Why Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend
It probably has something to do with the fact that diamonds are the most popular gemstone in the world. The saying itself comes from a song of the same name featured in the original Broadway production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Marilyn Monroe’s version, from the film version of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, is considered the 12th most important movie song of all time by the American Film Institute. It is Monroe’s role as the gold-digging Lorelei Lee for which the film is often remembered, and that rendition of the song & the pink dress she wore in that performance are considered iconic.
Diamonds are composed of the most common substance on earth: carbon. They are created when carbon is subjected to the extremely high pressures and temperatures found approximately 90-240 miles below the earth’s surface. The earliest diamonds were found in India in 4th century BC – those diamonds were likely formed 900 million years ago. The majority of these early stones were transported along the Silk Road, a network of trade routes that connected India and China. At that time the diamonds were valued because of their strength and brilliance, and for their ability to refract light and engrave metal. Diamonds were worn as adornments, used as cutting tools, served as a talisman to ward off evil, and were believed to provide protection in battle.
India was thought to be the only source of diamonds until the 18th Century. Once the Indian diamond mines were depleted, a quest for alternate sources began. In 1866, 15 year old Erasmus Jacobs was exploring the banks of the Orange River in Hopetown, South Africa. He came across a pebble that turned out to be a 21.25-carat diamond. In 1871, a colossal 83.5 carat deposit was unearthed on a shallow hill called Colesberg Kopje. These findings sparked a rush of thousands of diamond prospectors to the region and led to the opening of the first large-scale mining operation, which later came to be known as the Kimberley Mine. This newly discovered diamond source increased the world’s diamond supply substantially, resulting in a significant decrease in their value.
In 1880, Englishman Cecil John Rhodes formed De Beers Consolidated Mines in an effort to control the diamond supply. Although De Beers was successful in their efforts to control the supply of diamonds, demand for the stone was weak and by 1919, diamonds were devalued by nearly 50%.
Next Week: How Diamonds Become Synonymous With Engagement Rings, and Grow In Value Once Again
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