Diamonds are the most precious and enduring of all gemstones, with their very name taken from the ancient Greek word αδάμας (adámas) meaning ‘unbreakable’.
For centuries their exquisite beauty, inner fire and unique physical qualities have made them prized above all other gems. As no two diamonds are alike, each stone is endowed with a character exclusively its own.
Thought to have been formed between one and three billion years ago, diamonds are one of the oldest substances known to man. Considering their great age and their origin from 140 kilometres below surface, they are of much interest to scientists who consider diamonds to be ‘Earth’s messengers’ with the ability to tell us about a time and a part of the Earth that would otherwise be hidden to us.
Their formation in the mantle near the centre of the Earth relied upon extremes of heat and pressure, followed by an incredibly precarious ascent to the surface via the eruption of ancient volcanoes. As the magma travelled up to the surface at close to the speed of sound it ripped off pieces of the mantle taking the diamonds with it, embedded inside the crystallised host rocks (either kimberlites or lamproites). Not all diamonds would have survived the ascent, meaning that each and every natural gem diamond is a true miracle of nature.
As well as being valued for their captivating beauty and hardness, they have even been thought to possess magical properties – in early India, just to gaze upon a diamond was considered strengthening.
With only around 30 diamond mines of any significant scale in operation today, it is unsurprising that diamonds are among nature’s most treasured objects.
In addition to being the hardest substance known to man, diamonds also have unrivalled thermal conductivity (100x better than copper) and inertness, which makes poor quality ‘boart’ diamonds ideal for a whole host of next generation technology uses today.