The Jewelry Judge  - Ben Gordon's Blog
April 24th, 2018
The diamond-speckled space rocks that exploded over northern Sudan and littered the Nubian desert in 2008 may hold evidence of a "lost planet," according to Swiss scientists.



Philippe Gillet, a planetary scientist at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland, and his team believe that the diamonds present in the meteorite fragments hold compelling evidence of a solar system that looked a lot different than it does today.



Instead of hosting just eight planets, they say, our solar system likely teemed with a mix of planets and protoplanets that circled the sun and sometimes collided with each other, spewing space debris. A small piece of that debris eventually found its way to Earth and explode in our atmosphere on October 7, 2008.

More recent observations of the Almahata Sitta meteorites using an electron microscope revealed previously unnoticed scientific treasure.

Found trapped within the space-born diamonds were tiny inclusions, or imperfections, that supported the idea of the material's "lost planet" origin. The imperfections were made of chromite, phosphate and an iron-sulpher compound. Since the iron-sulpher compound can only form at pressures above 20 gigapascals (about the pressure seen 400 miles below the Earth's surface), the scientists believe that the material had to come from a large planetary body — perhaps a protoplanet that was capable of delivering similar pressure.

The scientists believe the size of the "lost planet" was similar in size to Mercury or Mars. The diamond inclusions provide "the first compelling evidence for such a large body that has since disappeared." Their findings were reported recently in the journal Nature Communications.

So, once again, diamonds are proving to be a scientist's best friend.

“What for a jeweler is an imperfection becomes for me something that is very useful because it tells me about the history of the diamond,” Gillet told the New York Times. “It has a chemistry which has no equivalent in the solar system today, in terms of planets."

The Almahata Sitta meteorites — 480 pieces in all — were classified as ureilite, a type of rare meteorite that is embedded with various minerals. Ureilite meteorites are extremely rare. In fact, less than 1% of meteorites have this classification. The Swiss scientists suggest that all ureilite asteroids may be remnants of the same long-lost protoplanet.

Credits: Planetary collision illustration by NASA; Astronomer Peter Jenniskens walks among pieces of the Almahata Sitta meteorite in 2008. Photograph by NASA.
April 23rd, 2018
Former First Lady Barbara Bush, who passed away last week at the age of 92, was rarely seen in public without her signature pearl necklace. Whether she was posing for an official White House portrait or helping her husband throw out the first pitch at a Houston Astros baseball game, pearls were always an essential part of her wardrobe.



During the presidency of her husband, George H.W. Bush, Barbara's favorite accessory became a symbol of the First Lady's class, elegance and Southern charm. They even earned the nickname "Barbara Bush Pearls." Her deputy press secretary Jean Becker said at the time that Barbara owned at least 10 different pearl necklaces.

Barbara famously wore a three-strand faux pearl necklace to her husband's inaugural ball in 1989. Women took note, and the demand for pearls — both simulated and cultured — went off the charts. Barbara donated the inaugural pearls to the Smithsonian Institution in 1990.

Over the past few days, women from coast to coast have been honoring the memory of the First Lady by wearing their own pearl necklaces and posting tributes on social media using the hashtag #PearlsforBarbara.

Known for her spitfire personality and wry sense of humor, Barbara once joked that she wore her three-strand pearl necklace so much that if she ever took it off her head would fall off.



While appearing on the Today show in 2015 with her granddaughter, Jenna Bush Hager, the self-effacing First Lady spoke about her affection for pearls.

"The pearls are to cover the wrinkles, which they no longer do," she said. "You can't wear pearls all over your face."

Some 1,500 guests — many wearing pearls — filled St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston for the former First Lady's funeral on Saturday. She was remembered as a loving wife, mother and friend with a devilish sense of humor.

Credits: First Lady Barbara Bush portrait (top) by David Valdez, White House Photo Office [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Portrait (bottom) by White House Photo Office [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
April 20th, 2018
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, country star Mark Collie's 1990 ditty, "Something With a Ring to It," tells the story of a guy who's been getting the cold shoulder from his girlfriend. She's got "diamonds in her eyes" and wants to take their relationship to the next level. He's got to make a commitment or risk losing her.



In the song, Collie explains that his "baby's playing hard to please" and he's pretty sure he knows why.

He sings, "She wants something with a ring to it / Like a church bell makes / Like a pretty white gown to wear / And some vows to take / She wants something with a ring to it / I think I understand / I'll have to put a ring on her finger / If I want to be her man."

Collie told SongFacts.com about the unusual origin of the song. He and Aaron Tippin had been struggling writers "kicking around Nashville trying to get a door open." One day, Tippin flippantly said, "We need to write something with a ring to it." Collie said, "OK." And the off-hand remark became the basis of the song.

The team originally wrote the song for country legend George Strait, but when he declined, the head of MCA Nashville, Tony Brown, advised Collie to record it himself and make it his debut single.

