We've finally figured out where blue diamonds come from

World

We've finally figured out where blue diamonds come from

There's much more to these pricey gems than meets the eye

Sarah Knapton

They are the world’s most expensive diamonds, with some stones valued at R1,7bn.
But until now no one has known how rare blue diamonds are made or where they come from.Now scientists have discovered that they are formed 644km down in the Earth, around four times as deep as clear diamonds, where the element boron combines with carbon in such extreme pressure and heat that it crystallises into the world’s most precious stone.
And because boron is mostly found on the Earth’s surface, scientists believe that it must have travelled down into the mantle when tectonic plates slipped beneath each other. Eventually volcanic action brought the diamonds up closer to the surface.The study, published in the journal Nature, suggests blue diamonds are even rarer than first thought.“We now know that the finest gem-quality diamonds come from the farthest down in our planet,” said Steven Shirey of the Carnegie Institution of Science. 
Blue diamonds have always held a special intrigue. The world’s most famous jewel, the Hope Diamond, was once owned by Louis XIV, Marie Antoinette and George IV and was said to be cursed, with many of its owners and their families coming to a sticky – and often headless – end.The postman who delivered the Hope Diamond to its current location in the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC had his leg crushed in a lorry accident shortly after and then his house burned down.
But the value and rarity of blue diamonds makes them difficult to study and researchers at the Carnegie Institution have spent two years tracking down and studying 46 blue diamonds from collections around the world.
And they were looking for the rarest of blue diamonds, those which include tiny mineral traces called inclusions which hint at their origins.
“These so-called type IIb diamonds are tremendously valuable, making them hard to get access to for scientific research purposes,” said lead author Evan Smith of the Gemological Institute of America, adding,“And it is very rare to find one that contains inclusions, which are tiny mineral crystals trapped inside the diamond.”
– © The Daily Telegraph

This article is reserved for Times Select subscribers.
A subscription gives you full digital access to all Times Select content.

Times Select

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems?
Email helpdesk@timeslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.