Do Diamonds break? How hard are diamonds? If they are that strong, how do they cut it?

Do you know that diamonds can only be cut with diamonds.

That’s how tough and unbreakable they are!

When you’re browsing for a diamond and find such a precious stone like this one on Blue Nile, or a marvelous one like this one on James Allen, you wonder: If I get this diamond, will it ever break and I lose it?

A Diamond is considered to be the strongest stone on earth; to the level that it scored a full mark on Mohs scale (that we will be seeing shortly). It’s hard enough that when they need to shape (cut) a diamond, they use another diamond saw to shape it!

But does this mean that diamonds can never be broken? Does “strongest” always mean that you can’t use any other mineral to break it?

Well, being the strongest mineral doesn’t necessarily mean unbreakable. And at the end of the article, we will figure out together if a diamond can be “physically” broken and how hard the diamond technically is as well.

This topic is pretty important since the ladies are concerned about their diamond rings getting broken after a bad fall, a hard hit, or from daily use!

Firstly,

What Are Diamonds Made From?

Diamonds have been known for decades to be the hardest and the strongest precious stones on the earth; at least up until very recently; when scientists discovered Q carbon which they claim to be stronger than diamond.

Q-Carbon

Irrespective of this new discovery, diamonds have unique strength characteristics that are said to be able to cut glass and fellow diamonds without a scratch to their form or shape!

Fascinating, right? The strength of diamonds is primarily anchored on what they are created from as well as their shape.

Diamonds are crafted from carbon which has been subjected to intense pressure and heat. Such heat and pressure can only be discovered under eighty-seven to a hundred and twenty deep in the mantles of the earth. They are -as a matter of fact- created during the timeframe of 1 – 3.3 billion years.

The heat combined with the pressure forces the molecules of the diamond to be altered resulting in them merging together and so, the molecules consequently become unable to move.

The joining of the molecules is also known as covalent bonding. In line with that, the merging is the reason behind diamonds being hard.

Yeah we know, too much technical stuff here, let’s just skip that and take a look into how strong these stones are.

How Strong is a Diamond?

Some people ask: Are Diamonds Strong? When the question they need to be asking is: How Strong is a Diamond? And/or Can I break a diamond?

Well, diamonds are the second strongest gemstones on earth. Fun fact, the word “Diamond” in fact originates from a Greek word; which translates into “unbreakable”.

Investigating its position on Mohs scale of minerals, we note that diamonds are given an impressive score of ten over ten.

Image Source: National Park Service Website

Mohs scale of mineral toughness was founded in the year 1812 by the mineralogist and the German geologist known by the name of Frederick Mohs. This scale was mainly established to help in identifying minerals and their toughness.

An example to demonstrate would be a steel nail; having a score of around 6.5 out of 10. The Masonry drill bit that we use to drill walls is 8.5, yet, diamonds get 10 of 10 on this scale.

This should give you a better idea of how strong diamonds are, compared to other minerals we use in our day-to-day life! Now, let’s see if this “strength” keeps a diamond from breaking!

Are Diamonds Breakable?

Now that we’re clear on the strength of a diamond, it’s only fair to start questioning its toughness and durability next! Can it be broken with a hammer? Does it break if it drops down on the floor?

Does an angry throw against the wall do the trick? (or maybe a car running over it?), or even just the basic daily use of diamonds (and/or rings).

Spoiler alert: The above are theoretical suggestions and you shouldn’t try to do this on your diamond to test if it breaks or not! Keep your precious diamonds safe and sound in your jewelry box.

Let’s think about it this way: If you hit a steel nail by the wall, will the nail break or the wall will be scratched? Well, the diamond in your hand is still way stronger than this steel nail.

Diamonds are pretty tough, and you really need to stop worrying about mistakenly breaking your diamond! This is because cutting a diamond takes a lot of pressure, skill, precision, and the right equipment.

Despite the fact that they’re pretty hard and resistant to pressure, they are not unbreakable as the translation of their Greek name implies. If they were, it would be utterly impossible for diamond cutters to cut them into different sizes and shapes; to be used for jewelry!

But does this “breaking” happen due to regular daily usage of the diamond? Definitely no! Keep in mind that we’re talking about the diamond itself, not the ring, a tough hit with a door or a wall “might” leave some scratches on the ring itself, no doubt! 

So how exactly are diamonds cut?

Since Diamonds are that Strong, How are they Cut & Shaped?

