If dog is man’s best friend, a girl’s best friend is….Diamonds? Well that depends on who you ask. Even if you don’t care for sparkly finger baubles, diamonds still have many other industrial uses, and are quite interesting aside from their decorative use. And if you do like the sparkly bobs, there’s a lot more to know about the iconic gemstone than carat weight. What is there to know? Check out these 25 Stunning Diamond Facts You’ll Want To Know.
Carats refer to how much a gemstone weighs, not it's actual size. The "4C" of diamond buying are Carat, Color, Cut, and Clarity, referring to the weight, the color, how well or what shape it's cut in, and how flawed it is internally.
Diamonds actually come in a wide array of colors, from blues - like the Hope Diamond - and pinks to yellows and browns. It USED to be, once upon a time, that brown and yellow diamonds were considered less valuable than the more well known white diamonds, but clever advertisers have sold us on "Chocolate" and "Canary" diamonds, and so we now all have the privilege of paying more for them because they've created a demand.
The first Diamond mines were in India nearly 3,000 years ago.
Please know where your diamonds come from! Conflict Diamonds - also known as Blood Diamonds - usually come from Africa and are defined by the United Nations as "...diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council." And yes, they're sometimes mined by slaves. While thankfully, conflict free diamonds are becoming more and more popular, please, check your sources.
Diamonds are made out of carbon, about 100 miles under the surface of the earth. Well, carbon, and pressure, and heat. Most diamonds have been pushed towards the earth's surface by volcanic eruptions at some point. The other way to make diamonds is in a laboratory. And yes, lab created diamonds sparkle just as much.
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It rains diamonds on Saturn and Jupiter. This is because of the chemical makeup of the atmosphere on these planets. In the upper atmosphere, lighting turns methane into soot, which is then pressurized as it falls towards the planet's surface, eventually turning into graphite and then diamonds.
Around 80% of diamonds are used for industrial purposes, only about 20% make the cut for jewelry. Get it? Diamond? Cut? No?
Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed to his beloved Mary of Burgundy in 1477 with a ring encrusted with small diamonds in the shape of an "M". This is the first known diamond engagement ring.
Rough diamonds look very very different from their faceted final jewelry form, and lose about half of their carat weight in the process of cutting, shaping, and polishing.
Greek philosopher Plato wrote about diamonds as if they were living beings that embodied celestial spirits. Seems weird to us now, but ancient Romans and Greeks thought pretty highly of diamonds, including thinking that they were tears of the gods and that Cupid's arrows were tipped with diamonds.
Tracy Hall, who developed the first synthetic diamond process for GE, making them a bazillionty dollars (estimated), was given a $10 savings bond as a bonus for discovering the process.
Less than 1% of women in the world will ever wear a diamond 1 carat or ever, according to some estimates. So, ladies, if you have a diamond of 1 carat or more on your finger, you are the 1%. (Depending on what you're talking about.)
The Dubai First Royal credit card has gold trim and single .235 carat diamond in the center, and Sberbank-Kazakhstan (a bank of Kasakhstan) offered a Visa Infinite card with 26 diamonds, made of gold and mother of pearl. That particular card cost $100,000, just for the card.
Diamonds are a pretty cruddy investment. Considering how many diamonds the US public already owns, if everyone started selling their diamonds instead of passing them down, the perceived and actual value of diamonds would drop significantly. And since they aren't all that rare or unique, there's not really a decent aftermarket. You pay retail when you buy jewelry from a store, but when you try to sell your diamonds, you generally get less than wholesale.
The largest cut white diamond to date is called "The Star of Africa" and weighs an impressive 530 Carats. It's cut in a teardrop shape. It was found in 1905, in Pretoria, South Africa.
Synthetic Diamonds have been produced from Tequila. Physicists from the National Autonomous University of Mexico discovered how to do this in 2008. They also discovered that you can make them using $3 a bottle Tequila. Sadly, the process doesn't produce diamonds large enough for jewelry, but that doesn't mean they don't have exciting industrial applications.
