Diamonds are our most “popular” gemstone and dubbed by luxury companies as a “Girl’s Best Friend”. But popular does not mean expensive, and expensive does not mean luxury, and luxury does not mean thoughtful, especially for a woman.
Historically, diamonds only became regularly available the last century. Prior to that, rubies and sapphires were the most popular gems, especially for engagement rings.
The commercial and “mythical” value of diamonds is credited primarily to the DeBeers organization, the first to set up the large scale diamond mines in South Africa. They were savvy business people, who lobbied and strategised one of the most successful advertising campaigns in history, convincing consumers that engagement rings should have a diamond.
With deliberate coaxing to Hollywood and mainstream media, diamonds soon became a top status symbol for the rich and famous. The movie industry obliged in product positioning by displaying their most glamorous women, draped in diamonds. This peaked with the Marilyn Monroe movie, Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.
Winning the consumers’ admiration was not enough. DeBeers continued their strategic advertising. After the discovery of diamonds in the Soviet Union, the company had to make good use of the small, but nice quality diamonds they found. New spin doctors were hired and a new ad campaign was then created. Welcome the “Anniversary bands”.
“DeBeers actually mined considerably more rough diamonds than they sold and they have a large warehouse of uncut diamonds in London.
Behind the flashy glamourous things done for the diamond industry, the story behind-the-scenes was not nice. As diamonds were discovered in other parts of Africa and South America, DeBeers managed to get control of the rough diamond supply and maintained their monopolistic control of the diamond market for several decades. The tactics used to gain control of these rough diamond supplies are alleged to include murder and kidnapping.
Being the monopoly, they also controlled supply and pricing. They carefully released only enough rough for current demand, while continually adjusting the degree to which the rough was made available. This caused continually escalating prices, and of course, it increased the perception of rarity. DeBeers actually mined considerably more rough diamonds than they sold and they have a large warehouse of uncut diamonds in London. As a result, they were not allowed to do business in the US, Canada, and a few other countries.
In the last couple decades of the 20th century, things began to change. Satellite technology, that was designed to find likely oil reserves, also showed the geology likely to hold diamonds. As a result, new discoveries began to multiply. Australia was one of the first developed nations to discover major diamond resources. DeBeers was able to make a deal with them to distribute all the rough, except for the very rare pink diamonds.
They also made a deal with the Soviet Union to distribute their rough diamonds. However, shortly after the break up, the Russians let their contract expire and began to sell the diamonds themselves.
The latest major diamond reserve was found in Canada. DeBeers could not make a deal with the Canadians, who are cutting and selling the stones themselves.
It is difficult to tell what the future will hold. Several sites are being explored and it is likely more diamond deposits will be found in the near future. DeBeers still controls approximately 75% to 80% of the diamond rough. The other suppliers have so far been content to sell at the same prices as DeBeers. However, if the law of supply and demand ever catches up to the diamond market, prices are likely to drop considerably. It is difficult to tell how this would play out, but DeBeers has a large inventory of uncut diamonds and would be in an excellent position for a price war.
What is a Diamond?
Diamonds are a natural mineral and they are also produced in the laboratory. Lab made diamonds are primarily used as abrasives, but they are beginning to make their way into the jewelry industry.
Gemologically speaking, diamonds are a mineral with a chemical composition of C, (carbon,) that crystallize in the isometric system.
With a hardness of 10, diamonds are the hardest substance in nature. Harder substances have been created in the laboratory, but they are extremely brittle and have no practical use. If a harder substance is ever found that does not break down so quickly, it will greatly reduce the time needed to cut diamonds.
Diamonds have a refractive index of 2.41, which is very high. Being as they form in the isometric system, they do not have any birefringence or pleochroism. They have a specific gravity of 3.51 to 3.53, which is a bit more than average.
Here are some popular myths that you need to be aware of.
MYTH: Diamonds are rare.
Diamonds are the hardest material found on earth. Other than that, they hold no unique distinctions. All gem grade materials are rare, composing just a tiny fraction of the earth. However, among gems, diamonds are actually the most common. If you doubt this ask yourself; “How many women do you know that do not own at least one diamond?” Now ask the same question about other gems.
“In the constellation Centaurus, there lies a white dwarf, that has crystallized into a diamond 2,500 miles in diameter and weighing 10 billion, trillion, trillion carats.”
While we are still learning about the interior of the earth, current information shows that diamonds are likely the most common gem in nature.
Outside the earth, diamonds are also common. A recent discovery shows that some stars collapse on themselves, creating giant diamond crystals. In the constellation Centaurus, there lies a white dwarf, that has crystallized into a diamond 2,500 miles in diameter and weighing 10 billion, trillion, trillion carats.
MYTH: Diamonds are the most valuable gem.
