Diamonds have been one of the most popular gemstones for decades – no, scratch that – for centuries now.
There are a few reasons why diamonds are so popular, and we’re going to do our best to talk about every single one of them, so you understand the popularity of these precious stones.
Now, you have to understand that these reasons have changed over the years.
So, we’re going to have a unique approach to this topic, taking you through the different periods and seeing what made diamonds so sought-after at that particular time. In addition to that, we’ll discuss why diamonds are popular today – possibly more than they have ever been before.
And while we’re at it, we believe that the popularity of diamonds can only go up; we likely won’t see a decrease in their popularity in our lifetime. But who knows, right?
Okay, that was a long intro. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s jump straight into the topic – and see what’s behind the diamond’s popularity.
First Wave Of Popularity
Many people don’t know a fascinating piece of information related to diamond history. These precious stones started to become popular way before some of you might think.
Here’s the thing: Most people think that diamonds first became popular at the beginning of the 20th century – but that’s not entirely true. If we’re being honest, it’s nowhere near the truth.
In Europe, diamonds first started to gain massive popularity in the middle ages, or to be precise – around the 13th century. That may seem impossible – but there are overwhelming pieces of information that point to this.
In the 13th century, some diamonds started appearing in Europe from other parts of the world, such as Asia and Africa. These precious stones fell into the hands of royalty and quickly became the staple for wealthy families and royal bloodlines.
That’s the moment where people started associating diamonds with a high price, luxury, and unavailability.
Diamonds were so popular amongst the European aristocracy in that period that every ruler – even the smallest ones – had to have diamonds or pieces of jewelry with diamonds at some point.
In fact, they were so popular that regular people started thinking that diamonds have special healing powers and that that’s why all the royalty started wearing them – to protect them from various diseases.
Now, in that period, there weren’t a lot of diamonds in Europe, so their popularity depended on how many diamonds were brought from other places.
In the late 15th century, diamonds were popularised to the degree where every crown of every ruler in Europe had to have them in it.
Some of you’ve probably seen some paintings where rulers and kings were painted on with the golden crowns that contained diamonds and other gemstones in them. That is a good indicator of how fast diamonds gained in popularity.
One of the biggest things for the diamond world happened at this time, too: The Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed to Mary of Burgundy in 1477 – and he used an actual diamond-embedded engagement ring, the first of its kind.
Also, the belief that diamonds had healing powers didn’t disappear; you still had people who believed in their ability to cure or prevent disease at this time.
Still, because of the economic system and how money and wealth worked at the time, not many people could afford to buy diamonds. Plus, finding people who sold them wasn’t easy, either.
But, as time went on, more people could afford them, which brings us to the next key stage in the diamonds’ history.
Related Read: What Makes a Diamond Special?
Second Wave Of Popularity
The second period where diamonds seriously spiked in popularity was between the 18th and the beginning of the 20th.
That is the era where more people were wealthy in European countries such as France, Spain, Germany, and the Scandinavian countries. In all of these, diamonds were still one of the most significant wealth indicators and signs of someone’s high status in society.
But, the biggest difference from the middle ages is that now diamonds weren’t used as often for crowns or other royal pieces but were put in “regular” pieces of jewelry instead.
That’s especially seen in the Victorian era, at the very end of this period, when necklaces, rings, earrings, and other decorative pieces, like brooches, were quite popular.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, people dressed “over the top” – for today’s standards, that is – and it was the same story with jewelry.
In Europe, diamond jewelry was incredibly “trendy.” And that trend came to North America with colonization. So, don’t assume that the popularity of diamonds was overlooked on the other side of the world. Right around the Victorian era, diamonds became popular there, too.
The prestigious status that came with owning diamonds and jewelry containing diamonds was long-established – and didn’t change for centuries.
But something interesting happened during this time: The advancements brought on by the Industrial Revolution meant that jewelers could now use gold more economically, thereby reducing its price. And that, in turn, made jewelry items more affordable for ordinary people.
Third Wave Of Popularity
Now we’re getting closer to the period where a significant majority of you think diamonds first gained popularity – the 20th century.
At the beginning of the 20th century, gems gained an even higher status. That’s why we’ve decided to cover this as a distinct third wave – a separate one from the one we’ve talked about previously.
Just before the First World War, during it, and immediately after, diamonds became available for more and more people.
Engagement rings that contained diamonds started to become a recognizable way of asking the love of your life to spend the rest of her days with you.
So, when the market finally allowed almost anyone who had enough money to purchase a piece of jewelry containing a diamond or two – or even just to buy loose diamonds – things changed.
It’s the opposite of what happened in the middle ages:
Back then, diamonds couldn’t be as commonplace as they should’ve been because they weren’t available for most people. On the other hand, the beginning of the 20th century marks a new era where anyone could have gone and bought a diamond ring or diamond earrings.
