In mineralogy
Mineralogy is the study of chemistry, crystal structure, and physical properties of minerals. Specific studies within mineralogy include the processes of mineral origin and formation, classification of minerals, their geographical distribution, as well as their utilization.-History:Early writing...

, diamond (from the ancient Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 αδάμας – adámas "unbreakable") is an allotrope of carbon
Allotropes of carbon
This is a list of the allotropes of carbon.-Diamond:Diamond is one of the most well known allotropes of carbon. The hardness and high dispersion of light of diamond make it useful for both industrial applications and jewellery. Diamond is the hardest known natural mineral. This makes it an...

, where the carbon atoms are arranged in a variation of the face-centered cubic crystal structure called a diamond lattice. Diamond is less stable
Chemical stability
Chemical stability when used in the technical sense in chemistry, means thermodynamic stability of a chemical system.Thermodynamic stability occurs when a system is in its lowest energy state, or chemical equilibrium with its environment. This may be a dynamic equilibrium, where individual atoms...

 than graphite
The mineral graphite is one of the allotropes of carbon. It was named by Abraham Gottlob Werner in 1789 from the Ancient Greek γράφω , "to draw/write", for its use in pencils, where it is commonly called lead . Unlike diamond , graphite is an electrical conductor, a semimetal...

, but the conversion rate from diamond to graphite is negligible at ambient conditions
Standard conditions for temperature and pressure
Standard condition for temperature and pressure are standard sets of conditions for experimental measurements established to allow comparisons to be made between different sets of data...

. Diamond is renowned as a material with superlative physical qualities, most of which originate from the strong covalent bond
Covalent bond
A covalent bond is a form of chemical bonding that is characterized by the sharing of pairs of electrons between atoms. The stable balance of attractive and repulsive forces between atoms when they share electrons is known as covalent bonding....

ing between its atoms. In particular, diamond has the highest hardness and thermal conductivity
Thermal conductivity
In physics, thermal conductivity, k, is the property of a material's ability to conduct heat. It appears primarily in Fourier's Law for heat conduction....

 of any bulk material. Those properties determine the major industrial application of diamond in cutting and polishing tools.

Diamond has remarkable optical characteristics. Because of its extremely rigid lattice, it can be contaminated by very few types of impurities, such as boron
Boron is the chemical element with atomic number 5 and the chemical symbol B. Boron is a metalloid. Because boron is not produced by stellar nucleosynthesis, it is a low-abundance element in both the solar system and the Earth's crust. However, boron is concentrated on Earth by the...

 and nitrogen
Nitrogen is a chemical element that has the symbol N, atomic number of 7 and atomic mass 14.00674 u. Elemental nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and mostly inert diatomic gas at standard conditions, constituting 78.08% by volume of Earth's atmosphere...

. Combined with wide transparency, this results in the clear, colorless appearance of most natural diamonds. Small amounts of defects or impurities (about one per million of lattice atoms) color diamond blue (boron), yellow (nitrogen), brown (lattice defects), green (radiation exposure), purple, pink, orange or red. Diamond also has relatively high optical dispersion (ability to disperse light of different colors), which results in its characteristic luster. Excellent optical and mechanical properties, combined with efficient marketing, make diamond the most popular gemstone
A gemstone or gem is a piece of mineral, which, in cut and polished form, is used to make jewelry or other adornments...


Most natural diamonds are formed at high-pressure high-temperature conditions existing at depths of 140 sp=us in the Earth mantle. Carbon-containing minerals provide the carbon source, and the growth occurs over periods from 1 billion to 3.3 billion years (25% to 75% of the age of the Earth
Age of the Earth
The age of the Earth is 4.54 billion years This age is based on evidence from radiometric age dating of meteorite material and is consistent with the ages of the oldest-known terrestrial and lunar samples...

). Diamonds are brought close to the Earth surface through deep volcanic eruptions
Volcanic Eruptions
Volcanic Eruptions is a company owned by Crispin Glover. The company produces and issues Glover's work: It has released two films to date, What Is It? and its sequel, It is Fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE . Its current plans include releasing the final film in the trilogy titled It Is Mine...

 by a magma
Magma is a mixture of molten rock, volatiles and solids that is found beneath the surface of the Earth, and is expected to exist on other terrestrial planets. Besides molten rock, magma may also contain suspended crystals and dissolved gas and sometimes also gas bubbles. Magma often collects in...

, which cools into igneous rock
Igneous rock
Igneous rock is one of the three main rock types, the others being sedimentary and metamorphic rock. Igneous rock is formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava...

s known as kimberlite
Kimberlite is a type of potassic volcanic rock best known for sometimes containing diamonds. It is named after the town of Kimberley in South Africa, where the discovery of an diamond in 1871 spawned a diamond rush, eventually creating the Big Hole....

s and lamproite
Lamproites are ultrapotassic mantle-derived volcanic and subvolcanic rocks. They have low CaO, Al2O3, Na2O, high K2O/Al2O3, a relatively high MgO content and extreme enrichment in incompatible elements....

s. Diamonds can also be produced synthetically in a high-pressure high-temperature process which approximately simulates the conditions in the Earth mantle. An alternative, and completely different growth technique is chemical vapor deposition
Chemical vapor deposition
Chemical vapor deposition is a chemical process used to produce high-purity, high-performance solid materials. The process is often used in the semiconductor industry to produce thin films. In a typical CVD process, the wafer is exposed to one or more volatile precursors, which react and/or...

 (CVD). Several non-diamond materials, which include cubic zirconia
Cubic zirconia
Cubic zirconia is the cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide . The synthesized material is hard, optically flawless and usually colorless, but may be made in a variety of different colors. It should not be confused with zircon, which is a zirconium silicate...

 and silicon carbide
Silicon carbide
Silicon carbide , also known as carborundum, is a compound of silicon and carbon with chemical formula SiC. It occurs in nature as the extremely rare mineral moissanite. Silicon carbide powder has been mass-produced since 1893 for use as an abrasive...

 and are often called diamond simulants, resemble diamond in appearance and many properties. Special gemological
Gemology or gemmology is the science dealing with natural and artificial gems and gemstones. It is considered a geoscience and a branch of mineralogy...

 techniques have been developed to distinguish natural and synthetic diamond
Synthetic diamond
Synthetic diamond is diamond produced in a technological process; as opposed to natural diamond, which is created in geological processes. Synthetic diamond is also widely known as HPHT diamond or CVD diamond, denoting the production method, High-Pressure High-Temperature synthesis and Chemical...

s and diamond simulants.


The name diamond is derived from the ancient Greek αδάμας (adámas), "proper", "unalterable", "unbreakable", "untamed", from ἀ- (a-), "un-" + δαμάω (damáō), "I overpower", "I tame". Diamonds are thought to have been first recognized and mined in India, where significant alluvial deposits of the stone could be found many centuries ago along the rivers Penner
Penner River
The Penner is a river of southern India. The Penner rises on the hill of Nandi Hills in Chikballapur District of Karnataka state, and runs north and east through the state of Andhra Pradesh to empty into the Bay of Bengal...

, Krishna
Krishna River
The Krishna River , is one of the longest rivers in central-southern India, about . It is also referred to as Krishnaveni in its original nomenclature...

 and Godavari
Godavari River
The Godavari is a river that runs from western to southern India and is considered to be one of the big river basins in India. With a length of 1465 km, it is the second longest river in India , that runs within the country and also the longest river in South India...

. Diamonds have been known in India for at least 3,000 years but most likely 6,000 years.

Diamonds have been treasured as gemstones since their use as religious icons
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

 in ancient India
Kingdoms of Ancient India
Epic India is the geography of Greater India traditionally around early 10th century BC and later on from the Sanskrit epics, viz. the Mahabharata and the Ramayana as well as Puranic literature ....

. Their usage in engraving tools also dates to early human history
History of the world
The history of the world or human history is the history of humanity from the earliest times to the present, in all places on Earth, beginning with the Paleolithic Era. It excludes non-human natural history and geological history, except insofar as the natural world substantially affects human lives...

. The popularity of diamonds has risen since the 19th century because of increased supply, improved cutting and polishing techniques, growth in the world economy, and innovative and successful advertising campaigns.

In 1772, Antoine Lavoisier
Antoine Lavoisier
Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier , the "father of modern chemistry", was a French nobleman prominent in the histories of chemistry and biology...

 used a lens to concentrate the rays of the sun on a diamond in an atmosphere of oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

, and showed that the only product of the combustion was carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

, proving that diamond is composed of carbon. Later in 1797, Smithson Tennant
Smithson Tennant
Smithson Tennant FRS was an English chemist.Tennant is best known for his discovery of the elements iridium and osmium, which he found in the residues from the solution of platinum ores in 1803. He also contributed to the proof of the identity of diamond and charcoal. The mineral tennantite is...

 repeated and expanded that experiment. By demonstrating that burning diamond and graphite releases the same amount of gas he established the chemical equivalence of these substances.

