Diamonds are, and always were, one of the most precious gemstones known to mankind. Ever since humans first started finding these shiny, odd rocks in the ground, we became obsessed with them. The question is, why? What makes diamonds so popular in every corner of the world, and why are diamonds so valued? Let’s find out!
The Original Allure
Humans like shiny things. That’s simply a fact. Back in the day, how shiny and something was usually dictated its value. While these days we appreciate various precious metals due to their conductivity or other properties, our predecessors were mostly fascinated by different materials’ ability to reflect light.
Diamonds are very good at this, even in their natural state. Rough diamonds, although nowhere near as refined as cut diamonds, still pack a lot of that allure that makes them attractive to people. First found in India back in the 4th century BC, diamonds were thought to be magical objects of great value. As diamonds reached China, they slowly found their way to Europe, where they enjoyed the same reputation.
Romans were fascinated by diamonds. This rare stone quickly became the object of every aristocrat’s affection. It was a matter of great prestige to own a diamond. Needless to say, it was centuries before diamonds became something that was no longer exclusive to emperors, Caesars, kings, and queens.
In fact, it wasn’t until the 14th century that engineers first figured out how to cut diamonds. Up until this point, rough diamonds were mainly polished to achieve a better appearance. Once simple cutting techniques became the norm, the now traditional faceted diamond aesthetic was born.
Diamonds of Today
From the Middle kingdoms of India to the Holy Roman Empire, to today, we’ve learned a lot about diamonds. We’ve learned how they are made, the magnitude of forces necessary to produce a single stone, and where to look for them. Yet, the attraction to this particular gemstone is still there. Diamonds are more popular than ever and for a good reason.
Diamonds start their journey as simple carbon that has literally found itself between a rock and a hard place. Insert millions of years of time, immense temperatures, and unforgiving amounts of pressure, and that simple carbon changes its structure to become a diamond.
The notion that a single diamond tool hundreds of millions of years to form, becoming one of the hardest materials known to mankind, is still not the main reason why this gemstone is popular today. The actual reason is rooted in tradition.
Engagement rings are the norm of the 21st century. And beautiful diamond engagement rings can be found in jewelry stores all around the world, but that wasn’t always the case. Remember how diamonds were mainly worn by nobility and aristocracy?
Once the Great Depression hit back in the ’30s, the diamond market collapsed. Diamonds were plentiful, but no one had the money to actually buy them. Depending on your tax bracket, you may be thinking that this is still the case. Luckily, these days there are engagement ring finance options that make diamonds available to everyone.
Even before the economic collapse, only about 10% of engagement rings featured diamonds. As it turns out, the only reason why every fiancé out there is actively searching for a diamond engagement ring is due to a very crafty marketing campaign.
Namely, back in the late ‘30s, one of the largest diamond cartels at the time had realized that the market is just not large enough to sustain growth within the industry and within the organization itself. Their solution to the problem came in the form of a decade-long ad campaign aimed at giving the diamond back its magical allure, just like in ancient times.
To do so, they first had to get the public interested in diamonds. What followed was a complex educational campaign that slowly shaped public opinion. De Beers wanted every fiancée to know that a ring without a diamond isn’t worthy of being called an engagement ring. Following the end of WWII, the company saw a massive spike in sales, as did the rest of the diamond industry.
Then came the “diamonds are forever” and “diamonds are a girl’s best friend” slogans, which only solidified the now-massive popularity of diamonds as a whole. The period between the beginning of De Beers’ campaign in 1939, to the late ‘70s, is arguably the most significant timeframe for the diamond industry as sales in the US alone went from $23 million to $2.1 billion.
As technology progressed, engineers figured out how to produce diamonds in a lab. No longer did you have to wait for hundreds of millions of years for planet Earth to slowly craft a diamond. All it took was a minuscule fraction of that time, a modern lab, and a group of skillful technicians.
The appearance of artificial diamonds, which were far cleaner than anything found in nature, was seen as the end times for diamond cartels. After all, if you could make diamonds in a lab, that would greatly devalue the market for natural diamonds, right?
Not really, no. What many people failed to realize is that the diamond market is already overstocked. However, instead of dumping all the diamonds onto the market at the same time, diamond cartels are artificially limiting supply to maintain prices. And that is perfectly fine. If diamonds became a part of ordinary jewelry, they would no longer be appealing to most people.
Price, Clarity, and Cut
If you’re looking to purchase a diamond engagement ring for your special other, but are worried about prices — don’t be. Not all diamonds are created equal, and hence they vary in price. The 4 Cs of diamond quality will greatly affect the price.
These are color, cut, clarity and carat weight. You can find extremely expensive pieces, or you can get a solid-looking diamond that is every bit as attractive but maybe lacking in carat weight. Either way, there’s something out there for every budget and every taste. With diamonds, your satisfaction is almost always guaranteed. Shop around to find the best stone for your special other.