You all know that diamonds should last forever. But, like with all things in this world, they probably are destructible in one way or the other.
So, what can destroy a diamond, and how easy is it to actually do that?
Well, it’s easier than you probably imagined since the misrepresentation of the hardness of a diamond is quite common, so you might believe that it’s virtually indestructible. There are numerous ways to destroy a diamond. So many occurrences can damage or completely destroy this precious stone, that it’s hard to list them all.
But, I’ve gone out of my way to find all the ways you could destroy a diamond in order to help you familiarize yourself with the things you should avoid doing if you want to keep your diamond in one piece and with as little damage as possible.
Let’s take a look at all the ways I’ve stumbled upon that will without question totally destroy a diamond, or just inflict enough damage that the diamond will be considered destroyed beyond repair.
Without further stalling, let’s take a look at some ways to do this!
Hardness Of The Diamonds
In order to understand what force you need to destroy a diamond, you should first familiarize yourself with the hardness and the toughness of the said object.
There are numerous ways to determine a diamond’s hardness level, but the most common and widely accepted system of measuring this is the Mohs scale.
“What is the Mohs scale?”, you might ask. Well, it’s a qualitative ordinal scale that goes from 1 (being the softest) all the way to 10 (being the hardest). This scale is used only for mineral hardness scaling, so other things (such as metals) that are not minerals aren’t included.
On this scale, diamonds are rated with a 10, meaning they are the most durable and hard-to-destroy minerals on the earth.
Learn More: Why Is Diamond So Hard?
Some people say that they are the hardest mineral to destroy, but we leave that to personal interpretation. This points to one thing – if you aren’t going to destroy a diamond on purpose, the diamond is quite hard to damage in any unintentional way.
So, this not only means that your diamond will probably last forever, but it also means that you need to try quite hard to destroy it, even on purpose.
For example, many people think that diamonds can be destroyed by human teeth, which is absolutely not true. Not only that the diamond will stay intact, but your teeth will shatter as well as a result of this reckless experiment.
This implicates that the diamonds are quite hard to even damage a little bit, so you have to be very picky when it comes to ways to destroy one.
Hammer – Physical Force
This is the most common way that people use to destroy diamonds. Let us just say that people who do this do it mainly for research purposes and not for fun.
Diamonds are extremely expensive because they’re hard to find and even harder to shape into shapes that are familiar to us. This is the sole reason for you not to attempt to destroy a diamond if you happen to get your hands on one of them.
People who test their products (such as hammers) do this semi-often to test the quality or durability of their products. Well, how hard should you be able to hit a diamond with a hammer in order to break it? That’s not that easy to explain, but it’s not impossible to wrap your head around the answer.
First of all, humans (in general) are able to produce a force of around 4N by pushing on a surface with one of their fingers. Anything over that should be considered extraordinary strength that is not that common.
If you also include the fact that you’re not hitting the diamond with your bare hands, or should we say fingers, but with a hammer instead – there should be a force reachable by any human that is enough to break a diamond.
A hammer works in a way that lets you concentrate all the force your body produces with a simple swing of a hand in one small area that is called the head of the hammer.
This allows you to strike your target with a much greater force than you’d be able to produce if you were hitting that same object with the palm of your hand.
It’s also quite easy to swing a hammer, so anyone who might be considered weaker than usual might also be able to do this. If you swing a hammer with a force of around 4 newtons and hit a diamond directly – you should be able to break it.
There are a few things that could happen in this scenario that could potentially prevent the breaking of the said diamond.
The first such scenario is that if you miss the diamond’s center and hit it on the side. This could result in the diamond flying away under such force without shattering or being damaged. This is why you have to be extra careful if you plan on doing this since this could cause some unwanted damage.
What we mean by this is that a diamond that flew off as a result of you not hitting it straight on and hitting a surface that is unprotected can cause damage to that surface. The most common items that can be damaged as a result of this situation are your phone screen, TV screens, windows, glass panels or tables, and glasses.
If you’re planning on performing such an experiment that includes hitting a diamond with a hammer, you should first protect your eyes and vital parts of your body such as neck and crotch, protect all the things that can be damaged (such as things I’ve listed above), and then proceed to hit the diamond with the hammer.
