Diamonds – some say they’re a girl’s best friend, others say they’re a declaration of love, and sometimes people think that diamonds are a sign of wealth… Any one of these statements could be true, but did you know that there is so much more to these tiny treasures? Join us as we travel back through the ages to discover where the good old diamond began, and how you can make a diamond in a lab. No, you didn’t just read that wrong! Read on to discover 60 sparkly facts about diamonds!
Fact 1: All natural diamonds were here on Earth before dinosaurs started roaming around our planet. This means that the actual ages of diamonds can range from 900 million years old to 3.2 billion years old.
Fact 2: Diamonds are made from carbon. This carbon is billions of years old and is formed approximately 140 – 190 kilometres in the mantle below the earth’s surface. The carbon creation is caused by incredible forces of different pressures and heat which cause diamond-bearing rocks containing minerals to be brought to the surface through deep earth volcanic eruption. These volcanoes are at least three times as deep as most other volcanoes and, when the magma has cooled, it solidifies into kimberlites where most rough diamonds are still found today.
Fact 3: ‘Kimberlite’ is an igneous rock which sometimes contains diamonds. It’s named after the town of Kimberley in South Africa where they discovered a diamond of 83.5 carats (16.70g) in 1869. Kimberlite structures are often carrot-shaped vertical cone-shaped ‘pipes’. This carrot shape is formed due to magma producing a deep explosive boiling stage that causes vertical flaring of ‘pipes’. Most of the world’s diamond mining countries find their diamonds from Kimberlite pipes.
Fact 4: Today, the value of diamonds is decided not just by the size, measured in carats (a carat equals 0.2 grams), but also by the 4 ‘C’s’ – cut, color, clarity and carat weight. The bigger and flawless the diamond, the more expensive the diamond is.
Fact 5: Each month of the year has a birthstone attributed to it. The month of April has the diamond as its official birthstone. April is a popular month for couples to become engaged as it’s often celebrated with a diamond engagement ring.
Fact 6: A diamond wedding anniversary is 60 years married which is celebrated by one in 5.5% of couples. The Queen of Great Britain, Elizabeth II, sends messages of congratulations to couples who celebrate 60 years of marriage.
Fact 7: Today over 65% ($8.5 billion) of diamonds come from African countries. Over 25 countries worldwide carry out diamond mining, although Europe and Antarctica do not have diamond mines.
Fact 8: In 1477, the Archduke Maximillian of Austria, presented his bride-to-be, Mary of Burgundy, with a gift that is believed to have been the first diamond engagement ring. The letter ‘M’ was inlaid with diamonds and the ring was made of gold.
Fact 9: The tradition of wearing an engagement ring on the fourth finger of the left hand originated in Egypt. The Egyptians believed that the vein of love (also known as “vena amoris”) runs from the top of the fourth finger on the left hand, straight to the heart.
Fact 10: The average diamond loses roughly 50% of its original carat weight when it is cut and polished. That is an awful lot of diamond to lose.
Fact 11: One of the most expensive cars in the world is the diamond-encrusted Mercedes-Benz SL600, which was worth a staggering $4.8 million when it was shown for the first time at a Dubai car show in 2007. The outside of the car is covered in over 300,000 diamonds. Parts of the inside of the car are also diamond encrusted as well as being mink furnished. You can buy the car in the original white diamond color or a gold diamond version. The car belongs to a Saudi Prince who is one of the top 10 richest people in the world. He has over 50 of the most expensive cars in his collection.
Fact 12: Once diamonds have been mined they are then sorted into three different categories – gem quality, industry quality, and boart quality (which is used as an industrial abrasive). Only about 20% of all diamonds mined have a clarity rating high enough for the diamond to be considered as a gemstone. The other 80% are relegated to industrial use. Industry quality diamonds are used in many different industries including automotive, medical fields such as the blades used by surgeons, flat-screen televisions, lubricant additives or computer components and various abrasives. Diamonds are also used in saws and drills which make them effective for cutting very hard materials.
Fact 13: Diamonds come in many colors but the rarest of these is red, followed by pink, which are only found in Africa, Australia and Brazil. The Pink Star diamond was mined by the De Beers Company in 1999 in South Africa and weighed 132.5 carat as a rough diamond. The Pink Star was rated a Fancy Vivid Pink diamond which increased its value. On April 3 2017, the Pink Star was sold at auction in Hong Kong for a record $71.2 million to Chow Tai Fook Enterprises. Like the red diamond, the majority of pink diamonds are from the Argyle Diamond Mine in Western Australia.
