Diamonds don't really need much of an introduction, and have been admired for centuries, some historians estimate they were traded as early as 4 BC.
Diamonds were first found in India somewhere between 3,000 and 6,000 years ago, and were used in religious icons. The name comes from a Greek word meaning unalterable or unbreakable. Historically, the diamond first became a popular gemstone in India, when the Moghuls and Imperial Colony easily mined diamonds from deposits along three major rivers. Today, the diamond is most widely known as the stone to give as part of an engagement ring.
The association with engagement rings is mostly down to an advertising campaign from the De Beers company in the 20s/30s. Huge deposits of diamonds were found in South Africa, and they wanted to widen the market for them. Diamonds have often been associated with great healing powers. Many thought the diamond could cure brain disease, alleviate pituitary gland disorders and draw toxins from the blood.
Grey diamond stacking rings
Buying a diamond can be a complicated business, each stone is graded according to it's clarity and many different levels of quality might be available.
There are also complex ethical concerns regarding exploitation, (Have you seen Blood Diamond?? Such a good film, won't make you want to buy a diamond.) At the moment I would only recommend buying a Canadamark or Australian diamond. The industry isn't particularly transparent and a lot of new diamonds come out of Russia, and should probably be classified as conflict diamonds.
Brown diamond ring with 9ct white and rose gold
I'm generally a fan of natural materials, but this is often because their imperfection makes them more interesting than mass produced identical items, so if what you are looking for is perfect clarity and sparkle then it is worth considering an alternative like a moissanite. These really don't look any different to the naked eye, and the price is a little less eye watering.