Skip to main content
×
Home

Shifting trajectories of diamond processing: from India to Europe and back, from the fifteenth century to the twentieth*

  • Karin Hofmeester (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

Diamonds have a long global history in which India plays a pivotal though little-known role. Indeed, it was in India that diamonds were first mined, finished, and worn. Diamonds and their finishing techniques reached Europe in the fifteenth century. Subsequently, part of the industry moved from India to Europe, where manufacturing shifted from one city to another, before returning to India in the twentieth century. These shifts, I argue, are determined by changes in one or more segments of the global commodity chain and they reveal the global interconnections between mining, trading, polishing, and consuming. Furthermore, these shifting centres are themselves a sign of the globalized character of diamond production, exchange, and consumption.

Copyright
Footnotes
Hide All
*

This article is part of my research project ‘Luxury and labour: a global trajectory of diamond consumption and production’, funded by the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung. I am grateful to Prof. Dr Jürgen Osterhammel and Konstanz University for their generous support of this work and to the editors and referees of this journal for their comments and suggestions.

Footnotes
References
Hide All

1 Lane Kris, Colour of paradise: the emerald in the age of gunpowder empires, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010

2 Pointon Marcia, Brilliant effects: a cultural history of gem stones and jewellery, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009

3 Gereffi Gary, Korzeniewicz Miguel, and Korzeniewicz Roberto P., ‘Introduction: global commodity chains’, in Gary Gereffi and Miguel Korzeniewicz, eds., Commodity chains and global capitalism, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994, p. 9

4 Wada Ikuko, ‘Diamond trade by the Dutch East India Company in seventeenth-century India’, in Yoko Nagazumi, ed., Large and broad: the Dutch impact on early modern Asia, Tokyo: The Tokyo Bunko, 2010, pp. 169

5 Verberckmoes Johan and Stols Eddy, eds., Aziatische omzwervingen: het levensverhaal van Jaques de Coutre, een Brugs diamanthandelaar 1591–1627 (Asian travels: the personal chronicle of Jacques de Coutre, a diamond merchant from Bruges, 1591–1627), Berchem: EPO, 1988

Moreland W. H., Schorer Antonius, and Methwold William, eds., Relations of Golconda in the early seventeenth century, London: Hakluyt Society, 1931

Tavernier J.-B., Travels in India: translated from the original French edition of 1676 by V. Ball, reprint, New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, 1989

Pieter van Dam, Beschrijvinge van de Oostindische Compagnie (Description of the East India Company), book 2, vol. 1, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1932, pp. 176181

Temple R. C., ed., The diaries of Streynsham Master 1675–1680 and other contemporary papers relating thereto, vol. 2: the first and second ‘Memorialls’ 1679–1680, London: J. Murray, 1911, pp. 113114

6 Howard, ‘Description’, pp. 907–909

7 Hofmeester Karin, ‘Working for diamonds from the 16th to the 20th century’, in Marcel van der Linden and Leo Lucassen, eds., Working on labor: essays in honor of Jan Lucassen, Leiden: Brill 2012, pp. 19–46

8 Sen Surendra Nath, ed., Indian travels of Thevenot and Careri: being the third part of the travels of M. de Thevenot into the Levant and the third part of a voyage round the world by Dr. John Francis Gemelli Careri, New Delhi: The National Archives, 1949, p. 138

9 Bayly C. A., Rulers, townsmen and bazaars: north Indian society in the age of British expansion, 1770–1870, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983, p. 149

10 Verberckmoes and Stols, Aziatische omzwervingen, p. 119

11 R. J. Barendse, Arabian seas 1700–1763, vol. 2: kings, gangsters and companies, Leiden: Brill 2009, pp. 711

Barendse R. J., Arabian seas 1700–1763, vol. 3: men and merchandise, Leiden: Brill, 2009, pp. 919

12 Howard, ‘Description’, p. 915

13 Mehta Makrand, Indian merchants and entrepreneurs in historical perspective, New Delhi: Academic Foundation, 1991, p. 35

Pearson M. N., ‘Banyas and Brahmins: their role in the Portuguese Indian economy’, in Coastal western India: studies from the Portuguese records, New Delhi: Concept, 1972, p. 104

Pearson M. N., Merchants and rulers in Gujarat: the response to the Portuguese in the sixteenth century, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1976, p. 26

Bayly, Rulers, p. 161

14 Mehta, Indian merchants, p. 95

Verberckmoes and Stols, eds., Aziatische omzwervingen, p. 194

15 Bayly, Rulers, p. 31

16 Chetti Narahari Gopa Lakrishnama, A manual of the Kurnool district in the presidency of Madras, Madras: Government Press, 1886, pp. 9495

