Wonder Contributors

We have lots of Wonder Friends WONDERing about diamonds! That is what inspired us to revisit this Wonder from the past! Thank you to: Maggie, Nyla, Noah, Carter, Miss. Skimin’s 4th Grade Class, Riley, Avery, Amelia, Marco, and Michael for submitting Wonder Questions about diamonds! Keep WONDERing!

You might know that diamonds, gold, and other jewels are rare, which makes them valuable. But have your ever wondered where diamonds come from — how they are actually made?

Thousands, millions and maybe even billions of years ago, extreme heat and pressure turned pure carbon into colorless diamond crystals 100 miles or more below the Earth’s surface. Diamonds are the only gemstone made of only one element: carbon.

Eventually, volcanic activity brought diamonds closer to the Earth’s surface. Volcanic pipes — known as kimberlite pipes — push diamonds to the surface, cooling them along the way. Today, diamonds are mined in areas that have experienced volcanic activity in the past, as well as in gravel beds and ocean floors.

Diamonds were first discovered and mined in India over 2,400 years ago. Over time, diamonds were found in many other areas around the world, including many in Africa. In today’s trade, Africa, Russia, Australia, and Canada produce the most diamonds.

As diamonds travel to the surface of the Earth, they occasionally mix with trace amounts of other minerals and take on a variety of colors. Completely colorless diamonds are very rare and expensive. Most diamonds have a bit of brown or yellow in them. Other rarer colors include blue, red, orange, pink, and green.

While these beautiful and popular gemstones may look like delicate glass, they are actually the hardest natural substance on Earth. While it’s possible for diamonds to shatter or burn under extreme conditions, only a diamond can scratch or cut another diamond. In fact, diamonds take their name from the Greek word for “indestructible.”

Diamonds’ tough natural properties make them popular in industrial settings, where they are used in all sorts of machinery, such as drills and saws. Experts estimate that up to 80% of all diamonds are used for industrial purposes. Only about 20% of diamonds are gem quality and used for jewelry.

Since the 1950s, diamonds have also been produced by man. Duplicating the natural processes that occur deep below the surface of the Earth in laboratories, manufacturers learned to create their own diamonds for industrial uses.

Recently, however, some manufacturers have been able to produce gem-quality diamonds in the laboratory. “Grown” by man in a matter of days rather than millions of years, these man-made diamonds have the same chemical, physical and optical qualities of mined natural diamonds.

With differences invisible to the naked eye, special testing in a laboratory is often necessary to distinguish man-made diamonds from mined natural diamonds. While beautifully-colored stones are relatively rare in nature, man-made diamonds can be uniquely colored during the manufacturing process. Compared to natural stones, man-made diamonds are usually less expensive.

In case you’re wondering why “diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” it probably has to do with the fact that diamonds are the most popular gemstone in the world. That popular saying came from the title of a song of the same name, first introduced in the original Broadway production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Marilyn Monroe’s version of the song from the film version of the Broadway show was named the 12th most important movie song of all time by the American Film Institute.


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    • Wow, Torey/MC! That’s a LOT of smiley faces! You must be REALLY happy…just like everyone here in Wonderopolis is when we get nice comments from YOU and our other Wonder Friends! Thanks for always being so positive and excited about learning! :-)

  1. I didn’t even know you can grow diamonds! :) I guess you learn something new everyday. especially with Wonderopolis! :)

    • You’re right, Abby/M.C.! Learning something new every day makes Wonderopolis a GREAT place to visit (that, and getting to meet awesome Wonder Friends like you!). Thanks so much for commenting today! :-)

    • Science is pretty cool, isn’t it, Catherine (especially when diamonds are involved!)? Thank you for visiting Wonderopolis today! :-)

  2. I can see why a diamond is a girls best friend. Its totally my best friend. Science is really cool Wonderopolis!!! I LOVE you Wonderopolis

    • We love talking to Wonder Friends, Catherine! Thanks for being such a GREAT one and for posting such groovy comments! :-)

  3. Great information thank you so much! can you please tell me which standards this would align with please? I am still new to the lesson plans :/

    • Hello, Krystal!

      Thanks for your affirming interest in Wonderopolis! We don’t currently align each Wonder of the Day with any national or state learning standards. However, every Wonder of the Day could be aligned to standards for specific content areas. In fact, we have seen that many educators are taking steps to do just that as they incorporate the Wonders into daily classroom learning and activities. We would love to talk more with you about how you plan to use the Wonder of the Day and further ideas for aligning with various standards. Please e-mail us at hello@wonderopolis.org and we will contact you. The user experience is paramount to us!