Fact 14: Red diamonds are the most expensive and they are the rarest colored diamond in the world. The majority of red diamonds that are mined come from the Argyle Diamond Mine in Western Australia but some have also been discovered in Brazil and Russia and some other African Countries. The first red diamond known on public record was in 1956 by Montana rancher Warren Hancock, who later sold it for $927,000 at auction in 1987. Other red diamonds include the Moussaieff Red from Brazil and the Kazanjian Red from Africa.
Fact 15: In India, the diamond industry is a huge business with over three-quarters of a million people working in it.
Fact 16: Some central African and west African countries are politically unstable where revolutionary groups have taken control of diamond mines. They then use the proceeds from diamond sales to finance their operations. Diamonds sold through this process are known as ‘blood diamonds’.
Fact 17: Two one carat diamonds are worth much less than one diamond of two carats.
Fact 18: Even though diamonds are the hardest natural substance known, diamonds are also very brittle. If you put a diamond on a table (with a very hard surface), it will shatter into pieces when you hit it with a hammer.
Fact 19: Diamonds make up at least 25% of Israel’s total export earnings.
Fact 20: Only one in every million diamonds weighs one carat or more. On average, each stone will lose at least 50% of its original weight after cutting and polishing.
Fact 21: To yield one carat of rough diamond, more than 250 tons of rock will need to be blasted and crushed and processed.
Fact 22: Diamonds can also be created in laboratories and can be very difficult to distinguish from ‘real’ diamonds.
Fact 23: Diamonds are nearly 100% carbon and these carbon atoms bond together in a unique crystallised way to form the diamond.
Fact 24: The word diamond is from the Greek word ‘Adamas’, which means ‘invincible’ or ‘indestructible’.
Fact 25: Only a diamond can ‘cut’ or leave a mark on another diamond.
Fact 26: There is evidence that diamonds were traded in India as early as the 4th Century AD.
Fact 27: Ancient Hindus used diamonds as the eyes of statues and believed a diamond could protect the wearer from danger or evil.
Fact 28: In the Middle Ages diamonds were thought to have healing powers.
Fact 29: India was originally the main source of mined diamonds in the 1400’s. In the 1700’s a place called Minas Gerais in Brazil, South America became the major source of diamonds in the world, and in the 1800’s a large diamond reserve was discovered in South Africa. Today diamonds are mined in many different parts of the world.
Fact 30: In 1907, the Cullinan diamond was presented to the King of Great Britain, King Edward V11 as a gift for his 66th birthday. It was cut and polished into over 100 large, medium and small diamonds by I. J. Asscher and Co a famous diamond cutter. The Cullinan diamond is now owned by Queen Elizabeth II and is part of the crown jewels in the Tower of London.
Fact 31: Scientists have discovered a planet that they believe is composed mostly of carbon and is one-third pure diamond. It is a very hot planet with a molten core. It was discovered in 2004 and the planet orbits a nearby star in the Milky Way, in the constellation of Cancer. It is a super-earth planet and is named ‘55 Cancri e’. Its radius is twice as wide as that of our own earth, and it has a mass at least eight times greater. It does a full orbit of the host star in just 18 hours and is so close to the star that the surface temperature is 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit (2,100 degrees Celsius). It is 41 light-years away from earth.
Fact 32: In 2007, scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announced the discovery of a star that is essentially a diamond of ten billion trillion trillion carats. It is in the constellation Centaurus and is a white dwarf star which is approximately 50 light-years away from Earth. It is made of almost pure crystallised carbon that weighs 5 million trillion trillion pounds, which would equal a diamond of 10 billion trillion trillion carats. They named the star Lucy after the Beatles song ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’.
Fact 33: Even though diamonds are considered the hardest of all substances, they can be burned but the heat must be between 1290-1650 degrees Fahrenheit. House fires and torches that jewelers use can sometimes reach this temperature. If you throw your diamond into a furnace it will burn to ash (or carbon!).
Fact 34: Diamond weight is measured in carats. The word carat comes from ‘keration’, the Greek name for the carob tree whose seed was used for centuries to weigh precious stones. Because the seed could vary slightly in weight, in 1913, carat weight became metric; one metric carat is equivalent to 0.2 grams.
