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 1,700°C, it can turn black and turn to graphite, because it is after all, carbon.
Diamond crystals were first found in southern India almost 3000 years ago. Being rare and difficult to mine, they were relatively expensive even during those times and continued to be objects of desire 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.
It all begins approximately 4.5 Billion years ago, during Earth’s formation.
Carbon crystallises into diamonds 100 miles below the Earth’s surface under extreme heat and pressure.
Diamond-bearing rocks are carried from the mantle (interior) of Earth’s surface by deep-origin volcanic eruptions.
Diamond is washed down and deposited along riverbeds and seashores on Earth’s surface due to water or wind action. These are known as alluvial deposits.
See Also: Our Complete Guide to Natural Diamonds
In 800 BC, the first alluvial deposits were discovered on the riverbanks of southern India, the first discovery of diamond.
Myths and Beliefs
Diamonds were surrounded by myths and superstitions and were used to ward of evil or wrong medicinal practices.
Later, diamonds were used in trade, in exchange of spices and goods and were also used in jewellery for royalty in India.
Diamond Engagement Ring
In 1477, for the first time ever diamond was used in jewellery when Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed with a diamond engagement ring to a Hungarian Princess.
Since 1631, The famous blue ‘Hope’ diamond has carried a big historical myth that it brought bad luck to whoever owned it. It now lies safely at the Smithsonian Institute for all to see.
In 1852, the ‘Kohinoor’ diamond was re-cut and embellished in Queen Victoria’s crown. This triggered a diamond rush throughout the world.
Mining in large scale began in 1860 and continental Africa became the largest source of diamonds in the world.
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
It has taken billions of years to reach where we are today. The love, emotion and uniqueness associated with diamonds, however, lasts forever.