Discovered In India
The very first diamond known to man dates back to the 4th century BCE, when it was discovered in India. Even then, the diamond was considered valuable—for its hardness and ability to reflect light. It was one of the very few substances that was used to engrave metals. It was worn as adornments and even used by talismans to provide protection in battle, or used as a medical aid.
Reserved For Royalty
While diamonds may have been discovered in India, they quickly spread around the world. They reached European royalty appearing in small numbers in the 13th century, seen as accents amongst pearls. Louis IX of France even established a law reserving the precious gem exclusively for the kings use, due to its extreme rarity. The trade capital of Venice is believed to have been the first destination where the diamond-cutting industry originated, around 1330. Over the next few centuries, the presence of the precious gem emerged even more. This was part due to Vasco da Gama discovering new sea routes which eased the trade of diamonds coming from India and part due to the ongoing search for different diamond deposits in other parts of the world.
A small deposit was discovered in 1725 in Brazil, but it wasn’t until the 18th century that anything significant came to fore. In 1866 a young South African boy stumbled upon a massive diamond near a quiet village in South Africa, which he thought was an ordinary pebble. Today the 21.25 carat diamond is called the Eureka Diamond and belongs to the people of South Africa. The quiet village may have initiated South Africa’s diamond quest, but it was the 83.50 carat diamond called Colesberg Kopje that was discovered in 1871 that truly kicked off the diamond rush.
South Africa & Beyond
After the 1870s, with the abundance of diamond deposits being discovered in South Africa, the country transformed into a diamond Mecca. The world annual production in South Africa exceeded 1 million carats for the very first time, and the diamond went from a rare gem to a gem that the rich and famous could afford. Another event that catapulted diamond supply in the world was when the French crown jewels were sold in 1887 to wealthy capitalists from the United States of America. The increase in supply substantially reduced its value, and diamonds were no longer considered an absolute rarity. The rest as they say is history!