August 31, 2021
A diamond is most often colorless, although sometimes stones have a yellow, grayish, or green tint are found. But what is a diamond? What does it consist of, and how is it formed?
Diamond is the hardest natural mineral mined from placer deposits or kimberlite pipes. It can be found on almost all continents except Antarctica, but the main deposits are in Africa, Canada, Russia, and Australia.
The first stones were discovered completely by accident. Humanity owes its discovery to African children who played with shiny stones. They were found in 1870 in South Africa near the town of Kimberley, from which all diamondiferous rocks began to be called kimberlites.
In Russia, diamonds were first discovered near Perm in 1829. Interestingly, the find also belonged to a child. While working at a gold mine, 14-year-old serf Pavel Popov found a diamond while flushing gold.
Thanks to this pebble, he got free and then showed the place of discovery of the diamond to a scientific expedition led by German physicist Alexander Gubolt. Since then, many deposits have been discovered in Russia, including rich deposits in Yakutia.
Moissanite is a hexagonal SiC (silicon carbide) mineral that is rare on Earth and quite widespread in space. At the turn of the 1990s and 2000s, artificially grown moissanite found application in the jewelry industry as an independent jewelry material and as an imitation of a diamond. The external similarity between moissanite and diamond is due to the close values of the indicators of these minerals. The imitation can be distinguished by the noticeable birefringence, characteristic of all anisotropic stones, and by the specific tubular microinclusions.
Despite all their similarity, these stones are very different in many ways. Let’s consider the most significant of them.
Among gemstones, diamond is the only mineral with only one element. Its structure contains crystalline carbon with unique properties.
Diamond has the highest hardness, low coefficient of friction, and the highest melting point between 3700 and 4000 °C. The value of stones is determined in special units — carats. One carat equals 0.2 grams.
Usually, diamonds are lightweight, but sometimes really large specimens come across. The largest diamond in the world was the Cullinan diamond, discovered in 1905 in the South African Premier Mine.
Its uncut weight was 3106.75 carats, that is, more than 620 grams. Subsequently, the stone was processed and divided into 9 large diamonds and 96 small ones.
The origin of the diamonds has not been reliably established. Scientists have put forward many hypotheses, but most believe that the stones formed in the mantle and then rose by volcanic magma closer to the surface. According to various estimates, their age ranges from 100 million to 2.5 billion years.
There are diamonds of extraterrestrial origin. In particular, a large deposit of such stones was discovered near the Siberian crater Popigai, formed as a result of the fall of an asteroid about 35 million years ago.
There are also more complex methods that allow you to make up to 240 facets or create a diamond of a certain shape — a rose, a table, wedges. Sometimes a well-done work exceeds the cost of the diamond itself, and an incorrect cut, on the contrary, can destroy the stone or make defects on it.
Now you know what diamond and moissanite are, and you can distinguish between them thanks to our article!
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