Are Diamonds Durable Or Brittle & Breakable?

Diamonds take on different meanings. They can resemble happiness, love, and celebration. Most often they are used as gifts from one romantic partner to the other.

No matter how you view diamonds, though, one thing is for sure: they can cost a pretty penny. Buyers would therefore expect them to hold up for years to come.

The durability of a diamond will depend on the type of diamond you purchase as well as the way you care for it.

We’ve listed a few things that are important to remember about diamonds:

Here’s an Idea about Diamond Durability:

Diamonds are very durable. They are difficult to break without high-powered tools of specific materials. They are also shaped by designers in ways that increase their durability even more than their natural state. It is very hard to break a diamond yourself.

Do Diamonds Break Easily?

Diamonds, in fact, cannot be broken so easily.  This is because diamonds are made from a very stable form of carbon.

Whether they are mined out of the earth, or crafted in the lab, this carbon does not break down without a lot of effort.

Something as small as dropping your diamond, will not harm the diamond at all. Along with the diamond’s natural durability, the special shape they are carved into also helps to maintain its structural integrity.

You don’t have to handle your diamond with kitten gloves. The chances of you breaking it are very low.

What Things Can Break A Diamond?

So, what can actually break a diamond?

You may be surprised to know that the one thing that can break a diamond is another diamond! In fact, diamond cutters use a special machine-powered tool with a diamond-tipped head to carve other diamonds.

Another thing that may break a diamond is steel.  With enough pressure and power, you can chip a diamond with a swing of a steel-headed hammer.  However, it would take a great deal of force to do this by hand.

You may find that the most damage you can do with your power alone, would be to chip away at the diamond.

However, high-powered tools that are made out of steel, can do some serious damage to a diamond.

Are Lab Diamonds As Durable As Real Diamonds?

There has been a lot of debate about the validity of lab-grown diamonds.

Many purists don’t see these gemstones as “real” since they weren’t mined out of the earth.  However, this is very little structural difference between these two diamond types.

In fact, many top-tier jewelers are using more lab-made diamonds because they are easier to manufacture and leave less of a negative impact on diamond-mining communities as well as the environment.

Do they Hold up Well?

The MOHS scale is what is used to measure how strong a gemstone is.

This isn’t only used for diamonds either!  Lab-made diamonds have been tested at a MOHS scale of 10 which is what mined diamonds test at as well.

This means that lab diamonds are just as durable as real diamonds since real diamonds also test at a MOHS 10 rating.

You should be comforted in knowing that both types of diamonds are durable and will last you for years.

Can Heat Damage A Diamond?

There are few things that can escape the damage of high heat.

Are diamonds one of these rare things? Diamonds are constantly being tested and put to their limits.  This is because while there are thousands and thousands of materials found in the earth, diamonds are among some of the strongest.

Because of this, experts have been able to strength and heat test them thoroughly.

Diamonds can withstand heat as high as 2,500 degrees Celsius.  With the right amount of pressure, a diamond won’t even budge at this heat.

However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t be damaged just that they can’t be completely destroyed by heat.

Can Diamonds Burn In A House Fire?

House fires can absolutely damage a diamond.

A house fire can burn as high as 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit.  At this level of heat, a diamond can be damaged if it is directly exposed to the fire.

This type of heat will cause a reaction upon the surface of the diamond leaving a white and cloudy cast over it.

However, this type of damage is easily reversible.  A gem expert can re-carve and clean the stone to remove any damage or white cast.  Just know that it will reduce the overall size of your gemstone.

What Is The Toughest and Most Durable Gemstone?

When talking about the most durable gemstone, we’re usually discussing the structure and hardness of the stone.

A diamond is the hardest gemstone because of tightly the carbon is wound making it difficult to be broken.

While diamonds test the highest on the MOHS scale at a 10, they are not the only gemstones that have been rewarded a high rating.

The second toughest gemstone is a tie between rubies and sapphires which are both classified as corundum gemstones.  These types of gems are rated at a level 9 on the MOHS scale.

This means that they are almost as tough as diamonds, but slightly more vulnerable to damage.

Following close behind are topaz and quartz which are both technically classified as crystalized types of gemstones.

In fact, over the past decade, these types of stones have increasingly become more popular as an alternative to diamonds and other popular gems like rubies.

All of these stones test higher on the scale when it comes to durability which means they will hold up better than softer stones like fluorite which can easily be scratched or chipped.

What Is Harder Than A Diamond?

