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Can Diamonds Freeze? How Do Low Temperatures Affect Diamonds?

Can Diamonds Freeze? How Do Low Temperatures Affect Diamonds?

One of the most well-known advertising slogans is “A Diamond is Forever.” This phrase has a wide range of connotations. 

It alludes to the everlasting appeal of diamonds and their icy beauty. At the same time, it also refers to the durability of diamonds. Diamonds have exceptional durability as a result of the diamond creation process.

Durability refers to a gem’s ability to endure wear, heat, and chemicals and is comprised of three properties – hardness, toughness, and stability. 

The hardness of a gem refers to its ability to withstand scratches and abrasion, while toughness defines how effectively a gemstone resists breakage and chipping. And of course, stability refers to a diamond’s capacity to withstand chemicals and temperature fluctuations.

So, how stable is diamond? Can diamonds freeze? How does cold weather affect diamond jewelry?  

Scroll down and read the whole thing. 

Can Diamonds Freeze?

No, diamonds can’t freeze. That’s because there is nothing to freeze in a diamond, no volatile mineral, and no water – just carbon.

Diamonds are already solid, implying that they represent a frozen (solid, if you will) form of carbon. What’s more, they won’t become more brittle as a result of cooling.

How Are Diamonds Formed?

Diamonds originated about three billion years ago deep below the Earth’s crust under circumstances of extreme heat and pressure that caused carbon atoms to crystallize, resulting in diamonds.

Diamonds are discovered at a depth of around 150-200 kilometers below the surface. And the temperatures range from 900 to 1,300 degrees Celsius, with pressure ranging from 45 to 60 kilobars (about 50,000 times that of air pressure at the Earth’s surface).

Molten lamproite and Kimberlite (commonly known as magma) are also produced and rapidly grow inside the Earth’s upper mantle under these conditions. The magma erupts as a result of this expansion, bringing diamond-bearing rocks with it. 

As it moves at breakneck speed, the magma follows the route of least resistance, producing a “pipe” to the surface. And as the lava cools, it hardens into Kimberlite and settles in vertical formations known as Kimberlite pipes. 

Although Kimberlite pipes are the essential source of diamonds, it is believed that just one in every 200 Kimberlite pipes contains gem-quality diamonds. Kimberlite gets its name from the South African town of Kimberley, where the first diamonds were discovered in this kind of rock.

Diamond’s Durability

On the Mohs Scale, diamonds are the hardest known mineral, scoring a ten. Diamonds are highly durable and excellent for everyday use because of their exceptional score. That also helps to explain why they’re so popular as the center stone for engagement rings.

Hardness

The Mohs scale is used to assess the hardness of gems and minerals. The scale was developed in 1812 by German mineralogist Friedrich Mohs, who picked ten minerals and ranked them depending on how easily (or not) one could be scratched by another. 

However, the Mohs scale is misleading. The distances between the minerals are not equally distributed. Diamond, for example, is only one number away, yet it is several times harder than corundum-family stones. Remember that a diamond can only be scratched by another diamond.

What the Mohs scale does not indicate, but is equally significant to the diamond business, is that diamond might damage any precious metal used for setting. That implies that a loose diamond in its setting can eventually wear through a prong.

Toughness

Any stone, even diamonds, will break if struck hard enough and in the appropriate spot. Are you surprised? Toughness is a measurement of a gem’s resistance to breaking, chipping, and cracking after being struck.

Diamonds are harder in areas where the atoms are strongly linked together and weaker in directions where they are not so tightly connected.

The weakest directions are those with the most space between the atoms. It is simpler to shatter a diamond in such directions, known as cleavage directions. By striking a diamond strongly in the cleavage direction, a cutter can cleave it. 

A strong impact, however, can split a diamond even after it has been cut. That can happen throughout the setting procedure – or even while wearing the piece.

Stability

The capacity of a diamond to withstand temperature fluctuations and chemicals is referred to as its stability. Diamonds are extremely stable. 

