History of Diamonds

A jeweler at work. Indian miniature, 18th century. Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris. Photo: Hubert Josse, Paris

From ancient times until Brazil entered the diamond trade, India was the only significant diamond-producing country.

Before any technique of cutting the “king of precious stones” was invented, it had already been stamped with great value. Rough diamonds are comparatively unattractive and dull. Yet diamonds were still highly valued because of India’s use of the jewel as a monetary device dating back to the 4th century B.C.

Many legends and myths are tied to this glittery rock, which only further enhance its semiotics and man’s desire to possess it.

The diamond has and continues to play a pivotal role in Indian social, political, economic, and religious events, as it also has in other countries. The desire to possess diamonds has resulted in more scandalous intrigue and violence than what any fictional writer could write.

Historically, diamonds have been given to receive a lover’s favor, as symbols of tribute and expressions of fidelity.Mughal emperors used the diamond as a means of protection and immortality by inscribing their names on them.

Untracht, Oppi. Traditional Jewelry of India. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1997. Print. p. 312-322.


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