If you are fortunate enough to have been born in the month of April your birthstone is diamond. These clear, sparkling stones are perhaps the most well known of the precious minerals, and have been worked into fine jewellery for thousands of years.
Diamonds are one of the hardest naturally occurring substances on earth. They are comprised of carbon atoms, the same element which gives us the extremely brittle material graphite, often used in pencils. Whereas graphite is arranged in layers which break apart easily every carbon atom within a diamond is supported by four others, and these bonds make the material incredibly tough.
The word diamond actually alludes to its strength, deriving from the ancient Greek "adamas" meaning invincible. This means that over the centuries jewellers have been searching for ways to more efficiently cut and shape them.
Modern diamonds are cut with mathematical precision into incredibly elaborate shapes with the aid of modern technology. Antique diamonds took a great deal more time to shape, and required extreme patience as well as a great degree of skill.
Diamonds come in a great variety of cuts, each intended to maximise the natural sparkle or scintillation of the stone.
When it comes to engagement rings diamonds are the most common stones used, as they speak to the durability of a relationship as well as being a symbol of the value and beauty of the coming union.
You can read more about the birthstones for each month here.