Another scenario that can make this experiment go wrong is that if you place a diamond with its pointing end facing down towards the hard surface that the diamond is laying on. It’s quite possible that the surface that the diamond is laying on is quite softer than the diamond and can easily be penetrated or damaged by it.
A common thing that I’ve seen while doing this is that the pointy end of the diamond will penetrate the surface and get stuck like that. This isn’t a big problem in the sense that you can grab a pair of pliers and pull it out. Sometimes you can do it with your fingers if it’s not that stuck.
To prevent this from happening, you just need to place the diamond upside down and have the pointy part of the diamond facing up. If the diamond is in that position, it’s much easier to shatter it into pieces for two main reasons.
The first reason is that the surface of impact will be even smaller and the stress put on the tip of the diamond will shatter it almost instantly.
The other reason for it breaking easier in this position is that the flat surface of the diamond being down on the supporting surface provides much more stability – thus not letting the diamond roam around freely after being hit.
This is probably the most common way of positioning the diamond before hitting it with a hammer for maximum efficiency.
See Also: Can Diamond Be Crushed?
Fire – Will It Burn?
Burning a diamond isn’t something that many people get as an idea. But, contrary to what some of you may believe – diamonds can burn. The temperature needed for this is extremely high, but that doesn’t mean that it’s unreachable.
A simple blowtorch that burns on a certain level can set a diamond on fire destroying it almost completely.
Remember, everything burns if you expose it to enough heat (including diamonds). But the real question is how much heat is needed to burn a diamond to a degree that it’s considered destroyed?
Well, that’s not a simple answer to give either. Diamonds should start burning at around 850 or 900 degrees Celsius, or around 1565 degrees Fahrenheit.
But, what sources of heat can reach that point? Let us tell you – you’d be surprised.
A simple house blowtorch that is a bit higher quality can reach it. Also, there are torches that are called jewelers’ torches that can easily surpass this temperature and damage a diamond beyond reparation.
As you can see there is a pattern of ways of destroying a diamond being simpler and easier than you’d imagine. This way of destroying a diamond is much more dangerous than the previous one for obvious reasons. Such high temperatures not only burn diamonds but also burn things around it as well.
We wouldn’t recommend playing with heat that strong in any situation – especially this situation. There’s hardly any material or object that can withstand that heat and not be damages that you can use to protect yourself.
In case you chose to do this, a stone surface is recommended as well as conducting this experiment outside for obvious reasons. If you were to do this inside, you risk burning something that you weren’t supposed to burn and causing a hazardous situation that is not controlled or recovered easily or quickly.
So, if you were to do it, do it outside, in a controlled environment far away from things that burn easily, and do it in a way that doesn’t allow all the heat to get to wooden areas of your surroundings.
Acid – Is Melting An Option?
Some people think that the power of some acids is enough to dissolve a diamond with ease. Well, those people aren’t quite right. Not only that the conditions for this to work must be controlled and pre-set, but the acid you’re using also plays a big role in this scenario.
There are some acids that can partially dissolve a diamond in some controlled environments. For example, stomach acid is preheated to 200 – 300 degrees Celcius in a stainless steel pressure tank, it will be able to dissolve a very small part of your diamond.
The problem with melting diamonds in acid is that the melting point of diamonds is around 4500 degrees Celsius (or around 8132 degrees Fahrenheit). All acids have a boiling point of much less than that. For example, Carboxylic acids have a boiling point of 101 degrees Celcius which is much lower than the diamond’s melting point.
This brings us to the conclusion – acids can’t dissolve or melt diamonds because the temperature that is needed to burn a diamond in order to let the acid do its job is much higher than the temperature that any acid can withstand.
Not all ideas for destroying diamonds are effective, as you can see. Some of them might work in controlled environments, and some of them won’t work at all. So the question of what can destroy a diamond is not a question with many answers.
We think that the best way of destroying it is using the physical force of a hammer. This method will not only bring the most destructive results but is also the safest one to use in almost any situation.
Again, we don’t recommend you conduct any of these experiments and we emphasize that untrained professionals shouldn’t do things that may result in further damage to surroundings or to people who conduct the said experiment.
If you have a particular reason for destroying a particular diamond, it’s best you bring it to your local jeweler and let them deal with it. Trained professionals will always do the job in a safer way in a much more controlled environment that will not endanger anyone nearby.