Unveiling 20 Fascinating Facts about Diamonds
Throughout the centuries, diamonds have remained one of the most spectacular gemstones of all time. They seem stunning and mysterious at the same time, and there is a wealth of history and lore surrounding diamonds.
The name diamond comes from the ancient Greek adámas, which means “to tame” or to overwhelm. Although diamonds were first recognized and mined in India about 6,000 years ago, they were formed before the age of the dinosaurs.
Today, diamonds are still recognized as the ultimate symbol of love, making them an ideal gift for anniversaries and birthdays. Below, we have collected some of the most interesting facts about diamonds that will enlighten you on the history, properties, significance, and uses of this popular gemstone. Let’s start with some quick facts about diamonds.
20 Spellbinding Facts about Diamonds
1. Diamonds were first found in India in the 4th century BC
In fact, India was the sole source of all known diamonds in the world until the discovery of diamonds in Brazil in 1726.
2. Diamond is made of pure carbon
Diamond has chemical composition of carbon, with its atoms arranged in a crystal. The graphite used in pencils is also made up of 100% carbon, just like diamonds. However, the graphite crystals are arranged in a different way, which makes it soft and opaque.
3. Diamond is one of the Hardest Substances
Because diamond has the highest number of atoms per unit volume than any other known substance, it is one of the hardest and least compressible materials.
4. Diamonds are naturally hydrophobic and lipophilic
It means that the surface of a diamond cannot be wetted by water, but can be easily wetted and adhered to by oil.
5. Largest rough diamond was found in South Africa
The largest gem-quality rough diamond was discovered in Cullinan, South Africa, in January 1905. It weighed 621.35 grams (3,106.75 carats) and is estimated to have formed 1.18 billion years ago.
Also Read: Interesting Facts about Africa
6. Diamonds are not really rare
Contrary to common belief, diamonds are not rare in the Earth’s mantle. According to a study, a quadrillion tons of diamonds lie deep beneath the Earth’s surface.
7. Diamond is the most popular gemstone
The special properties of diamond – high dispersion, high electrical resistance, high optical dispersion, low thermal expansion, and chemical inertness – make it the most popular gemstone in the world.
8. Diamond use increased significantly after World War II
Currently, industrial diamonds are mainly used in cutting tools, semiconductor devices, optical components, radiators, and heat spreaders. They are also used to cover openings in vacuum chambers, X-ray machines, and lasers.
9. India is the largest exporter of diamonds, followed by the United States
However, Russia is believed to have the largest and richest diamond resources in the world. The country produces nearly 40 million carats of diamonds every year.
Also Read: Interesting Facts about India
10. The flames of a candle contain millions of tiny diamonds
A team of researchers from the University of St Andrews has revealed that the flickering flame of a candle is made up of tiny diamond particles. About 1.5 million diamond nanoparticles are formed every second in a candle flame as it burns.
They found both fullerene particles and diamond nanoparticles at the center of the flame, along with amorphous and graphitic carbon. The diamond particles turn into carbon dioxide in the process, and there is currently no way to extract these nanoparticles.
11. Most diamonds form more than 150 kilometers below the Earth’s surface
Although most diamonds form at depths between 150 and 250 kilometers below the Earth’s surface, some have come from depths of up to 800 kilometers.
These gems are formed under extreme temperatures and pressures, which cause carbon atoms to crystallize and turn into diamonds. At such depths, temperatures reach up to 1,300 degrees Celsius and pressure reaches up to 60 kilobars – 50,000 times greater than the atmospheric pressure at the Earth’s surface.
12. Diamonds have not always been mined
Currently, much of the diamonds on the market are mined underwater and underground, using high-tech equipment and heavy machinery.
However, a few centuries ago, diamonds were mined along or on the bottom of rivers. Some companies still use this mining technique (also called alluvial mining), but it is more often a source of income for individual workers in regions such as South America and Africa.
Additionally, tens of millions of years ago, volcanic eruptions transported diamonds to the Earth’s surface and deposited them in igneous rocks. Today, these rocks are called lamproites and kimberlites.
13. Diamonds are billions of years old
Most natural diamonds are around 1 billion to 3.3 billion years old, but the oldest diamonds ever discovered are estimated to be over 4 billion years old.
