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A brilliant and historical investment

Everything you need to know about diamonds

British crown consists of largest diamond in the world

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II owes the brilliance of her crown to a historic coincidence - during a routine inspection on January 26, 1905, a worker at the Premier Mine near the South African capital of Pretoria came across a shining stone of sensational dimensions: 10.5 centimeters wide, weighing 621 grams. The stone was named after the owner of the gold mine, Sir Thomas Cullinan.

The largest diamond in the world

Biggest diamond in the world in British crown

The whole world marveled at the sensation from the deep rock of the mine. The diamond was then sent to England and presented as a gift to the then King Edward VII. For fear of thieves, a transport ship had to be specially sent on its way with a copy of the diamond, while the largest diamond in the world was secretly transported to London by mail. A year later, it was split into 105 stones - and nine particularly large diamonds were processed as part of the British crown jewels.

Diamonds as a symbol of wealth and elegance

It is not only the crowds outside the Tower of London, where the crown jewels have been kept ever since, that illustrate the unbroken fascination that diamonds have for the general public. Whenever a record diamond is auctioned off, the whole world watches. Diamonds are considered to be the most valuable jewelry gifts of all; a gold ring only becomes truly valuable with a fine gemstone.

Even in Hollywood, glittering glass is used again and again when the really big money is to be staged. Songs like "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" from the movie "Blondes Prefer" have become real hymns to the imperishable glittering stones. Since time immemorial, diamonds have also been said to have a magical effect, which is why they are preferably worn as talismans. In the Middle Ages, many knights went to war with a diamond ring, because they hoped that the hard stone would give them bravery and fearlessness. Nowadays, diamonds can be used in many different ways.

Documentation about the possible uses of diamonds

Biggest diamond in the world in British crown

A natural coincidence provides special hardness

When diamonds are viewed in public, it is often forgotten that they are fascinating products of nature - although synthetic diamonds are also sold, the gemstones are only truly valuable when they are created by natural chance. In chemical terms, a diamond consists of ordinary carbon with a content of over 99 percent. The chemical composition ensures that diamonds are particularly hard and are considered the hardest material of all.

Formation of diamonds: High pressure, high temperatures

And the general conditions under which diamonds are formed make it clear why many stones have a high value and are real rarities: Usually, diamonds are only formed under pressure at ground depths of 150 to 500 kilometers and only under extreme heat of about 1500 degrees Celsius. It is assumed that then the crystallization of carbon atoms in graphite happens - from this chemical process diamonds are formed. The described conditions for the formation of diamonds prevail in the earth layer of the upper mantle - there a transformation process of the deep rocks already took place millions of years ago. Carbon atoms combined to form diamonds. How this process actually takes place, however, is disputed in science. What is certain is that diamonds are formed in incredibly long periods of time, while the cooling of the diamond takes comparatively little time. Often these products come to the earth's surface through volcanic eruptions.

The following video shows, among other things, the formation of diamonds:

Diamond Fever Part 1

Formation of diamonds

Diamond fever part 2

Formation of diamonds part 2

Stone witnesses from the early days of the earth's history

The place of discovery of a diamond is usually in so-called pipes - these are practically tubes in the earth's soil, which were formed by volcanic activity. Through these pipes, volcanic rock is pressed deep from the earth's mantle to the surface - this is how the gemstones, which were formed a long time ago, reach the light of day. And the supply has long since run out: It is assumed that diamond-bearing pipes were last formed about 15 million years ago - so everything that is being extracted from the ground today was formed in an early phase of the Earth's history. Many researchers now believe that the chemical processes used to create diamonds will never begin again.

Microdiamonds: Dangerous surprise from outer space

In addition to the formation described above, diamonds also reach the earth in another way - through meteorite impacts: During the impact of the meteorite, the terrestrial carbon is strongly compressed. Diamond crystals are formed, which can be found in the vicinity of meteorite craters. Micro diamonds can also be found in so-called ice meteorites. However, these diamonds are often only a few nanometers in size. For a long time, microdiamonds were considered worthless because they were not useful for jewelry processing due to their small size. In the meantime, however, microdiamonds are traded as coveted raw materials for industry - only tiny crystals are needed in most technical applications. In addition, diamond manufacturers are even more forced than before to process microdiamonds due to the shortage of materials.

History of diamonds - from magical talisman to modern material

The history of diamonds did not begin with the discovery of the "Cullinan" in 1907 - diamonds are witnesses to the history of the origin of our earth and an integral part of human culture. As early as the fourth millennium BC, the first diamond finds are said to have been recorded in India, and the ancient Romans also regarded diamonds as particularly valuable status symbols. But diamonds were not only valued as jewelry - their use as tools has been handed down from the time around the birth of Christ. In the 13th century the mechanical processing of diamonds began, before that it was strictly forbidden to lay hands on the magic stones. The 18th century saw the first diamond shortage when Indian and Indonesian mines ran out. In the course of industrialization, diamond processing was further refined, but it was not until the turn of the century that the brilliant cut, still known today, was developed.

Brilliants and diamonds - two false friends in the German language

When a diamond changes hands as a gift, the term "Brilliant" is often heard - the short form "Brilli" as a designation of a particularly valuable diamond. However, it is important to distinguish between the terms "diamond" and "brilliant". For there are no stones that are called "brilliants" - rather, it is a special diamond cut, through which the diamond shines particularly magnificent. In the brilliant cut, triangular, quadrangular and polygonal facets, i.e. flat cut and polished surfaces, are applied to the diamond. Cut receives a high brilliance. In plain language: the diamond denotes the initial state, "brilliant" is the final product refined from it.