Fact 35: Diamonds can now be ‘grown’ in laboratories and are known as man-made diamonds, cultivated diamonds or synthetic diamonds and are created by a technological process, not a geological process. In the 1940’s synthetic diamond technology was researched and the first diamond created synthetically was produced in the 1950’s. Diamonds grown in a lab look exactly the same as earth mined diamonds and even have the same chemical composition, crystal structure and physical properties of ‘natural’ earth mined diamonds. In fact, ‘grown’ diamonds are very difficult to tell apart from the ‘natural’ diamonds, even by experts.
Fact 36: Diamonds ‘grown in labs are created using one of two main processes. High-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) or by chemical vapour deposition (CVD). The HPCT method, introduced in the 1950’s, involves placing a small diamond seed in carbon which is then exposed to very extreme heat (over 1,500 degrees celsius) and immense pressure (around 1.5 million PSI), reproducing the way natural diamonds grow in earth. As it cools the diamond is formed. The CVD method, introduced in the 1980’s imitates how diamonds form in interstellar gas clouds. Again, it starts with a diamond seed which is put into a vacuum chamber which is then filled with carbon-rich gas and is heated to approximately 800 degrees celsius. The gas produced turns into plasma which causes the release of carbon pieces, which become layered onto the diamond seed which, in turn, grows the diamond. The CVD process produces the most chemically pure diamonds as they lack nitrogen and/or boron impurities. HPHT diamonds are exposed to nitrogen so are not as ‘perfect’ as the ones made by the CVD process. Both processes mimic the natural earth method of forming diamonds but do it a lot quicker. Both processes produce a rough diamond which then goes through the exact same process that a natural diamond goes through to obtain the end result – a highly polished diamond.
Fact 37: A diamond seed is a tiny fragment of a ‘starter’ diamond, which can be earth mined, HPHT or CVD – you can ‘grow’ new diamonds from previously ‘grown’ diamonds. It takes 7-10 days to ‘grow’ a 1 carat diamond in the lab and a month to ‘grow’ a 3 carat diamond. If you try and rush the process to produce a diamond quicker, the diamond crystal will fracture and you will have to start from the beginning.
Fact 38: Some people are dubious of diamonds as they are unable to tell if they are the ‘real’ thing. A simple test can be carried out in a matter of seconds which can help with this. Hold the diamond in front of your mouth and breathe on it, like you would with a mirror. If the diamond fogs up for a few seconds then it’s probably fake because a real diamond doesn’t fog up easily when you breathe on it.
Fact 39: Many countries around the world ‘grow’ diamonds in laboratories using high technological facilities staffed by scientists, engineers and technicians including the U.S.A., Great Britain, Ukraine, Russian, Israel, India, China, Japan, and Belgium to name just a few.
Fact 40: ‘Growing’ diamonds is very energy-intensive. You need to use approximately 50 kilowatt-hours of electricity to grow a 1 carat diamond. This amount of electricity could power a household for 8 or 9 days or allow you to drive a Tesla Model S for about 700 miles.
Fact 41: The most expensive shoes in the world is a pair made by the combined creativity of Jada Dubai and Passion Jewelers. They are named ‘Passion Diamond Shoes’ and cost an incredible $17 millon. They have stiletto heels and are embedded with 2 15 carat diamonds with a further 238 diamonds used to decorate the rims of each shoe. The shoes themselves are made entirely of pure gold and the first pair took the shoemakers 9 months to make. They were on display at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai. You are able to buy a pair of these fantastic shoes but delivery will take between 3-8 weeks as they are made by a single shoemaker.
Fact 42: Even though the U.S. produces almost no diamonds for commercial consumption, America is the world’s largest diamond market as it buys more than half of the world’s total gem quality diamonds.
Fact 43: One of the largest diamonds ever mined was the Hope Diamond which is a brilliant blue color diamond and was originally 112 carats before being cut to its current weight of 45.52 carats. Today it is valued at $350 million and is displayed in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C., U.S.A, after being donated to the Museum in 1958 by the New York gem merchant Harry Winston. It’s believed the diamond originally came from the Golconda mine by the Kistna River in Southwest India in approximately 1666. Its intense blue color is caused by trace amounts of boron in its crystal structure.
Fact 44: The most expensive diamond smartphone in the world is the customized iPhone 6 Pink Diamond Edition Falcon Supernova. It costs $48.5 million. The rear phone cover is made of 24 carat diamonds in pink and gold.
