When Diamond Was Discovered: Diamonds From History to Present



Diamond is the most precious of precious stones. Throughout history, it was sought after by the rulers, and these people carried it as a symbol of strength, bravery, and invincibility. Over the centuries, diamond has attained the status of the main gift of love in legends and real life. It is the hardest stone ever known, the purest composition of crystallized carbon, the most important chemical element for life. Diamonds come in many different colors and their optical properties are astounding. They reflect light in rainbow colors and have a shimmer far beyond any other gemstone. So, when do you think the diamond was discovered?

Diamonds were discovered in India more than 4000 years ago and were used to decorate religious objects, as a protector in war, or as a talisman against the devil. Buddhists also noticed the deep symbolic existence of diamonds, in the Buddhist ancient scriptures the Diamond Sutra is mentioned, according to which the truth is eternal, just like the diamond. Diamond has also been featured in Hinduism, Jainism, Tibetan, and Lamanism cultures. The Sanskrit word ‘‘Vra’ — meaning both diamond and lightning — is the name of a small metal weapon that has the symbolic value of both the diamond (which cuts everything but not itself) and the nature of lightning (the irresistible power).



Diamonds are pure carbon minerals formed by the combination of twelve carbon, the most common element in the world. With the exception of the carbonado type, diamonds are known to be transparent. Although most of the time they are colorless, there are also diamonds that are red, green, blue, pink, and yellow. With a melting temperature of 3,547 ° C under 1-atmosphere pressure, the temperature range in which diamond remains in the liquid phase is very low and tends to rapidly transition to the gas phase. It evaporates immediately after the temperature at which it liquefies is exceeded. It has a density value of 3.5 gr / cm3 in the solid phase. It turns into graphite under 1-atmosphere pressure and 1500 C temperature in an oxygen-free environment. Although they have the same chemical content as graphite, their physical properties are very different because their crystal structures are different.

It is estimated that the youngest diamond known today was formed 900 million years ago. High temperature and pressure are required for the crystal structure of the diamond to form. Diamonds are formed far from the environment in which we live and are not removed from where they originated. Diamonds are formed under very high temperature and pressure in the upper mantle under the earth’s crust and are thrown towards the surface by lava movements. Therefore, in regions with volcanic activities, they are found in a mineral called kimberlite. Kimberlite settles near the surface as small volcanic chimneys, dykes, and sills, rich in potassium, olivine, and to lesser extent phlogopite, diopside, serpentine, calcite, gamete, ilmenite, and spinel minerals. The kimberlite formation mostly gets narrower in the form of an ice cream cone and the largest known chimney diameter is less than 1 kilometer.



In the past, diamonds accumulated on the banks of streams, deltas, and coasts are encountered due to the severe erosion of the diamond-containing ground. For example, production is made from the ocean floor by the dredging method on the coasts of Namibia. Diamond mines are generally closed and/or open mines, and due to the fragile and friable feature of kimberlite, the shape and dimensions of the kimberlite chimney, the block collapse method is generally applied in closed enterprises. The size of open mines may vary depending on the ore. One of the deepest open-pit mines in the world is the Minry Open Pit Diamond Mine, also known as the “Pit of the World”, with a depth of about 600 meters in Siberia.

There may also be kimberlite chimneys that do not contain diamonds. Kimberlite is formed as a result of the introduction of high-temperature lava into the country rock and its sudden cooling. Kimberlite is a mineral with low mechanical strength and takes its name from the city of Kimberley in South Africa. Diamonds are scattered in kimberlite mineral and ore deposits containing diamond minerals are also called diamond ore. Diamonds can very rarely be found in a sugar cube size or larger. The reason for this situation is that diamonds are thrown very quickly from the upper mantle towards the interior of the shell, exposed to high friction, impact, rapid temperature, and pressure changes, and therefore disintegrate during transportation. The availability of uncracked diamonds greatly increases its value, and most diamonds contain cracks.