That helped diamonds spike in popularity like never before since people knew how big of a deal it was to own diamonds, and when they had the chance – they bought them.
Affluent families still purchased diamonds to show how wealthy they were – but at that moment in time, diamonds became available to anyone, including the “average” person.
The biggest reason diamonds are still so sought-after today is because of this period. It started a trend of making diamonds more available and affordable – well, as inexpensive as diamonds can be – for more people.
Also, the trend of engagement rings that contained diamonds helped in this period. After the war, people started marrying at rates higher than ever – and engagement rings started selling much more than before.
In addition to that, in 1947, the famous line “A diamond is forever” was introduced by a jewelry company named De Beers. It is, hands down, one of the most significant moments related to diamonds.
Naturally, this spiked the popularity of diamonds even more and helped diamonds become quite recognizable.
Read More: Do Diamonds Last Forever?
In the current time, diamonds are more popular than they have ever been. And that’s because diamonds are more available and affordable than ever before.
Jewelry stores and diamond sellers and dealers are all over any city you visit, so you’d have to try hard not to see a diamond or two when passing through the city center.
That all started in the 80s, when big diamond rings became popular again, and certain diamond cuts – bold and big ones – gained immense popularity.
We can see this rise occur after a period of a few decades where diamonds weren’t as “famous” as they were at the beginning of the 20th century.
And because of this, people in the 90s shared this enthusiasm for diamond-embedded jewelry – especially the edgy, bold, and alternative-looking designs.
The early 2000s weren’t much different, but that’s when diamonds started selling in quantities that nobody expected.
Lab-grown diamonds helped with this wave of popularity that’s still going on today, given the fact that they were much more affordable than natural gems.
And it all started with the first batch of lab-grown diamonds: The year was 1954, and the company known as General Electric did in an experiment code-named “Project Superpressure,” creating the first lab-grown gems.
Others that could enjoy natural diamonds were buying them, and the jewelry became the number one thing that promoted diamonds.
Prestige and wealth were still something that was indicated by how big the diamonds you were wearing were, but since more people could afford diamonds, that aspect became less important.
Or did it?
Around 15 or so years ago, many modern-day performers and entertainers began to wear flashy and over-the-top accessories packed with diamonds as a means of showing how wealthy they were.
That, in a sense, made prestige and wealth become the focus and the crucial motivation behind purchasing diamonds all over again. Old habits die hard, huh?
Now, big diamond necklaces, earrings, wristwatches, and other jewelry pieces show how much someone is willing to spend on diamonds.
But now, diamonds are available more than ever – whether lab-grown or natural – and it appears that a growing number of people want to compete in this game of “who has more diamonds on them.”
If you ask us, that kind of defeats the purpose of diamonds; they were once admired for their characteristics and rarity – and it seems that these days, it’s all about “showing off.”
The future seems brighter than the diamonds we’re talking about here. With the way diamond popularity is growing, it appears that it will hit a new peak pretty soon.
Diamonds are more popular than ever, which means they’re more available than ever. And as a growing number of people will be able to afford them, it’s safe to assume many will go ahead and buy them.
But there’s an interesting trend to observe among Millennials:
While they shouldn’t be labeled as “anti-diamond” per se, they seem to be much more aware of the exploitative labor practices and the environmental impact of diamond mining. Plus, there’s also the cost of diamonds – and the fact that there are cheaper alternatives available.
So, it seems that these younger generations might not be as inclined to buy diamonds – but only time will tell how that will play out.
That means that much more people will own diamonds, but that just means that they won’t have the same rarity as they once had.
We’ll see if these precious stones retain the status they’ve had for centuries now. But until then, the diamond will remain the king among jewels.
See Also: Will Diamonds Ever Run Out?
Finalizing Our Thoughts
There have been different moments in history where diamonds were trendy for various reasons.
We’ve talked about the middle ages, the Victorian era, the 20th century, and the present, where diamonds were available to different people and were sought-after for various reasons.
In the middle ages, they were popular since they were so rare and only the highest royalty had access to them.
In the Victorian age, much more people had access to diamonds compared to the middle ages, but they were popular as a staple of wealth and prestige – even if they weren’t shown off quite as often.
The early 20th century first saw a spike in the availability of diamonds and diamond-embedded pieces of jewelry. Engagement rings became a trend – and people bought them often.
In today’s day and age, diamonds are bought and worn more often than ever before. People started buying wristwatches and necklaces that were full of diamonds and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
That put diamonds back on track of being the indicator of wealth. We know that diamonds are also well-known for their industrial uses, but that plays a small role in everything we’ve discussed today.
Anyway, we hope that we’ve clarified why diamonds are so popular!
Read Also: Why Do We Wear Diamond?