You’ve probably heard the slogan “a diamond is forever” or the song “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” Diamonds’ hardness, beauty, and reflective quality have made them the most popular gemstone in the world.
Diamond jewelry has existed for thousands of years, but diamonds themselves have existed much longer. Diamonds had their beginnings 900 million years ago, deep within the Earth.
Diamonds form deep in the Earth’s mantle under the right pressure and temperature. Diamonds were first discovered in India at least 3,000 years ago, but perhaps as far back as 6,000 years ago. Indians valued diamonds as a religious symbol. They also wore them as jewelry and formed them into cutting tools.
With time, traders sold diamonds to other areas of the world. In Europe, diamonds were rare enough that only the aristocracy could afford them. In fact, Louis IX made a law that rare, valuable diamonds must be reserved for the king. However, diamonds’ popularity continued to increase among non-royalty as well. In 1887, the French crown jewels were sold and bought by wealthy citizens in the United States.
When most people think of diamonds, they think of engagement rings. The precursor to the engagement ring, the truth ring, didn’t have diamonds. It was actually made of braided hair or twisted copper.
Rings were first given as a symbol of engagement in 1215. The upper class showed off their position with engagement rings made of glittering jewels. In 1477, Mary of Burgundy reportedly received the first diamond engagement ring from Archduke Maximilian of Austria. Today, the diamond is the most popular stone used in engagement rings.
Diamonds in Modern Times
As diamonds’ popularity increased, the diamonds in India’s mines began to disappear. In 1866, people discovered a new diamond mine, the Kimberley Mine in South Africa, ushering in the largest mining operation of our time. Soon, diamonds became available to people of all classes.
Diamonds are now mined from 25 countries, so they are certainly not as rare as was once believed. In the mid-20th century, the world’s largest diamond operator, De Beers, launched an aggressive marketing campaign promoting diamond jewelry as the choice of royalty. The company also coined the phrase “Diamonds are forever.” By portraying diamonds as the choice of the upper class, they were able to increase diamond sales.
Diamonds are still a huge part of popular culture. “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” was first sung by Carol Channing in the musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Rihanna’s 2012 hit “Diamonds” includes the lyrics “shine bright like a diamond.” Diamond jewelry has appeared in many well-known movies, such as Titanic.
The Appeal of Diamonds
There’s a reason why aristocracy has always valued the diamond and why De Beers’ marketing campaign worked so well. In the world of gem stones, diamonds really do stand out. Here are just some of the reasons why:
- Strength. Diamonds have a harder structure than any other bulk material. After all, the word “diamond” means “unbreakable.” Plus, diamonds are almost impossible to scratch, and they can resist pressure of up to 600 gigapascals.
- Purity. Due to their tight structure, diamonds are very unlikely to become contaminated.
- Color. Colorless diamonds aren’t the only option. Diamonds can come in a variety of different colors, including blue, green, brown, yellow, black, pink, orange, red, and purple. Diamonds also scatter white light into a variety of colors, leading to a colorful sparkle.
- Notoriety. From royalty to celebrities, millions of people have worn diamonds throughout history. A diamond tiara originally worn by Queen Mary has been passed down to Queen Elizabeth II. At the 2013 Grammys, Carrie Underwood wore a diamond necklace worth $31 million.
Diamonds continue to welcome high revenue, earning $74.2 billion between 2005 and 2013.
How to Find a Real Diamond
Because diamonds are in such high demand, today you can find many knockoff versions of diamond jewelry. Materials like cubic zirconia and silicon carbide resemble diamonds but are not as valuable. You can tell that a stone is simulated if:
- It is less expensive than a natural diamond.
- It has no flaws. Diamonds have some kind of defect that you can see under a microscope.
- It retains heat. A simulated diamond will stay foggy after you breathe on it.
- It can scratch and chip. Simulated diamonds aren’t as hard as natural diamonds.
- It is very colorful and sparkly. Simulated diamonds, particularly cubic zirconia, are more colorful than natural diamonds.
Before you buy or sell a piece of diamond jewelry, consult with an experienced jeweler or pawn broker. He or she can help you determine the authenticity and worth of your diamond jewelry.
If you wonder which type of jewelry to buy, diamond is always a classic choice. Visit Sol’s Jewelry and Loan to see our exciting collection of diamond jewelry.