Nowadays, we all know a diamond engagement ring is the most important jewelry purchase in a man’s life and the most significant to the woman who receives it. Diamond is the birthstone of people born in the month of April and is also used as the symbol of a sixty-year anniversary, such as a Diamond Jubliee.
However, the symbolism of diamonds goes beyond romance. Through centuries diamonds have been a symbol of love, excellence and purification. Diamond, because of its remarkable hardness and clarity, also still reigns supreme in its symbolism of power, strength, brilliance and unparalleled beauty. Diamonds are enchanting treasures that have fascinated mankind throughout the centuries. Many regarded them as magical. Not only were they rare and beautiful, no tool could cut them and even the fiercest fire would leave the diamonds unscathed.
Diamonds have been used symbolically because of their extraordinary physical properties. It was said that the Greeks believed diamonds were tears of the gods. Romans believed they were splinters of fallen stars. In Tibetan Buddhism, also known as Vajrayana (Diamond Vehicle), diamonds are an important symbol and the Diamond Sutra is one of the most popular texts.
In ancient India, diamonds were not cut for fear that they would lose its magical properties. During the Middle Ages, it was believed that diamonds would grow darker in the face of guilt and shine brightly for the innocent. Another belief is that in the presence of poison, diamond would also change color. The rainbow colors of the prism were thought to give one magical power over Evil Eyes.
According to occultist myths, it was believed that diamonds possess several supernatural powers, e.g. a diamond’s hardiness can only be broken by smearing it with fresh goat’s blood. Or a diamond gives victory to he who carries it bound on his left arm, no matter the number of enemies.
It was also believed to have been used as a healing stone. Such as a way of detecting and detoxifying poison, opening spirituality channels and assisting calming creatures.
Today, diamonds are used to symbolize eternity and love. The first diamond engagement ring can be traced to the XV century, when the Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave the first diamond ring engagement to Mary of Burgundy in 1477. At that time, the diamond was used in its natural crystalline structure. The octahedral or eight-sided formation, like 2 pyramid joined at the base, was mounted with the lower pyramid completely hidden in the ring setting and the upper half rising out of it. Light would be reflected from all four sides of this exposed upper point. The structure of this diamond mirrors the symbolism of the Egyptian pyramids. The union in 1477 was celebrated by the exchange of a diamond betrothal ring which would have been an early example and perhaps the first royal one.
Other early example of betrothal jewels incorporating diamonds include the Bridal Crown of Blanche (ca. 1370-80) and the Heftlein brooch of Vienna (ca. 1430-40), a pictorial piece depicting a wedding couple. In the 19th century, Napoleon gave his wife Marie Louise an exquisite diamond necklace on the birth of their son. Perhaps the most published romantic diamond gifts in modern times have been the jewels given by Richard Burton to Elizabeth Taylor. These include a 33 carat diamond worth over $9 million and the pear-shaped 69 carat Taylor-Burton diamond.