Several couples who own diamond rings and other pieces of jewelry that contain diamonds are not aware that these fascinating gemstones were first identified and mined in India. In fact, India was the only country where one could find these precious gemstones for several centuries.
References about diamonds were found on an ancient Sanskrit manuscript, which is dated from 320-296 BC. However, several experts in the field of diamond industry believe that diamonds were originally discovered in India approximately 6,000 years ago.
Diamonds are called as “Vajra” in the Sanskrit language, which means “thunderbolt” in English. As per Hindu mythology, Vajra was the weapon of the god of rain and thunderstorms, Lord Indra. This in turn implies that ancient Indians believed that diamonds contained powerful mythical and spiritual properties.
If you take a look at the history of diamond mining, then you will be able to know that diamonds were initially mined in the Golconda region of India. In those days, these fascinating gemstones were found only in the alluvial deposits in Guntur along the Godavari, Krishna, and Penna rivers located in the southern part of India.
Ancient Currency and Measurements for Diamonds
Studies conducted by archeologists and diamond enthusiasts revealed that Mahajanapada Empire in India had their own units of measurements and currency for diamonds and other gemstones. It is believed that the ancient Indians used to use Tandula as a measuring unit. One unit of Tandula was considered as equivalent to a rice grain.
The currency used by ancient Indians in those days was known as the Rupaka. An ancient price list that was written in Sanskrit during the third century revealed that a diamond, which weighed 20 Tandulas, was considered to be worth 200,000 Rupaka approximately. However, the Mahajanapada Empire did not have any kind of banking system, which means that people had to keep all their hard-earned money with them.
People who belong to the upper class of society and the ones from royal families purchased diamonds with their money, and it helped them to store their riches in a much better way. Experts believe that this was the first instance where diamonds were used as investments.
A set of rules was established in the fourth century BC in order to assess precious stones and diamonds, which was known as the Ratna Pariksha. It can be defined as an ancient science on testing gemstones that were primarily used by the Superintendent of Treasury or Kosadhyaksha to control the business of diamonds, pearls, and other gemstones during the ancient times.
Kautiliya who was popularly known as Chanakya was one of the ministers of Chandragupta who belong to the Mauryan dynasty of northern India. In his famous manuscript, Arthasastra or the Lesson of Profit, Chanakya had mentioned the Ratna Pariksha a few times. The author had offered an insight into the creation of diamonds as well.
Chanakya said, “Owing to the great power attributed by the learned to the diamond, the diamond must be treated as the first amongst precious stones. The eight great diamond deposits are in Saurashtra (Himalayas), Matanga, Paundra, Kalinga, Kosala, the shores of the Vainya and the Surpara. If there is a diamond anywhere in this world, which is completely transparent, light, with a beautiful color, with absolutely even surfaces, with no scratches, no scars, no damages, no scrawls, no signs of cracks – even if it is only the size of an atom, then it is indeed a gift from God.”
The Significance of Diamonds in Ancient India
The importance of diamonds in the ancient Indian society was so great and so critical that there was even a dedicated profession for it. The experts who worked with these fascinating gemstones were called as “Mandalins”, which means “diamond experts” in English. These experts thoroughly examined the properties and other characteristics of diamonds in order to learn more about these gemstones.
During the time of the discovery of diamonds, these gemstones were greatly valued by jewelers and customers due to their greater brilliance and strength. In addition to that, the ability of diamonds to engrave different metals and refract light also made them highly valuable. This urged several customers to buy diamonds and wear jewelry featuring precious gemstones.
In addition to that, these naturally occurring gemstones were also used as cutting tools, adornments, and more. Several ancient Indians firmly believed that the mythical power of diamonds allowed them to ward off evil and stay safe during battle. This also encouraged royalties to wear diamond rings and other pieces of jewelry that contained diamonds.
Another interesting thing to note is that diamonds were also used as medical aids because ancient Indians believed that the fascinating properties of these gemstones made them capable of healing wounds and curing illnesses. An ancient Hindu religious scripture, Garuda Purana, claimed that owners of Flawless diamonds are blessed with good harvests, livestock, wealth, and more fortunes.