From The Bowels of The Earth
Diamonds are the hardest substance known to mankind and man has been able to capture their beauty for us to enjoy. From a small lump of rock in the hands of the diamond cutter, an expert will peel away bits and pieces that are not required and bring forth a perfectly cut and polished gemstone. When we speak of diamonds, here are four facts you should know about these mysterious elements.
- Diamonds grow as crystals deep within the earth where the temperature and pressure combine creating the perfect conditions for growth of the future gemstone. These conditions must be present in the area of a volcano — the center is called a pipe. Most natural diamonds are formed at very high temperatures and pressures at depths of 130 to 200 kilometers in the earth’s mantle. Over a period of millions of years, the rock bearing the diamond will gradually move up towards the surface. Open-pit miners dig down deep to extract those rocks and, with the aid of huge crushers, the diamonds are then released. Once they are graded and sorted many times, those of gem quality are turned over to the diamond cutters. Finally, the jewelers will place the diamonds into their new home of the engagement ring and other settings for the public to purchase. Now, here is another of the four facts you should know.
- Diamonds are the hardest mineral — only a diamond will cut a diamond. Most diamonds are used as abrasives. Cutting and polishing extremely hard minerals and metals is a major undertaking and would be almost impossible if it were not for diamonds. Some diamonds are crushed to a fine powder and impregnated within grinding wheels. Diamond saws are used to cut and polish the hard, granite slabs from which countertops are produced. Tungsten carbide is no match for the diamond grinding tool.
- Another diamond fact you should know is that drills that are used to dig down deep within the earth have a drill head encrusted with diamonds. These are called industrial diamonds and are not of the rare gem quality. Nevertheless, they are still extremely hard and will grind through miles of solid rock to reach the oil or gas.
- Of these four facts you should know about diamonds, the most interesting is the diamond knife. These knives are produced by selecting a very high-quality diamond and shaping it to resemble a knife blade such as a scalpel. The tool was invented by Humberto Moran in 1955 and costs thousands of dollars. In 1950, scientists figured out that glass knives could be used in delicate eye surgery, especially in radial keratotomy, a surgical procedure to correct myopia. Later, it was discovered that while glass knives could cut some ultra-thin sections, diamond knives could cut thousands without losing the edge. In 1974, a doctor Fyodorov removed some glass from the eye of a boy who had been in an accident. His glasses had smashed and pieces had lodged in his eyes. The doctor cut some radial lines into his cornea emanating outward from the center and after healing, the boy’s eyesight was better than ever.
Now you know four new facts about diamonds — from gemstones to abrasives to diamond knives to repairing damage to a young boy’s eyes.