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Discovery Magazine 6/1/2000

Diamonds Are Forever?

by  Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.

Diamonds were born of fire and pressure deep beneath the surface of the Earth. As the magma cooled, it left behind crystals of almost pure carbon. Over time, the rocks wore away, and the diamonds appeared at the surface.

Nothing in nature is harder than a diamond. This unique quality comes from the arrangement of carbon atoms within the crystal. The atoms are packed tightly together, and each atom is joined to four other atoms by a very strong bond.

Colorless diamonds are rare because crystals often include elements other than carbon. For instance, a few atoms of boron will create a blue diamond, while a few atoms of nitrogen will create a yellow diamond. But in the world of fine jewelry, an impressive blue diamond can be just as valuable as a perfectly clear crystal.

The people of ancient India were the first to treasure diamonds. They plucked them out of sediments eroded from the original source.

Today, most of the world's diamonds come from huge mining operations. The greatest quantities of diamonds come from Australia, but the richest mines are to be found in Botswana and Russia. Most of the larger crystals will appear as gems in bracelets, rings, necklaces, and other fine jewelry. The smaller crystals will be used on drill bits, saw blades, and other tools used for cutting and grinding.

Although mines produce tons of diamonds every year, the average gem is expensive because the diamond industry keeps a tight control on the market. To enhance the mystique of diamonds, one company came up with the slogan, "Diamonds are forever." This is supposed to convince you that diamonds really are valuable, and not just shiny baubles that you buy out of spare change.

For all their hardness, diamonds really will not last forever. At the end of time, "the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up"(2 Peter 3:10). The diamonds that were born out of heat will be destroyed by heat, and if diamonds are destroyed, you can imagine what will happen to everything else. That is why it is so important not to put all our energies into collecting precious things of this world. Our first goal is to make sure that we safeguard our soul, which is the most precious thing in heaven and on Earth (Luke 12:30-31).

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