Diamond is desired all over the world. It is the symbol of love and commitment, elegant on the finger and valuable as an investment option. But not everyone knows about the history of this precious gemstone.
In this article, we will dig into the history to find the origins of Diamond and its journey through time.
Where did Diamond come from?
Diamond is made from Carbon atoms, the oldest and most abundant element on earth. Carbon was formed 3 billion years ago below the surface of earth and under high heat and pressure, it was transformed to Diamond. Carbon also turns to Coal under different circumstances. What causes the opposing look in these 2 carbon byproducts is their atomic structure. In Diamond, Every 5 carbon atoms form a 3D crystal which is the hardest known material in existence standing at 10 on Mohs Hardness Scale. On the other hand, coal is one of the softest materials standing at 1-2 on scale because it is simply a 2D sheet formation of 4 carbon atoms in hexagonal rings. These sheets are bonded together by van der Waals forces which are very weak and breakable. Diamond is deposit of million years of evolution that violently travels to the surface by nature to be discovered.
• Ancient era
The word Diamond is derived from the Greek ‘adamas’ meaning unconquerable. That is why it was chosen to represent eternal love and marriage. It was also used as a tool to cut hard materials. In middle ages, it was considered a talisman to banish evil or protect against enemies in wars. It was prescribed as a healing agent for illnesses and injuries.
The first writing about Diamond is seen in scripts of Roman scholar, Pliny the Elder, in the year 100. He called it the most valuable of all things in this world. First recorded Diamond was discovered in 4th century BC in India. Its ability to reflect light and engrave metals were the bases of high valuation and obviously it was exclusive to wealthy class of India. From Silk Road it traveled to china and then Western Europe.
It was Italy that established the first cutting industry in 1330 until Belgium became the new industry centre in 1550. Now European elite had access to this precious stone as well, until Indian reserves were depleted in 18th century. A new reserve was discovered in rivers of Brazil In 1725 where gold miners were sifting through gravels. The market was supplied by Brazil for 150 years but the demand declined due to political changes in Europe such as French revolution that redistributed wealth and economical class.
• Modern era
The second reserve was found in Orange River of South Africa in 1866. It was a 15 years old Erasmus Jacobs who accidently found a 21.25 carat Diamond. This discovery initiated modern history of this ancient gem. 5 years later, an 83.50 carat deposit was found in Colesberg Kopje which initiated Kimberly Mine project in 1870.
The new reserves increased supply and thus decreased the value. Diamond was not considered a rare stone anymore and became available to all people.
De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd was established in 1880 by Cecil John Rhodes which controlled 90% of the world production but the value of the stone was halved by 1919. To increase demand, De Beers launched a large scale marketing campaign in 1947 to popularize the slogan ‘a Diamond is forever’. It was a huge success and Diamond became the stone of choice for engagement rings.
The mining process evolved in South Africa through technological advances which took the mining machinery deep underground but increased production volume from under a million carat in 1870s to 3 million carats in the 1920s, 50 million carats in 1970s and 100 million carats in 1990s.
20th century was evolution of knowledge about Diamond as geologists and mineralogist did more scientific research resulting in easier prediction of new locations and precise evaluation of the stone. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) was founded in 1931 by Robert M. Shipley who introduced the Four C’s, the universal Diamond grading system.
Today, half of Diamond deposits are mined in Russia and the other half is sourced from 4 other countries, totaling to more than one billion carat world reserves in 10 major mines:
1. Aikhal, Russia, 175 million carats
2. Jwaneng, Botswana, 166 million carats
3. Udachny, Russia, 164 million carats
4. Nyurba, Russia, 133 million carats
5. Orapa, Botswana, 131 million carats
6. Catoca, Angola, 130 million carats
7. Ekati, Canada, 105 million carats
8. Venetia, South Africa, 92 million carats
9. Lomonosov, Russia, 74 million carats
10. Mir, Russia, 58 million carats
Most of the mined Diamonds are industrial grade used for drilling and grinding tools and only 20% are gem quality. In order to produce 1 carat Diamond gem, 250 tons of Ore must be mined!
How is the future for Diamond?
Diamond is forever, that is certainly true. It will always be considered beautiful and meaningful on engagement or wedding rings and it will always hold its economical value as world reserves are depleted faster with technological inventions. Even economic downsides encourage people to hold unto more Diamond.
However, the more digital the world becomes the more risky diamond shopping. That is why you should select a trusted dealer to secure your investment. We at DiamondNet in Vancouver are such reliable dealer. We offer highest quality products at wholesale prices. We also provide custom designed Diamond rings inspired by history of Diamond yet evolved by a modern personal touch.