Ancient Jewelry - Its Enchanting History

By: Jonathan Blocker

Loose diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but the practice of wearing jewelry is not new. In fact, women as well as men have been adorning themselves with jewelry since the Stone Age; paleontologists have found burial sites over 100,000 years old containing Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon remains in which the deceased was decorated with animal-claw or bone necklaces and carved stone pieces.

Fancy loose diamonds mounted in jewelry is a relatively new development, however. Wholesale diamond jewelry as a market did not exist much before the Victorian Age, although loose diamonds have been used, worn, treasured and fought over for well nearly 3,000 years.

Loose Diamonds of Fame

Loose diamonds do not normally exist in nature. Diamond itself is found in very few places in the world, due to the fact that it forms deep beneath the earth's surface.

One of those rare places was India. Fragments of diamonds in their natural, rough octahedral form could be found along several of India's rivers, which flow south out of the Himalaya Mountain Range. However, for centuries, the most famous source of the world's diamonds was the fabled city of Golconda in the Indian state of Hyderabad.

Between the founding of Golconda in the 12th Century and its annexation into India in 1948, Golcondi craftsmen have produced many of the world's most famous loose diamonds, such as:

-Darya-e Nur , one of the Iranian (Persian) Crown Jewels
-Nur-Ul-Ain, prominent pink diamond in the tiara worn by Iranian Empress Farah at her wedding to Reza Shah Pahlavi
-Koh-e-Noor, presented to Queen Victoria by British P.M. Benjain Disraeli in 1877
-Hope Diamond, currently on display in the Smithsonian Museum
-Regent Diamond, currently on display in the Louvre Museum in Paris

The earliest use of loose diamonds set in jewelry however is the crown of a Hungarian queen who reigned during the late 11th Century. The stones in this crown are uncut; however, within a few hundred years, diamond jewelry had become quite popular with European royalty.

The Modern Diamond Industry

Loose diamonds were polished during the 1300's, but the practice of diamond cutting did not begin until the mid-16th Century in the city of Antwerp in what is now Belgium. It was here that the first diamond-cutter's guild was formed, and the professional diamond appraisal as an industry and wholesale diamond jewelry market was born soon after.

To this day, Antwerp is one of the centers of the wholesale diamond jewelry trade.

Mining Diamond

As was the case in India, diamond was mined in and around riverbeds. Dry-digging started in South Africa in 1866, not coincidentally near Africa's Great Rift. Today, most diamonds are mined in the western Canadian provinces of Yukon and Northwest Territories as well as nearby Siberia. Most of these are of industrial grade; however, they are also sources for diamonds marketed by certified jewelry wholesalers.

Diamond Appraisal

Reputable jewelry wholesalers make sure that their stones have undergone a rigorous diamond appraisal in order to confirm their quality and value. Ideally, such an appraisal is undertaken by a firm that is independent of and unconnected to the producer of the stones.

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