The most familiar use of diamonds today is as gemstones used for adornment
An adornment is generally an accessory or ornament worn to enhance the beauty or status of the wearer. They are often worn to embellish, enhance, or distinguish the wearer, and to define cultural, social, or religious status within a specific community. When worn to show economic status, the items...

, a use which dates back into antiquity. The dispersion
Dispersion (optics)
In optics, dispersion is the phenomenon in which the phase velocity of a wave depends on its frequency, or alternatively when the group velocity depends on the frequency.Media having such a property are termed dispersive media...

 of white light into spectral color
Spectral color
A spectral color is a color that is evoked by a single wavelength of light in the visible spectrum, or by a relatively narrow band of wavelengths...

s is the primary gemological characteristic of gem diamonds. In the 20th century, experts in gemology have developed methods of grading diamonds and other gemstones based on the characteristics most important to their value as a gem. Four characteristics, known informally as the four Cs, are now commonly used as the basic descriptors of diamonds: these are carat, cut, color, and clarity. A large, flawless diamond is known as a paragon.

Material properties

A diamond is a transparent crystal
A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid material whose constituent atoms, molecules, or ions are arranged in an orderly repeating pattern extending in all three spatial dimensions. The scientific study of crystals and crystal formation is known as crystallography...

 of tetrahedrally
Tetrahedral-octahedral honeycomb
The tetrahedral-octahedral honeycomb or alternated cubic honeycomb is a space-filling tessellation in Euclidean 3-space. It is composed of alternating octahedra and tetrahedra in a ratio of 1:2....

 bonded carbon atoms (sp3
Orbital hybridisation
In chemistry, hybridisation is the concept of mixing atomic orbitals to form new hybrid orbitals suitable for the qualitative description of atomic bonding properties. Hybridised orbitals are very useful in the explanation of the shape of molecular orbitals for molecules. It is an integral part...

) that crystallizes into the diamond lattice
Diamond cubic
The diamond cubic crystal structure is a repeating pattern of 8 atoms that certain materials may adopt as they solidify. While the first known example was diamond, other elements in group IV also adopt this structure, including tin, the semiconductors silicon and germanium, and silicon/germanium...

 which is a variation of the face centered cubic structure. Diamonds have been adapted for many uses because of the material's exceptional physical characteristics. Most notable are its extreme hardness and thermal conductivity (900–), as well as wide bandgap and high optical dispersion. Above ( / ) in vacuum
In everyday usage, vacuum is a volume of space that is essentially empty of matter, such that its gaseous pressure is much less than atmospheric pressure. The word comes from the Latin term for "empty". A perfect vacuum would be one with no particles in it at all, which is impossible to achieve in...

 or oxygen-free atmosphere, diamond converts to graphite; in air, transformation starts at ~. Diamond's ignition point is 720 - in oxygen and 850 - in air. Naturally occurring diamonds have a density ranging from 3.15–, with pure diamond close to . The chemical bonds that hold the carbon atoms in diamonds together are weaker than those in graphite. In diamonds, the bonds form an inflexible three-dimensional lattice, whereas in graphite, the atoms are tightly bonded into sheets, which can slide easily over one another, making the overall structure weaker.


Diamond is the hardest known natural material on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness
Mohs scale of mineral hardness
The Mohs scale of mineral hardness characterizes the scratch resistance of various minerals through the ability of a harder material to scratch a softer material. It was created in 1812 by the German geologist and mineralogist Friedrich Mohs and is one of several definitions of hardness in...

, where hardness is defined as resistance to scratching and is graded between 1 (softest) and 10 (hardest). Diamond has a hardness of 10 (hardest) on this scale. Diamond's hardness has been known since antiquity, and is the source of its name.

Diamond hardness depends on its purity, crystalline perfection and orientation: hardness is higher for flawless, pure crystals oriented to the <111> direction (along the longest diagonal of the cubic diamond lattice). Therefore, whereas it might be possible to scratch some diamonds with other materials, such as boron nitride
Boron nitride
Boron nitride is a chemical compound with chemical formula BN, consisting of equal numbers of boron and nitrogen atoms. BN is isoelectronic to a similarly structured carbon lattice and thus exists in various crystalline forms...

, the hardest diamonds can only be scratched by other diamonds and nanocrystalline diamond aggregates.

The hardness of diamond contributes to its suitability as a gemstone. Because it can only be scratched by other diamonds, it maintains its polish extremely well. Unlike many other gems, it is well-suited to daily wear because of its resistance to scratching—perhaps contributing to its popularity as the preferred gem in engagement
Engagement ring
An engagement ring is a ring indicating that the person wearing it is engaged to be married, especially in Western cultures. In the United Kingdom, Ireland and North America, engagement rings are traditionally worn only by women, and rings can feature diamonds or other gemstones. In other cultures...

 or wedding ring
Wedding ring
A wedding ring or wedding band is a metal ring indicating the wearer is married. Depending on the local culture, it is worn on the base of the right or the left ring finger. The custom of wearing such a ring has spread widely beyond its origin in Europe...

s, which are often worn every day.

The hardest natural diamonds mostly originate from the Copeton and Bingara fields located in the New England
New England (Australia)
New England or New England North West is the name given to a generally undefined region about 60 kilometres inland, that includes the Northern Tablelands and the North West Slopes regions in the north of the state of New South Wales, Australia.-History:The region has been occupied by Indigenous...

 area in New South Wales
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...

, Australia. These diamonds are generally small, perfect to semiperfect octahedra, and are used to polish other diamonds. Their hardness is associated with the crystal growth
Crystal growth
A crystal is a solid material whose constituent atoms, molecules, or ions are arranged in an orderly repeating pattern extending in all three spatial dimensions. Crystal growth is a major stage of a crystallization process, and consists in the addition of new atoms, ions, or polymer strings into...

 form, which is single-stage crystal growth. Most other diamonds show more evidence of multiple growth stages, which produce inclusions, flaws, and defect planes in the crystal lattice, all of which affect their hardness. It is possible to treat regular diamonds under a combination of high pressure and high temperature to produce diamonds that are harder than the diamonds used in hardness gauges.

Somewhat related to hardness is another mechanical property toughness, which is a material's ability to resist breakage from forceful impact. The toughness
In materials science and metallurgy, toughness is the ability of a material to absorb energy and plastically deform without fracturing; Material toughness is defined as the amount of energy per volume that a material can absorb before rupturing...

 of natural diamond has been measured as 7.5–10 MPa·m1/2. This value is good compared to other gemstones, but poor compared to most engineering materials. As with any material, the macroscopic geometry of a diamond contributes to its resistance to breakage. Diamond has a cleavage plane and is therefore more fragile in some orientations than others. Diamond cutters
Diamond cutting
Diamond cutting is the art, skill and, increasingly, science of changing a diamond from a rough stone into a faceted gem. Cutting diamond requires specialized knowledge, tools, equipment, and techniques because of its extreme difficulty....

 use this attribute to cleave some stones, prior to faceting. "Impact toughness" is one of the main indexes to measure the quality of synthetic industrial diamonds.

Electrical conductivity

Other specialized applications also exist or are being developed, including use as semiconductor
A semiconductor is a material with electrical conductivity due to electron flow intermediate in magnitude between that of a conductor and an insulator. This means a conductivity roughly in the range of 103 to 10−8 siemens per centimeter...

s: some blue diamonds are natural semiconductors, in contrast to most diamonds, which are excellent electrical insulator
Electrical insulation
thumb|250px|[[Coaxial Cable]] with dielectric insulator supporting a central coreThis article refers to electrical insulation. For insulation of heat, see Thermal insulation...

s. The conductivity and blue color originate from boron impurity. Boron substitutes for carbon atoms in the diamond lattice, donating a hole into the valence band.

Substantial conductivity is commonly observed in nominally undoped diamond grown by chemical vapor deposition
Chemical vapor deposition of diamond
Chemical vapor deposition of diamond or CVD is a method of producing synthetic diamond by creating the circumstances necessary for carbon atoms in a gas to settle on a substrate in crystalline form....

. This conductivity is associated with hydrogen-related species adsorbed at the surface, and it can be removed by annealing or other surface treatments.

Surface property

Diamonds are lipophilic and hydrophobic, which means the diamonds' surface cannot be wet by water but can be easily wet and stuck by oil. This property can be utilized to extract diamonds using oil when making synthetic diamonds.

Chemical stability

Diamonds' chemical property is very stable. Under room temperature diamonds do not react with any chemical reagents including various kinds of acid and alkali. Diamonds' surface can only be oxidized a little by just a few oxidants under high temperature (below ). So acid and alkali can be used to refine synthetic diamonds.


