Where Diamond Is Found: Diamond Formation and Extraction Processes

Diamond is a mineral composed of pure carbon. It was first discovered by the French chemist Lavoisier that diamond is pure carbon. Lavoisier burned the diamond and saw that the combustion gas was only carbon dioxide, and concluded that the diamond was carbon. Diamond is considered a crystalline mineral. It is rare and unique due to its chemical nature. In fact, certain small chemical elements in a diamond, which is composed of pure carbon, can affect its color and shape. One of the most important points to be emphasized in the formation of diamond is that it is formed at a certain temperature and pressure. The most suitable places ​​in this formation are at a depth close to the earth’s core.

Diamonds are found in many regions of the earth. Diamonds are usually found in the upper layers of the earth’s surface in the crystallized form at incredibly great pressure and only at high temperatures. Today, 7 producing countries that have an 80% share of total rough diamond production are Botswana, Russia, South Africa, Angola, Namibia, Australia, and Zaire. The total calculated crude diamond production worldwide in 2000 was 120 million carats. Approximately 50% of it has been lost during the cutting and polishing process. Therefore, when the original 120 million rough diamonds are processed, only 18 million carats of it appear on the open market as a polished gemstone.

The diamond formed in nature is at least 990 million years old. The youngest diamond is 1 billion years old, from Botswana, and the oldest diamond is from South Africa, 3.3 billion years old. In order to determine the age of diamond, a different method, radioactive aging test, is used instead of the carbon test used in many materials. The diamond is connected to the diamond mine’s infrastructure systems, diamondiferous deposits. New methods vary according to geographic conditions and where the diamond pieces are. We can divide the diamond deposits into two:

  • Primary beds: Kimberlite or Lamproite chimneys
  • Secondary beds: Rivers, beaches, seas

Where to Find Diamonds

The diamond is formed and found in the lower layer of the earth’s crust, approximately 150 km below the earth’s surface at the upper mantle boundary. It reaches the earth by the movements of the earth’s crust or by volcanic eruptions. With the separation of the continents, diamonds found in the depths approached the earth. It is thought to be the reason why it is common in Africa. Thanks to the developing technology over time, the diamonds in the upper mantle can be mined enough to reach, and diamonds can be extracted from under the ocean and even glaciers.

The diamond was first found in India in history. Many battles were fought in order to dominate the regions where the diamond was found. It is thought that Alexander the Great introduced the diamond to Europe on his return. However, there is no information that diamonds have been mined in Europe. In 1728 diamond deposits were found in the Minas Gerais region near the city of Diamantina in Brazil. Later, diamond, gold, platinum, tourmaline, topaz, and zircon were also found in different regions of Brazil. Brazil has led world diamond production for nearly two centuries. In 1895, a carbonado (black) type diamond, weighing 3167 carats, was extracted from Brazil and still remains the largest diamond ever found.

In 1867 fertile diamond deposits were found in Africa. Kimberley, Primer, Transvaal, Kap, Orange… Millions of carat diamonds have been mined in these regions for many years without even using any equipment. When the diamonds on the surface were exhausted, mining started and important mines are still located here. In 1905, the Cullinan Diamond, which weighed 3106 carats and is now in the Kingdom of England, was extracted. The world’s largest pit dug by man is the Kimberley (the big hole) mine in South Africa. The mine, which was opened in 1871 and has a depth of 240 meters and a width of 463 meters, was closed in 1914. The depth of the mine, which was filled after its closure, decreased to 215 meters, and over time, approximately 40 meters of water accumulated.

Another country with a significant amount of diamonds today is Russia. In Russia, diamond deposits were encountered in the Urals in 1829, but until it was found in the Yakutia region in 1949, it was not known as the country where diamonds were mined, as it was not of commercial value. Mirny Mine in Western Siberia is one of the largest open diamond mines in the world with a width of 1200 meters and a depth of 525 meters. Another diamond mine in the Yakutia region, 1000 meters in diameter and 570 meters deep, which can be seen from space, is Nyurbinsk. Udachnaya, Botuobinskaya, Jubilee are other major diamond mines found in Russia.

