What Makes Diamonds World’s Hardest Mineral?

Diamonds naturally occur in the form of rough stones that need be cut and polished to bring out the sparkling brilliance they are famous for.

As we discussed earlier, diamonds are formed when carbon atoms undergo extreme pressure and heat and eventually crystallize. This process also makes diamonds the naturally occurring hardest mineral ever known. There’s a scale called Mohs scale, which is used to determine hardness of minerals. On this scale, diamond rates at astounding level of 10. Let’s see how other minerals compare to diamond on this scale:

1. Talc – So fragile, even fingernails can scratch it.

2. Gypsum – It can also be easily scratched by fingernails.

3. Calcite – A give and take relation with copper coin; gets scratched and scratches it.

4. Fluorite – Resistant to copper scratches but doesn’t scratch glass.

5. Apatite – Easily scratched by knife, can scratch glass.

6. Orthoclase – Hard enough to scratch glass. A normal file can easily scratch it.

7. Quartz – File doesn’t scratch it.

8. Topaz – Only corundum and diamond can scratch it.

9. Corundum – Scratched only by a diamond

10. Diamond – “Diamond cuts diamond”, well, you’ve got the idea.

Scientists have found that a diamond crater found in Arizona was actually a result of a meteorite. Apart from the size and obvious heat, this meteorite had another noteworthy constituent: metal. GE scientists came up with an idea that they could create laboratory scaled meteorite crashes to form diamonds. They started with an experiment in which they joined carbon atoms with metal called Troilite and subjected the compound to extreme heat and pressure. The outcome was as expected and equally astounding, diamond crystals!

It must be kept in mind that it’s only a sample of average diamonds that are one notch above corundum in terms of hardness. There are other superior specimens too which are 10 or even hundred times harder than the class 9 gems.

The main contributor in diamonds’ immense hardness is their molecular structure. Diamonds are formed when the carbon atoms link in a lattice structure with each other. Each carbon atom in diamond is joined with four carbon atoms, which creates a tetrahedral structure. This type of bond of five carbon atoms joined together creates an exceptionally strong molecule.

Because of their immense strength and capacity to withstand great heat and pressure, diamonds have always enjoyed a special place in hearts and minds of everyone. Be it their strength that has made them the proud jewels of kings’ crown, or their timeless beauty that has enthralled women till date, there’s a diamond for everyone and for every occasion. Especially when it comes to seal your bond of love in matrimony, diamonds have always been the preferred gem for engagement rings.

We would like to conclude with a famous quote, “What is a diamond, but just a piece of charcoal that stood the test of time and pressure”. A diamond surely signifies an indestructible personality. Go ahead and find a piece that suits yours.


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