17 Tavernier, Travels, vol. 2, p. 276

18 Silva Nuno Vassalo e, ‘Jewels for the great Mughal: Goa a centre of gem trade in the Orient’, Jewellery Studies, 10, 2004, p. 43

Everaert John, ‘Soldaten, diamantairs en jezuïeten: Zuid- en Noord-Nederlanders in Portugees-Indië (Soldiers, diamonds and Jesuits: Flemings and Dutchmen in Portuguese India)’, in Roelof van Gelder, Jan Parmentier, and Vibeke Roeper, eds., Souffrir pour parvenir: de wereld van Jan Huygen van Linschoten (Souffrir pour parvenir: the world of Jan Huygen van Linschoten), Haarlem: Uitgeverij Arcadia 1998, pp. 89–91

19 Evans Joan, A history of jewellery 1100–1870, New York: Dover Publications, 1989, pp. 5355

20 Haas Alois M., Hödel Ludwig, and Scheider Horst Ernst, Diamant: Zauber und Geschichte eines Wunders der Natur, Berlin: Springer, 2004, pp. 238239

21 Evans, History, pp. 105–107

22 Ibid., p. 125.

23 Abu-Lughod Janet L., Before European hegemony: the world system A.D. 1250–1350, New York: Oxford University Press, 1991

Frank Andre Gunder, ReOrient: global economy in the Asian age, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1998, pp. 8696

Chaudhuri Kitri N., Trade and civilisation in the Indian Ocean: an economic history from the rise of Islam to 1750, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985, pp. 20

24 Furber Holden, Rival empires of trade in the Orient, 1600–1800, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1976, p. 260

25 Boyajian James C., Portuguese trade in Asia under the Habsburgs, 1580–1640, Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press, 1993, p. 44

Francesca Trivellato, The familiarity of strangers: the Sephardic diaspora, Livorno, and cross-cultural trade in the early modern period, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press 2009, p. 237

26 Sirat Colette, ‘Les pierres précieuses au XVe siècle’, Annales: Économies, Sociétés, Civilisations, 23, 5, 1968, p. 1078

27 Lenzen Godehard, The history of diamond production and the diamond trade, London: Barrie and Jenkins, 1970, p. 72

Haas, Hödel, and Scheider, Diamant, p. 231

28 Samuel Chappuzeau, a French writer who edited Tavernier's notes, published a small booklet, which was translated into English: The history of jewels, and of the principal riches of the East and the West: taken from the relation of divers of the most famous travellers of our age, London: Hobart Kemp, 1671; for the number of polishers, see p. 15.

29 Tavernier, Travels, vol. 2, p. 44

30 Ibid., p. 44.

31 Ibid.

32 Ibid., p. 45.

33 Fryer J., A new account of East-India and Persia in eight letters being nine years travels, begun 1672 and finished 1681, London: printed by R. R. for R. Chiswell, 1698, p. 113

34 Gans M. H., Juwelen en mensen: de geschiedenis van het bijou van 1400 tot 1900, voornamelijk naar Nederlandse bronnen (Jewellery and people: the history of the bijou from 1400 to 1900, primarily from Dutch sources), Schiedam: Interbook International, 1979, p. 173

35 Walgrave Jan, ‘Diamond cuts in the 17th century’, in A sparkling age: 17th-century diamond jewellery (exhibition catalogue), Antwerp: Diamantmuseum, 1993, p. 47

Pointon, Brilliant effects, pp. 26–27

36 Journal of Indian Art, 1, 14, 1886, p. 106.

37 Scarce Jennifer, ‘A splendid harmony: Mughal jewellery and dress’, Jewellery Studies, 10, 2004, p. 33

38 Untracht Oppi, Traditional jewelry of India, London: Thames and Hudson, 2008, pp. 317318

39 Ibid., pp. 322–9.

40 Jeffries David, A treatise on diamonds and pearls, London: for the author, 1751, pp. 116117

41 Ibid., p. 115.

42 Stronge Susan, ‘The sublime thrones of the Mughal emperors of Hindustan’, Jewellery Studies, 10, 2004, p. 57

43 Stephen Markel, ‘Pictorial, literary, and technical evidence for Mughal lapidary arts’, paper presented at the 48th annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, Honolulu, 13 April 1996. I am grateful to Stephen Markel for sharing this discovery with me.

