Tuesday 21 March 2023

Historical origins

Because historians cannot find a precise date for the discovery of diamonds, they have examined written texts to find the first references to these precious stones.

The oldest text that historians have considered is the Bible (Old Testament), which contains several references to diamonds. Exodus (28,18) contains a description of clothing worn by the Great Priest of the Hebrews, which is decorated with twelve precious stones, among them a diamond. Diamonds are mentioned in other verses and in particular in Ezekiel (3,9), with the phrase "Like an adamant harder than flint or a diamond point have I made your forehead [...]". But the meaning of the words of the time, and the translation in particular, can offer no real guarantee: do the words refer to diamonds as we know them today?

Starting from the 8th century BC, the ancient Greek poet Hesiod spoke of "adamas" ("invincible"). However it is only in the writings of Pliny the Elder, 800 years later, that the use of the word "adamas" can be associated to diamonds with certainty.

The Oldest Piece of Diamond Jewelry

In 1993, the richly decorated tomb of a little girl was discovered near Rome. Dating from the 1st century BC, this tomb contained intact jewels such as golden necklaces, bracelets mounted with sapphires and emeralds, and brooches adorned with precious stones. The style, type and finish of the jewelry show that they came from ancient Syria, probably from the region of Palmyra. One of the rings bears a rough, octahedron-shaped diamond originating from central India, and is mounted in such a way that one of its points always touches the skin, probably for good luck. Carbon-14 dating has confirmed that this is the oldest piece of jewelry bearing a diamond that has ever been found.