You probably heard it already – diamonds are the hardest naturally occurring substances on earth. Does that mean that diamonds are unbreakable?
Of course not. Nothing is unbreakable, not even diamonds. What’s more, you can easily break a diamond if you hit it hard enough against any solid surface under the right angle.
In fact, you can break a diamond with multiple different objects, like a small house hammer or hydraulic press, or even by dropping it on a tile floor, for example. But what happens if you smash a diamond against another diamond? Would it break? Can a diamond destroy a diamond?
This comprehensive article will only take a few minutes of your time, but you’ll learn some interesting stuff. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
Can A Diamond Destroy A Diamond?
Any gem will break if you hit it with another tough object. So, yes, a diamond can destroy a diamond.
Although diamonds are the naturally hardest substance on earth and are the hardest mineral on the Mohs scale, they can easily break or shatter into pieces if you hit them with another diamond.
Moreover, some diamond cutters (or so-called lapidarist) use diamond as a cutting tool for other diamonds.
Because of this, it’s not the best idea to store multiple diamonds together. They can scratch each other if you keep them in the same box, or even worse – they can break if hit against each other.
Then again, that’s also the case with any other gem. For example, opals are very easy to break if you hit them against anything solid or overheat them while doing the dishes or showering.
Related Read: Is Opal Worth More Than Diamond?
Are Diamonds Strong Or Not?
People often think that diamonds are strong because they’re hard. But that’s not true. Hard and strong materials are two different things.
For example, a diamond can scratch another diamond or any other solid material, like steel. However, a simple steel object like a hammer can easily shatter a diamond into pieces.
A diamond is entirely made out of carbon. A large number of carbon atoms are joined together by covalent bonds with an equal distance from one another. To move them closer or further away takes a sudden and enormous force.
Diamonds are, unfortunately, very brittle and aren’t flexible or very strong at all.
The interesting thing is that even the diamond’s hardness varies from edge to edge. That means that some edges are more prone to chipping than others.
It also depends on the diamond’s cut. For instance, diamonds with thin and sharp edges or points (like a princess or marquise cut) are the most vulnerable to damage. At the same time, round-shaped or diamonds with a ticker girdle will not break that easily.
For those wondering what a girdle is – it’s the widest part of a diamond. It divides the crown above from the pavilion below, and it’s the most exposed part of a diamond.
The chipping or fractures usually occur right in this area.
How Long Can A Diamond Last?
Well, diamonds do last forever. That is if a man doesn’t get involved. And no, that’s not a poor attempt at a joke: Diamonds can last for billions of years in nature. Once they’re cut and polished, they’re more fragile and can more easily break.
On that note, three essential elements can help gemologists determine the gem’s lifespan. These elements are hardness, stability, and toughness.
Hardness is the gemstone’s ability to resist scratches or to scratch other solid objects. A diamond is almost scratch-resistant and can scrape any other material you can think of right now.
As for stability, diamonds are a very stable gem. They can withstand very high temperatures (the melting point of a diamond is 4500 degrees Celsius and 8132 degrees Fahrenheit) and do not conduct electricity. Moreover, almost no acid can fully dissolve them.
But be that as it may, toughness is still their weak spot. A diamond can easily chip, fracture, or break if hit from the right angle with enough force.
Even if you accidentally hit your diamond ring against a granite or marble counter in your kitchen, it could shatter into pieces. At the same time, it doesn’t mean it will break at all, no matter how often or hard you hit it.
It really depends on the diamond’s quality, the cutting technique, its shape and size, the girdle thickness, and so on.
What’s The Mohs Scale?
The Mohs scale of mineral hardness was founded by Freidrich Mohs, a German mineralogist, in 1812. It measures a mineral’s resistance to scratching.
According to their hardness level, the minerals are ranked from 1 (a very soft mineral) to 10 (the hardest mineral). The hardest one is diamond, and the softest one is talc.
A mineralogist can determine a specific mineral’s hardness level by doing a simple scratch test. It is done by scratching the unknown mineral with the ten reference minerals already ranked on the scale. People in this field typically always have their reference mineral kit with them all the time in case they stumble upon a new mineral.
Learn More: Why Is Diamond So Hard?
Can A Diamond Break If You Accidentally Drop It?
Let’s say you recently got engaged, and your significant other gave you a diamond ring. And now you’re constantly examining it for chips and worrying it will break if you drop it on the tile floor one morning.
However, don’t stress too much. It’s unlikely your diamond would crack or break if you drop it on the floor.
In rare cases, a diamond can chip or break after a hard blow or fall. When I say hard blow, I mean hitting your diamond intentionally at an angle with a lot of force (even then, you’re more likely to hurt your hand) or dropping it on a concrete surface.
