HISTORY OF DIAMONDS
Diamonds were first found in India around 6000 years ago however the youngest natural diamond were formed around 900 million years ago. Since the beginning, diamonds were highly valued because of their incredible strength and beautiful brilliance. Diamonds were used to cut tools, serve as tokens to repel evil, worn as decoration and also provide protection in battles. Diamonds were used as medicine and thought to cure and heal stomach problems in the Dark Ages.
Coal is also made of carbon but due to tremendous heat and pressure at 150-400km below the earth’s surface, the chemical bonding of diamonds does not share the same physical properties of coal. In 1330, the diamond cutting industry was created in Venice, Italy. In 1550 Antwerp, Belgium becomes the diamond cutting and trading centre.
By the late 18th century, India was the only source of diamonds in the world. Small deposits were then found in 1725 in Brazil to supply the demands of the precious stone. In 1866, a young teenager by the name of Erasmus Jacobs came across a 21.25 carat diamond at the Orange River in Africa thinking it was a pebble. In 1871, an 83.50 carat deposit was found on Kimberly, South Africa increasing the popular belief that diamonds are also available in Africa. This increased the supply of diamonds significantly causing the value of the stones to depreciate and the rich no longer considered diamonds as the most precious and rare item causing a shift to other gemstones such as rubies and emeralds.
In 1880, Cecil John Rhodes from England formed De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd to be a monopoly in diamond supply. Until the 1980s DeBeers were successful in controlling close to 90% of the world’s diamond supply but later diamond mining companies such as ALROSA, BHP Billiton, Anglo American and Rio Tinto started to grab market share. In 1947, Frances Gerety of N.W. Ayer & Sons developed a marketing slogan A Diamond is Forever for De Beers who over the ages has been very successful in increasing consumer demand for diamonds.
In 2009, ALROSA mined more diamonds than its rival De Beers making it the most values diamond miner in the world. In Late 2011, Anglo American bought the 100 year old monopoly on diamonds De Beers. Diamonds are still one of the most valuable gemstones in the world and cater to the elite as well as the norm due to the inception of the engagement ring.