Fact 45: The Graff Diamonds Hallucination watch is the most expensive watch in the world costing $55 million. The watch was made by London based Graff Diamonds, and it took thousands of hours of work to complete. The watch was finished in 2014. The watch is encrusted with 110 carats of diamonds in yellow, pink, blues, grays, and orange diamond in different cuts. So many different colors creates a very striking rainbow effect. Graff chose to use a mix of heart, emerald pear, marquise and round diamonds. Interestingly, Laurence Graff, an English jeweler, born in 1938, started his career with an apprenticeship in Hatton Garden. In the early 1960’s he began his own company ‘Graff’ and the brand now has over 50 stores throughout the world. His customers have included President Donald Trump, Oprah and Elizabeth Taylor. He was awarded an OBE by Queen Elizabeth II in 2013. He wanted to create a truly unique piece of jewelry and began work on the Hallucination watch which he finished in 2014.
Fact 46: The U.S. has the world’s only diamond mine open to the public and since 1906, more than 70,000 diamonds have been discovered in this mine, including the Uncle Sam diamond discovered in 1924 weighing 40.23 carats. The Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas is a dig-for-fee operation for tourists and locals. In 2015 a park visitor found an 8.52 carat diamond while visiting the mine.
Fact 47: On January 26 1905, the historic Cullinan diamond was the largest gem-quality rough diamond ever found, it weighed an amazing 3,106 carats (621.35g). It was found in the South African Premier Number 2 mine near Pretoria in South Africa and was named after the mine’s chairman, Thomas Cullinan. It was cut into a total of 105 diamonds of exceptional color and clarity. The two largest diamonds cut from the Cullinan weighing 530.20 carats and 317.40 carats are mounted in the crown jewels of Great Britain. The crown jewels are on display in the Tower of London alongside other large diamonds cut from the Cullinan. The medium diamonds and smaller diamonds are in private collections.
Fact 48: In 1953, when Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain became Queen, she wore the Imperial State Crown, one of the Crown Jewels of Great Britain, in her coronation. The crown has existed in various forms since the 15th century. The current version was made in 1937 and is based on the one made for Queen Victoria in 1838. It is embellished with 2,901 precious stones, including the Cullinan II diamond which was the second-largest gem cut from the main Cullinan diamond. The precious gems in the crown were remounted for the coronation of King George VI in 1937 by Garrard & Co. The crown was then altered for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II by reducing the head size and shortening the sides to ensure a better fit.
Fact 49: The Cullinan diamond was cut and polished into over 100 gems by Asscher & Son, the nine larger cut gems, Cullinan I-IX, all decorate the crown jewels that are worn by the British Royal Family including the Queen. These include the pear-shaped Cullinan I (or Star of Africa) which is set in the Sceptre with the Cross, the cushion cut Cullinan II (the second Star of Africa) which can be seen in the front of the Imperial State Crown, the pear-shaped Cullinan III is suspended from the square cut Cullinan IV in the 157 carat Cullinan brooch. Also, one of the Queen’s favourite brooches is an unusual 18.9 carat heart-shaped diamond, the Cullinan V, set in a diamond and platinum matching heart-shaped surround. The royal brooch known as the Pendant Brooch has two large Cullinan diamonds, the emerald cut Cullinan VI and the marquise cut Cullinan VIII. Suspended from the Delhi Durbar Necklace, an emerald and diamond necklace, is the Cullinan VII, a marquise cut pendant. The Cullinan IX is a pear-shaped diamond set into a ring. When the crown jewels are not being worn they are kept in the Jewel House in the Tower of London under lock and key.
Fact 50: Rough diamonds usually resemble lumps of pale colored glass and they’re often mistaken for just that – lumps of plain glass. Sometimes they have an oily appearance and they don’t sparkle at all. Very few rough diamonds are actually gem quality. Only those with the very palest colors, or are colorless will be used.
Fact 51: The process of cutting and polishing gems is called ‘gem cutting’ or ‘lapidary’. A gem cutter is called a ‘lapidarist’. Cutting and polishing a diamond from a rough stone into a beautiful faceted brilliant gem is incredibly time-consuming and is not something that can be done quickly. Diamond cutting needs very specialized knowledge, tools, equipment, and techniques because one wrong move and you could ruin a very expensive gem.
