10 Interesting Facts About Diamonds That You May Not Have Known
We see diamonds everywhere—in jewelry, such as in diamond engagement rings, and in bracelets that sparkle. While the traditional diamond and gold ring has maintained popularity in the United States for a long time, diamond uses are evolving. We even see them in blades and drill bits that are made to break down other materials. But what exactly are diamonds? Where do they come from, and what other uses do they have?
We've made a list of 10 interesting facts about diamonds so you can appreciate that little sparkle on your hand as more than just a symbol of love.
1. Not only do diamonds come in all shapes and sizes—but they also come in a wide spectrum of colors.
The color of the diamond depends on the minerals that are present at the time of formation. Colorless diamonds are generally more popular and therefore the most valuable, but diamonds can be many different colors, including green, blue, yellow, brown, orange, purple, red, or even black. In recent decades, pink diamonds have gained popularity thanks to a number of celebrities showing off alternative colors on their engagement rings and wedding bands.
Even colorless diamonds tend to have a slightly yellowish hue to them, although the tint is often so light that it's hard to catch with a naked eye.
2. Most of the world's diamonds come from just a few countries.
You know that you can buy your diamonds from a jeweler, but where do those diamonds come from?
Believe it or not, only five countries form the world's largest diamond market, accounting for nearly 90% of the world's natural diamond resource. Botswana and Russia are the leading producers of the world's diamonds, responsible for well over half of the world's natural diamond production. South Africa, Canada, and Angola are home to nearly all of the remaining diamonds.
3. Diamonds are brought to the Earth's surface by explosive, volcanic eruptions.
A special kind of eruption called a kimberlite eruption brings diamonds to the Earth's surface from the upper mantle by way of extreme pressure from expanding gasses. But this isn't your everyday volcanic activity—in fact, scientists believe that the last kimberlite eruption happened over 10 billion years ago.
However, until the 1700s, most diamond mines were located in India. Even in ancient times, diamonds were seen as precious gemstones, and are documented in trade history as far back as 1 A.D. It wasn't until India's supply started to run short that miners began to look elsewhere.
4. Diamonds are not the strongest known substance.
While diamonds might be the hardest natural substance in the world according to the Mohs Scale, it was recently discovered that both wurtzite boron nitride and lonsdaleite might be harder than a natural diamond, depending on how you measure it. However, these substances are found in neutron stars and are formed during supernovas and are extremely heavy, so it's very unlikely that the jewelry industry would make use of them even if they were readily available.
5. Most mined diamonds are not used in jewelry.
Because they are so durable and hard, diamonds have many industrial uses, such as cutting and drilling. Diamond drill bits, saw blades, and grinders are an excellent use of otherwise undesirable diamonds, since nearly 80% of mined rough diamonds are unsuitable for use in jewelry.
6. Diamonds and graphite are both made from crystallized carbon.
It might seem wild to think that something as simple as the pencils we use every day are so closely related to a precious stone, but they both consist of a single carbon atom bonding to four other carbon atoms. The only thing that makes them different is in the molecular structure of these atoms—diamond's carbon atoms are arranged tetrahedrally, in a three-dimensional way that makes them very hard to separate, whereas graphite's structure is nearly two-dimensional and therefore easier to separate and manipulate.
7. Lab-grown diamonds were first made in the 1950s.
Lab-grown diamonds are chemically and structurally identical to mined diamonds. Although it took the Federal Trade Commission until 2018 to amend their jewelry guidelines to remove the distinction between natural diamonds and synthetic diamonds, lab diamonds were first created in the 1950s. However, these were generally very small lab-made diamonds and only used for industrial purposes.
But these diamonds, funded by General Electric, were just the start of something that would revolutionize the jewelry industry in just a few decades. Nowadays, lab-created diamonds have the same chemical components, aesthetic, and beauty of the natural diamond—usually at a fraction of the cost and a much clearer conscience.
8. There are two very different ways to create lab-grown diamonds.
There are two possible ways to create diamonds in a lab: High Pressure-High Temperature (HPHT) or Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). The High Pressure-High Temperature method creates diamonds by replicating the extreme heat (over 4500 degrees Fahrenheit) and pressure of the Earth's mantle to melt carbon atoms and bonding them to form a diamond. Chemical Vapor Deposition, which is regarded by the diamond industry as the superior method, heats carbon-rich gas until it turns into a vapor, and those vapors crystalize around a small diamond crystal seed.
Lab-grown diamonds also grow much more quickly than natural diamonds, and a single carat can be grown in about a month.
9. Lab diamonds are friendlier to the environment and the wallet.
For every single carat of real diamond mined, nearly 6000 pounds of mineral waste is created. Creating diamonds in a lab also virtually eliminates mining injuries and cuts out the need to trade within the diamond industry, significantly cutting what it costs to get the diamond from its origin to the consumer. Lab-grown and man-made diamonds typically cost around 25% of what a natural diamond costs because of the convenience of not having to go through a supply chain. This means adding extra sparkle into engagement rings, earrings, necklaces, and more—without breaking the bank for consumers.
There are also ethical advantages to lab-grown diamonds, too, including eliminating blood diamonds and helping with the issue of child labor.
10. Synthetic diamonds are available in virtually every shape and size.
Lab-grown white diamonds boast near-perfect clarity. But sometimes, shoppers are looking for something a little different. The aesthetic appeal of synthetic diamonds is a big variety of choices. If you're looking for custom gemstones with very specific carat weight, color, and shine, synthetic diamonds make this possible because they can be virtually made to order. This is where pink diamonds, black diamonds, and even green diamond rings come into play. The possibilities are endless.
The jewelry industry has made it easier than ever for consumers to obtain synthetic diamonds they can afford, rather than having to opt for cheaper cubic zirconia jewelry—which isn't guaranteed to last.
Whether it was formed in the Earth's mantle billions of years ago, or in a lab last month, a diamond is forever. If you would like more information on diamonds, whether natural diamonds or synthetic, or are having trouble accessing our shopping tools, contact our support team. We'd love to chat!