• What significance did the diamond used to have in literature?
  • How has this meaning evolved?
  • What does literature say about diamonds now?

You have undoubtedly heard the expression that art imitates reality before. This also applies to the representation of diamonds in literature. Just like the meaning of the gem has undergone changes in reality, the same also happened in the written word. How did people used to write about diamonds? What significance does buying a diamond now have in literature?

What significance did diamonds used to have in literature?

A diamond has been a symbol for value and status for thousands of years. However, processing the diamond used to be much more difficult as a result of the stone’s enormous hardness. The ‘rough diamond’ expression, which first appeared in the play A Wife for a Month by John Fletcher in the Renaissance period, therefore also refers to the difficult processing. The first English detective from 1868, The Moonstone, also talked about diamonds. But the diamond industry subsequently went through some turbulent times and there are many references to dark practices until the start of the 20th century.

The most striking of these was A Diamond as Big as the Ritz by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This was about a rich family which owned a mountain of diamonds, but ended up losing themselves in a world of crime in order to preserve their wealth.

How has this meaning evolved?

Just like the disclosure and combating of conflict diamonds changed the diamond industry, it also evolved its subsequent image in literature. The positive meanings were placed alongside the negative ones for a long time. Buying a diamond and other valuable jewellery was used as a source of jealousy in intrigue novels throughout the years. At a later stage, the De Beers campaign inspired Ian Fleming to write the Diamonds are Forever James Bond story about diamond smuggling.

The same Fitzgerald as mentioned above also adorned his protagonist in The Great Gatsby in diamonds from top to toe, in order to accentuate her purity and beauty.

What does literature say about diamonds now?

Modern works still occasionally feature some outliers about malpractices, such as Blood Diamonds from 2002, but the diamond has mainly been used for its symbolic and emotional value since the Kimberley process. For example, school departments in the popular children’s series Harry Potter are given points in the form of coloured diamonds. Plus buying a diamond is considered to be equal to exclusivity in a number of literary works and films throughout the years, such as, for example, the necklace which features in Titanic and the story of the pink diamond in The Pink Panther.

Where can I buy valuable diamonds? How can literature inspire me for my jewellery? Ask BAUNAT’s diamond experts for advice.

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