Diamonds are an iconic and valuable natural resource that is commonly used in jewelry making. Because natural diamonds are limited, scientists have explored methods to create lab-grown diamonds. This raises questions about what makes a diamond valuable. In this article, you’ll learn all about the value of diamonds, what they are, and how they are made.

What Are Diamonds?

Diamonds in Glass Tube Covered with Cork

Image via Flickr by Jared Tarbell.

A diamond is a rare, carbon-based mineral that is formed naturally in the ground. They are the result of a process that occurs when carbon atoms deep inside the earth come into contact with extreme heat and pressure and then are released to the earth’s surface. This process can also be repeated in a lab setting.

A diamond is one of the strongest substances known to humans. For this reason, diamonds are known for their prevalence in timeless jewelry and impenetrable tools made for heavy-duty cutting and carving. Among a diamond’s unique qualities are a high refraction index and exceptional luster.

From Pressure to Priceless: The Natural Formation of Diamonds

Diamonds mined today were formed more than three billion years ago under the intense heat and pressure that exists deep inside Earth’s crust. Temperatures required for forming diamonds range from 1,650 to 2,370 degrees Fahrenheit. The pressure required for forming diamonds is 50,000 times that of Earth’s surface. These conditions are only found inside the earth.

Simultaneously, for diamonds to exist on the earth’s surface today, magma from Earth’s mantle was forced to the surface, cutting through land and creating tube-like pathways. During this process, diamonds traveled within the magma down the route created by it. Eventually, the magma dried and hardened to form kimberlite rock.

Today, miners find diamonds in mines of kimberlite. The name kimberlite stems from the South African city of Kimberley, where the first diamonds were discovered.

Other Ways to Create Diamonds

Creating a diamond synthetically speeds up the process of diamond formation exponentially. Diamonds grown in a lab can form in a matter of weeks. When a diamond is created in a lab, a diamond starter, known as a seed, is put into a pressure chamber, where heat and pressure are applied in a controlled setting. There are two primary ways that scientists accomplish this:

Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD)

CVD is a process that creates gem-quality diamonds. In addition to using these in jewelry, the quality of diamond produced by CVD is used for creating semi-conductors and in optics. In CVD, carbon-rich gasses, like methane, are heated to high temperatures until the carbon separates from the gas, creating a layer of diamonds at the bottom of the chamber. Commonly, this process can take up to ten weeks.

High-Pressure High-Temperature (HPHT)

HPHT is a process in which a diamond’s natural creation is recreated in a lab. It requires an incredibly controlled environment in order to be successful. Scientists creating lab-grown diamonds in this way will use materials like graphite, metals, powders, and even a molten solution. These components are all a part of the process, which occurs in a growth cell with a diamond seed in it. Once the process is complete and the molten solution has dried, a diamond can be cut and mined from the resulting rock.

Diamonds: A Valuable Natural Resource

Lab-created diamonds are more affordable than mined diamonds, but to some discerning buyers, they may not offer the same value as natural diamonds. There are many reasons that natural diamonds are so valuable. These are:

Age

Natural diamonds are hundreds of millions, if not billions, of years old. That makes them very special to collectors who appreciate the history of a diamond. Due to its age and mining practices, it’s very hard to tell how many times a diamond has exchanged hands before it makes it into a solitaire setting for a diamond engagement band. For many diamond enthusiasts, it’s this mysterious ancient history that makes diamonds so unique.

Process

The process of natural diamond creation is a spectacular feat of science. When four carbon atoms form covalent bonds around a single central carbon atom under the right conditions of pressure and heat, a diamond is formed.

While scientists can recreate this process in a lab, the natural process of diamond creation is a remarkable combination of the right things being in the right place at the right time to cause a reaction that sends diamonds soaring to the earth’s surface on a sea of magma. This unique, unpredictable process offers mystique to diamond lovers who marvel in their creation every time they wear a piece of diamond jewelry.

Beauty

Because diamonds have high refraction, high luster, and clarity, they offer colorless beauty that captures light and creates prisms. A diamond’s telltale shimmer is exactly what jewelers seek to enhance with a diamond’s cut. These cuts are created by taking into consideration facets, tables, culets, girdles, depth ratio, and diameter. This combination of factors can be applied in different ways to make up each of the following cuts available for purchase:

  • Princess
  • Square cushion
  • Asscher
  • Radiant
  • Emerald
  • Round
  • Oval
  • Cushion
  • Marquis
  • Pear
  • Pearl
  • Half-moon
  • Triangle
  • Straight trillion
  • Curved trillion
  • Calf
  • Heart

Once a diamond has been cut, its value is further determined by carat, clarity, and color. All of these elements make up a diamond’s beauty.

Durability

Diamonds are extremely durable due to the extreme conditions that create them. Being difficult to destroy adds to their timeless quality and overall value both in the jewelry industry and in other industries where diamonds are used for their durability, like manufacturing.

Diamonds are special because of their rarity, beauty, strength, and interesting range of uses. Diamond jewelry is a timeless keepsake that, for many, represents love that’s as valuable as the stone itself. The diamond specialists at AaLAND Diamond Jewelers can make sure that you find a piece of diamond jewelry as rare and wonderful as the person you’re shopping for. If you want the best diamond buying experience, contact AaLAND Diamond Jewelers today.