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Why are diamonds so rare?

By Frank

Highly experienced diamond polisher who loves to share his knowledge with you. Continues to stun his colleagues with interesting - or simply bizarre - facts about diamonds and gems.

February 10, 2020

We often get the question: “why are diamonds so rare?” But many people also wonder whether diamonds are rare at all. The answer is both yes and no. Let me explain why that is.

What are diamonds

To understand whether or not diamonds are rare, first we have to determine what they actually are. Diamonds are about 99.95 percent carbon. They are the only gems that consist of a single element. “The other 0.05 percent can include one or more trace elements, which are atoms that aren’t part of a diamond’s essential chemistry.” (Gia.edu). Carbon is a common mineral in nature, so it’s not rare. But carbon alone isn’t enough. It needs to be subjected to extreme heat and pressure. This happens deep inside the earth. Under certain conditions, each carbon atom forms a bond with four adjacent carbon atoms. It is possible to create the heat and pressure conditions in a laboratory as well. Diamonds that are created this way are so-called: Lab grown or synthetic diamonds.

diamonds are pressed carbon

Rare or not

If we use the above-mentioned description to decide whether diamonds are rare or not, the simple answer is no. Scientists believe that a quadrillion tons of diamonds lie deep beneath the surface of the earth. That’s not rare at all. However, we cannot reach these quadrillions of diamonds. We simply cannot dig this deep. So we know the earth has a lot of diamonds, but we can’t get to them.

Where do we find diamonds

We mostly depend on volcano eruptions and diamond mines to find diamonds. As you can imagine, it is  a lot less than the hidden ones near the center of the earth. Every year, globally about 180 million carat is mined in the diamond mines. Only a relatively small amount comes from “on” or above the ground and not from a mine. This is less than 1 million carats.

diamond mine

Why are diamonds rare

Okay, so about 181 million carats worth of diamonds are retrieved every year. Not bad, right? Not bad indeed. But the thing is, these millions of carats don’t all end up in jewelry. Most of them are not of good quality and will only serve for industrial purposes. Only a very small percentage of all found diamonds is of jewelry quality. And with jewelry quality, I  mean clarity Pique 3 and above and a color that is still in the D-Z color scale. But if you want a high-quality diamond, I always advise a color D-H and a clarity of VS and above. With this standard, a lot of “okay” diamonds disqualify as well.

rough diamonds

To answer the question: are diamonds rare?

Now it’s time to answer the question. Are diamonds rare? Well, yes and no. Let me explain why:

Are diamonds rare, first answer

No, because there are plenty of these carbonized stones deep inside the earth. Even if you don’t count these, there are still millions of carats mined every year.

Are diamonds rare, second answer

Yes, if by diamonds you mean those stones at the jeweler. Because only a very small amount of these millions of carats are fit for jewelry. Only a tiny percentage is good enough to end up in the ring on your finger. Or in the necklace you have your eye on. These high-quality diamonds are rare.

diamond ring on money

Why are diamonds expensive

In scarcity lies value. The same applies to the high-quality diamonds. Besides the fact that high-quality diamonds are valuable because they are rare, there is more. High-end craftsmanship also plays a huge role. Polished diamonds are worth way more than rough diamonds. So you don’t pay for the material (carbon) only, but for the craftsmanship as well. It may come as no surprise that good craftsmanship is more expensive than bad polishing work. Therefore, the cut of a diamond also influences the price a lot.

Diamonds from the source

Do you want to get the best (high-quality and polished) diamonds for the best price? I recommend to purchase them from the source, ergo a diamond polishing factory. By cutting out the middle man you don’t have to pay for these costs. You only pay for the combination of extraordinary material and extraordinary craftsmanship. Discover our collection of impeccable diamonds online. Or contact a diamond consultant to find your perfect diamond for your budget.

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