Fact 52: Cutting and polishing diamonds is a very difficult and precise art and is carried out in just a few countries around the world including India and China. In terms of numbers, most diamonds are cut and polished in India, with over 90% being cut in Surat which is located 3 hours north of Mumbai. The remaining diamonds are sent to Antwerp, New York City, or Israel, as these receive the rough diamonds that are flawless and weigh over 2 carats as these are cut solely by hand.
Fact 53: One of the most important aspects when cutting rough diamonds is to maximize the value of the cut stones. This is not an easy job to do as the cutter needs to balance weight, correct proportion, as well as trying to achieve as much clarity as possible, when deciding what cut to make so that the highest value can be attained.
Fact 54: The Koh-i-Noor diamond, also known as the ‘Mountain of light’, is one of the largest cut diamonds in the world. It weighs 105.6 carats and is part of the British Crown Jewels. It is believed to have been mined in the Kollur Mine in India between 1206 to 1526. There is no record of its original weight but it is believed to be approximately 191 carats. After changing hands a number of times, in 1849 it was given to Queen Victoria of England and her husband, Prince Albert, they had it re-cut into an oval diamond shape. The Koh-i-Noor developed a reputation with the British Royal Family for bringing bad luck to any man who wore it. Since arriving in Great Britain it has only ever been worn by female members of the Royal Family. Today the public can see the diamond on display in the Jewel House at the Tower of London.
Fact 55: The largest pink diamond in the world is the Daria-i-Noor which is approximately 182 carats (36.4 g). It was originally from India but is now part of the Iranian Crown Jewels. Its exact weight is not known; 182 carats (36.4 g) is an estimate.
Fact 56: In December 2008, the Wittelsbach-Graff (then called the Wittelsbach Blue) was sold at Christie’s London, to jeweler Laurence Graff, for just over $24.3 million. Both the Wittelsbach-Graff diamond and the Hope diamond have similar colors and both are believed to have been mined in India. There has been speculation that they were both cut from the same stone but this has never been proven.
Fact 57: Today, the majority of diamonds are mined underground using heavy machinery and high-tech equipment. But before diamonds were mined below the earth’s surface they were found by miners alongside or at the bottom of rivers. The beautiful Eureka diamond was the first diamond discovered in South Africa by a 15-year-old boy named Erasmus Stephanus in 1867. The 21.25-carat rough diamond was found near Hopetown on the Orange River. Today, the polished cushion cut diamond weighs 10.73 carats and is on display at the Mine Museum in Kimberley, South Africa.
Fact 58: The lead in pencils (graphite) is made of 100 percent carbon, the same as diamonds. The crystals in the graphite are arranged in a different way from diamonds which makes the graphite soft enough to crush quite easily, unlike diamonds.
Fact 59: There are many factors to consider when choosing a diamond including the final shape. When most people think of diamonds, they think of the classic round shape, and while that is the most popular shape (with around 70% of diamonds sold being round), there are many other shapes available. Round diamonds have 58 facets and the more facets that are cut around the edges of the diamond, the more brilliant they shine. Other shapes, apart from round, include the princess, which is a square shape; the cushion or pillow cut, which come in square or rectangular shapes; the emerald, which are rectangular with beveled corners; the oval shape; the pear shape, which is rounded at one end with a tapered point at the other end; the radiant shape which was invented in the 1970’s, and is a cross between a round and a princess shape; the marquise shape, which is a stretched out shape ending in two points at either end; the heart which is associated with love and romance; and the Asscher cut, which was first introduced by Joseph Asscheer in Holland in 1902, it’s a perfect square with cut off corners. So, there’s a shape to suit every personality.
Fact 60: One of the most famous and largest diamond companies in the world is the De Beers Group which, as well as mining, they specialize in all types of diamond exploration including diamond trading, retail and industrial aspects. The Company has operations in over 35 countries with diamond mining in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Canada, and Australia. The company was started in 1888 by Cecil Rhodes, a British businessman. He was financed by Alfred Beit, a South African diamond financier and the N. M. Rothschild & Sons Bank in London. In 1889 Rhodes came to an agreement with the London Diamond Syndicate which meant that they curtailed the supply of diamonds to maintain the price and this proved very successful. In September 2018, The De Beers Group started selling synthetic diamonds that their own technicians had engineered, and they called it the ‘Lightbox’. A one-carat synthetic Lightbox diamond cost approximately $800 at the time. Since the introduction of their synthetic diamond, they have become very popular.