HISTORY OF DIAMONDS
From myths about valleys of diamonds protected by snakes, to the production of millions of carats in rough diamonds each year, the history of diamonds is one of mystical power, beauty and commercial expertise.
The first recorded history of the diamond dates back some 3,000 years to India, where it is likely that diamonds were first valued for their ability to refract light. In those days, the diamond was used in two ways-for decorative purposes, and as a talisman to ward off evil or provide protection in battle.
The Dark Ages
The diamond was also used for some time as medical aid. One anecdote, written during the Dark Ages by St Hildegarde, relates how a diamond held in the hand while making a sign of the cross would heal wounds and cure illnesses. Diamonds were also ingested in the hope of curing sickness. During the early Middle Ages, Pope Clement unsuccessfully used this treatment in a bid to aid his recovery.
The Middle Ages
During the Middle Ages more attention was paid to the worth of diamonds, rather than the mystical powers surrounding them. Due to the heightened public awareness of the value of diamonds, mine owners perpetuated myths that diamonds were poisonous. This was to prevent the mineworkers swallowing the diamonds in an attempt to smuggle them out of the mines.
The popularity of diamonds surged during the Middle Ages, with the discovery of many large and famous stones in India, such as the Koh-I-Noor and the Blue Hope. Today India maintains the foremost diamond polishing industry in the world.
As the Indian diamond supply dwindled, smaller finds occurred in Borneo and Brazil, but these were not sufficient to meet the ever-increasing demand for diamonds. The mid-nineteenth century discovery of diamonds near the Orange River in South Africa sparked the world's biggest diamond rush, and helped to satiate the world's increasing appetite for diamonds.
During the mid-nineteenth century, diamonds were also being discovered in eastern Australia. However, it was not until late 1970's, after seven years of earnest searching, that Australia's alleged potential as a diamond producer was validated.
On October 2nd 1979, geologists found the Argyle pipe near Lake Argyle: the richest diamond deposit in the world. Since then, Argyle has become the world's largest volume producer of diamonds, and alone is responsible for producing over a third of the world's diamonds every year.