In the 13th century, Saint Louis (Louis IX of France, 1214-70) established a sumptuary law that reserved diamonds for the king based on the rarity and value that was conferred to them at that time. From that moment onwards, diamonds began appearing in royal jewellery for both men and women.
The earliest diamond-cutting industry is believed to have been positioned in Venice (Italy) somewhere around the 1330’s. It is estimated that diamond cutting found its way to Paris and Bruges around the late 14th century and later to Antwerp.
By 1499, the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama discovered the sea route to the Orient around the Cape of Good Hope, providing Europeans an end-run around the Arabic impediment to the trade of diamonds coming from India. Goa, on India's Malabar Coast, was set up as the Portuguese trading centre, and a diamond route developed from Goa to Lisbon to Antwerp.
In England, diamonds have been part of the Royal jewel collection since the Tudor and Stuart era (15th century to 18th century). Diamonds complimented and enhanced the aura of sovereignty. Kings and queens in this monarchy were often portrayed heavily bejewelled in portraits and art. In 1850, the Queen was gifted the famous Koh-i-nûr diamonds, and later, the King was gifted the largest diamond ever found, the Cullinan Diamond. Today, people travel from all over the world to witness the crown jewels on display.
From the 17th century, diamonds were also seen as one with the greater European aristocracy and the wealthy merchant class. They became something attainable for people outside of royalty and today they remain a viable investment around the world.
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