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What is the importance of diamond?

What is the importance of diamond?

Diamonds have held importance for humanity throughout history. From their rarity and natural beauty to their industrial applications, diamonds continue to captivate and provide value in multiple ways. Understanding the origins and unique properties of diamonds reveals why they maintain such an esteemed status.


Diamonds are the hardest naturally occurring material on Earth. Formed deep underground over billions of years under intense heat and pressure, diamonds are brought close to the surface through deep volcanic eruptions. Diamonds are extremely rare, found in only a few locations worldwide. The rarity and difficulty of extracting diamonds contributes to their value.

Only about 1-3% of diamonds are of gem quality. Many diamonds are unsuitable for jewelry either due to flaws, poor color, or industrial applications. The very small percentage of diamonds that are high quality for jewelry purposes further increases the value of gem diamonds. While synthetics and simulants provide diamond-like appearances, naturally occurring diamonds remain relatively scarce.

Natural Beauty

The crystal structure and chemical composition of diamonds make them unparalleled in appearance. Diamonds refract and reflect light unlike any other material, showcasing dazzling brilliance and fire. The mesmerizing sparkle of diamonds has captivated people for thousands of years.

Diamonds also come in a rainbow of natural hues, the rarest and most valued being colorless and bright hues of blue, pink, red, and green. A diamond’s cut further enhances its optical properties. Precise faceting patterns allow light to dance within a diamond for unmatched scintillation. Diamonds captivate with their combination of rarity, shine, and color.


Ranking 10 on the Mohs hardness scale, diamonds are the hardest known natural material. This extreme hardness provides unparalleled durability and resistance to scratching or cutting. Diamond’s refractory properties also give it thermal stability and chemical inertness. The strong crystal lattice structure makes diamonds resistant to breakage or erosion.

Diamond hardness enables long-lasting wear as gemstones for jewelry. Enhanced tools and industrial processes utilize diamonds for cutting, drilling, grinding, and polishing applications across many industries. The ability to withstand harsh environments also makes diamond ideal for scientific equipment. Diamond’s durability contributes to its value and broad applicability.


Due to their enduring value and demand, diamonds hold their worth well over time. Large, high quality natural diamonds have repeatedly sold for millions to tens of millions of dollars at auction. Retail prices for one carat, good cut, G-H color, VS1-VS2 clarity diamonds from reputable dealers generally range from $5,000 – $15,000.

Overall diamond prices have steadily risen over the last 50 years as demand increases and supply fluctuates. Diamonds are a compact way to store and transfer wealth across generations. Many buyers approach diamonds as long-term investments, appreciating assets, or family heirlooms rather than disposable luxury purchases.

Status and Sentiment

Diamonds hold deep significance as symbols of love, commitment, and significance milestones. The tradition of diamond engagement rings originated from a successful 20th century De Beers marketing campaign linking diamonds with romance and marriage. The durability and permanence of diamonds underlies their association with enduring love.

Large or rare diamonds often symbolize prestige, wealth, and status. Famous diamonds are linked with royalty and celebrity. Collecting famous diamonds or showcasing large diamonds indicates fortune and prominence. Diamonds continue as icons of romantic ideals, achievement, and personal connections.

Diamond Supply Chain

Diamond Formation

Natural diamonds form approximately 90-120 miles below the earth’s surface, where temperatures can reach 2,700 Fahrenheit. At this depth, heat and pressure crystallize carbon into diamonds over billions of years. Diamond containing rock formations, called kimberlites, periodically rise towards the surface through volcanic activity.

Diamond Mining

Diamond mining unearths diamonds from their geologic locations. Several major methods of diamond mining exist:

  • Underground mining involves digging tunnels beneath the earth’s surface to access kimberlite pipes.
  • Open pit mining removes surface layers of sediments to expose kimberlite pipes.
  • Alluvial mining extracts diamonds from riverbeds or ocean beaches where they have eroded from their original kimberlite pipe.
  • Marine mining recovers diamonds from the ocean floor using specialized equipment.

