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Despite their humble origins as plain carbon, cousin to soot and graphite, diamonds are the hardest substance known to humankind. This makes them invaluable for a variety of applications, from drilling in rock to providing the best polishing powder possible. It seems sheer luck that diamonds also possess an extraordinary crystalline structure that, when cut and polished, can outshine the beauty of any other gem. Diamonds have been known since ancient times, especially in India, where the first diamond industry flourished; India was the exclusive source of diamonds from about 900 BC to 1725, when they were discovered in Brazil. Initially, diamonds were most prized in their natural eight-sided shapes, due to Indian taboos against cutting them into gem-shapes. But by the 1300s, diamonds were imported into Europe, where the taboos against cutting them quickly went the way of the dodo. Diamonds soon became the gems-of-choice for those who could afford them; the first recorded diamond engagement ring was presented by Archduke Maximillian of Hamburg to Mary of Burgundy in 1477.

18K Yellow Gold Setting with Graduating Pavé-set Side Diamonds

Yellow Gold Setting with Graduating Pavé-set Side Diamonds

White Gold Raised Setting with Princess Diamond Accents

White Gold Raised Setting with Princess Diamond Accents

Yellow Gold Setting with Baguette Side Stones

Yellow Gold Setting with Baguette Side Stones

White Gold Fluted Diamond Engagement Setting

White Gold Pave Diamond Engagement Setting

Platinum Setting With Sidestones

Platinum Setting With Sidestones

Platinum & 18K Yellow Gold Diamond Cathedral Pavé Setting

Platinum Diamond Cathedral Pavé Setting

Platinum Princess-cut Setting

Platinum Princess-cut Setting

White Gold Common-prong Diamond Engagement Setting

White Gold Common-prong Diamond Engagement Setting

Besides their hardness and sparkle, diamonds have long been valued for their rarity. Diamonds are formed hundreds of miles underground in zones of great heat and pressure, and are brought to the surface in volcanic "pipes" made of a rock called kimberlite. Not all kimberlites contain diamonds; however, those in South Africa and Siberia do, and have spawned a thriving diamond industry in both regions. Russian mines in Siberia, which are owned by a company called Alrosa, produce almost $3 billion worth of diamonds a year -- 20 percent of the world's total. Diamonds can also be found in the southeastern United States, Canada, and Brazil, but less often in commercial quantities.

Central and southern Africa share the world's highest concentration of diamonds, and it is those regions that have become the world's diamond-mining centers. The rich volcanic history of that part of the world has resulted in the creation of huge numbers of kimberlite pipes, most of which produce diamonds. Diamonds are often mined from water-deposited sediments, where erosion has placed them, and African sources currently yield the majority of the 30 million carats (13,000 pounds) of gem-quality diamonds produced each year. Another 100 million carats (44,000 pounds) of bort, or industrial-quality diamonds, are produced annually by the entire industry. Most bort is used for drilling, or is ground into powder for polishing. Nearly all gem-quality diamonds are funneled through diamond trading centers such as London, New York, and especially Antwerp, Belgium. Since 1888, over half of the world's diamonds have been controlled by a single company, De Beers, which is based in Johannesburg, South Africa and London.

Synthetic diamonds have been available since the 1950s, but are most often used for polishing, drilling, cutting, and grinding. Currently, about 400 million carats (88 tons) of synthetic diamonds are produced yearly for these purposes. There is some hope that synthetic diamonds may also find use as semiconductors and even computer chips. Until recently, synthetic diamonds were not viable as gemstones; however, recent processes using very high heat and pressures have produced striking colored gemstones, which may soon rival natural diamonds in quality and, especially, price.

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I am very pleased to inform you that my fiance's ring is holding up very well these days. The ring is beautiful and durable, and she just LOVES it! Everyone who sees the ring loves...
Edward

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On Friday morning I received my ordered engagement ring and it is even more beautiful than I thought. I am so happy with my purchase. I was very unsure about ordering such an important item...
Ted

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We received the tension set engagement ring with the white sapphire. True to your word, the stone is beautiful. We are getting married in Mexico at the end of this month. I want to...
Fergus

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Just a quick Thank You. The ring is perfect and the service was even better! Delivered, as promised and on time. I wish all of my purchasing experiences were as good. Thanks....
Terry

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Thank you we received the rings today and they are stunning. You have exceeded our expectations and I appreciate your wonderful service. Craig has already forwarded your website via email to two different friends who...
Cynthia

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Thank you so much for helping us pick out and design our engagement ring and wedding band. They're PERFECT. We love them and have gotten endless compliments. We're so pleased and we will always recommend...
Jay & Becky

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Thank you for taking me through this process. It was easier than I could have imagined. The ring looks spectacular; I know my girlfriend will love it. It was a pleasure doing...
Greg

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Thank you for your diligence. Much appreciated! Dealing with this company has been a treat. Charlene has been helping me out with all my queries, and she was extremely knowledgeable in all areas....
Gary

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Thank you for your help in selecting our engagement ring. You were very patient with all of our questions and we were pleasantly surprised at how beautiful the diamond was. We could not...
Justin

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Thank-you for adding the engraving to the order. I am most pleased with your aid, understanding and patience. I do not anticipate corresponding with you again, so therefore I will sign off with...
G

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Just wanted to let you know that my fiance loves the engagement ring. I also had it appraised, and the jeweler said it was a beautiful stone. He was also very impressed with the quality...
Alex

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Just wanted to give you a quick THANK YOU... you helped me out a lot with this whole situation. The diamond ring is safe at my home. Thank you so much for your help and...
Ryan

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I gave it too her last night and she said yes. She loved the ring. The diamond is nothing less then perfect. It appraised over 3 times the purchase cost. Thanks...
David

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Package received... ring is BEAUTIFUL! Thanks you for the expedited delivery. I'll look to you when we're ready to buy our wedding bands (saw a couple I really liked). Thanks again for the excellent service,...
Patrick

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Thanks you once again for your valuable advice, patience and creative jewelry expertise. My wife’s ring design caused considerably more ooo’s, ah’s and wow’s than we ever expected. At a time of many sensitive...
Douglas

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