What is rarer – diamonds or gold? And which one is more expensive

(ORDO NEWS) — Diamonds are practically eternal, and gold is precious, but what is rarer? And, just as important, does this rarity really affect the price we see in jewelry stores?

“Gold is a heavy metal that is one of the rarest elements on Earth, originally formed as a result of neutron star collisions,” Ulrich Faul, a planetary scientist and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said at the time.

During the formation of our planet, the heaviest elements were attracted to the earth’s core. That is why the closer to the surface, the less often gold and other heavy elements are found in the rock.

Gold is present in a large number of rocks in the earth’s crust, but in order to form a deposit, it is necessary to achieve certain concentrations of this metal in order to make mining economically viable.

According to Yana Fedorchuk, co-director of the High Pressure Experimental Geological Research Laboratory at Dalhousie University in Halifax, the average concentration of gold in the earth’s crust is “very,

very low” – 4 ppb. In order to extract gold so that the product has any meaningful market value, she says, the gold deposit must be 1,250 times more concentrated than this average value.

Diamonds, on the other hand, are a form of a very common element: carbon, under high pressure. In its unsealed form, it is known as graphite, a pencil material.

Compared to gold, the average concentration of carbon in the earth’s crust is approximately 200,000 parts per billion.

The rarity of diamonds has little to do with their chemical composition, it is provided by natural geological processes for the transformation of carbon into diamonds, which require very specific conditions.

“Diamonds can either form only in the Earth’s mantle and get to the surface in various ways, or they can be formed when a meteorite hits,” Fedorchuk explains.

True, in the latter case, they will be small and unlikely to be useful to jewelers, so their cost is low. “Diamonds formed deep in the Earth’s mantle can be uplifted by deep magma or pushed up during the slow uplift of deep rocks during mountain growth processes.

But during this process, diamonds are graphitized [that is, they exist in the form of graphite] and never come to the surface as gems.”

The formula needed to form diamonds depends on depth, temperature, and pressure: carbon must lie at least 150 kilometers below the Earth’s surface and be heated to about 1,200 degrees Celsius at a pressure of about 5 billion pascals.

After that, a certain factor – for example, a volcanic eruption – should push the future diamond to the surface, where it will cool and crystallize. This unusual process makes natural mined diamonds rarer than gold, Fedorchuk said.

But in its elemental form, gold is much rarer than diamonds. After all, carbon is one of the most abundant elements on earth especially when compared to heavier metals like gold and a diamond is simply made of carbon under tremendous pressure.

The invention of synthetic diamonds further complicates the matter. Scientists can recreate the conditions needed to turn graphite into diamonds in the lab – no volcanic eruption is required – but the same cannot be said for gold (alchemy is still a pseudoscience, unfortunately).

Although synthetic diamonds are made from the same substance as natural ones, they typically sell for 30% less on the market.

So what makes up the price in the end? In fact, it is exclusively from the manipulations of marketers and current economic processes.

Both gold as a metal and diamonds as a substance are worth a lot – but people themselves make them astronomically expensive, whether it’s the masterful work of a jeweler or the unusual circumstances under which the gem was mined, as well as its unique characteristics.


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