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Where Do Diamonds Come From?


Billions of years ago, deep into the center of the earth, simple carbon atoms were crystallized into beautiful stones, which are known today as diamonds. Examine how this unique process took place for a better understanding of why these rocks are highly valued.

A Long Way to the Top

The diamonds that are produced today are said to have reached their current form because of a process that started 900 million to 3.3 billion years ago. Three basic environmental factors had to concur for diamonds to form-depth, pressure and temperature-thus making diamond formation quite a rarity.

Most diamonds were formed at125-200 kilometers below the Earth’s surface. There are rare diamonds, however, that were formed at even lower depths, at 300-400 kilometers. The pressure that occurred at these depths, corresponding to about 45 to 60 kilobars and temperatures of 900 to 1,300 degrees Celsius, caused eruptions to occur.

The magma pushing up at the Earth’s surface would create cracks in the Earth’s upper mantle. These eruptions were said to be even stronger than the typical volcanic eruptions witnessed today. Not only would the magma create cracks on the Earth’s surface, but would create pipes or channels as well, which were the result of the flow of the molten rocks.

Diamond Deposits

Upon reaching the surface of the Earth, the magma eventually cools down and hardens. Because of the speed at which the magma rises from the Earth’s core to the surface, the carbon dioxide particles are not able to stabilize properly. Instead of turning into graphite, the magma becomes a substance called kimberlite. The hardened cores of kimberlite are what is known as diamondiferous pipes, where diamonds are found. They are also known as primary diamond deposits or the source of diamonds.

It is not only in kimberlite pipes that diamonds are found. There are times when fragments of the kimberlite pipes are carried away by water bodies, and find their way to other parts of the country. When they are not found in their original kimberlite pipes, these diamonds are said to have come from secondary or placer deposits.

It is in kimberlite and placer deposits that diamonds are mined so that they can be cut, polished and eventually sold.



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