A History Of Diamonds

Diamonds are the most coveted precious stone in existence. Since their supposed discovery, back in India in 800 BC, man has been enamoured and enchanted by both their supreme beauty and their astounding durability. Arguably, it is this unique combination of attributes and the complex process through which they are created that have meant that three thousand years later, our love of the diamond has not waned.

The Discovery of Diamonds

The history of the diamond and its natural production can be traced back billions of years. Diamonds most commonly occur 87 to an astonishing 190 miles deep down into the lithospheric mantle, but only where the continental plates above can be said to be relatively stable. It is a precise combination of extremely high temperatures and pressure at these certain points in the lithospheric mantle that result in the formation of diamonds. These specific conditions also result in volcano formations and eruptions, which force stones (and with them, diamonds) from beneath the plates and carry them to the earths surface. Hence, this is how diamonds were most likely first discovered.

The carbinado diamond, in contrast, is a more recent discovery and was first found in Africa and South America. Though even modern science has reached no finite conclusion or census, it is supposed that the carbinado diamond was actually formed in the crater left by an asteroid which hit earth three billion years ago. Some though believe the carbinado diamond was actually formed in outer-space as part of the asteroid which then hit earth, further adding to the enigmatic and enchanting mythology of the diamond.

It wasnt until almost 300 BC that that the diamond was first introduced to Europe, and began its climb to fame. King Alexander, ruler of the ancient Greek state of Macedon, is said to have been the first to bring diamonds to Europe, where they do not naturally occur and had consequently never before been seen. These days, understanding how diamonds are created and having sophisticated means of finding, mining and sourcing them, has resulted in diamonds being discovered, not just in India, Africa and South America; diamonds have now been discovered in China, Australia and Canada too.

Diamonds In Jewellery Making

The first specific example of diamonds set within metal to craft jewellery was in a Hungarian Queens crown made in 1074. The diamonds used in the creation of the crown were rough, uncut diamonds, as there was then no means of cutting or polishing diamonds at the time. In fact, rough, uncut diamonds continued to be used in jewellery making until advances in science and technology permitted man to polish and cut diamonds. Despite this, diamonds were a stone owned by royalty alone for the majority of this period and the worlds entire diamond production amounted to only a few pounds a year.

When, in 1375, the Point Cut was first developed it revolutionised the diamond market; previously, jewellery pieces were created around the size and shape in which the diamond or diamonds being used had naturally formed. Hence, awkwardly or poorly formed diamonds up until the 14th century were discarded as no means of shaping or polishing them was available.

The diamond engagement ring became an actual reality in 1477 when the Archduke Maximilian of Austria presented Mary of Burgundy a diamond engagement ring, and sowed the seed of a tradition which is still celebrated today, over 500 years later. By the 16th and 17th century the sophistication of diamond cutting techniques had begun to arise and open up new possibilities. Subsequently, the Peruzzi Cut, created by a Venetian diamond polisher of the time, resulted in doubling the amount of crown facets of a diamond; consequently, Peruzzi Cut diamonds bore a significantly improved brilliance to diamonds cut and polished by previous means.

Alongside further advances in the diamond trade and the treatment of diamonds, the 20th century also saw the discovery of the Cullinan Diamond. The worlds largest rough gemstone in the world, the Cullinan Diamond in its rough state weighs in at an astounding 3,106 metric carats and measures 10cm in length. To view for yourself some albeit smaller, but by no means less mesmerising examples of diamonds, visit the Diamond jewellery Section of our website.