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Every thing You Ever Wished to Know About Diamonds


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Podcast Transcript

It has been mentioned that they’re a lady’s finest pal, they’re ceaselessly, and that they’re the toughest substance on this planet. 

In nature, they’re created deep beneath the Earth at excessive temperatures and pressures, but within the laboratory, they are often created in a close to vacuum.

For all sensible functions, you’ll be able to’t scratch it, but you’ll be able to lower it, and economists have famous the paradox of how it’s priced in comparison with water. 

Be taught extra about diamonds, how they’re made, and the way they’re used, on this episode of Every thing All over the place Every day.


Earlier than I am going into the historical past of diamonds, I ought to begin with the physics and chemistry of diamonds. 

As you most likely know, diamonds are made out of carbon. That’s it. Simply carbon. 

With 4 electrons in its valence shell, there are plenty of ways in which carbon can bond with different atoms. It’s why the chemistry of carbon, aka natural chemistry, has so many alternative carbon-based molecules.

When carbon binds to itself, nonetheless, there are only some methods it may well do it. These methods, nonetheless, may end up in supplies with outstanding properties. 

The most typical type of carbon is graphite. It is a two-dimensional allotrope of carbon the place the carbon atoms are aligned in a single sheet. A single sheet of those is called graphene, and when the sheets are present in stacks it is called graphite. 

Lots of the different allotropes of carbon are simply totally different types of graphene the place the sheet is turned onto itself to kind cylinders or spheres. 

Underneath a lot larger temperatures and pressures, carbon atoms can align in different methods. Particularly, for the needs of this episode, carbon atoms can align in a 3D crystal lattice to kind diamonds. 

The naturally occurring diamonds discovered on Earth had been all most likely created over a billion years in the past at depths of 150 kilometers or 90 miles beneath the floor.

Pressures at that depth can be wherever from 237,000 to 1.3 million atmospheres of strain and the temperatures can be between 1000 to 3700° Celsius.

Diamonds that managed to come back to the floor achieve this by way of deep volcanoes. There are only some locations on Earth which have these deposits. By far the most important is in South Africa, with different vital deposits in Canada, Russia, and Australia. There are a number of smaller diamond mines in different nations around the globe. 

Diamonds do have a melting and boiling level and so they can burn. In case you warmth up a diamond with a torch and drop it into liquid oxygen, it is going to utterly flip to carbon dioxide. Melting a diamond is difficult as a result of it tends to transform to graphite earlier than it turns to a liquid. 

Diamond additionally had the very best thermal conductivity of any identified substance, which means it could make the worst thermal insulator. 

As you might be most likely conscious, diamonds are the toughest naturally occurring substance. Nothing can scratch a diamond. The hardness of a diamond is because of the bonds between the carbon atoms. On each the Vickers scale and the Moh’s hardness scale, diamonds are the toughest substance. 

Nonetheless, diamonds are usually not the toughest theoretical substance, neither is it even the toughest theoretical carbon allotrope.  There’s a model of carbon referred to as Lonsdaleite, which is a sort of diamond that has a hexagonal lattice as an alternative of a cubical lattice in a daily diamond. 

Lonsdaleite may be very uncommon and has solely been present in very small quantities in meteorites, and it has been created in laboratories. In a pure kind, it’s 58% tougher than diamond, however in actuality, cracks and impurities normally make it much less onerous. 

There are 4 conventional ways in which gemologists consider the standard of a diamond. They’re often known as the 4 C’s: Coloration, Minimize, Readability, and carat weight. The Gemological Institute of America has scales and strategies for grading every of those measures. 

The colour of a diamond comes from impurities of non-carbon atoms which are embedded into the crystal lattice. Pure diamonds are clear-colored. Nonetheless, there are coloured diamonds as nicely. Blue, yellow, pink, inexperienced, purple, and black. 

Yellow diamonds are literally the most typical, and the yellow coloration comes from nitrogen. The well-known Hope Diamond is a blue diamond, and the blue comes from small quantities of boron discovered within the crystal.  Inexperienced diamonds come from publicity to alpha radiation. 

You may see the Hope Diamond on show within the Smithsonian Museum of Pure Historical past in Washington DC.

The readability of a diamond is one thing that’s decided by way of a microscope. Readability refers to blemishes and inclusions within the diamond. These are usually not impurities that trigger adjustments in coloration a lot as simply breaks within the crystal lattice. 

