1897 the Tsar ordered exploration of Siberia for precious metals. An estimated 40'000 people died looking for jewels in the ground that could be polished to fit into rings, tiaras, bracelets, jewellery boxes and glittering eggs for the "Nobility"!
In mineralogy, diamond is the allotrope of carbon where the carbon atoms are arranged in an isometric-hexoctahedral crystal lattice.
After graphite, diamond is the second most stable form of carbon. Its hardness and high dispersion of light make it useful for industrial applications and jewelry.
It is the hardest known naturally occurring mineral. It is possible to treat regular diamonds under a combination of high pressure and high temperature to produce diamonds that are harder than the diamonds used in hardness gauges.
Diamonds are specifically renowned as a material with superlative physical qualities; they make excellent abrasives because few substances can scratch them. As a result they hold a polish extremely well and retain their lustre. Approximately 130 million carats (26,000 kg (57,000 lb)) are mined annually, with a total value of nearly USD $9 billion, and about 100,000 kg (220,000 lb) are synthesized annually.
Diamonds have been treasured as gemstones since their use as religious icons in ancient India. Their usage in engraving tools also dates to early human history.
Popularity of diamonds has risen since the 19th century because of increased supply, improved cutting and polishing techniques, growth in the world economy, and innovative and successful advertising campaigns.
Diamonds are thought to have been first recognized and mined in India, where significant alluvial deposits of the stone could then be found many centuries ago along the rivers Penner, Krishna and Godavari. Diamonds have been known in India for at least 3000 years but most likely 6000 years
The name diamond is derived from the ancient Greek ἀδάμας (adámas), "unbreakable, untamed", from ἀ- (a-), "un-" + δαμάω (damáō), "I overpower, I tame" and is the real-world origin of myths about a superhard metal called adamant.
In 1813, Humphry Davy used a lens to concentrate the rays of the sun on a diamond in an atmosphere of oxygen, and showed that the only product of the combustion was carbon dioxide, proving that diamond is composed of carbon. Later, he showed that in an atmosphere devoid of oxygen, diamond is converted to graphite.
The most familiar usage of diamonds today is as gemstones used for adornment, a usage which dates back into antiquity.
The dispersion of white light into spectral colors, is the primary gemological characteristic of gem diamonds.
In the twentieth century, experts in the field of gemology have developed methods of grading diamonds and other gemstones based on the characteristics most important to their value as a gem.
Four characteristics, known informally as the four Cs, are now commonly used as the basic descriptors of diamonds: these are carat, cut, color, and clarity.
Some excerpts courtesy Wikipedia