Author: Tristram Barker

The diamond has a rich and colourful history. Believed to be imbued with magical powers, used in heavy industry as a cutting and polishing tool, the diamond is perhaps chiefly known for its centuries’ old association with the art of romance. The quality of today’s diamonds is dependent on the expertise of the graders and polishers who extract and shape the rough diamond, and the discerning diamond buyers who purchase and on-sell the diamonds. The sourcing of good quality, ethically mined stones is paramount for the stone buyers at The Inspired Collection.

The word diamond comes to us from the Greek ‘Adamas’ meaning invincible or unalterable. The only known source of diamonds in the ancient world was the Indian subcontinent where, due to their beauty and their exceptional qualities, they were the source of many myths. The Indians ascribed magical powers to the diamond and after conquering the Indian forces at the Battle of the Hydaspes in 326 BC, Alexander the Great brought the rare stones and many of their associated legends back to Greece. At this time the true brilliance of the diamond went unrealised as there were insufficient tools with which to cut and shape the hardest known substance to man. In conjunction with a stone wheel, ground diamonds bound with oil were even used to shape and cut other precious stones. Many of the diamond’s fabled properties have since been discredited, such as the Greek belief that the only way to destroy a diamond was by first steeping it in goat’s blood, but it never lost its essential aura of fascination.

Whether for their appearance, their unique attributes or their one time scarcity, diamonds have always been treasured and sought after by man. In the first century AD the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder wrote that “The most highly valued of human possessions, let alone gemstones is the ‘adamas’.(cited in Graf 104)” The marriage of diamonds with everlasting love can be traced back to medieval Italy. The diamond was recommended as the stone of choice to be set in wedding rings on account of the unbreakable pact the diamond would seal between the couple. The Italians called the diamond the "Pietra della Reconciliazone" or stone of reconciliation. The first recorded instance of the gift of a diamond engagement ring comes from the 1477 marriage of Mary of Burgundy to the future Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I.

By the eighteenth century, significant diamond deposits had been discovered in Brazil and in the late 1800s British entrepreneur Cecil Rhodes bought the first mines in Africa and formed De Beers, the company that would come to dominate the diamond industry right up until the late 1990’s. For decades De Beers held a near monopoly on the diamond trade, but this monopoly has been significantly eroded and their control is now estimated to be less than 40% of world production. The cartel has been accused of manufacturing the link between diamonds and marriage but this is rarely substantiated beyond the famous marketing campaign of the 1950s that coined the slogan ‘Diamonds are Forever’.

There now are known diamond deposits in Africa, Australia, Russia and Canada. The important factor these days is not the quantity but rather the quality and the ethical source of the diamond. Not all diamonds are created equal and the process for polishing and cutting the diamond is complex. Truly ‘flawless’ diamonds really are rare and are priced by experts accordingly.

The Inspired Collection have a strict criteria when it comes to the selection of the diamonds that we use in our jewellery. One of the philosophies that underpin our brand is choosing outstanding diamonds and precious metals from ethical sources. In the creation of beautiful jewellery, the other factor to remember is that even the value of the most beautiful diamond is severely diminished when it is set in an inferior ring. Creating original designs is the tenet that we take most seriously and our goldsmiths strive to create jewellery that best showcases the natural brilliance of the diamond.

Graf, Bernard. Gems. The World’s Greatest Treasures and their Stories. Munich: Prestel, 2001.
Kunz, George Frederick. Rings for the Finger. Philadelphia: J.H. Lippincott Co., 1917.
Maillard, Robert.(ed). Diamonds. Myth, Magic and Reality. New York: Crown Publishers Inc., 1980.