April’s Brilliance: Dazzling Diamonds
The diamond’s claim to fame outshines every other gemstone. From ancient times, it’s been associated with strength and beauty. People have decorated themselves with diamonds in handcrafted and beaded jewelry, and used them for more spiritual purposes, for thousands of years.
The word “diamond” is derived from the Greek “adamas,”which means unconquered or invincible. Diamond is the hardest substance on earth, and is made of carbon–one of the primary elements necessary for life. They’re so hard that the only way they can be cut or polished is by using other diamonds!
The Greeks and Romans speculated that diamonds were splinters of stars, or perhaps tears of the gods. Plato was so impressed with diamonds that he wrote about them as though they were celestial spirits embodied in physical form. Cupid’s arrows were said to be tipped with diamonds, too–an early association of the gem with deep love. The Romans wore them in beaded jewelry, and also liked to wear them for magic and luck.
During the Middle Ages, and even into the enlightened years of the Renaissance, beaded jewelry set with precious stones were considered amulets, rather than accessories. If a diamond was set in gold and worn on the person’s left, it was said to ward off bad dreams, devils, ghosts and even to soothe savage beasts. This may be one reason why we wear diamond engagement rings on our left hands, though modern mythology says this is due to a vein that travels directly to our hearts.
In the 13th century, King Louis IX made a law that only kings were allowed to wear beaded jewelry set with diamonds. Women were especially prohibited. Diamonds were rare, precious and magical, and were only used in royal and crown jewels. The first woman to wear a diamond in beaded jewelry was Agnes Sorel in the middle of the 15th century.
These days, diamonds are more popular than ever. They represent eternal love, and we incorporate them into beaded jewelry, fine jewelry, necklaces, rings and more. But the mining process is unethical in a lot of cases, with child laborers often being used to work diamond mines in places like Africa. That’s why it’s important to be aware of where our diamonds come from. As we adorn ourselves with beautiful beaded jewelry, diamonds and other gemstones, we can also support the ethical treatment of our fellow human beings.