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Romancing the Stone – A Millennia Old Love Story

A long, long time ago, in a far forgotten land, a man stumbled upon a white stone that shone surprisingly and seemed to have a life and light of its own. Such was the beauty of the stone that the man fell instantly in love with it. It was love at first sight.

Thus began the love story of a man with diamonds. That love story started around 3000 years ago. The far forgotten land was some place in the Southern part of India (as per popular belief). And the man who found the first diamond… Well, no one really knows who found the first diamond. What is definitely known though is that since then men have done the most amazing and romantic things with these sparkling stones to celebrate their beauty.

Interesting Trivia: For nearly 500 years, diamonds were known only in India. The rest of the world had no idea that such an exquisite stone existed!

So who introduced diamonds to the rest of the world?

Some historical facts point the finger toward Alexander the Great of Macedonia. It is believed that he first took diamonds back to Europe with him when he returned to Greece after his conquest of India. That would mean diamonds travelled from India to Europe sometime around 327 BC. That’s even before Christ was born!

Maybe the ancient Indians knew about the value of diamonds and used them in jewellery… or maybe they did not. There’s no record. But what is historically known is that in the second century AD, a Hungarian queen had diamonds set on her new crown. Much later, in 1477 AD, the Archduke Maximilian of Austria, presented an engagement ring to his soon to be queen – Mary of Burgundy. The ring was set with diamonds and it started a trend of getting engaged with a diamond ring which continues till date.

Going back to the 13th century, cutting and polishing of natural diamonds was still an unknown process. No one knew how to cut diamonds until the late 13th century. It was only in 1375 that the Point Cut was created. Up until then, only the best naturally formed diamonds were used for jewellery or decorative purposes. The rest were discarded.
Fact: Until the 14th century, only best naturally formed diamonds were used for jewellery or decorative purposes; the rest were discarded since no one knew how to cut and polish the stones.

Increasingly thereafter, various new cuts were developed. The demand of diamonds as objects of desire and their use in jewellery grew substantially.

In the 18th century, India ran out of diamonds, but new supplies were discovered in Brazil. About a century and a half later, South Africa took over as the diamond producing capital of the world. It was South Africa that gave birth to the world’s largest diamond producing organization – the De Beers Corporation. As newer diamond deposits were discovered in various countries around the world, the reach of diamonds increased. What was once an object of desire and flaunted by only the rich and elite, started reaching the masses.

In the last couple of centuries, these stunningly brilliant stones have gone through many upheavals and changes, but their allure and attraction has remained unchanged.

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January 25, 2017

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