You cannot say that one species of gem is the most valuable. To do a comparison, you need to judge gems according to size and quality. This chart is based on top quality gems in different sizes. However, note that pure red rubies are so rare there is no trade data available. The prices listed are for Burmese rubies.
MYTH: Diamonds are precious. Really? As you can see, diamonds are very costly, but not the most expensive gem in any size. If you were to do a comparison of other qualities, the results would be similar.
Precious means valuable. In the 18th century a French jeweler began describing gems as either precious or semiprecious. The categories are still used in merchandising, but are frowned upon by professionals as they are nearly meaningless distinctions.
For example, garnets are considered semiprecious, but tsavorite garnets have sold for as much as $10,000 per carat. That seems pretty “precious” to me!
On the other hand, diamonds are only very valuable in their better grades and medium to large sizes. Small, low quality diamonds are available in quantity for just $1 a piece. A quick search of eBay and you will find several diamonds under $20. These are far from precious.
MYTH: Diamonds are the most brilliant gemstone.
Not counting synthetics, there are at least 15 minerals with a higher refractive index than diamond!
Brilliance is determined by the cutting and the refractive index of the material. Diamonds have a very high refractive index of 2.41. Diamonds have the potential, if properly cut, to be exceptionally brilliant. However, this is nothing compared to the 2.9 RI of rutile. Not counting synthetics, there are at least 15 minerals with a higher refractive index than diamond!
MYTH: A person can make a lot of money selling diamonds.
As the Internet has continued to proliferate and GIA has established well accepted grading standards for diamonds, margins on cut diamonds have become extremely thin. It is not uncommon for a diamond dealer to make gross margins inside of 5%. Compare that to virtually any other industry and you won’t think it is such a great business.
MYTH: Diamonds have more “fire” than any other gemstone.
Diamonds are know for their fire, or dispersion. This is the ability to separate white light into the color of the rainbow. Diamond has a dispersion of .044, which is quite high. However, it is a far cry from gems like rutile with a dispersion of .330!
Now, if you want to talk about rare, Russia declassified on 2012 a secret trove of “trillions of carats” of diamonds, and has been a secret since the ’70s. The crater full of diamonds was created, apparently, 35 million years ago when an asteroid crashed into Siberia. An asteroid 3 to 5 miles across made a 63-mile-wide dent in the Earth, with layers of fine-grain diamonds buried under the surface. Despite the diamonds’ incredible purported value, Russia has not extracted them because the area is too remote and inaccessible, instead (at least according to the Russian government) choosing to keep the area secret for decades. The deposit is spread out over hundreds of kilometers.
These types of diamonds are known as “impact diamonds” because they are thought to be produced when a meteorite strikes a graphite deposit at high velocity.
Unless your mate has peculiar taste, you won’t be proposing marriage with one of these. The impact at Popigai created a mixture of traditional, gem-quality cubic diamonds and “lonsdaleite,” tiny yellow-brown crystals with atoms arranged in hexagons. They have the density, hardness, and brightness of the diamonds we know but not much else.
At Popigai where this asteroid struck millions of years ago, the metamorphic rock under the Siberian tundra was full of graphite, which is unusual. Carbon exists in multiple forms, two of which are graphite and diamond. The atoms are the same but their arrangement is different. It takes huge amounts of pressure and very high temperatures to force the graphite atoms from their hexagonal-sheet pattern into the triangular pyramid shape of diamond. The asteroid impact carried such high levels of energy—more than 20 gigapascals, which is more than 100 times the pressure at the bottom of the Marianas Trench—it would have sent a shock wave through the rock and turned the graphite into diamond.
Even with a high-quality industrial-grade diamond, worth $12 per carat instead of the usual $6, that won’t defray the cost of extracting them from a remote crater where no existing infrastructure could carry the loads.
So how much are these asteroid diamonds worth? Scientifically it means something. But economically, not yet because the Russian deposit still needs to prove its economic worth.
Pure lonsdaleite would theoretically be harder than diamond, making it immensely valuable, but the type of mixture at Popigai includes impurities that make synthetic diamonds more useful for most applications.
What Qualifies as Woman’s Best Friend?
Solving a Sudoku is much easier than understanding the enigma called “woman”.
There is not anyone nor a public relations company that can peg the broad and multi-dimensional phenomenon of womanhood, which has a life span of cradle to grave, into just a stone, or a marketing ad campaign. Since it is women who are driving the gem market after all, here’s an insight about us.
Being a woman is not just about emotions, it is about an oceanful of feelings and emotions. Emotions of a woman are her greatest strength and the driving force behind all the strong decisions. Emotions are an expression of femininity and not of fragility. The range of our emotions is hugely vivid and extremely deep. Happiness, love, care, appreciation, hope, enthusiasm, anger, rage, fear, grief, despair, anxiety, surprise, apprehension, worry, envy—all runs in a woman’s blood and there is no turning away from this fact. We are women, we are sentimental. We love boundless, we hate endless. We hope for the best and we worry about the worst. We get angry in a second, we melt in a moment. We care too much and we fear too much. We can have more than one emotion at a time, which comes across as confusion.