44 Qaisar Ahsan Jan, The Indian response to European technology and culture AD 1498–1707, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 7981

45 Melkian-Chirvani Assadullah Souren, ‘The jeweled objects of Hindustan’, Jewellery Studies, 10, 2004, p. 19

46 Stronge Susan, Made for Mughal emperors: royal treasuries from Hindustan, London: I. B. Tauris, 2010, p. 168

Keene Manuel, Treasury of the world: jewelled arts of India in the age of the Mughals, New York: Thames & Hudson, 2001, pp. 128129

47 Ovington John, A voyage to Surat in the year 1689, London: Oxford University Press, 1929, pp. 121122

48 Lenzen, History, p. 61

49 Pazzi Piero, I diamanti nel commercio nell'arte e nelle vicende storiche di Venezia, Venezia: Monasterio di San Lazzaro degli Armeni, 1986, pp. 1314

50 Ibid., pp. 50–2, 47, 17.

51 Kockelbergh Iris, Vleeschdrager Eddy, and Walgrave Jan, The brilliant story of Antwerp diamonds, Antwerp: MIM NV, 1992, p. 57

52 Schlugleit D., Geschiedenis van het Antwerpsche diamantslijpersambacht (1582–1797) (History of the Antwerp diamond-cutters’ guild (1582–1797)), Antwerp: Guillaume, 1935, pp. 910

53 Kockelbergh, Vleeschdrager, and Walgrave, Brilliant story, pp. 66–67

54 Schlugleit, Geschiedenis, p. 47

55 Boyajian, Portuguese trade, pp. 135–136

56 Trivellato, Familiarity, p. 219

Trivellato Francesca, Atlantic ‘Sephardic merchants in the early modern and cooperation’ beyond: toward a comparative historical approach to business, Kagan in Richard L. and Morgan Philip D., Atlantic diasporas: Jews, conversos, and crypto-Jews in the age of mercantilism, 1500–1800, Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press, 2009, pp. 99122

57 Everaert John, ‘Shifting the “diamond connection”: Antwerp and the gem trade with Portuguese India (1590–1636)’, in Fátima da Silva Gracias, Celsa Pinto, and Charles Borges, Indo-Portuguese history: global trends. Proceedings of XI international seminar on Indo-Portuguese history, Goa: Maureen & Camvet Publishers 2005, pp. 317–321

58 Kockelbergh, Vleeschdrager, and Walgrave, Brilliant story, p. 41

59 Everaert, ‘Shifting’, pp. 321–327

Everaert, ‘Soldaten’, pp. 89–90

60 FAA, NA, N 3608, fol. 117.

61 Israel Jonathan, ‘The economic contribution of Dutch Sephardi Jewry to Holland's golden age, 1595–1713’, Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis, 96, 1983, p. 508

62 Hart S., ‘Geschrift en getal: onderzoek naar de samenstelling van de bevolking van Amsterdam in de 17e en 18e eeuw, op grond van gegevens over migratie, huwelijk, beroep en alfabetisme (Texts and figures: research on the composition of the population of Amsterdam in the 17th and 18th centuries, on the basis of data on migration, marriage, occupation and literacy)’, in Geschrift en getal: een keur uit de demografisch-, economisch- en sociaalhistorische studiën op grond van Amsterdamse en Zaanse archivalia, 1600–1800 (Texts and figures: a selection of demographic, economic and socio-historical studies based on Amsterdam and Zaanze archival materials, 1600–1800), Dordrecht: Historische Vereniging Holland, 1976, pp. 115181

63 SA, ASH, Entries for notarial records, 30452/390.

64 Israel, ‘Economic contribution’, p. 521

65 Oldewelt W. F. H., ed., Kohier van de personeele quotisatie te Amsterdam over het jaar 1742. Deel I: inleiding en registers (Register of personnel assessments in Amsterdam for the year 1742. Part I: introduction and registers), Amsterdam: Genootschap Amstelodamum, 1945

J. L. van Zanden, ‘De economie van Holland in de periode 1650–1805: groei of achteruitgang? Een overzicht van bronnen, problemen en resultaten (The economy of Holland in the period 1650–1805: growth or decline? An overview of sources, problems and results)’, Bijdragen en Mededelingen betreffende de Geschidenis der Nederlanden, 102, 4, 1987, p. 568

66 SA, 5061/694, request of a number of non-Jewish diamond cutters to establish a guild.

67 Heertje Henri, De diamantbewerkers van Amsterdam (The diamond workers of Amsterdam), Amsterdam: D.B. Centen's Uitgeverij, 1936, p. 21

68 Wada, ‘Diamond trade’, p. 183

69 Luu Lien Bich, Immigrants and the industries of London 1500–1700, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005, p. 316

Cooper William Durrant, ed., Lists of foreign Protestants and aliens, resident in England 1618–1688: from returns in the State Paper Office, London: Camden Society, 1862

Evans Joan, ‘Huguenot goldsmiths in England and Ireland’, Proceedings of the Huguenot Society of England, 14, 4, 1929–33, pp. 496554

70 Documents collected in the London Lives project, including wills and fire insurances: see http://www.londonlives.org (consulted 26 June 2012).

