On This Day: 3 August 1698

On this day in 1698, the East India Company issued their receipt to Captain Thomas Bowrey for 12/2 in respect of the freight of a bale of diamonds on the Sidney presumably from India.

This was ten years since Bowrey had left India. The assumption is that the diamonds were purchased from the profits of trading still being carried out in the East Indies on Bowrey’s behalf and indicates that the trading voyages of his ships were not his only business activity. As a decade earlier, diamonds were a convenient – e.g. high value, low bulk – way to transfer wealth over large distances. The freight charges, the equivalent of about £72 today, were relatively low compared to a quantity of diamonds.

At this time, diamonds were only obtained from the East Indies with Borneo and Golconda, India being the main sources. The readmission of Jews to England by Oliver Cromwell in 1655 had resulted in London becoming the main European market for uncut stones.

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