Usually, the age of a diamond is determined by dating the inclusions, assuming that it formed simultaneously with its hosts (minerals or rocks). Advanced spectrometers measure the very small differences between parent and daughter isotopes, revealing the rate of isotopic decay. From this data, the age of the mineral can be calculated.
14. Diamond is very common in space
In meteorites, about 3% of the carbon is in the form of nanodiamonds. A few of these formed in stars outside our solar system.
On Neptune and Uranus, it rains solid diamonds:
On the giant ice planets Neptune and Uranus, researchers predict showers of solid diamonds. Studies show that diamonds form in the hydrocarbon-rich oceans of mud that cover the solid cores of these planets. Due to the intense pressures, these molecules split into hydrogen and carbon atoms. The latter crystallize to form diamonds.
There is a star made of diamond:
In 1992, astronomers discovered a white dwarf star called BPM 37093. The star’s core is likely one of the largest diamonds in the universe: it is estimated to be more than 4,000 kilometers in diameter and weigh nearly 10 billion trillion carats.
The star is 50 light-years from Earth in the constellation Centaurus. It is so unique that astronomers have nicknamed it “Lucy,” after The Beatles’ hit “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”
15. Diamonds have different colors
Not all natural diamonds are colorless. They come in a variety of colors: white, yellow, red, blue, pink, purple, orange, green, gray, and black.
A diamond’s color is usually affected by structural defects and/or chemical impurities in the crystal lattice. Nitrogen and boron, for example, are the most common impurities found in diamonds. These are responsible for the yellow and blue color of diamonds, respectively.
Pure diamonds, on the other hand, are perfectly colorless and transparent. Deep blue, red, and pink diamonds are much more expensive than other colored diamonds.
16. Ashes can be turned into diamonds
A Swiss-based company – LONITÉ™ – turns human cremation ash into diamonds by creating a high-pressure, high-temperature environment in the laboratory, similar to natural conditions underground.
To do this, the company needs 200 grams of cremation ash or 10 grams of human hair. They then perform a complicated process to filter and purify the carbon contained in the hair or cremation ashes.
Since carbon makes up about 18% of the human body, incineration diamonds are real diamonds grown in this process.
17. Diamond is not the hardest substance on Earth
Diamond lost its title of the “world’s hardest material” to other nanomaterials in the last 2000s. These nanomaterials are:
Wurtzite Boron Nitride: It has a similar structure to that of diamond but is made up of different atoms. Lonsdaleite: It is made up of carbon atoms just like diamond, but these atoms are arranged in a different way. Computer simulations showed that boron nitride wurtzite and lonsdaleite can survive 18% and 58% more stress compared to diamonds.
18. Carat weight measures the apparent size of a diamond
The carat is used to measure precious stones and pearls: it is a unit of mass equal to 200 milligrams. Each carat can be divided into 100 “segments,” which allows precise measurements to the hundredth decimal place.
For example, a jeweler may refer to a diamond weighing 0.35 carats as a “thirty-five point.” A flawless diamond (without inclusions) of at least 100 carats (20 grams) is called a “paragon.”
19. How many diamonds are mined each year?
In 2015, the total volume of world production of rough diamonds amounted to almost 35.4 million grams. After 13 years, in 2018, production stood at 29.4 million grams.
In 2017, mined rough diamonds had a production value of approximately $17.5 billion, while the value of the global diamond jewelry market was $82 billion.
20. There is a place where you can mine your own diamond
If you’re ever in Arkansas, consider heading to Pike County State Park. It is a 37.5-acre plowed field open to the public. It is the only place globally where you can dig for diamonds and other precious stones. And if you’re lucky enough to find something, you can keep it (regardless of its value).
In case you’re wondering, visitors find over 600 diamonds (of all colors and grades) each year. The site became a state park in 1972, and since then, more than 29,000 diamonds have been found in the crater.
The most impressive was found in 1924: it was a white diamond weighing 8.046 g. It was the largest diamond ever discovered in the USA. In 1971, the diamond was sold to an anonymous private collector for $150,000.
Also Read: More about Crater of Diamonds State Park