Would it surprise you to know that Neanderthals, who lived over 30,000 years ago, have been discovered to have worn jewelry? Granted, not quiet the quality we are accustomed to today, but definitely jewelry just the same. It’s really no wonder why some of us seem to have this special affection for anything sparkling, glittery or decorative in some way. Maybe we are ‘just born with it’.
For me it all began with a tiny silver band that had 3 small squares of turquoise across the top. I don’t remember where it came from, only that it had to be a special occasion before my mother would let me set foot out of the house wearing it. On one of those occasions the unthinkable happened, I lost it. These things can be devastating when you’re 5 (they can be devastating when your 55), and my heartbreak is still memorable today. Eventually it was found by my older sister, who helped me look endlessly because she could understand my pain. That tiny ring sits nestled in the bottom of my mom’s jewelry box to this day; to me it was just too valuable to risk losing, so I never wore it again.
Since then, with my love of jewelry still intact, I have discovered so much more. Now that I am a little older (okay, maybe more than a little) and hopefully wiser and more responsible, I have discovered an affection for diamonds. The way sunlight seems to dance off this stone just catches my attention and is almost mesmerizing in some strange way. In an effort to better understand my new relationship with this costly little gem, I decided to figure out how this love affair started in the first place.
Once again not surprising, humans have been using diamonds for centuries. In the Dark Ages they were given to loved ones to bring good luck, ward off evil spirits, and to bring success in battle. They were even thought to have healing medicinal powers and one religious leader swallowed some in an attempt to cure sickness. Unfortunately he was unsuccessful in the most tragic way.
As it turns out, it is the shear hardness of the stone which has driven the diamond to the place it is today. Even as long ago as 4000 B.C. man was using diamonds to shape stones for ceremonial axes because of its ability to cut anything, and not be damaged in the process. Today roughly 80% on the diamonds in the world are used for industrial purposes for anything from surgical instruments to automobile engine parts. Thankfully, that leaves 20% for the rest of us to use purely for decoration.
There has also been one very fortunate turn of events, and that is the success of man-made or synthetic diamonds. Since 1976 Cubic Zirconia, or CZ, has become the biggest competitor of natural diamonds in the gem world. It’s our scientists who have simply reproduced what Mother Nature has done for millions of years. Our next article will describe the subtle differences in character, and monumental differences in cost.