The First Diamond Mines
The ancient Indian treatise Arthashastra, believed to be written by the scholar and teacher Chanakya in the 4th century BCE, mentions that diamond trade was alive in well in India at the time. Other Buddhist works also describe the stone as strong, brilliant, refractive, and capable of scratching metals. To the extent that a diamond has these qualities, the better it is.
In addition to such treatise, modern scholars believe that they have found new evidences suggesting that the Indians had indeed known diamonds as early as 6,000 years ago, using them as an adornment, talisman, and religious icon. Historical diamond fields were found mainly in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Orissa.
In the 4th century, the only other diamond source was the island of Borneo. Although no primary deposits were found, indeed, until today, the area yields alluvial diamonds in significant quantities. However, its yield was dwarfed by that of India. With these two diamond producers, the precious stone caught the attention of the world.
In 1725, diamond deposits were discovered in Brazil. This coincided with the depletion of the Indian mines, so Brazil took over as the top world producer. India, however, remained as the top lapidary until today, cutting and polishing up to 80 percent of diamonds.
South Africa became a major diamond producer in 1866 with the discovery of alluvial stones in Cape Colony. In the next 15 years, South Africa produced more diamonds than India did in 2,000, moving the stone from extremely rare to rare, and thus more accessible to anybody with money to buy them. Previously, they were almost limited to royalty.
Today, there are several other countries where diamonds are mined. In Africa, these include Angola, Botswana, Central African Republic, Congo, Ghana, Guinea, and Namibia. In the Americas, Brazil and Canada are now major producers. Elsewhere, Australia, India, and Russia also have their own diamond mines.