The Origination Of Diamonds: Location, Formation, & Purpose
These days, diamonds are everywhere. Not only that, but they serve multiple purposes. For some, diamonds are an aesthetic choice, meant to adorn a woman’s left ring finger, earrings, or neck. For others, diamonds are used for drill bits and saw blades because as one of the hardest materials, they can cut just about anything — including other jewels. But have you ever wondered where you can find diamonds? Join us for a brief history, science, and geography lesson about diamonds!
How are diamonds formed?
So first off, the big one: how are diamonds made? Through a combination of incredible heat and pressure deep under the surface of the Earth, mixed with carbon atoms. The amount of pressure we’re talking about is approximately 60 elephants stacked on top of a single silver dollar. If you want to get technical, carbon atoms must be under 725,000 pounds of pressure per square inch at a temperature of over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. This mix of pressure, heat, and elements causes carbon atoms to rearrange themselves and form a natural diamond.
Cool, now we answered the question of how diamonds are formed. But if they’re way below the Earth’s surface, how did they end up in the hands of humans?
How did humans first discover diamonds?
Volcanoes! Volcanic activity pushes diamonds to the surface, and along the way, they might mix with miniscule amounts of other minerals, like boron or radioactive uranium, to create fancy colored diamonds. Mother Nature does her job bringing diamonds to the Earth’s surface, and from there, it is up to humans to decide whether the diamond is suitable for jewelry or other applications. Fun fact: only a small portion of diamonds that make it to the Earth’s surface are actually suitable for jewelry!
When were diamonds first discovered?
Now for the history portion of our lesson: as far as researchers can tell, diamonds date back to the 4th century BC in India. During that time period, diamonds were gathered from the country’s rivers and streams and transported along the Silk Road, a network of trade routes that connected China and India to Western Europe — that is, if they weren’t being used by members of India’s wealthy elite.
For many, diamonds served a practical purpose: they could refract light, engrave and cut metal, provide protection in battle, and some believed they could cure illnesses and heal wounds when ingested. It wasn’t until around the 1400s that diamonds became desirable accessories for European aristocracy.
Where can diamonds be found today?
These days, diamonds tend to be found in places that have experienced volcanic activity in the past, including the ocean floor. The more we learn, the easier it becomes to predict locations for new diamond discoveries and today’s diamonds regularly come from Africa, Russia, Australia, and Canada — a long way from India and the Silk Road origins! With all that said, mining diamonds is no easy task: miners must move 250 tons of earth just to find a single carat.
Ethical Diamond Mining
At Samuelson’s, we know that the ethics of diamond mining can be murky, which is why we strive to further the practice of sustainability by being thoughtful and intentional about how diamonds are used — such as when we acquire estate pieces and repurpose them into new designs.
If you’re interested in learning more about how diamonds are made or where diamonds are found, we’d love to share our knowledge! We’re also happy to share our collection of natural diamonds if you want to see what catches your eye. Call us today at (410) 837-0290 or contact us online to request an appointment with one of our certified experts today.
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