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Clarity, Cut, and CultureThe Many Meanings of Diamonds$
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Susan Falls

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781479810666

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479810666.001.0001

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From Rock to Gem

From Rock to Gem

Chapter:
(p.27) 1 From Rock to Gem
Source:
Clarity, Cut, and Culture
Author(s):

Susan Falls

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479810666.003.0002

This chapter details the sprawling transnational commodity chain that helps transform lowly rocks into valuable gems. It traces the historical importance of diamonds, noting how Greek, Indian, and Chinese legends all allude to diamonds' magical qualities, describing their use as poisoning or healing agents, or as cutting and bead-drilling tools. Through a kind of contagious magic, diamonds were also thought to bring virility to men on the battlefield and in the bedroom. However, the association of diamonds with romance, status, and glamour is, actually, relatively recent as it was only in the mid-fifteenth-century in France where this admiration started. The chapter also describes the history of diamond mining, outlining the early major “diamond rushes” that happened in Africa, India, and Brazil and the rise of the De Beers company, a global leader in diamond exploration, mining, and trading.

Keywords:   commodity chain, diamonds, glamour, France, diamond rush, Brazil, De Beers, diamond mining

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