DIAMONDS HAVE A LONG AND BEAUTIFUL HISTORY
The diamond has been a part of the human story for thousands of years. All over the world, the diamond has held symbolic significance and a mystical appeal. It is only in the 20th century in Western civilization that the diamond has become synonymous with marriage and romance.
History of Diamonds
It is documented in a Sanskrit manuscript that the first diamonds were discovered around 320-296 BC. Diamond was then, and remains today, the hardest substance on earth known to man. When the Greeks discovered the stones, they named them “adamas” which means “invincible”. The Greeks and Romans wore diamonds on necklaces as talismans during battle as they thought the diamonds had magical protective and strengthening powers.
India is widely regarded as the cradle of the diamond’s cultural significance, both in the art and science of the precious gemstone. In approximately 500 AD in India, the Ratnapariska, the ancient Indian text, “Knowledge of Gems” outlines which sects are allowed to wear various diamond colors. In later European history, diamonds were highly prized, and only monarchy was allowed to wear them.
In the 13th century, diamonds began to make their way to Europe, first to Venice where diamond cutting developed in earnest. Later, diamonds were traded across Europe, specifically in Burges and Paris. and by the late 13th century the first Diamond Cutter’s Guild was formed in Nurnberg, Germany. However, because the jewel was so rare, Louis IX of France decreed that diamonds were for the king only. This did not last very long, as diamonds began appearing on the jewelry of both male and female aristocrats during the 14th century.
In 1477 Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave his fiance, Mary of Burgundy, a diamond engagement ring. This was the first time a diamond engagement ring was used as a betrothal ring. Unfortunately the Archduke had a penchant for spending too much, and purchases such as rare diamond jewelry helped land him in debt. This also shows how expensive diamonds were and the fact that they were only bought and used by rich aristocrats.
It was not until the 17th century that diamonds were worn by the wealthier merchant class.
Diamonds were commonly used even more in the 18th century. While today, jewelry with large diamonds can be worn any time, especially in engagement rings, in the 18th century it was considered incredibly vulgar to wear diamonds during the day. They were reserved for eveningwear.
The 1800s were the turning point when diamonds were no longer just for royalty and became more available to the masses. This is due to the massive increase in supply that happened in the mid-19th century. In 1866, near the Orange River near Hopetown, South Africa, a young man by the name of Erasmus Jacobs came across what he thought was just a pebble and when it was looked at more closely was actually a 21.5-carat diamond. A few years later, a giant 835-carat deposit was found in Colesberg Kojpe. Diamond prospectors quickly came to the area and opened the Kimberly Mine, which was the world’s first large diamond mine.
Some 20 years later, the French crown jewels were sold off, with the majority purchased by Tiffany &. Co in New York, bringing a demand for diamonds to the United States.
While sold to the mainstream today, diamonds have a long and regal history. A history of opulence and grandeur. This is surely one of the reasons why diamonds are so desirable even in contemporary times.