History of Diamond
Diamonds have been treasured as gemstones for ages. The word diamond is derived from the ancient Greek word "dámas"which means: unbreakable, unalterable. Early in history (and today) diamonds were used in engraving tools, however in many cultures they were also considered mystical and or medical icons.
Diamonds in Ancient Greece
In ancient Greece it was believed that diamonds were pieces of stars that had fallen to earth. It was said by some that they were the tears of the gods. Another legend tells of an inaccessible valley carpeted with diamonds that were patrolled by birds of prey and guarded by snakes.
Diamonds in Ancient India
Diamonds are believed to have first been recognized in India some 3,000 years ago when they were mined along the rivers Prenner, Krishna, and Godavari. In ancient India diamonds were used for decoration or as religious icons which provide protection and ward off evil.
Dark Ages and Diamonds
During the Dark Ages diamonds were used as a medical tool. One story written in the dark ages tells of a people holding the diamond to cure their ailment, another method was to swallow the diamond.
Diamonds in the Middle Ages
The Middle Ages emphasized the worth of diamonds rather than their mystical powers. Due to the greater awareness of their value, mine owners spread myths that diamonds were poisonous to try to deter their workers from swallowing the diamonds and smuggle them. As the Indian diamond supply decreased, some smaller mines were found in Brazil and Borneo, however this was not enough to meet the diamond demand.
19 th Century Diamonds
It wasn't until the mid 19 th century that the diamonds were discovered in South Africa. This would be known as the largest diamond rush in the world. Thanks to this find, diamond jewelry became accessible on a larger scale feeding the existing demand. In the late 1970's diamonds were also discovered in Australia. In 1979 the richest diamond deposit was found near Lake Argyle. These discoveries led to the commercial popularity and accessibility of diamonds.
Today, gemological experts developed methods for grading diamonds based on their most important characteristics. These four characteristics are known as the four Cs: carat, cut, color, and clarity. It is through this method that diamonds are assigned an aesthetic value. However diamonds have many other uses including: cutting, grinding, drilling and polishing tools, as well as heat sinks, specialty windows and bearings.
Read about modern day conflict diamond.