Diamonds are essentially the most sought-after and admired gem stones, with a glowing brilliance that units them other than all different jewellery. That’s as true right now, when diamonds are mined on an industrial scale, because it was hundreds of years in the past after they have been a a lot rarer commodity.
In line with the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the Roman historian Pliny wrote within the first century AD, “Diamond is essentially the most helpful, not solely of valuable stones, however of all issues on this world” . So the place do diamonds come from, and what makes them so particular?
Diamonds have been first found in round 2500 BCE in India, based on the Cape City Diamond Museum.. These diamonds weren’t mined within the fashionable sense – they have been merely collected from the sediment in rivers and streams.
Their hanging look made them extremely fascinating, and by the 4th century BC they have been being traded with different components of the world. Their excessive rarity meant that solely the very wealthiest might afford them, and diamonds turned the final word standing image among the many medieval elite. It was solely within the nineteenth century, when extra intensive diamond deposits have been present in South Africa, that they turned accessible to most people, based on the museum.
What diamonds are fabricated from
Diamond crystals are created from only one chemical factor, carbon based on the GIA. The identical is true of graphite, which is a a lot commoner mineral that couldn’t be extra completely different in look and properties.
Graphite is what pencil lead is created from, and it’s so mushy that it rubs off onto the web page while you write with it. Diamond, then again, is without doubt one of the hardest recognized substances – so onerous it could actually solely be scratched with one other diamond. The distinction lies within the association of carbon atoms.
In graphite they type planar sheets, which might simply glide in opposition to one another, whereas in diamond they type a inflexible three-dimensional construction,based on the Atlantic . The hardness of diamond means it has different, extra sensible, makes use of moreover jewellery, notably for technological makes use of equivalent to chopping, and drilling, based on an article revealed within the 14th Worldwide Congress for Utilized Mineralogy (ICAM2019).
How diamonds are shaped
Whereas carbon usually exists as graphite on the Earth’s floor, it could actually type diamond at a lot higher depths – 100 miles or extra – the place temperatures and pressures are far greater, based on Smithsonian Journal.
In just a few locations diamond-bearing materials from these depths has been carried as much as the floor by volcanic eruptions – and a few of this materials was subsequently washed into the river beds the place diamonds have been first discovered. As we speak, nevertheless, most diamonds come from straight mining the diamond-bearing rock, which known as kimberlite after the mining city of Kimberley in South Africa the place it was first discovered.
How diamonds type in kimberlite pipes
Diamonds type deep contained in the Earth, however they will attain the floor by way of volcanic pipes.
How diamonds are graded
Not all diamonds are the identical. Some aren’t appropriate to be used in jewellery, and discover their method into industrial purposes. Even gem-quality diamonds differ significantly, and are usually graded based on the “4 Cs” of lower, shade, readability and carat based on the American Gem Society. The primary three are self-explanatory, whereas “carat” is a measure of weight equal to 200 milligrams.
Why diamonds are costly
At one time diamonds have been costly due to their rarity, however right now they’re truly much less scarce than many different gem stones, equivalent to rubies or sapphires, based on the Worldwide Gem Society. Nevertheless, diamond manufacturing includes a pricey processing chain all the way in which from mining to sharpening. On prime of that, there’s an enormous worldwide demand for diamonds, resulting from their widespread use in engagement rings – a “custom” which originated in a intelligent advertising marketing campaign within the Thirties, based on the BBC.
When James Bond creator Ian Fleming wrote Diamonds Are Eternally in 1956, he might need been quoting an age-old proverb. However it seems this too was a advertising slogan that had been coined lower than a decade earlier. And it’s not even true, as a result of diamond is an unstable type of carbon that ultimately degrades to graphite – though it takes tens of millions of years to take action, based on Dr Christopher S. Baird of West Texas A&M College.
How diamonds mirror mild
The place diamonds are discovered
Traditionally, the epicentre of diamond mining exercise was in Africa, however extra lately diamonds have been discovered in lots of different components of the world based on geologist Hobart M. King of Geology.com.
Africa nonetheless performs a number one function, with nations equivalent to Botswana, Angola, South Africa, Namibia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo all producing greater than 1,000,000 carats of diamonds every year. Nevertheless, the mixed output of these 5 nations – round 30 million carats – is exceeded by two non-African nations, Russia and Canada, which produce 41 million carats between them. And lots of different nations produce smaller portions of gem-quality diamonds, together with Australia, Brazil and Guyana.
Diamonds within the sky
Though we consider diamonds as being very uncommon, the circumstances which produce them happen fairly broadly all through the universe. Because of this, there actually are “diamonds within the sky”. We have now direct proof of this within the type of diamond-containing meteorites, which originated very early within the historical past of the photo voltaic system, based on Area.com.
Quick-forwarding to the current day, Earth isn’t the one planet within the photo voltaic system the place diamonds will be discovered. Deep contained in the atmospheres of the ice giants Neptune and Uranus, carbon will be compressed to the acute pressures and temperatures wanted to type diamonds, based on Area.com. These then sink right down to the planetary cores within the type of a spectacular “diamond rain”.
Trying past the photo voltaic system, it might be doable to seek out planets with many extra diamonds than the Earth. It’s conjectured that planets orbiting carbon-rich stars would have a a lot greater diamond content material than our personal planet.
A couple of years in the past there was a flurry of pleasure round one explicit exoplanet, 55 Cancri e, which was hailed because the “diamond planet” as a result of it was believed to be particularly wealthy in diamonds, Area.com reported. Nevertheless, whereas that idea hasn’t been fully disproved, it appears a lot much less possible now.
There’s nothing mystical or supernatural about diamonds – they’re merely the shape that carbon takes underneath sure circumstances of temperature and stress.
Pure diamonds have been shaped the place these circumstances exist contained in the Earth, but it surely’s additionally doable to create the mandatory circumstances artificially. This has been executed on a business scale to make artificial diamonds for the reason that Nineteen Fifties, based on supplies engineer Dr Dmitri Kopeliovich.. One method, known as the excessive stress, excessive temperature (HPHT) method, makes an attempt to imitate the pure course of as intently as doable.
An alternate, known as chemical vapour deposition (CVD), requires much less excessive temperatures and pressures. At first artificial diamonds have been poor in high quality, and solely appropriate for industrial functions, however right now they are often made engaging sufficient to make use of in jewellery, based on the Gemological Institute of America.
To study extra about diamond chopping and sharpening, you possibly can observe the step-by-step course of on the Cape City Diamond Museum web site. Or discover out about how essentially the most colourful gem stones on Earth type on this TED Discuss.
“Affect Diamonds: Sorts, Properties and Makes use of”. 14th Worldwide Congress for Utilized Mineralogy (2019). https://hyperlink.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-22974-0_41
“On the Origin of Pure Diamonds”. American Astronomical Society. https://adsabs.harvard.edu/pdf/1961ApJ…134..995W
“The ice layer in Uranus and Neptune– diamonds within the sky?” Nature (1981). https://www.nature.com/articles/292435a0