Diamond has a wide bandgap of corresponding to the deep ultraviolet
Ultraviolet light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength shorter than that of visible light, but longer than X-rays, in the range 10 nm to 400 nm, and energies from 3 eV to 124 eV...

 wavelength of 225 nanometers. This means pure diamond should transmit visible light and appear as a clear colorless crystal. Colors in diamond originate from lattice defects and impurities. The diamond crystal lattice is exceptionally strong and only atoms of nitrogen, boron and hydrogen can be introduced into diamond during the growth at significant concentrations (up to atomic percents). Transition metals Ni and Co, which are commonly used for growth of synthetic diamond by high-pressure high-temperature techniques, have been detected in diamond as individual atoms; the maximum concentration is 0.01% for Ni and even much less for Co. Virtually any element can be introduced to diamond by ion implantation.

Nitrogen is by far the most common impurity found in gem diamonds and is responsible for the yellow and brown color in diamonds. Boron is responsible for the blue color. Color in diamond has two additional sources: irradiation (usually by alpha particles), that causes the color in green diamonds; and plastic deformation of the diamond crystal lattice. Plastic deformation is the cause of color in some brown and perhaps pink and red diamonds. In order of rarity, yellow diamond is followed by brown, colorless, then by blue, green, black, pink, orange, purple, and red. "Black", or Carbonado
Carbonado, commonly known as the "Black Diamond", is a natural polycrystalline diamond found in alluvial deposits in the Central African Republic and Brazil. Its natural colour is black or dark grey, and it is more porous than other diamonds....

, diamonds are not truly black, but rather contain numerous dark inclusions that give the gems their dark appearance. Colored diamonds contain impurities or structural defects that cause the coloration, while pure or nearly pure diamonds are transparent and colorless. Most diamond impurities replace a carbon atom in the crystal lattice, known as a carbon flaw
Carbon flaw
A carbon flaw is a blemish present within a diamond crystalline form of carbon, usually seen as a black spot. The blemish may be microscopic or visible to the naked eye....

. The most common impurity, nitrogen, causes a slight to intense yellow coloration depending upon the type and concentration of nitrogen present. The Gemological Institute of America
Gemological Institute of America
The Gemological Institute of America, or GIA, is a nonprofit institute dedicated to research and education in the field of gemology and the jewelry arts. Founded in 1931, GIA's mission is to protect all buyers and sellers of gemstones by setting and maintaining the standards used to evaluate...

 (GIA) classifies low saturation yellow and brown diamonds as diamonds in the normal color range, and applies a grading scale from "D" (colorless) to "Z" (light yellow). Diamonds of a different color, such as blue, are called fancy colored diamonds, and fall under a different grading scale.

In 2008, the Wittelsbach Diamond
Wittelsbach Diamond
The Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond is a fancy deep-blue diamond with internally flawless clarity. Laurence Graff purchased the Wittelsbach Diamond in 2008 for £16.4 million Sterling. In 2010, Graff revealed he had had the diamond cut by three diamond cutters to remove flaws. The diamond was now...

, a 35.56 carats (7.1 g) blue diamond once belonging to the King of Spain, fetched over US$24 million at a Christie's auction. In May 2009, a 7.03 carats (1.4 g) blue diamond fetched the highest price per carat ever paid for a diamond when it was sold at auction for 10.5 million Swiss francs (6.97 million euro or US$9.5 million at the time). That record was however beaten the same year: a 5 carat (1 g) vivid pink diamond was sold for $10.8 million in Hong Kong on December 1, 2009.


Diamonds can be identified by their high thermal conductivity. Their high refractive index
Refractive index
In optics the refractive index or index of refraction of a substance or medium is a measure of the speed of light in that medium. It is expressed as a ratio of the speed of light in vacuum relative to that in the considered medium....

 is also indicative, but other materials have similar refractivity. Diamonds cut glass, but this does not positively identify a diamond because other materials, such as quartz, also lie above glass on the Mohs scale and can also cut it. Diamonds can scratch other diamonds, but this can result in damage to one or both stones. Hardness tests are infrequently used in practical gemology because of their potentially destructive nature.
The extreme hardness and high value of diamond means that gems are typically polished slowly using painstaking traditional techniques and greater attention to detail than is the case with most other gemstones; these tend to result in extremely flat, highly polished facets with exceptionally sharp facet edges. Diamonds also possess an extremely high refractive index and fairly high dispersion. Taken together, these factors affect the overall appearance of a polished diamond and most diamantaires still rely upon skilled use of a loupe
A loupe is a simple, small magnification device used to see small details more closely. Unlike a magnifying glass, a loupe does not have an attached handle, and its focusing lens are contained in an opaque cylinder or cone. Loupes are also called hand lenses .- Optics :Three basic types of loupes...

 (magnifying glass) to identify diamonds 'by eye'.

Natural history

The formation of natural diamond requires very specific conditions—exposure of carbon-bearing materials to high pressure, ranging approximately between 45 and 60 kilobar
Bar (unit)
The bar is a unit of pressure equal to 100 kilopascals, and roughly equal to the atmospheric pressure on Earth at sea level. Other units derived from the bar are the megabar , kilobar , decibar , centibar , and millibar...

s (4.5 and 6 GPa), but at a comparatively low temperature range between approximately 900–1300 °C. These conditions are met in two places on Earth; in the lithospheric mantle
The lithosphere is the rigid outermost shell of a rocky planet. On Earth, it comprises the crust and the portion of the upper mantle that behaves elastically on time scales of thousands of years or greater.- Earth's lithosphere :...

 below relatively stable continental plates, and at the site of a meteorite strike.

Formation in cratons

The conditions for diamond formation to happen in the lithospheric mantle occur at considerable depth corresponding to the requirements of temperature and pressure. These depths are estimated between 140 and 190 km though occasionally diamonds have crystallized at depths about 300 km as well. The rate at which temperature changes with increasing depth
Geothermal gradient
Geothermal gradient is the rate of increasing temperature with respect to increasing depth in the Earth's interior. Away from tectonic plate boundaries, it is 25–30°C per km of depth in most of the world. Strictly speaking, geo-thermal necessarily refers to the Earth but the concept may be applied...

 into the Earth varies greatly in different parts of the Earth. In particular, under oceanic plates the temperature rises more quickly with depth, beyond the range required for diamond formation at the depth required. The correct combination of temperature and pressure is only found in the thick, ancient, and stable parts of continental plates where regions of lithosphere known as craton
A craton is an old and stable part of the continental lithosphere. Having often survived cycles of merging and rifting of continents, cratons are generally found in the interiors of tectonic plates. They are characteristically composed of ancient crystalline basement rock, which may be covered by...

exist. Long residence in the cratonic lithosphere allows diamond crystals to grow larger.

Through studies of carbon isotope
Isotopes are variants of atoms of a particular chemical element, which have differing numbers of neutrons. Atoms of a particular element by definition must contain the same number of protons but may have a distinct number of neutrons which differs from atom to atom, without changing the designation...

 ratios (similar to the methodology used in carbon dating, except with the stable isotope
Stable isotope
Stable isotopes are chemical isotopes that may or may not be radioactive, but if radioactive, have half-lives too long to be measured.Only 90 nuclides from the first 40 elements are energetically stable to any kind of decay save proton decay, in theory...

s C-12
Carbon-12 is the more abundant of the two stable isotopes of the element carbon, accounting for 98.89% of carbon; it contains 6 protons, 6 neutrons, and 6 electrons....

 and C-13
Carbon-13 is a natural, stable isotope of carbon and one of the environmental isotopes. It makes up about 1.1% of all natural carbon on Earth.- Detection by mass spectrometry :...

), it has been shown that the carbon found in diamonds comes from both inorganic and organic sources. Some diamonds, known as harzburgitic
A peridotite is a dense, coarse-grained igneous rock, consisting mostly of the minerals olivine and pyroxene. Peridotite is ultramafic, as the rock contains less than 45% silica. It is high in magnesium, reflecting the high proportions of magnesium-rich olivine, with appreciable iron...

, are formed from inorganic carbon originally found deep in the Earth's mantle. In contrast, eclogitic
Eclogite is a mafic metamorphic rock. Eclogite is of special interest for at least two reasons. First, it forms at pressures greater than those typical of the crust of the Earth...

 diamonds contain organic carbon from organic detritus
Detritus is a biological term used to describe dead or waste organic material.Detritus may also refer to:* Detritus , a geological term used to describe the particles of rock produced by weathering...

 that has been pushed down from the surface of the Earth's crust
Crust (geology)
In geology, the crust is the outermost solid shell of a rocky planet or natural satellite, which is chemically distinct from the underlying mantle...

 through subduction
In geology, subduction is the process that takes place at convergent boundaries by which one tectonic plate moves under another tectonic plate, sinking into the Earth's mantle, as the plates converge. These 3D regions of mantle downwellings are known as "Subduction Zones"...

 (see plate tectonics
Plate tectonics
Plate tectonics is a scientific theory that describes the large scale motions of Earth's lithosphere...

) before transforming into diamond. These two different source of carbon have measurably different 13C:12C ratios. Diamonds that have come to the Earth's surface are generally quite old, ranging from under 1 billion
1000000000 (number)
1,000,000,000 is the natural number following 999,999,999 and preceding 1,000,000,001.In scientific notation, it is written as 109....

 to 3.3 billion years old. This is 22% to 73% of the age of the Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...


