Nature's treasure

Diamonds command admiration and awe. Rare and precious, they are the hardest natural material on Earth - 58 times harder, in fact, than any other known natural substance. It takes immense skill to unleash their fire, yet even in an uncut state the beauty of diamonds inspires legends.

In early societies, diamonds were often thought to hold miraculous, magical powers. That no tool could cut them, nor could even the fiercest natural flame change them, was seen as proof of their supernatural origins. The indestructible nature of diamonds has made them an enduring symbol of eternal love.

The Greeks believed diamonds were tears of the Gods, the Romans shards of stars. Their power to heal, to bestow wisdom, to ward off evil and to seduce was considered so potent that, at one time, only royalty was permitted to wear diamonds.

Even in our modern, more rational age, the largest diamonds are still imbued with unparralleled mystique. The Cullinan Diamond, found in 1905, was as big as an ostrich egg and weighed more than 3,106 carats. It remains the largest rough diamond ever found, and two of the nine gems cut from it adorn the British Crown Jewels. More recently, it took three years for cutters to transform the De Beers Millennium Star into a 203 carat, totally flawless pear-shaped diamond, so big and so perfect that experts cannot price it.