For one reason, they’re resistant to almost all acids

Although the cutting procedure creates a lot of heat, diamonds survive it and go undamaged. Still, situations involving abrupt and severe temperature changes are more dangerous to the stability of a diamond. 

These changes can induce thermal shock, resulting in the formation of new fractures and cleavages – or the spread of existing ones.

Diamonds burn at around 1562°F (850°C). That temperature can be reached by house fires and jewelers’ torches.

Test The Strenght Of The Stone

You can easily check if your diamond is real or fake by simply heating it. Real diamonds are constructed of a solid substance that’s insensitive to intense heat.

To test this theory, fill a drinking glass halfway with cold water. Hold the stone with plyers or fireproof gloves. Then, heat the stone for around 40 seconds with a lighter before dropping it into the chilly water.

If the stone shatters, it is constructed of poor quality materials and is not a genuine diamond. A genuine diamond would never respond in any way.

This approach evaluates the stone’s quality and strength. Weak materials, such as glass or cubic zirconium, will fracture and break due to the rapid expansion and contraction of heat. 

Consider a glass or Pyrex dish that you use for cooking, for example. If you take a hot dish out of the oven and try to wash it right away, the temperature difference could fracture the dish.

Diamonds, being one of the toughest materials on the Earth, will withstand such heat testing. Heat will dissipate fast – and the diamond will be unaffected by the temperature shift.

Learn More: Why Is Diamond So Hard?

Do Diamonds Oxidise?

A diamond will convert to vapor when heated to 763° Celsius (1405° Fahrenheit). At normal pressure and temperatures, a diamond is as hard as a rock. Diamonds are, in fact, among the hardest stones on the planet. 

These gemstones will not evaporate at normal atmospheric pressure. But how can diamonds become vapor if they are so hard to evaporate?

They begin to oxidize. Oxidation is a chemical process that occurs when oxygen reacts with other molecules. 

Oxygen is a key component of our environment, and things constantly oxidize all around us. The oxidation of iron, for example, results in rust. Actually, another name for it is iron oxide.

Diamonds are the purest form of carbon. The chemical process that occurs when carbon oxidizes produces common gases, mainly carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. At such high temperatures, a diamond transforms into vapors.

Can Diamonds Handle Heat?

Yes, they most certainly can! As you are undoubtedly aware, diamonds are used not only as attractive jewels but also as a tool in manufacturing numerous items. 

Therefore, if a diamond can be used in industrial manufacture, you can be confident that it can resist some heat. 

Of course, that’s not to suggest that all diamonds are created equal; their durability will vary based on their quality and other external variables. 

However, diamonds do not erupt into flames under normal conditions, so there is no reason to be concerned.

What’s The Melting Point Of A Diamond?

As we previously stated, when heated in the open air, the diamond will begin to melt and burn at about 700 degrees Celsius (1,292 degrees Fahrenheit). 

However, burning a diamond in the absence of oxygen causes it to convert into graphite – a crystalline form of carbon – before changing into a fluid.

Read Also: Do Diamonds Absorb Heat?

Why Do Diamonds Feel Warm To Touch?

Bringing a real diamond into contact with the body is one technique of distinguishing it from a fake one. Most diamond simulants feel chilly to the touch, whereas genuine diamonds are typically warm to the touch. 

That is due to the fact that they warm up when they come into contact with the body. Diamonds are warm to the touch because of two factors: 

  1. Low specific heat 
  2. Strong thermal conductivity

The Specific Heat Of Diamonds

A material’s specific heat is the characteristic of the substance that affects how much heat it can store. Unlike most solids, diamond has a low specific heat. 

Diamond’s low specific heat capacity can be linked to its extreme hardness; it creates solid connections between its carbon atoms. 

Diamond’s low density is another explanation for its low specific heat. Most jewelry materials have a greater specific heat than diamonds.

Thermal Conductivity Of Diamonds

The thermal conductivity of a substance relates to how well it conducts heat. Heat is naturally conducted more efficiently by materials with a high thermal conductivity than those with low thermal conductivity. 

When diamonds make contact with the body (or any surface), they absorb heat from the body, which is why they feel warm to the touch.

