CAN YOU BREAK A DIAMOND?

 

It is well known that diamonds are the hardest natural material on Earth. But just how hard are they? And what does that hardness actually mean? To answer these questions, we first need to understand what hardness is and how it is measured.

Hardness is how difficult it is to scratch, dent, or chip material. The harder the material, the more resistant it is to these types of damage. The Mohs scale is one tool used to measure hardness, assigns a hardness rating to 10 different minerals, with talc being the softest (with a hardness of 1) and diamond being the hardest (with a hardness of 10).

While the Mohs scale is an excellent way to compare the relative hardness of different materials, it does have some limitations. First, it only includes ten minerals. Second, it measures the ability of one material to scratch another. This means that two materials can have the same Mohs hardness but different absolute hardness.

 

HOW HARD IS A DIAMOND?

So, how hard is a diamond? That depends on what you mean by "hard." As we've seen, hardness measures how difficult it is to scratch, dent, or chip a material. Nothing can scratch a diamond except another diamond. So, in that sense, you could say that diamond is the hardest known material.

But what about denting and chipping? It turns out that diamond is not as resistant to these kinds of damage as it is to scratching. In fact, a well-aimed hammer blow can easily shatter a diamond.

This means that while diamonds are the hardest known material, it is not necessarily the most durable; in other words, hardness is not the same as strength.

 

THE DIAMOND BREAKDOWN

Here is the diamond breakdown; a diamond can break technically, but it is extremely difficult to do so in practice. So you must hit the diamond in the correct location with enough force, which is not always easy.

Here's the science behind breaking a diamond. To say something is "hard" is not the same as saying it is "strong." For example, you can scratch steel with a diamond, but a hammer will easily shatter a diamond. The diamond is hard while the hammer is strong.

The internal structure is what determines whether something is hard or strong. A diamond stone consists entirely of organized carbon atoms that form a lattice. Every atom features a fixed distance from the next, and bringing two of them closer or farther apart requires substantial force. The diamond's lattice structure makes it exceedingly hard and allows it to scratch any other material.

In contrast, stainless steel has an ionic structure. You can freely move any of the ions, and any impact is quickly absorbed. When you strike steel with a hammer of any sort, it absorbs the blow by moving the ions sideways rather than shattering.

Stainless steel is much more durable and workable due to its ionic structure. Diamond breaking results because diamonds are not very strong, considering their lack of flexibility in structure.

 

HOW DO DIAMOND CUTTERS CUT THROUGH DIAMONDS?


You might be wondering how a diamond ever reaches its finished form, given that nothing else can even scratch it. The first step in processing a rough diamond stone is to segment it into as many smaller stones as possible. Diamond cutting uses cleavage lines that run through each rough diamond. The diamond's weakest point is a cleavage line, also known as a tetrahedral plane. A single grain of wood is an excellent example of this. When you drive a chisel into a piece of wood along the grain, it will split apart. Try this across the grain and see what happens! The length of the chisel blade will be cut when you try this across the grain.

The rough diamond stone will split along these predictable cleavage lines with a brutal hit from a specific metal-cutting tool. The disadvantage is that, where wood has only one cleavage line in the grain, a rough diamond has four cleavage lines, each of which may influence how many single polished stones it forms.

In some cases, the examination of rough loose diamonds may take weeks or months before diamond cutters decide on the correct cleavage lines. If you do not take the proper precautions, this will result in fractured diamonds instead of perfectly cut diamonds. This time delay is especially true for commissioned gems, such as those intended for a particular use.

Rough loose diamonds containing good color or clarity are cleaved with little or no waste. However, rough diamonds having flaws (diamond inclusions) may require more time to examine and evaluate before diamond cutting to find the correct way to cleave them. This time delay is especially true for commissioned gems, such as those intended for a particular use.

 

CAN YOU BREAK A DIAMOND WITH A HAMMER?

 

In theory, you can smash a diamond with a hammer, but it's difficult to do so in practice. It will have no effect if you try to smash a diamond with a hammer.

 

Here are the things that you'll have to do to make it easier to break a diamond with a hammer:

 

  • An unmounted diamond is easier to break. The ideal way to break an unmounted diamond is by hitting it with a hammer. If you hit the diamond with a mallet, make sure it has a metalhead and not wood. Students use metal mallets in gemology schools for this procedure.

 

  • Only strike a stone with a diamond hammer if it has internal inclusions and inner weaknesses. This means the stone contains debris, fissures, and other trapped minerals and crystals, making it weaker. When you hit the diamond, these internal features are also stressed concentration points.

 

  • Aim the hammer strike at the diamond's weakest internal spot.

 

  • Strike the diamond with a powerful blow. We recommend that you wear safety glasses during this procedure. The diamond won't shatter immediately; instead, it will fracture gradually. If there are no inclusions or fractures on your diamond to help you break it apart, it might seem impossible even if you hit it with a hammer.

 

  • When striking a jewel with a diamond hammer, grip it firmly and don't allow it to jump. In most situations, the hammer blow's impact will lessen as the diamond moves away from it. Thus, If you don't allow the diamond to jump, you maximize the hammer's impact.

 

  • If your diamond isn't breaking, try hitting it in multiple locations with the hammer to get it to crack. Even if you're hitting it at the smallest point of fracture, lumps of diamond dust will appear as the blow sets off a complete fracture throughout the stone. Be ready for flying diamonds and dust from this process!

 

Finally, although a hammer can break a diamond, it is tough to accomplish.

 

HOW POLISHED DIAMONDS BREAK

 

Although polished diamonds are far harder to damage than rough stones, they still have the same flaws. Because of the structure of a polished diamond, there is always a danger of impact chipping it. So, for example, just striking the diamond at the correct angle might split it in two resulting in a broken diamond.

