Diamond History

The word “diamond” comes from the Greek term “adamas,” which means invincible or indestructible.
Diamonds are very ancient, having formed long before the age of dinosaurs. They are crystallized carbon.
The most recent diamond is estimated to be around 900 million years old, while the oldest could be over 3.3 billion years old.
Each diamond is unique; no two are alike.
Diamonds come in various colors, with red being the rarest.
Diamonds were first mined in India over 2,800 years ago.

Where are diamonds found?

Diamonds can be found in various places, including South America, Australia, Russia, Canada, and primarily in Africa (Angola, Congo, South Africa, West Africa, Botswana, etc.). On average, each rough diamond loses more than half of its original weight during cutting and polishing. The word “carat” comes from the carob tree, whose fruit seeds were used as a measure for weighing precious stones in biblical times. One carat is equal to 0.20 grams, and its hardness is rated 10 on the Mohs scale, as established in 1812. Less than 5% of cut diamonds are larger than one carat.

Diamond History (Continued):

The history of diamonds:

Diamonds are believed to have been discovered in India around seven centuries before our era. It was the Indians who began to exploit them, as they held symbolic significance within their caste system. They used both white and colored diamonds.

The word “diamond,” derived from the Greek “adamas,” took on its meaning of indestructible or invincible with the writings of Pliny the Elder.

The diamond trade continued in Borneo, and then it had to wait until diamonds were discovered in Brazil in 1725 and in South Africa in the 1870s and 1880s for the commercialization of this gem to accelerate. This led to the discovery of numerous diamond mines around the world.

In the 20th century, Australia, China, Indonesia, Canada, and Europe became recognized regions for producing both white and colored diamonds.

The diamond trade started with the Silk Road and the discovery of Brazilian mines. It transitioned to a maritime trade with the establishment of new diamond centers, many of which were port cities. Today, major global capitals such as Tel Aviv, New York, Antwerp, London, Mumbai, and Dubai have become the primary hubs of the diamond trade.

Over the centuries, the value of diamonds became stable as a proper financial market for them was established.

There are various qualities of diamonds and thus different markets, including the market for rough diamonds, industrial diamonds (Boart), and diamond jewelry.

In 1931, the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) introduced a classification system for diamond color (from D to Z) and clarity (from IF to P), and in 1970, diamond certification became mandatory.

Diamond Properties and Characteristics

It is a mineral with a general chemical formula composed of a single element, carbon (C). The presence of trace elements, such as nitrogen (N), boron (B), or hydrogen (H), in its composition gives diamonds all the colors of the rainbow.

It crystallizes in the cubic system, unlike its sibling, graphite (used in pencils), which has the same chemical composition and crystallizes in the hexagonal system.

Diamond is the hardest natural and artificial material, with a hardness rating of 10 on the Mohs scale (a scale used for mineral hardness). It can only be scratched or polished by itself, thanks to its strong covalent bonds. Despite its hardness, diamond is fragile and can be easily cleaved.

Diamond has a relatively low density (d=3.52), lower, for example, than the density of sapphire (d=4). Therefore, it is lighter than sapphire.

Diamond is a highly resistant material, with the only substance capable of attacking it being molten potassium nitrate (KNO3). It can also burn in contact with air at a temperature of approximately 850°C, so jewelers coat it with borax to prevent it from becoming cloudy on the surface when heated with a torch.

Diamond exhibits remarkable optical properties. It is the most transparent and has a particularly high refractive index, giving it its “fire” and brilliance. Light is entirely reflected and dispersed throughout the stone. It has very weak phosphorescence and sometimes exhibits fluorescence under UV light. This characteristic is important because it can affect the stone’s vibrancy and, therefore, its value.

Diamond is an excellent thermal conductor and feels cold to the touch. It is commonly used as a semiconductor. It is also a good electrical insulator, except for black diamonds (due to a high presence of graphite). Lastly, diamond is hydrophobic (it cannot be wet) and lipophilic (it attracts fats), making it easier to handle with a slightly greasy object.

Different Types of Diamonds:
The color of diamonds results from defects in their structure or the presence of foreign elements, either through simple atom substitution, changes in energy, or material accumulation (aggregates or lamellae). Diamond classification is based on whether or not there is nitrogen present in its structure, distinguishing two types:

Type I: Presence of nitrogen (N)
Type II: Absence of nitrogen (N)

The classification of colors can be summarized in the following table:

I aSmall nitrogen groups Contains 0.3% nitrogenColorless, yellow, brown, pink, green and blue
I bIsolated nitrogen Contains 0.1% nitrogenIntense yellow, orange, brown and colorless
II aPure without nitrogenColorless, brown, pink, purple, green and golden
II bNitrogen free with 0.1% boron (B)Blue and gray

Blood diamonds:​

Conflict diamonds, sometimes also called “blood diamonds,” are diamonds originating from the African continent that fuel numerous wars between rebels and governments. Extracted from mines located in war-torn areas, these diamonds are sold illegally and clandestinely to provide armed groups with weapons and ammunition.

The global diamond trade is dominated by major multinational corporations, such as the South African company De Beers. In 2000, the proportion of diamonds in the global diamond trade considered to be from smuggling and African conflicts was estimated to be between 4% and 15%. The fact that these diamonds are used to arm rebel groups only adds to the instability of diamond-producing regions. Nevertheless, conflicts like the one in Sierra Leone have mostly ended since 2003.

The Kimberley Process:​

The Kimberley Process is an international system for certifying rough diamonds, signed on January 1, 2003, by Canada, the United States, European Union countries, and more than 30 other nations. Diamond-producing countries control the production and transportation of rough diamonds from the mine to the point of export. These diamonds are sealed in a tamper-resistant manner and are accompanied by a Kimberley Process certificate. The agreement is the result of discussions that began in May 2000 in Kimberley, South Africa.

Bruxelles Achat D’Or offers diamonds in full compliance with the Kimberley Process.