Diamonds. What is it about these sparkly little stones that has captured our imagination for centuries?
It all started in Kimberley, with a boy named Erasmus Jacobs who found a white pebble glinting by the river. His neighbour, Schalk van Niekerk, noticed him playing with the unusual stone and offered to buy it, but in the end, he was given it for free. Van Niekerk sent the pebble away for testing and it was shortly confirmed that it was, in fact, a diamond, which was appropriately christened Eureka. Thus, South Africa’s diamond rush began and the famed Big Hole was dug, with more than 22 million tons of earth removed by those desperately seeking the precious, glimmering gems.
In 1888, a number of mining groups conglomerated and South Africa’s leading diamond mining group, De Beers, was founded. De Beers is perhaps best known for its world-renowned slogan ‘A diamond is forever’ which entrenched the concept of the engagement ring, which was actually initiated by Archduke Maximilian of Austria, when he proposed to his lady love, Mary of Burgundy, with a ring set with diamonds in the shape of an ‘M’.
Today, a diamond remains a profession of love and an unrivalled status symbol that causes most girls’ hearts to flutter. From the iconic Star of Africa (the Cullinan Diamond) to the cursed Hope Diamond; these enchanting 3.3 billion year-old stones are the stuff of myths and legends – every one unique and utterly beautiful.