Readability measurements are on a 10-point scale from flawless to Inclusion 2, which suggests there are plenty of flaws. 

The lower of a diamond might be an important criterion for figuring out worth. The lower of a diamond determines how mild will transfer via the diamond and can decide its brilliance and the way a lot its sparkles. 

A diamond is lower by an professional diamond cutter. They take an uncut pure diamond and must make a singular plan to chop it based mostly on the form of the uncut diamond. 

Many of the world’s diamond slicing solely happens in just a few locations. The overwhelming majority of diamonds on this planet are lower in Surat, India, positioned within the state of Gujarat. Antwerp is likely one of the different main facilities for diamond slicing.

The ultimate measure of a diamond is its carat weight. Carat is a measure of the dimensions of a diamond. One carat is the same as 200 milligrams, and a carat could be measured in increments of 1/100ths, or 2 milligrams. 

A 5-carat diamond, which is sort of giant and can be very noticeable when you had been to put on it as a hoop, weighs just one gram.

Traditionally, the burden of a carat differed in several places, however a worldwide metric carat customary was set in 1907.

Whereas diamond themselves are attention-grabbing, it most likely isn’t as attention-grabbing because the diamond enterprise, of which there actually isn’t else on this planet fairly prefer it. 

The worldwide diamond commerce is extremely centralized with only some main gamers around the globe. The most important firm, by a large vast margin, is De Beers.

De Beers is energetic in nearly each facet of the diamond business from mining to buying and selling to advertising and marketing. At one level they managed 85% of the world’s diamond commerce.

De Beers was based in 1888 in South Africa by Cecil Rhodes. One of many first diamond mines was present in Kimberly, South Africa. Immediately it is called the Massive Gap. 

The Massive Gap is, because the identify would recommend, an ideal massive gap, an open-pit diamond mine. I really visited it a number of years in the past and it’s actually staggering how massive it’s. They’ve a viewing platform that extends out over it.

What is basically wonderful about it’s that it was dug by hand. From 1871 to 1914, 50,000 males with picks and shovels dug the outlet seeking diamonds. A gap that’s 463 metres or 1,519 ft vast, and 240 metres or 790 ft deep.

This early diamond mine in Kimberly gave identify to the igneous rock which might comprise diamonds: Kimberlite. These Kimberlite pipes are what miners search for when trying to find diamonds. 

Whereas most diamond mines are run as correct mines within the floor with equipment, in some elements of the world diamonds could be present in a way just like panning for gold. That is the best way they’re normally found in much less developed African nations like Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Liberia,  Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

As a result of these diamonds could be acquired so simply with nothing however human labor, they’ve typically been used to fund insurgencies and civil wars by warlords who management diamond-producing areas. These are often known as blood diamonds or battle diamonds. 

A global program often known as the Kimberly Course of was carried out to trace diamonds internationally and to certify diamonds as having not come from battle zones. 

Whereas most individuals are accustomed to diamonds as gems, and that’s why they’re mined due to their excessive worth, by weight, the overwhelming majority of diamonds are usually not utilized in jewellery. About 80% of all diamonds are used for industrial functions. 

The 4 C’s of coloration, lower, readability, and carat weight don’t actually matter for industrial diamonds. These are diamonds which are too small, too low high quality, and are the residue of the gem slicing course of. 

Industrial diamonds are used for abrasives and slicing instruments. You may really purchase poor-quality, industrial diamonds on eBay for a surprisingly low cost worth. 

Diamonds are additionally used when doing excessive high-pressure experiments. When scientists conduct experiments with excessive pressures, they’re normally utilizing what is known as a diamond anvil. A diamond anvil is simply two diamonds the place the guidelines are compressed in an especially small space, nicely below a millimeter, to create monumental pressures.

The largest change to the diamond business within the final a number of many years has been the introduction of artificial diamonds. As diamonds are nothing by carbon, the recipe for them is easy. 

There are two methods used for creating synthetic diamonds: the primary is excessive temperature, excessive strain, and the second is known as chemical vapor deposition. 

The primary documented creation of a man-made diamond occurred in 1953 in Sweden. This was completed by way of the excessive strain and temperature technique, and the ensuing diamonds had been of poor high quality. 

The primary gem-quality stones had been created in 1970 by Basic Electrical. These stones had been all initially yellowish, however have step by step improved over time. 