Another way a diamond breaks is if hit with too much force. This could be from another object hitting it or simply dropping it on the ground. Even if a polished diamond doesn't have any visible cracks or chips, too much force can cause it to shatter.

It's unusual for engagement rings to chip a stone part belonging to the crown or girdle. However, it can happen if the stone gets hit in just the right way. The best way to avoid chipping your diamond is to choose the best protective setting. A full bezel setting will protect the stone from damage.

 

KEEPING YOUR DIAMOND SAFE

 

If this seems like too much to worry about, it isn't really. Luck – or bad luck, at the very least – and a little common sense will determine whether your diamond survives a lifetime or not.


Here are some suggestions:

- Inspect your diamond regularly for any chips or cracks.

- Be careful when handling your diamond, avoid dropping it or subjecting it to sudden impacts.

- Don't wear your diamond when doing activities that could put it at risk, such as gardening or cooking.

- Store your diamond away from other hard objects in a soft cloth or padded case.

- Have your diamond checked and cleaned by a professional jeweler every 6 months to a year. This will help you find any chips or cracks and repair them before they become bigger problems.

With a bit of care, your diamond will last a lifetime. But if it does break or chip, don't despair – a professional jeweler can usually fix it by reshaping the diamond. And if not, there's always insurance.

 

CAN DIAMONDS CHIP?

 

Yes, hitting your diamond ring at just the right angle with the right impact could chip your diamond. That's why there are prongs along the girdle of a ring to avoid a shattered diamond.

It is impossible to restore these fractured or chipped diamond parts. Instead, you can choose whether to live with a damaged stone or get it replaced. It's also unlikely that your chipped diamond will have much market value. Depending on the size of the diamond stone and the diamond chip's position, it is possible to recut a diamond.

But you know you have your ring insured, right? And you made sure the policy covered loss and damage as well? In such a circumstance, you may relax. Of course, the sentimental worth cannot be replaced, but you should still get a new diamond out of it. Just be aware that an insurance company will thoroughly examine any claim to determine whether you were at fault. If, for example, you chipped your ring while mountain climbing, your claim is probably doomed. But if your shattered diamond occurred while going about your routine daily life, you will be ok.

 

HOW TO PREVENT A DIAMOND FROM CHIPPING

 

  • Avoid Diamond Shapes with Sharp Corners

 

The corners and points of a diamond are more prone to diamond chipping since they are more exposed. The simplest way to prevent diamond chipping is to avoid shapes with sharp points. For example, round, oval, and rounded-corner cushions don't have the same sensitive point exposure as a marquise-cut diamond. Instead, look for a diamond ring with rounded edges or beveled edges.

 

  • Protect the Diamond's Culet

 

The pointed bottom of a diamond is called the culet. The culet is the most vulnerable part of the diamond and is prone to breaking and chipping. Ensure a prong or bezel setting properly covers the culet to protect the culet.

 

  • Avoid Thin Diamond Girdles

 

Even though a powerful strike can break the diamond at the girdle, a thicker girdle is more difficult to chip. Girdles with thin regions along the diamond's sides or corners and points are far more susceptible to damage. A skilled diamonds cutter will avoid creating these areas of weakness.

 

  • Choose the Best Setting Style

 

Mounting diamond stones in bezels and partial or V-shaped prongs better protect vulnerable areas and corners. Likewise, mounting diamond stones in full bezels instead of half-bezels further increases protection.

 

  • Don’t Wear Chipped Diamonds

 

Some people believe that if a diamond already has a chip, they can fix the mounting later. The knife-edged area of the chipped diamond has a very high chance of becoming chipped even more severely. So wear the chipped diamond as little as possible until repaired.

 

  • Avoid Inclusions Near the Girdle

 

It should go without saying that a diamond with numerous inclusions at the girdle and points is more prone to chipping and fracturing. A little feather or another small defect near the girdle or point can leave the diamond vulnerable. A chip is likely to form if a blow to the stone lands precisely on a feather or diamond inclusion near the direction of a cleavage plane or at a point.

 

  • Inspect Jewelry Prongs for Damage

 

A widespread cause of diamond chipping is that the prongs holding the gem in place in a piece of jewelry become bent or broken. If a diamond is loose in its setting, it will likely result in diamond chipping. Jewelry prongs protect diamond parts such as corners, points, and the sides of a diamond stone. The prongs are not doing their job of protecting your diamond if they become bent or damaged due to wear and tear.

Your diamond is no longer held firmly in its mounting, even if only one prong loosens shape or breaks. Instead, a diamond jeweler needs to repair this as soon as possible to prevent loss.

 

  • Be Careful with Tension Settings

 


A tension setting secures a diamond in place using a groove cut into the metal that the girdle fits into, and the two ends of the ring press tightly against the diamond's sides. Before setting a diamond stone in this manner, a jeweler with experience in tension settings will carefully inspect the diamond girdle's condition. If there are any chips or cracks on this part of the diamond, a tension setting could cause the diamond to fall out of its setting.

At two opposing locations on the girdle, the mounting is already exerting pressure on the diamond. The girdle is put under much more significant strain when you hit the side of the ring. Even when worn casually, this setting style exposes the exposed sides of a diamond to damage.

 

WRAPPING UP

 

A diamond is one of the hardest materials on earth, but that doesn’t mean it can’t break. The best way to prevent a diamond from chipping or breaking is to be aware of its weaknesses and take steps to protect it. The four most vulnerable areas of a diamond are the corners, points, girdle, and inclusions. Protecting these sensitive areas will help ensure that your diamond lasts a lifetime.