“Diamonds are forever” claims a catchy lyric from Shirley Bassey, and she’s not lyin’. Diamonds have been around forever with the first recorded discoveries in India almost 3,000 years ago, but that means very little and it is probably something much more like 6,000 years ago that diamonds came on the scene. The most impressive idea surrounding this is that those diamonds, given and received 6,000 years ago are in theory still around today and unless they were crushed or cut by other diamonds, retain the same shape.
The everlasting toughness of diamonds has made them not only a perfect tool for engraving and carving tools throughout history but for their symbolism in everlasting love. Diamonds can cut through anything and shape anything, so while diamonds in and of themselves are beautiful stones, they are also a workhorse when it comes to the creation of tools. In 600 AD diamonds were found in Borneo, an island off the coast of Australia that was used for such things, along with Brazil in 1700 and South Africa in the 1800s. Since the 1970s Australia has also become a large source of precious stones.
Ancient Greeks would wear diamonds around their neck because it was believed that they would make their muscles stronger and more ready for war. They were named “Adamas”, which means something like invincible, indestructible, or untamed… which is not all that untrue of the true nature of diamonds.
Their brilliance and propensity to light refraction were also noticed by the great Persian poet Hafiz who posited that “the rainbow is confined in a diamond forever”. At the time, the science to measure and truly quantify light refraction did not exist, so the ability for diamonds to create color out of white light felt magical and mystical to the point that the Ancient Greeks believed that diamonds were either the tears of the Gods, or parts of the outer rings of stars that had fallen to the Earth.
The Renaissance Period is thought to be the first time when diamonds were used as a form of committing to a marriage or in the form of an engagement ring. They were given as a special gift to symbolize the ultimate love of two people. This practice was only common among the very wealthy and royalty due to the immense value of diamonds and the inability for the common population to even afford such extravagance. The first diamond given as an engagement gift that is the most notable was in 1477 when Archduke Maximillian gave Mary of Burgundy a diamond engagement ring.
Giving diamonds as engagement rings didn’t actually become a universal standard until the De Beers diamond company began a marketing campaign advertising this use in the 20th century.
While diamonds were a naturally occurring substance for most of our relationship with them, in recent years, we have found ways to create diamonds in labs and fashion them into tools as we did before, or beautiful jewelry. These cultured diamonds have the same chemical and physical attributes so there is nothing lesser about them other than how they were made. One process takes AGES of heat and pressure in the crust of the earth, while the other takes much less time in a clean and controlled lab. Both forms of creation yield a diamond that is as beautiful, glimmering, and timeless as it’s history throughout the generations.