The Age of Diamond or How Old Is Your Diamond

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April 28

Scientists estimate that the age of diamonds is between 1 and 3.5 billion years. Unlike week-old lab-grown diamonds, most natural diamonds form 150 to 250 kilometers in the earth's mantle.

A curious child might wonder whether the age of diamonds came before or after dinosaurs. Raising that question in science class ranks up there with the chicken or the egg debate.

Perhaps we should agree that we may never know when the age of diamonds first began. Some people promote the idea that diamonds are billions of years old, while others say millions.

Milgrain Marquise Dot Setting Blue Nile Age of Diamonds.

Timeless Classic Settings from Blue Nile.

Age of Diamonds Natural and Manmade:

No doubt you noticed the dig at manmade diamonds in the first paragraph. However, it makes sense to classify the origin when discussing how old your diamond is, does it not?

Diamond Age Book by Neal Stephenson.

The Diamond Age - Check Price on Amazon.

De Beers promotes the idea that diamonds are forever, but those lab-grown diamonds spiraled up from the carbon dust only moments ago. In that case, a natural diamonds' age is forever ago, but manmade diamonds are fresh out of the oven.

Consequently, De Beers began promoting "A Diamond Is Forever" back in the 1940s. It goes without saying that those were simpler times from a technological perspective.

People didn't know very much about the origin of diamonds back then. Let alone the diamond age or age of diamond, if you prefer.

The latter is generally estimated based upon the depth and location of the dig. Whereas the first is a story that takes place a stone's throw into the future.

"The Age of Diamonds" ~ That's Deep. Really Deep.

Fifth generation diamond cutter Brian Gavin examining a diamond between turns on the polishing wheel.

Brian Gavin Contemplating the Age of Diamonds.

If diamonds are discovered deeper than dinosaur bones, logic dictates that diamonds are older. At the same time, the technology exists today to create synthetic diamonds quickly and easily.

That is something that a division of General Electric began working on back in the day. Guys like Brian Gavin cut their teeth on diamonds when dinosaurs were still roaming the earth.

This last bit is not speculation, by the way. How do I know such things? Because Brian Gavin is one of my original mentors in the diamond business.

We bought A Cut Above® hearts and arrows diamonds from Brian back in 1998. Which makes me… Awww shoot! That's right, as old as a dinosaur!

But one of the younger ones!
Brian Gavin is a 5th-generation diamond cutter, which clearly makes him older. With this in mind, you might assume that we old guys have some insight into the age of diamonds.

However, we don't possess such incredible knowledge because diamond cutters are older than dinosaurs. How do we know? Because De Beers says so…

Once Upon a Time in the Age of Diamonds:

Age of Diamonds Brian Gavin Signature 2.56 carat, I-color, VVS-2 clarity.

Brian Gavin Brings the Age of Diamond to Life.

There was a sparkling princess in the Age of Diamonds long, long ago. LOL, you know we're not really going to go there.

And yet, until recently, that is how a lot of diamond lore appears to have been written. After all, companies like De Beers spend a lot of money searching for diamond deposits.

Consequently, De Beers doesn't spend that much trying to determine the diamond age. What's the point, really? Does it matter whether the
Brian Gavin Black Diamond in your ring is 900 million years old?

Will you appreciate it even more if it is 3.2 billion years old? Or, by chance, will anywhere in between suffice? In that case, check out the prices of Brian Gavin Lab-grown diamonds.

A Mad Scientist Discovered the Secret to Sparkle:

Optical Precision of Brian Gavin Signature Hearts and Arrows Diamond.

The Sparkle Factor is a Reflection of Optical Precision.

The sparkle factor is the #1 reason to buy a Hearts and Arrows diamond. Look at the optical precision of this 2.56 carat, I-color, VVS-2 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature diamond.

It takes tremendous skill to align the facets so perfectly that this hearts' pattern emerges. In that case, it's not the age of diamonds that matters, but rather the skill with how the cutter unleashes its inner beauty.

But while it's Brian Gavin's job to do that, De Beers's job is to find more diamonds for him to polish. That is an endeavor that brings attention to the age of diamonds in a new and surprising way.

Consequently, Brian Gavin holds the patent for maximizing light performance in the modern round brilliant cut diamond. In that case, everybody else is trying to catch up (but that will violate his patent).

Determining the Age of Diamonds by the Inclusions:

Using Inclusions to Determine the Age of Diamond.

Inclusions within Brian Gavin Signature Diamond.

Researchers use radioisotope analysis to determine the age of inclusions within diamonds from the Venetia mine in South Africa. The research indicates that some diamonds might not be as old as people think.

From an industry perspective, there might be additional diamond deposits to discover. De Beers donated 26 diamonds to the experiment conducted by researchers at the Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam.

Nine of the 26 diamonds are about 3 billion years old. In contrast, 10 of them are a little more than one billion years old.

The time coincides with a major volcanic event in Zimbabwe, approximately 1.1 billion years ago. Diamonds show Earth still capable of 'super hot' surprises, Science Daily, September 21, 2017.

Clarity Characteristics the Secret Key to Diamonds' Age:

Age of Diamond, octahedral P-type rough from Venetia mine, South Africa, garnet mineral inclusion, photo credit Michael Gress

Octahedral rough photo credit Michael Gress

By assessing these flaws, researchers can determine the age of diamond crystals. Minerals trapped within the carbon crystal structure provide clues about the conditions and rocks they formed.