5 tons of soil is cultivated to extract approximately 1.00 ct diamonds. Diamond is not only used in the jewelry industry, but it also has great importance and place in the industry. In fact, it should be noted that only 20% of the diamonds mined are of gem quality. Diamonds were found in Australia in 1980. The Argyle mine in Rio Tinto is the most famous and has gained a distinct reputation with a purple diamond weighing 2.83 carats. In 1990, Canada became one of the countries where diamonds are mined. Ekati and Diavik, which are located in the 200km circle of the North Pole, are among the important mines of the region. Today, countries, where diamonds are mined, are, in order of importance:

  • Canada
  • Angola
  • Botswana
  • Russia
  • South Africa
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Australia
  • Namibia

How Exactly Diamonds Are Found

The formation place of the diamond formed under a certain temperature and pressure is the depth below the earth’s crust, but close to the earth’s core. Diamond, a crystalline mineral composed of pure carbon, is a highly transparent substance. It is also possible to obtain diamonds by the metamorphosis of coal. The diamond formed in the mantle came to the surface with deep-source volcanic eruptions. These eruptions produce kimberlite and lamproite chimneys. Most of these chimneys do not contain diamonds, but very few contain diamonds. High temperature and pressure are required for diamonds to form. High temperatures and pressures occur only in certain parts of the world.

Diamonds that gush out to the earth’s surface during deep-source volcanic eruptions are waiting to be discovered by humans. Due to the very rare occurrence of volcanic eruptions, it has not been seen by modern people. Planetary bodies that hit the earth many times throughout history cause very high temperatures and pressure to occur. Even for diamond formation, the blows of planetary planets hitting the earth are high. Created billions of years ago almost at the start of time, the diamond is one of the immortal jewels of the world. Mankind has been able to find very few of the diamonds today. Although all diamonds have different values ​​from each other, very few of them have the quality that can be used in jewelry. Although modern methods are used for diamond mining, finding diamonds is an extremely difficult occupation.

Scientific evidence shows that most diamonds are not associated with coal formation. There is a big difference between the age of diamonds and the age of coal. Consisting of the remains of land-dwelling plants, coal is younger than all diamonds. Coal does not play an important role in the formation of natural diamonds. Today, most diamonds are made in a laboratory environment. The temperature and pressure required for the formation of the diamond are provided in the laboratory environment. For diamond made by consuming huge amounts of electricity, some of the electricity is met as coal. It is possible to say that the biggest contribution of coal in diamond formation takes place in the laboratory environment. Diamonds made in a laboratory environment have many colors such as green, blue, and orange.

Finding and Extracting Diamonds

Diamond is a mineral made of pure carbon. Diamond, the hardest known natural material, is also the most popular precious stone. Because it is extremely hard, it has a very important usage area in the industry. Diamond has been the most precious stone with its eye-catching luster and shines from ancient times until today. In the world of jewels, it is considered the symbol of endless love and the birthstone of those born in April. Carat (1 carat is equal to 200 milligrams) is used as the unit of measure for weighing the diamond. Today, specially produced industrial diamond types are used in various industrial applications; Also, starting from 1960, the production and use of artificial diamonds have become widespread.

The main sedimentary types in which diamond is found are pebbly alluvium, glacial swabs, and kimberlite breccias. The diamond, together with the skate in which it is formed, is only found in kimberlite breccias, deeper than 120 km of the earth’s crust (eg Kimberly, South Africa). The conditions for obtaining diamonds by synthesis support this theory. It is believed that diamonds found in alluviums and glacier pebbles detach from the kimberlite block as a result of erosion or glacial movements and re-accumulate in rivers or glacial sweeps.

Diamonds, which can be colorless or have a variety of colors ranging from white to black, can be transparent, translucent, or non-transparent. Most diamonds in the form of precious stones are transparent and colorless. Colorless or pale blue stones are the most valuable, but they are very rare. Most of those used as jewelry is slightly yellowish in color. The distinguishing feature of “fancy” diamonds is their distinctive color; The least abundant of these are red, blue, and green, while orange, violet, yellow, and yellowish-green are more common. The majority of industrial diamonds are gray to brown in color and range from translucent to non-transparent. However, it is very difficult to distinguish between high-quality industrial diamonds and low-value jewelry diamonds. The color of diamonds can be changed by bombarding them with various types of atomic particles.

