I hope you will find things among my random thoughts that resonate with you and yours. I'd love to read your reactions in the Comments, and I'll be sure to visit you in return. Best regards, Mary

Friday, April 4, 2014

Digging for Diamonds (and Information)

I have wanted to know more about diamonds ever since I saw the 2006 film Blood Diamonds. It's a movie well worth seeing if you are concerned about the human condition in other parts of the world. And you know I am if you have read my first post - A is for Activism and Advocacy.

As modern Americans our first thought when diamonds are mentioned is likely to be of jewelry. We may even be aware that because of their hardness they are used in industry for cutting and grinding. But that does it for me. So I was surprised to learn that we can document their use in India for religious icons as far back as 3,000 years and possibly 6,000 years!

Wikipedia has a huge amount of information about diamonds, starting with how nature creates them:
  • They are made from carbon-containing minerals ... 
  • ... under high pressure at a depth of 87 to 118 miles beneath the earth's surface. (Note: It is 3,818 miles from the earth's surface to its center.) 
  • The process takes 1 billion to 3.3 billion years. 
If that's not a show-stopper I don't know what is!

So how did those ancient Indians find them? Without history to tell us we can assume that volcanic eruptions brought them to the surface where they would ultimately have have been found by accident. We can guess that they might, then, have dug at those sites hoping to find more.

Mining diamonds continues to this day, with about half the annual production coming from Africa. Unfortunately the conditions there are brutal, resultng in humanitarian efforts to improve them. The film Blood Diamonds is a part of that ongoing effort.

Open-pit diamond mine in Kimberley, South Africa - the largest hole excavated by hand

About 57,300 pounds of diamonds are mined world-wide annually, only half of which are gem quality. But the remainder is not enough to meet industrial demand so we have learned to make them in a high-pressure high temperature process to fill that need! For at least fifty years we have been creating industrial grade varieties in laboratories, and recently even began manufacturing gem quality.

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"Digging" for this bit of information to share with you led me inevitably to unearth much more on the topic. (I'm not finished yet.) At the same time I also acquired a new skill which every blogger should know about: how to illustrate a post both legally and free. This article explains: 7-places-find-usable-images-online

I discovered that on Twitter which is fast becoming my favorite source of news and information. Until now I have either linked to articles and pictures on other sites (that's OK) or copy/pasted them into my posts (that's not OK unless I'm using my own writing or pictures). The picture above is my first free and legal image thanks to Getty Images, Free for online use - Search Royalty Free Images  That's 35 million pictures, nicely catalogued for easy topic hunting! I hope this will be helpful for you, too.