Application of diamond
Because it is the hardest substance known, diamond will cut through any material. Consequently, it is used as an abrasive and in cutting and grinding applications. Industrial diamonds are embedded in large steel drill bits to drill into rock for wells to find water, oil, and natural gas. It is also important in the manufacture of machinery for drilling and cutting metal machine parts.The United States is by far the world’s largest consumer and market for industrial diamonds. It is predicted that the U.S. will lead the world in diamond consumption well into the 21st century.
Brief introduction of diamond
Two different minerals are formed from the element carbon. One is graphite which is one of the softest minerals on Earth. The other is diamond which is the hardest substance on Earth (10 on Mohs’ hardness scale). The difference in hardness is due to the way the carbon atoms attach to one another. In diamond, they attach in a three-dimensional manner that mineralogists describe as a framework.
Diamond has remarkable optical characteristics. Because of its extremely rigid lattice, it can be contaminated by very few types of impurities, such as boron and nitrogen. Combined with wide transparency, this results in the clear, colorless appearance of most natural diamonds.Excellent optical and mechanical properties, notably unparalleled hardness and durability, make diamond the most popular gemstone.
Diamond forms at extremely high temperatures and pressures, conditions that are only possible very deep in the Earth’s crust or even the upper mantle. Large diamonds, particularly large diamonds without flaws, are extremely rare. These flawless diamonds are very valuable as gemstones. The vast majority of diamonds are small, flawed and colored by dark impurities. These impure diamonds are used in industrial uses.
Sources of diamond
Natural diamond has been discovered in approximately 35 different countries. Some diamonds have been found in the United States. Colorado, for instance, has produced a small number of diamonds.The following countries produce industrial grade diamonds: Australia, Botswana, Brazil, China, Congo, Russia and South Africa.
Geologically speaking, natural diamonds are found in two environments. Most are found in kimberlites, which are pipe-like formations created as a result of volcanic and tectonic activity. Kimberlite is a blue rock typical of these pipes. The second source is placer deposits. The diamonds are easily weathered out of their kimberlite host rock and are washed away by streams and rivers. When these streams slow down, the diamonds are deposited in the stream sands in what are called placer deposits.