How much do you know about diamonds? They say diamonds are a woman’s best friend, right? With the holiday season in full swing, this is the perfect time to learn more about the dazzling gemstones that we call diamonds.

Here are fifteen facts about the origin and history of diamonds:

The ancient Romans and Greeks shared the belief that diamonds were tears from the gods up in the sky, also called “splinters” from falling stars. They also believed that Cupid’s arrows were tipped with diamonds, (maybe being the earliest association between diamonds and romance.

  1. Diamonds are billions of years old. Experts have determined some diamonds are as old as three billion years old.
  1. Diamond form underground at depths at around 100 miles below and then are carried to the surface by deep volcanic eruptions.
  1. Do you know what diamonds are made of? They’re nearly 100% carbon. While under the ground, the combination of immense heat and pressure make the carbon atoms bond in a special way, causing the beautiful and rare crystal look.
  1. The Greek word, “adamas,” which means invincible and indestructible is the word that diamond comes from.
  1. That makes sense because diamonds are the hardest natural substance. The only other object that can scratch a diamond is another diamond. Let’s hope they don’t ever get in a fight.
  1. For thousands of years, the world’s population has gone crazy over diamonds. There is proof that diamonds were being looked at as valuable and sought after in India as early as the fourth century BC. In the first century AD, Roman naturalist Pliny said, “Diamond is the most valuable, not only of precious stones but of all things in this world.”
  1. Ancient Hindus used diamonds as eyes in statues they used for religious reasons. They believed that a diamond could protect its wearer from dangers.
  1. Hindus were not the group that thought that. Many ancient cultures thought that diamonds brought strength and courage during battle. Many kings wore diamonds on their armor as they rode into the fight.
  1. During the Middle Ages, diamonds were even thought to have healing powers that cured different conditions ranging from fatigue to more severe, mental illnesses.
  2. Throughout history, the countries that provided the most diamonds have changed. India was the world’s first source of significant amounts, beginning in the 1400s when Indian diamonds were sold in Venice and other European countries as popular trade items. In the 1700s India’s supply declined, and Brazil rose as the primary source of diamonds, lasting until the late 1800s when a massive diamond reserve was found in South Africa. In modern times diamonds are mined in all areas of the world.
  1. Bigger is better, right? The largest diamond ever discovered was called the Cullinan diamond and weighed in at an astounding 3106 karats. That is over 1.3 pounds! Found in 1905 in South Africa just 10 feet under the ground, the mine gave the diamond to King Edward. Eventually, the diamond was cut into nine large diamonds and 100 smaller ones. The three biggest ones are on display in the Tower of London along with the crown jewels.
  1. In 1477 Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave Mary of Burgundy a gold ring featuring an “M” spelled out in diamonds. This is the first known use of a diamond engagement ring.
  1. Natural diamonds came from the ground but did you know that there are lab-created diamonds? They possess the same chemical and physical properties as mined diamonds. Even gemologists can’t tell the difference without testing using specialized equipment.
  1. Are there diamonds on other planets? Planets made of diamonds? Scientists have discovered a planet that is composed mostly of carbon and is one-third pure diamond. Found in 2004, the planet orbits a nearby star in the Milky Way, and has the name “55 Cancrie.” What is even more fascinating is that scientists have discovered a star that is pure diamond, or ten billion trillion karats. They named the star Lucy, after the Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”

While diamonds have created a lot of joy and smiles throughout history, they often cause controversy. Communities, where they are mined, are subject to poor work habits and unethical procedures. It is important to learn more about issues that surround global diamond mining, and what organizations are doing to bring positive change.