A Brief History of Diamond Since Its Discovery


2500 BC – The first diamond was found in India.

A star rose from the east. The first diamond was found by the river. They tried to cut it by rubbing it against different stones, but without success. In addition, this stone glowed much more than pebbles and was transparent. They called this stone, which was both hard and shining, the tear of the god, and believed it to be holy.

B.C. 327 – Diamond is coming to Europe.

Alexander the Great brought the first diamonds from India to Europe. Later Indian merchants carried it to Venice and other European countries. When alchemists were popular, they said, diamonds cure diseases and expel demons.



296 BC – Diamond is described.

For the first time, diamonds were mentioned in a written text, ‘Arthasastra’ (lessons on earning). This text in Sanskrit made the diamond more recognizable.

1074 – Diamond in the crown.

Diamond was used for the first time in jewelry. The diamond placed on the crown of the Hungarian queen took its place in the crowns as a symbol of status and power, rather than just hiding as a stone.

1375 – The diamond is being cut.

The pointcut was developed for the first time in Venice. By rubbing the diamond on the diamond, its surface is made to shine more. With the invention of the cut, the diamond has started to be used not only in crowns but also in jewelry. Diamonds were the biggest rival of the pearl that noble families often used in their jewelry.

1477 – The diamond engagement ring.

The first diamond engagement ring was given to Mary of Burgundy by Archduke Maximilian of Austria. Thus, the tradition of giving diamond rings for engagement started.

1520 – Invention of the rose-cut diamond.

The pointed diamond cut with no cone section, used in antique jewelry, was inspired by floral motifs such as roses and tulips.

1853 – The first diamond is found in Brazil.

The Estrela do Sul (South Star) diamond (128.48 ct.) Became the harbinger of the Brazilian diamond mines.

1866 – The first diamond is found in South Africa.

It was called Eureka (Raw 21.25 ct, truncated 10.73 ct.).

1869 – South African star (crude 83.50 ct., Trimmed 47.69 ct.) was found.

This diamond, found by a shepherd boy, caused all diamond hunters to flock to South Africa.



1905 – The largest diamond ever found in the world, Cullinan (3106 ct.) was found in South Africa.

From this diamond, 9 large diamonds and 96 small diamonds were cut.

1919 – Diamond with 57 facets.

The diamond (57 facets), the most modern cut of the diamond, has fully completed its evolution. Correct cutting angles were found, providing the highest luster with minimal wastage. One of those who found this is Marcel Tolkowsky.

1947 – Diamond Forever

Used for the first time in advertisements by De Beers, this slogan is one of the most successful slogans ever. Diamond has taken its place in the history of humanity as the symbol of the most permanent relationship with its durability, hardness, not being affected by acids, and not deteriorating in climate changes.

The Benefits of the Discovery of Diamond for Humanity


Diamond is the hardest mineral that insulates electricity very well and transmits heat best. Diamond, also the mineral with the highest modulus of elasticity, typically has a modulus of elasticity of 1000 GPa. The reason why diamonds, which have a relatively high refractive index value of 2.42, have higher values ​​in this and many other aspects, is that they were formed under very different conditions compared to most other minerals and consequently the crystal structure was shaped uniquely. Natural diamonds are used as jewelry and industrial materials. However, matte and black natural diamonds called carbonado are used only in industry, in cutting processes due to their surface hardness. Although carbonado type diamonds are less valuable than other diamonds, they are diamonds with higher surface hardness.

In addition, there are two other types of diamonds, called ballas and bort, which are natural and used in the industry. The high toughness, crack propagation resistance of Ballas type diamonds compared to other types provides an important advantage in terms of its use in the industry. The demand for diamonds in the industry required the production of synthetic diamonds, and in 1955, the first synthetic diamond was produced. By the 1960s, the demand for the use of diamonds in the modern industry has exceeded the natural diamond supply, and the market’s indispensable need for artificial diamonds has been observed. During these years, Du Pont, Union Carbide, General Electric companies, independent companies in countries such as the Soviet Union, Japan, and even De Beers started synthetic diamond production under laboratory conditions in Ireland and South Africa.