The chemical vapor deposition approach permits for a charged gasoline to settle and create diamonds over a big floor space. This might permit for supplies equivalent to diamond-coated glass sooner or later. 

Artificial diamonds have been gaining in reputation which has after all freaked out the standard diamond miners equivalent to De Beers. Chemically, they’re precisely the identical, nonetheless, you’ll be able to normally inform the distinction when you take a look at it in a spectrograph with ultraviolet or infrared mild.  

Artificial diamonds normally promote for a lot lower than conventional diamonds, and most of the people can’t inform the distinction until you might be an professional with particular gear. 

De Beers has each created advertising and marketing campaigns in opposition to artificial diamonds and have additionally joined the social gathering by creating their very own. 

The potential for artificial diamonds is big, together with their potential as semiconductors.  

The topic of De Beers’ advertising and marketing campaigns brings me to the factor that diamonds are finest identified for: engagement and marriage ceremony rings. 

A marriage or engagement ring is the one time somebody would possibly really buy or put on a diamond. The rationale we do that is that it’s a custom that dates again hundreds of years. 

….besides it isn’t.

The custom of diamond engagement rings is a very fashionable invention invented by De Beers and their New York promoting company N.W. Ayers in 1938. 

Sure, there have been diamond rings given by European royalty as early as 500 years in the past, however there have been all kinds of valuable gemstone rings that had been made. There wasn’t something notably particular about diamonds. 

De Beers, having managed the world’s diamond market, wanted to create demand for his or her product. They started promoting the concept solely diamond rings had been true symbols of affection. They might promote the large diamonds worn by Hollywood stars. 

From 1939 to 1979, the US diamond market grew 100-fold. 

They replicated this technique everywhere in the world. In Japan, 5% of girls in had a diamond engagement ring in 1967. By 1981, it had risen to 60%. Nearly 30% of Chinese language brides have diamond rings in the present day, up from mainly zero in 1990. 

The adoption of diamond marriage ceremony and engagement rings, and the concept for males to spend three months’ wage on one, is completely an invention of the diamond business and promoting firms. 

In 2019, the worldwide diamond business reached $90 billion {dollars}. 

I need to finish on one thing that economists name the diamond and water paradox. 

Exterior of some industrial makes use of, diamonds mainly haven’t any actual use. They’re fairly stones you’ll be able to take a look at, and that’s it, But, they’re very costly. 

Water is one thing that every one of us would die with out if we didn’t have it for even just a few days. But, despiting being important for all times, it’s comparatively low cost. 

Why is one thing ineffective so costly, and why is one thing so important so cheap?

The reply to the puzzle led to one of many nice revolutions in economics. The thought of marginal utility, of which there will likely be a future episode.

A client doesn’t have to decide on between all of the diamonds and all of the water. If we needed to make that call, we’d all select water. As a substitute, we select between the following glass of water or the following diamond and given the large provide of water, and the very restricted provide of diamonds, diamonds find yourself costing rather more. 

Diamonds are fascinating chemical substances, that are created by an excessive geological course of, and traded by one of many few actually world cartels.

Given the entire unimaginable forces at play, each geologic and financial, diamonds most likely will likely be ceaselessly. 


Every thing All over the place Every day is an Airwave Media Podcast. 

The chief producer is Darcy Adams.

The affiliate producers are Thor Thomsen and Peter Bennett.

I need to give a shoutout to the three individuals who discovered the hidden message on the finish of the morse code episode.

Dreb Scott, Sevy, and Yo55i all discovered the puzzle and got here up with the right reply. 

I’m not going to present away what it was as I’m guessing a few of you didn’t even know there was a secret message on the finish of the present. If you wish to take a stab at it, you’ll be able to relisten to the morse code episode to attempt to remedy it. 

I even have to present a giant shoutout to Dreb Scott who despatched me a 60,000 satoshi enhance for the Morse Code episode. In his boostagram he wrote:

I possible wouldn’t have gotten my ham radio license in the event that they nonetheless required Morse Code. That being mentioned, I now need to study it. Nice episode!

Dreb, I feel that was the case for an entire lot of ham radio operators. I solely bought my license for VHF and UHF due to the morse code requirement. That being mentioned, I feel it’s one thing that when you observe somewhat bit on a regular basis, you might most likely determine it out. It truly is simply the alphabet in one other kind. 

KC0PE signing off, reminding you that when you go away a evaluate or ship me a boostagram, you can also have it learn the present.



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