Natural diamonds are created some 240kms below the earth’s crust where carbon atoms, under intense environmental conditions, bond with each other in a pattern that yields the hardest substance known to man. The temperature may be over 1600° and the pressure over 50000 kilograms per cm² – about 50,000 times the pressure on the earth’s surface.
Diamond and graphite are allotropes of carbon, having the same element set in different patterns, which creates unique physical and chemical properties. While graphite is known for its versatility, diamond is known as adamas – the unbreakable or indestructible.
Diamonds are formed naturally over billions of years, buried deep in the crust. They’re not humanly accessible. Millions of years ago, the gas trapped at the core of the earth expanded, pushing these precious stones out of their comfort zones and into the troposphere along with volcanic magma. This is how diamonds travelled over 240kms to the coal mines. According to estimates, several thousand tons of diamonds still exist at the earth’s core, tucked safely away from our reach.
What It Looked Like?
The unearthed natural diamond looks like any other stone – rough, not very luminous, irregular shape and barely identifiable as a diamond unless you’re trained. Most diamonds would appear as clear crystals, some would appear cloudy. Raw diamonds possess no beauty except as seen through the eyes of a diamond enthusiast.
The diamonds are either handpicked or industrially separated using modern equipment. On an average, over 250 million tons of rocks and dirt needs to be shifted in order to mine 1 carat of diamond, which explains why they are so rare and so pricey!
A significant proportion of natural diamonds is mined in Russia, Botswana, Congo, Australia, Canada, Zimbabwe, Angola, South Africa and Namibia – in that order. Contrary to popular belief, Russia actually controls over 29% of world’s diamond production, which equates to about 378 million carats!
They Travel Some More
From the mines, the diamonds are sent for sorting where innumerable labor hours are invested in separating high-quality diamonds from the lot. Most of the mined diamonds are shipped to the Central Selling Organization in London to be graded and sorted according to the standards set by Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, a key member of the De Beers Company.
The diamonds will be sorted into thousands of categories based on their color, carat, clarity, and shape. It may be done by highly experienced individuals well-versed in identifying differences or, alternatively, done automatically by using modern equipment. However, the latter cannot replace the expertise of an experienced diamond sorter.
Careful Analysis and Suggestions
Once sorted, the high-quality diamonds are then sent over to rough diamond experts to be analyzed. They look at each diamond individually, analyzing their clarity and inclusions in order to identify the best possible cut. Different software may be used for this purpose as well to help the diamond cutter visualize specific cuts, their quality, and the wastage. The purpose is to make the best use of the stone without compromising on the diamond’s visual performance.
The Diamond is Cut
After careful analysis, the stone is now put through the cutting process. It is a labor-intensive task which may take up to weeks depending on the complexity of the cut. Sawing machines may be used to reduce the stone bit-by-bit. Alternatively, laser technology may be used to slice the diamond with precision.
Bruting techniques are then used to bring the diamond into the desired shape. Polishing techniques bring out the best in a diamond, enhancing its fire, scintillation and brilliance. The diamond may be cut in a variety of different shapes as desired. Once polished, the diamond is ready to be used in jewelry.
Did you know how the sparkly diamond in your engagement ring reached its destination? Let us know what you thought about how the diamonds were made?