That faceted, pristinely cut stone set in your favourite piece of jewellery didn’t always look like that.

What is it exactly that makes women go weak in the knees at the sight of these sparkly gems, asks Marchelle Abrahams.

‘I prefer a man who lives

And gives expensive jewels

A kiss on the hand may be quite continental

But diamonds are a girl’s best friend'

It’s been 64 years since Marilyn Monroe’s iconic rendition of Diamonds are a girl’s best friend in the movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and guess what? Nothing’s changed.

Diamonds are still one of the most sought-after commodities in the world because they embody desirability and wealth.

And Shirley Bassey certainly was onto something when she belted out her hit song Diamonds are forever because diamonds are indeed the hardest naturally occurring substance found on Earth.

The discovery of diamonds was first made in South Africa in Hope Town, a former Cape colony, in 1867.

Erasmus Jacobus was the 15-year-old boy who made the “sparkly” find along the banks of the Orange River.

Intrigued by the stone, a neighbour took it to Colesberg where it was speculated that it might be a diamond. A mineralogist later confirmed that the stone was a 21.24 carat diamond.

The find radically transformed the local economy, and today SA still remains one of the top major diamond producers.

Dubbed the Eureka Diamond, the stone is the single most important diamond in South Africa’s diamond history.

The Eureka Diamond is 21.24 carats. Picture: Supplied

“The discovery of diamonds in South Africa played an essential role in the world’s diamond history. In fact, before diamonds were discovered in Kimberley they were extremely rare and only found in very small quantities in India and Brazil,” says Yair Shimansky, founder and chief executive officer of Shimansky Jewellers.

It was a few years after the discovery of the Eureka Diamond that the two De Beers brothers - Johannes Nicolaas and Diederik Arnoldus - discovered diamonds on their farm, Vooruitzight, in the Northern Cape.

It led to a diamond rush and people from all over South Africa moved onto the brothers’ land, hoping to find gems of their own.

Their farm would later become the site of the Big Hole in Kimberley - now a tourist attraction synonymous with some of the world’s most exquisite diamonds.

The journey from mine to finger

That faceted, pristinely-cut stone set in your favourite piece of jewellery didn’t always look like that.

Shimansky diamonds are sourced directly from South African mines and are individually hand-selected for their quality, explains Yair.

Yair Shimansky is the founder and CEO of Shimansky Jewellers. Picture: Supplied

However, “the process doesn’t stop there; Shimansky’s rough diamonds are crafted into their final brilliant stones by a team of master craftsmen located at the Shimansky diamond cutting and polishing facilities at the V&A Waterfront”.

Only in the hands of a master craftsman does the diamond realise its true potential.

“Each rough diamond is hand-selected for its unique characteristics, before being meticulously cut and polished to reach its true brilliance,” he adds.

Each rough diamond is hand-selected for its unique characteristics, before being meticulously cut and polished. Picture: Supplied

Gaga over the precious stone

Only 20% of the world’s farmed diamonds make it to becoming the stars of their own jewellery pieces. Their value is based on colour, cut, clarity and weight.

But what is it about this precious stone that make women go weak at the knees?

Zsa Zsa Gabor once said: “I never hated a man enough to give his diamonds back.” She also said: “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and dogs are a man’s best friend. Now you know which sex has more sense.”

Ask any woman going through a bitter breakup if they’d return the diamond jewellery, and the answer would be a resounding “no”.

Shimansky says it’s a diamond’s “exquisite display of light in the form of brilliance, fire and scintillation” that make people fall for them. “No two diamonds are alike and each diamond has its own distinct characteristics which translates into a unique energy and design language that cannot always be understood, but can be felt by the one who falls in love with it.”

Put a ring on it

According to Brides Magazine, the most popular engagement ring design is the round cut. More than half of their surveyed brides prefer this style. Why?

Because the round cut maximises the “fire” of the diamond at the proper reflection of light.

Coming in second place is the princess cut. A face-up shape with square or rectangular sides, the princess cut is versatile, making it perfect for any ring style.

* For more info into the history of South Africa’s diamonds, visit the Cape Town Diamond Museum: http://www.capetowndiamondmuseum.org/