Vicky Paterson Diamonds

ISBN 13: 9781554071166

Diamonds

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9781554071166: Diamonds

A beautiful look at the world's most alluring gem.

With images as fabulous as their highly prized subject, Diamonds is about the science and glamour of this magnificent gemstone.

The book takes a look at why we desire diamonds, where their characteristic fire comes from and why they are seen as the ultimate symbol of love. Known in pop culture today as bling, diamonds play a role in fashion and celebrity as well as jewelry. Also revealed are some of the amazing properties of diamonds that make it a vital material for modern technology and medicine as well as a "girl's best friend".

Filled with color photographs throughout, Diamonds features six chapters:

  • Desire: why diamonds are so highly valued and their properties
  • The Hunt: the diamond rushes
  • The Cut: how the rocks are transformed into jewels
  • Fame: some famous diamonds and their legends
  • The Extreme: hardness, transparency, conductivity, durability
  • Design: jewelry, antique and modern, on clothing and in film.

Designed for the luxury-lover or the mineral collector, Diamonds is sure to please.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Vicky Paterson is a writer and editor for the Natural History Museum in London, England, which held a major diamond exhibition in 2005.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Excerpted from the first chapter

Desire

Every year, many millions of carats of diamonds are dug out of the ground or extracted from the beds of rivers and seas. These precious stones then begin an epic journey to markets around the world. Some are bought by the rich and famous for their beauty and status. Others are destined for science and industry, where their unique physical properties are harnessed. The market for uncut diamonds is worth an estimated 5.5 billion (US$11 billion) annually. That's a lot for a stone made from nothing but carbon, just like the graphite in a pencil lead. But when you explore the story of diamonds, and dig beneath the surface from their sparkle to their science, it becomes clear why.

Diamonds are notoriously difficult to find, a fact that makes them even more desirable. Most were formed deep inside the Earth billions of years ago. Diamonds are even more ancient than the rocks in which they occur. But these rocks lie hidden in long-dead volcanoes that over the years have been worn away to lie fiat and concealed on or under the landscape. Diamonds are sometimes eroded out of the volcanic rock and washed downstream to surrounding river beds or even to the coast. It takes expertise and patience to find them, not to mention money.

Our enduring desire for diamonds began at least 4000 years ago in India, where some of the highest-quality stones ever found originate. The country was a major source of diamonds until 1725, when they were discovered in Brazil. But it was the huge finds in South Africa from 1866 onwards that caught the world's attention, sparking a diamond rush that spread like wildfire.

Diamonds are now mined on every continent except Europe and Antarctica. They were most recently discovered in Canada, in 1991. And the major discovery in 1979 of the Argyle Mine in Western Australia has resulted in Australia becoming one of the world's largest producers by volume. The money made from the sale of the precious stones is, by contrast, far more concentrated. Around half of all rough or unprocessed diamonds dug out of the ground end up being sold through the South African firm De Beers.

The most desirable diamonds are made into stunning jewellery, but in the ground they may seem slightly less amazing. It is only when cut and polished that they are transformed into beautiful jewels, dazzling onlookers with a characteristic 'fire'. Few people realize that diamonds are not always clear or 'white', but come in a variety of colors -- pinks, yellows, greens, blues and browns. To many, the incomparable beauty of this sparkling radiance alone justifies the hefty price tag.

Diamonds are the heavyweight jewels of the rich and famous. Film stars and musicians can make the headlines as much for the jewelry they wear as the work they do. Diamonds make the ultimate statement about wealth and status, where 'bling' often speaks louder then words. And they have also secured a place in the hearts of many thousands of couples who buy engagement rings. However romantic the setting or well-meaning the delivery, can a ruby or other gem cut it in quite the same way?

But the reach of diamonds goes far beyond the weighted wrists of hip-hop artists or the fingers of newly-weds. Industry values diamonds, too. Harder than steel, diamond is used to coat heavy-duty cutting tools and saws. Its ability to spread heat and resistance to scratching, enabling super-transparency, can be applied in many technologies. It can withstand high-frequency, high-voltage conditions such as in communications satellites, and is also resistant to radiation. One day, diamonds might also be used in machines so small they can be injected into our bloodstream to monitor our health. Scientists are even looking at ways to use diamond to grow new nerve cells and astronomers are finding them in the stars. Such is the demand for them, synthetic diamond material is now being grown in the laboratory Thousands are made for industry each year and gem-quality synthetics for use in jewelry are already available.

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