Jean-Baptiste Tavernier

The word “diamond”, which comes from Greek ( adamas meaning stubborn, untamed ), represents the beauty and the irresistible charm of this crystal, bringing to mind the noble ideals of purity and loyalty. Discovered about 5.000 years ago, the old Greeks believed that diamonds were small fragments of falling stars and the first historical documents can be found in Indian Sanskrit works . Diamonds are present in the Bible, in Naturalis Historia of Pliny the Elder, in Dante’s Divine Comedy and subsequently they became the symbol of purity and incorruptibility in many other works. Diamonds were introduced in Europe after Alexander the Great’s expeditions, and in the XVII century they were made known to the large European public by the famous French explorer, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier ( Les Six Voyages de Jean-Baptiste Tavernier ).

The only known mines in the antiquity were in India, near the ruins of the old city of Golconda. In the first half of the XVII century the Brazilian deposits of diamonds from Minas Gerais were discovered, followed, in the second half of the XIX century, by the much larger South African ones. South Africa will keep a dominant position in the diamond production for many decades, thanks also to the company De Beers, the undisputed monopolist of the diamond business for more than 100 years. At the end of the XX century, huge mines in Russia, Botswana, Australia and Canada began production, Today, the biggest rough diamond producers are, in descending order: Russia, Botswana, Canada, Congo (Democratic Republic), Australia and by value: Russia, Botswana, Canada, South Africa and Angola.

In 2002, in order to certify and to legitimate the origin of rough diamonds, an international agreement was signed by the main producing, importing and exporting countries, called the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.

The most important diamond cutting center was for a long time Antwerp, but today, for economical reasons, 93% of the world diamonds are cut in the Indian city of Surat, It is important to remember that all diamonds are still cut manually, with centuries old techniques.

Today, the diamond moves an industry worth over 100 billion dollars, being used in different domains, from jewelry to military lasers. Clearly, the most important role belongs to the sphere of luxury, to brands such as Tiffany, Cartier, Graaf or Chopard, linking their names forever to this stone, and we should not forget the brilliant slogan launched in 1948 by De Beers, “A diamond is forever”, together with the song “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”, with the unforgettable interpretation of Marylin Monroe in the movie “Gentlemen prefer blondes”.