The History of Diamonds


Diamonds are arguably the most popular gemstone on earth. Not only are they a beautiful representation of chemistry, but they’ve become a universal statement and symbol of commitment and love. Although they’re used primarily for engagement rings, diamonds have been a large part of fashion for years, often seen in jewelry, but also in clothing and other accessories. And, even though it may seem like diamond jewelers are fairly easily accessible, that wasn’t always the case. The history of diamonds is fascinating and an important precursor to know before making a diamond purchase.

The Early History

Although diamonds have been around for millions of years, the first record we have of a human interaction with this gemstone is from the 4th century BC in India. Fast forward to the 13th century and we begin to see diamonds appear in the jewelry of royalty. However, they were not the focal point of the adornments and often were simply used to highlight pearls and gold. It wasn’t until the 16th century, when diamond faceting was invented, that diamonds were prominent in the accessories of royals.

As the popularity of this gem increased, as did the technology and the interest in accessing it. Around 1330 is when the first diamond-cutting industry is believed to have started in Venice. However, when Portuguese navigator, Vasco de Gama, figured out a route that would bring him straight to the source of these diamonds in India, the stones became much more abundant in Europe.

Soon, diamonds were found in both South America and South Africa, increasing the availability to the wealthy. In 1887, the French crown jewels were sold off and many were purchased by capitalists from the United States. As access spread, so did desire and soon annual production reached 1 million carats.

As technology and equipment advanced, as did the ability to retrieve more diamonds. Today, there are diamond mines in about 25 countries. Although many individuals believe most of the world’s diamonds come from South Africa, as they’re found throughout the world, and on every continent other than Europe and Antarctica.

Engagement Rings

Look forward to the 1930s and although engagement rings were prevalent, diamond engagement rings were not. Who knew that one ad agency could change that forever. If you’ve ever heard of De Beers, the world’s largest mined diamond company, then it’s likely that you’ve heard of the phrase, “A diamond is forever”. This is the slogan that the ad agency came up with in conjunction with De Beers to help push diamond engagement rings. The phrase is still popular to this day, but the tides are changing for mined diamond companies.

Lab Grown Diamonds

As with many practices that pre-date the 21st century, diamond mining has its downside. As more and more information became prevalent about the working conditions and political scandals surrounding diamond mines, people started to demand change. And, although practices such as the Kimberely Process have been put in place, there are still many negative effects to diamond mining both ethically and environmentally.

For this reason, many couples today are searching for mined diamond alternatives and tons of them are turning to lab created diamonds. With the same physical, chemical, and optical makeup as diamonds that are taken from the earth, man made stones are 100% ethically sourced and more environmentally friendly than their mined counterparts. Not to mention, they’re also 20-40% less expensive.

So, before you make this important decision, think back through history and figure out if a mined diamond is all that you’ve ever hoped it would be. If it’s not, then consider your options, do your research and figure out a diamond alternative that’s right for you and that special someone. We can learn a lot from history, so why not use it to our advantage when making such a monumental purchase.

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