Contrary to popular belief, diamonds did not originate from South Africa. It hasa very interesting history that dates back to 4th century BC India. During this period, Indians adorned themselves with roughly cut diamonds. More than mere embellishments, diamonds were also used by the early Indians as cutting tools. Some believed that diamonds protect people from evil; thus, they were used as talismans.
One type found in India was the black diamond. Considered to be the rarest and most expensive in the world, it received the moniker “carbonados diamonds” because of their resemblance to coal. Sulfide deposits give these diamonds its dark color. When inspected on a properly lighted location, black diamonds actually appear green.
Interestingly and despite the black diamond’s rare beauty, the gem was considered bad luck by Indians because it looked like snake eyes. India no longer produces black or any other color of diamonds since the country’s mining fields were exhausted many years ago.
The very first known diamond to have been found in South Africa was named the Eureka. The 21.24-carat diamond was discovered by a farmer’s son. Unwittingly, the son’s family gave the diamond (also known as the Yellow Canary) to their neighbor. News spread quickly about the Eureka diamond, making people from different parts of the country crazy about earning money through diamond mining. Since then, Africa became one of the leading sources of diamonds in the world. The Eureka diamond was passed from one owner to another before it was finally acquired by De Beers.
Africa’s love story with diamonds didn’t stop at the diamond rush that happened during the 1800s. Today, diamonds from Africa are no longer just the beautiful, sparkling gems that cost a fortune. The blood diamonds of Africa—not named because of their color, although some diamonds are red—have earned a reputation for being gems borne out of hardships and pains of the miners. Despite the negative reputation earned, Africa remains to be one of the strongest suppliers in the world.
Australia has been mining diamonds as early as 1890s, but it was only during the 1970s when Australian diamond miners have discovered the Argyle Diamond Mine—one of Australia’s largest source of diamonds. As one of the largest diamond-producing countries in the world, Australia supplies diamonds of varying colors. Australian diamonds are usually dark in color, but the pink diamond is perhaps the most noteworthy of all.
Another type of diamond found in Australia is called the chocolate diamond. Named as such because of its rich brown color, the chocolate diamond is less expensive than the rest of the different types of diamonds. Despite having a lesser value, chocolate diamonds are popular because of their unusual color, which ranges from a light amber to a deep chocolate brown.
Although majority of the Australian diamonds do not end up as part of jewelries (quality of Australian diamonds are not as excellent as the diamonds found in other countries). Most of the diamonds found in Australian mines are industrial grade only, which means that they make better tools than jewelry.
Discovery of diamonds in Russia didn’t happen until the 1950s. The permafrost, which covered a huge part of the Russian landscape, made it impossible to easily dig up diamonds. Heavy mining of diamonds took place only when the Russia needed the gems for industrial purposes. The diamonds were mined mostly on the edge of the Arctic Circle and spread out all over Western Russia when the old diamond mines were depleted.
Although they are widely used as industrial gems, the Russian diamonds lack the sophistication and appeal of real diamonds. Sourcing natural diamonds had been difficult. Extracting the diamonds required drilling deeply into the ground to find the gems. By the 1980s, Russia was able to invent a machine that can produce synthetic diamonds. The synthetic diamonds are expectedly cheaper than the real ones. Because synthetic diamonds closely resemble the real Russian diamonds, telling the two apart became difficult for a person who knows very little about the gems. Thus, Russian diamond companies decided to issue certification showing that the diamonds are authentic.
Like the blood diamonds of Africa, the diamonds from Brazil also have an interesting history. First discovered in 1725, Brazilian diamonds were mined by Amazonian slaves for export to Europe. The Brazilian diamonds weren’t received positively in Europe, which imported its diamonds exclusively from India. Brazilian diamonds were considered inferior back them, mostly because of the rumors spread by shopkeepers to keep buyers’ interest on their diamonds from India.
At present, Brazilian diamonds are one of the most prized gems in the world, thanks to their vibrancy and clarity. The diamond industry was said to have produced about 55 million carats of diamond since diamond mining peaked in Brazil in 1850. Today, the Portuguese government holds the largest collection of Brazilian diamonds.
Choosing the Right Ring
As with many other things, the quality of a diamond dictates its price. The four C’s of diamond picking (carat, color, clarity and cut) determine the value of this prized gem. It’s not enough for the stone to add sparkle to one’s collection of accessories; diamonds need to be perfect—or at least near perfect—in order to be considered a worthy investment. Any flaw in the diamond could decrease its worth, so consumers need to be discerning about the type of diamond they would buy.