Diamond in the rough is an idiomatic phrase, that is used to describe a person, a product or an artwork that has great potential but needs polishing to be perfect.
A diamond in itself is not such a precious gemstone, as it occurs frequently in nature.
The gemstones we seen in expensive jewelry and in wedding bands are costly because of their cut, without which the stone is but a “diamond in the rough”.
It is not clear where exactly the phrase originates from, however one of the earliest instances of its use emerged in John Fletcher’s 1624 print, titled “A Wife for a Month” where he writes “She is very honest, and will be as hard to cut as a rough diamond”.
Over the years, its popularity grew, as diamonds established their place as a status symbol as well as becoming more available to the masses.
The 1938 De Beers campaign that promoted the idea of expensive diamond wedding bands as gifts also contributed to the public knowing more about diamonds, resulting in most people knowing that giving an engagement ring with a “diamond in the rough” is still not quite enough.
The phrase appears in several literary examples, as well as movies, music and children’s animations, like the 1992 Disney classic; Aladdin.
“Diamond in the rough” was first defined on Urban Dictionary in 2004.
- Grammarist.com – Diamond in the rough