Not Just for Jewelry

Diamonds have been around a long, long time.  But they weren’t always used for the beauty.  In fact, polished diamonds and even diamonds for rings are relatively recent uses of these precious stones.  So where did it all begin and how did diamonds evolve into such objects of beauty?

In the span of the history of civilization diamonds were first used for their main property, they are HARD!  The understanding of diamonds and the tools and technology used in shaping diamonds into gemstones is relatively recent.  At first, diamonds themselves were the tools.

The Earliest Diamonds

The very first diamonds we know about were discovered near Jack Hills, Australia.  Because the diamonds were found encased in zircon crystals, which are resistant to heat and difficult to melt, researchers believe the diamonds to be as old as the origins of the Earth.  In fact, over 4 billion years old – but that’s just a guess.  These ancient Australian diamonds are tiny flakes, not gemstones, and therefore didn’t really serve any purpose or use.  However, since their discovery scientists have used these diamonds to learn more about the Earth’s core and the formation of oceans.

Other discoveries of diamonds in ancient civilizations give us more information of what early diamonds were used for.

Diamonds as Tools

Scientists found diamond traces in China, together with tools dating to 2500 BC, making China the site of our first diamonds with a known use.  The ancient Chinese tools were made of the same materials as rubies and sapphires– a mineral called corundum.  The diamonds found with these tools were probably used to cut the stones and fashion them into workable tools.  The value of diamonds and other gemstones in this ancient culture was clearly for their practical use as a tool and for creating other tools .. not for their beauty.

Today diamonds are also used in tools and are referred to as industrial diamonds.  The truth is that the line between industrial diamonds and diamonds sold for jewelry is not so clear.  When the demand for diamonds is high, some stones that would normally be used for industrial use are sold as precious stones.  Diamonds are also used for cutting other diamonds, how else can you cut the hardest substance on earth?  Seeing the transformation From Rough Diamonds to Polished Diamonds is fascinating.

Diamonds as Adornments

Ancient India is where people first used diamonds as adornments – both for themselves and for their statues.  Manuscripts from as far back as the Mauryan dynasty, 322BC – 185 BC, mention diamonds as part of Indian culture.  In early India, rulers wore diamond rings as a symbol of their rank, and Hindus placed diamonds as the eyes in statues of their deities.  It sounds like an Indiana Jones movie!  In addition to the aesthetic value of diamonds, people in India of that time took advantage of the relatively small size of diamonds to transport their fortunes easily when they traveled.

Most of the oldest known diamonds we have today, like the Briolette of India, Koh-i-Nur Diamond, Hope Diamond and Regent Diamond are from India.  India used to be one of the top diamond producing countries.  Presently 23 countries mine diamonds.  To see the full list, and where India ranks, visit:  What countries do diamonds come from? To learn more about diamonds in India, visit: Where were diamonds first discovered?

Since ancient times humans have seen the value of diamonds and have used diamonds for their own purposes.  Nowadays we continue to use diamonds both as objects of beauty and in more practical ways, such as parts of industrial tools.  It is satisfying to know that whatever use we have for our diamonds, their brilliance will last forever.

Read all articles in Diamond History & News