History of Diamonds

Diamonds are more than just exceptionally beautiful – an enduring symbol of eternal love. The stone’s name is derived from the Greek word “adamas”, which means unconquerable – a reference to the stone’s hardness.

Almost all the diamonds that have been mined today were formed in Earth’s surface, under a tremendous amount of pressure and incredible heat – specialized conditions that mean there’s a limited number of a place that they can form. The earliest diamonds were found in India in 4th century BC, although the youngest of these deposits were formed 900 million years ago. At the time of their discovery, diamonds were valued because of their strength and brilliance, and for their ability to deflect light and engrave metal.

When diamonds were introduced in the mid-20th century, for the very first time the world had a universal standard to assess the quality of the diamonds. The 4Cs – Cut, Color, Carat and Clarity, became an important tool to understand why you would choose diamonds over others. The way a diamond is cut and polished affects its brilliance, sparkle and the fire of the stone. When cut properly, it allows light to reflect and refract internally and then emit from the top causing a dazzling effect; the round brilliant cut diamond is the most popular cut-shape of diamond. Carat is the unit of measurement used to weigh diamonds. Diamonds comes in all colors of the rainbow. In their most natural form, diamonds are transparent and colorless, but because of impurities of light elements, such as nitrogen, boron, hydrogen, diamonds can be found in colors such as pink, blue, orange, green, purple, black, yellow, red, violet and brown. The majority of diamonds that are mined are in a range of pale yellow or brown color are termed as the “normal color” range; diamonds that are of intense yellow or brown, or any other color are called “fancy color” diamonds. For example, boron causes blue color diamonds, hydrogen causes purple and violet colors, and nitrogen causes yellows. Clarity refers to the presence of identifying marks on the surface (blemishes) and inside (inclusion) the diamond.

Origins of Diamonds

The earliest diamond-cutting industry is believed to have been in Venice (Italy), a trade capital, started sometime after 1330. Prior to the 18th century, most diamonds were found in India. The famous Blue Hope Diamond and Kohinoor were discovered in the Golconda region. Currently, one of the most prominent Indian mines is located at Panna, Madhya Pradesh. A majority of these stones were transported along the network of trade routes that connected India and China, commonly known as the Silk Road. Then the discovery occurred in Minas Gerais, Brazil in 1725, just as the production in India was dwindling. In the 1840’s, Diamonds were discovered in North America, although this was soon eclipsed by the discovery of diamonds in Africa in the late 1860’s and the early 1870’s.

Most of the world’s natural gem-quality diamonds are mined in countries where citizens do not purchase a lot of diamond jewelry. The leading consumers of diamond jewelry include the United States, India, China, The European Union, Japan, Hong Kong, and the Middle East. The United States consumes over 40% of the world’s diamond jewelry, and the other areas listed together consume at least another 40% of the world’s diamond jewelry. Only about 20% of them are gem quality and used for jewelry. The Oppenheimer steals the title of world’s most expensive diamond from the 12.03 carat “Blue Moon of Josephine.”

In Africa, the largest diamond producers are Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia, and South Africa. The Kimberley Mine in South Africa is home to the world’s largest diamond mine, also known as the “Big Hole.” In the United States, diamonds are found in Arkansas (Crater of Diamonds State Park), Colorado and Wyoming. Canada’s Ekati Mine is the first surface and underground diamond mine located in the north-east of Yellowknife. Australia’s Argyle Mine is the largest producer in the world by volume. Mirny Mine, the vast open-pit, is the most productive diamond mine in the world, and is the still the largest gem diamond ever found in Russia. Currently, the top three sources of diamonds are – South Africa, Russia and Canada.