Diamonds have long been regarded as one of nature’s most precious treasures. Their beauty, strength, and endurance have charmed people all around the globe since the dawn of humankind.
The ancient Greeks thought they possessed magical protecting qualities, and the name “diamond” derives from the Greek phrase “Adamas,” which means “invincible.”
Diamonds’ allure has grown through time, and they’ve come to symbolize our most treasured memories, connections, and vows. Today, they reflect eternal feelings since they are strong and virtually indestructible.
But will diamonds still be there even when the memories of beautiful moments fade away? Do diamonds last forever?
It’s time to find out!
A Diamond Is Forever – Since When?
In four simple words, one lady embodied this power and timelessness and charmed humanity.
Frances Gerety, who worked in a Philadelphia advertising business, was a businesswoman in a “world of men.” Her major client was De Beers, one of the “women’s goods” she’d been engaged to write for at the time.
She had just completed a series of commercials and was about to go to bed in 1947 when she realized she had neglected to develop a distinctive slogan for her new campaign.
She wrote something on a piece of paper before falling asleep, exhausted, and delivered it to a men’s committee the following day.
Initially received with skepticism owing to its atypical style, her phrase, “A Diamond is Forever,” would go on to forever change both the diamond and commercial industries.
Advertising Age awarded “A Diamond is Forever” the “Slogan of the Century” in 1999.
A Family Heirloom
Diamonds are often seen as a gift that can be passed down for generations due to their eternal worth. These precious gems tell the distinct family history and are sometimes re-designed into new jewelry items to fit changing preferences and trends.
That’s still very much the case today. A diamond, which is almost a billion years old, is probably the closest thing to “forever” that we can touch and hold in our hands.
Read More: Can Diamonds Decay? Do Diamonds Decompose?
The Truth: Do Diamonds Last Forever?
The answer to this question is a little bit more complex.
The short answer would be no – diamonds are not forever. They will all eventually turn into graphite. How come? Well, to answer this correctly, we’ll have to talk about some chemistry first.
First of all, did you know that diamond and graphite – the thing you find in pencils – have something in common? They’re actually both pure carbon in crystalline form. The main distinction is the arrangement and bonding of the carbon atoms in the crystal lattice.
Each carbon atom is linked to four adjacent carbon atoms in a three-dimensional grid – if we talk about diamonds, that is. Whereas in graphite, one carbon atom is firmly linked to three nearby carbon atoms in a plane, and these planes of atoms are also loosely attached to each other.
Diamonds should deteriorate to graphite under normal conditions because graphite has a lower energy configuration. In nature, atoms frequently reorganize themselves internally to a lower energy state. There is no requirement for chemical interaction with an external component to initiate this process.
But the main question here is: In How Much Time Will Diamonds Turn Into Graphite?
A diamond takes millions, if not billions, of years to transform into graphite. We may safely argue that the process is so slow that it is almost non-existent. That’s because carbon atoms must overcome a significant kinetic energy barrier to reach the lower energy state.
As a result, although graphite is a more stable form of crystalline carbon, diamond is in a metastable state – and will not change its structure in the absence of energy. We’ll explain this with a simple example.
So, let’s say you find yourself standing at the bottom of a tiny hole. There is a deeper hole next to yours, but you are separated from it by a wall.
Because there’s a wall in the way, you don’t merely fall into the deeper hole. However, if you save enough energy to leap over the wall, you will fall further into the abyss.
The energy state of a diamond is represented by the first hole, whereas the deeper hole represents the energy state of graphite. When a diamond is heated or bombarded with ions, the atoms gather enough energy to break through the energy barrier and rearrange to graphite.
The kinetic energy of the atoms is tiny in comparison to the energy barrier under typical conditions. Therefore diamond-to-graphite deterioration is essentially non-existent.
To put it another way, if you only wear a diamond on your finger at temperatures that are acceptable for humans and keep it away from high ion sources, the diamond will survive millions to billions of years, as stated above.
Therefore, the statement “diamonds are forever” is a pretty good match to reality on a human time scale.
