The ancient Greeks believed that diamonds were splinters of stars fallen to earth. It was said by some that they were the tears of the gods. Another legend has it that there was an inaccessible valley in Central Asia carpeted with diamonds. It was said to be ‘patrolled by birds of prey in the air and guarded by snakes of murderous gaze on the ground.’
Until the 15th century only kings wore diamonds, as a symbol of strength, courage, and invincibility. Over the centuries, however, the diamond acquired its unique status as the ultimate gift of love. Indeed, it was said that Cupid’s arrows were tipped with diamonds which have a magic that nothing else can ever quite equal. Since the very beginning, diamonds have always been associated with romance and legend. The very word “diamond” comes from the Greek “adamas” meaning unconquerable, suggesting the eternity of love. The Greeks also believed the fire in the diamond reflected the constant flame of love.
But it wasn’t until 1477, when Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave a diamond ring to Mary of Burgundy, that the tradition of diamond engagement rings began. Even the reason a woman wears it on the third finger of her left hand dates back to the early Egyptian belief that the vena amoris (vein of love) ran directly from the heart to the top of the third finger, left hand. The truth is, however, that the exact origin of diamonds is still something of a mystery, even to scientists and geologists.
Even though the diamond is the hardest of all gemstones known to man, it is the simplest in composition. It is common carbon, like the graphite in a lead pencil, yet has a melting point of 6,900 degrees Fahrenheit, which is two and a half times greater than the melting point of steel. Billions of years ago, the elemental forces of heat and pressure miraculously transformed the carbon into diamond in the cauldron of boiling magma that lay deep below the surface of the earth. The volcanic mass in which this crystallization took place then thrust upwards and broke through the earth’s surface to cool in Kimberlite pipes. It is in these Kimberlite pipes that most diamonds are found today.