Diamonds occur most often as euhedral
Euhedral crystals are those that are well-formed with sharp, easily recognised faces. Normally, crystals do not form smooth faces or sharp crystal outlines. Many crystals grow from cooling liquid magma...

 or rounded octahedra
In geometry, an octahedron is a polyhedron with eight faces. A regular octahedron is a Platonic solid composed of eight equilateral triangles, four of which meet at each vertex....

 and twinned
Crystal twinning
Crystal twinning occurs when two separate crystals share some of the same crystal lattice points in a symmetrical manner. The result is an intergrowth of two separate crystals in a variety of specific configurations. A twin boundary or composition surface separates the two crystals....

 octahedra known as macles. As diamond's crystal structure has a cubic arrangement of the atoms, they have many facet
Facets are flat faces on geometric shapes. The organization of naturally occurring facets was key to early developments in crystallography, since they reflect the underlying symmetry of the crystal structure...

s that belong to a cube, octahedron, rhombicosidodecahedron
In geometry, the rhombicosidodecahedron, or small rhombicosidodecahedron, is an Archimedean solid, one of thirteen convex isogonal nonprismatic solids constructed of two or more types of regular polygon faces....

, tetrakis hexahedron
Tetrakis hexahedron
In geometry, a tetrakis hexahedron is a Catalan solid. Its dual is the truncated octahedron, an Archimedean solid. It can be seen as a cube with square pyramids covering each square face; that is, it is the Kleetope of the cube....

 or disdyakis dodecahedron
Disdyakis dodecahedron
In geometry, a disdyakis dodecahedron, or hexakis octahedron, is a Catalan solid and the dual to the Archimedean truncated cuboctahedron. As such it is face-transitive but with irregular face polygons...

. The crystals can have rounded off and unexpressive edges and can be elongated. Sometimes they are found grown together or form double "twinned" crystals at the surfaces of the octahedron. These different shapes and habits of some diamonds result from differing external circumstances. Diamonds (especially those with rounded crystal faces) are commonly found coated in nyf, an opaque gum-like skin.

Space diamonds

Not all diamonds found on Earth originated here. A type of diamond called carbonado that is found in South America and Africa may have been deposited there via an asteroid impact (not formed from the impact) about 3 billion years ago. These diamonds may have formed in the intrastellar environment, but as of 2008, there was no scientific consensus on how carbonado diamonds originated.

Diamonds can also form under other naturally occurring high-pressure conditions. Very small diamonds of micrometer and nanometer sizes, known as microdiamonds or nanodiamonds
Detonation nanodiamond
Detonation nanodiamond , often also called ultradispersed diamond , is diamond that originates from a detonation. When an oxygen-deficient explosive mixture of TNT/RDX is detonated in a closed chamber, diamond particles with a diameter of ca...

respectively, have been found in meteorite impact crater
Impact crater
In the broadest sense, the term impact crater can be applied to any depression, natural or manmade, resulting from the high velocity impact of a projectile with a larger body...

s. Such impact events create shock zones of high pressure and temperature suitable for diamond formation. Impact-type microdiamonds can be used as an indicator of ancient impact craters.

Scientific evidence indicates that white dwarf
White dwarf
A white dwarf, also called a degenerate dwarf, is a small star composed mostly of electron-degenerate matter. They are very dense; a white dwarf's mass is comparable to that of the Sun and its volume is comparable to that of the Earth. Its faint luminosity comes from the emission of stored...

 stars have a core of crystallized carbon and oxygen nuclei. The largest of these found in the universe so far, BPM 37093
BPM 37093
BPM 37093 is a variable white dwarf star of the DAV, or ZZ Ceti, type, with a hydrogen atmosphere and an unusually high mass of approximately 1.1 times the Sun's. It is about 50 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Centaurus, and vibrates; these pulsations cause its luminosity to vary...

, is located 50 ly away in the constellation Centaurus
Centaurus is a bright constellation in the southern sky. One of the largest constellations, Centaurus was included among the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy, and it remains one of the 88 modern constellations.-Stars:...

. A news release from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
The Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics is one of the largest and most diverse astrophysical institutions in the world, where scientists carry out a broad program of research in astronomy, astrophysics, earth and space sciences, and science education...

 described the 2500 miles (4,023.4 km)-wide stellar core as a diamond. It was referred to as Lucy, after the Beatles' song "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds".

Transport from mantle

Diamond-bearing rock is carried from the mantle to the Earth's surface by deep-origin volcanic eruptions. The magma for such a volcano must originate at a depth where diamonds can be formed—150 km (93.2 mi) or more (three times or more the depth of source magma for most volcanoes). This is a relatively rare occurrence. These typically small surface volcanic craters extend downward in formations known as volcanic pipe
Volcanic pipe
Volcanic pipes are subterranean geological structures formed by the violent, supersonic eruption of deep-origin volcanoes. They are considered to be a type of diatreme. Volcanic pipes are composed of a deep, narrow cone of solidified magma , and are usually largely composed of one of two...

s. The pipes contain material that was transported toward the surface by volcanic action, but was not ejected before the volcanic activity ceased. During eruption these pipes are open to the surface, resulting in open circulation; many xenolith
A xenolith is a rock fragment which becomes enveloped in a larger rock during the latter's development and hardening. In geology, the term xenolith is almost exclusively used to describe inclusions in igneous rock during magma emplacement and eruption...

s of surface rock and even wood and fossils are found in volcanic pipes. Diamond-bearing volcanic pipes are closely related to the oldest, coolest regions of continental crust
Continental crust
The continental crust is the layer of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks which form the continents and the areas of shallow seabed close to their shores, known as continental shelves. This layer is sometimes called sial due to more felsic, or granitic, bulk composition, which lies in...

 (cratons). This is because cratons are very thick, and their lithospheric mantle extends to great enough depth that diamonds are stable. Not all pipes contain diamonds, and even fewer contain enough diamonds to make mining economically viable.

The magma in volcanic pipes is usually one of two characteristic types, which cool into igneous rock known as either kimberlite or lamproite. The magma itself does not contain diamond; instead, it acts as an elevator that carries deep-formed rocks (xenoliths), minerals (xenocrysts), and fluids upward. These rocks are characteristically rich in magnesium
Magnesium is a chemical element with the symbol Mg, atomic number 12, and common oxidation number +2. It is an alkaline earth metal and the eighth most abundant element in the Earth's crust and ninth in the known universe as a whole...

-bearing olivine
The mineral olivine is a magnesium iron silicate with the formula 2SiO4. It is a common mineral in the Earth's subsurface but weathers quickly on the surface....

, pyroxene
The pyroxenes are a group of important rock-forming inosilicate minerals found in many igneous and metamorphic rocks. They share a common structure consisting of single chains of silica tetrahedra and they crystallize in the monoclinic and orthorhombic systems...

, and amphibole
Amphibole is the name of an important group of generally dark-colored rock-forming inosilicate minerals, composed of double chain tetrahedra, linked at the vertices and generally containing ions of iron and/or magnesium in their structures.-Mineralogy:...

 minerals which are often altered to serpentine by heat and fluids during and after eruption. Certain indicator minerals typically occur within diamantiferous kimberlites and are used as mineralogical tracers by prospectors, who follow the indicator trail back to the volcanic pipe which may contain diamonds. These minerals are rich in chromium
Chromium is a chemical element which has the symbol Cr and atomic number 24. It is the first element in Group 6. It is a steely-gray, lustrous, hard metal that takes a high polish and has a high melting point. It is also odorless, tasteless, and malleable...

 (Cr) or titanium
Titanium is a chemical element with the symbol Ti and atomic number 22. It has a low density and is a strong, lustrous, corrosion-resistant transition metal with a silver color....

 (Ti), elements which impart bright colors to the minerals. The most common indicator minerals are chromium garnet
The garnet group includes a group of minerals that have been used since the Bronze Age as gemstones and abrasives. The name "garnet" may come from either the Middle English word gernet meaning 'dark red', or the Latin granatus , possibly a reference to the Punica granatum , a plant with red seeds...

s (usually bright red chromium-pyrope
The mineral pyrope is a member of the garnet group. Pyrope is the only member of the garnet family to always display red colouration in natural samples, and it is from this characteristic that it gets its name: from the Greek for fire and eye. Despite being less common than most garnets, it is a...

, and occasionally green ugrandite-series garnets), eclogitic garnets, orange titanium-pyrope, red high-chromium spinel
Spinel is the magnesium aluminium member of the larger spinel group of minerals. It has the formula MgAl2O4. Balas ruby is an old name for a rose-tinted variety.-Spinel group:...

s, dark chromite
Chromite is an iron chromium oxide: FeCr2O4. It is an oxide mineral belonging to the spinel group. Magnesium can substitute for iron in variable amounts as it forms a solid solution with magnesiochromite ; substitution of aluminium occurs leading to hercynite .-Occurrence:Chromite is found in...

