realm of nature. Diamonds and stars, in rhetorical language,
have become almost synonymous terms ; and when we gaze at
the sparkling firmament in a cloudless night, we perceive how
appropriate the comparison between the celestial hosts that
" bedeck the sky " and this peerless gem.
Antiquity. — There is much uncertainty as to the earliest
period in which the diamond was used as an ornamental stone.
It is mentioned by the sacred writers, though some commentators believe a different gem is meant by the word or words
translated diamond ; while others say the Hebrew word Jahalom
means the true diamond. The name may have been derived
from the Greek diaphanes, transparent, or adamas, untamable,
unconquerable. The latter term was used as an epithet by the
early Greeks, as in the dramas of ^Eschylus, who employed
" adamantine chains " to bind Prometheus. It was applied by
Theophastus to various hard substances, including emery and
other forms of the corundum.
Some antiquaries think the adamas of Pliny comprised the
true diamond ; while others believe this gem was unknown to
him. There are arguments favoring both sides, drawn from the
descriptions of this naturalist. He says it was hexagonal in
crystallization, — a form the corundum assumes, and not the
diamond, — and that it resisted a blow on the anvil, —a mistake
later writers have also made ; that it was the most valuable
substance in nature, which but few possess, even among kings ;
and that it was discovered with gold, — a description which, in
the main, applies to the modern diamond. In his time, the
adamas was used for engraving ; but it has been assumed by
certain writers that the diamond was not employed for that
purpose until a later period, though the corundum was thus
used in the East at a very early date, and was introduced into
Europe under the name of adamantine spar.