The Diamonds History

For many years, the source of diamonds was a mystery.  These amazing stones, so different from other rocks, turned up only in the sand of rivers.  People found them, marveled at their beauty and used them for many things- but they had no idea where they came from.

The first recorded use of diamonds comes from India, where the stones were known and prized at least 3,000 years ago.

By the sixth century AD, a whole mythology had sprung up in India concerning diamonds.  A text from this period entitled the Ratnapariksa of Buddha Bhatta says an ancient king was sacrificed to the gods and his bones turned into diamonds, which were then scattered across the earth by scavengers.  The same text says that a person who wears a flawless diamond will be protected from sickness, serpents, thieves and other evils.

Diamonds begin appearing in Europe in the 13th century.  It was during this period that Louis IX of France (1214-70) made a law stipulating that diamonds could only be owned by royalty.  This law was doomed to failure, since diamond importers were appearing all over Europe and it was impossible for the French king to control them all.  Diamonds appeared among the European aristocracy by the fourteenth century and the wealthy trading class by the seventeenth.

Isidore of Seville, a historian of the seventh century, reports that people had begun to use diamonds for betrothal rings because the hardness of the stone supposedly symbolized the strength of the marriage.  The ring was placed on the fourth finger, since the “vein of love” was supposed to run from there to the heart.

All these diamonds were alluvial, meaning that they were found in sedimentary deposits left by rivers.  Sources were discovered in Brazil in the early 18th century, but these were also in riverbeds.  It wasn’t until the 19th century that people began to find diamonds in their natural source.

In 1867, diamonds were discovered near the Orange River in South Africa, sparking a huge diamond rush.  Geologists soon found that the South African diamonds were coming from a nearby deposit in which large numbers of diamonds were contained in a natural column of underground rock.  This was the beginning of the Kimberley Diamond Mine, and the deposit was called a kimberlite.

The column of rock was an extinct volcanic pipe which had brought vast amounts of material to the surface from deep within the earth.  Part of this material was bits of carbon that had been squeezed into crystals by the colossal pressure: diamonds.  Water had eroded the softer rock away, carrying the harder diamonds to lowland rivers, where they sank to the bottom.  This was why diamonds were always found near running water.

Finding the source of diamonds suddenly made them more plentiful.  Now even the middle class could afford them, and they became a sensation.  Today diamond rings are universal symbols of love and devotion, exchanged at nearly every wedding.  Every time a groom puts a ring on his bride’s finger, it’s a little bit of history coming alive again.

Guest article written by Dennis from Whiteflash jewelry store – provider of GIA & AGS certified loose diamonds.

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