What is a diamond
How are diamonds made?
They are a symbol of wealth and beauty, of immortality and power: diamonds have fascinated mankind for a long time. From a chemical point of view, diamonds are nothing more than carbon, i.e. the element of which coal, soot or graphite are made.
Formation in the interior of the earth
Diamonds were formed millions of years ago, deep inside the earth, hundreds of kilometers under the earth's crust. Under strong pressure and in a glowing heat, carbon atoms combine to form a solid crystal lattice and form rough diamonds. When volcanic eruptions occur, they are transported to the surface of the earth. Therefore, rough diamonds can also be found in the rocks of extinct volcanoes.
Gemstones: the rarer, the more expensive
Like other gemstones, diamonds are rare minerals that are characterized by their chemical purity, color and transparency as well as their resistance. Each type of gemstone is based on a certain chemical composition. The cut also plays a role, because only the processing brings out the shine and color of gemstones to their full advantage. The rarer a stone is to be found, the more expensive it is to be traded. The four Cs - Clarity, Color, Cut and Carat (size in carat) determine the price of a stone.
The unit of weight carat
The unit of measure for the weight of a diamond is the carat. In ancient times, carat was the weight of a dried seed of the carob tree. The seeds are all roughly the same size and weigh around 200 milligrams. One carat is equal to 0.2 grams.
Trade in "blood diamonds" is prohibited
The largest diamond producing countries include Russia, Botswana, the Congo, Australia and Canada. Diamonds are also mined illegally again and again: so-called blood diamonds were smuggled from African conflict regions in order to finance civil wars and rebel troops. In order to prevent the trade in "blood diamonds", the so-called Kimberley Process has been regulating the international diamond trade since 2003. The legal origin of each stone must therefore be proven by a certificate.
Diamonds are also interesting for science because they are the hardest material in the world. A diamond cuts marble or granite with ease. That is why it is also used in drill heads, grinding and cutting tools. Diamond drills, for example, are also used in medicine. But natural diamonds would be too expensive - industrially manufactured diamonds are used for this. Researchers in Freiburg recently succeeded in accelerating the production of artificial diamonds so that they can be mass-produced. The scientists do not have the jewelry market in their sights - they are only interested in industrial use.
Diamond rain on Neptune
In the summer of 2017, researchers experimentally demonstrated for the first time that it was raining diamonds on the planet Neptune. Neptune is the outermost and coldest planet in our solar system and has a solid core that is surrounded by ice. This cosmic ice is made up of hydrocarbons, water and ammonia. Astrophysicists have long suspected that the hydrocarbons are separated because there is extremely high pressure beneath the planet's surface. In the process, diamonds are formed, which then sink further into the interior of the planet. Among other things, the researchers simulated conditions such as those inside Neptune with the help of an ultra-powerful X-ray laser. In this way, they were able to observe the splitting of hydrocarbons and the conversion of carbon into diamond in real time.
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My afternoon | December 8th, 2017 | 4:20 pm
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