One of the most popular and most sought-after gemstones is a diamond. As you might already know, diamonds are extremely hard – but there is a catch:
Diamonds aren’t the toughest material, meaning they can shatter relatively easily. And what if you add heat to it? You’re now asking yourself: Will a diamond shatter if heated?
The answer is pretty simple: No, diamonds won’t shatter if you apply heat to them. However, heating a diamond could lead to some very interesting results.
So, what will happen if a diamond is heated? Will it get damaged in any way? Don’t worry, as we covered all of the answers in this article. Without further ado, let’s dive in!
A Look At A Diamond’s Structure
These precious stones have been made from nothing but carbon. Carbon underwent extreme pressure and heat under the Earth’s crust millions of years ago so that we could have all these beautiful gemstones today.
Diamonds have giant covalent structures in which each carbon atom is joined to four other atoms by strong covalent bonds. Atoms form a regular tetrahedral network, and there are no free electrons.
This rigid network of atoms held together by strong covalent bonds makes diamonds very hard. That’s why you’ll often see diamonds used for various industrial cutting tools, oil rig drills, and diamond-tipped glass cutters.
Unlike hardness, which represents stone’s resistance to scratching, diamond’s toughness is fair to good, at best. Toughness demonstrates the ability to resist breaking from direct impacts and falls.
And diamonds are susceptible to breaking due to their perfect cleavage.
Even though the toughness of natural diamond is good compared to other gemstones, it’s still poor compared to most engineering materials.
Diamonds will shatter if hit with a hammer, for example.
As with any material, the macroscopic geometry of a diamond is responsible for its resistance to breaking. Diamonds have cleavage planes and are therefore more fragile – in some ways, that is – than other gemstones.
Diamond cutters use this to their advantage to cleave some stones before faceting.
Diamond’s Thermal Stability
Diamond, being a form of carbon, will oxidize in the air if heated over 700 degrees Celsius. In the absence of oxygen, though, that number goes to about 1700 degrees Celsius before its surface blackens – but it can be recovered by repolishing.
At high pressure, diamonds can be heated up to 2500 degrees Celsius. Some reports suggest that a diamond can withstand temperatures as high as 3000 degrees Celsius!
Keep in mind that diamonds aren’t as stable as graphite, meaning that the decay of diamonds is thermodynamically favorable.
So, contrary to what the slogan “a diamond is forever” made you believe, they are not forever – but more on that later.
Read More: Why Can Diamond Conduct Heat?
What Happens To A Diamond When It’s Heated?
The factor that determines how well a diamond can resist chemicals and temperature changes is called stability. Diamonds don’t evaporate at high temperatures. Even more so, under standard atmospheric pressure, diamonds don’t evaporate at all.
However, at about 763 degrees Celsius, diamonds begin to oxidize. The pure carbon interacts with oxygen in the air and disappears – which results in the formation of carbon dioxide.
But what’s interesting is that diamonds can be heated to approximately 1900 degrees Celsius in non-oxidizing conditions under standard pressure before they change their crystal structure.
Even more so, they can withstand temperatures of up to 3500 degrees Celsius in non-oxidizing conditions at an extremely high pressure of 200000 Bar before changing their crystal structure.
Finally, in the absence of oxygen, diamonds can be heated to even higher temperatures.
However, the ultimate melting point of a diamond is around 4027 degrees Celsius.
Heat can turn a diamond into graphite, which might not count as “damage” from everyone’s point of view. But if a diamond is burning, then yes, it will be damaged. There will be less of it at the end of the process than at the beginning.
That leads us to the next question.
What Happens If You Heat A Lab-Grown Diamond?
Lab-grown diamonds are no different from their natural counterparts. They exhibit the same physical, chemical, and optical properties as mined diamonds.
Lab-grown diamonds are as stable as natural diamonds. Just like mined diamonds, lab-grown diamonds will burn at about 763 degrees Celsius – a temperature that can be reached while they’re being cut or in a house fire, for example.
- Will A Lab-created Diamond Pass A Diamond Tester?
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- Can You Insure A Lab-grown Diamond?
- Lab-created Diamond Vs. Natural Diamond
Can Diamonds Burn In A House Fire?
Theoretically speaking, diamonds could burn in a house fire since the temperatures can get up to 1090 degrees Celsius, which is more than enough to help a diamond burn.
The factor that plays a much more significant role in determining whether the diamond will burn or not is how much oxygen is available.
But even in a standard house fire, diamonds can definitely burn and decrease in clarity and size.
What Happens If You Burn A Diamond?
Diamond is made purely out of carbon which means that, when it burns, there are two possible products – carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.
If a diamond burns completely, both carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide will be odorless and colorless – and you would see your diamond disappearing.
However, if a diamond doesn’t burn thoroughly, you will notice a slightly sooty flame as carbon molecules are ejected into the escaping gases.
Can Diamonds Melt?
If you can heat a diamond to 4027 degrees Celsius, then sure, it would melt. But we’re not so sure how you’d manage to reach such extreme temperatures in the first place.
