Style - Jewelry
By: - at April 14, 2014

15 Remarkable Facts About Diamonds

Besides the heart and the rose, there aren’t too many other symbols that express one’s love more for another person than the sparkling and durable stone of the diamond. The gleaming and glistening gem, which is the consummate engagement symbol, is also a noted emblem of status and wealth. Therefore, it’s not surprising that this remarkable token of love and prestige is notably one of the most amazing substances on the planet. The following information underscores the gem’s properties, uses and history.

remarkable interesting facts about diamonds

15)  The First Diamond Engagement - 1477
The first ever documented use of a diamond ring for an engagement was way back in 1477 when Maximilian I (1459 – 1519), Archduke of Austria offered the diamond to his lady love when he proposed to Mary of Burgundy (1457 - 1482).

marry me?

He presented Mary with a diamond ring as an assurance of his commitment to her, thus inadvertently establishing a tradition that has continued throughout the centuries.

Mary of Burgundy Circa 1490:
Mary of Burgundy Circa 1490

14)  The World’s First Single-Faceted 150-Carat Diamond Ring
In 2012, the Swiss jeweler, Shawish, unveiled the world’s first single-faceted 150-carat diamond ring. The stunning gem, which was produced by altering a single diamond, is estimated to be worth around $70 million.

The Entire Ring is Made From a Single Diamond:
The Entire Ring is Made From a Single Diamond

Mohamed Shawish, the CEO and President of the Geneva-based jewelry company, decided to take on the challenge of producing the diamond, referring to the undertaking as a labor of love. Development began in 2010, when Shawish obtained a copyright on the design of the ring. This was soon followed by numerous tests to ensure the precision of the design. Shawish then bought special laser equipment to meticulously cut the stone. The inspiration behind the work, which was largely art-related, produced a stone that was thought, before 2012, impossible to achieve.

13)  South Africa’s First Diamond Discovery – The Eureka Diamond (Found by a Farm Boy)
Because of the number of diamonds that have been mined in South Africa, the country is a popular venue for mining the gem. However, the very first diamond that was discovered in the country was found by a farm boy who did not realize the worth of the stone.

Eureka Diamond - Cushion-Shaped brilliant cut - 10.73 Carat - Brownish-yellow Diamond:
Eureka Diamond - Cushion-Shaped brilliant cut - 10.73 Carat - Brownish-yellow Diamond

The 21.25 carat diamond, which would later become known as the “Eureka Diamond,” was discovered by a 15-year-old boy named Erasmus Jacobs in 1867. He found it near Hopetown on the Orange River. Jacobs took the jewel home and was using the stone in a game with friends when a neighbor spotted it and asked the boy’s mother if he could have it. Not realizing its incredible value, Jacob’s mother simply gave it away.

The neighbor promptly gave the diamond to the Civil Commissioner, with the gem ultimately ending up in the possession of Queen Victoria. In 1867, the monarchy displayed the jewel at the Paris Exhibition. A hundred years after it was discovered, the Eureka Diamond was donated back to the people of South Africa. The fabulous gem is currently displayed in the nation’s Kimberley Mine Museum.

12)  Artificial Diamonds – An Idea of H.G. Wells
Legendary science fiction writer H.G. Wells (21st September 1866 – 13th August 1946) was one of the first people to suggest that it was possible to create an artificial diamond. He documented his theory in the early 1900s in his story, “The Diamond Maker.”

H.G. Wells Prior to 1922:
H.G. Wells Prior to 1922

Inspired by the ideas set forth in the writing, numerous scientists tried to produce an artificial gem. However, researchers weren’t able to create any man-made gemstones that could fool the keen eye of diamond appraisers at the time.

11)  Naturally Occurring and Cultured Diamonds are Hard to Distinguish by Jewelry Experts
The manufacture of diamonds has come a long way since scientists first tried to embark on the technology. During the last decade, the science has advanced to the point that researchers have now perfected a process known as Chemical Vapor Deposition. This remarkable technology can actually grow diamonds in a matter of days.

DC Plasma (violet) Increases Diamond Output in Chemical Vapor Deposition Chamber:
DC Plasma (violet) Increases Diamond Output in Chemical Vapor Deposition Chamber

Hot-wall Chemical Vapor Deposition System:

Diagram of a Hot-wall Chemical Vapor Deposition System

Amazingly, very few experts can tell the difference between naturally occurring diamonds and the gems that are cultured as the result of the technology.

