The Foundry Journal

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The Foundry Journal

10 Fascinating Diamond Facts to Impress Your Friends

October 25, 2015

In the News

Style Guide

10 Fascinating Diamond Facts to Impress Your Friends

October 25, 2015

Diamond Industry

10 Fascinating Diamond Facts to Impress Your Friends

October 25, 2015 BY Alon Ben-Shoshan IN Style Guide

Diamonds have been around for a while – like billions of years. It isn’t surprising that, in all that time, they’ve managed to rack up a pretty cool history. Some of these anecdotes are so old, they’re practically antique! Take look at our ten vintage diamond facts to impress your friends at the next hip young person party.   

1. The name “diamond” comes from the Greek word adamas, which means “unbreakable” or “untamed.”

2. Diamonds were first collected from the rivers and streams of India, and then traded only among the country’s wealthy classes. In 327 BC, Alexander the Great invaded India in his attempt to conquer the known world. Although the campaign eventually failed, Alexander was able to bring Indian diamonds back to Europe. Around that time, India also began exporting diamonds to Europe by means of caravan.

vintage diamond

Alexander the Great, who failed to conquer India, brought Indian diamonds back to Europe.

3. In ancient India, Hindus believe that diamonds were created by a bolt of lighting as it struck a rock. They also believed that diamonds themselves could attract lightning, whilst simultaneously protecting the wearer from harm. The ancient saying went, “he who wears a diamond shall see danger turn away.”

4. The first scientist to prove that diamond is composed entirely of carbon was Antoine Lavoisier in 1772. Lavoisier used a lens to focus the sun’s rays on a diamond in a controlled atmosphere of only oxygen, and successfully showed that the only product of the experiment was carbon dioxide.  

5. The largest diamond ever mined was the 1.33-pound “Cullinan,” named for the owner of the mine where it was found, Sir Thomas Cullinan. Miner Frederick Wells spotted the diamond 18 feet below the surface in Pretoria, South Africa on January 25, 1905. After the miners presented Cullinan to Sir Thomas, he employed Joseph Asscher to cut what would eventually become a 971-carat diamond. Asscher studied the diamond for six months before even beginning the cut, and then fainted from nervous exhaustion after the first attempts.

6. In 1477, Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed to Mary of Burgundy with a diamond engagement ring. This is the first recorded use of a diamond ring being employed for engagement purposes. The diamonds in Mary’s ring were aligned in thin, flat pieces in the shape of an M.

vintage diamond

In Mary of Burgundy’s day, receiving a diamond engagement ring as a gift was a lot less impressive than it is in modern times. Diamond cutters had not yet found a way to reveal the stone’s “fire,” so diamond was valued for its superior hardness rather than sparkle. Other precious gems like sapphire and ruby were more popular.

7. The philosopher Plato suggested that diamonds were celestial beings and living spirits.

8. Although diamonds have been found all over the world, the largest reserve of diamonds was in South Africa. In 1866, some children brought a rock home, and their inquisitive neighbor gave it to a trader who eventually passed it along to a geologist. The geologist realized that the rock was actually a diamond worth a small fortune, which triggered the South African diamond rush. The stones found here went on to be used in popular victorian diamond jewelry. 

9. Henry Ford used diamonds in the automobile industry. He sponsored research that eventually led to lower grade diamonds being used as the basis for cutting tools.

10. Scientists have discovered a huge cosmic diamond! BPM 37093 is a crystalized white dwarf made of mostly carbon, which scientists have nicknamed “Lucy” after the Beetles song, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”

A potential rendering of "Lucy."

A potential rendering of “Lucy” in space!

So, not only are diamonds the hardest known natural material, but they are better traveled than a gap year student. The more you know! 

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