- Feb 2020
According to Eschwege, the total produce of the Brazilian diamond mines for the eighty years, ending in 1823, had not realised the price of one-and-a-half years’ average produce of the sugar and coffee plantations of the same country, although the diamonds cost much more labour, and therefore represented more value.
Diamonds were first discovered in Brazil in 1729 near the city of Belo Horizonte. This started a diamond rush and a period of feverish migration of workers.
Major diamond rushes also took place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in South Africa and South-West Africa.
Diamond rushes, like gold rushes or other types of rushes, are for Marx economic bubbles or asset bubbles (sometimes referred to today as speculative bubbles, market bubbles, price bubbles, financial bubbles, speculative manias, or balloons).
A commodity, such as iron, corn, or a diamond, is therefore, so far as it is a material thing, a use value, something useful
What commodities are thought to be useful for or not is irrelevant to Marx at this very early stage of his analysis, even from a moral point of view. Diamonds satisfy a need in some societies at specific times and places the same as corn or iron.