Once The Temperature Is High Enough…
The deterioration of a diamond to graphite speeds up at higher temperatures or under severe ion bombardment. And this diamond deterioration can have significant practical consequences.
Diamond, for example, is a hard substance that may be used to create cutting edges and grinding grit.
However, if the temperature is too high during cutting or grinding, the diamond will deteriorate to graphite and flake off – particularly if iron is present.
It’s important to note that the pressure is significantly higher deep below the Earth than at the surface. Diamond, rather than graphite, is the most stable structure of pure carbon at high pressure.
As a result, a diamond develops naturally and does not deteriorate to graphite deep underneath.
Also, because diamond is composed of carbon, it can be burned the same way as coal can. As a result, if enough oxygen is available, a diamond will burn to create carbon dioxide – rather than convert it into graphite at high temperatures.
Read Also: Does Coal Become Diamond?
Do Lab-Grown Diamonds Last Indefinitely?
One of the most significant problems the conventional diamond business faces is the growing interest in synthetic diamonds, also known as lab-grown diamonds.
But what precisely does the term “synthetic diamond” mean?
Natural diamonds occur under highly specific conditions deep under the Earth’s crust, whereas synthetic diamonds are manufactured in labs. The production process takes only one hour for small-sized diamonds, and for gem-quality diamonds, it takes eight days.
General Electrics is thought to have created the first synthetic diamond in 1954. Their chemical nature is identical to that of genuine diamonds, making it virtually impossible to tell them apart.
According to research conducted by Bain, more than 95 percent of synthetic diamonds are now utilized for industrial reasons. However, technological advancements have enabled the production of gem-quality synthetic diamonds.
Are Lab-Grown Diamonds Tough As The Real Ones?
Diamonds have the same chemical, visual, and physical characteristics, whether they are produced in a lab or below the Earth’s crust.
When it comes to evaluating durability, having the same chemical and physical qualities is the most critical factor because a diamond’s strength is a result of its molecular structure.
In summary, the setting in which the diamond was produced has little bearing on how long it will endure.
How Are Lab-Grown Diamonds Produced?
We have been producing diamonds for decades, but it has only been that they have become pragmatic to market in jewelry in the last several years.
Before that, most lab-grown diamonds were made for industrial purposes and lacked the size, clarity, and cost that would make them desirable for jewelry. These synthetic diamonds are generally created in high-tech laboratories.
In Singapore, a single diamond-producing plant covers 200,000 square feet and generates 300,000 carats of lab-grown diamonds each year.
Lab-grown diamonds are ground and polished in the same manner as real diamonds once the rough base is created.
However, because lab-grown diamonds are not graded like natural diamonds are, they’re not cut according to the same norms and proportions for optimal light performance.
Can You Tell A Difference?
The features that gemologists use to distinguish natural diamonds from lab-grown diamonds are created by variations in how natural and lab-grown diamonds develop.
You won’t be able to know just glancing at a ring’s stone.
Most natural diamonds can be identified automatically using specialized testing equipment. And lab-produced diamonds can be identified by diamond grading laboratories.
To ensure that customers understand what they are buying, labs usually engrave the phrase “laboratory-grown” on the girdle of lab-grown diamonds.
That’s another reason why it’s critical to always purchase natural diamonds with a grading certificate from a reputable independent laboratory that verifies their source.
A Legacy Without Conflict
One of the primary reasons the mining sector has been so effective with its “Diamonds are forever” marketing is that it hints at the importance of a legacy that you may cherish for years to come.
True, we agree that passing on treasured, emotional jewelry to loved ones is a lovely ritual.
Be that as it may, lab-created stones provide a legacy that you can feel comfortable about handing along. You see, the mining sector is fraught with issues – both for the environment and for employees.
From civil war hostilities in the 1990s and the issue of child laborers in mines and polishing/cutting factories to the depletion of Earth’s natural resources, the path of a mined diamond is hazy at best.
However, lab-grown diamonds are not only ethically created; they’re also beneficial for the environment because they’re produced in a controlled setting.
