Diamond: the love child of pressure and temperature


Have a diamond glittering on your finger? Do little bits of moonlight decorate your lobes? Ever paused to admire the sparkle of one in a display?

Then you, my friend, have set your eyes on something billions of years old (not a typo).

Diamonds are made when carbon, subjected to incredibly high temperatures and pressures, grows crystals. Naturally, this happens at depths of 100 miles or more into the Earth. We can’t drill down to harvest these natural beauties. Fortunately, volcanic eruptions to carry the minerals to within our reach. (That’s what I call a silver lining.)

Diamonds have reportedly been dated between one billion and three billion years old.  According to The Smithsonian, diamonds themselves cannot be dated radioactively but flaws that are different minerals within the diamond can be dated. These ancient stones date back to the original of the earth itself, calculated as 4.54 billion years old. Check out Space.com for the basics on how they did it and a freaky interesting story of 1.2 billion years of missing rock. (Damn, I’ll stop complaining about my socks!)

There are industries that grow diamonds in laboratories processes. These minerals, just as hard as their natural cousins, are used in optics, manufacturing, and the same beautiful jewelry setting. Natural or grown, diamonds are hard and very stable. While they lost the crown of hardest material to laboratory creations, diamonds remain near the top of the hardness food chain. This means they can scratch other materials (even expensive ones like sapphire and ruby) without being scratched itself, a trait I appreciate as I wear mine under my gloves on construction sites.

Looking at the diamonds my husband has given me, I appreciate them all the more, wrapping my head around the science and billions of years that lead this one rock to my finger.

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