Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sparkling Saturdays

This week we want to highlight a classic: the diamond engagement ring.  We started our Sparkling Saturdays posts by showing you some of our favorite custom engagement rings (we've repeated one below).  This week, we thought we'd give you a brief history lesson.

Cushion Cut Diamond Engagement Ring with Tapered Baguettes

Though they are common today, diamond engagement rings haven't always been the norm.  The tradition dates back to 1477 when Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave a diamond ring to Mary of Burgundy.  Up until that point, only kings wore diamonds, as a symbol of power and invincibility (since the diamond is the hardest known mineral and certainly one of the world's most precious).

The ancient Greeks believed that diamonds were splinters of stars fallen to the earth.  Some said they were the tears of the gods.  The truth is less romantic but no less astounding.  Billions of years ago, incredible heat and pressure in the boiling magma that lay deep below the surface of the earth miraculously transformed ordinary carbon into extraordinary diamond.  The diamond was then pushed up to the surface of the earth to cool in something called a Kimberlite pipe, where most of the diamonds in the world are found today.

While diamond production first occurred over 2,800 years ago in India, the modern diamond industry started in South Africa in the 19th century.  Today, each diamond produced passes through hundreds of hands and often touches four or five continents.  The top diamond-producing countries are, in order, Australia, Botswana, Zaire, the former Soviet Union, and South Africa.  The top four producers account for 85% of the world's production.

Today, diamonds, while seemingly commonplace, are no less precious.  In the history of all diamond production on earth, only 350 tons of diamonds have been mined, and only 50% of that is of gem quality.  Furthermore, approximately 250 tons of ore must be mined from a Kimberlite pipe in order to produce a diamond of gem quality of about 1 carat in size.

For over thirty-four years we at The Menagerie have been hand-picking diamonds from trusted sources, finding the most value for your dollar and making that special moment all the more memorable.

*Much of this information taken from, copyright 1998-2013.  We give them full credit for the historical data provided here.