Andrew Coxon has spent a lifetime in diamonds. With over 40 years’ experience with the De Beers Group, he is responsible for setting the standard for all the diamonds used in De Beers’ jewellery, ensuring they are always cut for beauty rather than weight. He started out as a buyer of rough diamonds in Africa in 1972 and almost 20 years ago, was involved in implementing the Kimberley Process that was set up to stop the trade in conflict stones.
Andrew recently took a moment out from his world travels to share with Vogue five little-known facts about the world’s hardest, sparkliest mineral.
No two diamonds are the same
Natural diamonds are one of the oldest and rarest of nature’s treasures, formed through intense heat and pressure in the earth’s mantle between 800 million and 3.4 billion years ago. They are older than some of the stars in the sky and nature only has a limited supply. Because they were born at different times during the evolution of the earth, they all look and feel very different. They develop a unique character and colour, depending on the surrounding conditions in which they were initially created under, as well as their secret journey from over 300 kilometres beneath the surface of the earth. This makes each diamond truly unique.
You can trust your own eyes
Diamonds will excite your eyes in different ways as you see the same diamond differently from each eye. The three aspects of visual excitement in a diamond is described by De Beers as Fire, Life and Brilliance. However, the combination that will excite you the most is completely unique to you.
Trust your eye, brain and ultimately, your heart’s reaction. At De Beers, we advocate having a very open mind about the 4 Cs – cut, clarity, colour and carat weight – and recommend trying on everything within your ring size and budget regardless of colour, shape, or quality grade. Be prepared for a big surprise! In a sense, the diamond chooses you and when that happens, there is only one thing left to do: fall in love with your diamond for you have found the best one in the world.
The magical history of natural diamonds
When rough diamonds were first found in India over 2,500 years ago, some people felt a mystical power when they touched a diamond. Always cold and hard, they were considered unconquerable, especially as a diamond was so hard that it could not be polished or faceted like other gemstones. In fact, it was only 500 years ago that a way to polish a diamond was found. Rough diamonds were worn as talismans by kings and princes for 2000 years, often sewn into their clothes to protect them in battle.
It was only later that diamonds became a symbol of love and the idea of the engagement ring was born. One medieval example of a diamond ring in France was engraved with the words ‘When you do not see me, please think of me.’ Today, the meaning that diamonds convey, continues to evolve, each one as individual as those who either gift a diamond or purchase it to enjoy themselves.
Diamonds are really cool
Diamonds are the coolest gemstones to touch because heat goes in and out of them faster than with any other stone. Diamonds are also the hardest mineral, not only the highest-scoring 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness, but actually four times harder than anything else on earth. Interestingly they do not conduct electricity which may explain why many people constantly touch their diamond jewellery while thinking.
Diamonds make the world a sparklier place, but it’s important to treat them with care
For most people, the best diamond is the one which sparkles the most but unless you wear the silk glove which you see worn by jewellers, you can reduce the natural transparency and sparkle of your diamond in seconds, every time you handle it with your bare hands. Science tells us that hydrocarbons, oils and greases are naturally attracted to surfaces which do not contain oxygen. Diamond is pure carbon so it provides the perfect surface to stick to — like glue. Professional cleaning by your jeweller is the best way to restore your ring, better than gin, washing up liquid or your ex’s toothbrush. Once you buy a piece of De Beers diamond jewellery, we offer cleaning for life, and if you want to sparkle up your diamond on the go, we recommend using our Instant Diamond Brilliance wipes.
From British Vogue