Rare things are expensive. Diamond is super rare and worth a lot of money. You can easily pay thousands of euros for one gram. But where do the expensive diamonds actually come from and how do they end up in the jeweler.
The first diamonds were extracted from mines in India some 3000 years ago. The Indians thought the stones were wonderfully beautiful. Soon they were loved by the wealthy. Now, years later, people still think diamonds are beautiful.
Diamond is the hardest material on Earth. That’s because it is made of carbon. Carbon is by no means rare. It’s just in the fill of your pencil. Even your body consists of 17% carbon! The carbon in a diamond looks different from the carbon in your body. A diamond is carbon that has been pressed together at an extremely high temperature and pressure. To make a diamond, a temperature of at least 1200 degrees Celsius and a pressure of 30 kilobars is required. In comparison: the pressure in a car tire is about 2 bar.
Deep in the globe
Diamonds originate deep under the Earth’s crust. Due to the high pressure and sweltering lava flows, pieces of carbon melt together. They turn into diamonds. Often the gems are 160 kilometers below the earth’s surface. Bad luck. You don’t just get to that with a shovel!
How do we get diamonds? Not to drill through a kilometer deep hole! The diamonds we find now are millions of years old. Over time, diamonds with large volcanic eruptions emerge. Most diamonds are still found near ancient volcanoes. The earth literally chugs them out.
Not all diamonds are beautiful when found. They are dirty, full of black spots and don’t shine for a meter. Only 20% of all diamonds found are beautiful enough to make jewelry. The remaining 80% is used as a drill or as a tool to cut diamonds.
Rock hard stuff
Before something beautiful can be made of it, the diamond has to be cut. That’s what a sharpener does. This first saws the diamond in two with a bronze disc. The disc is greased with olive oil and diamond powder. That diamond powder is necessary because diamond can only be cut and cut by another diamond! The olive oil acts as a kind of glue. Diamond is so hard that it takes eight to ten hours for 1 carat (that is 0.2 grams of diamond) to be cut. As a sharpener you should not be an impatient type!
When the diamond is cut into two pieces, the cutter will clamp one of two diamonds between two pins. A motor turns the gem around very hard. With a smaller diamond, it rounds all sharp corners.
Is the diamond round? Then flat surfaces are created on the stone. You call that faceting. This is done with a super-fast cast iron turntable. Like the bronze disc, it is greased with olive oil and diamond powder. First, a flat surface is cut above the diamond. This is ?? the table ?? of the diamond. Then there are four faces above and four below the diamond. These are then cut into smaller areas until you have 17 facets (including the table). This is called the octagon diamond. The facets at the top are called cels, the areas at the bottom are called pavilions.
Topper or not?
The diamond is ready. Just polish and it can be sold. There are very precise rules for assessing the value of a diamond. He has to score high on a few points to be worth a lot. Those points are called the four c’s. This stands for the English terms Cut (quality of the cut), Clarity (clarity), Carat (carat) and Color (color). The more light that can shine through the gem, the brighter it sparkles and the more expensive the diamond is. The diamond is studied with a magnifying glass that magnifies ten times. If no flaws and irregularities are seen at all, the diamond is perfect. The more unevenness, the less it is worth.
If you want to know more about how precious metals such as diamonds or gold are made, take a look at How it’s made