.BCI

History & Origins

History and Legend of Diamonds

Throughout history, diamonds, known for their exceptional beauty and radiance have been one of the most sought after gemstones in the world..


Formed in the earth’s mantle layer, diamonds are the hardest substance known. The oldest diamonds were made 3.3 billion years ago when the earth was young. The first ever recorded diamond was found in India 3000 years ago. However, diamonds gained popularity in the Middle Ages because owners recognized their power, worth and ability to reflect light. The popularity of coloured diamonds is a relatively recent phenomenon. Yet there is a rich lore of coloured diamonds embedded into the overall history of precious gemstones. The colour of “fancy” diamonds comes from the mineral elements present in the rock, such as chromium, magnesium, cobalt, titanium, iron, vanadium, nickel and copper. The pink colour of some diamonds, as well as the rare green, often get their colour not from trace elements, as with the other coloured diamonds, but from radiation and temperatures acting during the diamond’s formation. One of the most famous diamonds, the dark grayish-blue, 45.52 carat Hope Diamond, is also one of the most sought after, and costly, of all diamonds. Coloured diamond grading is made under a rigid, prescribed set of conditions by a trained gemologist. The GIA Coloured Grading Scale rates the diamond’s colour on three primary characteristics: Hue, Tone and Saturation. Hue refers to the primary and notable colours that are present in the diamond, such as Yellow, Pink, Blue. Tone refers to the lightness or darkness of the hue, or primary colour of the diamond. Saturation is the measure of how strong and intense the primary colour of the diamond actually is, such as light, deep, intense or vivid. In recent years natural coloured diamonds have gone from being interesting oddities and curio pieces to being immensely sought after and greatly desired gems in their own right. Many of the world’s most famous diamonds (such as the South African mined 128.54 carat, canary-yellow Tiffany diamond, brought out in 1877) have been natural coloured diamonds. This mixture of history and celebrity has only increased the current desire for coloured diamonds.

The Origins of Diamonds

Diamond mining has occurred worldwide for thousands of years. Mines can be found in four continents – Africa, Asia, North America and Oceania. Each location produces unique stones that contain specific colours and characteristics.

India was one of the first countries to mine diamonds. Diamonds were discovered in India during the 4th Century B.C. India`s diamonds were prized for many years for their remarkable size and beauty. The world famous Blue Hope Diamond and Koh-i-Noor Diamond were discovered in the Golconda region. India is no longer a source of diamonds because they could not keep up with the demands of diamond buyers. However, India remains the world`s finest source of skilled diamond polishers.

Africa is the world`s largest contributor of diamonds producing almost half of the world’s supply. Diamond mining occurs in several parts of Africa; however, Angola, Botswana and South Africa are the leading producers. South Africa’s diamonds, mined near the Orange River, began the world’s largest diamond rush in history. This helped supply diamond demands when India’s resources were depleting.

Canada has been participating in diamond mining since 1998. Diamonds were discovered in the arctic wilderness of the Northwest Territories in 1991. The first diamond mine in Canada, called Ekati Diamond Mine began its operation in 1998. Today there are several mining operations in Canada producing top quality, conflict-free diamonds.

The Australian diamond industry began producing internationally recognized diamonds in the late 1970’s. Brilliantly stunning diamonds are mined in the Kimberley region located north of Western Australia. Argyle diamonds are famous for their exotic pink, champagne, cognac and white colours.

Russia Producing approximately 21% of the world's supply, Russian diamonds are mined in Yakut area of Siberia. Russia is also famous for the Mirna diamond mine which is the deepest open pit diamond and ore mine in the world at nearly 2000 feet deep. Other famous mines in Russia include Udachny Mine, Anabar Mine and the Jubilee Mine.