While you’ll find diamonds on many luxury watches or jewelry found at Luxury Bazaar, don’t forget that they have important uses other than just decoration. Instead, if diamonds were a fictional character, it would be helpful to think of them as the Superman of gems – on the surface they seem like your average shiny rock, but in reality they perform incredible feats of strength that many people are unaware of. This is because diamonds contain a number of highly unique characteristics that make them useful for anything from keeping shuttles in space to drilling into the depths of the earth. So to explore some of the ways in which diamonds are secretly saving the world, here are the most surprising uses of diamonds.
Diamonds Are Forever
Even before modern times, there is evidence that diamonds were used as a tool by ancient peoples. The earliest findings can be traced back to China in the year 2,500 BC, where it is believed that diamonds were used as a tool for the cutting of other tools. Thus it would appear that even ancient peoples were aware of the extraordinarily tough attribute of diamonds, and used them appropriately. Only later around the year 300BC in what is now India did evidence of diamonds being used for aesthetic purposes appear. In early Indian culture, diamonds were worn as rings to signify rank, adorned the crowns of the ruling class and set as the eyes of idols. Based on this evidence, historians have concluded that diamonds were being used for their function over 2,000 years before they were used for their beauty.
Diamonds are a Drill’s Best Friend
Flash forward 5,000 years and diamonds are still being used as cutting tools – except instead of being banged against stone tools, they are now fixed to the tips of massive stone borers in order to better drill into the earth. They are also used on the bits needed to drill oil wells. In order to accomplish this, diamonds are ground down into a powder and then placed onto the functional areas of the tools. The end result is that diamond tools are some of the toughest in the industrial world, and therefore used in all manner of situation. For instance, diamond circular saws are used for sawing through marble, while diamond core drill bits are used for repairing roads and construction; diamond geological drill bits are used for accessing oil and gas reserves, while diamond grinding wheels are used in the fiber industry for ceramics processing. Ultimately, diamonds can be found in almost any industrial function requiring a tougher-than-nails stone.
Computing with Diamonds
Over the years, even computer manufacturers have discovered benefits of using diamonds inside of their technology, and now employ them for several different purposes. Due to their excellent thermal conductivity, diamonds are used inside computers as a way to conduct heat away from heat-sensitive areas of computers. Additionally, since diamonds are also semiconductors of electricity, many manufacturers coat microchips and computer processors in diamonds. One exciting development is the discovery that diamonds can be used in nanowires for quantum computing purposes. The diamond nanowires overcome a previous hurdle in establishing a stable source of single photons required for operating these advanced computers.
The Great Beyond
Pushing their limits above and beyond the norm, diamonds also played a crucial role in the space shuttle program. In parts that specifically required reduced friction, diamonds proved to be the ideal candidate, and were used to create “no-wear” bearings throughout the shuttle. And scientists have already begun to look towards the future and are examining the practicality of installing diamond windows aboard space shuttles, as well as using their heat conducting capabilities to power flat-panel screens. Diamonds are even being used in space for research purposes, as when in 2009 two Israeli diamonds were launched into space to orbit for several years before eventually being returned to Earth in order to study the damaging effects of an outer space environment.
And for anyone that ever doubted diamonds are forever, scientists recently discovered that when suns extinguish after billions of years burning, they often crystallize their core leaving a massive diamond in their place. This theory was confirmed after astronomers discovered a 2,500-mile-wide diamond whizzing through space, approximately 50 light years away. Just how big was this diamond? Estimates place the diamond at roughly 10 billion trillion trillion carats, making it the largest diamond known to man.
So if that isn’t enough to make you think about the amazing uses of diamonds, perhaps stop to consider that the sun you see glinting off of a diamond ring may too be a diamond one day.
Alex Levin is a writer for DuMouchelle Exchange, a leader in jewelry appraisal for over 80 years.