Regardless of our age, we are all fascinated with diamonds. So many questions surround the famous gem, and we aim to answer most of them.
What are diamonds? When did people discover them? Are there any other uses for them except jewelry? We will answer these questions and more in the article below.
Diamonds are crystals made from carbon. Carbon is a natural element present in a lot of different things, including all organic life, sugars, fats, alcohol, etc.
Diamond crystals form deep within the earth. Approximately 100 miles below the surface, carbon deposits experience high temperature and pressure. That process creates crystals that we know as diamonds.
It’s believed that the natural process of forming diamonds from carbon takes millions of years to complete. That means most of the diamonds that we have today are older than the human race itself.
Now that we know what they are, here are some fun diamond facts for all kids!
The Origin Of The Word “Diamond”
It is an interesting fact that the discovery of diamonds was an accident. People knew nothing about them when they first appeared.
But there is a single quality that was discovered very fast: diamonds are very, very hard. It was impossible to cut them or change their shape accurately.
Those challenges were a big obstacle for people in ancient times. They knew those “rocks” must be valuable, and they were quick to realize how rare they were.
But there was no way to shape them or use them as tools. So, they did the only thing they could, they used raw, uncut diamonds, as symbols of power and statute.
Usually embedded in some other metal, they knew how to shape, and created the first known jewels, necklaces, and rings.
One theory is that diamonds were considered “impossible” to cut. Because of that, the old Greeks gave them the name “Adamas” which means “indestructible”.
Later in history, Roman scholars read the reports Greeks made about diamonds. They wanted to further their knowledge about this gem, and they renamed it “Diamas”.
After the Roman empire collapsed, France inherited a lot of their books and research. Among them were the ones concerning diamonds.
That is the moment when this gem was renamed for the last time. The French named it “Diamond” a word we still use to this day.
After that, a lot of research was conducted, and to this day, we still believe that diamonds are the hardest known material. That makes the name “diamonds” well-earned to this day.
History’s Oldest Diamonds
We already said that diamonds are rare crystals, and it takes a lot of time for them to form naturally. But how old are the oldest diamonds? Well, there are two correct answers to this question.
If we talk about “the oldest diamond” are we talking about how old the gem is? There is no specific answer, as we continue to discover new diamonds every day.
But the oldest diamonds we know of were found in the Jack Hills region of western Australia. They are believed to be at least 4 billion years old. That is almost as old as our planet!
They were found trapped inside the zircon crystals. Scientists believe that by examining those diamonds we can get a better understanding of the history of our planet.
But, in more realistic terms, when we say “the oldest diamonds in history” we think about the first diamond ever found.
According to the GIA, the first diamonds ever found were discovered in India. Around 3,500 years ago, in the hills between two rivers, Godavari and Krishna.
People who discovered the first diamonds had no idea how to cut or shape them. Still, they recognized their value, and diamonds were prized as divine objects by Indian rulers.
The first famous diamond was discovered in India in the early 11th century.
It was named “Darya-i-Nur” which means “Sea of Light”, and it was the pride of the Kakatiya Dynasty that ruled most of eastern India at the time.
Unfortunately, the stone was stolen by the Persian army, and it was given as a gift to their king, Nadir Shah, during his war with India in 1739.
Today, this diamond still exists in the exact shape and form as when it was discovered, and it is a part of Iranian Crown Jewels.
If you want to know more about the history of diamonds, we invite you to check out this post: Diamond History: How They Form And How They’re Found
World’s Biggest Diamonds
Now that we know more about old diamonds, let’s talk big! How big is the biggest diamond ever found? Are there many of them? Stick around and find out!
World’s biggest diamond ever discovered is The Cullinan Diamond. It was discovered in the Premier Mine in South Africa in 1905. When it was found, it was measured at massive 3,106 carats.
What are carats? It is a specific measurement unit we use when talking about diamonds’ weight. Because the diamonds tend to be really small, we needed a measurement more precise than an ounce or a gram.
1 carat is equal to 0.2 grams, or 0.00705 ounces. That means, when discovered, The Cullinan Diamond weighed 21.9 ounces!
The Cullinan Diamond was sent to Europe and gifted to King Edward VII of England as a pledge of loyalty. Then the king sent it to Amsterdam for cutting. Famous diamond cutter Joseph Asscher and his brother got to work on this huge stone.
The Cullinan was cut into many smaller diamonds, but some of them are still pretty big! The largest of them is “The Great Star of Africa” which weighs 530 carats.
Next in line is “Second Star of Africa” sometimes called “Cullinan II”. Its weight is approximately 317 carats.
All of these diamonds are part of The British Crown Jewels, and they are kept at the Tower of London.
Quite a tourist attraction, wouldn’t you say?
Common Diamond Uses
The fact that diamonds are extremely strong and durable, makes them perfect for use in tool production. Many diamonds lack the quality needed to become gemstones. They are sold to factories that make drills, saw blades, and grinding wheels.