Morality, responsibility, liability, fidelity, rules, customs, superstitions are the social ornaments obligatory to wear for the women and optional for the men. Any breach of these codes of conducts by men is acceptable and forgettable, but the same by women is condemnable and punishable. In our Patriarchal society, a son is forgiven for adultery but a daughter-in-law is not. An infertile son is covered but an infertile daughter-in-law is exposed for divorce. A woman never commits mistakes, because anything ‘against-the-norms’ that she does is a sin—a permanent and indelible stigma, which makes the most pronounced part of her profile for a lifetime. Accept or do not. It is a fact and unfortunately has remained so, ever since the dawn of humanity. Womanhood is about facing the discrimination for having sweeter voice, longer hair, fairer complexion, shorter height and softer bones as compared to man, since we can’t ascertain any other reason for all the partiality that is done to us.
Womanhood is about the uncertainties and apprehensions that come along with the sharpest and the most crucial turning point in her life called MARRIAGE. Marriage, for a man is addition of new colours; for a woman is the change of the basic colours.
Our man-made societies have planned it all according to the man’s comfort and all the woman has to do is accept all this imbalanced world created by the male gender comfortably. Being a woman means we must shine amidst all the inhibitions of time, space and society. It is about seeing through the veils and about walking with the chains.
Womanhood is about leaving a mark against all odds and about living contradictions in our society and still striking a balance. It is about settling the internal tides and keep flowing as a smooth river, and facing inherent challenges and coming up strong and stable.
Women today should learn about other and “lesser known” expensive gemstones because of what they go through.Only a woman also knows the nervousness of this life-changing transition full of uncertainties. It is only right that coloured gemstones make a comeback for they represent the varied colours in a woman’s life.
Being a gender who feels a lot, women love colours and it should be expected that they will want to be educated to the “lesser known” precious gems, which are worth a lot more than diamonds.
Forget the stereotyping of women being maiden in distress. We are not distressed. Today’s 21st Century women prove that and they are now buying their own fine jewellery and not just relying on gifts from men. More importantly, the old fashion advert of a diamond nestling in a cleavage is not what women want, according to The Independent.
The brand Fabergé, synonymous with Russian tsars and famous for its intricately designed ornamental eggs, and has been bought by AIM-listed Gemfields, which is 63 per cent owned by former BHP Billiton boss Brian Gilbetson, said that they “are continuing to see women buy jewellery for themselves – it’s about empowerment, successful career women rewarding themselves”.
Women these days are also becoming more adventurous and travel the world, so it should be expected that that they would go between traditional stones such as emeralds and rubies to more unusual stones like paraiba tourmalines, spessarite garnet and fire opals.
It is no wonder that when choosing gemstones they prefer to be more conscious about symbolism and impressions, like buying Morganite, from the colourful beryl family of gemstones that include emeralds, and labradorite, which is said to promote psychic abilities, which are now emerging as desirable rocks.
We do not want a man to do us favours but we notice every single act of chivalry and gentlemanly behaviour and remember them forever. And these count A LOT while making the final impression of a potential life partner.
Women who know themselves know their worth. Diamonds do not know us. We are worth more than a diamond.
As complex beautiful creatures, women deserve nothing less than a gemstone and jewellery that reflects complexity.
We are dreamy. And our dreams are beautiful. So we need something that is ornate and isn’t shy of colour because bright is beautiful, just like the backbone of our world, Women.
As a woman, we appreciate the meaningful things more than the magnificent things done by people in general. Women crave for just 5 things: Respect. Love. Understanding. Loyalty. Time.
We know more than Google does and we have a registry in our brains that remembers every single date and anniversaries. And it is stored there forever. The fact is that sweet, little and meaningful things is WHAT MATTERS TO US. And that’s the only thing we wish, expect you to understand. That is it. Just that.
So who is our Best Friend? We are not gold-diggers. Certainly not. A flower and poetry works as much wonders to cheer us up as a diamond does. Complex creatures like us are quite simple when in reaching our hearts. We are all about beauty. The more thought you put into it, the more we feel respected, loved, understood, and cared for.
Isn’t that the point?
Lady Michelle Jennifer Santos is the Global Chairman and CEO of MJS Global Group holdings, Founder and CEO of MJS Capital, an Asset and Credit Enhancement, Collateral Transfer Facility and Project Finance Company, and MJS Commodities. She is also the Chief Visionary Founder and Owner of TheSantosRepublic. A motivational speaker, she also specialises in high finance, commodities, strategy and geopolitics. Her Twitter is @mj_santos, Facebook/ladymjsantos and Linkedin/mjsantos
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