Everyone knows the basic facts about diamonds: they’re the hardest substance in nature, they’re formed underground, and humans have been using them as jewelry for centuries. To celebrate these precious stones we’ve gathered what we consider to be some of the most interesting diamond facts that you might not already know.
Read on and you’ll uncover 7 facts that we think are real gems– if you’ll pardon our pun.
7. Diamonds are old. Like really old.
Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and the oldest diamonds are around 3.3 billion years old. That’s really old. To put that into perspective for you: humans have only existed for around 200,000 years.
The British Jewellers’ Association claims that all natural diamonds have existed for at least 900 million years. This means that some diamonds have been sitting underground since before the time of dinosaurs. Makes you wonder how old the engagement ring or the diamond earrings you’ve had forever are, doesn’t it?
6. Man-made diamonds aren’t just science fiction anymore.
While humans have been trying since at least 1880 to create man made diamonds, the first reported success was in 1953. Though these ‘synthetic diamonds’ are grown in a laboratory, they’re very similar to naturally occurring diamonds.
5. Ancient beliefs about diamonds
Diamonds have been around for billions of years, and humans have been fascinated with the gem for hundreds of thousands of years as demonstrated by ancient cultures. There is evidence that diamonds were being collected and traded in India as early as the 4th century BC. Some of our current diamond traditions are even likely to be a result of these ancient beliefs!
- The word ‘diamond’ derives from the Greek word ‘adamas’ which translates as invincible or indestructible.
- The custom of wearing out engagement rings on the fourth finger of our left hand is believed to have stemmed from the ancient Egyptian belief that the vena amoris (the vein of love) runs directly from the heart to the top of the ring finger.
- The earliest association between diamonds and romantic love is the ancient Roman’s belief that cupid’s arrows were tipped with the gem.
4. Diamonds are NOT the rarest stone on earth
There are at least 10 gemstones rarer than diamonds. Some of these gemstones change color depending on the light, one glows neon blue under UV light, and many have only recently been discovered within the last 50 years.
The rarest gem known by humans is the Red Beryl. It resembles a scarlet emerald (it is bright fire engine red) and was first found in 1904. To give you an idea of how rare they are: rubies (which are a rare gem themselves) are approximately 8,000 times more common than Red Beryl.
Hence the big price tag: Red Beryl have been known to reach as much as $10,000 per carat for cut stones.
3. The first diamond engagement ring
The first documentation of a diamond engagement ring dates back to 1477. The Archduke Maximilian of Austria reportedly gifted to his betrothed (Mary of Burgundy) a gold ring with an M spelled out in diamonds.
The invention of the engagement ring is sometimes credited to ancient Egyptians, and it is thought that ancient Greeks even adopted a variation of the custom. But the practice of an engagement ring can accurately only be traced back as far as ancient Rome.
Supposedly women in ancient Rome were given two engagement rings: an iron one to wear at home, and a gold one to wear in public.
2. The most legendary diamond heist of the century
The Antwerp Diamond Heist, often referred to as “The Diamond Heist of the Century”, occurred in 2003. The crime is believed to have been carried out by a group of Italian thieves who go by the name “La Scuola di Torino” (The School of Turin). The group leader Leonardo Notarbartolo was ultimately sentenced to 10 years in prison and has since been released on parole, though none of the precious diamonds were ever recovered.
The group of thieves made it past 10 layers of security to pull off this storied crime including: infrared heat detectors, Doppler radar, a magnetic field, a seismic sensor, and a lock with 100 million possible combinations. They made it out with loose diamonds, gold, and other jewelry worth a total of 100 million dollars.
So how did the mastermind behind this heist ultimately get caught? From a sandwich. Notarbartolo was connected to the crime with DNA evidence found on a partially eaten sandwich found near the crime scene.
1. Diamonds in space
This fact is #1 on our list for good reason. The thought of a diamond planet or diamond star existing in space could’ve only occurred in our wildest dreams. But alas, as of 2004 that dream is now a reality thanks to astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
50 light years away from Earth there exists a star. It’s essentially a chunk of crystallized carbon weighting 5 million trillion trillion pounds. Which would equal a diamond of around 10 billion trillion trillion carats. This makes the largest precious stone on earth (The Golden Jubilee Diamond, which is 545 carats) look like chump change. Fittingly, this dazzler was named Lucy after The Beatles song Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.
Bonus fact: some scientists say that Uranus and Neptune may literally rain diamonds, which then pile up miles thick.
What do you think of our compilation of diamond facts? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section, or contact us to learn more about selling your own precious stones.
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