Diamonds and pieces of eight: how Stuart England won the rough-diamond trade
India was the only known source of diamonds during the Middle Ages, and merchants of Venice and Genoa controlled their importation into Europe. But when the Portuguese discovered the sea route to India in 1497 they were able to cut the Italians out of this as well as the spice trade. Most of the jewellers in Lisbon being New Christians,1 as forcibly baptized Jews were then called, they came to be the principal buyers of unpolished or rough diamonds there. Since the king of Portugal’s factory or agency at Antwerp was the staple for pepper and other Portuguese colonial products In the six? teenth century, it also became a staple for rough diamonds.
The economic characteristics of the diamond industry are unique. Polishing large gemstones is capital intensive and polishing small stones is labour intensive. This meant that it was profitable to polish large stones close to the market, inBecome a member to read the full article
Other articles within the volume
- More than just a few: Jewish pilots and aircrew in the Battle of Britain
- Children of Magnolia Street
- The work of the Pinsker: Orphans Relief Fund of London, 1921—39
- T. E. Lawrence and Zionism*
- Sussex Hall (1845-59) and the revival of learning among London Jewry*
- Patrons, clients, designers and developers: the Jewish contribution to secular building in England*
- Patrons, clients, designers and developers: the Jewish contribution to secular: building in England
- The first Jewish magistrates
- The reinterment of members of the Mendes da Costa family, 1713
- Diamonds and pieces of eight: how Stuart England won the rough-diamond trade
- The decline and fall of Anglo-Jewry?
- In Memoriam: Ruth P. Goldschmidt-Lehmann, 1930—2002