, bright green chromium-diopside
Diopside is a monoclinic pyroxene mineral with composition MgCaSi2O6. It forms complete solid solution series with hedenbergite and augite, and partial solid solutions with orthopyroxene and pigeonite. It forms variably colored, but typically dull green crystals in the monoclinic prismatic class...

, glassy green olivine, black picroilmenite
Ilmenite is a weakly magnetic titanium-iron oxide mineral which is iron-black or steel-gray. It is a crystalline iron titanium oxide . It crystallizes in the trigonal system, and it has the same crystal structure as corundum and hematite....

, and magnetite
Magnetite is a ferrimagnetic mineral with chemical formula Fe3O4, one of several iron oxides and a member of the spinel group. The chemical IUPAC name is iron oxide and the common chemical name is ferrous-ferric oxide. The formula for magnetite may also be written as FeO·Fe2O3, which is one part...

. Kimberlite deposits are known as blue ground for the deeper serpentinized part of the deposits, or as yellow ground for the near surface smectite clay
Clay is a general term including many combinations of one or more clay minerals with traces of metal oxides and organic matter. Geologic clay deposits are mostly composed of phyllosilicate minerals containing variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure.- Formation :Clay minerals...

 and carbonate weathered
Weathering is the breaking down of rocks, soils and minerals as well as artificial materials through contact with the Earth's atmosphere, biota and waters...

 and oxidized portion.

Once diamonds have been transported to the surface by magma in a volcanic pipe, they may erode out and be distributed over a large area. A volcanic pipe containing diamonds is known as a primary source of diamonds. Secondary sources of diamonds include all areas where a significant number of diamonds have been eroded out of their kimberlite or lamproite matrix, and accumulated because of water or wind action. These include alluvial
Alluvium is loose, unconsolidated soil or sediments, eroded, deposited, and reshaped by water in some form in a non-marine setting. Alluvium is typically made up of a variety of materials, including fine particles of silt and clay and larger particles of sand and gravel...

 deposits and deposits along existing and ancient shorelines, where loose diamonds tend to accumulate because of their size and density. Diamonds have also rarely been found in deposits left behind by glaciers (notably in Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

 and Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

); in contrast to alluvial deposits, glacial deposits are minor and are therefore not viable commercial sources of diamond.


Approximately 130000000 carats (26,000 kg) of diamonds are mined annually, with a total value of nearly US$9 billion, and about 100000 kg (220,462.3 lb) are synthesized annually.

Roughly 49% of diamonds originate from Central
Central Africa
Central Africa is a core region of the African continent which includes Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda....

 and Southern Africa
Southern Africa
Southern Africa is the southernmost region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. Within the region are numerous territories, including the Republic of South Africa ; nowadays, the simpler term South Africa is generally reserved for the country in English.-UN...

, although significant sources of the mineral have been discovered in Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, and Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

. They are mined from kimberlite and lamproite volcanic pipes, which can bring diamond crystals, originating from deep within the Earth where high pressures and temperatures enable them to form, to the surface. The mining and distribution of natural diamonds are subjects of frequent controversy such as concerns over the sale of blood diamonds or conflict diamonds by African paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 groups. The diamond supply chain is controlled by a limited number of powerful businesses, and is also highly concentrated in a small number of locations around the world.

Only a very small fraction of the diamond ore consists of actual diamonds. The ore is crushed, during which care is required not to destroy larger diamonds, and then sorted by density. Today, diamonds are located in the diamond-rich density fraction with the help of X-ray fluorescence
X-ray fluorescence
X-ray fluorescence is the emission of characteristic "secondary" X-rays from a material that has been excited by bombarding with high-energy X-rays or gamma rays...

, after which the final sorting steps are done by hand. Before the use of X-ray
X-radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation. X-rays have a wavelength in the range of 0.01 to 10 nanometers, corresponding to frequencies in the range 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz and energies in the range 120 eV to 120 keV. They are shorter in wavelength than UV rays and longer than gamma...

s became commonplace, the separation was done with grease belts; diamonds have a stronger tendency to stick to grease than the other minerals in the ore.

Historically, diamonds were found only in alluvial deposits in Guntur
Guntur district
Guntur district is located in Andhra Pradesh along the east coast of Bay of Bengal. The district has a coastline of around 100 kilometers. Guntur City is the largest city in the district and administrative center of Guntur District. The district is a major center for learning.-Etymology:There are...

 and Krishna district
Krishna district
Krishna District is a district of India's Andhra Pradesh state. It is named after the Krishna River, the third longest river that flows within India, flows through the district and joins Bay of Bengal here in this district. It has a population of 4,529,009 of which 32.08% is urban as of...

 of the Krishna River
Krishna River
The Krishna River , is one of the longest rivers in central-southern India, about . It is also referred to as Krishnaveni in its original nomenclature...

 delta in Southern India. India led the world in diamond production from the time of their discovery in approximately the 9th century BC to the mid-18th century AD, but the commercial potential of these sources had been exhausted by the late 18th century and at that time India was eclipsed by Brazil where the first non-Indian diamonds were found in 1725. Currently, one of the most prominent Indian mines is located at Panna
Panna District
Panna district is a district of the Sagar Division, within the Madhya Pradesh state in central India. The town of Panna is the district headquarter.-History:...


Diamond extraction from primary deposits (kimberlites and lamproites) started in the 1870s after the discovery of the Diamond Fields in South Africa. Production has increased over time and now an accumulated total of 4500000000 carats (900,000 kg) have been mined since that date. Twenty percent of that amount has been mined in the last five years, and during the last 10 years, nine new mines have started production; four more are waiting to be opened soon. Most of these mines are located in Canada, Zimbabwe, Angola, and one in Russia.

In the U.S., diamonds have been found in Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

, Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

, and Montana
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...

. In 2004, the discovery of a microscopic diamond in the U.S. led to the January 2008 bulk-sampling of kimberlite pipes in a remote part of Montana.

Today, most commercially viable diamond deposits are in Russia (mostly in Sakha Republic, for example Mir pipe
Mir Mine
Mir Mine also called Mirny Mine is an open pit diamond mine located in Mirny, Eastern Siberia, Russia. The mine is deep and has a diameter of , and is the second largest excavated hole in the world, after Bingham Canyon Mine...

 and Udachnaya pipe
Udachnaya pipe
Udachnaya pipe is a diamond deposit in the Daldyn-Alakit kimberlite field in Sakha Republic, Russia. It is an open-pit mine, and is located just outside the Arctic circle at . Udachnaya was discovered on June 15, 1955, just two days after the discovery of the diamond pipe Mir by Soviet...

), Botswana
Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana , is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. The citizens are referred to as "Batswana" . Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966...

, Australia (Northern
Northern Australia
The term northern Australia is generally known to include two State and Territories, being Queensland and the Northern Territory . The part of Western Australia north of latitude 26° south—a definition widely used in law and State government policy—is also usually included...

 and Western Australia
Western Australia
Western Australia is a state of Australia, occupying the entire western third of the Australian continent. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Great Australian Bight and Indian Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east and South Australia to the south-east...

) and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2005, Russia produced almost one-fifth of the global diamond output, reports the British Geological Survey
British Geological Survey
The British Geological Survey is a partly publicly funded body which aims to advance geoscientific knowledge of the United Kingdom landmass and its continental shelf by means of systematic surveying, monitoring and research. The BGS headquarters are in Keyworth, Nottinghamshire, but other centres...

. Australia boasts the richest diamantiferous pipe, with production from the Argyle diamond mine
Argyle diamond mine
The Argyle Diamond Mine is a diamond mine located in the East Kimberley region in the remote north of Western Australia. Argyle is the largest diamond producer in the world by volume, although due to the low proportion of gem-quality diamonds, is not the leader by value. It is the only known...

 reaching peak levels of 42 metric tons per year in the 1990s. There are also commercial deposits being actively mined in the Northwest Territories
Northwest Territories
The Northwest Territories is a federal territory of Canada.Located in northern Canada, the territory borders Canada's two other territories, Yukon to the west and Nunavut to the east, and three provinces: British Columbia to the southwest, and Alberta and Saskatchewan to the south...

 of Canada and Brazil. Diamond prospectors continue to search the globe for diamond-bearing kimberlite and lamproite pipes.

