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Home > Diamonds > Birthmark
Birthmark

BirthmarkA birthmark is a small, genetic trait - an identifier that a person carries through life. Most diamonds have birthmarks. Depending on their position within the gem, some are obvious but most are unimportant. They come in a variety of forms-tiny carbon specks, little featherlike lines, minute bubbles and so on. In many cases they arent visible to the naked eye.

The faultless diamond, in which no blemish of any kind can be seen even under 10 power magnification, is obviously the most sought-after stone. But these are rare indeed and priced accordingly. Just as there is a Gemological Institute of America color scale, so is there one for clarity. It starts, naturally enough, with flawless and then moves down through "very slightly included" to "slightly included" to "imperfect".

History of Diamond
Getting to be acquainted with diamonds is like taking an armchair tour of some of the worlds most exciting places. Today the tour can twirl you to such faraway cities as London, Hong Kong, Antwerp, Tel Aviv and Kinshasa; in each a new dimension is added to diamonds story. But it all began in India.

Jean Batiste Tavernier, a plump, jolly Frenchman, favored exotic clothes and travel to exotic places. He was born in Paris in 1605, apprenticed to a jeweller in his youth, and set out at age 22 to become the Charles Kuralt of his day, with a dash of Marco Polo thrown in.

One of his major accomplishment was to bring back from India a gemstone that was to become a marvel in the decoration of French royalty and nobility--the diamond.

Virtually nothing is known of early Indian diamond mining other than it was centered between the modern cities of Hyderabad and Anantapur, about 350 miles southwest of Bombay, the present Indian "diamond capital." The most famous mine was the Golconda.

Mining was well established by the mid-seventeenth century. In a single mine, Tavernier reported, there were "about 60,000 persons at work, men, women, and children, the men being employed to dig, the women and children to carry the earth."

Indian royalty of the day relished these gemstones riches. Again, Tavernier:

"When the King seats himself upon his throne, there is a transparent jewel with a diamond pendant of 80 or 90 carats encompassed with rubies and emeralds so hung that it is always upon his eye. Upon each side of the throne are two parasols, the handles covered with diamonds. This is the [Peacock] throne which Tamerlane began and Cha-Jehan finished. It is reported to have cost 160 million Livres. Behind this is a tub where the king bathes, the outside whereof shines all over with diamonds."

Indias dominance in diamond production lasted until the 1720s, when diamonds were discovered in Brazil in the state of Minas Gerais--later to become famous as one of the most gem-rich locations in the world.

A Portuguese soldier of riches, Bernardo da Fonesco Lobo, is credited with the original find. Hed gone to Brazil in search of gold but was intrigued by some pebbles he discovered when washing the sands of the Rio dos Marinhos. Lobo had served in India and though his "pebbles" might be diamonds-- something later confirmed by authorities in Lisbon.

The mines Gerais discovered were followed by a number of finds in other states, the biggest in Bahia in 1844. In the following 20 years, production peaked and then declined rapidly.

But the Portuguese Crown had by then taken full advantage of the diamond yields. Soon after Lobos first strike, the Crown kicked out all Brazilian gold miners and handed over the diamond concessions to a few favorites, who built a huge slave labor force to work in the mines. For this generosity to the mine owners, the Portuguese monarchs were suitably rewarded--in diamonds.

The Brazilian stones were of good quality and the country produced some 16 million carats between about 1750 and 1850. But they could not quaver the disgrace that they were inferior to Indian stones.

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