- from the ancient Greek adámas, meaning "unbreakable," "proper," or "unalterable".
Diamonds are 99.95% pure crystallised carbon and can be extremely old - one to three billion years old, in fact. They are the hardest naturally occurring substance known and are formed beneath the Earth's surface when crystals of diamond occur in volcano feed-pipes. When volcanoes erode down, they release diamonds from their feed-pipes into layers of gravel which are later mined. However, due to the relative rarity of this natural process, diamond mines are found in just a handful of sites around the world. In rough form, diamonds are shipped to the world's cutting centres to be shaped and polished before being set to create a finished piece. It is the hardness, brilliance and sparkle that emerges during this process that transforms them into a girl's best friend.
Diamonds have been known to mankind and used as decorative items since ancient times; some of the earliest references can be traced to India. With the depletion of India's diamond resources, the exploration for seeking out and finding diamonds from other parts of the world began, which led to discoveries in Brazil(1725) and South Africa (Kimberley, 1867).
South Africa became the favoured centre for diamond resources, and quickly rose as the world's biggest diamond producer.
Today, 92% of the world's diamonds are cut and polished in India. Some 85% of the world's rough diamonds, 50% of cut diamonds, and 40% of industrial diamonds are traded in Antwerp, Belgium - the diamond centre of the world.