Controversial sources

In some of the more politically unstable central African and west African countries, revolutionary groups have taken control of diamond mines, using proceeds from diamond sales to finance their operations. Diamonds sold through this process are known as conflict diamonds or blood diamonds. Major diamond trading corporations continue to fund and fuel these conflicts by doing business with armed groups. In response to public concerns that their diamond purchases were contributing to war and human rights abuses in central
Central Africa
Central Africa is a core region of the African continent which includes Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda....

 and western
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

 Africa, the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, the diamond industry and diamond-trading nations introduced the Kimberley Process
Kimberley Process
Kimberley Process Certification Scheme is the process designed to certify the origin of rough diamonds from sources which are free of conflict funded by diamond production....

 in 2002. The Kimberley Process aims to ensure that conflict diamonds do not become intermixed with the diamonds not controlled by such rebel groups. This is done by requiring diamond-producing countries to provide proof that the money they make from selling the diamonds is not used to fund criminal or revolutionary activities. Although the Kimberley Process has been moderately successful in limiting the number of conflict diamonds entering the market, some still find their way in. Conflict diamonds constitute 2–3% of all diamonds traded. Two major flaws still hinder the effectiveness of the Kimberley Process: (1) the relative ease of smuggling diamonds across African borders, and (2) the violent nature of diamond mining in nations that are not in a technical state of war and whose diamonds are therefore considered "clean".

The Canadian Government has set up a body known as Canadian Diamond Code of Conduct to help authenticate Canadian diamonds. This is a stringent tracking system of diamonds and helps protect the "conflict free" label of Canadian diamonds.

Commercial markets

The diamond industry can be separated into two distinct categories: one dealing with gem-grade diamonds and another for industrial-grade diamonds. While a large trade in both types of diamonds exists, the two markets act in dramatically different ways.

Gemstones and their distribution

A large trade in gem-grade diamonds exists. Unlike other commodities, such as most precious metals, there is a substantial mark-up in the retail sale of gem diamonds. There is a well-established market for resale of polished diamonds (e.g. pawnbroking, auctions, second-hand jewelry stores, diamantaires, bourses, etc.). One hallmark of the trade in gem-quality diamonds is its remarkable concentration: wholesale trade and diamond cutting is limited to just a few locations; In 2003, 92% of the world's diamonds were cut and polished in Surat
Surat , also known as Suryapur, is the commercial capital city of the Indian state of Gujarat. Surat is India's Eighth most populous city and Ninth-most populous urban agglomeration. It is also administrative capital of Surat district and one of the fastest growing cities in India. The city proper...

, India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. Other important centers of diamond cutting and trading are the Antwerp diamond district
Antwerp diamond district
Antwerp's diamond district, also known as the Diamond Quarter , and dubbed the Square Mile is an area within the city of Antwerp, Belgium. It consists of several square blocks covering an area of about one square mile. Over 12,000 gemcutters and polishers work within the district...

 in Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, where the International Gemological Institute
International Gemological Institute
International Gemological Institute is a diamond, colored stone and jewelry certification organization. IGI is headquartered in Antwerp and has offices in New York City, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Bangkok, Tokyo, Dubai, Tel Aviv, Toronto, Los Angeles, Kolkata, New Delhi, Surat, Chennai, Thrissur,...

 is based, London, the Diamond District in New York City, Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

, and Amsterdam. A single company—De Beers
De Beers
De Beers is a family of companies that dominate the diamond, diamond mining, diamond trading and industrial diamond manufacturing sectors. De Beers is active in every category of industrial diamond mining: open-pit, underground, large-scale alluvial, coastal and deep sea...

—controls a significant proportion of the trade in diamonds. They are based in Johannesburg
Johannesburg also known as Jozi, Jo'burg or Egoli, is the largest city in South Africa, by population. Johannesburg is the provincial capital of Gauteng, the wealthiest province in South Africa, having the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa...

, South Africa and London, England. One contributory factor is the geological nature of diamond deposits: several large primary kimberlite-pipe mines each account for significant portions of market share (such as the Jwaneng mine
Jwaneng diamond mine
The Jwaneng diamond mine is the richest diamond mine in the world and is located in south-central Botswana about west of the city of Gaborone, in the Naledi river valley of the Kalahari. Jwaneng, meaning "a place of small stones", is owned by Debswana, a partnership between the De Beers company...

 in Botswana, which is a single large pit operated by De Beers that can produce between 12500000 carats (2,500 kg) to 15000000 carats (3,000 kg) of diamonds per year,) whereas secondary alluvial diamond deposits tend to be fragmented amongst many different operators because they can be dispersed over many hundreds of square kilometers (e.g., alluvial deposits in Brazil).

The production and distribution of diamonds is largely consolidated in the hands of a few key players, and concentrated in traditional diamond trading centers, the most important being Antwerp, where 80% of all rough diamonds, 50% of all cut diamonds and more than 50% of all rough, cut and industrial diamonds combined are handled. This makes Antwerp a de facto "world diamond capital". Another important diamond center is New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, where almost 80% of the world's diamonds are sold, including auction sales. The DeBeers company, as the world's largest diamond miner holds a dominant position in the industry, and has done so since soon after its founding in 1888 by the British imperialist Cecil Rhodes. De Beers owns or controls a significant portion of the world's rough diamond production facilities (mines) and distribution channels
Distribution (business)
Product distribution is one of the four elements of the marketing mix. An organization or set of organizations involved in the process of making a product or service available for use or consumption by a consumer or business user.The other three parts of the marketing mix are product, pricing,...

 for gem-quality diamonds. The Diamond Trading Company (DTC) is a subsidiary of De Beers and markets rough diamonds from De Beers-operated mines. De Beers and its subsidiaries own mines that produce some 40% of annual world diamond production. For most of the 20th century over 80% of the world's rough diamonds passed through De Beers, but in the period 2001–2009 the figure has decreased to around 45%. De Beers sold off the vast majority of its diamond stockpile in the late 1990s – early 2000s and the remainder largely represents working stock (diamonds that are being sorted before sale). This was well documented in the press but remains little known to the general public.

As a part of reducing its influence, De Beers withdrew from purchasing diamonds on the open market in 1999 and ceased, at the end of 2008, purchasing Russian diamonds mined by the largest Russian diamond company Alrosa
ZAO ALROSA , is Russia's largest diamond company. Alrosa is engaged in the exploration, mining, manufacture and sale of diamonds. The company's operations are located primarily in the Sakha Republic/Yakutsk region. Alrosa accounts for approximately 25% of the world's rough diamond supply and 97%...

. As at January 2011, De Beers states that it only sells diamonds from the following four countries: Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Canada. Alrosa had to suspend their sales in October 2008 due to the global energy crisis, but the company reported that it had resumed selling rough diamonds on the open market by October 2009. Apart from Alrosa, other important diamond mining companies include BHP Billiton
BHP Billiton
BHP Billiton is a global mining, oil and gas company headquartered in Melbourne, Australia and with a major management office in London, United Kingdom...

, which is the world's largest mining company; Rio Tinto Group
Rio Tinto Group
The Rio Tinto Group is a diversified, British-Australian, multinational mining and resources group with headquarters in London and Melbourne. The company was founded in 1873, when a multinational consortium of investors purchased a mine complex on the Rio Tinto river, in Huelva, Spain from the...

, the owner of Argyle (100%), Diavik
Diavik Diamond Mine
The Diavik Diamond Mine is a diamond mine in the North Slave Region of the Northwest Territories, Canada, about north of Yellowknife.It has become an important part of the regional economy, employing 700, grossing C$100 million in sales, and producing 8 million carats of diamonds annually...

 (60%), and Murowa
Murowa diamond mine
The Murowa diamond mine is a diamond mine located in Mazvihwa, south central Zimbabwe, about 40 kilometres from the asbestos mining town of Zvishavane in the Midlands province. The mine is majority owned and operated by the Rio Tinto Group, which also owns the Argyle diamond mine in Australia and...

 (78%) diamond mines; and Petra Diamonds
Petra Diamonds
Petra Diamonds Ltd. is a leading diamond mining group. It is headquartered in Jersey, and is the largest diamond producer listed on Alternative Investment Market, part of the London Stock Exchange. It currently operates in South Africa, Tanzania, and Botswana, and previously worked on projects in...

, the owner of several major diamond mines in Africa.

Further down the supply chain, members of The World Federation of Diamond Bourses
World Federation of Diamond Bourses
The World Federation of Diamond Bourses, founded in 1947, was created to provide bourses trading in rough and polished diamonds and precious stones with a common set of trading practices. It is composed of 29 member diamond bourses. Their headquarters are in Antwerp...

 (WFDB) act as a medium for wholesale diamond exchange, trading both polished and rough diamonds. The WFDB consists of independent diamond bourses in major cutting centers such as Tel Aviv, Antwerp, Johannesburg and other cities across the USA, Europe and Asia. In 2000, the WFDB and The International Diamond Manufacturers Association established the World Diamond Council
World Diamond Council
The World Diamond Council is an organization consisting of representatives from diamond manufacturing and diamond trading companies...

 to prevent the trading of diamonds used to fund war and inhumane acts. WFDB's additional activities include sponsoring the World Diamond Congress
World Diamond Congress
The World Diamond Congress is an organization made up of representatives from the World Federation of Diamond Bourses and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association...

 every two years, as well as the establishment of the International Diamond Council (IDC) to oversee diamond grading.

