What Are Diamonds Used For (Besides Jewellery)?

What Are Diamonds Used For (Besides Jewellery)?

Euan James Euan James
6 minute read

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Diamonds are one of the most magical things on earth. They have captivated the human race by their sparkle and beauty for millennia. But did you also know how incredibly strong they are? Not only that, but they’re extremely versatile and have many uses besides diamond jewellery and adornment.

So, what are diamonds used for? In this blog, we’re going to share with you Toby Bensimon's TEDTalk about Why We Find Carbon Beautiful, which contains some surprising facts about diamonds as well as 5 uses you probably didn’t know about.

Who Is Toby Bensimon? 

Toby Bensimon is the Managing Director of Shiels Jewellers and the son of the founder, Albert Bensimon. He took over the position of Managing Director from his father in 2013 and since then, he has been educating everyone on all things jewellery and watches. Shiels doesn't just sell jewellery; we are in the business of providing and enhancing life's moments - as well as educating others. To find more of Toby's work, simply search #TobyfromShiels. 

Toby Bensimon Ted Talk

How Diamonds Are Formed

Diamonds are formed from carbon, either:

  • Through volcanic eruptions in the Earth
  • Through cosmic debris rained down on us

With the eruptions, diamonds form in the lower mantle. The eruption needs to occur with such a force that it pushes those diamonds straight through the mantle and into the crust where technology that we have today is good enough or sufficiently good enough to extract it. 

Today, we can also create diamonds in a lab. But more about that later.

What Are Diamonds Used For? 5 Uses:

1. Carving

So, the first in our investigation into what are diamonds used for takes us back in time. Of course, they loved their diamond jewellery, but the Romans were also the first to start using diamonds for something other than just pure jewellery. They would use them to carve cameos in shells (like the one pictured below). Diamonds were highly prized as rings by the Roman's and you can see them in various museums around the globe.

They also exported them to China, where they spawned an entirely new industry: jade carvingJade is used for creating pendants, bracelets, rings, earrings, necklaces, and even plates and bowls. Because Jade is rated a seven on the hardness scale, the Chinese would tip their tools with less valued diamonds. It turns out the Romans were onto something! Today, diamonds are also used for cutting and you can find out more about that below.

What are diamonds used for? Carving cameos in shells

2. Skewering Pearls

Because diamond is generally considered to be the hardest substance on Earth, it is often used for cutting and polishing. Diamonds cut everything like butter. 

Besides jade carving, the Chinese also tipped drill bits with diamonds and skewered pearls with them, and in doing so created the pearl industry which we're all familiar with today. (Check out our wide range of pearl jewellery while you’re here!)

It's incredible to think that although diamond is beautiful, it's also the most versatile of compounds. Its industrial uses are almost unlimited because of its hardness. Its unique chemical properties mean that it can be used for so many different things. 

skewering pearls

3. Astronomy

So, what are diamonds used for besides carving and skewering? Telescopes! In telescopes, a really well-ground lens is needed. And these are created through diamond paste. In fact, the field of astronomy would be greatly impoverished were it not for the discovery of diamonds and diamond dust. 

Diamonds have a much higher index of refraction than glass so it blends light much more and aids vision. They are also a lot tougher than glass because they are heavier. If you are in the market for a telescope, it definitely pays to get one with a diamond lens! 

diamond telescopes

4. Medical Surgery

Did you also know that you can now take a scalpel and, through this technique called chemical vapour deposition, you can actually grow a thin layer of diamond onto the cutting edge of the blade? Applying diamond to a substrate increases its efficacy and durability, which is a huge bonus in surgical applications. 

Diamond knives were invented by Venezuelan scientist Humberto Fernández-Morán Villalobos in 1995. Since then they have become a staple for medical professionals. They are very expensive to purchase because of their quality. The edges also need constant sharpening because over time, they dull. They are particularly used in eye surgery because of how sharp they are. 

diamond knife

5. Live forever

As mentioned earlier, we can now create diamonds in a lab (in fact, Shiels offers an entire range of jewellery featuring lab grown diamonds). Now, these are real diamonds, not diamond-substitutes. Real diamonds can be grown from a diamond seed in a lab. Not only that, but because diamonds are made out of carbon, we can actually convert YOU into a diamond if you so choose. 

Essentially the only thing that is different about the diamond is the fact that it's grown in a lab. Cutting-edge technology is used to replicate the natural diamond process and create a diamond that is grown beneath the earth's surface. Interestingly, they cost about 20 per cent less than mined diamond and they are largely indistinguishable to the naked eye. 

Stephen Morisseau, a spokesman for the Gemological Institute of America, explained that from their perspective, synthetic diamonds are diamonds and people should have no issue purchasing them. 

“They’re not fakes. They’re not cubic zirconias. They have all the same physical and chemical properties of a mined diamond,'' he told Washington Post

What are diamonds used for?

Can You Turn Ashes Into Diamonds?

The answer is yes. About 50% of the dry mass of a human body is carbon. So all we have to do is separate out all the other molecules and then put you into a pressure chamber, condense you under five Giga Pascal's and then heat you up to 1500 degrees. After a week, you're turned into the most beautiful, strong and versatile compound on Earth. 

Memorial diamonds offer a personalised memorial option that allows your loved one to be remembered for eternity. There are various companies that offer the service and it most certainly is a growing market. 

So there, besides making beautiful engagement rings and wedding rings, diamonds can do many other things. You wanted to know what diamonds are used for and we’ve given you 5 fantastic uses besides jewellery - one of which allows you to keep on sparkling forever. Now, tell us, is there a better thing in the world than diamonds? It’s ok, we’ll wait...

Want to learn more about diamonds? Check out our 6 Benefits of Lab Grown Diamonds blog, or shop our range of gorgeous diamond jewellery

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