A Brief History of Diamonds
The earliest written reference to diamonds is found in the Buddhist text, Anguttara Nikaya, and in a sanskrit text, Arthashastra, circa 296 BCE, where the characteristics of a diamond, "hardness" and "luster" among others are described.
India is acknowledged as the region where diamonds were first identified and mined, as there were many alluvial deposits present that contained the stone.
Diamonds, because of their characteristics, soon became associated with the divine, hence, they were used to decorate religious statues and the like, and their possession was linked to good fortune. In India, where the "caste" system was prevalent, diamond ownership was restricted among castes by color. The rulers were the only ones allowed to possess all colors of diamond.
Diamonds were traded as gemstones as well as for industrial purposes, including use by Roman engravers who valued diamonds because of their hardness. In China, it is thought that diamonds were used as tools for carving Jade or drilling holes in beads.
In Europe, with the rise of Christianity, diamonds disappeared for approximately 1000 years because early Christians rejected diamonds due to their earlier use in "amulets" (pagan items used to protect the owner from evil) as well as due to the fact that Arabic traders restricted the flow of trade between India and Europe.
Until the late Middle Ages, diamonds were used as ornamental gemstones in their natural, eight-sided state. At most, their surfaces may have been buffed to remove unwanted, adhered material and to increase shine or "luster."
Venetian traders revived the flow of diamonds to Europe around 1300 AD via the cities of Amsterdam, Antwerp, and Bruges. Up until this time, there had been a 1000 year taboo against cutting diamonds into finished gemstones first established in India. Beginning around 1300 AD, this taboo was lifted and the development of diamond cutting technology began. By 1375 AD a "Guild" of diamond polishers had been set up in Nuremberg.
Over time, various diamond "cuts" were formulated each building on the other to increase the fire and brilliance that are hallmarks of a gem quality diamond, today.
A chronology of cuts includes:
1) Point cut,
2) Table cut,
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