It is written that Confucius once mused, “Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without one.” Popularized by everyone from royalty who incorporated them into their regal garb, to movie stars like Marilyn Monroe who put them on the map as “a girl’s best friend”, their allure and charm have persisted for centuries.
Many of us have only a vague understanding about these rare beauties and only tangentially realize how fascinating they truly are.
Forget what you thought you knew about this illustrious stone and dive into these 10 brilliant diamond facts!
- Originating from the Greek word “adamas,” meaning “invincible” or “unbreakable”, this ancient civilization believed diamonds fell to Earth as the splinters of fallen stars.
- Due to a diamond’s thermodynamic instability, pressure and temperature shifts on the Earth’s surface are slowly yet steadily morphing them into graphite. But don’t panic if you’ve just invested in a pricey piece of diamond jewelry. Fortunately, the process is crawling along too slowly for humans to observe.
- Long regarded as “the King of all birthstones”, diamonds are recognized as the April birthstone. Though its origins stretch back to biblical times, it wasn’t until 1912 that the American National Association of Jewelers made official designations that linked certain gemstones to particular months.
- Diamonds are some of the oldest surviving stones on the planet. In fact, most diamonds are generally thought to have formed at least a billion years ago. The oldest known diamond is an estimated 3.3 billion years old. To put that into perspective, the Earth has been around for approximately 4.5 billion years, meaning diamonds began crystallizing almost immediately after its formation!
- Scientists guestimate that chemicals in Uranus and Neptune’s environmental makeup may produce favorable atmospheric conditions for it to literally rain diamonds. If their projections are right, as this diamond downpour occurs, the stones pile up miles-high creating entire mountainous structures made entirely of gemstones.
- However, they’re not the only diamonds found in space; some white dwarf stars are actually fueled by their diamond core. These massive diamonds can weigh as much as 2.27 thousand trillion tons, and when cut, could yield 10 billion trillion carats (1 followed by 34 zeros!) White dwarfstar BPM 37093, which is roughly the size of our Earth Moon, has been affectionately named “Lucy” in reference to the Beatles’ song, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”.
- Clocking in at an impressive 3,106 carats, the Cullinan is the largest diamond discovered on planet Earth so far.
- Most people don’t realize that approximately 80% of the world’s diamonds contain too many inclusions (“birthmark” like damage), to be placed in the jewelry we buy. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t get put to use. In those cases, diamonds find new life through industrial uses like tool polishing.
- Though diamonds are often referred to as “the hardest substance on earth”, based on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, more than 10 years ago, physicists Natalia Dubrovinskaia and colleagues disproved this. By compressing carbon fullerene molecules and heating them, Aggregated Diamond Nanorods (ADNRs) or “hyperdiamonds” emerged, registering roughly 11% harder than their organic diamond counterparts.
- Your run of the mill candle flame also contains millions of tiny diamond particles. Discovered by one Dr. Zho, a series of experiments revealed more than 1.5 million diamond nanoparticles that get created and die each second it burns. Though they’re too small for the human eye to see, look close enough and you’ll find diamond nanoparticles at the center of the flame, surrounded by graphitic and amorphous carbon.