Diamonds – The way people make them

By | January 8, 2009

idiamondp-main_fullDiamonds – one of the most precious and glittering things that are generally used as ornaments by women, are not easily found as the form of use. There is a long and hard process to make the usable.Diamonds are useful and beautiful stones that undergo a complicated process before being used in a variety of applications, most commonly known would that of the jewelry-making business.

While there are now laboratories that create synthetic diamonds in a span of a few days, it is the formation and production of natural diamonds that require very specific conditions. Diamonds formed through natural circumstances are exposed to extremes in high pressure of about 45 to 60 kilobars and to comparatively low temperatures of about 900 to 1900 °C. These rough stones are mined or recovered through either pipe or alluvial mining.

Pipe mining refers to the extraction process found in volcanic pipes. In most locations, a pipe mine is composed of kimberlite, which is dug from the surface of pipes in rough opencast mining. Once these are exhausted, the diamond miners start digging tunnels into the deeper parts of the pipes. The rocks recovered, which contain rough diamonds, are then moved to a screening plant where the rock bits are separated from the diamond bits.

It typically takes an average of 250 tons of pipes to produce a one-carat gem quality polished gem.

Allluvial mining, on the other hand, is located on riverbeds or ocean beaches. When diamonds were formed in pipes deep inside the earth millions of years ago, some of these separated and was carried out along the rivers and oceans. In order to mine these diamonds, a wall is built to hold back the surf or water. Up to 25 meters of sand and rock can be bulldozed to reach the diamond-bearing level. Once these are recovered or mined, the diamond-bearing earth is transported to the screening plants.

Of all the diamonds mined in the world each year, less than half are gem quality, which are used in jewelry making and display a high standard of excellence, usually with a clarity grading of flawless to near invisible inclusions. The rest that are recovered are either near-gem quality or industrial quality diamonds. Near-gem quality diamonds can either be used to jewelry or industrial applications, depending on the actual stone.

As for industrial quality diamonds, these are usually of low quality or have a lot of blemishes and inclusions, and are usually used as drill bits and for cutting purposes. All the diamonds recovered from mining will undergo a cutting and polishing process to obtain their final form, as we know it.

Although technology has played an important role in perfecting these techniques, cutting and polishing diamonds has its origins in India, where it was discovered by Indian lapidaries that a diamond can be made to sparkle and be smooth simply by grinding it against another diamond. Nowadays, even with the use of machinery, diamond cutting and polishing can take anywhere from several hours to several months to complete. Some diamonds, especially gem-quality stones, are studied for months, even years, before the cutting and polishing process begins.

Each stone is different, and must be carefully studied and marked for cutting. That is why only experts commit to this process, as a diamond’s ultimate price and value may plummet due to a poor cut.

A diamond can usually stand to lose half of its original weight after this final process.

Paul Easton

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