‘Diamonds Are Forever’
THE CLASSIC title track to the ultimate 70s Bond movie of the same name, couldn’t be closer to the truth. Diamonds have indeed stood the test of time and the raging forces of nature to reach out to us and touch our lives today, and are as such, well-deserving of the term ’forever’. Throughout the ages they have been revered for their mystical properties and breath-taking beauty. It is, therefore, not surprising that they have a very long and fascinating record as one of the most sought-after and intriguing gemstones on the planet. They were forged long before the dinosaurs, billions of years ago in the mists of the dawn of time itself – way before the Shirley Basseys and Marilyn Monroes of this world were sporting ‘a girl’s best-friend’.
Part of the credit for the mythical reverence that diamonds have acquired throughout the ages, belongs to the fact that these beauties are extremely rare in their most sought after gemstone quality form. Not only are diamonds rare in numbers but also in the number of skilled artisans that can carve and craft their exquisite beauty.
Diamonds are the hardest of all the precious stones. The word “diamond” itself is a derivative of the Greek word, adamas, which means ‘unconquerable’. This does not mean that a diamond cannot be damaged only that they are difficult to damage requiring a very precise strike in an exact location in order to damage the surface.
It is believed that the first diamonds were discovered nearly 3000 years ago in India. They were considered valuable because of their ability to refract light and were used as either decoration or as talismans – for protection and warding against evil.
During the Dark Ages, diamonds were also believed to hold medicinal value. There were instructions that those suffering illnesses or having wounds should hold a diamond in the hand and make a sign of the cross for healing. Some even believed that ingesting diamonds could assist in recovery (and even a cure) from various illnesses.
As time progressed into the Middle Ages, diamonds were more often viewed as items of value rather than items of mystical healing powers.
Today, India suffers from a relatively depleted supply of diamonds. Smaller finds have been discovered in Borneo and Brazil, though nothing as significant as those reserves once found in India.
Diamonds were discovered in South Africa by a child playing with brightly coloured stones by a river in 1866. One of the stones was recognised to be a diamond and the gem cut from it was appropriately named ‘Eureka’. This created a new diamond rush and marked the surge of a renaissance for the diamond industry. Diamonds mined in South Africa still continue to make up a large percentage of the world’s diamond jewelry, though there are gem quality diamonds being discovered all the time in other countries around the world.