71 Occupation abstract, M.DCCC.XLI. Pt. I: England and Wales, and islands in the British seas, London: Clowes and Sons for HMSO, 1844, p. 112.

72 Jeffries, Treatise, p. 151

73 Yogev Gedalia, Diamonds and coral: Anglo-Dutch Jews and eighteenth-century trade, Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1978, p. 142

74 Kockelbergh, Vleeschdrager, and Walgrave, Brilliant story, pp. 107

75 FAA, NA, N 3624, fol. 367; see also fol. 371 for a cut and polished ruby.

76 Ibid., fols. 367, 368, 371.

77 Coster Erica, ‘De diamanthandel te Antwerpen in de XVIIe eeuw gezien vanuit de geschiedenis van de firma's Wallis-du-Jon, Boon and Forchoudt (The diamond trade in seventeenth-century Antwerp as seen from the history of the firms Wallis-du-Jon, Boon and Forchoudt)’, in Album aangeboden aan Charles Verlinden ter gelegenheid van zijn dertig jaar professoraat (Album presented to Charles Verlinden on the occasion of his thirty-year professorate), Gent: Universa 1975, p. 100

78 British Library (hereafter BL), India Office Records (hereafter IOR), General Correspondence (hereafter GC), E/3/109, fols., 312, 313, 341; BL, IOR, E/3/110, fols., 73, 262; BL, IOR, E/3/111, fol. 94.

79 Barendse, Arabian seas vol. 3, p. 903

80 Denucé Jan, Koopmansleerboeken van de XVIe en XVIIe eeuwen in handschrift (Merchant textbooks from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in manuscript), Antwerp: Standaard, 1941, pp. 203204

81 Vanneste Tijl, Global trade and commercial networks: eighteenth-century diamond merchants, London: Pickering & Chatto, 2011, p. 65

82 Tillander Herbert, Diamond cuts in historic jewellery, 1381–1910, London: Art Books International, 1995, pp. 136

83 Yogev, Diamonds, p. 111

Lenzen, History, p. 116

84 Jeffries, Treatise, p. 66

85 Vanneste, Global trade, p. 51

Ramos D., ‘Slavery in Brazil: a case study of Diamantina, Minas Gerais’, America: A Quarterly Review of Inter-American Cultural History, 45, 1, 1988, p. 48

86 Vanneste, Global trade, p. 52

87 Bernstein Harry, The Brazilian diamond in contracts, contraband, and capital, Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1986, p. 62

88 Vanneste, Global trade, pp. 55–57

Yogev, Diamonds, p. 122

89 Buist M. G., At Spes non fracta: Hope & Co, 1770–1815, The Hague: Nijhoff, 1974, pp. 383

90 Bergad Laird W., Slavery and the demographic and economic history of Minas Gerais, Brazil, 1720–1888, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999, p. 5

91 Diederiks Herman, Een stad in verval: Amsterdam omstreeks 1800, demografisch, economisch, ruimtelijk (A city in decline: Amsterdam around 1800, demographic, economic, spatial), Meppel: Krips Repro, 1982, p. 152

Heertje, Diamantbewerkers, p. 25

92 Bauer Max, Precious stones, vol. 1, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1968 (reprint of 1904 edn), p. 179

93 T. van Tijn, ‘Geschiedenis van de Amsterdamse diamanthandel en nijverheid, 1845–1897 (History of the Amsterdam diamond trade and industry, 1845–1987)’, Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis, 87, 1974, p. 19

94 Vermandere Martine, Adamastos: 100 jaar Algemene Diamantbewerkersbond van België (Adamastos: 100 years of the General Diamond Workers Union of Belgium), Antwerp: AMSAB, 1995, p. 9

95 FAA, Dossiers Vreemdelingenpolitie (Dossiers of the Foreigners’ Police) 2576–3511.

96 Deconinck Youssef, ‘Diamantmigratie naar Antwerpen voor, tijdens en na de Kaapse Tijd: de Antwerpse diamantsector en zijn Amsterdamse migranten (1865–1880) (Diamond migration to Antwerp before, during and after the Cape period: the Antwerp diamond sector and its Amsterdam migrants (1865–1880))’, MA thesis, Antwerp University, 2012, p. 25