Synthetic diamonds, which could be produced in very small pieces for the first time, can even be produced today as a surface coating material. Today’s technology on synthetic diamonds is quite advanced. Since synthetic diamonds can be produced without cracks, their use in the industry may be more suitable than natural diamonds. It is a fact that many advances in engineering are based on developing materials science. In terms of mining engineering, the use of synthetic diamonds has enabled significant developments in areas such as natural stone cutting and mechanical excavation. In terms of rock engineering applications, it has enabled the development of TBM (full-sided tunnel boring machine) technology. The first TBM was tested in 1856 and could only excavate 3 meters. After 50 years, it was tried again with a better metal alloy and used in non-hard formations, weak rocks, coal seams, but it was not economical and widespread due to the short period of use.

In 1922, tungsten carbide alloy, which is an important alloy in terms of mining due to its surface hardness, was found widely used in drilling and digging equipment today. Although new and more efficient tunnel boring machines have been built after this development, the TBM technology has been achieved with the use of synthetic diamonds. Towards the end of the 1970s, synthetic diamonds were used for the first time on a TBM. Today, synthetic diamond technology is of great importance in the development of full-fronted tunnel boring machines, which can dig long distances, make profits against their high costs, and whose use is becoming widespread day by day.

Diamond Production Eras After Its Discovery


Until the 18th century, thanks to the discovery of waterways to India, which was the only raw material supplier in the world, a significant amount of diamonds were brought to Europe by Portuguese and Spanish sailors from the 16th century. By the 18th century, Brazil became the most important raw material supplier and maintained its leadership for a century and a half. In the 1860s, the rich diamond resources in South Africa were noticed and the country, which was the world’s most important raw material supplier, changed again.

When fifteen-year-old Erasmus Jacobs, who thought that he was playing with an ordinary pebble one day, encountered this material, which was not an ordinary pebble and a 21.25-carat diamond, the diamond in the Orange River In South Africa in 1866 was discovered in a short time. Diamond mines were searched by thousands of people in many African countries, especially South Africa, and by the last quarter of the 19th century, Africa became the most important center for diamond supply. Previously, India and Brazil could not meet the increasing world demand, with the discovery of rich sprouts in Africa, the supply was greatly increased.



Although important diamond formations were noticed in Russia in the 19th and 20th centuries, especially in the Siberian region, South Africa’s leadership among gem-quality stone providers did not change. In terms of industrial diamonds, the Democratic Republic of Congo (as of today’s name) is the most important center in the 20th century, and it is seen that Russia is ahead of South Africa in terms of industrial diamonds.

Although it is not mentioned among the top countries in the 1960s, Australia, which has the most striking developments in diamond mining today, entered the list of important countries in terms of the diamond raw material suppliers in the 1980s, and since 1995 it has reached the top. According to the data of 1995, 19 million carats of 53 million carats of gem diamonds and about 23 million carats of 58 million carats of industrial diamonds were produced in Australian mines. China also played an important role in industrial diamond mining in the late 20th century. Another important development in the 20th century in terms of diamond mining is that the rich diamond presence in Botswana, one of the African countries and whose livelihood is largely based on diamond mining, has been discovered since 1967.

The Importance of the Discovery of Diamond


Diamond has a very important place throughout history. It is said that the first time people met diamonds was in India four thousand years ago. Diamonds were considered sacred stones for many years and were not used as jewelry. Diamond has an important place in many beliefs. Diamonds were used in wars as a symbol of courage and virtue and were carried on the belief that they help gunfires to get hits. It is one of the historical beliefs that a person who sees the diamond cannot forget that moment and that there is a diamond at the tip of the arrow of the cupid Eros so that the lovers do not forget each other.

