Diamonds are beautiful and prestigious. They are often used as articles of ostentation in fashion and even as an expression of love in engagement and wedding rings. But, it is not clear why diamonds are so expensive when there are so many other precious gemstones and elements.
Diamonds are so expensive due to their rare chemical composition, cost of production, and the fundamental forces of demand and supply due to their beauty, luster, and popularity.
Diamonds serve various purposes; they are not limited to being used in jewelry. The steady rise in the price of diamonds is also due to their use. However, the major reasons why diamonds are so expensive will be discussed below:
Some Reasons Behind Diamonds High Costs
- History: The earliest diamonds are believed to have been found in the 4th century BC in India. At that time, diamonds were valued because of their hardness in engraving/scratching other metals and their brilliance in refracting light.
They were worn as adornments. Some cultures also believed diamonds to be a talisman in warding off evil and granting protection in battle. In the dark ages, Diamonds were used as medicinal aids as they were thought to cure sickness and heal wounds when consumed.
- Chemical Composition: Diamonds are the most concentrated forms of carbon on earth and even in space, making them the strongest minerals on earth. Its unrivaled strength and hardness arise from its molecular structure. This feature alone makes them extremely rare, but the process of their formation is much more uncommon:
- They are formed about 160 kilometers within the earth in the mantle.
- In the mantle, temperatures reach over 2000°Fahrenheit and immense pressures of over 700,000 pounds/square inch.
- The formation process takes billions of years.
- They are found in eruptions of volcanic pipes where they are mined and excavated.
- Cultural Institution: Using rings as a symbol of commitment dates as far back as the age of the Roman Empire. These ancient times used rings as symbols of love and affection. However, ornamented rings were only used by people of high social ranking(royalty and the elite class). Due to their natural beauty, diamonds gradually became accustomed to priceless sentimental value and romance.
- Rarity: Diamonds are not so rare. In fact, many diamonds of today are synthesized in laboratories under the same natural condition of extremely high temperature and pressure. The first of such diamonds was made in 1954.
However, not all diamonds are created equal. They come in various shapes, colors, sizes, and even interior features. Some factors distinguish some diamonds from others. This grading system was devised by the Gemological Institute of America(GIA) in the 1950s to classify diamonds using some factors:
- Clarity: Diamonds could have some internal features(inclusions) and external irregularities(blemishes). Clarity is based on the absence of any of these features. Hence, the fewer features, the higher the clarity and the higher the cost. These features also help distinguish between natural and artificial diamonds.
- Cut: Diamonds are usually cut at angles that help refract light in the best ways possible. Experienced professionals can greatly increase a diamond’s value with the right cuts.
- Color: Some colors in diamonds are rare and could cost more money.
- Carat Weight: Diamonds are weighed in carats. However, carats don’t reflect a diamond’s size. So, diamonds of different sizes could have the same size.
- Supply and Demand: When commercial quantities of diamonds were discovered in 1867 in South Africa(Kimberley Deposit), companies began to hoard these diamonds and disburse them periodically. This helps increase demand by maintaining the illusion of rarity in the market.
- Pop Culture: As a marketing strategy, companies began associating diamonds with love. Diamonds increasingly became the traditional symbols of love and marriage and were worn in films and music videos as the only way to show love. This strategy gave birth to the slogan ‘Diamonds are forever. And as globalization came onto the scene, the rave for diamonds became an international tradition.
Diamonds are not the rarest or most beautiful gemstones. But, they have a history of serving different purposes, which are seen till today. They are one of the most vital substances in the world because of their long history, beauty, and rare strength.
- How much does a diamond cost?
Diamonds are priced based on their weight and purity. One carat of a diamond is about 200 milligrams in weight. A diamond carat could cost at least $2500 and may cost up to $20,000 depending on its cut. However, there are cheaper options like cubic zirconia.
- Can a diamond be broken or cracked?
Diamonds are the toughest materials that are known to exist. But, they can still crack if hit at the correct angles with the right amount of energy. However, this is very rare. Sometimes, inclusions are even mistaken for cracks.
- Should I get a bigger diamond?
The importance of any diamond is in the individual that wears it. Some people want almost flawless clarity, while others want the attraction of a larger piece. Finding the balance between these characteristics as well as your budget is crucial in buying the right diamond for you and your occasions.