Diamonds have long been a treasure to hold and the ultimate gift to receive. Throughout the centuries, diamonds have made an impact in one way or another. In a small effort to better understand why and how these cherished gems have carved their way into our hearts, we must briefly explore their beginnings.
Though the exact date of discovery is unknown, one of the earliest recordings of diamonds places them in India around the 4th century, where it is documented that they were being used as collateral or a commodity. During these early years, diamonds were traded along the Silk Road, a system of trade routes, which connected India and China. Valued for their ability to engrave metal, refract light and their hardness, diamonds became increasingly desired and eventually made an appearance as jewelry and talismans.
As world exploration increased and the demand for diamonds increased along with it, India’s deposits were eventually depleted and by the 18th century, the need for an alternative source was ever present. In 1725, a small supply was discovered in Brazil but it was nowhere near enough to satiate the world’s desire. It would take another 100+ years until a significant enough deposit would be discovered.
In the latter half of the 19th century, a young boy stumbled upon what he believed to be a pebble along the Orange River in Southern Africa. The pebble, as it turned out was actually a 21.25 carat diamond and not long thereafter, in 1871, an 83.50 carat deposit was discovered in Colesberg Kopje. The news of these large findings enticed thousands to flock to the region and try their hand at diamond mining. This “diamond rush” led to opening the first large-scale diamond mining operation, which they named the Kimberly Mine.
The abundance of diamonds that became available to the world after the Kimberly Mine went into full production, resulted in an unintended decrease of value for the precious gem. Along with this, the elite no longer desired the diamond as much as they began to covet its colored cousins, the ruby, sapphire, and emerald.
In 1880, Cecil John Rhodes sought to gain control of the diamond supply by forming De Beers Consolidated Mines. While he experienced success, the value of diamonds still remained quite weak and by 1919, their value was still down by 50%.
Efforts began to promote faith and value back into the diamond and by 1947, De Beers together with their advertising agency, N.W. Ayer, began the campaign, “ A diamond is forever”, suggesting that diamonds should be the go to stone when choosing or creating an engagement ring. Their campaign was proved to be a huge success and is viewed today as a major contributing factor to bringing diamonds back from the “dead”. Today it is estimated that 78% of engagement rings contain diamonds.
Diamonds have come a long way throughout the centuries and with the renewed desire held within them today, there is faith that we will continue seeing them for many more years to come.
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