    • You’re welcome, Kennedy! We’ve got smiley faces here in Wonderpolis, too, because you let us know you learned something new from this Wonder of the Day®! :-)

    • Hi, Ashley! Thank you so much for visiting Wonderopolis today! We encourage you to re-explore this Wonder of the Day® to find some of the answers about diamonds you are searching for. You can even watch the video to learn about how some diamonds are “grown” in a laboratory! :-)

    • We’re super sorry you’re having trouble seeing the video for today’s Wonder, Ashley! Because you’re visiting Wonderopolis at school, we wanted to tell you that some schools and school districts place an internet “block” on videos from certain websites because they are trying to protect their students. You might want to check with your teacher to ask if he or she might be able to get the block removed so you and your classmates can see the videos on Wonderopolis. We appreciate you checking out Wonderopolis at home AND at school! :-)

  4. Is there any way a person could tell the difference between a real diamond and one made by man?? What is the name of the eye glass the jewlers use to look at gems?

    • Great question, Dolores! Jewelers and gemologists are trained to look for specific things in diamonds– that way they can tell the difference between a true diamond and a rock! It has to do with clarity, cut, color and carat. The glasses they look through magnify the gem! :)

  5. Burning Question- Are the “man-made” diamonds rhinestones?
    Ah-Ha Moment- Diamonds are completely made out of carbon.
    Text-To-World- This reminds me of jewelry commericals.(Kay)

    • Hello, Sophia! Thanks for sharing with us today! Man made diamonds are more like real diamonds than rhinestones. In fact, if is really hard to tell which one is real and which one is fake. Keep WONDERing with us, Wonder Friend! :-)

    • Great question, Hunter! Some diamonds have color naturally. Yet, some man made diamonds can also be colorful. Thanks for WONDERing with us today, Wonder Friend! :-)

  6. I think this section was nice and well put together. I would prefer a red diamond of all but another kind of diamond, a chocolate diamond recently sold for about 22 million dollars. But anyway nice job WONDERopolis.

    • Wow, that’s amazing, Bluefire! 22 million dollars? I guess that is why “diamonds are a girl’s best friend”! ;-) Thanks for WONDERing with us today!

  7. I never knew that diamonds were just made out of carbon! And that’s it! I also thought it was pretty cool that diamonds make drills and saws more that they make jewelry. Cool!

    • Hello, Wolfy Comet Chaser! You may only be able to get one of those by playing Minecraft. ;-) Thanks for WONDERing with us today!

    • Thank you for sharing today, Lawrence! We’re so GLAD to have you WONDERing with us again and look forward to you visiting again soon! :)

    • Welcome, CHRIS! We are glad you enjoyed the video. We love when we are learning and having fun, too! Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Where do diamonds come from?
  • What are diamonds made of?
  • Can diamonds be manufactured?

Wonder Gallery

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-diamond-image4243256brillant-diamond_shutterstock_58892687 customhttp://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-diamond-discs-cutting-tile-image13879081http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-miner-hands-rough-diamond-image2477773Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Ready to shine bright like a diamond? Find a friend or family member to help you explore one or more of the following activities:

  • Do you like diamonds? Have you ever seen one up close? Ask an adult to take you on a field trip to a local jewelry store. Ask the jeweler to show you the different types and sizes of diamonds available. What’s the most expensive diamond in the store? What about it makes it so valuable? Other than size, what other features of a diamond affect its value?
  • Diamonds might be a girl’s best friend, but they’re also very expensive! If you’re artistic and just a bit crafty, you can make your own homemade jewelry that’s both fabulous and cheap. Grab a friend, neighbor, relative or parent, and try your hand at one of these fun crafts:
  • Pure diamonds are pure carbon, which makes them crystal-clear. But there are also colored diamonds available for sale around the world. Some colors include pink, yellow, black and blue. Do some Internet research to learn what chemical additives give diamonds different colors. Make a chart that shows both the chemical and the color. If you can add a picture of the corresponding colored diamond, that would be great! Share your work with your friends and family members. Which do you prefer? Clear or colored diamonds?

Still Wondering

Would you believe that diamonds can help you write poems? It’s true! Use ReadWriteThink’s Diamante Poems interactive tool to explore these diamond-shaped poems that follow a set structure on each line. Before long, you’ll be writing a gem of a poem!


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