Every girl dreams of owning a diamond in their lifetime. In today’s world, a diamond is a standard of extravagance and is highly precious. One of the main reasons they are so expensive is because they are quite difficult to bring to market and there is a limited supply. But is it a worthy investment? Do they last a lifetime?
In theory, diamonds can last forever, but chemically speaking, diamonds do not last forever. Since they are carbon-based, over time, these precious gems will slowly turn into graphite. Yes, the same stuff you find in pencils.
What is the Science Behind Diamond Degradation?
Diamond slowly turns to graphite, which is a lower-energy arrangement under natural conditions. Diamonds and graphite, have the same crystalline forms of pure carbon. The only significant contrast is the method the carbon atoms are put in order and attached to the crystalline lattice.
In a diamond, each of the carbon atoms is bonded with four other carbon atoms. They are closely packed together within a 3D grid. In graphites, carbon atoms are loosely bonded to just three other atoms.
When diamonds degrade to graphite, the atoms are just internally rearranging themselves and settling to a lower state of energy. While graphite is chemically a more stable form of crystalline carbon compared to a diamond, there is significant kinetic energy that needs to be crossed to actually lower the energy state before degradation occurs. Energy must be added to break a chemical bond in order to allow new bonds to form. (Source: Science Questions with Surprising Answers)
Why Do Diamonds Convert to Graphite?
There are two reasons why diamonds convert into graphite. First, the condition present on earth is stable for diamond. Moreover, there are only a few electron volts more stable for graphite than diamond. So there isn’t much difference in the stability of diamond and graphite.
Then, there is a need for a large amount of energy to convert diamond to graphite. In the past, some chemists and geologists have tried to transform diamond into graphite. They found that upon compressing a diamond with an indenter, the surface on the diamond in contact with the indenter turn into graphite.
They have also found that low pressure and very high temperatures, like 1500 to 1900 degrees Celcius or more might work. (Source: Science ABC)
How Long Will Your Diamond Last?
If you use your diamond as an instrument to cut or grind things, specifically, things made from iron, then you might want to pay attention. Diamond in touch with iron might get heated enough to convert to graphite. However, diamonds in jewelry, are meant to last a lifetime. (Source: Science ABC)
Are there Different Kinds of Diamonds?
Not all diamonds are made the same. There are several factors to consider when actually purchasing a diamond. You have, the cut, clarity, color, and carats. Aside from these diamonds are classified into different types, but here is the most common classification used: natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds, treated diamonds, and natural fancy colored diamonds. (Source: Naturally Colored)