The extraordinary brilliance of the diamond is due to its very high refractive power; A properly cut diamond reflects much more light than an uncut diamond and therefore looks more glamorous. What gives the diamond its shine is its high separating power; While white light passes through the stone, it separates into various colors of its spectrum, giving it a sparkling appearance. The hardness of the diamond on the Mohs scale is 10; The hardness level of corundum, which is the closest mineral to the diamond in terms of hardness, is 9. In reality, diamond is much harder than corundum; If the Mohs scale were considered linear, the diamond would have a hardness rating of 42. The hardness of diamond varies significantly in different directions, so some of its surfaces are easier to cut and polish than others.

Processing the Diamond After It Is Found

According to the atomic structure of the diamond determined by X rays, each carbon atom is bound to four neighboring atoms equidistant within the crystal. The crystalline structure, densely and strongly bonded with this tight mesh, gives diamond properties very different from graphite and other forms of natural carbon. The diamond shaping process involves five basic stages: marking, slicing, cutting, trimming, and creating facets. The marking process is done after determining how to cut to give the raw (or gross) diamond piece the highest value. While making this decision, the shape of the rough diamond, its defects, and their number is taken into account. Determining the direction is very important in slicing the diamond crystal; Because of its atomic structure, a diamond can be sliced in four directions parallel to the surfaces of the octahedral crystal. Taking these factors into account, the designer marks the slicing or cutting points when deciding how to cut the diamond.

If the designer has decided to slice the stone, he goes to the diamond slicer. Large diamonds are often sliced ​​first and cut into pieces suitable for cutting. If the stone is very large and valuable, slicing is a much more important process. Because a mistake made by the designer or the slicer can shatter the stone. A scratch is made with another diamond used as a cutting tool along the line indicating where the stone will be sliced. The diamond is then placed in a “V” shaped recess in a wooden wedge; A steel wedge placed on the scratch is hit hard with a mallet and the stone is divided into two along by the scratch.

In diamond cutting, the third stage, or if there is no need to cut into slices, is the second stage. The cutting blade is a paper-thin disc of phosphorous bronze, making 4 thousand revolutions per minute on a horizontal shaft. The diamond to be cut is placed in a vice. The edge of the blade sharpens with diamond dust, and as the cutting progresses, the blade continues to regenerate with the diamond crystals being cut. The next step in cutting a round stone is trimming. As the diamond is placed on the chuck of a lathe, it gradually takes a conical shape as it rotates, by rubbing another diamond clamped in a long-handled vise. In order to achieve different cuts in trimming, the stone is placed at a point outside the center of the chuck of the lathe.

After the shaving process, 18 basic facets are formed first to give the diamond cut. If 58 facet diamond cuts are to be given, then the stone goes to the brilliant master, who will make and polish the other 40 facets. To create and polish the facets, the stone is placed in a lead socket or mechanical vise and held against a horizontal cast iron impeller loaded with diamond powder. All of these works, especially the facets, require great skill; Because the maximum luminosity can be given by the facet angles following a precise order, and the preservation of symmetry can be made possible by very sensitive adjustment of the facet dimensions. The most common cut is a diamond cut, a round stone with 58 facets. Cutting a round diamond to only 8/8 facets is a simple cut. All cutting styles other than round diamonds or simple cuts are known as fancy cuts. The main ones are baguette-shaped, heart-shaped, pear-shaped, and triangle-shaped cuts and marquise and emerald cuts.

An Old Story About Finding the Diamond

The Diamond Necklace Incident, also known as the diamond incident, was the scandal that broke out in the palace of Louis XVI in 1785, which lowered the prestige of the kingdom in the eyes of the public before the French Revolution. The event began with the plot of Countess de la Motte, who was fond of adventure and excitement, to acquire a diamond necklace worth 1,600,000 Livres. Parisian jewelers named Boehmer and Bassenge tried to sell the diamond necklace to Louis XV to present it to his favorite Madame du Barry, and then to Louis XVI to present it to Queen Marie-Antoinette, but they did not succeed. The key man in the plan prepared by the countess was Cardinal de Rohan, the famous bishop of Strasbourg, who had won the enmity of the queen’s mother, Emperor Maria Theresa, and then the queen when she was the French ambassador in Vienna between 1772-74.