Very small diamond particles are added to these tools to increase their ability to cut hard materials. Diamond powder is often made into a diamond paste for polishing and fine grinding.
Most of the tools used to cut, and polish diamonds are made of diamonds!
Diamonds are also used to make diamond windows. Because their membranes are very durable and resistant to heat, they are used to make windows.
Usually, we can find these windows on laser covers, vacuum chambers, and X-Ray machines.
In medicine, we also find the need for diamonds, especially in dental tools. Many dental tools include diamond tips that help dentists drill with maximum efficiency. Believe it or not, your teeth are so strong that they need a diamond drill to cut them!
Synthetic Diamonds VS. Natural Diamonds
Since the demand for diamonds is so great, people wanted a cheaper alternative to diamond mining. As far back as the 1890’s scientists were trying to make an alternative to natural diamonds.
Natural diamonds are considered diamonds that are made by natural processes. They are created, and they are waiting to be mined. The problem is that diamonds are usually very deep in the ground.
Mining equipment and resources aren’t cheap. Not to mention that there is a finite number of diamonds in the ground.
That is why we found an alternative.
Why spend so much money and time mining them, if we can make our own in the lab? Factories don’t care about the look, the size, or the uniqueness of diamonds, but they do care about the price.
Almost all industrial diamonds today are synthetic. Made in a lab, these diamonds are way cheaper than those we mine. And they are scientifically identical.
If you would like to learn more about lab-grown diamonds, check out this article: Lab-created Diamonds: What Are Lab-grown Diamonds?
Diamonds In Different Colors
When we think of diamonds, we usually picture them clear, bright white, and transparent. But that is not really true. Diamonds have their color, but it is subtle.
The Gemological Insitute of America (GIA) developed the International Color Scale. That scale is used to bring consistency in labeling diamond color. This scale uses a jury system to address the color and clarity of every diamond.
The official GIA scale measures the color of white diamonds using letters ranging from D to Z to measure the degree of yellow, brown, or gray in the stone.
There are also some atypical diamonds whose color is beyond the Z rating on the scale. Those are called fancy-colored. They have their own scale, as they come in colors outside the normal range.
While incredibly rare to find in nature, they come in almost all colors that the human eye can see. Most of those diamonds aren’t actually found in nature, they are produced in a lab.
Because the demand for fancy-colored diamonds is huge, and they are extremely rare in nature, many labs decided to produce them.
Lab-grown diamonds are much cheaper than natural ones, and this way everyone can have an exotic piece of jewelry.
Now that we know some facts about diamonds, how about some diamond myths?
Diamonds Are Nicknamed “Ice” Because of Their Clarity
Contrary to popular belief, diamonds didn’t get this nickname because of their clear and sparkling properties. Truth is that before the diamond is cut and polished, it doesn’t quite look like it’s often presented.
This nickname predates cutting and polishing diamonds. When you hold a diamond in your hand, it often makes you feel cold, because of the thermal conduction properties of the crystal. That feeling, like “holding the ice” is actually what formed this well-known nickname.
Related Read: Diamond Slang: Why Are Diamonds Sometimes Called Ice?
Diamonds Can’t Have Curved Surfaces
Diamonds are commonly thought to have flat edges, but there are a couple of methods jewelers use to create curved surfaces.
Although diamonds with curved surfaces won’t sparkle like an expertly cut faceted diamond, they are used in industrial use all the time.
They are most often used in loudspeakers for exceptional fidelity. Some companies use a tightly controlled process to grow diamonds layer by layer in order to produce the perfect sphere.
The exceptional stiffness and low-density ratio of diamonds make them the top-performing material for this application.
Diamonds Are Rare
Did we not just say they were? Well, it depends on the context. Diamonds are more common in the 21st century than ever before, due to advances in technology and mining techniques.
There are also many mines discovered in the last couple of decades, in countries like Australia and Canada.
Even though diamonds are discovered in many locations, and we mine them a lot faster than we used to, true high-quality gems are still pretty rare. It’s not hard to find diamonds that will satisfy industrial needs. But gem-quality stones are still pretty hard to come by.
Diamonds Can’t Be Broken
Diamonds are the hardest substance known to modern science. But that does not mean that they can’t be broken.
Diamonds can be chipped and damaged if not taken care of. If a diamond is subjected to strong impact it can even split into a couple of pieces. Be careful when wearing your diamond ring. If you accidentally hit your hand against a hard surface while wearing it, you do risk damaging the stone.
Related Read: What Can Destroy A Diamond?
Now that we know a lot more about diamonds than we did before, what do you think about them? Would you rather have a diamond ring or a necklace?
We hope that after reading this article you feel more informed about diamonds. We encourage you to read more and spread your knowledge.
If you would like to learn more, feel free to check out this in-depth guide to diamond anatomy.
Share these facts with your kids, and never stop to entertain your curiosity, there is a whole lot more you can read and learn about diamonds.
Have fun and spread your knowledge! If this kind of topic draws your interest, you can be the next scientist or jeweler that makes significant breakthroughs in this field!