If you ever notice a horizontal line on the diamond, don’t worry because it’s not a crack. It’s a well-known phenomenon called a girdle reflection. A girdle reflection is a line that runs straight through the diamond, and it is visible only at certain angles.
The thinner the girdle, the more vulnerable a diamond is. But the thicker girdle means the reflection will be more visible.
Related Read: Can A Diamond Chip If Dropped?
Can You Break A Diamond With A Hammer?
The toughness of a diamond is better than most gemstones but not as good compared to some other engineering materials. Its toughness is approximately 2MPa. So yes, a hammer can easily break a diamond. It takes just one hit to shatter a diamond into pieces beyond repair.
These experiments are usually done in a controlled environment and by professionals that do this for research purposes. If you ever want to try this (for whichever reason), remember to take safety precautions and cover your eyes and skin for protection.
Can You Break A Diamond With Your Teeth?
Take my advice, and don’t ever try to break a diamond with your teeth. You’ll definitely end up without them!
Diamonds take the cake as the hardest material known to humankind and can cut through metals and glass. Your tooth enamel is not as tough as this precious gem. The enamel would certainly chip off, and you would break some of your teeth.
Granted, if you touch a diamond with your teeth gently, nothing will happen. But if you put significant pressure and drag the diamond between your teeth and try to crush it, you’ll only end up hurting yourself.
There’s a misbelief among people that you can tell whether a diamond is real or fake by trying to crush it with your teeth. Even though some fake diamonds can break under the force of our teeth, some will not.
In the end, if you’re not sure whether your diamond is real, it’s always better to visit a trusted jeweler than to experiment on your own.
Can You Break A Diamond With Pliers?
A real diamond won’t ever break under the force of pliers. If it does, then I have to disappoint you – it’s not a real diamond. If it doesn’t, then you either have a weak grip, or it’s real.
And it’s worth mentioning that the pliers are often used to determine a diamond’s toughness.
Can A Bullet Break A Diamond?
Lead is a well-known material that is used for making bullets. It’s actually a soft metal, but it’s denser than a diamond. Be that as it may, when a lead bullet hits a target, it flattens on impact.
Having these facts in mind, a diamond can and most likely will deflect a bullet case. But then again, it depends on the angle at which a diamond gets hit. If the bullet hits any of its weak spots, a diamond will shatter or break.
Can You Burn A Diamond?
Like everything else made of carbon, a diamond too will burn. However, to burn a diamond, more oxygen is required than is already available in the atmosphere.
Still, if you place a diamond in liquid or pure oxygen gas and use a simple fire torch, it will burn and turn into carbon dioxide’s ashes.
Read Also: Will A Diamond Shatter If Heated?
Can An Acid Dissolve A Diamond?
The answer is – yes and no. Some acids can dissolve a diamond only partially, but not entirely. But even in controlled and pre-set conditions, it is hard to destroy it. For example, if preheated to 200-300 degrees Celsius in a stainless steel pressure tank, stomach acid can dissolve a tiny part of a diamond.
The main problem with dissolving diamonds in acid is that their melting point is 4500 degrees Celsius, while all acids have a melting point that is far lesser than that.
That concludes that the temperature needed to burn a diamond is much higher than the temperature any known acid can withstand.
Related Read: Can You Melt Diamonds? Do Gems Melt?
How Much Force Is Needed To Break A Diamond?
Not much. I already mentioned that a diamond would shatter under a simple household hammer. Even small to medium amounts of force (66,7 N or 15 lbs) will turn this gemstone into small pieces.
Nonetheless, it depends on the individual diamond. If the diamond is hit parallel to the cleavage lines of the stone, it will break for sure.
But diamonds are rarely shattered; they’re far more likely to get chipped. Plus, if a chip is noticed on time, a jeweler can save a diamond by re-cutting it.
So, there you have it. A diamond will, without any doubt, destroy another diamond. And let’s not forget that only a diamond can scratch the surface of another diamond – that’s how hard it is.
In addition, if stored together, a diamond can scratch or break another diamond or any other gem. So, it is for the best that you keep your gemstones separated at all times.
Diamonds are indeed the hardest minerals, and they are at the top of the Mohs scale. But they’re not the strongest and can fracture or break if hit with enough force from the right angle.
What’s more, almost any solid object can break a diamond. Even dropping it or hitting it against something hard enough can cause damage.
Regardless, if you take good care of your diamond jewelry, it should last forever. Just keep it clean and take it off whenever you do some activities that can potentially damage it, such as cleaning or training.