Diamonds Paper

This essay has a total of 1348 words and 6 pages.

Diamonds


DIMONDS

Diamond is the best known gem. It is known as the "king of gems" for its brilliance and
for being the hardest mineral on earth. (Foa, p.50) Its characteristics enable it to be
used for many different purposes. Since diamonds are the hardest gems on Mohs' scale, they
make useful tools for industrial purposes, such as drilling hard materials. However, they
are quite rare, which makes them very valuable. Their beauty and brilliance make them
perfect for jewelry.

Diamond is made up of carbon. Another form of pure carbon is graphite. Graphite is the
stable form of carbon, found at the earth's surface. Despite the fact that they have
identical chemical composition, the two minerals are drastically different. Diamond is the
hardest known substance and is usually light colored and transparent, while graphite is
greasy, easily powdered, and very dark in color. Diamond is the hardest gem on Mohs'
hardness scale and graphite is the softest. Diamond is very hard because of its dense
packing and interlocking atomic arrangement. Graphite, on the other hand, although it is
the same element, is more loosely packed and has a six-sided, layered configuration, which
makes it soft (Pough, 1991). The differences between graphite and diamonds are accounted
for by the conditions in which they are created.

Diamonds form over long periods of time, between 100 km and 200 km below the surface. At
this great depth, carbon gets a chance to cool very gradually, forming diamond crystals.
When volcanic eruptions occur, magma carries the diamonds up to the surface of the earth.
Kimberlite lavas carrying diamonds erupt at anywhere between 10 and 30 km/hour and
increase their velocity to several hundred km/hour within the last few kilometers. (Pough,
44) At the surface, this lava cools and turns into Kimberlite rock. That is why diamonds
are often found in kimberlite, a volcanic rock, which is often much younger than the
diamonds themselves. All diamonds that are around today are at least 990,000,000 years
old. If the same element carbon found its way to the surface, before it got a chance to
form crystals and solidify, it would turn into graphite.

Diamond crystals occur in a variety of shapes and forms. There are octahedral, cubic, and
dodecahedral diamond crystals. The octahedral crystals are formed with eight sides, the
cubic ones have six sides, and the dodecahedral crystals have 12 sides. Of these, the
octahedral crystals are the most common. Occasionally, crystals are found where three
smaller faces have replaced each face of the octahedron, so that the crystal becomes
24-sided. (Fisher, p.52) Some rough diamond crystals contain a combination of these forms.
This is an especially common occurrence in Brazil, where diamonds are sometimes found in
which many tiny crystals are tightly packed together. These kinds of diamonds, which grow
in bunches are called carbonados. (Fisher, p.52) Carbonados are usually used in industry.
Diamonds are very important in industry because they are used for the manufacture and use
of various precision instruments. These instruments are employed in grinding and polishing
glass, polishing ceramics, stones, etc. Diamond drill crowns are used in the oil mining
industry to drill through the earth to the oil.

There are many different legends and beliefs associated with diamonds. For example, the
Hindus believed that a flawed diamond would bring misfortune, while the Greeks thought
that diamonds could protect against poison. (Foa, p.50)

The value of a diamond depends on four primary factors. These are (1) color, (2) clarity,
(3) cut, and (4) carat weight. A diamond cutter or jeweler determines the color of a
diamond by comparing it visually with "knowns," or the diamonds for which the color has
already been determined. For example, in "colorless" or not "fancy" stones, the value of
the stone goes down with increasing yellow. However, once the color content reaches the
point where the stone is considered a fancy stone, it becomes very expensive.

The most familiar diamonds are white or colorless, usually with a tinge of yellow or gray.
However, diamonds come in a wide variety of colors. There are golden yellow, pink, brown,
and green diamonds, just to name a few of the possibilities. Richly colored stones are
called "fancies" and are very rare and expensive. Fancy colors include pink, green, blue,
amber, and golden-yellow. The various colors of diamonds are due to impurities in them.
For example, traces of nitrogen give brown, yellow, green, and black stones. Blue diamonds
owe their color to the presence of boron in them. (Foa, p.51) Some of the most famous
diamonds in the world are colored diamonds, such as the Dresden green, which weighs 48.5
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