What are Diamonds?

Andrea Garcia-Ochoa Lee

Posted on September 11 2018

 Diamonds have long been considered one of the most beautiful and treasured minerals in the world. But what gives them their sentimental value is intertwined with their distinctive physical and scientific properties.

The etymology of the  word “diamond” reflects these unique characteristics. It comes from the Greek “Adamas”, meaning ‘indestructible’. Not only are diamonds used for their aesthetic value, but they also used in industry, particularly for drilling and cutting. In fact, industrial diamonds actually make up 80% of world’s diamonds. This is because of their molecular structure; within diamonds, carbon atoms are organised in a dense and unique three-dimensional framework.  They are the most concentrated form of pure carbon in the natural world and by far the strongest mineral on earth.

The inimitable glow of a diamond is also an outcome of one of its key properties; diamonds have a very high refractive index. In simple terms, this means that light travels around 2.4 times faster than through air. This creates the impression that light is captured within the diamond. It’s this inherent property that diamond cutters seek to enhance through different cuts .

Yet what makes these unique features most impressive is the process by which they are created. The organic process of diamond formation requires four key elements: carbon, pressure, heat and time. Diamonds originate in the Earth’s mantle, about 100 miles underground. There, carbon is subjected to temperatures of 2200°F and pressures of over 40 kilobars. When volcanic eruptions carry the pressurized carbon to the surface, it cools rapidly. This creates the rough diamonds that are consequently mined  to then be sorted, cut and polished in order to bring out their luster.

Today, diamonds are mined in about 25 countries, on every continent except Europe and Antarctica. For 1,000 years - starting around the 4th century BC, India was the only source of diamonds. However, the major discoveries of mines in South Africa around the 1870s marked a dramatic increase in diamond supply. Since then, major producers now include several African countries, Siberian Russia, Brazil and Australia.

The origin of the diamond is not only a key determinant of the quality and glow of the diamond, but is crucial to guaranteeing the the sustainability of the sourced stones.

At 64Facets, we only source rough diamonds from sustainable trade partners, the majority of which are syndicate mines in Lesotho, Congo, and South Africa. We also have partners in Canada, Russia and Australia. Once mined, the rough diamonds are sent to a trading centre, where we buy them directly from the site holders and thus keeping our supply chain as short as possible. From there they are shipped to our factories in Surat, India to be assessed, cut and polished.

We believe that it is this incredible process, that begins billions of years ago, that makes the diamond an inimitable gemstone.

Rough diamonds being selected

Rough diamonds being inspected in the 64Facets factory in Surat, India

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