“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” sang Marilyn Monroe. But long before that, humanity was fascinated by these amazing minerals.
Diamonds are formed deep within the earth, more than 150 kilometers deep, under extremely high pressure and temperature conditions. They are then brought to the surface by certain volcanic eruptions called kimberlites. The formation of a large diamond is a rare event that can take between 1,000 and 3,300 million years.. Its unique nature and exceptional properties have made it one of the most sought-after and studied materials in the world. On the one hand, although they are fragile, they are the hardest material in existence, with a rating of 10 on the Mohs scale. This means they cannot be scratched by any other material, making them ideal for industrial applications such as cutting, drilling and grinding.
On the other hand, diamonds have a high refractive index, which gives them their characteristic brilliance and “fire”. The way light interacts with the facets of a well-cut diamond creates a dazzling effect that is difficult to reproduce. The value of diamonds depends primarily on carats, a unit of measurement that describes both the weight and purity of gemstones and precious metals. For gemstones such as diamonds, emeralds or rubies, a carat is a unit of weight equal to 200 milligrams or 0.2 grams. This measurement is internationally standardized and is crucial for determining the value of a gemstone.
Diamonds have been symbols of wealth, power and love for centuries. They have been part of royal crowns, symbols of obligation and objects of desire in various cultures. Their relative scarcity and the difficulty of obtaining them have contributed to their high value. These are the largest diamonds in the world:
Cullinan, South Africa
South Africa is known as a source of large, high-quality diamonds. The famous “Cullinan” diamond was discovered there in 1905, the largest diamond ever found. This gigantic crystal weighed 3,106 carats before it was cut and made into 105 different stones. The largest of them is 530.2 carats and if you want to see it you have to go to London where it is embedded St Edward’s Crownused in the coronation of the Queen of England and in other jewels of the royal treasury.
President Vargas, Brazil
Brazil has also contributed stones to the pantheon of giant diamonds. Discovered in Brazil in 1938, “Presidente Vargas” originally weighed 726.6 carats.
Alrosa spectacle, Russia
In Russia, the Alrosa mine has produced several large diamonds. The largest diamond ever cut in Russia is a 100.94-carat stone called Alrosa Spectacle, which was sold at Christie’s in Geneva for 12.84 million Swiss francs.
Argyle Pink Jubilee, Australia
Australia is known for the production of colored diamonds, particularly pink ones. Weighing 12.76 carats, the Argyle Pink Jubilee is the largest pink diamond ever found in the country.
It must be taken into account that the perceived shortage of diamonds is often partially controlled by mining companies to keep prices high. We also cannot talk about diamonds without addressing the ethical concerns surrounding mining in armed conflict, also known as “blood diamonds.”
Quo Science Trips section sponsored by Hyundai