Diamond is the world’s most valued rock. It is essentially everything humans can ask for in a mineral. Beautiful and tough – a combination rarely found in nature. The process of forming diamonds is a very demanding one, and as most people fixate on the diamond’s appearance and strength, scientists are marveling at the precious gem’s incredible origins. So, what makes a diamond, a diamond?
A Condition Like No Other
More than ninety miles below us, rocks called peridotite cover precious diamonds. It will take temperatures around 2000°F for diamonds to crystallize, and the only way for them to cover the distance from us is through volcanic activity. Even then, aggressive molten rock will oxidize most of the diamonds as they ascend, meaning each piece of the precious gem we have with us rode, and survived, the most extreme elevator the world has to offer.
A Lot of Time
Whenever we pawn a diamond, jewelers will always take into consideration the amount of handiwork each diamond went through. Intricate, flawless cuts usually fetch more money, but the time required to enhance a diamond in the rough isn’t nearly as lengthy as what it takes to form one. The youngest diamonds are twenty million years old. In fact, the mineral had already started forming near the time of the planet’s birth. The gemstones we use to accessorize are older than humanity itself- keep that in mind the next time you come across a very expensive ring.
A Bit Luck
Of the small fraction of the diamonds that make it to the surface, only an even smaller fraction ends up being found. Finding where the volcanoes spewed out these rare gems is a challenge in itself, and mining them is a whole other story.
The value we place in diamonds is far from misplaced. It is a product of the ages — millions of years underground in the harshest conditions, toughened through time and beautified by darkness.