Once purchased by Sightholders (which is a trademark term referring to the companies that have a three-year supply contract with DTC), diamonds are cut and polished in preparation for sale as gemstones ('industrial' stones are regarded as a by-product of the gemstone market; they are used for abrasives). The cutting and polishing of rough diamonds is a specialized skill that is concentrated in a limited number of locations worldwide. Traditional diamond cutting centers are Antwerp, Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

, Johannesburg, New York City, and Tel Aviv. Recently, diamond cutting centers have been established in China, India, Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, Namibia and Botswana. Cutting centers with lower cost of labor, notably Surat in Gujarat, India, handle a larger number of smaller carat diamonds, while smaller quantities of larger or more valuable diamonds are more likely to be handled in Europe or North America. The recent expansion of this industry in India, employing low cost labor, has allowed smaller diamonds to be prepared as gems in greater quantities than was previously economically feasible.

Diamonds which have been prepared as gemstones are sold on diamond exchanges called bourses. There are 26 registered diamond bourses in the world. Bourses are the final tightly controlled step in the diamond supply chain; wholesalers and even retailers are able to buy relatively small lots of diamonds at the bourses, after which they are prepared for final sale to the consumer. Diamonds can be sold already set in jewelry, or sold unset ("loose"). According to the Rio Tinto Group, in 2002 the diamonds produced and released to the market were valued at US$9 billion as rough diamonds, US$14 billion after being cut and polished, US$28 billion in wholesale diamond jewelry, and US$57 billion in retail sales.


The image of diamond as a valuable commodity has been preserved through clever marketing campaigns (as, indeed, is the case with many other luxury products). In particular, the De Beers diamond advertising campaign is acknowledged as one of the most successful campaigns in history. N. W. Ayer & Son, the advertising firm retained by De Beers in the mid-20th century, succeeded in reviving the American diamond market and opened up new markets, even in countries where no diamond tradition had existed before. N. W. Ayer's multifaceted marketing campaign included product placement
Product placement
Product placement, or embedded marketing, is a form of advertisement, where branded goods or services are placed in a context usually devoid of ads, such as movies, music videos, the story line of television shows, or news programs. The product placement is often not disclosed at the time that the...

, advertising the diamond itself rather than the De Beers brand, and building associations with celebrities and royalty. It was a "generic" advertising campaign that tended to focus upon promoting diamonds in general, or particular types of diamond jewellery, rather than specific brands. This meant that, as De Beers' market share declined, it was increasingly advertising its competitors' products as well as its own (De Beers' market share dipped temporarily to 2nd place in the global market below Alrosa in the aftermath of the global economic crisis of 2008, down to less than 29% in terms of carats mined, rather than sold). The campaign lasted for decades but was effectively discontinued by early 2011. De Beers still advertises diamonds, but the advertising now mostly promotes its own brands, or licensed product lines, rather than completely "generic" diamond products. The campaign was perhaps best captured by the slogan "a diamond is forever". This slogan is now being used by De Beers Diamond Jewelers, a jewelry firm which is a 50%/50% joint venture between the De Beers mining company and LVMH, the luxury goods conglomerate.

Another example of successful diamond marketing is brown Australian diamonds. Brown-colored diamonds have always constituted a significant part of the diamond production, but were considered worthless for jewelry; they were not even assessed on the diamond color
Diamond color
A chemically pure and structurally perfect diamond is perfectly transparent with no hue, or color. However, in reality almost no gem-sized natural diamonds are absolutely perfect. The color of a diamond may be affected by chemical impurities and/or structural defects in the crystal lattice...

 scale, and were predominantly used for industrial purposes. The attitude has changed drastically after the development of Argyle diamond mine in Australia in 1986. As a result of an aggressive marketing campaign, brown diamonds have become acceptable gems. The change was mostly due to the numbers: the Argyle mine, with its 35000000 carats (7,000 kg) of diamonds per year, makes about one-third of global production of natural diamonds; 80% of Argyle diamonds are brown.


The mined rough diamonds are converted into gems through a multi-step process called "cutting".
Diamonds are extremely hard, but also brittle and can be split up by a single blow. Therefore, diamond cutting is traditionally considered as a delicate procedure requiring skills, scientific knowledge, tools and experience. Its final goal is to produce a faceted jewel where the specific angles between the facets would optimize the diamond luster, that is dispersion of white light, whereas the number and area of facets would determine the weight of the final product. The weight reduction upon cutting is significant and can be of the order of 50%. Several possible shapes are considered, but the final decision is often determined not only by scientific, but also practical considerations. For example the diamond might be intended for display or for wear, in a ring or a necklace, singled or surrounded by other gems of certain color and shape.

The most time-consuming part of the cutting is the preliminary analysis of the rough stone. It needs to address a large number of issues, bears much responsibility, and therefore can last years in case of unique diamonds. The following issues are considered:
  • The hardness of diamond and its ability to cleave strongly depend on the crystal orientation. Therefore, the crystallographic structure of the diamond to be cut is analyzed using X-ray diffraction to choose the optimal cutting directions.
  • Most diamonds contain visible non-diamond inclusions and crystal flaws. The cutter has to decide which flaws are to be removed by the cutting and which could be kept.
  • The diamond can be split by a single, well calculated blow of a hammer to a pointed tool, which is quick, but risky. Alternatively, it can be cut with a diamond saw, which is a more reliable but tedious procedure.

After initial cutting, the diamond is shaped in numerous stages of polishing. Unlike cutting, which is a responsible but quick operation, polishing removes material by gradual erosion and is extremely time consuming. The associated technique is well developed; it is considered as a routine and can be performed by technicians. After polishing, the diamond is reexamined for possible flaws, either remaining or induced by the process. Those flaws are concealed through various diamond enhancement
Diamond enhancement
Diamond enhancements are specific treatments, performed on natural diamonds , which are designed to improve the gemological characteristics — and therefore the value — of the stone in one or more ways...

 techniques, such as repolishing, crack filling, or clever arrangement of the stone in the jewelry. Remaining non-diamond inclusions are removed through laser drilling and filling of the voids produced.

Industrial uses

The market for industrial-grade diamonds operates much differently from its gem-grade counterpart. Industrial diamonds are valued mostly for their hardness and thermal conductivity, making many of the gemological characteristics of diamonds, such as clarity and color, irrelevant for most applications. This helps explain why 80% of mined diamonds (equal to about 135000000 carats (27,000 kg) annually), unsuitable for use as gemstones, are destined for industrial use. In addition to mined diamonds, synthetic diamonds found industrial applications almost immediately after their invention in the 1950s; another 570000000 carats (114,000 kg) of synthetic diamond is produced annually for industrial use. Approximately 90% of diamond grinding grit is currently of synthetic origin.

The boundary between gem-quality diamonds and industrial diamonds is poorly defined and partly depends on market conditions (for example, if demand for polished diamonds is high, some suitable stones will be polished into low-quality or small gemstones rather than being sold for industrial use). Within the category of industrial diamonds, there is a sub-category comprising the lowest-quality, mostly opaque stones, which are known as bort
Bort or boart is a term used in the diamond industry to refer to shards of gem-grade/quality diamonds. In the manufacturing and heavy industries, "bort" is used to describe dark, imperfectly formed/crystallized diamonds of varying levels of opacity. The lowest grade, "crushing bort", is crushed by...


Industrial use of diamonds has historically been associated with their hardness; this property makes diamond the ideal material for cutting and grinding tools. As the hardest known naturally occurring material, diamond can be used to polish, cut, or wear away any material, including other diamonds. Common industrial adaptations of this ability include diamond-tipped drill bit
Drill bit
Drill bits are cutting tools used to create cylindrical holes. Bits are held in a tool called a drill, which rotates them and provides torque and axial force to create the hole. Specialized bits are also available for non-cylindrical-shaped holes....

s and saws, and the use of diamond powder as an abrasive
An abrasive is a material, often a mineral, that is used to shape or finish a workpiece through rubbing which leads to part of the workpiece being worn away...

. Less expensive industrial-grade diamonds, known as bort, with more flaws and poorer color than gems, are used for such purposes. Diamond is not suitable for machining ferrous
Ferrous , in chemistry, indicates a divalent iron compound , as opposed to ferric, which indicates a trivalent iron compound ....

An alloy is a mixture or metallic solid solution composed of two or more elements. Complete solid solution alloys give single solid phase microstructure, while partial solutions give two or more phases that may or may not be homogeneous in distribution, depending on thermal history...

s at high speeds, as carbon is soluble in iron at the high temperatures created by high-speed machining, leading to greatly increased wear on diamond tools compared to alternatives.

Specialized applications include use in laboratories as containment for high pressure experiments
Pressure experiment
Pressure experiments are experiments performed at pressures lower or higher than atmospheric pressure, called low-pressure experiments and high-pressure experiments, respectively. Pressure experiment are necessary because substances behave differently at different pressures. For example, water...

 (see diamond anvil cell
Diamond anvil cell
A diamond anvil cell is a device used in scientific experiments. It allows compressing a small piece of material to extreme pressures, which can exceed 3,000,000 atmospheres ....

