The Diamond - A Brief History
Since the dawn of history, man has held the diamond in awe, surrounding it with revered mysticism.
Ancient man first put the hard stones to a practical use, shaping his tools and weapons with them. Then, because of their rarity and unique qualities, man came to believe that diamonds possessed supernatural powers. He used the gems in amulets to ward off evil spirits. The name diamond is, in fact, derived from the ancient Greek word "adarnas" meaning invincible or unconquerable.
As nomadic tribes in Africa and the Middle East expanded their trade with one another, these rare stones became a medium of exchange, the world's first hard currency.
Written history is filled with stories of monarchs who amassed fabulous treasures of diamonds, of powerful conquerors whose lust for these precious gems drove them to murder and mayhem, and of young lovers who kissed and shared the beauty of a tiny stone that symbolized their undying affection and eternal happiness.
Today, man still treasures these brilliant gems. Both the meaning of their value and their use has changed little. Diamonds are still used in critical applications, helping modern man shape his tools of technology. More than ever, they are used as symbols of beauty, tokens of love, and modern investment treasures.
What is a Diamond?
Diamonds are pure carbon—earth's most common element and the same material as fireplace soot or the graphite in a common lead pencil—formed into perfect crystal patterns. They were formed eons ago under incredible heat and pressure deep in the earth. Great volcanic upheavals millions of years ago forced the "blue earth" containing diamonds to the surface where they were scattered along rivers and into the oceans.
Only about one-fifth of all mined diamonds could be considered of gem quality. From 40 to 250 tons of gravel and sand must be processed today to recover one rough diamond from the world's thinning diamond deposits. Experts estimate that all known supplies of diamonds will be depleted within 30 to 40 years.
Most diamonds, some 75-80% of all those mined, are used for such industrial applications as drilling, grinding, or sawing. The remainder are used for jewelry or investment. Less than 2% are of such high quality that they may be considered investment quality.
When the mining operation is completed, sorters look at rough diamonds, separating them into small piles by shape, size, and quality, a long and laborious process.