The Countess de la Motte, telling the cardinal that the queen wanted to own the necklace, implied that if she negotiated with the jewelers and facilitated the purchase of the necklace, the queen would formally agree to reconcile with her at the palace. Convinced after reading false letters allegedly from the queen and after a brief overnight meeting with a prostitute dressed as a queen, in the courtyard of the Versailles Palace, the cardinal made a deal with the jewelers to pay the necklace in installments. But when the cardinal failed to pay the full first installment, fraud broke out, and the jeweler appealed directly to the queen. With the revelation of authenticity, it became clear that the necklace that the cardinal thought had been handed over to the queen was actually sold in pieces in London.

Instead of covering up the plot, Louis XVI had the cardinal arrested. Imprisoned in the Bastille, the cardinal was tried with his alleged accomplices in the Paris Parlement (Supreme Court). Ultimately, although he was cleared of his accusation of fraudulently seizing the necklace (31 May 1786), he was removed from all his duties and exiled to the Monastery of La ChaiseDieu in Auvergne. The Countess de la Motte was sentenced to whiplash, stigmatization, and life imprisonment in the Salpêtrière Prison in Paris. The Countess later published her scandalous book, Mémoires (Memories), fled to England, and denigrated Queen Marie-Antoinette.

The scandal reinforced the widespread belief that Marie-Antoinette was not directly involved in the incident and that she was morally weak and perverse. The arbitrary arrest of the Cardinal and the unjust punishment of pressure on the judges strengthened the impression of King Louis XVI’s weakness and autocratic government structure. The Diamond Necklace Incident was one of the many factors that led to the collapse of the old regime (ancien régime) and the birth of the French Revolution.

Where Diamonds Are Formed

Diamond is one of the most important objects in the world, made of pure carbon element. The carbon dioxide gas released when a diamond is burned has shown that diamond originates from carbon. The most important feature of the diamond is that it is a very hard object. It can only melt at a temperature of 3547 degrees Celsius. Under certain temperature and pressure, diamond is formed. This formation occurs under the earth’s crust near the earth’s core. It is known that the diamond reached the earth with the volcanic movements and earthquake movements that occurred. In some areas, it is mixed with river sands, so many people can easily find it.

A completely pure diamond appears colorless. Structural defects and other impurities cause the diamond to appear colored. For example, nitrogen causes a diamond to be yellow or brown and boron gray-blue. Permanent distortions in the shape are the source of the pink or red color. The most common diamond in nature is a colorless diamond made of pure carbon. This is followed by yellow, brown, and blue diamonds. The red diamond is known as the rarest type of diamond. Natural diamonds are formed over the centuries by the addition of individual atoms to the crystal structure. It is also possible to synthesize diamonds by chemical processes.

With a certain separation and screening, the diamond can be extracted from ore rocks. Being the most valuable material of the world, diamond also stands out with its many different features. It is the hardest of the world’s natural mines. It has a crystalline mineral structure that is formed from pure carbon. It is the most transparent material as a heat reflector with its high conductivity power. The youngest diamond known worldwide is 1 billion years old, and the oldest one reaches up to 3 billion years old.

Diamond formation occurs very close to the earth’s core. Formation occurs when the carbon-based structure is exposed to high temperature and pressure. However, coal does not have a share in the diamond formation. Because coal is a sedimentary rock and is formed from plant residues accumulated on the earth. No coal is found, especially at points deeper than 3.2 km. Coal cannot reach deeper points below the earth’s crust. For this reason, the diamond was formed from carbon that was deeply placed in the earth during the formation of the earth. The world was exposed to high pressure and temperature with the different evolutions it went through during its formation. This naturally allowed diamonds to emerge in a carbon-based form.