According to the Indian belief, diamonds banish evil spirits and harms such as theft, disease, poisoning, fire, and flood. Again, according to the Indian belief, diamonds are a gift given to each other by the gods. Although diamond has been known and used in India since ancient times, the name of the diamond (Diamond) comes from the word “Adamas”, which means invincible in Greek. Many beliefs such as diamonds were the tears of the god in ancient times and the person who sees the diamond will go to heaven because it will witness the ordeal of the god show that diamond has a sacred place in history.



In antiquity, there was also a common belief that diamonds were star fragments. Diamonds as jewelry were first used in the Roman Empire in the 2nd century BC, believed to give courage and strength. It was used as a bridal gift for the first time in the history of the wedding, which took place among royal families in terms of the wars between England and France in the 16th century and the end of the tense atmosphere, as the most common form of use today. According to another source, the diamond was used in 1477 by the Archduke of Austria while proposing marriage. The use of diamonds in engagement rings has been seen only in royal families and elite families for many years. Wearing a ring on the third finger represented love and emotional bond to the other person, even though it dates back to Roman times, this did not represent marriage. The first engagement ring was worn in 1215 at the suggestion of one of the most powerful popes of the Middle Ages. The belief that diamonds increase sexual power has survived until today.

The unit of carat, usually equal to 0.2 grams, is used as the weighing measure for diamonds. The meaning of the word, which is carats in Arabic, is the seed of the carob fruit. The carat was widely used for weighing items weighing less than 1 gram. Another expression that is frequently heard along with the concepts of raw diamond and carat is diamond. A diamond with 57 light-refracting surfaces refers to a kind of geometric shape for cutting diamonds. The diamond-cut model dates back to the 15th century. Although India, which had the monopoly of raw material suppliers to the whole world during these years, took an active role in cutting, it could not make efficient cutting in terms of optical properties. Europe has been the center of important revolutions in stone cutting. The Dutchman Louis de Berquem brought innovations on diamond cutting and the symmetrical facetting plans he developed have reached today with minor changes. The first application of the diamond cut style was realized in 1456.



Confidence is the most important factor in diamond sales throughout history, and many diamonds are not sold. Agreements between the sellers were made verbally and confidentially as required by ethical standards. Those who behave immorally are banned from trading. In general, the trade has continued as a family business from generation to generation. Having played an important role in the diamond trade and cutting business for hundreds of years, Jews also played an important role in the formation of new stone cutting centers after World War II.

The locations of the mines where raw materials are provided and the stone cutting centers often differ. For example, although African countries such as Angola, Botswana, Ghana have important diamond mines, they do not contain stone cutting centers. On the other hand, South Africa is one of the important centers in the world in terms of both mining and stone cutting. In addition to stone cutting centers, there are also stone sales and organization centers. These centers generally act as bridges between mines and stone cutting centers. Johannesburg, New York, and London are also important organization centers for cutting.

Diamond Trade Since the Discovery of Diamond


At the end of the 15th century, the world’s most important stone cutting center was the city of Antwerp in Belgium. Brussels, which lost its prestige due to the port embankment, on the other hand, can be accepted as the previous center. The number of diamonds entering Europe from India in the 16th and 17th centuries showed a steady increase and the diamond cutting increased its importance in Europe. At the beginning of the 16th century, with the effect of strict laws against non-Catholics in Belgium, non-Catholic groups, especially Jews, migrated further north, to Amsterdam and England.

Amsterdam has had more important advantages compared to England in terms of being a stone cutting center for a long time and since the end of the 16th century, it has become the world’s leading stone cutting center. However, as a result of new restrictions against the Jewish population, the Jewish population, which constituted half of Amsterdam’s stone-cutting workers in the 18th century, decreased to 5% and was emigrated. The new center shifted to London as a result of Britain’s giving convenience to the Jews in the stone cutting sector and the economic crisis in Amsterdam. In the UK, trade continued to develop rapidly and De Beers, which was a national company and undertaking the trade of 1st class stones, was established.



