Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Girl's Best Friend

The word "carat" originated from the "carob tree". Because seeds from the fruit of the carob tree have a uniform weight of about-one fifth of a gram, they were used to measure diamonds. On average, there are about 120 million carats of diamond being mined worldwide annually. This figure totals about 24 tons, which could fit snugly inside the back of a single 18-wheel truck. Only about 50% of these mined diamonds end up as jewelry, however, with the rest serving industrial uses such as drill bits for deep-earth exploration. Uncut, these diamonds has the value of about $7 billion. In finished jewelry, however, that value rises up to $58 billion.

The largest rough diamond ever found on earth has 3,106 carats. Called the "Cullinan", the rock was discovered on Jan 26, 1905 in the Premier mine of South Africa. It was cut into nine major diamonds and hundreds of smaller ones, including the Great Star of Africa - the largest cut diamond in existence at 530.2 carats, now in the royal scepter of the British Crown Jewels.

The largest diamond ever found in the universe has 10 billion trillion trillion carats! Discovered in February 2004 by scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for the Astrophysics, the diamond is 50 light-years away in the constellation Cetaurus. "It's the mother of all diamonds," said one of the discoverers. At 2,600 miles across, it certainly is.

Going back to Earth, diamonds, of course, is the most popular gem used for engagement or wedding ring. In fact, the odds that an American woman receives a diamond engagement ring is 8 in 10, and the average size is 0.8 carats. The first recorded diamond engagement ring given was in 1477 when Archduke Maximilian of Austria presented Mary of Burgundy with a gold band crowned with a piece of sparkling carbon. The ring was placed on the third finger of Mary's left hand, the finger that ancient Egyptians believed held the vein of love.

Other noteworthy celebrity diamond rings:
  • 5 carats: Bruce Willis to Demi Moore
  • 6 carats: Ben Affleck to Jennifer Lopez (JLo returned the ring)
  • 10 carats: Michael Douglas to Catherine Zeta-Jones
  • 16 carats: Victor Luna to Liz Taylor
  • 22 carats: Howard Marshall to Anna Nicole Smith
  • 29 carats: Mike Todd to Liz Taylor
  • 40 carats: Aristotle to Jackie Kennedy Onassis
  • 69.4 carats: Richard Burton to Liz Taylor
For her engagement, Princess Diana briefly popularized alternatives to the diamond ring when she received a sapphire ring surrounded by diamonds from Prince Charles.

Celebrities usually borrow diamond jewelries to wear during Oscar awards ceremony. The first time it was done was in 1943 when movie produced David Selznick asked Harry Winston if he would lend jewelry to Jennifer Jones who was nominated for best actress that year for her role in "The Song of Bernadette". Winston agreed, and Jones won. Today 20-30 percent of the nominees will eventually buy the pieces they borrow.

In 1998, Gloria Stewart, nominated for best supporting actress for her role in Titanic wore a 15-carat blue diamond necklace inspired by the fictional "Heart of the Ocean" diamond in the movie. Stewart was flanked by two security guards throughout the ceremonies. To date, that jewelry was the most expensive jewelry ever worn to the Oscars, with value of $20 million.

And in 2002 Whoopi Goldberg was wearing a $6 million 80-carat yellow diamond on a necklace borrowed from Harry Winston while hosting the Oscars. During a commercial break, Goldberg noticed that the diamond was gone. After a frantic search, a Winston security man noticed that the diamond was hidden in Whoopi's cleavage.

Random Odds & Ends:
  • Most diamonds found in nature are 1-3 billion years old.
  • Stories of diamonds being poisonous have been widely circulated throughout history to discourage the practice of stealing diamonds by swallowing them.
  • Dating back to 1304, “The Koh-i-Nur” is oldest known diamond and is now kept in the Tower of London.
  • The only active diamond mine in the United States is in Arkansas.
  • Most gemstones contain several elements. Diamond is an exception - it's all carbon.

10 comments:

Midori みどり said...

To me pearl is women best friend! Nice post!

Knowledge and Information Corner said...

Wow! My first time to read such history of diamonds. I enjoy reading it.

LSBF consultant said...

This is not the first of your posts I've read, and you never cease to amaze me. Thank you, and I look forward to reading more.

Anonymous said...

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Boundless Technologies said...

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Diamond Drill Bits said...

I too have a passion for pearls..I think it can be the women's best friend..

Shannon J said...

I love this post - thanks for doing all that research! BTW I love pearls too :-)

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Highest Jump World Record said...

It is crazy that Liz Taylor had 3 different people give her huge diamond rings. highest jump world record