History and lore associated with Diamonds
The sparkle and glitter of diamond are indeed captivating and alluring, and so are its history and famous lore. Like other precious gemstones, diamonds have been there for millions of years.
Diamonds have a long history of being coveted as attractive objects. "Diamond is the most valuable, not just of precious stones, but of all things on this earth," wrote Roman naturalist Pliny in the first century AD.
Before it reaches the jeweller's display case, a diamond needs to go through a lot. Under high heat and pressure, it originates deep within the ground. It is violently ejected upward until it reaches or approaches the earth's surface. The raw diamond is then split, carved, and polished until its innate beauty is revealed.
The world's fascination with diamonds began in India, where diamonds were mined from rivers and streams. According to certain historians, India started exchanging diamonds as early as the fourth century BC. The country's resources produced limited quantities for a similarly limited market: India's upper crust. This, however, began to change with time. Indian diamonds, along with other exotic goods, made their way to Western Europe via caravans traveling to Venice's medieval markets. Around the 1400s diamonds were one of the most popular gemstones among Europe's noble class.
As India's diamond resources began to dwindle in the early 1700s, Brazil became an important supplier. As gold miners filtered through the gravels of local rivers, diamonds were discovered in their pans. Brazil dominated the diamond market for more than 150 years after it reached its full potential.
The diamond market evolved in tandem with the changes in sources. By the late 1700s, the old governing classes—the largest buyers of diamonds—was in decline. Political upheavals, such as the French Revolution, resulted in shifts in income distribution. Western Europe and the United States saw rising affluence in the 1800s. In the late 1800s, explorers discovered the first large South African diamond mines, just as demand for diamonds grew.
The finding of diamonds in Kimberley, South Africa, in 1866 marks the beginning of the current diamond market on the African continent. Cecil Rhodes, an entrepreneur, founded De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited 22 years later, in 1888. De Beers controlled an estimated 90% of the world's rough diamond production by 1900, thanks to its mines in South Africa.
The value of rough diamonds was under a million carats per year around the 1870s. The value saw a drastic rise during the 1920s. The risen value was around three million carats. Annual production rose to 50 million carats fifty years later, and in the 1990s, it surpassed 100 million carats per year.
Near the end of the 1970s South Africa, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), and the former Soviet Union were the world's top rough diamond producers. In the 1980s, Russia and South Africa maintained a stable output of higher-quality diamonds, but Zaire's production of lower-quality diamonds more than doubled.
The 1990s saw the emergence of interesting new sources and the rapid expansion of some cutting centers. All of this occurred as the global economy swung drastically.
The beauty of diamonds has been recognised for generations, but there was little scientific information about them until the twentieth century. Diamond knowledge has continuously increased since then, thanks to studies by chemists, physicists, geologists, mineralogists, and oceanographers. Scientists have learned a lot about how diamonds develop and travel to the surface of the earth in the last 50 years. This knowledge has made it easier to predict where additional diamond finds will be discovered.