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Diamonds, like rubies, are known for their wealth and beauty. They were first found and very much loved in India. They were mainly found in the country’s rivers and streams. It was estimated that India started trading diamonds as early as the fourth century BC; they were mainly brought between India’s wealthy classes. Over time this changed and the Indian diamonds soon found their way across the globe with other expensive merchandise. They were found in the Western Europe caravans, which travelled to Venice medieval markets. By the 1400s, diamonds became a more fashionable accessory for Europe’s upper class.
At the beginning of the 1700s, India’s diamond supplies began to decline and Brazil became the new main source for diamonds. They were discovered in the gold mines as they became closer to the local rivers. Once Brazil had reached its full potential in the production of diamonds, they became the main source in the market for over 150 years. The discovery of diamonds on the African continent in 1866 began the modern diamond market. 22 years later, in 1888, Cecil Rhodes established the company De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited. By 1900, De Beers controlled around 90% of the world’s production of rough diamonds. The South African sources for diamonds affected many parts of the diamond industry as diamond mining moved from the near surface to further underground. Due to the large costs and relatively low yields, developments for more efficient mining techniques were needed. This led to improvements in the cutting and polishing which increased the efficiency, reduced costs and heightened the appearance of the finished diamonds.
In the 1870s the annual production of rough diamonds was well below one million carats. By the 1920s the figure increased to three million carats. A few years later the annual production amounted to an estimated 50 million carats and by the 1990s it rose to around 100 million carats per year. Many investors, today, turn to diamonds for their long-term value and with the returns beating those equating for much of the past 15 years, it is considered a very safe investment. From 1999-2011 the price for 3 carat diamonds increased by around 145% whilst 5 carat diamonds rose by an estimated 171%, as measured by the Rapaport Diamond Trade Index. This demonstrates how the value for diamonds is on the rise. There are four main ways in which people invest in diamonds: directly invest in diamonds, buying the stone and storing to sell later, buying shares of a diamond mining company or investing in diamond funds and tax-efficient investments.
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