'Ethics of our Fathers' teaches us that the Torah's worth is "beyond thousands of gold and silver pieces, precious stones and pearls." In relation to our Receiving the Torah at Sinai, we present this article on precious stones.

Diamonds are amazing! They are buried in darkness deep underground, but they shine with light and brilliance. They are hard enough to cut everything, but almost nothing cuts them. Kings and queens desire them, for they are the world's most precious gem. In industry, they are the cutting edge.

The Hardest Stone

Diamonds are the hardest material found in nature. The only thing that can cut a diamond is another diamond.

Diamonds are actually made of carbon, the same as coal and charcoal, except that carbon is much softer. Diamonds form when carbon is subjected to tremendous heat and pressure. Scientists can produce synthetic diamonds in laboratories by compressing carbon under intense pressure.

Kimberlite Diamonds are only to be found in their natural form embedded in a hard volcanic rock called kimberlite.

Some diamonds are found in riverbeds that have been washed away over the years.

Tens of thousands of pounds of kimberlite must be mined, crushed and sifted, just to find one small diamond. A kimberlite pipe discovered in Arkansas in 1906, yielded 40,000 diamonds.

The Value of Diamonds

Diamonds are valued by the 4 C's: Cut, Clarity, Carat, Color. The clarity or shine is based on how perfect the diamond is. Bubbles or cracks in the stone will reduce its clarity and value.

Most diamonds are slightly yellowish. Diamonds that have no color are more expensive. Some rare diamonds have a very deep intense color, such as blue, yellow, black, green or red.

Carat is the measure of a diamond's weight. About 2,267 carats weigh one pound.

Diamonds were found in India several thousand years ago, but few diamonds were brought to Europe until traders began traveling to the Far East 500 years ago.

One hundred fifty years ago large diamond deposits were found in South Africa. Today, Australia and Africa are the largest sources of diamonds. Diamonds are also mined in Siberia despite the severe cold!! India, Brazil and Venezuela also produce the precious stone.

What Makes a Diamond Shine?

A diamond's sparkle comes from its cut. Stones are cut with a special saw that uses dia mond dust as an abrasive.

Each tiny cut must be exactly the right size, shape and angle, so that all the light which enters the diamond will be reflected back through the top. Each side is called a 'facet.' The most popular 'brilliant cut' invented 300 years ago has 56 facets. Other popular cuts are the oval, the pear, the heart, the emerald and the marquise.

During cutting and polishing, a diamond usually loses about half of its original weight. The main diamond cutting centers today are in Antwerp, New York, Tel Aviv and Bombay.

Rubies and Sapphires

In hardness, beauty and value, sapphires and rubies are second only to the diamond. Rubies are red, and Sapphires are usually blue, although they also come in other colors. Most sapphires and rubies come from India, Burma and Thailand.

Star sapphires or star rubies reflect six -starlike rays.

The Ten Commandments

The Midrash tells us that the Ten Commandments were engraved on large sapphire stones, weighing more thCohen gadolan 700 lbs. each.

Diamonds in Industry

Surprisingly, only 20% of all diamonds are used as jewelry. Most are used by industry for cutting, grinding and drilling hard metals to make automobiles, airplanes or engines.

Diamond chips are used in the head of miner's drills to split heavy rock. They are also set in the delicate tip of a dentist's drill.

Diamonds in the Torah

The High Priest's front breastplate was set with twelve precious stones, engraved with the names of 12 tribes of Israel. The stones were arranged in four rows, paying tribute to our four Matriarchs: Sarah, Rivka Rochel and Leah.