Natural diamonds are one of the most valuable commodities in the world. The gemstone was formed in the Earth’s middle mantle by heat and pressure over three billion years ago. The pressure and heat of the Earth’s formation caused carbon atoms to crystallise and create diamonds.
Diamonds are delivered to the Earth’s surface by earth movements like volcanic eruptions or earthquakes.
Scientifically, diamonds can be discovered at a depth of approximately 150-200km below the surface. Temperatures in this area range from 900 to 1,300 degrees Celsius and pressure is 50,000 times higher than the atmospheric pressure at the Earth’s surface.
Molten lamproite, kimberlite, or magma, is formed within the Earth’s upper mantle, and it expands at a phenomenal rate. Movement and expansion cause an eruption, and diamond-bearing rocks are carried to the Earth’s surface. Magma moves at an intense rate of speed and takes the path of least resistance. A high rate of speed causes the magma to form a ‘pipe’ to the surface.
Magma cools over time and forms kimberlite. The vertical pipes or structures are called kimberlite pipes, and these are the most substantial sources of diamonds. Gemologists state, however, that only 1 in every 200 kimberlite pipes bears gem-quality diamonds. It is easy to see why diamonds are somewhat rare.
Top Five Diamonds in the World
1. Great Star of Africa.
The Great Star of Africa contains 530.20 carats and is the world's largest cut diamond. The diamond is pear-shaped and contains 74 faces. It was found in Transvadi, South Africa, in 1095.
Joseph Asscher and Company cut the huge diamond in Amsterdam. The diamond was tested for about six months before being cut into smaller stones. Cutting the diamond created nine major and 96 smaller incredible stones.
Legends say the Star of Africa or the Cullinan diamond was part of a much bigger diamond crystal. However, to this day, the other half has not been discovered.
If you want to see the Great Star of Africa, visit the Crown Jewel display in London. It rests in the Royal Scepter.
2. The Orloff
The Orloff diamond is exceptionally pure and a bit bluish-green. It is 300 carats, and the cut is called a Mogul-cut rose. The diamond was originally from India but was stolen and may have been re-discovered in Russia at the Diamond Treasury.
In 1812 the Orloff was hidden in a priest’s tomb to keep it from Napoleon’s advancing army. Napoleon found out the location of the diamond and began to excavate the tomb. It is said that a priest’s ghost appeared and placed a terrible curse on Napoleon’s Army. Scared, the Army scattered and left without the Orloff Diamond.
3. The Centenary Diamond
It took almost three years to cut the Centenary Diamond into a modern cut. This diamond has 247 facets and weighs 273.35 carats. The color is exceptionally pure and came from the Premier Mine in July 1986.
You can see the Centenary Diamond with the rest of the crown jewels in the Tower of London. The Centenary Diamond was first displayed to the public in May 1991.
4. The Regent
The Regent may not be as large as the other diamonds at only 140.50 carats, but its cushion cut and white with pale blue highlights make it one of the most beautiful diamonds in the world.
The Regent was discovered in India in 1698. Thomas Pitt, Governor of Madras, stole the diamond and sent it to England where it was cut. Later, in 1717, the Regent was bought from Thomas Pitt and became a part of the French Crown.
In 1801 the diamond was set on the First Consul’s sword and then reset on the Emperor’s two-edged sword.
Finally, the diamond came to rest on Empress Eugenie’s headpiece. The diamond can be seen at the Louvre in Paris.
5. Koh-I-Noor or Mountain of LightThe Mountain of Light was once the pride of India. It weighs 198 carats and is colourless. It is a brilliant oval cut and has 68 facets.
The history of this diamond can be traced back to 1304. The diamond was captured by the Rajahs of Malwa in the 16th century and remained in Mogul emperors' possession. Myths say the diamond was placed in the back of Shah Jehu’s Peacock Throne. However, after the empire of Persia was divided, the diamond was taken to India.
The fighting between the British and the Sikhs caused the diamond to be taken to England. Once in England, it was presented to Queen Victoria in 1850. The stone was recut to 108.93 carats and worn by Queen Victoria as a brooch. Later, the diamond was fit into a crown worn by Queens Alexandra and Mary.
In 1937 the diamond was set into the crown worn by Queen Elizabeth for her coronation. You can now see the diamond in the Tower of London with the other Crown Jewels.
6. The Taylor-Burton
The Taylor-Burton diamond weighs 68 carats and is white. It was discovered in 1966 in the Premier Mine in South Africa. Originally the stone was 240.80 carats, but it was cut into a 69.42 pear cut diamond.
Richard Burton bought this diamond and named the stone for Elizabeth Taylor. Burton bought the stone for $1,100,000, and it was an engagement present for Taylor. It is documented that she sold the stone in 1979 for $2.8 million. Elizabeth Taylor donated the money she received from the stone to a Biafra hospital. The stone was last seen in Saudi Arabia.
The beauty of diamonds has been documented for centuries. Diamond is the hardest substance known and also has a thermal conductivity 100xs better than copper. However, not all diamonds and cut and fit into crowns and necklaces; there is an entire industry of diamonds that are ideal for technology and industrial use.
Still, the diamond will always be a symbol of strength, the value of love, and implements of magic. In combination with its somewhat rarity, the diamond's natural strength and unique appearance make a diamond a thing of beauty, value, and desire.