Diamond is the most sought gem in the world and is widely used in jewelry. However, it is also the hardest known substance to man on earth. Made purely of carbon element, the tetrahedron structure of it makes it highly resistant to wear and tear and thus makes it suitable for the industrial cutting and grinding purposes.
The earliest use of diamonds in cutting and grinding around the world
The use of diamonds in the cutting, grinding and polishing applications started much before and there are evidences to the same from different parts of the world. The earliest mention of diamond comes from Indian sub continent where the Sanskrit texts speak of the same as "vajra". 4th century BCE offers evidences gathered through the archaeological findings and these talk of vajra as a valued material!
In the famous compilation-'Arthashastra' that belongs to the Mauryan times in India, Kautilya, its writer has described a diamond as 'a' big and heavy symmetrical substance that is capable of scratching the surface and shines brilliantly.'
Chinese chronicles from past have also described diamonds for cutting and engraving purposes. Their references 'kun wu' or 'kin kang' relate to diamonds as tools for cutting jade (a semi precious stone) and for drilling the holes or grooves in beads.
Pliny has offered evidences of diamond use in Europe as early as 100 CE. He has talked of diamonds as substance with greatest value among all human possessions while 'adamas' (diamond) is also much demanded by the engravers due to its hardness characteristics.
Such references point to the applications of diamonds in the industrial ambiences where artisans and skillsmen learned the use of it towards the desirable cutting and grinding purposes. This is analogous to the diamond grinding wheels and other diamond cutting tools of age. Thus it can be said that the cutting/grinding attributes of diamond on account of its extreme hardness was well known and diamonds were not merely used as gems. The modern industry today has adopted more refined forms of diamond tools and grinders for whole range of purposes. In many instances, the tasks could be economically accomplished through diamond tools alone because the other variants like corundum and silicon carbide prove to be much inferior along multiple dimensions of high relevance.