The diamond industry throughout history

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The diamond industry throughout history


How did it all start?

The legend says that the world’s first diamonds were found around 8,000 years ago in India. Prized for their appearance and physical qualities, from the beginning they were associated with wealth and status.

Historians presume that the diamond trade began around 1,000 years ago when traders started bringing rough stones from India to Arabia. The stones were cut and polished and then sold to Europe through trade cities that emerged like Venice and Bruges.

Around the sixteenth century the business has shifted to Amsterdam and Antwerp where they have offered better cutting and polishing techniques.

India’s diamond supplies were mainly exhausted by the early eighteenth century so the trade moved to Brazil and then to South Africa. In 1870 they discovered massive diamond deposits in South Africa which was a huge turning point for the trade and ignited a diamond rush. This was also the momentum when the diamond industry leader De Beers’s origins lay.


How did De Beers start?

British-born businessman Cecil Rhodes began buying up around this diamond rush the claims of small mining operations in South Africa. After buying the farm of two brothers called Diederik and Johannes de Beers, Rhodes later on founded the De Beers commercial mining company. Cecil Rhodes managed to consolidate all the South African mines and by the time he died in 1902 his company accounted for 90 percent of the world’s diamond production and distribution.

Who is Oppenhiemer and why is he important?

German-born businessman Ernest Oppenheimer, after founding the Anglo American Corporation, has started buying De Beers shares in the company whenever possible. He was so successful in his quest that by 1927 he was the biggest shareholder of the company thus later being named chairman. Under his guidance De Beers has evolved into a global diamond empire. Ernest and his descendants have created a group of interrelated companies that dominated all sectors of the diamond industry from mining to marketing throughout the 20th century and remain leaders even today.

How did the “diamonds are forever” message start?

In the 1940s De Beers has launched a long-running and extensive campaign that had the aim of creating and solidifying the message that “Diamonds are forever”. Millions of dollars were spent by the company on this marketing message but it was yielding great results as the demand for diamond rings are growing steadily from the 1940s and the emotional connection of diamonds to romance, love and marriage are undeniable for most of the United States, Europe and Japan even today.


Where are diamonds mined today?

After the South Africa’s diamond boom in 1870, the mining of diamonds has expanded throughout four continents were significant commercially viable deposits were found. Today these are Australia, Botswana, Canada, Russia and South Africa. Russia is responsible for almost a quarter of the global diamond output by volume, closely followed by Botswana.



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