The iconic "round" cut diamond is actually called a "brilliant" cut, and it has 58 facets. A diamond cutter named Marcel Tolkowsky actually wrote a thesis on this in 1919, stating the ideal proportions of a round diamond cut to maximize sparkle. Before this, "round" cut diamonds were far from uniform, showing differences from cutter to cutter. Brilliant cuts are also the most expensive per carat.
The Golden Jubilee Diamond is the largest cut faceted diamond in the world. Unlike The Star of Africa, this diamond is brown, and comes in at an impressive 545.67 carats. It was discovered in 1986 and is currently owned by the King of Thailand.
The most sought after colored diamond is pink. Vivid pink, to be exact.
In 2004, astronomer Travis Metcalfe discovered a "Diamond Star" 50ish light-years away from earth. It's the compressed heart of an old star - carbon + pressure = diamond, even in space. The star was named "Lucy" because...in the sky...with diamonds.
The first known use of diamonds, like the use of most diamonds today, was industrial. A physicist at Harvard discovered that the ancient Chinese used diamonds to polish axes used in ceremonies and burials, over 4,000 years ago.
Blue colored diamonds are blue due to the presence of boron and are the rarest color; yellow and orange diamonds are due to nitrogen, and green due to from exposure to gamma rays over time within the earth. Interestingly, the color of a green diamond gets more muted and brownish towards the center. No one's quite sure why pink diamonds are pink, though it's believed to be due to something called plastic deformation, which is what happens when enough pressure is applied to a structure to change it's shape. In the case if gemstones, that would change the way they refract light, and thus how we see them.
When exposed to short wave UV light, The Hope Diamond glows red. This actually lasts several seconds after exposure ends. This could, possibly, maybe have something to do with why it's got a reputation for being cursed. That and its previous owners dying horrible deaths.
You can have your loved one's ashes turned into a synthetic diamond. There are several companies that do this. You send them your loved one's cremated remains, and they extract the carbon from them, turn it into graphite, and put that under very high pressure to create a diamond.
Diamonds aren't actually that rare or valuable, except that De Beers marketing made us think so, and their control of the diamond mines at the time created a false demand. The diamond's subsequent placement in American Culture has led us to think it's an important part of romance, but that was literally the goal of the marketing campaign. If you're living in a Western Country and wearing a diamond engagement or wedding ring, you can thank De Beers. Prior to 1938, engagement rings, heck, wedding rings, weren't nearly as common as they are now. People SOMETIMES exchanged them, but it was a luxury, and diamonds weren't any more common than any other gem.
Photo Credits: Feature Image: shutterstock, 25. Sally V, Diamond Balance Scale 0.01 – 25 Carats Jewelers Measuring Tool, CC BY-SA 4.0, 24. shutterstock, 23. Saravask, based on work by Planemad and Nichalp, India climatic zone map en, CC BY-SA 3.0, 22. Brian Harrington Spier via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 21-18. wikimedia commons – Public Domain, 17. James St. John, Diamonds- Zaire, (DR Congo) (8458935824), CC BY 2.0, 16-15. wikimedia commons – Public Domain, 14. Kim Kardasian/Instagram via http://www.nydailynews.com, 13. Nick Youngson/ nyphotographic.com via picserver, CC BY-SA 3.0, 12 pictures of money via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 11. Chris 73 / Wikimedia Commons, Great Star of Africa diamond – copy, CC BY-SA 3.0, 10. pixabay.com (public domain), 9. pexels.com – Public Domain, 8. en.wikipedia.org – Labeled Fair Use: Necessary to illustrate topic; no free sources available), 7. commons.wikimedia.org – Public Domain, 6. www.pexels.com – Public Domain, 5. commons.wikimedia.org – Public Domain, 4. Fancy Diamonds via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 3. wikimedia commons – Public Domain, 2. Parrot of Doom, St georges church graveyard Carrington Greater Manchester, CC BY-SA 3.0, 1. Jim Harper (Pixel23), Diamond engagement ring on woman hand 6313, CC BY-SA 2.5