Many events have taken place throughout history to create the diamond trade as we know it. All of the beautiful diamond jewelry that is so cherished today is a result of a long winding history that dates back thousands of years.
Diamonds were discovered nearly 1,000 years ago in India and were originally used as payment for various items, such as loans. Up until the 1700s, India was thought to contain the entire world’s supply of diamonds. This was proven false after the diamond supply in the country ran out and diamonds were also found in Brazil. And then once the supply ran out there, during the early 1800s, the diamond trade quickly moved to Southern Africa.
This move across the globe was a milestone for the diamond industry and changed it forever. It was during this time that Cecil Rhodes, a South African politician, started the De Beers Company - which is known today as one of the most renowned diamond companies in the world. It did not take long for Rhodes to own and operate all diamond mining operations in the region. When he died in 1992, De Beers controlled nearly 90 percent of the global diamond production market. Today, the company controls almost 50 percent of the market and continues to have a huge impact on the cost of rough diamonds.
The present day diamond market is split between two main areas, the industrial and gemstone grade. Industrial grade diamonds are not used in jewelry and instead are used in areas such as heat conduction, electricity insulation semiconductors and other similar uses. The more well-known gemstone sector includes the production of diamond jewelry, such as engagement rings, earrings, bracelets, etc.
Today, the U.S. dominates the purchase of diamonds around the world, accounting for close to 35 percent of the entire world’s diamond sales. Hong Kong is in second place accounting for nearly 26 percent and Belgium comes in at 3rd with 15 percent.
There is no doubt that the evolution of the diamond trade is a fascinating one. From its early use as currency in ancient India to its symbolism of love today, diamonds have always been a substance of great value – which is a sentiment that will surely transcend time.