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Diamond History


Early references to diamonds in India come from Sanskrit texts. The Arthashastra of Kautilya mentions diamond trade in India. Buddhist works dating from the 4th century BC describe the diamond as a well-known and precious stone but don't mention the details of diamond cutting. Another Indian description written at the beginning of the 3rd century describes strength, regularity, brilliance, ability to scratch metals, and good refractive properties as the desirable qualities of a diamond. Golconda served as an important center for diamonds in central India. Diamonds eventually spread throughout the world, even though India had remained the only major source of the gemstone in the world until the discovery of diamonds in Brazil. A Chinese work from the 3rd century BC mentions: "Foreigners wear it [diamond] in the belief that it can ward off evil influences". The Chinese, who did not find diamonds in their country, initially did not use diamond as a jewel but used as a "jade cutting knife". The diamonds reached ancient Rome from India. Diamonds were also discovered in 700 AD in Borneo, and were used by the traders of southeast Asia. With the depletion of India's diamond resources the exploration for seeking out and finding diamonds from other parts of the world began, which led to discoveries in Brazil (1725) and South Africa (Kimberley, 1867). South Africa became the favored center for diamond resources, and quickly rose as the world's biggest diamond producer. Diamonds were traded to both the east and west of India and were recognized by various cultures for their gemological or industrial uses. In his work Naturalis Historia, the Roman writer Pliny the Elder noted diamond's ornamental uses, as well as its usefulness to engravers because of its hardness. It is however highly doubtful that Pliny actually meant diamonds and it is assumed that in fact several different minerals such as Corundum, Spinel, or even a mixture with Magnetite were all referred to by the word "adamas". Today, some 85% of the world's rough diamonds, 50% of cut diamonds, and 40% of industrial diamonds are traded in Antwerp, Belgium - the diamond center of the world. Antwerp's association with diamonds began in the late 15th century when a new technique to polish and shape the gems evolved in this city. The diamond cutters of Antwerp are world renowned for their skill. More than 12,000 expert cutters and polishers are at work in the Diamond Quarter, at 380 workshops, serving 1,500 firms and 3,500 brokers and merchants.