'Diamonds are forever', 'Diamonds are a girl's Best Friend'. Who hasn't heard of those songs?
Just two of the most popular tunes and songs with diamonds in the title.
The sparkling gemstones are, of course, much prized and the most popular of jewels. The diamond, being a hard element, also represents steadfast love ... hence all those love songs, I guess!
And diamonds come in all sizes. But did you know that it was on this day - January 26th in 1905 - that the world's largest diamond was discovered, in South Africa?
The Cullinan Diamond, which was 10.1 centimetres(4inches) long, 6.35cm (2.5in) wide, and 5.9cm (2.3in) deep, was discovered at a mine in Pretoria. It weighed 3,106-carats. With one carat equal to 200 milligrams, I worked out that the Cullinan weighed around 621 grams, which is 1.3lbs. That's big!
The guy who found it was a 'surface manager' at the Premier No.2 mine in Cullinan in the Transvaal Colony, which is now known as South Africa. Lots of big diamonds had been dug out of the earth before, but this was and remains, the largest.
In those days, before social media and the like, although the news of the find went around the world, the diamond did not immediately get snapped up by a rich person. Instead, it went on display - at the Standard Bank in Johannesburg - until it was sent to London. It was a bit of a security palaver. To avoid attempted robberies, detectives apparently were set sail on a steamboat, believe to be carrying the Cullinan. They were locked in the captain's cabin to keep the diamond safe.
But this was a decoy. The diamond they were protecting was a fake, and the real Cullinan was sent to England via regular standard post, in a box. That's clever!
Yet, on arrival in England, it remained unsold. It was two years before the Transvaal Colony bought the diamond on behalf of the British King, Edward VII, for a price of £150,000 - the Bank of England inflation calculator reckons that's nearly £18,500,000 at the end of 2020. It was presented to the King on his birthday, on the 9th of November 1907.
The Cullinan was then was sent to Amsterdam for cutting. The diamond trade and industry in that city in the Netherlands goes back to the 16th century and so it was there that the experts meticulously cut the Cullinan into nine separate diamonds. Two are part of the British Crown Jewels, and the remainder are still privately owned, by the British monarch.
But it's pretty, and I like it!
Yet the interesting thing about diamonds, I'm sure you know, is that they don't start out as precious jewels. Even the Cullinan Diamond had to be cut, and polished, to create the exquisite and very expensive gemstones fit for the Crown Jewels.
And diamond is actually carbon ... the same element as coal. Black, hard, dirty coal which can burn to give us warmth. Not a glittering gem, but made of the same stuff. The beauty of the diamond is made under the pressure of being created deep within the earth over billions of year. And as the solid form of carbon, diamond is the hardest of any natural material so it is used in industry as well, for cutting and polishing. It seems there's a lot more to a diamond, or even a diamond chip, than just a sparkling ring on my finger!
The 19th century British historian, writer and polymath Thomas Carlyle is credited with saying 'No pressure, no diamonds.'
I like that!
We might like to have life handed to us on a plate, with little work on our behalf, but real life isn't like that. Sometimes we have to go through challenges to fulfil our dreams and reach our goals. Sometimes the pressures of life can bring us down, but often they can make us stronger.
So, today, if you're going through hard times, please believe this - beauty can come out of adversity.
Don't give up. Keep on going!
And have a great day!