But let’s say you somehow managed to achieve that; what happens to the diamond? As a diamond begins to melt, it would slowly turn into graphite – but again, it wouldn’t shatter.
So, What Can Shatter A Diamond?
Despite diamonds being extremely durable, they’re also brittle. With enough brute force and a hard object, you can smash a diamond – or crack it at the very least.
But here’s the interesting thing: If you hit a diamond with a hammer, it’s going to make a dent on the surface where you laid a diamond on. And you might even see a dent in the head of the hammer, too.
However, if you face a diamond flat on the surface with the point up, the force will penetrate through the tip, resulting in a shattered diamond.
Common Ways Of Damaging Diamonds
As we said already, diamonds are rather brittle. There are several activities that can result in a damaged diamond. Let’s take a look at what these are.
One reason why diamonds can become damaged is the presence of an intrinsic flaw, such as a natural inclusion, in the diamond. Even though inclusions are part of the diamond’s uniqueness, their presence can make diamonds vulnerable to chips and cracks.
A diamond that is damaged is probably the hardest-to-fix problem you can face with your ring. Think about it; the diamond also happens to be the most valuable element of the ring.
Sadly enough, diamonds can get damaged during the setting process when the stone is fixed to the ring band.
You see, there has to be enough pressure applied to the diamond to set it properly. And in some cases, that pressure could chip and crack the diamond – which usually happens with shapes like pear, heart, and marquise.
Furthermore, if a diamond already has an imperfection such as a cavity, the chances are higher of it being damaged during setting.
See Also: Can A Diamond Chip If Dropped?
Daily Wear & Tear
Our hands engage in various activities during the day – and some could lead to a damaged diamond ring. A ring-wearing hand may use tools, plant flowers, wash dishes, wield a tennis racket – and do many other activities.
There are rings that have several diamonds that are set next to each other. If they were to be placed by an inexperienced jeweler, they could end up rubbing against each other. The contact could, over time, lead to damage to one or more of the diamonds.
Even knocking your diamond against furniture or a wall can damage it. There are times where damage occurs all at once – but sometimes repeated actions add up to slowly damage it over time.
Another high-risk activity is filling, and it can be dangerous if it’s not done correctly. The recutting and repolishing processes are prone to incidents as well as can lead to damaged diamonds.
Preventing The Damage
Incorporate these tips into your habits and avoid potential damage to your diamond ring – or any other jewelry, for that matter.
Keeping Your Ring Clean
We advise you to use a toothbrush, gentle detergent, and warm water to clean your diamond. You should gently brush the diamond in order to remove the creams and gels that get caught under the claws. After that, rinse it with fresh and clear water.
Dry your diamond ring with a soft cloth to restore its beautiful shine.
Removing Your Ring
We’re sure that your diamond ring has a special meaning to you – whatever it might be – and that you want to wear it as often as possible. However, there are certain activities that are a bit too risky for diamonds, such as:
- Impact sports
- Snorkeling and scuba diving
- Cleaning with harsh chemicals
- Rock climbing
- Working with power tools
- Moving furniture
The list goes on, but you get the gist of it. Be sure to remove your ring while doing any of these activities and store it somewhere safe where it won’t get damaged.
Seeking Professional Help
If you notice any chips, cracks, or looseness in your diamond ring, we don’t recommend you fix these issues by yourself. An experienced and trusted jeweler should always be your first choice for dealing with any problems with your diamond ring.
How Is A Broken Diamond Fixed?
Let’s say you damaged your diamond ring. The first order of business is to take it to the jeweler, as we mentioned above – and from there, you have several options.
The first option would be to recut the stone. The jeweler will remove the broken section of the diamond and reshape it into the desired cut. That, of course, means that your diamond will be a bit smaller than it was initially.
There is an option to ask your jeweler to reset your diamond to hide a small chip or insignificant damage. It’s the most cost-effective option, and it works the best if the damage on your diamond is beyond negligible.
A jeweler can just turn the stone so that the damaged area is hidden by a prong – and just like that, you’ve got a ring that looks intact again.
The final option would be to replace your diamond. Obviously, this can be a rather costly option, but it can sometimes be the easiest way to fix a diamond with a fracture or one that has been severely damaged.
Learn More: Are Broken Diamonds Worth Anything?
So let’s wrap it all up and answer your question, “Will a diamond shatter if heated?” once and for all.
The answer is very simple: Diamonds won’t shatter if exposed to heat.
Diamonds can withstand temperatures of 763 degrees Celsius before it starts oxidizing – carbon reacts with oxygen and starts to disappear. In the absence of oxygen, diamonds can withstand even higher temperatures before changing their crystal structure.
Ultimately, the heat turns diamond into graphite – and some people wouldn’t consider this as damage.
There are other ways your diamond can get shattered. Simply hitting a diamond with a hammer will do the job – if done correctly, that is. Your daily activities can also damage your diamond; be sure to take it off before doing any type of chores that are “dangerous” for your jewel.
If you do manage to damage your ring, make sure you take it to a professional jeweler. They can take a look at it – and, more often than not, will be able to repair it.