THE HISTORY OF DIAMOND GEMSTONES
With a rich and varied history, diamonds have been called many things throughout the centuries. Marilyn Monroe, acting the character of Lorelei in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, is credited with popularizing the now infamous statement: “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” Similarly in 1947, advertising agency N.W. Ayer coined the slogan, “A diamond is forever.” With sparkling cuts and exclusive designs, diamonds are known for their everlasting value and worth. In fact, the word “diamond” comes from the Greek word “Adamas” which means “unconquerable and indestructible.”
The precious stones were originally discovered in India and date as far back as the fourth century B.C. Traded along the Silk Road, diamonds quickly arrived in Western Europe and became a status symbol for the European elite. However, India’s supply of diamonds was quickly depleted and miners were forced to look for new sources. Brazil was the next country in which the sparkling gemstones were found, but once again, the supply was not enough to meet the world’s demands.
In 1947, an Englishman by the name of Cecil John Rhodes created an international mining company called De Beers Consolidated Mines. Ltd. Rhodes’s goal was to regulate the diamond supply, and he was largely successful. Throughout the years, the popularity of diamonds, especially quality stones in engagement rings, has steadily increased. However, diamonds and engagement rings were not always synonymous.
In Ancient Rome, rings were used as betrothal or “truth” rings and worn on the left hand ring finger, as they are today. The fact that the ring was worn on the ring finger was important because the Romans believed that a vein in that finger ran directly to the heart. Although Ancient Romans are credited with beginning the notion of rings as a symbolic sign of commitment, it wasn’t until 1215 that “engagement rings” became prominent. Although rings came to symbolize a couple’s commitment to one another long before, 1477 is the first recorded instance of a diamond engagement ring, when the Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed to Mary of Burgundy with a sparkling diamond ring.
Today, diamonds are known for their resilience and durability. Considered the hardest natural substance on earth, diamonds are a fitting symbol of everlasting commitment and love. Although diamonds are no longer reserved for the “elite,” diamonds have not lost their unique and desirable quality. In fact, on average 250 tons of earth is mined to produce a single diamond carat. Mining and cutting diamonds is a labor of love and ultimately, diamonds are the best way to show yours.