To start, let’s agree that diamond cut is different from a diamond shape, a lot of people refer to the shape as the cut, while it’s not. Diamond cut refers to the proportions of the parts of the diamond and how well the diamond reflects light, whereas shape is how a diamond looks like.

There are different grading systems to determine a diamond cut, however, the most common and agreed-upon one is the cut chart created by GIA since it’s known to be the best diamond certification lab.

GIA Cut Grading Chart subdivides diamond cut into 5 grades: Poor, Fair, Good, Very Good, and Excellent (AKA Ideal cut). However, for the shapes, we have round, princess, and so on.

We believe it’s clear now; cut vs. shape! So, back to the question.

There are essentially two methods of cutting diamonds: the cleaving method and the cutting method.

The cleaving method focuses on cutting large diamonds that are freshly extracted from mines; into smaller diamond sizes. This is also known as rough cuts, and the smaller diamonds can be formed into jewelry.

The Cutting method is used for slicing the diamonds into their final sizes, and most importantly, the diamond cut (which will determine how it will sparkle as a result!).

Blue Nile Ring 2

When cutting diamonds, fine sharp knives (or lasers) are used. They’re considered perfect choices for the sizing of the diamonds. These knives (or lasers) always produce flawless cuts. Most diamond cutters also have a better effective way to cut diamonds; AKA using diamond saws to cut diamonds!

You should also know that the diamond cutting process goes through multiple stages and can only be perfected by diamond cutters with the requisite skill and experience.

The first stage is the rough cut. Next, is the shaping of the diamonds, then, the polishing of the diamonds, and finally, there is the setting of the diamonds. 

Each stage can take quite some time before it gets to the setting stage and if the diamond cutter is not so skilled or experienced, improperly cut diamonds can be produced.

And since the cut determines the amount of light the stone is able to reflect (the higher the reflection, the better the performance, and the more need for a higher cut grade!), an improperly cut diamond will result in a diamond with very poor sparkle and scintillation!

As you can see, the stone goes through a lot of processes before it can be rested on its setting; which takes some time. However, if breaking a diamond was easy, it wouldn’t take that long for the expert cutter to cut, polish, and shape it.

Now, a lot of people might be wondering if the cut has anything to do with the breakability of a gem? Let’s take a look.

Is it Possible to Break a Poor Cut Diamond?

If the final diamond has a poor cut, does this mean that it has less strength than an excellent-cut diamond for example?

Diamonds -as explained above- are made from carbon which has been subjected to intense pressure and heat and the molecules merge together thereby making them strong. This strength is retained irrespective of the cutting process diamonds go through. With that being said, an improperly cut diamond does not make it weaker than a properly cut one.

It is in fact still unbreakable unless the right tools are engaged in the cutting procedure. Therefore, even if your diamond is improperly cut, you have no reason to worry about it getting broken for any reason whatsoever because accidentally breaking this gemstone is nearly impossible.

Yes, the cut has nothing to do with strength, however, “some” particular inclusions do! Long cracks; as in a crack in the diamond’s body from top to bottom might make the diamond more vulnerable to getting split (broken) into halves.

Can You Break a Diamond with a Hammer?

Diamond chipping can occur to almost any diamond (and here is a reference to this from GIA), but only under certain (and unusual) circumstances do these diamonds be broken!

Usually, someone smashing something with a hammer is pretty damaging. However, human physical power using a hammer to hit a diamond is not even compared to the diamond hardness itself!

You can search this on YouTube actually; you’ll see some folks who tried this and did it: smashing the diamond from its culet.

Two things to mention here so you don’t worry about your diamond:

  1. Chipping can be fixed, therefore, even if your diamond got chipped, you can take it to a jewelry store and they can get it fixed for you.
  2. Your diamond will NEVER get hit with power high enough to smash it, so don’t worry, your diamond is safe!

Diamond Strength: Final Word

Wrapping this up, diamonds indeed are FOREVER. Irrespective of the presence of Q carbon which is a combination of carbon, graphite, and diamond, regular diamonds (that are extracted from the mines) are extremely strong and are indestructible.

No wonder why they are consistently used as a symbol of everlasting love!

They never depreciate in value, and they are tough as hell. They can also only be split by skilled diamond cutters using fellow diamonds, lasers, or fine sharp knives.

Ready to get a diamond? Shop at our favourite store: James Allen

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