Mystery Diamonds

Carbonados, or black diamonds, have long been a mystery. They’re the oldest, toughest and rarest diamonds around. Now, some researchers have a theory about its origin, and it’s out of this world, literally.

Stephen Haggerty, Ph.D., a geoscientist at Florida International University in Miami, has been studying black diamonds for more than a decade. Dr. Haggerty says, “I feel I have an obsession about them, and I do, it’s a challenge.” It’s a challenge because researchers are still trying to figure out where the black diamonds came from.

Traditional diamonds are formed deep in the earth and came to the surface through two volcano eruptions that happened 100 million and one billion years ago. Carbonados are older than 3.8 billion years. “They clearly did not form in the same way that conventional diamonds formed,” Dr. Haggerty says.

Most diamonds can be found all over the world, but carbonados are only found in Brazil and Africa. Dr. Haggerty believes black diamonds came to earth during an asteroid event that struck when the two countries were still one continent. “Maybe it is a maverick, or a fringe idea, but no one has come up with an alternative,” Dr. Haggerty says.

Carbonados have hydrogen in them, suggesting the diamonds formed in an environment, like a star. When examined under infrared radiation, researchers found a spectrum similar to a type of diamond that exists in space. Dr. Haggerty says, “This is the closest we can match this to.”

It may take some time for all scientists to accept the idea, but one thing’s for sure — carbonados are the most mysterious diamonds around.


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