There are probably a couple of things that come to mind when thinking about diamonds. There is, for instance, always some confusion with two terms: diamonds and crystals.
So what’s the deal? What’s one and what’s the other? Or are they the same thing? We need a lot of answers here! But worry not; we found them all.
We did the research and gathered every little detail we could find. And we have to say, the comparison really is fascinating. But let’s not spoil the whole thing right away. All you have to know is that these are both precious things!
Sure, diamonds might cost you just a tad more at the store, but still, the crystals have some great value too. We’ll explain it all in a moment.
But how about we get this thing started: Diamonds Vs. Crystals. What the heck are they, and how are they different?
What Is The Difference Between Diamonds And Crystals?
Alright, let’s get the straight answer out of the way right at the beginning. What’s the difference between diamonds and crystals?
Well, the answer may actually surprise you – there’s almost no difference at all! We know, it sounds a bit weird. Sure, we all know what diamonds are – the shiny glass-like rocks that form underground.
But have you ever wondered what the heck crystals are? The word crystal is often used while talking about diamonds, and indeed you’ve seen some colorful rocks for sale all over the place that are called crystals.
But wait, does that mean that those rocks and diamonds are the same things? No, sadly, they are not. That colorful rock you found on a beach as a kid won’t reel in diamond money, unfortunately. It does share its structure with diamonds, though. But then again, a lot of materials do.
Alright, alright, let’s clear the air once and for all:
What Are Crystals?
There are a lot of crystals in the world, much more than you think. See, the word is not used to describe a specific material but a structure in which atoms and ions are arranged. So, anything that has a crystal structure is a crystal!
And yes, that includes diamonds. So, what else qualifies as a crystal? Well, a LOT of things – much more than we thought. A grain of table salt is technically a crystal. And so is a snowflake and the already mentioned diamonds.
But the list doesn’t stop there. Another typical crystal structure that you probably have in your freezer at the moment is ice! Well, ice is a bit out there – but we’ll get to it in a second.
Let us explain: A “crystal” is an atomic structure in which atoms bond in a crystal pattern that extends in all directions. Have you counted the number of times we said the word “crystal” yet? Well, we’re just getting warmed up.
Besides these types, some subcategories need to be mentioned that don’t entirely fall under the famous name that we shall take a break from repeating – polycrystals. And yes, we said it again, we know.
Polycrystals are a group of microscopic crystals that have been fused into a solid form. The most common examples of this are metals, rocks, ceramics, and ice, among others.
As you probably figured out already, polycrystals are still reasonably strong solids, but they’re weak and distant cousins to what we originally wanted to talk about – diamonds.
Unlike metal, ceramics, or even actual crystals (without the “Polly”), diamonds are the hardest material that we have ever encountered – and they’re virtually indestructible.
They can be destroyed, don’t get us wrong. But you would have to create some pretty hellish conditions to do so.
A Brief Introduction To Diamonds
So we’ve explained what crystals are; well, we tried to at least. How about we now look at what it takes for crystal structures to get promoted to the diamonds category.
The list is relatively short; sorry to disappoint. The only thing that differentiates crystals from diamonds is which atoms are used for the formation.
A crystal can be a lot of things, but there’s only one material that can make diamonds, and that’s carbon.
Diamonds take a long time to form – and besides that, they need to be under extreme heat and pressure to manage to do so. What happens is this: Deep underneath the earth’s surface, carbon atoms get pushed together. The pressure and the heat that do this are so great that the bond created between these atoms takes even harsher conditions to break!
And let’s just mention something else: We weren’t joking when we said that diamonds have a LONG cook time. These tough little guys were discovered 1600 years ago when they were found near a location where a meteor fell.
But here’s the kicker, a 1600-year-old diamond is considered young by experts!
Okay, so not all crystals are diamonds, but all diamonds are crystals? That’s right! But it gets even more interesting.
After what we explained so far, you would imagine that anytime a group of carbon atoms gets together in a crystal formation, they’d form a diamond. Sounds logical, right? Well, it turns out that logic doesn’t always work when it comes to crystals.
Graphite is, just like its brother, the diamond, made out of carbon. Not only that, its atoms are formed in a crystal structure! So is graphite a crystal?
As we said, logic is not always a great trick to use when talking about this subject. No, graphite is not a crystal but a crystalline form of carbon.
So what does it take for something to become a crystal? Well, the answer to that is a bit confusing, and the rules are kind of fast and loose, so we’ll try to simplify it.
Because crystallization can occur in nature with an array of materials, you can’t simply refer to something as “crystal.” You have to say what it’s a crystal of, too.
