A Brief Pictorial History of Diamonds

And their journey from formation to discovery

The story of a diamond is as transparent as it’s ever been in human history. Ironically, there is still a lot of mystery and allure into what makes a diamond, a diamond, and how we got to where we are today. Furthermore, with the popularity of lab-grown diamonds and diamond simulant alternatives on the rise, it is worth taking a look at how remarkable the history of diamonds truly is.

So, what is a diamond?

Diamond is an allotrope of carbon in the purest, crystalline form of the element, formed over 3 billion years ago in the Earth’s mantle under extreme pressure and temperature. It is usually brought to the Earth’s surface through centuries of volcanic activity.

It is an extremely inert (non-reactive) material and will not change shape, or physical properties even in a thousand years. No acid or solvent can dissolve it. But heated to above 1,800°C, it can turn black and turn to graphite, because it is after all, carbon.

Diamond crystals were first found in southern India almost 4000 years ago. Being rare and difficult to mine, they were relatively expensive even during those times and continued to be desirable objects right up to the Middle Ages and remained throughout history the purview of only the wealthy and Royalty. After the discovery of the first diamonds in S.Africa in 1861, mining started in a big way and diamonds have since become affordable and available to everyone.

This is a brief history of diamonds in an enjoyable pictorial presentation. 

Earth’s Formation 4 billion years ago | Facets Singapore

Earth’s Formation

It all begins approximately 4.5 Billion years ago, during Earth’s formation.



Diamond Formation | Facets Singapore

Diamond Formation

Carbon crystallises into diamonds 100 miles below the Earth’s surface under extreme heat and pressure.



Volcanic Eruptions | Facets Singapore

Volcanic Eruptions

Volcanic pipes are deep, narrow cones of solidified magma, composed of kimberlite or lamproites.



Surfacing of diamonds | Facets Singapore


Diamond-bearing rocks are carried from the mantle (interior) of Earth’s surface by deep-origin volcanic eruptions.


Alluvial Deposits of diamonds | Facets Singapore

Alluvial Deposits

Diamond accumulates along riverbeds and seashores on Earth’s surface due to water or wind action. These are alluvial deposits.


See Also: Our Complete Guide to Natural Diamonds


First Diamond Discovery | Facets Singapore

Diamond Discovery

In 800 BC, the first alluvial deposits were discovered in the riverbanks of southern India, the first discovery of diamond.


Myths and Beliefs of diamonds

Myths and Beliefs

Diamonds were surrounded by myths and superstitions and were used to ward of evil or wrong medicinal practices.


Traditional diamond weighing | Facets Singapore


Later, diamonds were used in trade, in exchange of spices and goods and were also used in jewellery for the Royals in India.


Diamond Engagement Ring | Facets SingaporeDiamond Engagement Ring

In 1477, for the first time ever, Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed with a diamond engagement ring to a Hungarian Princess.


Hope Diamond | Facets Singapore

Hope Diamond

In 1631, The ‘Hope’ diamond carried a big historical myth that it brought bad luck to those who possessed it.

Kohinoor Diamond | Facets Singapore

Kohinoor Diamond

In 1852, the ‘Kohinoor’ diamond was re-cut and embellished in Queen Victoria’s crown. This triggered the diamond rush in the world.


Diamond Mining in South Africa | Facets Singapore


Mining in large scale began in 1860 and continental Africa became the largest source of diamonds in the world.


Diamonds - A symbol of luxury | Facets Singapore

A symbol of luxury

Circa 1948, DeBeers launches the world renown ‘A Diamond is Forever’ Campaign. The diamond jewellery business was never the same again.


Diamonds are Forever | Facets Singapore

Diamonds are Forever

It has taken billions of years to reach where we are today. The love, purity and uniqueness associated with diamonds, however, lasts forever.


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