Being the most brilliant substance in the world, diamonds have been an object of fascination for centuries. The word diamond is derived from the Greek adamas, which means unbreakable. And indeed, the atomic structure of a diamond makes it the hardest, most imperishable natural material known to man. Diamond is thousands of times harder than corundum, the next hardest material, from which rubies and sapphires are created. The superior hardness of a diamond contributes to its status as a superior gemstone. Since they can only be scratched by other diamonds, even after many years of daily wear, diamonds will preserve their sharp edges and facets intact, whilst most other stones will have become worn and chipped.
Made of one of the earth's most common elements carbon diamonds are the most uncommon naturally occurring stones. They were created long before life emerged on our planet, and have always been associated with mystery, myth and magic. A diamond can be up to 3 billion years old! They are mysterious and incredibly rare minerals mined in rather exotic remote locations scattered around the world, ranging from the icy Tundra to the hot African desserts. In fact, it is Southern Africa that is the world's biggest supplier of rough diamonds, but there is also diamond production in Australia, India, China, Canada and Russia. Nowadays, 75-80% of all natural diamonds are used for industrial purposes and only 20-25% become gemstones. Diamond is a wonderful stone to learn more about, given its popularity and the fact that diamond studies cross disciplines, such as geology, mineralogy, astronomy, mathematics, anthropology, history, economics and art.