Diamonds Are Forever

September 22, 2019

Sparkling with an internal fire all its own, diamond is one of the world’s most desired and adored gemstones. Those born in April are lucky enough to call this scintillating gem their birthstone, a symbol of clarity and strength. Diamonds are so strong, in fact, that its name comes from the Greek word "adamas," which means “invincible” or “unbreakable.” The timeless charm of diamond was cherished long before it became the April birthstone, and the places where diamond comes from are as fascinating as the lore that surrounds it.  Of course diamond is thought of more for engagement rings, diamond stud earrings, tennis bracelets, etc. than they are known as a birthstone.

Diamond’s characteristic chemical composition and crystal structure make it a unique member of the mineral kingdom.

Diamond is the only gem made of a single element: It is typically about 99.95 percent carbon. The other 0.05 percent can include one or more trace elements, which are atoms that aren’t part of the diamond’s essential chemistry. Some trace elements can influence its color or crystal shape.

Diamonds are the hardest material on earth: 58 times harder than anything else in nature.

The way a mineral forms helps determine its identity. Diamond forms under high temperature and pressure conditions that exist only within a specific depth range (about 100 miles) beneath the earth’s surface. Diamond’s crystal structure is isometric, which means the carbon atoms are bonded in essentially the same way in all directions. Another mineral, graphite, also contains only carbon, but its formation process and crystal structure are very different. The result is that graphite is so soft that you can write with it, while diamond is so hard that you can only scratch it with another diamond.

Without any one of these factors, a diamond might be just another mineral. Fortunately, though, this special combination of chemical composition, crystal structure, and formation process gives diamonds the qualities that make them extraordinary.

On almost all modern birthstone lists, diamond is recognized as the birthstone for April. Diamond is also the gem that marks the 60th and 75th wedding anniversaries.

Now that you’ve learned something about diamonds, you’ll hopefully be a smarter diamond shopper. And maybe you’ll have an even greater appreciation for this most durable of all gemstones. Colored or colorless, large or small, diamonds continue to captivate those lucky in love who receive – or give – a diamond engagement ring. If you’re thinking about acquiring a diamond, we hope our brief excursion taught you a little bit about diamonds.

Facts

  • Mineral: Diamond
  • Chemistry: C
  • Color: Colorless (not always)
  • Refractive Index: 2.42
  • Birefringence: None
  • Specific Gravity: 3.52 (+/-0.01)
  • Mohs Hardness: 10
Family & Co. Jewelers