of years old, the oldest is believed to be 3.3 billion years old. Diamonds were first discovered in India.
The only thing that can scratch a diamond is another diamond. It is also one of two birthstones of April.
Diamonds are made of a single element—they’re nearly 100% carbon. Under the immense heat and pressure far below the earth’s surface, the carbon atoms bond in a unique way that results in diamonds’ beautiful and rare structure.
The leading diamond producers are Russia, Botswana, Canada, Angola, South Africa, Namibia, and Australia.
You can test for yourself if you have a real diamond or a fake one by drawing a line with a pencil on a piece of paper. place the diamond on top of the line and look from above. You will see the line through a fake diamond but not through a real one.
Diamonds are not bulletproof, unlike popular beliefs.
You can find diamonds about 3 mm big along the river beds in Finnmark and Hallingdal, Norway.
Scientists have discovered a planet that they believe is composed mostly of carbon, and is a one-third pure diamond! Discovered in 2004, the planet orbits a nearby star in the Milky Way, and is named “55 Cancri e”.
There is a star that is essentially a diamond. The scientist that discovered the star named it Lucy, after the Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”
Now, that was the fun facts. It's time to go over the bad news. The reason I don't work with this old, precious gemstone.
Or blood diamonds, brown diamonds, hot diamonds, or red diamonds are diamonds mined in a war zone and sold to finance an insurgency, an invading army, warlords... You get the idea.
The term is used to bring to light the horrid consequences of the diamond trade in certain areas. Diamonds mined during the 1900-2000s civil wars in Angola, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Guinea Bissau have been given the label.
The movie "Blood Diamond" (2006) with Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou was inspired by the "A Rough Trade" report written by Global Witness. You can read many more reports by Global Witness on conflict diamonds here. Just a small warning: they have a lot.
There is a system to keep blood diamonds out of the market.
Kimberley Process Certification Scheme
KPCS was made as a response to the Fowler Report, in an attempt to keep conflict diamonds away from mainstream trade.
The Kimberley process was set up "to ensure that diamond purchases were not financing violence by rebel movements and their allies seeking to undermine legitimate governments."
The Kimberley Process attempted to curtail the flow of conflict diamonds, help stabilize fragile countries and support their development. The Kimberley Process has brought large volumes of diamonds onto the legal market that would not otherwise have made it there. This has increased the revenues of poor governments and helped them to address their countries’ development challenges.
Sounds perfect, right?
Problems med KPCS
Amnesty International and One Sky (Canadian aid group) are initially positive to the Kimberley Process but both have noted that the process can not guarantee that all conflict diamonds will be identified and removed from the market and the overall process are open to abuse. This is because KPCS does not have a mandatory, impartial monitoring system or independent and periodic reviews of all countries in place. Nor does the Kimberley Process have a system of expert, independent and periodic reviews of all countries
Fatal Transactions campaign's founder Anne Jung in 2008 criticized KPCS for not being a legally binding agreement.
The African Diamond Council (ADC) has put to question whether the Kimberley Process is realistically enforceable. Many factors can jeopardize the "Officialdom of certificates and paperwork" from lack of enforcement on the ground to the secrecy in the diamond trading centers such as Antwerp.
Global Witness, a key member of the KPCS and was one of the first organizations to bring the issue of 'conflict diamonds' to international attention. According to Global Witness, the Kimberley Process has ultimately failed to stem the flow of conflict diamonds, leading GW to abandon the scheme in 2011.
In addition, there is no guarantee that diamonds with a Kimberley Process Certification are in fact conflict-free. This is due to the nature of the corrupt government officials in the leading diamond-producing countries. It is common for these officials to be bribed with 50-100$ a day in exchange for paperwork declaring that blood diamonds are Kimberley Process Certified.
Human Rights Watch has also found that there is little independent monitoring of compliance with the Kimberley Process, and few penalties for violations.
The Human Rights Watchdog group has stated that in recent times, the governments of Zimbabwe, Côte d'Ivoire, and Venezuela have all dishonored, breached, and exploited the system without bearing any consequential penalties for their infringements.
Human Rights Watch has also criticized KPCS for not doing more to prevent human exploitation in the diamond industry.
So ladies, maybe it is time to look for a new best friend.
Alternative to diamonds
Here is a list of alternatives to mined diamonds, both man-made and natural minerals.
Which one of the alternatives that suit you the most, is something you and your jeweler will find out together based to price range, style, occasion and so much more. If a jeweler is pushing you to buy a mined diamond even if you don't want one, get out of there and find a new one, we are aplenty.
The first list up is the man-made alternatives:
Created in a lab, this diamond holds the same properties and durance as mined diamonds. There is no physical difference between them, only where they are created. Lab-made diamonds are a little cheaper than mined diamonds.
An even cheaper option, that holds almost the same durability and beauty as diamonds. A trained eye can see the difference, but it is not obvious for most people.
The most popular alternative to diamonds. It is so much more affordable, it sparkles more and has a greater inner glow than diamonds. But it is not as durable and is more likely to scratch or break. CZ needs more frequent cleaning than diamonds.
(But that is not something you should be slacking on anyway.)
My own engagement ring holds cubic zirconia.
The cheapest but also the weakest option for diamond alternatives. In this category, you will find products with Swarovski and Chinese crystal glass. And you can see that the jewelry has glass and not diamonds from the level of sparkle alone.
Glass is the inexpensive and smart place to start when getting comfortable with jewelry-wearing. You get used to their weight and you don't waste a small fortune finding your style. Glass jewelry is also available anywhere.
Now, over to the natural minerals:
White sapphire is the cheapest color of sapphire and has a softer appearance than diamonds. White sapphire light is different from diamond, and this is noticeable.
Lab-made white sapphires are out on the market, so if you what a mined sapphire ask the seller if the sapphire is mined or lab-made.
This gemstone has its own beauty and luster. it is softer and easier to chip than diamonds, but they are also easier to replace and cost a lot less. White topaz can't compete with the dispersion of a diamond, but you buy topaz jewelry because it is topaz and not just a diamond look-alike.
I myself have a pair of topaz earrings, and it is the prettiest pair I own. I also hide them from everyone because I am afraid of losing them. And the differences between this earring pair and my engagement ring are obvious but do not reduce the beauty of either.
Zircon has nothing to do with CZ, it is a natural mineral, and the closest look-alike to diamonds in dispersion and brilliance. Zircon has a long history been as a diamond alternative.
Goshenite is white-colored beryl, related to emerald and aquamarine. Very durable, but does not have a great brilliance or inner fire. So not the best diamond alternative based on looks, but it is affordable, natural, and easy to get in big sizes.
Finally, we have come to the birthstone alternative for April. Quartz or rock crystal is the most affordable mineral alternative. It scratches easily, so it is not ideal for a ring but they make beautiful earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. Quartz weighs around the same as glass, making it easy to use or wear in statement pieces without it getting too heavy.
It is easy to get quartz in any color of your choosing, including clear and colorless. And as mentioned above, rock crystals are one of two birthstone alternatives for April, the other being diamonds.
This is why the only diamond that will ever be my best friend is Ronald.
Happy birthday, baby
I love you