Since the discovery of the first diamond, it took little time for humankind to get enamored with this sparkling gemstone. The history of diamonds is nothing far from fiction as it is interlaced across continents, royalties, connoisseurs, and collectors to create a narrative of unmatched quality. More than just being aesthetically appealing, the diamond was always considered as an enduring emblem of one’s romance, love, and promise.

Derived from the Greek word ‘Adamas’, meaning ‘unconquerable’, diamond boasts of an illustrious history being the glorious object of fascination and desire. Pliny, the Roman naturalist, regarded a diamond as of value and not just a precious gemstone even during 1st century AD.

The Earliest Diamonds

diamond history
According to historians and researchers, diamonds were initially traded in India as far back as 4th century BC. Mainly gathered from the many rivers across the country, these diamonds were addressed to meet the demand of a market that was limited and included only the richer and well-off classes of India. The shift came gradually when diamonds were introduced to Europe by trading caravans along with India’s exotic merchandise. Brazil became the key resource of diamonds during the 1700s when the supplies started to decline from India. The next 150 years witnessed Brazil dominating the global diamond market.

  With changing sources, the market for diamonds also experienced a unique evolution. The elite ruling class who were the biggest consumers of diamonds declined by the end of the 1700s. The 1800s ushered in affluence across the United States and Western Europe with the shift of wealth distribution.

  The conclusion of the 1800s was momentous as explorers uncovered the earliest diamond deposits in the South African soil. This breakthrough moment of 1866 in South Africa decided how the African continent would determine the course of history in the diamond market. The De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited was established by Cecil Rhodes in 1888. This was the beginning of an empire. Through its South African mines, De Beers controlled as much as 90 percent global production of diamond roughs by 1900. The history of diamonds does not stop there.

The diamond engagement ring: a story of well-marketed romance

houston diamond engagement rings
The narrative of a ring being used to declare one’s love and commitment can be traced back to the prehistoric times. The use of a diamond engagement ring was originally documented in 1477. Although the concept of engagement rings was familiar, the use of diamond was a rarity and was reserved singularly for the elite. The popularity of diamond engagement ring came to the fore in 1947 when De Beers commissioned an advertising agency and coined the pioneering slogan, “A diamond is forever”. Consequently, a marketing campaign ensured that highlighted diamonds as the only respectable choice for an engagement ring.

The wild success of the De Beers campaign contributed to a continuing fascination with the convention of the diamond engagement ring. Over 78% of the global fine jewelry market is ruled by engagement rings that flaunt a minimum of one diamond.

The GIA 4Cs of Diamond Quality

With the mission for standardizing the diamond market for its quality, GIA (Gemological Institute of America) established the ground-breaking concept of ‘4Cs’ along with the International Diamond Grading System™ during the 1940s. Although there have been multiple grading systems presently available, this remains the ultimate benchmark for evaluating the quality of a diamond.

Find Out More About Diamond History at Diamond Exchange Houston:

Would you like to learn more about the history of diamonds? Contact the experts at Diamond Exchange Houston today. We have been in the diamond trade for 3 generations. We are here to answer any of your diamond or jewelry questions. Contact us today by filling out our contact form or by calling us at 281-623-1105.
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