Diamonds show Earth still capable of 'super hot' surprises, EuroPlanet, September 21, 2017. Speaking of which, how cool is the garnet mineral inclusion within this piece of diamond rough?

This is a photograph by Michael Gress, showing one of the diamonds from the Venetia mine. Pretty cool stuff, which I always get a kick out of seeing.

Imagine how much skill it takes to transform a piece of diamond rough into the brilliant star on your finger. The secret is the degree of optical precision: the consistency of facet shape, size, and alignment.

Altering Our Perspective About the Age of Diamond:

Build Your Own Engagement Ring in the Age of Diamonds with Blue Nile.

Build Your Own Engagement Ring Blue Nile.

"Conventional thinking has been that the level of melting needed to create these diamonds could only happen early in the history of the Earth when it was much hotter."

"We show that this is not the case and that some harzburgitic diamonds are much younger than assumed."

"We propose that our younger set of diamonds formed in a special environment where a major plume from the deep mantle was raised towards the surface and underwent extensive melting as the pressure reduced," said Janne Koornneef.

Janne led the study, published in Nature Communications. Archaean and Proterozoic diamond growth from contrasting styles of large-scale magmatism, Nature Communications, September 21, 2017.

Map of the Diamond Deposit:

The simplified geological map and cross-section cartoon below show magmatic rocks in the region that results from large-scale tectonic events, inferred to be related to diamond growth beneath Venetia (red star).

Age of Diamond, how diamonds move to the surface, Venetia mine South Africa, via Nature Communications

Simplified geological map of the Venetia Mine in South Africa.

The dashed black lines shown above are international boundaries. Outlines of Umkondo LIP outcrops are after ref. 57. b Suggested tectonic setting at 1.1 Ga during the formation of the Umkondo LIP. c Inferred setting at the 3.0 Ga diamond growth event.

At present, mining companies like De Beers focus on the oldest kimberlite pipes. They assume that "harzburgitic" diamond crystals can only be found in the ancient mantle.

That is not to say that all diamonds are from harzburgite. Instead, diamond hunters look for this rock to indicate that the area might contain diamonds. This might lead diamond prospectors to explore deposits that have younger diamonds.

Cracking the Age of Diamond Code:

Radiant Cut Diamond in Tapered Baguette Setting from James Allen.

Can You Guess the Ice' Age? ~ James Allen

Before you call around trying to determine your diamond's age, I have some sad news. There is a reason why De Beers donated 26 diamonds to the study instead of loaning them to the researchers.

That is because the process of dating diamonds requires breaking them. That is the only way to extract their impurities for analysis. This means that there is no way for anybody to tell you the diamond's age with any accuracy.

Suffice to say that the age of diamond is probably between 900 million and 3.2 billion years old. However, this new research might enable companies to create niche markets for diamonds from certain mines.

With that in mind, I will suggest a new collection of Brian Gavin Diamonds.

Wait for it. Wait for it.

Pause for Dramatic Effect.

Here’s a brief history of Brian Gavin Diamonds:

After all, in an email sent to Rapaport News, Trevor Nace, geologist and founder of Science Trends, wrote: "There could be a market for something like 'this quarry primarily has 3-billion-year-old diamonds,' or something like that."

"[It] probably could be marketed as a niche on the quarry or region, but not by the diamond specifically." Miners Could Start Hunting for Young Diamonds, Rapaport News, September 26, 2017

Does the Age of Diamond Matter?

Brian Gavin Offers Rare Sparkle in the Age of Diamonds.

Brian Gavin Rare Sparkle Age of Diamonds.

While all of this is very interesting, you might be wondering about the real benefits to you as a consumer. The most obvious benefit that comes to mind is the potential for more diamonds to be found.

The demand for natural diamonds is higher than ever, with more people becoming engaged every day. This means that diamond cutters like Brian Gavin will have more material to work with.

This will make finding the perfect diamond for your engagement ring easier. Although this may be true, the reality is that hearts and arrows diamonds are still relatively rare.

Dazzle Her With Your Brilliance:

The Black by Brian Gavin Diamonds' Age.

Black by Brian Gavin Diamond in Diana 3-Stone.

There are very few diamond cutters in the world who can produce H&A diamonds. It takes a great deal of skill and talent to achieve a higher degree of optical precision.

At the same time, the volume of light return and sparkle factor is worth the wait! That is why I write about Brian Gavin Signature diamonds so often.

Consequently, Brian used to produce diamonds for our private label. Under those circumstances, I know what to expect in terms of light performance. That is why I recommend Brian Gavin Diamonds so highly.

In fact, my son's engagement ring that is pictured here contains a Black by Brian Gavin diamond. Let me know if you want my help picking out the perfect diamond.

About the Author

Dive deep into the glittering world of diamonds with Todd Gray, the CEO of Gray Matter Development, LLC. Todd has 35+ years of experience as a diamond buyer and trade consultant. He ghostwrites content for several online vendors and is an avid Freediver, currently exploring the Cenotes of Yucatan, Mexico. Dive into brilliance with Todd Gray!