In late 2015, the world paused in awe over the discovery of a 1,111-carat diamond that was unearthed in Botswana’s Karowe mine. It was the largest discovery of such a diamond in more than a century.
The potential value for such a find? Potentially millions of dollars – for a rock. Of course, diamonds aren’t just stones, are they? Throughout history, diamonds of every shape and size have been idolized as one of the most valuable treasures on the planet.
What is it about diamonds that make them so valuable and why is the world so enamored with them?
The shimmering stone that’s captivated jewelers and aided scientists for years is actually an extremely simple construct. Diamonds are composed of extremely concentrated, pure carbon and are formed by immense pressure combining with heat over a long period of time. They’re the hardest substance known to man, which makes the practical applications endless. But because they take so long to form under these strict conditions, diamonds are a rare and naturally diminishing commodity.
Diamonds come out of the ground in one of two major varieties; gem-quality diamonds and bort.
Gem-quality diamonds are the sparkling jewels that adorn engagement rings and crown jewels across the world. The diamonds that are determined to be of gem-quality are graded on their individual color, cut, clarity and size, or carat.
Then there are bort diamonds. These poor quality, and often dark or opaque, diamond shards are ground down and used for industrial processes like cutting or abrasion. The lowest quality bort is typically used in a crushed or powdered form.
Outside the industrial world, the value attached to diamonds is largely arbitrary, but their allure is still universal. The earliest recorded cultures used diamonds to portray strength, the value of love, and even instruments of magic.
That value is likely due to a diamond’s natural strength and unique visual appearance in combination with its relative rarity. Even a low-grade gem-quality diamond is still a thing of value and beauty.
Within certain industries — like the metal-working and mining industries — diamonds are an invaluable commodity as tools of the trade. From abrasive grits to diamond drill bits, there are millions of uses for even the lowest grade diamond shards.
At General Kinematics, we understand that even when you’re working with industrial-level diamonds, distinction and quality is everything. That’s why we work hard to make sure our equipment follows suit and offers quality performance for any mining or sorting operation. Contact GK today for more information.