Diamonds - Education

July 18, 2016

 

We use lots of different shapes of diamonds in our claddagh ring designs.

The most popular in our claddagh rings is of course the heart shape cut.

This article gives some backround on the history of diamonds and looks at the early sources of diamonds around the world.

The Arab traders, who first used the carat as a unit of measurement, were instrumental in developing trade between India and Europe. Therefore, it was India which, as the oldest known producer, must have yielded the diamonds referred to in the Bible.
Diamonds have been found in several areas but the most important source has been the Godavari and Krishna (Kistna) rivers near Hyderabad. This extensive mining area became known as Golconda after the ancient, now deserted and ruined fortress of that name which served as the commercial centre for the diggings and where diamond cutting, albeit in a primitive fashion, was carried out. The term 'Golconda', however has survived to describe a type of diamond peculiar to India, one of unusual limpidity, colourless but with an occasional faint bluish tinge.
The Indian deposits were alluvial, the diamonds distributed in river gravels, clays and surface soil. The first European to describe the scene at Golconda (in 1565) was the Portuguese, Gavija de Orta, who was physician to the Viceroy of Goa. For a detailed account we must turn to the famous French jeweller and traveller, Jean Baptiste Tavernier (1605 - 89), a remarkable man who did much to develop trade between India and France. 'Six Voyages of Jean Baptiste Tavernier, written in 1676, provides great information concerning the mining of diamonds and the methods of trading, with drawings and descriptions of some of the legendary Indian stones.
Tavernier would have been one of the last literate European travellers to have seen the Golconda fields because, although they were still being fully worked, the output declined sharply at the end of the seventeenth century. A few hundred carats are still produced in India annually, principally from alluvial deposits in the Panna district of Madhya Pradesh.
Tavernier also referred to the existence of the diamond fields of Bornero, thus indicating them to be one of the earliest sources. The deposits, which are situated in the western and southern areas of the island, have continued to yield diamonds right up to the present day.
At the time that the Indian output was beginning to decline, diamonds were found in 1725 in a very different part of the globe. Prospectors searching for gold in the Tejuco region of Minas Gerais, Brazil some 480km north of Rio de Janeiro, found diamonds. Tejuco was renamed Diamantina in honour of the discovery and became the scene of extreme mining. Diamonds were produced in such quantities that prices in European markets dropped sharply. To improve them, merchants spread stories that the Brazilian diamonds were inferior quality Indian stones which were being shipped to Brazil and then exported to Portugal. The Brazilians retaliated by selling their diamonds in Europe as first quality Indian diamonds, not a difficult manoeuvre because the Brazilian stones, though comparatively small, were of fine quality.
Brazil remained the foremost producer until diamonds were discovered in Africa, but by that time the alluvial deposits at Diamantina were nearing exhaustion. Large diamonds are still occasionally found in Minas Gerais (meaning 'General Mines') by garimpeiros (diggers of prospectors) while there have been discoveries in others of the country's twenty-seven provinces. In particular the southern part of Bahia, where the first discoveries were made in 1894, has yielded a species of diamond known as carbonado, a black, grey or brown stone which is the toughest kind of industrial diamond.
Two other diamondiferous countries in South America are Venezuela and Guyana. In the more important of the two, Venezuela, alluvial deposits in the eastern part of the country are worked by small concerns of individual diggers.




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