Diamonds have been noted in historical documentation for over 3,000 years, although they were probably first discovered as loose stones in India. Associated with the sand and gravel riverbeds alluvial deposits, it is believed that these first diamond discoveries were left uncut as they were considered sacred objects by religious and political leaders of the time. Diamonds were most likely thought to possess magical powers due, no doubt, to their unique hardness and sheen, never before seen. Regarded as talismans, we surmise that ancient Indian culture suspected these first diamonds would lose their powers if they were altered in any way.
These true stories that surround some of the most famous diamonds in the world are as interesting as the legends associated with them. Napoleon believed greatly in the powers of diamonds and wore the Regent Diamond on his sword throughout his reign. The Regent Diamond had been discovered by a slave in the Parteal Mine in India in 1701, which weighed 410cts in the rough. It was purchased by a certain Thomas Pitt in 1702 who spent over two years cutting it to 140.5cts. This diamond was sold to the Regent of France and was thereafter referred to as the Regent Diamond. Worn by several French kings and queens including Marie Antoinette, this unique diamond was returned to the French government following Napoleon’s exile to Sainte Helene, where it remains on display at the Gallerie d’Appollon of Louvres Museum in Paris.
In the mid-nineteenth century, a diamond was credited with saving the life of Queen Donna Isabell II. As the tale goes, an assassin’s knife-point was thwarted by a diamond which the Queen apparently wore in her girdle.
Diamond is the gemstone of the House of Aries, the Ram. Ancient astrologers believed the diamond to be a powerful talisman for people under the planet Mars. They held that it could provide fortitude, strength of mind, and continued love in marriage as well as ward off witchcraft, poisons and nightmares.
The Romans believed that if they wore a diamond against the flesh of their left arm, it would help them remain daring in battle and give them strength against their enemies. One ancient passage relates: “He who carries a diamond on the left side, shall be hardy and manly: It will guard him from accidents, but nevertheless a diamond would loose its powers and virtues if worn by one who is incontinent or drunk!”
In his ‘Historia Naturalis’ Pliny wrote in the year 77 AD: “the greatest value amongst the objects of human property, not merely among precious stones, is due to the adamas (diamond) for a long time known only to kings and even to very few of them”.
The diamond was a symbol of the Lord to the early Christians who also held it to be an antidote against both moral and physical evil. The Medieval Italians called the diamond
‘pietra della reconciliazione’ meaning stone of reconciliation, to which they attributed
the power to maintain harmony between spouses.
In India, the wealthy natives would sprinkle tiny diamonds from a white cloth over the heads of infants during a ritual in which the child was named, in the belief that it would keep them pure and virtuous.
Reflections upon the sources of diamonds have fostered innumerable fanciful stories throughout the history. Ancient philosophers claimed that diamonds and other precious gems could be obtained by throwing beefsteaks into dangerous crevices. Eagles would then fly into the crevices to retrieve a steak covered with gems!