The leading diamond producing countries are Russia, Botswana, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Australia, and Canada. Africa was estimated to produce over 60% of the global rough diamond supply in 2021.

Sorting and Valuing

Mined diamonds are transported to sorting facilities for initial processing. Diamonds are cleaned, examined, and sorted based on weight, color, clarity, shape, and cutting characteristics. Sorting determines potential value and downstream processes.

Professional gemologists grade and certify diamond quality according to cutoff, color, clarity, and carat weight. While larger diamonds tend to have higher monetary worth, color and clarity have critical impacts on value.

Diamond Color Grades Description
D, E, F Colorless
G, H, I, J Near colorless
K, L, M Faint yellow
N to Z Light yellow to yellow
Diamond Clarity Grades Description
FL, IF Flawless or Internally Flawless
VVS1, VVS2 Very Very Slightly Included
VS1, VS2 Very Slightly Included
SI1, SI2 Slightly Included
I1, I2, I3 Included

Cutting and Polishing

Diamond cutters strategically cleave or saw rough diamonds to maximize carat weight, clarity, color, and downstream value. The skill of expert cutters determines a diamond’s reflective qualities and brilliance.

Diamond polishers use rotating laps and diamond grain or powder to gently smooth and shape facets one precision surface at a time. Multi-step cutting and polishing unlocks a diamond’s inner light.

Jewelry Manufacturing

Most polished diamonds go into jewelry. Diamond cutters partner closely with jewelry designers and manufacturers to select diamonds suiting design needs. Diamonds are precisely set into rings, earrings, pendants, bracelets, and other jewelry forms.

Jewelry manufacturing and diamond dealers have close ties, frequently being subsidiaries of parent organizations. Vertical integration allows tight control of diamond value from mining through retail.


Consumers purchase diamond jewelry at retail from jewelry stores, department stores, online dealers, auction houses, or pawn shops. Diamonds may be purchased loose or set in jewelry. Prices vary widely depending on diamond quality characteristics and retailer business models.

Many consumers focus on popular diamond retailers offering extensive marketing, branding, buy-back programs, and standardized pricing. However, independent appraisals are essential for understanding true diamond value.

Applications of Diamonds

While renowned for gemstone and jewelry applications, diamonds also provide critical functionality across many major industries.


Diamond tipped drill bits and saws enable construction crews to cut through the hardest rocks and concrete with speed and precision. Diamond wire saws cleanly cut large sections of concrete. Diamond grinders and polishers put smooth finishes on stone surfaces. Diamond durability, hardness, and heat resistance supercharge construction tools.


Diamonds sharpen and wear down much slower than other abrasives. Diamond tools save costs for manufacturers through extended life and consistency. Diamond blades, drills, routers, and mills machine parts to tight tolerances and smooth finishes. Diamond grinding wheels can refine ceramics, optics, carbide, and silicon.

Oil and Gas

Diamond drill bits penetrate miles beneath the earth’s surface during petroleum exploration and extraction. Diamond bearings maintain stability under extreme pressure and heat conditions in drilling equipment. Industrial diamonds make oil and gas operations more productive and economical.


Diamond mining requires diamonds. Diamond tipped rock bore bits and saws uncover diamond bearing ore from underground. Alluvial diamond mining uses water jets with diamond nozzles to expose submerged diamonds. Diamonds enable efficient extraction of new diamond reserves.


Lab grown diamonds convert to graphite when exposed to high voltages, making them ideal heat spreaders in electronics. Diamond semiconductors also hold potential for high speed, high power electronics. Diamond’s thermal conductivity benefits high performance electronics.


Diamond scalpels make ultrafine incisions with minimal damage. Diamond dental burs smoothly shape teeth and bone. Diamond tweezers handle nanoscale biological materials. Diamonds improve precision and outcomes across medical procedures.


