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    Start with a Diamond
    Start with Setting
    Oct 15

    When Pliny the Elder — the famous solider, writer and philosopher of the ancient Roman Empire — wrote “The diamond is the most valuable thing on earth” he did so over 1000 years before diamonds could be cut. He was referring to natural diamonds, which even in their raw, unpolished form were worth a fortune.

    Two millennia later, and Pliny’s words ring as true as they ever have.

    While there is a constant debate raging about the “real” value of diamonds, and how much worth they have as a financial investment, this fact is often overlooked. Before there was De Beers, before there was advertising and marketing, before there was a global market for jewelry, before the technology to cut and craft stones even existed, diamonds were extremely valuable.

    For as long as humans have known about diamonds, they have craved diamonds. Today’s market, in which rare colored gems go for tens of millions of dollars at auctions, is not much different than any other time in the past.

    Diamonds have always been seen as a great investment.

    From the Tandula to the Carat

    The first diamonds came from India. And for centuries, India was the only place one could find these precious stones. In 600 B.C. the Mahajanapada Empire had its own units of currency, and it’s own units of measurement for diamonds.

    The ancient Indians used a Tandula as a unit of measure instead of the carat, which was equivalent to the weight of a grain of rice. Their currency was called the Rupaka, and according to a price list written in Sanskrit in the Third century, a diamond that weighed 20 Tandulas was worth 200,000 Rupaka.

    For the wealthy citizens of the Mahajanapada, diamonds served a purpose – by converting their wealth into diamonds it allowed them to easier store, keep, and transport their riches. They did not have banks as we know them, and had to keep all the money they had. Diamonds made that task simpler, and thus represents the first time diamonds were used as an investment.

    Timeless Value

    Since diamonds could not be cut, shaped, or polished, and thus were not used for jewelry or ornamentation, then why did the ancient Indians consider them so valuable? Two reasons: it’s usefulness as a tool, and its metaphysical properties.

    The Mahajanapada was a very spiritual culture, and the diamonds were considered a profound source of luck. The Hindu religious scripture called the Garuda Purana is considered to be the authoritative reference for ancient Indian gemology, and it says that the owner of a flawless diamond will be blessed with wealth, livestock, good harvests, a wife, and many children. Furthermore, the diamond will protect the owner from both fear and sorcery.

    For more practical-minded Indians, the diamond still had great value from being the hardest substance on earth. It could be used to carve, cut, and shape pearls and other gemstones, as well as in tool-making.

    A Diamond (Investment) is Forever

    Todays culture may value the diamond for different reasons than the Mahajanapada, but the value remains the same. Its scarcity keeps the market from being flooded and driving the price down. It’s value, as both a gem and a tool, is not localized, so no matter where you go, a diamond will be valuable. Also, it is a high concentration of worth in a very small weight – carrying a diamond is much easier than lugging around 2 million dollars… or 200,000 Rupaka.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. While the craft and style of diamonds has changed, the core concepts of investing in diamonds have remained remarkably unchanged for thousands of years.

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