Plasma Chemical Vapor Deposition System:
Plasma Chemical Vapor Deposition System

Rose-cut Synthetic Diamond Created by Using a Chemical Vapor Deposition Process:

By Steve Jurvetson via Wikimedia Commons

10)  A Diamond Studded Teabag That’s Worth Thousands of Pounds
In 2005, executives at tea manufacturer PG Tips were looking for an elaborately grand way to celebrate the company’s 75th anniversary. That’s when they came up with a spectacular promotional idea. Corporate gurus decided to serve up a very expensive tea bag studded with diamond accents.

PG Tips Diamond Studded Tea Bag:
PG Tips Diamond Studded Tea Bag

The bag showcased 280 small diamond adornments and was valued in the thousands of pounds. According to a spokesperson for the English company, PG Tips felt that the ornamental tea bag was the best way to celebrate the company’s anniversary as well as pay tribute to its customers in the UK, all who follow the English tea-drinking tradition and consume copious amounts of tea.

PG Tips Brand Loose Tea:
PG Tips Brand Loose Tea
By LoopZilla via Wikimedia Commons

Runners-up in the competition received a specially made limited edition diamondless teapot.

9)  The Mir Diamond Mine – Not a Good Place to Fly Over
The Mir Diamond Mine in Siberia is the second largest diamond mine in the world. The excavation is over 3,900 feet wide and more than 1,700 feet deep. A combination of explosives and jet engines were required to cut into the site's permafrost and create the massive hole of the mine.

Open Pit Diamond Mine in Yakutia Has a Depth of 525 Meters:
Open Pit Diamond Mine in Yakutia Has a Depth of 525 Meters
By Vladimir via Wikimedia Commons

In fact, the mine is so big that the downward air flow that it generates has, on several occasions, actually sucked helicopters down into it and caused serious accidents. The airspace above the mine has since been ruled off-limits to all types of aircraft.

Mir Mine or Mirny Diamond Mine:
Mir Mine or Mirny Diamond Mine
By Staselnik via Wikimedia Commons

8)  Most Diamonds are Used in Industrial Applications, Not in Fine Jewelry
While most people would assume that the majority of diamonds are used in elaborate and expensive jewelry, the reality is that most diamonds (about 80% of them) are actually used for industrial reasons throughout the world. Specifically, diamonds are most commonly used for drilling, cutting, polishing and/or grinding purposes.

Close-up of a Diamond Blade:
Close-up of a Diamond Blade
By Hustvedt via Wikimedia Commons

What’s really remarkable about this fact is that the earliest of humankind employed diamonds for some of the same reasons. In 2005, Harvard physicist Peter Lu and his team discovered that the ancient Chinese used diamonds to polish their ceremonial weaponry.

Diamond Knife Blade Edge:
Diamond Knife Blade Edge
By Zephyris via Wikimedia Commons

From as far back as 2500 BC, Chinese warriors used the diamond to add sparkle to their armament. Among naturally occurring substances, corundum, which was used to make the weapons, is second only to the diamond in hardness and strength.

7)  The Diamond is the Hardest Naturally Occurring Substance, but Isn’t the Hardest Substance on Earth
There is a long held belief that diamonds are the hardest substance on the planet. While the gem is the hardest naturally occurring substance, it isn’t the hardest substance in and of itself.

Pyramidal Diamond Anvil Impactor on Vickers Hardness Tester:
Pyramidal Diamond Anvil Impactor on Vickers Hardness Tester
By R. Tanaka via Wikimedia Commons

In 2005, physicist Natalia Dubrovinskaia and her team managed to create aggregated diamond nanorods. By compressing carbon fullerene molecules and heating them at the same time, the researchers managed to produce a series of interconnected rods that formed a substance – basically, a “hyper-diamond” – that is around 11% harder than a diamond stone.

6)  Your Loved One’s Remains Can be Turned into a Diamond that You Can Wear
Although you may find the technology to be rather macabre, some companies, such as Everlasting Memories and Life Gem, offer to convert one’s remains into diamonds. The gemstones, known as memorial or cremation diamonds, are made from cremated ashes.

life gem

Touted as being of the highest quality, the stones, considered creepy by some while poignant by others, are usually derived from the ashes of the deceased’s hair. The wearer of the gem can select from such colors as blue, green, yellow, red, or traditional white.

After the process is completed, the gems can be set in a ring, necklace or earrings for a family member to wear and display.

5)  Diamonds Can Fall From the Sky
Don’t get your hopes up because it’s incredibly rare, but it is a fact that diamonds can fall from the sky. The heaven-sent stones descend as meteors into the earth’s atmosphere. Scientists realized this phenomenon in 1981 when a group of researchers attempted to cut open a meteorite that had landed in Antarctica. However, they found that they could not incise the rock.

Meteorites Can Contain Microscopic Diamonds:
Meteorites Can Contain Microscopic Diamonds

When they examined the meteorite with an X-ray then, they discovered that the shooting star was filled with microscopic diamonds. Scientists speculated that the diamonds formed as the comet collided with other objects as it sped through asteroid belt.

