White April: Diamonds and Daisies

The diamond is the birthstone for the month April. Ancient Greeks believed its watery beauty was the tear of a god or goddess, Romans thought it was a splinter from a fallen star. Today the gemstone that is associated with engagement rings is also called "blood diamond" if it is mined in war zones and sold to finance rebellions. Nordisk familjebok, or Nordic familybook shows a page of famous diamonds. The Swedish encyclopedia was published between 1876 and 1957. Companioning the diamond is April's birth flower, the daisy. The name is a corruption of "days eye" because the flower head closes at night to be reborn in the morning. A still life of Daisies and Violets is provided by Léon Bonvin, (1834-1866). The French artist made his living as an innkeeper but after he married his financial situation worsened. When his sepia toned watercolors were rejected by an art dealer he hung himself. Mary of Burgundy (1457-1482) by contrast was wealthy and the first recorded recipient of a diamond engagement ring. Her privileged life ended at the age of twenty-five when she was thrown from a horse while riding with her husband. Fortunately her youthful beauty was captured by Austrian painter Michael Pacher (1435-1498). Diamonds may be forever but life is not.