When a bride chooses a diamond ring, she becomes part of an ongoing history that spans time, continents, and cultures. Long ago, deep in the depths of the earth, carbon atoms met with a legendary intensity of heat and pressure. Temperatures cooled, the forces lessened, and some of the atoms aligned in tetrahedrons and solidified. Diamonds had been created, but they were still trapped miles below the surface.
Ages would pass before a few of them would ever sparkle in sunlight. For natural processes to bring a diamond to the surface, volcanic activity must extend three times deeper than the magma in a typical volcano. That's relatively rare, but when it happens, volcanic pipes act as elevators to bring minerals upwards near the surface. Sometimes the magma brings up diamonds.
These volcanic pipes, long since cooled, are now mined as the primary source for diamonds. Some of the volcanic pipes have eroded away and the diamonds they once held can occasionally be found along old shorelines. They were carried there by winds and water. The first diamonds discovered by man were in such alluvial deposits, borne there by river waters.
Archeological evidence shows that diamonds have been enjoyed by humans for at least 4000 years. The ancient Chinese decorated axe handles of their best warriors with them, but usually diamonds were strictly reserved for royalty. The earliest biblical mention of the diamond is found in description of the high priest's breastplate. In India a statue of the Hindu goddess Sita was found embedded with diamonds.
The ancient Greeks mistakenly explained the origin of diamonds as fragments fallen from the stars. In Europe the monarch's crown jewels became a measure of national pride. During the Middles Ages, folklore flourished with tales about the magical power of diamonds for curing disease, warding off demons, enhancing fertility, or attracting true love. Africa's diamond wars are legendary in a far different way.
Corrupt governments, mercenary rebels and loosely defended borders have led to slave labor, savagery, murder, and economic collapse. In a global economy where value can be influenced by manipulating the supply to tighten the demand, diamonds hold a unique place in the market. Their size makes them easy to smuggle, hard to trace, and tempting to use as black-market currency. In recent years, synthetic diamonds have challenged the economic balance.
Most synthetics have been put to industrial use. However, some are entering the markets as gemstones for jewelry. The most promising technology for manufacture of synthetic diamond jewelry is Chemical Vapor Deposition, a process developed for fabricating semiconductors. As it turns out, the same technique can synthesize diamonds that are indistinguishable from mined diamonds.
In CVD, gases pass over a heated, prepared surface where the atoms are deposited in solid form. Engagement-sized diamonds have been successfully grown in just one day. Whether formed in one day or thousands of years, Chicago engagement rings and Chicago anniversary rings continue their precious legacy with all the endurance and fire that real diamonds can.
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