Jewelry Guide - Diamonds
Carbon is a Girl’s Best Friend
The diamond is the hardest known substance in the world. It can cut through steel
by pressure alone. Incredibly, the diamond is the only gemstone made of just one
element -- carbon, the building block found in every living animal and plant.
Part of the mystery of the diamond is that it gets formed at all. Billions of years
ago, in a deep layer of the earth, a unique combination of chemicals, pressure,
and temperature changes created diamonds out of pure carbon. This was no easy task
-- the pressure needed to create a diamond is close to what you’d get if you balanced
a skyscraper on a small, flat metal disk.
Violent and powerful volcanic eruptions forced cone shaped veins of diamond-bearing
ore – called Kimberlite -- to the earth’s surface, where they can now be
mined. Mining techniques can process thousands of tons of diamond ore a day, but
it still takes 250 tons of ore to produce one carat of rough diamond. Of all retrieved
diamonds, only 20% are gem quality stones.