Pop culture and classic films like the 1971 James Bond movie Diamonds Are Forever may have you questioning everything you know about diamonds. What made Marilyn Monroe sing Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend in the 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes? You may ask yourself the question,
Are diamonds forever? Well to get that question out of the way, diamonds do not last forever. As Dr. Christopher S. Baird says,
Diamonds degrade to graphite because graphite is a lower-energy configuration under typical conditions. Baird explains,
Diamond (the stuff in wedding rings) and graphite (the stuff in pencils) are both crystalline forms of pure carbon.
What Are Diamonds?
Discovery describes as a diamond as
the most concentrated form of pure carbon in the natural world and the strongest mineral on Earth, far exceeding other carbon allotropes such as graphite and fullerite. While diamonds are not unbreakable, they are pretty strong. Diamond crystals feature carbon atoms that possess four valence electrons for bonding. Each of the free electrons forms a covalent bond with the valence electron of the next carbon atom. This contributes to a diamond’s rigid tetrahedral lattice.
Diamonds are cherished for their ability to disperse light of different colors. This is what gives you the bling factor when shopping for a new engagement ring, necklace, or earrings. A diamond’s rigid lattice lends it an important quality of being prone to few impurities. About one per million of lattice atoms feature a defect or contamination. This includes colored diamonds that are blue (boron), brown (lattice defects), purple, orange, yellow (nitrogen), red, or brown (lattice defects).
How Do Natural Diamonds Form?
Natural diamonds form at a high temperature and pressure 87 to 118 miles deep within the Earth’s mantle. Minerals that contain carbon provide a breeding ground for diamonds, which takes 1 to 3.3 billion years. For those wondering how these diamonds are obtained, the answer is simple.
Diamonds are brought close to the Earth’s surface as a result of volcanic eruptions. Natural diamonds can also be produced synthetically using the HPHT method. The process simulates the growth of a natural diamond that happens within the Earth’s mantle.
What Are Artificial Diamonds?
Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) is the process used to create artificial diamonds. This includes everything from cubic zirconia to silicon carbide. These faux diamonds are often referred to as diamond simulants. Artificial diamonds resemble their real counterparts so well that special gemological techniques were formed to tell the difference between natural diamonds, synthetic diamonds, and diamond simulants.
Are Diamonds Rare?
Search the internet, and there are many people asking,
are diamonds rare? If you take a look at all the stores that sell diamond jewelry or women that own the precious stone, it’s obvious that diamonds are not rare. They resist scratching better than other gemstones, but there’s nothing unique about them. In fact, diamonds are the most common gem found on Earth.
Gems such as sapphires, emeralds, and rubies are rarer. The Gem Society even notes that
A recent discovery indicates that some stars collapse on themselves, creating giant diamond crystals. In the constellation Centaurus, there lies a white dwarf that has crystallized into a diamond about 2,500 miles in diameter and weighing 10 billion, trillion, trillion carats.
A Brief History of the Diamond
Diamond gets its name from the ancient Greek word αδάμας or adámas. It translates to proper, unalterable, unbreakable, and untamed. Critics argue that diamonds were first recognized and mined in India. Significant deposits of diamonds were originally found centuries ago near the Penner, Krishna, and Godavari rivers.
Although diamonds were originally used as treasured gemstones for religious purposes in India, the modern world was drawn to them as an accessory. 19th-century advertising contributed to the popularity of diamonds. Innovation in the production process for adornment also helped the diamond earn its fame.
Popularity of Diamonds
Hollywood helped sell the allure of diamonds with its films such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. In the 1953 film, Marilyn Monroe sings a sultry rendition of Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend. One of Hollywood’s most iconic scenes, the blonde wears a pink dress and diamond jewelry while performing. Singer Madonna even revisited the classic scene in her 1985 music video for Material Girl. Outside of pop culture, the diamond owes its popularity to the De Beers company.
The De Beers company is the world’s largest diamond mining company. It’s been known for its diamonds since soon after its founding in 1888. The company is huge on the global scene, operating the most extensive diamond production facilities or mines and distribution channels. De Beers was also responsible for introducing the public to diamonds with its advertising.
The Diamond and the Four C’s
If you walk into a fine jeweler in search of a new diamond ring, broach, necklace, earrings, or bracelet, you’ll likely hear about the Four C’s. Diamonds are judged by a standard of four Cs or the basic descriptors of diamonds. First, a diamond is appraised by its carat or weight.
Next comes the cut or quality of its proportions, polish, and symmetry. Color also comes into play. A professional wants to know how close to white or colorless a diamond is. For luxury diamonds, a jeweler will also look at how intense the hue of the diamond is. Finally, a diamond’s clarity is necessary. Clarity grades how free the diamond is from inclusions. For example, a flawless diamond would be a paragon.
Now that you’ve read our guide, you should know more about diamonds. Next time you are in the market for diamonds, just remember. Yes, diamonds are gorgeous and mirror the glamorous life of the rich and the famous, but they are not going anywhere anytime soon. You can take your time searching for the perfect piece. Hopefully, you love your diamonds just as much as Marilyn Monroe.