The Science Behind Diamond Creation
As a universal symbol of love, diamonds are the most popular precious gemstones in the world. And finally, after centuries of geological research, scientists have uncovered the truth about how the hardest substance on Earth came to be.
What are diamonds made of, and how are diamonds formed?
At one time, popular speculation was that diamonds were made from coal. In reality, diamonds are actually created from pure carbon. A hundred miles deep into the core of the Earth is where pressure and heat are high enough to turn carbon into diamond by modifying its atomic structure into a unique three- dimensional crystalline bond that is virtually indestructible. It’s no wonder that the word ‘diamond’ comes from the Greek root word ‘adamas,’ that means ‘invincible.’ These diamonds are then brought to the surface of the Earth by volcanic eruptions. This process was thought to have occured between one to three billion years ago.
Diamonds were first discovered approximately 6000 years ago in India, and since then, the country’s supply has been completely depleted. Excitement rippled through the world as diamonds were also discovered in South Africa and a few other parts of the world, but with the world’s declining diamond supply came a realization that natural diamonds were a finite commodity. And in the 1950’s, the man-made diamond made an entrance and has since changed the face of the jewelry industry forever.
The Rise of Man-made diamonds
In the 1950s, the first high-quality synthetic diamonds were created in a lab, using methods that simulated the crushing force of the Earth.
1. High pressure, high temperature
To recreate the pressure and heat of the Earth’s core, lab made diamonds had to be created the same way. This method required temperatures over 5000 degrees fahrenheit. The end result was the creation of a diamond seed, which is a small part of a diamond with a strong crystalline growing pattern.
2. Chemical Vapor Deposition
This newer method of lab made diamond making is favored by scientists all over the world. Using chemical vapor, and lower pressure and smaller machines, scientists can control the creation of diamonds more easily. Small machines containing vacuum chambers are filled with hydrogen and methane to provide the source of carbon that turns into plasma with the high temperature. The carbon pieces that are released are layered onto a diamond seed.
Both natural and man-made diamonds hold the same chemical and optical properties, and both are very much authentic diamonds created in different ways.