Due to the rapid entry of diamonds into fashion in the early 19th century, demand increased, but contrary to this situation, the supply of Brazil, the most important raw material supplier of the period, experienced a serious decrease. The foundations of the leadership position in stone sales and organization, which it still plays today, was laid with the start of the British De Beers company to provide diamonds from the mines in South Africa. De Beers quickly ceased to be a national company as a result of its innovative approach to diamond mining and marketing in Africa and took the diamond market into a monopoly at the end of the 19th century. After South Africa, in countries such as southwest Africa, Congo, Angola, Ghana, and Sierra Leone, significant diamond assets have been detected and raw materials have been provided. However, with the outbreak of World War I, supply exceeded demand and independent diamond sellers dropped prices even more.

As a result of the rebellions and internal turmoil that broke out in Africa, a central sales organization (Central Selling Organization), which has a regulating role in the diamond market, has been established. Although the central sales organization reduced the volatility in the market, it was not compatible with the nationalist approaches of some countries such as Sierra Leone, Ghana, Congo, and Tanzania. These countries were able to partially or fully control mining and export operations. Other African countries have released their diamonds through De Beers. In the part of the 20th century when these developments took place in terms of diamond mining, until World War II, some of the diamond cutting workers in London and Amsterdam migrated to Antwerp again. Thus, while the number of Jewish diamond workers working in Antwerp was 18% in 1900, this ratio increased to 81% by 1939.



With the outbreak of the Second World War and the immigration of the Jewish population in Europe to Israel and the United States, while Antwerp was regaining its old importance in the stone cutting sector, the foundations of the new stone cutting centers in these regions were laid. More than two thousand Jewish workers who migrated after the end of World War II did not return to Europe. The returning population has largely settled in Antwerp. Although new competition centers like Israel have been formed, Antwerp is a very important diamond cutting center in history, which has been able to reach the top again with this comeback. Antwerp is still the world’s most important stone cutting center. In addition, Antwerp is the most important trade center of final jewelry diamond products today. The heart of the stone cutting industry beats in an area of ​​approximately 3 km2 known as the “Diamond Quarter” in Antwerp. The majority of the working population here is still Jewish today, and it also has a significant number of Indian workers. Saturdays are holidays for the “Diamond Quarter”.

For lower quality stones that cannot go to 1st class stone cutting centers such as Antwerp, India has become a cutting center that gained importance after many years since the 1970s. Low-priced products produced in India have had a negative impact on the European diamond industry. Although synthetic jewelry diamonds and low-priced jewelry produced in India have caused fluctuations in the prices of 1st class Antwerp products since the 1970s, Antwerp products have always been in demand by the enthusiast. Diamonds are also widespread among middle-income people day by day.



Thus, the interest in the products of some centers such as Antwerp and Tel Aviv as well as the goods of small or low-quality stone cutting centers in India increased, and it took its place in the market in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, as a new cutting center in the 20th century. The concept of natural stone is an important element that is often asked when buying diamonds. Although the fact that the stone is not synthetic is seen as making the gift more meaningful, the production of large synthetic diamonds with the developing laboratory facilities increases the interest in synthetic products as jewelry.

Since the early days of diamonds, there have been disputes over their trade and sharing. It is known that powerful kingdoms in the south of India fought for diamonds in the 8th century BC. Africa has very striking examples of conflicts and wars for diamonds in recent history. In Africa, some countries whose economy relies heavily on diamonds and even has no significant income other than diamonds have been dragged into civil wars by investing their earned money in weapons. The bloody gangs cut off people’s arms and legs to intimidate the rebelling people.

Workers were prevented from being aware of the prices of diamonds sold, and it was suggested that very high-priced diamonds were sold at low prices (One unit price per carat cannot be said for diamonds. Even the prices of diamonds from the same mine vary greatly). The governments of many African countries, which are suppliers of raw materials, have not been able to provide a politically effective solution, and their countries’ share of the money earned has been unfairly low.

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Savaş Ateş

My wife has a huge interest in diamonds. After she asked me a lot of questions about it, I found myself in diamonds. I made a lot of research on it. I read books. I visited manufacturers. I visited the stores. I have made good friends in that field. I want to share my experiences with you.

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