Diamond anvil cells subject materials to extreme heat and pressure for research into the properties of matter. The hardness of diamonds enables cutting edge nanotechnology development. Diamond lenses focus laser beams and x-rays.

Synthetic Diamonds

HPHT Diamonds

High pressure, high temperature (HPHT) processes recreate diamond formation conditions above ground. Pressures above 5 GPa and temperatures from 1,300-2,700 °C convert graphite to diamond without geologic timescales. HPHT accounts for ~30% of synthetic diamond production.

CVD Diamonds

Chemical vapor deposition (CVD) grows diamond films from hydrocarbon gas reactants. Microwave plasma chambers activate gas ingredients at lower temperatures around 800-1200 °C. CVD enables tailored properties like color and conductivity. CVD makes up ~70% of synthetic diamonds.


Synthetic industrial diamonds comprise ~80% of global diamond production. Industries utilize affordable synthetics for demanding applications. Synthetic diamond gems remain under 2% of gemstone sales but grow increasingly popular.

The low cost and consistent properties of synthetic diamonds increases adoption across tools, abrasives, drilling, electronics, and future innovations. Yet natural diamonds maintain distinct value due to scarcity and investment potential.

Distinguishing Natural and Synthetic Diamonds

Natural Diamond Characteristics Synthetic Diamond Characteristics
Formation Formed deep underground over billions of years Formed in machinery in weeks to months
Impurities Contains nitrogen; may have inclusions Higher purity; few inclusions
Crystal Growth Octahedral crystal structure Visible columnar growth rings
Testing Passes all standard gemological tests May fail some standard tests
Value Higher gem value retention Primarily industrial value


Sellers must disclose synthetic or treated diamonds per Federal Trade Commission rules. Lab reports protect consumers and industry integrity. Advanced testing methods also distinguish natural and lab diamonds.

The Future of Diamonds

Consumer interest, technological advances, ethical concerns, and supply pressures shape the future diamond industry. Some key trends include:

Increasing Demand

Global diamond demand is projected to grow 1-4% annually through 2030, driven by United States and Asia markets. More first time buyers in expanding middle classes and evolving luxury attitudes fuel diamond popularity.

Online Buying

Online diamond sales keep accelerating, especially among millennials and Gen Z. Virtual try-on, videos, AI imaging, and innovative retail platforms improve the ecommerce diamond buying experience.

Provenance Tracking

Blockchain ledger initiatives like Tracr aim to track diamonds from mining to retail, providing confidence in origin and ethical practices. Supply chain transparency addresses conflict and sustainability concerns.

Lab Grown Adoption

Lab grown diamonds gain market share for ethics and price, but still comprise under 2% of gem diamonds. Improved quality and lower prices will expand synthetics, especially for fashion jewelry.

New Mining Technology

Advancing technology like underwater mining, automated sorting, and AI processing optimize yields. New discoveries also boost supplies, like Russia’s vast Siberian reserves.

Recycling and Trading

More recycled diamonds re-enter the pipeline through resale and reworking of jewelry. Secondary trading cuts costs and environmental impact. Organized diamond exchanges add liquidity.


Diamonds derived exceptional value from their unparalleled properties and rare geological nature. Societal trends and aspirations further cemented the diamond’s role as an iconic gemstone. Ongoing applications across industries diversify the diamond’s technological utility and economic importance.

Yet innovations in synthetic production, ecommerce, ethical sourcing, and lab grown gems are reshaping traditional diamond mining and retail. While still precious, diamonds also transition toward serving diverse functions across technology, investment, sentiment, fashion, and sustainability.

The diamond industry adapts itself in response to these complex dynamics of scarcity and abundance, natural and synthetic, changing social values, and new technologies. By understanding this long, multifaceted history and projected trajectory, we gain perspective into humanity’s enduring fascination with the stone and desire to unearth diamonds’ crystalline brilliance.