The magical mineral

Diamond is a precious gemstone that has been prized for thousands of years.

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A diamond is a solid form of the element carbon with its atoms arranged in a rigid crystalline structure, forming one of the hardest substances known. A diamond is a pure crystal of carbon with no skeletons, no imperfections. But there something more intresting about it.

Diamond is a precious gemstone that has been prized for thousands of years. India knew about diamonds for at least 3,000 years, according to some experts. According to ancient myths, diamonds are also supposed to have magical properties to protect against any poison or attack. In Sanskrit, it was addressed as ‘vajra’, ‘thunderbolt’ and ‘indrayudha’ – warrior god Indra’s weapon.

But where did the English name for diamond come from? Well, ancient Greeks knew about the mineral too and ancient civilizations thought of diamonds as something invincible, one with magical properties. The word derives from the Greek word ‘adamao’, which meant ‘I subdue’.

The adjective ‘adamas’ implied the hardest substance, a reference to the hardness of the gemstone. Latin writers, at times, used the word as ‘adamant’ and ‘adimant’ among other variations. Over time, the words changed form to ‘diamant’ and finally came to be known as diamond.

Large diamond gemstones have no use except to arouse wonder and awe and, most importantly, to affirm status. India was the sole source of diamonds until the mid eighteenth century, when they were discovered in other parts of the world, most notably South Africa.

Diamonds are forever

Before the twentieth century only the truly rich could afford them, due to the tight supplies of these diamonds. But with the growing wealth of the European middle classes, a new market for diamond miners got emerged. However, soon we had a problem of extra suppies. DeBeers, which in 1902 controlled 90% of the world’s diamond production, faced this puzzle of “how to sell to this much bigger market without devaluing the gems in the process”.

By concocting the phrase “Diamonds are forever,” they invented the idea of the diamond engagement ring as the only true way to express everlasting love. Anyone who wished to convince their lover of the truth of their feelings needed to buy one, and the more expensive the diamond, the truer the feelings expressed.