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Thursday, June 19, 2008

History of Diamonds

The fact that I am here working in diamond mine industry - in Angola Africa, I feel that I should know about the history of diamonds or where they are coming from. My husband used to ask me, "what is the oldest thing that you have or wearing in your body right now?".. Honestly, I didn't know what to answer in the beginning, I said, my glasses since I've have them 3 years ago. He said, yah but they are only for couple of years back, not even 10 years! I am talking about million or even billion years... AAAAHHHHH, I said my diamond engagement ring? YES got the answer.

So, now that I became a blogger, basically to share anything that I experience or know myself off, it's just about a brilliant idea to share this to you.

The root of the word “diamond” comes from the Ancient Greek term “adamas,” meaning unconquerable and indestructable (“adamas” is the root for the English word “adamant,” and a person who is adamant in his desires truly will not budge from his stance!). “Indestructable” is certainly true; there is nothing on Earth which is harder or more pure than diamonds, and it actually takes another diamond to cut and polish the stones which one sees in rings and watches. The “industrial diamonds” are actually black-colored ones.

Diamonds have been known and used by humans for 3000-4000 years. Original diamonds were not mined—they were found along riverbeds, where the water slowly ate away at the stone in which they were ensconced. The earliest use of diamonds was exclusively for kings. Since diamonds were known for their utter indestructability, kings studded their leather breastplates with diamonds as a primitive and expensive form of bullet- (or sword!) proof vest. The brilliant sparkle also warned away potential assassins, because diamonds were seen as the sole domain of kings, and the magical powers of diamonds were said to turn malicious against those who harmed their bearers.

Diamonds were worn as a talisman against poisoning, but that was not their only function where poisoning was concerned. Diamond powder, ingested orally, is deadly. Catherine di Medici’s favorite means of dispensing death to her enemies was death by diamond powder. Perhaps the this association of diamonds with poison was originally spread about because this legend would certainly prevent mine workers from swallowing diamonds with the hopes of stealing them.

Ancient Greeks considered diamonds to be “splinters of stars fallen to Earth” or “teardrops of the Gods.” This is an entirely beautiful was of thinking of diamonds, but one that is, unfortunately, untrue. Diamonds are pure carbon (with a melting point of 6900 degrees Farenheit), compressed after many millions of years into the hard shapes we see today. Diamonds were worn uncut for an extremely long time. An uncut diamond normally resembles a pebble you would throw out without a second glance. There is an extant crown from 1074 made for a Hungarian queen that is set with unpolished, uncut diamonds, and although it is very beautiful, its stones are not nearly as brilliant as those of today. The majesty of diamonds seemed to have spread rather slowly: French and English royalty wore diamonds by the 1300’s.

The use of diamonds to symbolize love (pure, indestructable, and incomparably beautiful) came into being when in 1477, Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave a diamond ring to Mary of Burgundy. Contemporary people keep this tradition alive by offering diamond rings to their intended spouses—from which came the saying “Diamonds are a woman’s best friend.” Incidentially, the tradition of offering any ring at all to a loved one comes from ancient Egypt, when men gave their wives rings to place on the fourth finger of their left hands. This is where the “vena amoris” or “vein of love” was said to begin, eventually to end at the heart. Diamond rings took an active step in 16th Century England, when fashionable (and love-crazed!) lovers etched romantic pledges on window panes with their diamond rings. Such rings are called “scribbling rings.”

Surprisingly, diamonds are not rare, whatsoever! This might come as a shock to a person who has just paid 1,000 dollars for a one-carat stone, but there are enough diamonds in the world to give every man, woman, and child in America a cupful. Although they have the best reputation, diamonds are not the most expensive gemstone, either. A top-quality ruby would be double the expense of a diamond of the same carat. A diamond’s expense comes from a human-imposed drought rather than a true drought. The whole theory of supply and demand plays very nicely here into the hands of the diamond-governing corporations!

What is rare, however, is a good diamond. This next part might be bad news for you diamond-lovers out there. If we define a good diamond in general terms as one that has a large carat, is perfectly white, that has no fissures or cracks or clouds, has all of its potential brilliance, and will appreciate over time, less than 25 out of 1000 diamonds sold in the US would be good diamonds. The average person in the US pays twice what they should for their engagement ring, and the average diamond has been laser-drilled, is tinted yellow, and has cracks, breaks or carbon that you can see with your own eyes.

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