The mysteries of diamonds mean different things to different people. The desire to find and own diamonds create questions of where diamonds come from and what makes them so special. The 4C’s are truly dependent on nature and only form under specific environmental conditions. Thanks to modern day science, most of the mystery surrounding diamond formation has been revealed.
It goes without saying that diamonds are very old. In fact, diamonds have formed over a large portion of our planet’s existence. While planet Earth formed about 4.65 billion years ago, the first diamonds formed 3.3 billion years ago. Some of the youngest diamonds on earth are still almost one billion years old.
Diamonds are formed under extreme and extroardinary conditions. For diamonds to form temperatures must be between 1,700 to 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit. The pressure must be between 650,000 and 870,000 pounds per square inch. For perspective, the pressure on the floor of the Pacific Ocean is only 5,985 pounds per square inch. Diamonds form deep inside the Earth, primarily from 90 to 120 miles beneath the Earth’s surface. This area is called the diamond stability field and it lies under the rock platforms that form the continents. Only this part of the Earth creates the right circumstances for diamonds to form. Diamond crystals grew at different rates and took many years to reach the surface. Often, it is volcanic activity that brings these crystals to the Earth’s surface.
The final key ingredient for diamond formation is the presence of carbon. A diamond’s chemical composition is made entirely of carbon. Typically diamonds are made up of 99.95 percent carbon but some can contain as much as 99.99 percent carbon. Interestingly, a diamond is the only gem composed of just one element. Carbon atoms create diamond crystals by sharing electrons through covalent bonding. Each carbon atom bonds with four others to form a tetrahedron. The arrangement of carbon atoms in a diamond is almost perfectly symmetrical. Carbon can form into three different shapes, a cube, octahedron, or dodecahedron. The shape of the crystal determines the shape of the diamond after cut.
Knowing where diamonds come from only increases the magic of these unique stones. For all of these unique conditions to occur at the same time is truly an incredible shot of luck. Be sure to keep this in mind the next time you are admiring your own diamond or one in a jewelry store.