The Genesis of diamond

In pre-historic time when the Earth, our planet, was all but a ball of fire, ice and ocean in constant motion in a great mass moving and cracking rolling valleys coloured by incandescent light and tumulus fusion, our precious material was born. This took place around 4.5 billion years ago. According to the Belgian scientist, George Le Maître, the big bang theory, when our cosmos was created, dates back to between 13 and 14 billion years ago(1). A time when neither space nor time existed. All was concentrated in a primitive shell. Temperatures at the time of the Big Bang reached up to 1027 degrees (10 followed by 26 zeros). At temperatures of 1012 to 106 degrees nuclear fusion was the creator. Only 300,000 years later, light absorbed by this intense heat, appeared in the form of super heated clouds. A million years later, as a result of gravitation, clouds of hydrogen and helium formed the galaxies and the first stars and our planet was created. Our planet had all the chemical elements which we know today and that are required for crystallography. In this carbon-rich universe, diamonds crystallized at a depth of 200 km in an apocalyptic atmosphere of more than 70,000 kg per cm2 (2) and at a temperature reaching above 1100 °C. Several million years were required to transform this unique physical and chemical process. Slowly, as temperatures rose and rocks solidified and stratified, nature changed and forms and colours appeared. Matter was driven from the earth’s core and driven by these strong movements and geological pressures from the centre to the terrestrial surface. According to Professor of Geophysics Alfred Wegener, 200 million years ago the unique continent of Pangaea tore itself and created Laurasie and Gondwana which again created the four continents in this surge of magma. This theory is confirmed by the diamond bearing strata. This transformation occurred by explosions and eruptions of the magma from the core of the earth through which carbon was crystallised : diamonds. Although only some eruptions contained crystals of diamonds. Magmatic rock formed by this intense inner force and extreme temperature and pressure are the base of particular functions, such as conversion and dynamism functions which we still do not completely understand.


Although we have walked on the moon and our rockets have gone beyond our solar system and have landed on Mars and will reach Pluto, the greatest depth we have reached on our planet is “only” 12 km and 192 m (on the island of Kola in Russia. Carbohydrates as well as diamonds formed through the only action of “carbon flux” breaking through our terrestrial mantle or lithosphere and surfacing in kimberlitic pipes due to the pressure and speed which may have exceeded Mach 2. Diamonds occur in this exceptional rock, which is pre-Cambrian from paleoproterozoic to neo-proterozoic. It is an ultra basilica rock peridotite, flowing, carbonised and containing olivine, biotite, phlogopite, ilmenite, proxite and garnet, a true delight for geologists who call it, in their jargon, “kimberlite”. This material is named after a region in South Africa where it was first discovered. It is also known as “blue ground” because of its grey bluish colour and, when oxidised, it becomes brittle, as “yellow ground”. This rock is a true magma lift of the ancient continents, around 2,5 million years ago. (3)


According to the imminent vulcanologist, Haroun Tazieff, the volcanic eruptions reject waves and fragments of basalt to altitudes of 500 to 600 meters at an initial speed of 80 to 100 meters per second at temperatures of 1000 to 1500 °C. The eruptions developed a force of 10.20 ergs or more which is the equivalent of one million steam horsepower or 29 million cars per second, hence developing 40,000 million Kilowatts. These flows sometimes reached a speed of 100 km/h (Nyiragong in RDC) and came into contact with the oxygen in the atmosphere and heated to more than 2000 °C. Even diamond crystals which are the most resistant material found in nature, could not cope with this heat and were sublimated (much to our regret). The crystals that remained in the kimberlite or lamporite (variable) did survive this infernal holocaust. The slow erosion of these volcanoes after millions of years gave up their diamond crystals which rolled down rivers (Brazil, Sierra Leone…) and to the beaches (Namibia, Australia) and to the oceanic continental layers. What a fantastic journey diamonds underwent before reaching us, a history that even the most imaginative author could not have invented. Rough from Rio Tinto Natural diamonds have an almost sensual beauty which provokes a passion buried deep down in the instincts of the human soul(4). One reason could be that carbon is the essential molecule for life . A synthetic product will never replace it. Let us go back one century ago, during the 1880’s, when the “Rubies de Geneva” first appeared in the newspapers and predicted the end of this precious stone. Since then, we have seen dozens of synthetics appear on the market, some more sophisticated than others, each imitation getting closer and closer to natural stone quality, although the market price of the natural stones is higher than ever. On October 2016, a ruby of 5.07 carats was sold at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong for more than us$ 380,718 per carat and in that same year, Christies in Hong Kong sold a 10.05 carats ruby for us$ 1,013,260 per carat. Synthetic rubies are found in fancy jewellery or used in gemmological laboratories as study material. What lessons can we draw from this ? That synthetic diamonds will always remain an imitation, usable in mass fancy jewellery and will rather be a competitor for CZ and Moissanite because synthetic diamonds are constantly becoming cheaper. We must however remain vigilant in order to prevent the consumer from becoming wary of most precious stones.


What the old masters considered to be precious and mysterious and above all, unconquerable stones (hence their name) was only mastered little over five centuries ago. At the outset it was but a mixture of facets which was improved during the following centuries. It is, however, only during the last decade that diamond cutting attained absolute perfection due to the fast technical evolution at the closing of the 20th century.

Computers became faster and faster and sophisticated programs maximised the cutting, creating scintillating proportions and definitions previously unattainable whilst, at the same time, minimising the cutting loss. Laser techniques began to appear slowly during the 1970’s for drilling piqués before being introduced in the cleaving, sawing and bruting workshops and, finally, in the polishing factories for successfully preparing the cross work. The polisher of the 21st century has become a white-collar high-level technical engineer. This 3rd edition of Hardness 10 elaborates on these developments.

  1. According to the Planck Space Observatory, 13,8 billions years.
  2. 700 metric atmospheres or 0.0 686 463 gigapascal or 686,462.9506139 hectopascal or 686.4629506 bar.
  3. Creationism: The Jewish and Muslim religious belief that the universe and life originated "from specific acts of divine creation," as opposed to the scientific conclusion that they came about through natural processes.
    Literal creationists base their beliefs on reading of religious texts, including the creation found in Genesis and the Quran. For young Earth creationists, these beliefs are based on an interpretation of the Genesis creation narrative and rejection of the scientific theory of evolution. (Wikipedia)
  4. Introduction to the first edition of Hardness 10 by the President of the Beurs voor Diamant‑handel and the H.R.D, J. Nutkewitz in 1983