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The History of Diamonds

Updated: Jun 5, 2018

Diamond, known as the beautiful and lustrous gem that symbolizes grand events of life and a celebration of love. After all, it’s known that the bigger the diamond, the greater the love! Nevertheless, you will be surprised to know that diamonds are not a rare gem. In fact, its price depends on its perceived valuable and the outstanding advertisements behind it. The true question is, why do we fall in love with diamonds?

The name of this stone is derived from the Greek word ‘Adamas', which when translated means unconquerable. Diamonds were first discovered in India in the 4th century B.C., although the youngest of these deposits were only found 900 million years ago. The majority of these stones were transported along the trade route between India and China, also known as the Silk Route. Initially, these stones were valued because of its hardness, luster and the ability to reflect light. People used them as adornments, cutting tools, and to ward off evil and bad luck – mostly used during the war.

Surprisingly, diamonds share most of its characteristics with coal as they are both composed of the most common compound on earth: carbon. What differentiates the two is the way their atoms are structured and how they are formed. Diamonds are formed when carbon is exposed to extremely high pressure and temperature.

Even with a few diamonds being found in the jungles of Brazil along with that of India's contribution, the entire population of world's diamonds was just a few pounds per year. But all of this changed in 1869 when a young man found a 22-carat diamond in the stream bed near Vaal River in South Africa. Three years later, a 15-year-old shepherd came across a gem along the banks of Orange River believing it to be an ordinary pebble which later turned out to be an 83-carat diamond! These findings attracted various diamond prospectors which then catapulted the first diamond mining operating mill known as Kimberly Mine. This newly discovered diamond source significantly increased the supply of diamonds while consequently decreasing its value. As a consequence, the elites no longer considered wearing diamonds as jewelry and replaced it by other colorful gems like sapphire, ruby, and emerald.

In 1880, Cecil John Rhodes formed De Beers Group of Companies Consolidated Mines Ltd. to control the supply of diamonds. Even though the company succeeded in achieving its objective of decreasing the diamond’s supply, the demand remained weak, and by 1919 diamonds were devalued by 50%.

However, in 1947, De Beers Group of Companies came to terms with an advertising agency and the famous slogan, A Diamond is Forever, was coined. The campaign was a huge success and is the contributing factor of today's widespread tradition of the presence of diamonds in engagement rings.


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