Heertje, Diamantbewerkers, p. 178

97 Lenzen, History, pp. 121

98 Deconinck, ‘Diamantmigratie’.

99 Kockelbergh, Vleeschdrager, and Walgrave, Brilliant story, p. 147

100 Kockelbergh, Vleeschdrager, and Walgrave, Brilliant story, p. 177

101 Heertje, Diamantbewerkers, p. 212

102 Bloemgarten Salvador, Henri Polak, social democraat 1868–1943 (Henri Polak, social democrat 1868–1943), The Hague: SDU, 1993, pp. 422423

Kockelbergh, Vleeschdrager, and Walgrave, Brilliant story, p. 171

103 Yogev, Diamonds, p. 112

Trivellato, Familiarity, p. 245

104 Trivellato, Familiarity, p. 245

105 Krishnan Usha R. Bala, Jewels of the Nizams, New Delhi: Department of Culture, 2001, pp. 4243

Prior Katherine and Adamson John, Maharajas’ jewels, New York: Vendome Press, 2000, p. 62

106 Heyne Benjamin, Tracts, historical and statistical on India, with several tours through various parts of the peninsula: also an account of Sumatra, in a series of letters, London: Baldwin, 1814, pp. 101102

107 Lenzen, History, p. 144

108 NAI, Bundelkhand Agency, English Files, Proceedings no. 5 of 1881.

109 Yogev, Diamonds, p. 142

110 Ball V., A manual of the geology of India, part III: economic geology, London: Trübner, 1881

111 For a list of foreign diamond agents in India, see NAI, Department of Commerce and Industry, Customs (War), August 1916, pp. 88–119.

112 Henn Sebastian, ‘Transnational communities and regional cluster dynamics: the case of the Palanpuris in the Antwerp diamond district’, Die Erde, 141, 2010, pp. 133134

113 Prior and Adamson, Maharaja's jewels, p. 123

114 For this measure and its consequences, see BL, IOR, L/E/8/5718.

115 David de Vries, Diamonds and war: state, capital, and labor in British-ruled Palestine, New York: Berghahn Books, 2010, pp. 118

116 Shor Ralph, Connections: a profile of diamond people and their history, Ramat Gan: International Diamond Publications Ltd, 1993, p. 116

117 C. S. Gupta, Census of India – 1961, volume XIV, Rajasthan, part VII – A(I), survey of selected crafts, New Delhi: Manager of Publications 1964, p. 218

Sinor K. P., The diamond mines of Panna state in central India, Bombay: The Times of India Press, 1930, pp. 7982

118 Foshag W. F. and Switzer G., 27th annual report on the diamond industry, 1951, New York: The Jeweler's Circular–Keystone, 1951, p. 5

Switzer G., 31st annual report on the diamond industry, 1955, New York: The Jeweler's Circular–Keystone, 1955, p. 6

119 Chhotalal Kantilal, Diamonds: from mines to markets, Bombay: The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council, 1990, p. 7

120 Bernard Imhasly, ‘Schleifen am Familientisch: über Indiens wichtigste internationale Industrie’, NZZ Folio 12/93, Die Zeitschrift der Neuen Zürcher Zeitung, http://www.nzzfolio.ch/www/d80bd71b-b264-4db4-afd0-277884b93470/showarticle/ed4da8ad-068a-48aa-83d1-7b35d39ad8a9.aspx (consulted 26 June 2012).

121 Shor, p. 117.

122 Henn, ‘Transnational communities’, p. 136

Sevdermish Menahem, Miciak Alan R., and Levinson Alfred A., ‘The rise to prominence of the modern diamond cutting industry in India’, Gems & Gemology, 34, 1, 1998, p. 6

123 Shor, Connections, pp. 121–124

124 Henn, ‘Transnational communities’, pp. 136

125 Gereffi, Korzeniewicz, and Korzeniewicz, ‘Introduction’, p. 7

* This article is part of my research project ‘Luxury and labour: a global trajectory of diamond consumption and production’, funded by the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung. I am grateful to Prof. Dr Jürgen Osterhammel and Konstanz University for their generous support of this work and to the editors and referees of this journal for their comments and suggestions.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Global History
  • ISSN: 1740-0228
  • EISSN: 1740-0236
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-global-history
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 4
Total number of PDF views: 39 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 196 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 19th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.