The story of the diamond begins in India, rich in deposits around the rivers Krishna, Godavari and Penna. Generally diamonds were used in religious symbols, and have for many centuries been considered precious. Buddhist writings of the 4th century BC, defined the diamond as a precious stone. Other writings in India mentioned the capacity of the diamond to scratch metal, and referred to its brilliance and its capacity to reflect light.
The first references to the use of the diamond in Ancient Rome come from India. The Romans used it as an instrument of incision because of its hardness. In China diamonds were mentioned as a talisman with the power to drive away evil. The extraction of diamonds up to the 18th century was in river deposits, above all in India , and later the first diamonds were found in Brazil, and elsewhere in South America. Only later, in 1867, were the first diamonds discovered in South Africa.
The discovery of diamonds in South Africa was linked to the paths of exhausted volcanos. They were found in Kimberley, which gave its name to the rock from which diamonds are extracted, namely kimberlite. After this discovery South Africa became an important centre for the extraction of diamonds, and at the global level, substituted for India which had exhausted its own centres of extraction.
Diamonds gained more prominence in the 19th century, which coincided with improvements in gem cutting techniques. Only in 1813, thanks to an experiment by Humphry Davy, who focused with a lens beams of sunlight on a rough diamond triggering combustion, was it possible to see the chemical composition of the carbon. This discovery contributed to increase the fame of the diamond and its peculiar characteristics. Carbon at extraordinarily high pressures many millions of years ago, had created the hardest stone that had ever existed in nature.