Now we know what you’re thinking – why don’t we call diamonds crystallized carbon?
Well, it’s all about marketing! Diamonds have been marketed as highly valued stones that are incredibly hard to find, which is far from the truth.
Crystallizing carbon does take a lot of heat and pressure. However, the process itself is pretty common – because, simply put, there’s a lot of carbon around.
But let’s make something clear: Just because diamonds are not a rare occurrence in nature doesn’t mean that they’re not valuable.
Sure, all that marketing we were talking about did rack up the prices, but this is still the hardest material in the world we’re talking about, which is something you can’t say about every crystal!
Because of this, they have industrial uses that separate them from the herd, so to speak. Still, the most valuable diamonds are those cut by professionals and sold for jewelry.
It’s A Matter Of Reputation
While diamonds enjoy the luxurious reputation of being inherited between generations of royal or wealthy families, crystals are usually found in the back of the bottom drawer of an old family home.
It’s not that they hold no value; it’s just that they’re ubiquitous and have a bit of a strange reputation.
One of the things you indeed heard about when it comes to these gemstones is crystal healing – a pseudoscientific method of alternative medicine.
While it has immense popularity worldwide, the practice isn’t based on any factual evidence and is mainly viewed as such in the scientific community.
It is believed that crystals cleanse people’s auras. The practice involves relieving people of “bad energy” and replacing it with “good energy” and is done by placing them on specific spots on the body.
No scientific proof has been found to suggest that this practice has any actual benefits for the body. But it is commonly cited as a great example of the placebo effect and how strong it can be.
The mining, processing, and selling of crystals is a lucrative business even though, similarly to diamonds, they’re not exactly rare in nature. Nonetheless, these two gemstones managed to survive in the market thanks to these reputations.
While it may seem like diamonds are kind of a more serious business because of the luxury that follows them, the crystal marketplace is incredibly profitable, too.
Are All Gemstones Crystals?
Alright, we’ve covered the differences between diamonds and crystals. What about gemstones, though? If the diamonds are just crystallized carbon, what would that make other gemstones?
Well, the rules are still the same! Yes, gems are crystals; to be more precise, they are mineral crystals.
There are many types of gemstones. Some of them hold incredible value, while others are sold for much lower prices. That is because there is a kind of supply and demand operation at play with these minerals.
While diamonds have an inflated price in the marketplace, mineral crystals like these depend on how common or rare they are in nature.
There are also many kinds of gemstones; some are more diamond-like, while others are more crystals found within rocks. Rubies, for instance, enjoy a similar reputation to diamonds.
That is because all of these crystals fall into one common category – stones. We know it sounds a bit vague. What the heck do you mean stones? Let us elaborate.
The category splits into two subcategories that you might be more familiar with – precious and semi-precious stones. Diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphire are considered precious stones. They are usually valued much higher than semi-precious.
Another difference is in how the stones look. All the ones that fall into this group are translucent with subtle colors that separate them from other crystals in their appearance.
The only precious stone that is colorless is the diamond. They lose in value if there’s colorization produced during their formation. The purer they are, the more colorless they get.
Logic would tell you that the precious stones are rarely found in nature or hard to cut. But as we already learned, the supply and demand rule is not always logical because the demand can be artificially created.
There are many more diamonds that can be found in nature than rubies – since rubies have a more complex formation process.
But we know that’s not the case since many corporations control the demand for diamonds by using marketing campaigns or managing the supply unfairly. The same can be said for many crystals that are used in alternative medicine.
While no proof has been found that they actually work, the marketing campaign used to push the demand seems to be working well. And because of it, particular mineral or organic crystals hold a higher price in the marketplace than other, rarer ones.
Grading Precious And Semi-precious Stones
Another difference that we can find between diamonds and other crystals and gemstones is the grading system used to set their price in the marketplace once they’re ready to be sold.
The only crystal that has a universally accepted grading system is diamonds. It was developed back in the 1950s by the Gemological Institute of America. Other gemstones are usually graded using the naked eye.
And there you have it!
Diamonds and crystals are a strange comparison, especially considering that diamonds are, in fact, crystals. But in a general sense, the word is usually associated with crystallized minerals.
All in all, both terms come with some good and some bad reputations behind them:
Diamonds are beautiful and have a certain prestige that follows them into every room. Then again, mineral crystals are pretty fascinating as well. Heck, table salt and sugar are crystals, and that is a pretty massive marketplace in itself.
So we hope that we managed to explain what’s what here. The subject is fascinating, and there are always surprises around the corner the more you learn about it!