Diamond Formation Places

Diamond is formed under a certain temperature and pressure. The place of its occurrence is the depth below the earth’s core. It is thought that the diamond originated from earthquakes and volcanic movements in the earth’s crust. It is also known to be mixed with river sand in some areas. There are places where ore rocks and diamonds spread below the ground. The ore extracted from mud and sandy water first floats in the dense liquid and then the heavy minerals on its surface settle to the bottom. The sandy and muddy mixture is then vibrated and the diamond is set aside. While 1/3 of the diamond is used as jewelry, the rest is used in the industry. Since it has a very hard structure, it can scratch and pierce other minerals. In this way, it has become more usable in the industry over time. In addition to this feature, it is one of the most popular jewelry items with its brightness, hardness, and light reflection.

Natural diamonds are formed in the Earth’s mantle, approximately 150-160 km below the ground. In the environment where the diamond is formed, the temperature can exceed 1000oC, and the pressure per square centimeter can reach quite high values ​​such as 49 atm. In diamond, which is the hardest material in nature, carbon atoms are connected to each other in a regular tetrahedral form by covalent bonds. You may have occasionally heard that diamonds originate from coal, that is, they are formed by the transformation of coal, but this is not true. It is known that diamonds were formed at least 990 million years ago, and most of them are around 3.2 billion years old. This is about 500 million years ago when vegetation started on land.

Considering that the source of coal is plants, it is clear that diamonds do not consist of the coal. In addition, coal is hardly encountered after a 3-3.5 km depth of the ground. In other words, there is no coal where diamonds are formed. Diamonds reach the earth through volcanic eruptions from these deep places where they were formed. Each carbon atom forms a covalent bond with four other carbon atoms to form a regular tetrahedron. Natural diamonds can be formed in at least four completely different and yet extraordinary ways. However, one of these formation processes stands out in almost all of the diamonds we see today.

  • In the depths of the earth

Natural diamonds are born in the depths of the earth, in environments where extreme pressure and temperature conditions prevail. This incredible miracle occurs over millions or even billions of years in deeper layers of more than 120 km, at an intense temperature between 900 ° C and 1300 ° C, and pressure above 45 kbar and carbon crystallizes into a diamond. In order for the diamonds to continue this extraordinary journey, they need to get out of the intense pressure and temperature conditions that created them and start their journey towards the earth.

This journey takes place when an event that takes place in the depths of the earth, a part of the earth’s mantle layer melts into magma, then quickly rises to the earth and carries very deep diamonds with it. As the magma cools, it hardens and forms a rock called kimberlite, which is located in vertical structures that we call kimberlite chimneys. Kimberlite chimneys are the most important sources of diamonds and almost all natural diamonds are obtained from this source. However, the fact that only 15% of kimberlite chimneys discovered all over the world have diamonds and only 1% of them are economically sustainable, reveals how rare diamonds are.

  • Tectonic plate movements

Extremely small-sized diamonds have been found in very high pressure (UHP) metamorphosis rocks in Kazakhstan, China, and Norway. These are thought to have emerged from the earth by tectonic plate movement during mountain formation processes. When a tectonic plate enters under another tectonic plate and is forced to sink into the mantle due to gravity, a tectonic process called “subduction” occurs. In this process, organic carbon can crystallize in the mantle and turn into a diamond.

  • Impact effect of meteorites

Earth has been the target of meteorites several times since its existence. When a large meteorite hits, the resulting extraordinary temperatures and pressure conditions create the perfect environment for the formation of diamonds. Diamonds found in meteorite-affected areas such as the Popigai crater in Siberia are very small and of low quality.

  • Celestial stones in space

Nanodiamonds are diamonds that are several nanometers in diameter (one billionth of a meter). Researchers have found that there are many nano-diamonds around newly formed stars and in some meteorites. These are too small to be used. However, it provides a valuable source of information about the composition and formation of our galaxy.

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Savaş Ateş

My wife has a huge interest in diamonds. After she asked me a lot of questions about it, I found myself in diamonds. I made a lot of research on it. I read books. I visited manufacturers. I visited the stores. I have made good friends in that field. I want to share my experiences with you.

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