Geology And Geophysics

Diamonds Natural and Artificial Production Methods

David Cowley's image for:
"Diamonds Natural and Artificial Production Methods"
Image by: 

How Are Diamonds Made? Millions of years ago the ancient oceans had microorganisms that lived and died in the oceans. When the microorganisms died there bodies fell to the ocean floor. After the bodies decomposed, what was left was almost pure carbon. The crust of the earth surface is in constant motion. Movement is due to tectonic plates and the continental drift.

When one of the tectonic plates was pushed under another the bodies of the microorganism, now carbon, is also buried under tons of rock. The carbon is subject to extreme pressures by the rock pressing down upon it and by extreme heat, which is usually between 1100, and 1400 degrees Celsius. If the carbon being acted upon is pure then the diamond will be colorless which is normal for diamonds. If nitrogen or sulphur is also included in the carbon then some color may be added to the diamond.

This process preserves the unique crystal structure that makes diamonds the hardest natural material known. The arrangement of the atoms causes the diamonds to have tighter atoms than any other substance in the world. When volcanoes erupted, every once in a while, the microorganisms, which are now diamonds, are forced to the service. Conventional diamonds are mined from explosive volcanic rocks (kimberlites) that transport them from depths in excess of 100 kilometers by volcanic action.

Man Made.

In the year 2004, scientists from Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory managed to produce gems that are harder than any other crystals. These man made diamonds were produced using a gas mixture. The crystals that were produced were so hard that the instruments and paraphernalia used to make them broke. The great part about these man made diamonds is they were created in less than a day.

Put pure carbon under enough heat and pressure, about 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit and 50,000 atmospheres and it will crystallize into the hardest material known. That is a very simplistic view and also very hard to do. Modern methods use a very complicated process that requires the crystals to be grown using a special high growth-rate chemical vapor deposition. Then the crystals were exposed to very high pressure and temperatures make them harder. There is then a production of a chemical reaction that yields what is called carbon rain. The carbon rain atoms arrange themselves in the same structure as the container or seed used to catch the carbon rain. As they arrange themselves into a tight composition, they turn into man-made diamonds.

Most of the man made diamonds are yellow in color. This is due to the chemicals used in the creation process. Man-made diamonds are very difficult to distinguish from natural ones. A trained jeweler could tell the difference if he could detect the different growth patterns and the lack of inclusions. Inclusions are the tiny bits of material that are usually imbedded in a natural diamond and are considered a flaw. Insist on a certification before purchasing a diamond for investment purposes. It will tell you the stone's carat weight, its color and clarity, and its flaws. If the seller is unwilling to supply a certification with the diamond then he may not be telling the truth and you should find someone who will.

More about this author: David Cowley

From Around the Web