In the case of mined diamonds, roughly 200 to 250 tons of soil must be dug and sorted through to locate 1 carat of a diamond — not to mention the water and fossil fuels necessary to finish the job.
How To Take Care Of Your Diamond Jewelry
You don’t have to second-guess replacing your clothing if they start to fade. You also begin shopping for a new handbag when your current one begins to show signs of wear and tear.
Jewelry, on the other hand, is a very different matter.
Diamonds, like anything else, might lose their luster over time. Despite being the toughest material known to humanity, diamonds may crack at the edges. They may even fall out of the setting if you’re not cautious, making a piece of decoration completely useless.
However, if properly cared for, your diamond necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings may last for years – forever, one might say. Here are a few tips on how to maintain your diamond jewelry:
1. Don’t Touch The Diamond
Are you aware that oil from your skin gets transferred to your diamonds every time you touch them?
That causes a coating to form on the stone over time, giving it a filthy appearance. You don’t want your favorite diamond ring to lose its luster, do you? Just try not to touch it, if possible.
When applying hairspray, creams, or lotions, you should also avoid wearing diamond rings. These chemicals can discolor the diamonds and cause them to lose their luster for a short period.
It’s worth noting that while diamonds resist water, oils and grease may easily adhere to them. That’s relevant to both cut and uncut diamonds.
2. Clean It On A Regular Basis
The way light goes through a diamond causes it to shine. Oil, grease, and filth, on the other hand, can obstruct the flow of light. As a result, you can’t expect your diamonds to shine as they should unless you clean them regularly.
Diamonds are simple to clean. Warm water, a gentle toothbrush, and light soap are all you need.
Although, don’t ever use toothpaste! Soak your diamonds for a few minutes in soapy water before carefully cleaning them with a soft-bristled toothbrush. In addition to cleaning the diamond’s face, clean the back; it’s prone to dirt accumulation.
Then, using a soft, lint-free towel, wipe it dry. Before you begin washing your diamond jewelry in the sink or washbasin, ensure the drain is completely blocked.
You should ideally clean diamonds every two weeks. Clean your diamonds without using any chemicals; this can erode – or even disintegrate – the metal prongs.
Read More: Can Soap Ruin A Diamond?
3. Gentle Cleaning Is The Key
Although it is difficult to shatter a diamond, the prongs that keep it in place can be damaged. As a result, don’t be harsh with your diamond jewelry.
Avoid scrubbing them too hard or applying too much pressure while cleaning them. Similarly, do not clean your diamonds with a harsh toothbrush.
And if a diamond becomes entangled in your clothes, do not take it out. Untangle it from the fabric gently. You don’t want to waste an entire day scouring the floor for a single diamond.
4. Protect Your Diamond Against Damage
When two diamonds brush against each other, the gemstones can scratch each other. Your diamonds could also scratch and ruin any other jewelry they come into contact with while in a jewelry box.
It is impossible to recover a diamond’s natural radiance after it has been damaged. So it’s best to store each jewelry item separately – and don’t let them brush against one other.
Purchasing a fabric-lined jewelry case with different slots for all of your diamond jewelry is a good investment. You may also wrap each item of diamond jewelry with soft tissue – just to be on the safe side.
So, there you have it – the answer to this question is both yes and no. How is that so?
Well, technically speaking, diamonds will last forever. At least in our lifetimes, they will. Chemically speaking, they’ll turn into graphite in millions if not billions of years.
As for lab-grown diamonds, they’ll also last a long time – the same as the real ones. After all, they were produced in the same manner as natural diamonds.
Last but not least, don’t forget to take care of your diamond jewelry. Clean it regularly with a soft toothbrush, water, and soap. Don’t ever use harsh chemicals, and don’t use force to clean them – be gentle.
Also, make sure to store every piece of diamond jewelry separately to avoid scratches. The more you take care of it, the longer it will stay beautiful and shiny. And who knows – maybe one day your daughter or granddaughter will wear it the same way you did.
Learn More: Why Does Diamond Not Turn Into Graphite?