Diamonds had been known about and coveted for quite some time before 1867. In the first century AD, Roman philosopher and naturalist Pliny wrote, “Diamond is the most valuable not only of precious stones, but of all things in this world.” They were so scarce that they were rarely seen outside the likes of crown jewels and the collections of society’s wealthiest families. This began to change in 1867.
- Name: Daniel Jacobs
- Country of Birth: Netherlands
- Country of Death: South Africa
At this point, Brazil had been the primary source of Diamonds for 150 years, but in 1867 the Diamond landscape changed when a farmer named Daniel Jacobs, a European immigrant who came to South Africa to farm and breed livestock, found Diamonds on his land thanks to his son Erasmus picking up a shiny stone. He found it on the banks of the Orange River in the Cape of Good Hope colony, near Hopetown. On seeing the stone, Jacobs’ neighbour offered to buy it. Before long, growing intrigue in the stone saw it land on the desk of Dr W.G. Atherstone, an amateur geologist who correctly identified it as a 21.25-carat Diamond. Today, we know it as the Eureka Diamond.
With locals now aware of the discovery, jewels continued to be found, including the 83.5-carat Star of South Africa, and by 1870 there was a significant Diamond rush occurring in the area. In the following 20 years, many rich deposits were found and became the beginnings of the famous Diamond mines of South Africa that still produce jewels to this day.