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By the fourteenth century, a ring set with a single point-cut diamond became a popular piece of jewelry in Europe. Around this time, the iconic single-diamond form became a known emblem found in family crests, including that of the influential Florentine Medici family above right. The hardness and durability of diamond has long been recognized as a symbol of fortitude, endurance, and valor—characteristics many powerful individuals wished to be identified with.

An exquisite sixteenth-century Venetian ring above left from the Zucker collection is a variation on this style, with five point-cut diamonds. Ring with seven table-cut diamonds. Like point-cut diamonds, table-cut diamonds were known by the end of the fourteenth century. The table cut is a modification of the octahedron, with the top of the pyramid evenly removed to create a large facet on the top of the stone, known as its "table.

Left: Rose-cut diamond brooch detail , late 17th century. Right: Nell Gwynne bodkin with brilliant-cut diamonds detail , 17th century. In the late fifteenth to early sixteenth century, technological advances in cutting techniques—namely, the introduction of a spinning wheel known as a scaife —industrialized the faceting of gemstones. From that moment on, new cuts, such as the rose cut and brilliant cut see above , came to be known in European jewelry.

The diamonds on view in this small display tell an important story of the trade from Indian mines to Europe. Records indicate that from the eighth to sixteenth century, the gemstone trade routed rough Indian stones by land and sea through Venice, Lisbon, and the Netherlands. In the seventeenth century, as the presence of the British in India increased, the East India Company began to dominate the export of diamonds from India.

Rough diamonds were routed through London and circulated from there to other cities, such as Amsterdam, Antwerp, and Paris, all of which were cutting centers that specialized in faceting gemstones into table, rose, brilliant, and other cuts. By adding more facets, lapidaries were able to unlock even more brilliance and "fire" the rainbow of spectral hues within the gemstone.

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While today diamonds are a traditional part of engagement and other fine jewelry, we hope that this small display may reveal to visitors the long and complex journey of diamonds in the pre-modern period. From the center of the earth, where they were formed of pure carbon, to the alluvial deposits of the Indian subcontinent, the markets of London, and the cutting centers and jewelers of Europe, these remarkably hard and tenacious gemstones reveal the truth behind the brilliant De Beers advertising slogan, "a diamond is forever.

Bari, Hubert and Violane Sautter. Paris: Vilo International, Keene, Manuel, and Salam Kaoukji. Khalidi, Omar. Romance of the Golconda Diamonds. Laufer, Berthold. Chicago, Ogden, Jack.

The diamond; a study in Chinese and Hellenistic folk-lore

New Haven: Yale University Press, Princely Magnificence: Court Jewels of the Renaissance, Scarisbrick, Diana. Rings: Jewelry of Power, Love and Loyalty. Stronge, Susan.


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The Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History pairs essays and works of art with chronologies, telling the story of art and global culture through The Met collection. Benjamin Zucker Family Collection History and Myth Until diamonds were discovered in Brazil in the early eighteenth century, the vast majority of the world's diamonds were found in India. Point-Cut Diamonds By the fourteenth century, lapidaries in Europe were using diamond powder to polish gemstones.

Benjamin Zucker Family Collection Like point-cut diamonds, table-cut diamonds were known by the end of the fourteenth century. Benjamin Zucker Family Collection In the late fifteenth to early sixteenth century, technological advances in cutting techniques—namely, the introduction of a spinning wheel known as a scaife —industrialized the faceting of gemstones.

The Journey of the Stones The diamonds on view in this small display tell an important story of the trade from Indian mines to Europe. Department: Islamic Art. Tags: India , jewelry , diamond.

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En l'an The Future of the Past. Open Philology Project digitized books Loading Search This Blog. I moved it to its own space here beginning in The primary focus of the project is notice and comment on open access material relating to the ancient world, but I will also include other kinds of networked information as it comes available. AWOL is the successor to Abzu , a guide to networked open access data relevant to the study and public presentation of the Ancient Near East and the Ancient Mediterranean world, founded at the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago in Together they represent the longest sustained effort to map the development of open digital scholarship in any discipline.


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