Why diamonds are ‘forever’

By Alex P. Vidal

“There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” – Benjamin Franklin

MY late father once brought me to a popular movie house on J.M. Basa St. in Iloilo City, Philippines sometime in 1975 to watch “Diamonds Are Forever”, a James Bond film starring Sean Connery.

The film was about the disappearance of large shipments of uncut diamonds during transit which failed to reappear on the international market.

The suspicious British Government dispatched James Bond to investigate the mystery, but the talented and good-looking agent codenamed 007 was reluctant to do the task thinking it was a simple case of smuggling.

When a lead pointed to the involvement of 007’s arch nemesis, Blofeld, Bond became desperate to uncover his plans and to avenge the death of his wife, Tracy.

As a kid, I didn’t know what a diamond was and why it’s the most expensive jewel in the universe; I didn’t understand why it’s the most popular stone for an engagement ring.

As an adult some 20 years later, I was able to finally understand the story when I repeatedly watched the film on VCD.


Diamond’s sparkle was supposed to have originated in the “fires of love,” so wearing this gem meant love and faithfulness, according to Scholastic writers Julie Forsyth Batchelor and Claudia De Lys.

Diamonds were reportedly first known in the Far East.

During the Middle Ages pretty women wore the jewel about their faces, for it was believed this would diver the Evil Eye from their beauty.

The diamond was sometimes imbedded in one nostril or ear lobe.

Or a woman might reportedly wear this “third eye” dangling over her forehead from strings attached to her hair.

A superstition began that very large stones brought bad luck while diamonds were generally considered good luck.

The world’s most famous diamonds reportedly have had a long history of theft, intrigue, loss of life and other disasters.

“The facts strengthened the belief in the minds of the superstitious that large diamonds bring misfortune to their owners,” according to De Lys and Batchelor in Superstitious? Here’s Why.


An interesting notion, popular during the Middle Ages, was that two diamonds can produce a third. It reportedly became the custom to set two stones in a ring with the hope that they would bring forth another.

The diamond engagement ring is worn on the fourth finger of the left hand nowadays.

This custom reportedly came from two popular superstitions.

The ancient believed the heart to be the center of emotions, especially love, and that it was on the left side of the body.

The fourth finger of the left hand was thought was thought by the Egyptians to have a vein running directly to the heart.

Many people feel nowadays that a diamond can never wear out.

Yet stones used to make fine glass engravings are worn out in six or eight weeks.

It is the truth though, and not a superstition, that “only a diamond can cut a diamond.”

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)