Diamonds are everywhere in popular culture these days and have been a big part of the human experience for many centuries before that. They stun us with their patterns and represent the most meaningful relationships in our lives. Not to mention, they aren’t cheap.
These are jewels that deserve a closer look, but where do you start on a subject so complex as diamonds? Entire books have been written on them, and some people spend their whole lives dedicated to it.
Why not start at the very beginning – how diamonds are made? That’s exactly what we plan to do in this article. You’ll come away with a science lesson you actually care about and some knowledge to flex when you’re with friends or buying diamonds of your own. Let’s go.
100 Miles Down Below
Theprocess of diamond creation starts deep within the surface of the earth, further than any human being (or life-form) has ever set foot. A zone known as the upper mantle – around 100 miles beneath our feet – is where diamonds were formed a long time ago.
We’re not talking about the 80s or 90s here – science shows that it was anywhere between 1 and 3 billion years ago that diamonds were first made in the mantle. Now that’s a throwback.
That 2-billion-year window seems like a wide estimate, but that’s all we’ve got to work with. Carbon dating and other forms of geological testing are pretty accurate, and with the greatest scientific minds behind the scenes, we’ll take their word for it.
Indestructible is the word that comes to mind when you think of diamond durability, and anything over a billion years old better be pretty tough.
Just like the Redwood Forests and the Great Barrier Reef, we appreciate the ancient natural beauty of the world, and diamonds are just one of those examples.
A High-Pressure Situation
So far, we’ve established that diamonds are old, come from a timeverylong ago, and were formed below the surface of the earth, but what were the conditions required to create diamonds in the first place?
We might not know exactly what’s happening in these deep parts of the earth, and we haven’t yet developed time machines to go back billions of years; we’ve discovered enough about our planet to have a good idea of what’s going on.
Here’s our best idea of what went down:
- Temperatures in the mantle exceeded 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, with pressure ranging above 725,000 pounds per square inch.
- Graphite, a crystalline carbon famous for its role in the pencil, took the brunt of the beating in the mantle, being squeezed and pressurized to the point of complete chemical recomposition.
- Each carbon atom gained four strong covalent bonds, which build on one another and become more complex with time.
- Certain portions of the hexagonal sheet pattern of graphite restructured into triangular crystals, which form the basis of the diamonds we know today.
With high levels of heat and pressure, it’s crazy what can happen over time. Again, we’re not 100% certain about the conditions required to make diamonds, but we know this to be the general recipe that nature used billions of years ago.
Imagine rubbing two rocks together with as much force as you can. Maybe you’ll create some heat and make a spark or two fly into the air. Now, try to imagine the time, force, and size of that multiplied by billions. This is what it takes to make diamonds, and nature does it best.
All the work that goes into a single carat gives us an idea of why diamond prices are so high today – they’re rare, they’re beautiful, and the structure is difficult to replicate even by the most advanced computers in the world.
Once again, nature wins out with its mysterious ability to create surreal geological shapes and structures beyond our imagination.
One-Way Ticket To The Top
After that hard work is done, diamonds still need to be transported to the surface of the earth, so we can access them more easily (nobody is going 100 miles deep).
Nature does the heavy lifting for us once again, using systems of volcanic propulsion to bring these diamonds up.
Some scientists think that diamonds can also come from above when meteorites smash into the earth and generate powerful chemical reactions on the spot. Work that typically took billions of years is compressed into a super-short timeframe, and gems are made fast.
Meteoric stones may not have the beauty of the diamonds from the deep, but they’re still in demand and do a fine job when set in a ring or bracelet.
Mining, Cutting, And Distribution
The world’s biggest diamond mines are scattered across the globe, but the most prominent tend to be in Russia and Africa. These are massive, multi-billion-dollar operations with top-of-the-line equipment and processes that would make your head spin.
With the demand for diamonds at all-time highs, these mines are only getting deeper and wider with time. Those pristine Round Cut or Princess Cut Earrings have to come from somewhere.
Drilling, blasting, scanning, and traversing treacherous terrain, this is not a business for the faint of heart. Yes, it has a bit of a checkered past, but the diamond industry has raised the bar for its ethical practices in recent years, and customers are more willing to buy stones with a sustainable seal of approval.
That’s why many gem lovers are opting for diamond alternatives, as we’ll soon discover.
What About Simulant Diamonds?
Learning about the origins of diamonds for the first time is a mind-blowing experience, but what if you could get that same level of shine and glamour without digging into the earth or spending a ton of cash to attain your desired look?
There’s no shame in the game of simulant diamonds. They look phenomenal, allow you to go big with bold pieces like chains and bracelets, and there’s no threat of being misled or let down by retailers who may not have your best interests in mind.
On top of all that, there is an ethical advantage to simulant diamonds. You can sleep better at night knowing your collection is filled with gemstone rings that haven’t had any negative impact on people or the planet.
The lesson here is not to avoid simulant diamonds but to embrace them in the right place, at the right time. They are far better for the environment and the ethical economy than authentic stones, and you can wear bigger, bolder pieces than you ever thought imaginable.
After all, jewelry is all about personal expression, and nobody is examining your bank account when assessing your look. What matters more is the styles you wear, the confidence you bring to the table, and the fun you have along the way.
Pay respect to the mythical origins of the diamond, but wear your jewelry with pride and joy no matter where the gems come from.
Team Up With A Proven Jeweler
With some perspective on where, when, and how diamonds came to be, you start to realize the crucial role that a jeweler plays in bringing you the jewelry you know and love.
They’re the ones responsible for sourcing and curating the diamonds you want and ensuring you get the best quality product for your money.
Let’s be honest, everyone has had one or two bad experiences when shopping for jewelry, and it’s usually a problem with the jeweler – not you.
You have a clear vision of what you want, whether it’s a glistening diamond ring or a pave-style Cuban Chain Prong Necklace, but the components and composition are what make or break the final product.
With a great jeweler on your team, you can purchase the diamonds you want and never worry about being misled. Then, when it’s time for maintenance, resetting, or any other problems, you know who to call. That peace of mind is worth everything.
Diamonds are beloved by all cultures of the world, and the legacy goes back to the beginning of time. As it turns out, the diamonds we know and love are from a very distant time, formed with unimaginable levels of heat and pressure miles beneath the earth’s surface. What other recipe could deliver an iconic final product like a diamond?
With this knowledge under your belt, you’re well on your way to becoming a diamond expert, or at the very least, you’ve got some cool information to share with your friends at parties.
Now, every time you glance at the diamonds on your wrist or necklace, whether they’re “real” or simulant, you’ve got a deeper understanding and appreciation for these amazing artifacts. Take great care of your diamond jewelry and enjoy them to the fullest for a lifetime.