Enlargement of the Abee Meteorite - Scattered Throughout are Microscopic Diamonds:
Enlargement of the Abee Meteorite - Scattered Throughout are Microscopic Diamonds

A number of other similar cases involving diamonds and meteorites have since emerged. In some instances, however, the diamonds weren’t formed in space but rather when the meteorite hit the ground. Interestingly, space and earth diamonds differ in form as the diamonds created from outer space are hexagonally shaped while their earthen counterparts take the familiar form of the diamond shape.

4)  It Doesn’t Rain Cats and Dogs on Uranus and Neptune – Instead, it Rains Diamonds!
The surfaces of the planet Uranus and Neptune are littered with diamonds, so much so that the planets have accumulated diamond piles that are several miles deep. Because both planets contain a lot methane in their incredibly dense and hot atmospheres (temperatures hover around 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit), rain is produced in diamond form.

The Planet Uranus

Neptune raining diamonds

The atmospheric pressure, which is 6,000,000 times that of the earth’s, causes the methane in each planet’s environment to turn into diamonds whenever there’s a rainy spell.

3)  Diamonds Can Be Made From Peanut Butter
In 2007, in an attempt to discover new and easier ways of making diamonds caused researchers to stumble on a serendipitous discovery. The scientists found that peanut butter could be used to make diamonds. Basically, most things with carbon can be turned into diamonds, if enough pressure is applied and the temperature is just right.

peanut butter and diamonds

However, the kind of pressure that would need to be created would be the type that be equal to a meteor impact. Nevertheless, researchers at Edinburgh University’s Center for Science and Extreme Conditions were able to replicate such extreme conditions. Led by Professor Malcolm McMahon, researchers discovered they could produce a diamond by what is known as the “stiletto heel effect.” In the experiment, researchers squeezed a small sample of peanut butter between the tips of two diamonds in order to realize the effect.

diamonds from peanut butter and pressure

Again, a variety of substances that contain carbon can be used to produce diamonds and peanut butter is just one of them. Obviously, if you apply enough pressure to certain elements, amazing things can be achieved.

2)  A Diamond Star Exists!
In 2004, astronomer Travis Metcalfe of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and his colleagues discovered a star that is an astounding ten billion trillion trillion carat diamond. The solar gem is located 50 light years away from Earth in the constellation Centaurus.

Metcalfe and his team jokingly named their discovery “Lucy,” in reference to the famous song by the Beatles, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” Lucy is technically a white dwarf, which is a remnant of a star which has died and crystallized.

BPM 37093 - The Diamond Star:
BPM 37093 - The Diamond Star

Officially called BPM 37093, Lucy is nearly 2,500 miles wide. Scientists had speculated for years as to whether a white dwarf’s core would crystallize. The discovery of Lucy confirmed their suspicions. That means there is a good possibility that there are countless planet-sized diamonds located throughout the universe. Our own sun is expected to die eventually and will also become a white dwarf in about 5 billion years.

1)  Candle Flames Are Made Up of Tiny Diamonds
In 2011, chemistry professor Wuzong Zhou of the University of St. Andrews made the astounding discovery that a candle’s flame produces approximately 1,500,000 diamond nanoparticles per second. These particles ultimately burn up and convert into carbon dioxide.

candle flame

Zhou made the discovery after he was challenged by a peer from another university to determine the composition of a candle’s flame. Utilizing a new sampling technique, which he developed, Zhou managed to remove certain particles from the flame, which was also the first time for such an achievement.

Zhou discovered that the flame contained all four known forms of carbon. While it was already known that a flame consists of hydro-carbon molecules at the bottom and that they are turned into carbon dioxide at the top, Zhou discovered diamond nanoparticles in the center of the flame.

diamonds from candle light

Although Zhou managed to take a sample of the diamond nanoparticles, there’s currently no way of extracting them. Just how the diamonds are produced by the flame is unclear. However, the discovery may open the door in the future to the more efficient production of diamonds at a lower cost.

With certain technological advancements in place, diamonds of exceptional quality can now be produced. Although you might believe that the gem’s intrinsic worth will decline if it’s made by artificial means, it’s highly unlikely that using certain technologies will negatively affect a diamond’s worth now or in the future.

Whether a diamond is naturally occurring or not, the rock is still remarkably valuable, given its ubiquitous use in the industrial fields of work. Furthermore, the diamond has a sentimental and symbolic worth attached to it. Therefore, the influence that is exerted by the sparkling gem will always make carbon a highly prized element and the diamond a treasure on Earth as well as in space.





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Jewelry Through the Ages

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