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Many know what a diamond symbolizes. But few truly know how difficult it is to bring a fine diamond from mine to market. During Scheherazade Jewelers’ The Polished Edge diamond event (November 14 to 16), two diamond experts from opposite ends of the diamond industry will share with customers their common passions and in-depth knowledge of what makes a fine diamond so incredibly rare.
One is Herzel Siton, a master diamond cutter and the other, Michael Bondanza, a jewelry designer that specializes in diamond jewelry. One unlocks the beauty within a diamond, and the other makes this brilliant treasure an everlasting symbol of something more valuable than the precious of all gemstones – love.
From the Beginning
The rarity of fine diamonds starts billions of years ago. Scientists have determined diamonds were formed 1 billion to 3.3 billion years ago. The planet itself is 4.54 billion years old, making diamonds not just one of the world’s hardest substances but also one of the oldest.
Billions of years ago diamonds were formed in the Earth’s mantle, the large middle portion between the planet’s crust and super-heated core. Intense pressure and heat changes the molecular structure of carbon, crushing its atoms together and forcing them into a new lattice-like structure. This is how carbon becomes a diamond.
It all sounds scientific enough, but carbon can only undergo this transformation at 1,500 degrees Celsius and the pressure of roughly 50 kilobars. In less technical terms, for carbon to change to this lattice structure it must be exposed to temperatures around 2,732 degrees Fahrenheit and pressure in human terms similar to the weight of 4,000 grown men standing on your foot.
The Mining Sites
Even when diamonds are formed they are still 100 miles beneath the planet’s crust. The fast track to the Earth’s surface comes from kimberlite, the host material for diamonds. A volcanic rock formed deep within the Earth, as kimberlite moves to the surface it creates a carrot-shaped pipe filled with molten rock, mantle fragments, and you guessed it – diamonds! And, when it breaks through the crust, it erupts in small but violent volcanoes. Eventually magma cools, and rock is formed. The last kimberlite eruption was about 100 million years ago.
The three main mining methods used to bring diamond crystals to the surface are open-pit, marine and alluvial mining. Open-pit mining requires removing thousands of tons of dirt to get to the diamond crystals. Marine mining occurs at ocean depths ranging from 45 feet to as much as 300 feet. And, alluvial mining results from wind and water moving diamonds in mainly rivers over millions of years.
The True Value of Diamonds
Now that you know what it takes to get a diamond to Earth’s surface, here are some interesting facts that are testimony to the rarity of a truly fine diamond.
- Rarity: It takes 1 million gem-quality diamonds mined to obtain a single fine 1-carat diamond. (To find a 2-carat diamond, 5 million gem-quality diamonds must be mined.)
- Mining Costs: Diamonds come from Russia, Africa, Australia and Canada. To find a 1-carat diamond, earth-moving equipment must remove 250 tons (or 500,000 pounds) of the Earth’s crust to find a 1-carat diamond (a gemstone that weighs one-fifth of 1 gram).
- Cut: A diamond’s cut can make up 50% or more of the gemstone’s total worth. The quality of diamond’s cut is the determining factor of its true beauty. (Many often confuse a diamond’s cut with a diamond’s shape.)
- Endurance: A diamond is 140 times harder than the next hardest substance.
- Antiquity Value: Diamonds are roughly 3.3 billion years old.
- Investment Value: Diamonds have increased in their monetary investment value since the 1950’s, but the gemstone’s true worth is its sentimental value, priceless in nature given a diamond represents love, commitment and fond family memories when timeless heirlooms are handed down from generation to generation.
The Art of Cutting a Diamond
Of the 4C’s (carat, color, cut and clarity) cut is the most important. If the proportions are off just slightly, a cut diamond’s ability to return light (the fire and brilliance diamonds are known for) will be minimized. In the past, diamond crystals ready for cutting were carefully examined by hand and the aided eye to determine the size of the largest possible polished diamond that could be yielded from a piece of rough. Today technology helps that effort by scanning a diamond crystal and using state-of-the-art software, to determine the polished diamond (or diamonds) that can be cut from a single diamond crystal.
As much as technology assists in this critical beginning phase of the diamond cutting process, inherent old-school skills and knowledge are paramount. A diamond cutter can work as an apprentice for up to 10 years cutting smaller goods before even attempting to cut a 1-carat diamond. A master diamond cutter must also possess an in-depth knowledge crystallography. Other important skills include good manual dexterity, attention to detail, excellent concentration for long periods of time, good vision and a creative flair. That’s why Scheherazade Jewelers is so pleased to bring a master cutter like Herzel Siton to our store to show you the true skills required to create a beautifully cut a diamond.
The Beauty of the Design
A truly well-cut diamond is a thing of beauty. But without a setting, it’s like an oil painting without a frame. That’s why Scheherazade Jewelers asked Michael Bondanza to also be part of The Polished Edge diamond event. Michael’s jewelry designing history started in the 1970’s when he designed a belt buckle for himself. As his designing skills evolved, Michael started experimenting in sterling silver, 18-karat gold, and rosewood. Michael then began working with platinum, embellishing jewelry designs with 18-karat gold.
Michael sold his jewelry designs to retailers on New York’s famed Fifth Avenue by 1974. Eventually Michael developed a strong preference for platinum, combining the most precious of metals with the most precious of gemstones to create his diamond and bridal jewelry. He even registered his trademark “Platinum Redefined.” Over the years Michael has earned many awards and accolades for his jewelry designs.