Locations and mining areas: Rare mineral resources from distant lands

Diamonds can be found in many regions of the world, for example in Australia, Russia, India, Canada or China - however, Africa is considered the home of diamonds. Many countries on the African continent play a significant role in the global diamond market, including Botswana, Namibia or South Africa. In addition, Brazil is increasingly becoming the favorite destination of treasure hunters, who search the vast and undeveloped tropical areas here for gemstones. Untapped diamond deposits are also suspected in the Russian Ural Mountains, which can hardly be mined even with the most modern machine technology. In historical retrospect, however, India is considered the country of origin of the diamond passion.

Alluvial diamonds: Random finds with rarity value

Deposits are differentiated according to their type of origin. In addition to so-called primary deposits in mines and rocks, there are also secondary deposits, which are also referred to as "alluvial".  This refers to deposits on the surface of the earth. In plain language, the diamonds are located away from where they were originally deposited and have been carried forward by natural erosion. Mostly alluvial diamonds are found in a riverbed, a seabed or a coastline - therefore the so-called "marine mining", in which the seabed is examined for deposits, is gaining in importance. Alluvial deposits now account for about 10 percent of the world's mined diamonds, according to the World Diamond Council.

Blood diamonds and the morality of buying jewelry

Movies like the adventure thriller "Blood Diamond" leave the viewer stunned and cast a bad light on the global diamond trade. And indeed, numerous civil wars are raging in the world, the triggers of which are also located in the diamond trade. These wars are sold, according to the accusation of human rights organizations, through the sale of illegally mined diamonds. The General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) opposed this trade as early as 2000 with a resolution against the trade in so-called "conflict diamonds". Countries such as Angola and Sierra Leone are cited as exemplary settings for the blood diamond trade.

Blood diamonds from Africa

Blood Diamonds Part 1


Production of blood diamonds

Blood Diamonds Part 2

Politics and diamond industry fight together against blood diamonds

Early on, the diamond industry was concerned with the dark side of shiny gemstones and positioned itself against the trade in conflict diamonds. At the beginning of 2003, the most important companies in the diamond industry joined forces and launched the so-called "Kimberley" process - this self-regulatory mechanism uses government certificates of origin to try to stop diamond smuggling. Although this mechanism can theoretically still be circumvented, reputable diamond importers take strict care to ensure that their trade does not fuel brutal conflicts in the countries of origin. The fight against blood diamonds is supported not only by the industry's voluntary commitment, but also by a 2002 European Union regulation, which, for example, imposed a multi-year import ban on Liberia to prevent the trade in diamonds from exacerbating the conflicts there.

Inventiveness of the modern age: development of synthetic diamonds

It was one of the great dreams of researchers and alchemists early on - but the artificial production of diamonds is an achievement of modern times. It was not until 1953 that synthetic production, strictly based on the natural processes of nature, succeeded.  However, artificial production also requires a lot of effort - it takes several weeks for graphite to become a diamond under massive pressure and temperatures beyond 1500 degrees Celsius. However, it should be noted with all synthetic diamonds that they can never have the fascinating properties of a real diamond, for example, small flaws or inclusions from past millennia. Although it is now possible to design corresponding "quirks" afterwards, the artificial variants cannot come close to the special physical properties of a real diamond.

Artificial diamonds: It doesn't work without marking

When it comes to artificially modifying diamonds, investors encounter a wide variety of possibilities. To optimize the color of a diamond, some diamond manufacturers resort to drastic means - they use gamma, neutron or proton radiation. In this way, yellowish or brownish diamonds can be colored whiter. However, the treatment does not affect the value of the stones, moreover, the addition "color changed" must be entered in the diamond certificate. In addition, the neutron or proton radiation poses a health risk that should not be underestimated, so that some stones must remain in quarantine until the permissible limit for radioactivity is undercut. Some imitations are also falsely called diamonds - zirconia, for example, are not strictly speaking diamonds, but only cut like diamonds. In contrast, HPHT diamonds, although artificially produced, are still real diamonds in chemical terms. They must be marked "synthetic" in the diamond passport. CVD diamonds are also no different from real diamonds, but they must be labeled. Other substances, for example moissanite, are used as diamond substitutes for jewelry.

Hands off the gemstone: Subsequent enhancements are taboo

Basically, artificial diamonds are not welcome on the market and are no guarantors of value - even subsequent enhancements or rough cleaning reduce the value of the stone. Again and again, for example, laser drilling occurs to remove inclusions. When examining the four Cs, strict attention is paid to manipulations of all values. In addition, diamonds are occasionally "stuffed" to even out uneven areas. Subsequent treatments to give the diamond a white color are also frowned upon. Corresponding changes must be entered in the diamond passport.

Trading centers of the world: New York, London, Mumbai - and a small town in Belgium

While diamonds are found in many corners of the world, the trade in the rare stones takes place primarily in Europe - though not in the major metropolises, but in an idyllic little town like Antwerp. The Belgian trading city is still the main hub for diamonds worldwide, with industry estimates suggesting that more than half of the world's diamonds are traded in Antwerp. Antwerp has its own diamond district with four independent trading exchanges and around 1700 companies dedicated to the diamond trade. The diamond district is accordingly well secured and equipped with surveillance cameras and retractable roadblocks. About 27,000 people work in the diamond sector in Antwerp alone. However, Antwerp's share of the world market is steadily decreasing and other locations are playing a role in the global diamond trade, including New York, London, Tel Aviv and Mumbai.


Further information on diamonds

The largest diamonds in the world
What makes diamonds valuable - the famous 4 C's
Guide to buying diamonds