Diamonds have been the subject of wonder and marvel since ancient times in history, mostly for their shining brilliance and tough surfaces. As with most of the world’s natural wonders and formations, several different cultures have told and recorded a vast array of legends regarding diamonds. The first written testimony regarding diamonds was made by the Ancient Romans, referencing the diamond trade in another country. The word “diamond” is actually derived from the Greek word for “unconquerable.”
Ancient Greeks and Romans thought of the diamonds as the tears of the Gods, or small bits of splinters from fallen stars. It was also told that the mythical being, Cupid, shot people with diamond-tipped arrows in order to make them fall in love with each other. When worn, diamonds were said to bring light into life, easing the burden of fears and worries. The Hindu people said that diamonds were born when lightning was dashed upon boulders. Some ancient Jewish cities used diamonds in trials. If the diamond brought before a person darkened and dulled, then the person was guilty.
If it glimmered more brilliantly, then the person was innocent. Unfortunately, there is no way to recognize the origin of the jewel once it is cut and polished. All precious jewels, especially during the Renaissance and the Middle Ages, were considered to possess magical powers. People wore them as protective amulets and charms rather than glittery trinkets. It was believed that diamonds protected the wearer against demons and evil forces.
It is also said that they defended houses from storms, natural disasters, and the plague. They were also rumored to lighten the heart, ease mental disorders, and provide good luck. Diamonds were also extremely valuable to kings, who believed that sovereignty was their God-given right. Diamonds, most likely because of their shine and their hardness, were said to be blessed by God and given powers beyond human comprehension. Kings wore diamonds on their breastplates. Rich and upper class soldiers also owned diamonds, making them appear as formidable warriors to other warriors on the battlefield.
There was no such thing as “best value diamonds,” as diamonds were acknowledged as expensive status symbols, and consumerism wasn’t quite around in the same way during that day and age. Diamond powder is also a legendary method of assassination. Many of these stories might have been encouraged by the owners of diamond mines to discourage their laborers from stealing diamonds by swallowing them in the mines and regurgitating them upon returning home.
Sultan Bajazet of Turkey was rumored to have died of internal wounds after his son dumped copious amounts of diamond powder into his food. In 1532, it was thought that gems had magical healing properties, so Pope Clement VII was given several spoonfuls of crushed jewels by his doctors, including a generous amount of diamond powder. He died as well, though this might have been from the illness that they were originally attempting to cure.