Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Diamonds: ten scintillating facts

   1.   Diamonds were first mined in India 3000 to 6000 years ago.

   2.    The name “diamond” comes from a Greek word meaning “unbreakable.”  Another word from the same root is “adamant,” meaning either incredibly hard or utterly unyielding in attitude or opinion.

   3.    Diamonds are a cubic crystal of pure carbon – the same material as coal or the “lead” (really graphite) in pencils.

   4.   Because diamond is made of carbon, combusting it with heat and oxygen leads to the production of carbon dioxide gas, as first demonstrated by chemist Antoine Lavoisier in 1772. Lavoisier used lenses to concentrate heat of the sun on a diamond surface until it began to vaporize.
   5.    Just one stray atom in a million can give a diamond a distinctive color.  If the stray atoms are boron, the diamond will be bluish; if nitrogen, it will be a faint yellow.

   6.     In 2011, the recently discovered Cora Sun-Drop, a 110-carat yellow pear-shaped diamond, sold at auction for $10.9 million.

   7. Not only is diamond the hardest naturally occurring substance, it’s also the best thermal conductor.  That is, it will transfer heat from one place to another 
      much better than any metal.

   8.   Every year, 33,000 kilograms of diamonds are mined, while another 110,000 kilograms of diamond are manufactured synthetically. Only 20 percent of mined diamonds are large and pure enough to be gem grade.

   9.  Cutting a diamond to make a gem generally removes about half the weight of the diamond.

  10.  Most earthly diamond was created 1 to 3 billion years ago in the pressure and heat of the mantle around 100 miles under the earth’s crust.  Diamond comes to the surface in volcanic events as magma rises through the crust.

To learn more about diamonds, check out Mae and Clinton’s adventures in my scientific mystery for kids, The Desperate Case of the Diamond Chip. 

1 comment:

Marva Dasef said...

Wish I could remember where I heard this. In the 19th C, somebody like Cartier came upon a ready supply of black diamonds. They were considered to be only for industrial use. The clever jeweler started an ad campaign about how special black diamonds were and turned them from junk to the "must have" stone. Just look what a little clever marketing will do?

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