You may have asked yourself more than once, “What makes diamonds so special and rare? Why do people make such a big fuss about a little rock?” Diamonds are in a class all by themselves for good reason. The reality is no diamond is born looking pretty. A lot of work goes into the making of a diamond as we know it. Diamond deposits dwell deep below the earth and are brought up through volcanic eruptions. They are like every other crop waiting for the harvest moon. But unlike other crops, diamonds wait millions and even billions of years before they reach maturity. There’s a lot about diamonds that most people don’t readily know. Here’s a quick rundown of the most basic yet astounding facts you need to know about diamonds.
Diamonds are nothing more than crystallized carbon atoms, except they're the priciest carbon atoms you'll ever find. It's the specific arrangement of atoms that determines the end result. Take, for instance, the graphite commonly associated with pencils. That, too, is nothing but carbon but due to its unique atomic structure, it is the complete opposite of diamonds – soft and gray-black versus very hard and colorless.
To get to its final stage, diamonds are more or less baked for over a billion years approximately 90 miles beneath the earth’s surface. They are exposed to extreme temperatures and high pressure before they make their way above the surface.
You pay a pretty price for rarity: 250 tons – or 500,000 pounds – of earth must be mined to uncover just one carat of rough diamonds. Unfortunately, rough diamonds lose an average 50%-60% of their original weight once they are cut and polished. Smaller diamonds are more common than larger ones, which is why a two-carat diamond is more than twice the price of two one-carat diamonds. Of all the rough diamonds found, only about 20% of make the cut as gemstones.
Only one in a million diamonds are gem-quality one- carat stones; one in five million are gem-quality two-carat stones; and one in 15 million are gem-quality three-caraters. You may have a better chance of striking gold (or diamonds) by playing the lottery!
The melting point of diamonds is 6,420 degrees Fahrenheit and the boiling point is 8,720 degrees Fahrenheit.
The largest diamond ever mined in the world was the Cullinan. It was discovered in South Africa in 1905 and checked in at a jaw-dropping 3,106.75 carats.
The largest diamond in the universe is the 10 billion trillion trillion carater named Lucky, or BPM 37093, which is a “white dwarf” star that has burned out and died, leaving its hot core to crystallize. Like a typical diamond, it is composed of carbon. It lies approximately 50 light years from our planet in the constellation Centaurus. Our sun, too, will one day die and crystallize into a monstrous diamond just like Lucky – but not for another five to seven billion years.