), high-performance bearings
Bearing (mechanical)
A bearing is a device to allow constrained relative motion between two or more parts, typically rotation or linear movement. Bearings may be classified broadly according to the motions they allow and according to their principle of operation as well as by the directions of applied loads they can...

, and limited use in specialized window
A window is a transparent or translucent opening in a wall or door that allows the passage of light and, if not closed or sealed, air and sound. Windows are usually glazed or covered in some other transparent or translucent material like float glass. Windows are held in place by frames, which...

s. With the continuing advances being made in the production of synthetic diamonds, future applications are becoming feasible. Garnering much excitement is the possible use of diamond as a semiconductor suitable to build microchip
Integrated circuit
An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit is an electronic circuit manufactured by the patterned diffusion of trace elements into the surface of a thin substrate of semiconductor material...

s, or the use of diamond as a heat sink
Heat sink
A heat sink is a term for a component or assembly that transfers heat generated within a solid material to a fluid medium, such as air or a liquid. Examples of heat sinks are the heat exchangers used in refrigeration and air conditioning systems and the radiator in a car...

 in electronics.


Synthetic diamonds are diamonds manufactured in a laboratory, as opposed to diamonds mined from the Earth. The gemological and industrial uses of diamond have created a large demand for rough stones. This demand has been satisfied in large part by synthetic diamonds, which have been manufactured by various processes for more than half a century. However, in recent years it has become possible to produce gem-quality synthetic diamonds of significant size.

The majority of commercially available synthetic diamonds are yellow and are produced by so called High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) processes. The yellow color is caused by nitrogen impurities. Other colors may also be reproduced such as blue, green or pink, which are a result of the addition of boron or from irradiation after synthesis.

Another popular method of growing synthetic diamond is chemical vapor deposition
Chemical vapor deposition
Chemical vapor deposition is a chemical process used to produce high-purity, high-performance solid materials. The process is often used in the semiconductor industry to produce thin films. In a typical CVD process, the wafer is exposed to one or more volatile precursors, which react and/or...

 (CVD). The growth occurs under low pressure (below atmospheric pressure). It involves feeding a mixture of gases (typically 1 to 99 methane
Methane is a chemical compound with the chemical formula . It is the simplest alkane, the principal component of natural gas, and probably the most abundant organic compound on earth. The relative abundance of methane makes it an attractive fuel...

 to hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

) into a chamber and splitting them to chemically active radicals
Radical (chemistry)
Radicals are atoms, molecules, or ions with unpaired electrons on an open shell configuration. Free radicals may have positive, negative, or zero charge...

 in a plasma
Plasma (physics)
In physics and chemistry, plasma is a state of matter similar to gas in which a certain portion of the particles are ionized. Heating a gas may ionize its molecules or atoms , thus turning it into a plasma, which contains charged particles: positive ions and negative electrons or ions...

 ignited by microwaves, hot filament, arc discharge
Electric arc
An electric arc is an electrical breakdown of a gas which produces an ongoing plasma discharge, resulting from a current flowing through normally nonconductive media such as air. A synonym is arc discharge. An arc discharge is characterized by a lower voltage than a glow discharge, and relies on...

, welding torch or laser
A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of photons. The term "laser" originated as an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation...

. This method is mostly used for coatings, but can also produce single crystals several millimeters in size (see picture).

At present, the annual production of gem quality synthetic diamonds is only a few thousand carats, whereas the total production of natural diamonds is around 120000000 carats (24,000 kg). Despite this fact, a purchaser is more likely to encounter a synthetic when looking for a fancy-colored diamond because nearly all synthetic diamonds are fancy-colored, while only 0.01% of natural diamonds are.


A diamond simulant
Diamond simulant
The high price of gem-grade diamonds, as well as significant ethical concerns of the diamond trade, have created a large demand for materials with similar gemological characteristics, known as diamond simulants or imitations. Simulants are distinct from synthetic diamond, which unlike simulants is...

 is defined as a non-diamond material that is used to simulate the appearance of a diamond. Diamond-simulant gems are often referred to as diamante. The most familiar diamond simulant to most consumers is cubic zirconia
Cubic zirconia
Cubic zirconia is the cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide . The synthesized material is hard, optically flawless and usually colorless, but may be made in a variety of different colors. It should not be confused with zircon, which is a zirconium silicate...

. The popular gemstone moissanite
Moissanite originally referred to a rare mineral discovered by Henri Moissan having a chemical formula SiC and various crystalline polymorphs. Earlier, this material had been synthesized in the laboratory and named silicon carbide .- Background :...

 (silicon carbide) is often treated as a diamond simulant, although it is a gemstone in its own right. While moissanite looks similar to diamond, its main disadvantage as a diamond simulant is that cubic zirconia is far cheaper and arguably equally convincing. Both cubic zirconia and moissanite are produced synthetically.


Diamond enhancements are specific treatments performed on natural or synthetic diamonds (usually those already cut and polished into a gem), which are designed to better the gemological characteristics of the stone in one or more ways. These include laser drilling to remove inclusions, application of sealants to fill cracks, treatments to improve a white diamond's color grade, and treatments to give fancy color to a white diamond.

Coatings are increasingly used to give a diamond simulant such as cubic zirconia a more "diamond-like" appearance. One such substance is diamond-like carbon
Diamond-like carbon
Diamond-like carbon exists in seven different forms of amorphous carbon materials that display some of the typical properties of diamond. They are usually applied as coatings to other materials that could benefit from some of those properties. All seven contain significant amounts of sp3...

—an amorphous carbonaceous material that has some physical properties similar to those of the diamond. Advertising suggests that such a coating would transfer some of these diamond-like properties to the coated stone, hence enhancing the diamond simulant. Techniques such as Raman spectroscopy
Raman spectroscopy
Raman spectroscopy is a spectroscopic technique used to study vibrational, rotational, and other low-frequency modes in a system.It relies on inelastic scattering, or Raman scattering, of monochromatic light, usually from a laser in the visible, near infrared, or near ultraviolet range...

 should easily identify such a treatment.


Early diamond identification tests included a scratch test relying on the superior hardness of diamond. This test is destructive, as a diamond can scratch diamond, and is rarely used nowadays. Instead, diamond identification relies on its superior thermal conductivity. Electronic thermal probes are widely used in the gemological centers to separate diamonds from their imitations. These probes consist of a pair of battery-powered thermistor
A thermistor is a type of resistor whose resistance varies significantly with temperature, more so than in standard resistors. The word is a portmanteau of thermal and resistor...

s mounted in a fine copper tip. One thermistor functions as a heating device while the other measures the temperature of the copper tip: if the stone being tested is a diamond, it will conduct the tip's thermal energy rapidly enough to produce a measurable temperature drop. This test takes about 2–3 seconds.

Whereas the thermal probe can separate diamonds from most of their simulants, distinguishing between various types of diamond, for example synthetic or natural, irradiated or non-irradiated, etc., requires more advanced, optical techniques. Those techniques are also used for some diamonds simulants, such as silicon carbide, which pass the thermal conductivity test. Optical techniques can distinguish between natural diamonds and synthetic diamonds. They can also identify the vast majority of treated natural diamonds. "Perfect" crystals (at the atomic lattice level) have never been found, so both natural and synthetic diamonds always possess characteristic imperfections, arising from the circumstances of their crystal growth, that allow them to be distinguished from each other.

Laboratories use techniques such as spectroscopy, microscopy and luminescence under shortwave ultraviolet light to determine a diamond's origin. They also use specially made instruments to aid them in the identification process. Two screening instruments are the DiamondSure and the DiamondView, both produced by the DTC
Diamond Trading Company
The Diamond Trading Company is the rough diamond sales and distribution arm of the De Beers Family of Companies. The DTC sorts, values and sells approximately 75% of the world’s rough diamonds by value...

 and marketed by the GIA.

Several methods for identifying synthetic diamonds can be performed, depending on the method of production and the color of the diamond. CVD diamonds can usually be identified by an orange fluorescence. D-J colored diamonds can be screened through the Swiss Gemmological Institute
Swiss Gemmological Institute
The is a major laboratory of gemmology located in Basel, Switzerland. It is a part of the Schweizerische Stiftung für Edelstein Forschung . It was founded on an independent basis, by trade organisations, in 1974. It soon began to expand, offering its independent services to the global gemstone...

's Diamond Spotter. Stones in the D-Z color range can be examined through the DiamondSure UV/visible spectrometer, a tool developed by De Beers. Similarly, natural diamonds usually have minor imperfections and flaws, such as inclusions of foreign material, that are not seen in synthetic diamonds.

See also

  • Diamond drilling
  • Diamonds as an investment
    Diamonds as an investment
    -History:Diamonds have been treasured as gemstones since the ancient times. Popularity of diamonds has risen since the 19th century because of successful advertising in spite of a greatly increased supply. Diamonds are not normally used as a mainline store of value during times of crisis, because...

  • List of diamonds
  • List of minerals
  • Aggregated diamond nanorod

External links

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