The thermal conductivity of diamonds is highly dependent on their purity, though. The purer the diamond, the warmer it is to the touch. 

Diamond also has considerably greater heat conductivity than other gemstones. Moreover, diamond is utilized in electrical equipment as a heat extractor due to its excellent thermal conductivity.

Gemstones Susceptible To Thermal Shock

Colored gems are frequently susceptible to fast temperature fluctuations – a phenomenon known in the industry as thermal shock. 

Some diamonds are just structurally weak or brittle. Others have specific types of inclusions that don’t perform well when exposed to sub-zero temperatures for lengthy periods of time or while transitioning from warm to freezing air.

The fast contraction of structurally unstable gems (such as opals and emeralds) caused by moving from the warmth of your home to an ambient temperature below freezing can cause the entire gemstone to fracture – or even burst. 

Internal fractures may occur in other gems with liquid or gaseous inclusions, such as rubies and aquamarines, as the inclusions expand or contract at different rates than the gemstone material around them after extended exposure to low temperatures.

To begin, you must determine which jewels in your collection are sensitive to thermal shock. Some gems have a high level of stability – like diamonds – while others don’t. 

The objective is to be particularly cautious with the following gem types in cold weather:

  1. Opal
  2. Emerald
  3. Tanzanite
  4. Moonstone
  5. Aquamarine
  6. Topaz
  7. Quartz
  8. Garnets
  9. Tourmaline
  10. Lower-grade rubies and sapphires

Consider wearing a different piece of jewelry on really chilly days instead of those gems you know are sensitive. 

If you insist on wearing sensitive jewelry on very cold days, keep it as covered as possible from the moment you prepare to walk outside to when you take your coat off indoors again. 

Keep pendants hidden inside your shirt, or at the very least beneath your coat. Keep rings in your gloves or, if that’s too much trouble, in an inside pocket. 

Also, wear your earrings beneath your hat or wait until you get to your location to put them on. They’ll be safe if you don’t allow the cold and wind to get to them.

Diamonds That Change Color Under Low Temperatures

Scientists have recently found a form of diamond that will change color when exposed to extremely low temperatures. In freezing temperatures, they become gray to yellow. 

In the past few decades, so-called “chameleon” diamonds were discovered – the types that change color in the dark or when subjected to heat. 

However, diamonds that change color in low temperatures have never been observed before.

At temperatures as low as -196 °C, these diamonds change color. Diamonds are heavily chilled in the lab to reduce vibration – the low-temperature aids in the precise measurement of the light emitted by them.

Georges Halfen found diamonds such as the Chameleon diamond in 1866. It is yet unknown why they change color. 

Chameleon diamonds are distinguished by their ability to change color. The color of the gemstone changes from a solid yellow-green to an unstable yellow after being exposed to heat or kept in the dark for at least one day. 

When the heat source is withdrawn from the diamond or it is exposed to natural light, the color returns to its stable yellowish-green state in a couple of minutes. Some gems’ colors shift from solid yellow to green when exposed to heat, but not when kept in the dark. 

They are commonly referred to as reverse chameleon diamonds. They’re so uncommon that studying them is difficult. 

As a result, the new finding becomes much more significant. According to some research, the color of diamonds varies when they cool because the electric charge travels closer to or away from the diamond’s atomic particles. 

Learn More: Can Diamonds Change Color? Can Diamonds Discolour?

Conclusion

Diamonds can’t freeze. These gems are already in a “frozen” state as they are a solid form of carbon. On top of that, they don’t contain anything that can be frozen; there’s no mineral or water, only carbon.

Moreover, diamonds are also not that susceptible to thermal shock as other gems are. They won’t crack or shatter into pieces upon sudden temperature change. Diamonds are highly durable and are one of the best heat conductors. 

Of course, they can be damaged if hit by something or when exposed to extremely high temperatures.
Therefore, there’s no need to worry about your diamond jewelry this – or any other winter. With proper care and cleaning, low temperatures will be the last enemy on your engagement ring’s list.

Read More: Diamond Slang: Why Are Diamonds Sometimes Called Ice?