Diamond, a particular form, or allotrope, of carbon, is the hardest material we know of. It’s more than twice as hard as the closest competition, silicon nitride and cubic boron nitride. That extraordinary hardness arises from a strong and inflexible structure: Five atoms form a tetrahedron and share electron pairs with each other. In nature, diamond is typically created under extremes of pressure and temperature, deep in Earth’s mantle — about 90 miles diamonds sex more beneath our planet’s surface.
Except for space diamonds, of course. In 2017, researchers re-created, for the first time, the conditions under which they believe diamond rain forms in Uranus and Neptune. Farther afield, the exoplanet 55 Cancri e was once thought to be made mostly of diamond. The 2012 findings were based on data that suggested the planet had abundant carbon under conditions favorable for the mineral’s formation. Sadly, 55 Cancri e lost some of its luster the following year when another team’s analysis revealed there wasn’t quite so much carbon on the planet — making it much less likely to be a diamond in the rough. Back on Earth, diamonds destined for jewelry are, of course, rated by carat, cut, clarity and color, but the latter is a bit of a misnomer.
Any hint of hue indicates an impurity or structural deformation. For example, a few nitrogen atoms among a diamond’s millions of carbon atoms can make the rock appear yellow or brown, while blue diamonds have been besmirched with a few boron atoms. The Hope Diamond, the most famous blue diamond, is a lot smaller than it once was. When it was first mined in India in the mid-17th century, the now 45. 52-carat rock may have weighed more than 112 carats. Most diamonds end up in an industrial setting, like this diamond-tipped drill.
Sorry, it was a made-up marketing ploy. On the topic of making things up, the first recorded attempt at synthesizing diamonds was back in 1880, when Scottish chemist J. Hannay heated sealed wrought-iron tubes that had been filled with a mix of oils and lithium. Alas, the tubes were prone to exploding. Think of it as the first diamond boom!
In subsequent decades, GE and other labs around the world developed additional techniques for creating synthetic diamonds, most of which have industrial applications such as drilling or grinding, for which the material is extremely well-suited. Speaking of suits, playing cards were likely invented in China more than a millennia ago, but diamonds weren’t one of the four suits in a deck until relatively late in the game. The cards appear to have spread along trade routes, first to Egypt and then to Europe by the 14th century. European merchants initially kept the suits created by the Egyptians — swords, wands, cups and coins.
By the late 1400s, French enthusiasts had developed the suits that we know today: clubs, spades, hearts and diamonds, the latter representing the merchant class and wealth acquisition. In Renaissance folklore, however, the diamond was considered an amulet that warded off demons and madness. What Renaissance folks called madness, we now understand as pathology. A 2017 British Journal of Psychiatry study urged health care practitioners to assess mental illness not just with formal measures but also through simple observation. The study’s authors were inspired by an unlikely source: a documentary about Syd Barrett, founding member of iconic band Pink Floyd. Hope you all had a great Easter!
I’m happy that this one came good in the end! It’s based on simplified version of Satoshi Kamiya’s origami diamond. If you enjoyed making my paper gems then this project is definitely for you. When you have made your diamonds you can attach thread and hang them up. Print out the template onto a sheet of paper. Turn over and lightly bend along scored lines.