Diamonds are some of the most precious and expensive gems on earth. They are formed differently from other precious stones. Diamonds require unique pressure and temperature conditions to form deep below the earth’s surface. Here is what jewelers should understand about the formation of natural and artificial diamonds:
Jewelers Guide: What Makes Diamonds Unique?
A wide variety of gemstones are found around the globe, each with its unique composition, hue, and quality. Not just any gem can be called a diamond; it must meet a strict set of standards. A diamond’s composition and atomic arrangement set it apart from all other precious and semiprecious rocks. A diamond is made purely made of covalently bonded carbon atoms.
How Are Diamonds Formed?
Diamonds form deep below the Earth’s surface under high temperatures and pressure. Without sustained compressive forces from the overlying layers of the Earth’s surface, diamond crystals cannot form. We can’t access where diamonds form; the few diamonds we see were brought near the Earth’s surface by volcanic eruptions that occurred years ago. These violent eruptions are rare nowadays.
Such eruptions are called Kimberlite eruptions, which are the source of most global diamonds. These eruptions must occur quickly to create a diamond. Suppose the volcanic material travels too long and slowly; the diamonds will turn into graphite.
How Long Does It Take to Form Diamonds Naturally?
About 4.5 billion years have passed since the earth’s formation. Scientists’ best estimates place diamond formation within the earth’s first couple of billion years. If the geological circumstances suddenly shift, diamonds may be dormant until the conditions return to normal. Given the appropriate conditions, diamonds might form under the earth’s mantle in days, weeks, or months. Perhaps diamonds need a few million or a hundred million years in the earth’s upper mantle before they reach their end form.
Geologists are not sure if diamonds are still forming in the planet’s upper mantle. With recent innovations and technology, diamonds can grow in a lab within weeks or months. The growing conditions are comparable to but not the same as the natural conditions under which diamonds found in the ground are formed.
Why Are Diamonds So Hard?
When carbon atoms are subjected to extreme temperature and pressure, they bond and develop crystals, eventually becoming diamonds. Each carbon atom will form four covalent bonds with other atoms. The carbon atom in a diamond is involved in four extremely powerful covalent connections, which is why diamonds are so tough. Where the carbon comes from and how fast they expand both remain mysteries.
The atomic locking process results in a repeating network, a structure of carbon atoms, that can develop to a big enough size to form crystals. Hundreds of millions, if not billions, of carbon atoms must align precisely to make each of these crystals and, eventually, a diamond.
How Are Artificial Diamonds Made?
The first artificial diamond was made by jewelers in the 1950s. These diamonds were made under HPHT (high-pressure high temperature) laboratory conditions, which tries to simulate the natural condition under which diamonds form deep beneath the earth’s surface. The main technology used to make diamonds is CVD which can take around six to ten weeks when the process begins with superheated diamond seeds.
Find Quality Diamonds Today
Diamonds are rare gems that require special conditions to form. They form under high temperature and pressure conditions occurring either naturally or artificially. Diamonds are only made of carbon atoms linked by a very strong covalent bond. Each carbon atom is linked to four other atoms, making the diamond the hardest substance. Diamonds make the perfect gifts whether you are looking for earrings, necklaces, or rings. Find high-quality jewelers that carry the type of diamond you are looking for be it natural or man-made.