Looking for a material that is naturally found in the earth and also harder than a diamond is nearly impossible.

This is because a diamond is regarded as the hardest material found on earth.  However, there are some materials that have come close.

For example, scientists have been able to develop a material that is more crystal-like and is almost as hard as a diamond, but it doesn’t quite reach the same amount of durability.

The only naturally made material that comes close to the durability of a diamond is moissanite.  Moissanite is a silicone-based carbonite that can be found in craters that have been created by meteors falling from the sky.

It should also be noted that this type of material is very rare and hard to come by.

It was first discovered by a French scientist in the late 1800’s and some samples were found to be 18% stronger than diamonds.  Since they are so rare, it is hard to substantiate this claim.

The only other commonly-found material that comes close to diamonds is titanium.  Titanium is strong and durable in its own regard, but it doesn’t quite measure up to diamonds.

Why Are Diamonds So Durable?

Diamonds are so durable because of the way the materials are bound together which not only makes them strong but makes them shine!

The outer shell of a diamond is made out of five carbon atoms then when formed, make a strong chemical bond that is very hard to be broken.

Diamonds are first formed far beneath the earth’s surface.  At this depth, there is a high heat level that reacts with the carbon, forming a diamond directly into the earth’s surface.

Because of the high heat, a great amount of pressure which is higher than anything else on earth that can be tested is applied to the carbon.

This pressure allowed the carbon atoms to tightly bond making it a perfect, nondestructive material.  This is why if you look into a diamond it can look like endless curves or sparkles.

The more tightly compact and bonded the material is, the more structurally sound and stable it will be.

Are Diamonds Stronger Than Steel?

Diamonds are the strongest material on Earth and therefore stronger than steel.

Strength:

When it comes to understanding the stability of diamonds and steel, there are two specific things to keep in mind.

First, you have the strength which is determined through a series of strength testing.

A diamond can withstand much more pressure than steel can before it is damaged or destroyed as it takes far more strength to crack a diamond than steel metals.

Stability:

When we talk about the stability of steel, we’re looking at how tightly bound the materials that form steel are.

As we know, diamonds are created with carbon atoms that are very tightly woven together.  While the materials composing steel are also bound together, they are not as tightly pressurized as diamonds.

This means that while it can be difficult to break through steel, it isn’t as nearly impossible as it is for diamonds.  To put it simply, steel is tough, but diamonds are tougher.

Can You Break A Diamond With A Hammer?

While diamonds are stronger than steel, steel hammers can still do quite a bit of damage to a diamond.

They are sort of enemies when it comes to the destruction of either.  A diamond can easily scratch up and cut steel.  On the other side of the coin, a steel hammer can also destroy a diamond.

The most important thing to remember is that it also comes down to the amount of pressure and strength that is put into the hammer.

An average person with an average amount of strength won’t be able to reduce a diamond to dust with a quick swing of a hammer. However, high-pressure machines that use mechanical force with a steel-headed hammer can absolutely break a diamond. 

This has a lot to do with the shape of the diamond and not so much the materials.  While diamonds are strong, the way they are cut can leave them structurally vulnerable to breakage.

Are Diamonds Bulletproof?

There are some things that even diamonds are not protected from, and this includes bullets. Remember, the materials in a bullet have very little to do with the damage they can do to a diamond overall.

Bullets are destructive due primarily to the amount of pressure that is used to launch one.  Along with metal, bullets have gunpowder that when sparked, travel at high-velocity speeds causing a large amount of damage.

It is also important to remember that because of their structure, diamonds can actually be quite brittle.  When met with a high-pressure round of ammunition like a bullet, diamonds will shatter.  Keep in mind that toughness and hardness are two different ways to measure a material.

Just because diamonds are hard, doesn’t make them immune to the toughness of a high-pressure round!

In Conclusion

After centuries of testing diamonds, we have learned that while they are strong, they are still vulnerable to damage.

It takes a lot of will and strength to make a dent in one of these precious gemstones.  This means that the chances of you destroying or harming your diamond with your strength alone, are very small.

While your strength may not be enough to break a diamond, there are plenty of other ways to cause destruction to these gemstones.  High-powered weapons, as well as high-burning heat, can damage a diamond.

Reference Links:

What Causes Diamonds to Break – American Gem Society

Lab-Created Diamond Vs. Natural Diamond

Scientists Create Crystal Stronger Than Diamond

Diamonds Unearthed – Smithsonian Mag