March 2017

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Diamond Science: Where Geology, Technology and Romance Meet

People want diamonds. Of all the gemstones produced in the earth, the diamond remains one of the most popular and eternal. What aspect of the diamond causes this level of desire and demand? Is it just a result of smart marketing? Or something more? Maybe it is the way that diamonds and science interconnect. Diamond science, including the formation of diamonds within the Earth and the technology that turns a rough diamond into a polished work of art, are important factors affecting the desirability of diamonds.

Diamonds, Science and Romance

Last year, an auction for a rough diamond drew a bid for $61 million. The bid didn’t even meet the reserve price! It begs the question – why would someone pay so much for a rock? In the case of this diamond in particular, its appeal lay in the fact that – due to its physical properties – the buyer can essentially polish the diamond any way they want, fashioning a result that is aesthetically and financially rewarding. The science and story of how a stone transforms from rough to ready is tremendously appealing to avid diamond collectors.  In fact, gemologist Zenobia Morrow has stated that for her, much of the allure behind diamonds is the diamond science. She stated that she loves how the industry blends artistry, business and science together, allowing people to express themselves and capture memories through a stone.

Diamonds: A Love Story

The unique formation process of diamonds adds to the romance. It is not just a geological phenomenon. It is also a story of the perseverance of the stone and its journey from the core of the Earth to the surface. This journey, which is analogous to the journey of a love relationship, helps to shroud the diamond in a cloak of romance. Diamonds come about through tremendous heat and pressure, and take a long time to reach maturity. They are then brought to the earth’s surface through volatile eruptions. Let’s face it – it really does sound like the volatility and heat of a passionate relationship! The microscopic chemicals within the diamond are the basis for chemistry that creates a unique gemstone with its own special properties – just like two individuals in love. Even more special is the information contained within a diamond. Diamond science can tell us a lot about the area in which the gemstones were formed. According to James Hagadorn, a curator of geology who is working with a team of researchers to unearth these hidden secrets, “The circumstances that led to the formation of these diamonds trapping invaluable information inside are incredible, grueling conditions — temperatures five times hotter than your oven, and pressure 10 times that found below Mount Everest — are what it takes to freeze clues to Earth’s evolution for studies such as this one.” He went on to state that “Diamonds are the ultimate time capsules from deep Earth.”

Diamond Science Through the Ages

Diamonds have long had a connection with both science and romance. Ancient Romans and Greeks believed that diamonds were formed by tears that were cried by their gods, or possibly splinters from falling stars. Romans also held the belief that the arrows Cupid shot at lovers had tips made of diamonds.

More recently, an interesting diamond discovery was made that combines the romance and science of diamonds: In 2004 scientists discovered a planet that orbits a nearby star in the Milky Way. The planet was named 55 Cancri e, and it is composed of one-third pure diamond. They also discovered a star that is made completely of diamond, weighing ten billion trillion trillion carats.

The Study of Diamonds

Diamonds aren’t just for romance. They attract a lot of scientific attention as well. Diamond science has become an increasingly studied field. In fact, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is looking for researchers to study mineralogy, geology, physics, material science and many other fields related to diamonds and gemology.

Science is generally not regarded as a romantic subject. Diamonds are one of the few things in the world that bring science and romance together.

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