The song became the second track of Collie's debut album, Hardin County Line, and was covered two years later by Garth Brooks on his 1992 album, The Chase.

Born in Waynesboro, Tenn., in 1956, George Mark Collie is a singer, songwriter, musician, actor, producer and fundraiser for Type 1 diabetes research. He has released five albums, and 16 of his singles have hit the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

Please check out the official video of "Something With a Ring to It." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Something With a Ring to It"
Written by Mark Collie and Aaron Tippin. Performed by Mark Collie.

My baby's playing hard to please
And I think I figured out what it is she wants from me
'Cause when I holder her close
When we go out at night
I can hardly see the moonlight
For the diamonds in her eyes

She wants something with a ring to it
Like a church bell makes
Like a pretty white gown to wear
And some vows to take

She wants something with a ring to it
I think I understand
I'll have to put a ring on her finger
If I want to be her man

My baby did but now she don't
And if I don't say I do it's a safe bet that she won't
Love me like she used to
When our love began
Why the only way to change her tune
Is with a wedding band?

She wants something with a ring to it
Like a church bell makes
Like a pretty white gown to wear
And some vows to take

She wants something with a ring to it
I think I understand
I'll have to put a ring on her finger
If I want to be her man

She wants something with a ring to it
Like a church bell makes
Like a pretty white gown to wear
And some vows to take

She wants something with a ring to it
I think I understand
I'll have to put a ring on her finger
If I want to be her man

She wants something with a ring to it
If I want to be her man


Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.
April 19th, 2018
A pair of genuine Wizard of Oz ruby slippers scored by a Tennessee teenager 78 years ago for picking the 10 best movies of 1939 went on sale this week for a whopping $6 million. The iconic slippers, which were worn by Judy Garland during the filming of the beloved musical, have been called “the most famous pair of shoes in the world" and "the Holy Grail of movie memorabilia." The sale is being handled by auction house Moments in Time.



The slippers had been auctioned twice before. In 1988, the pair appeared at Christie's East and earned $150,000, plus a $15,000 commission. Then, in 2000, it fetched $600,000, plus a buyer's premium of $66,000, at the same auction house.

Amazingly, a 16-year-old named Roberta Jefferies Bauman won these fabulously valuable shoes for coming in second in a contest sponsored by the national Four Star Club. The slippers had been used by MGM for publicity purposes and then awarded to Bauman in 1940.

Bauman owned the shoes for 48 years, displaying them only for the benefit of children. She kept her pair of slippers — size 6B — in a box at her home until 1988, when she sold them at auction to a private collector. In 1989, they were put on exhibit at Disney-MGM Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. Specifically, they were in the queue to the park's replica of Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

MGM’s chief costume designer Gilbert Adrian created multiple pairs of ruby slippers for the film, but only five pairs are known to still exist.

The most-high-profile pair recently took an extended hiatus from its exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., while it undergoes extensive restoration. The conservation care was made possible by the generosity of thousands of backers who contributed nearly $370,000 in an October 2016 Kickstarter campaign. The funds were also earmarked for a state-of-the-art display case designed to protect the slippers from environmental harm.

The Smithsonian’s pair is the one Dorothy wore when she followed the Yellow Brick Road. The felt soles are heavily worn, suggesting these are the shoes primarily worn by the 16-year-old Garland during her dance sequences.

A second pair was stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in 2005; a third pair was purchased in 2012 by Leonardo DiCaprio and other benefactors on behalf of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' museum, which is scheduled to open next year; a fourth pair is believed to be owned by the heirs of Hollywood costumer Kent Warner; and the fifth pair has been the property of Los Angeles dealer Gary Zimet for the past 18 years. Those shoes carry a price tag of $6 million at Moments in Time. It's believed that this pair was the second or third worn by Garland in case the main pair was damaged.

Interestingly, Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers are not made of ruby at all. In fact, the bugle beads that prop designers used to simulate ruby proved to be too heavy. The solution was to replace most of the bugle beads with sequins, 2,300 on each slipper. The butterfly-shaped bow on the front of each shoe is rimmed in 46 rhinestones, surrounding 42 bugle beads and three larger rectangular faux jewels, according to Footwear News.

In the 1900 children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, Dorothy’s slippers were made of silver. According to film lore, screenwriter Noel Langley recommended that they be changed to ruby red so they would stand out better on the yellow brick road when shot in brilliant Technicolor.

Credit: Smithsonian Ruby Slippers image by Chris Evans from same, United States (Ruby Red SlippersUploaded by SunOfErat) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
April 18th, 2018
Lucara Diamond Corp. is continuing to recover massive diamonds at its Karowe Mine in Botswana. The latest find is a 472-carat "top light brown" gem that rates as the third-largest ever discovered at the prolific mine.



Karowe has assembled an impressive track record for producing the world’s largest fine diamonds. The 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona and the 813-carat Constellation were both mined there in November 2015. Four diamonds greater that 100 carats already have been recovered during the first quarter of 2018, according to the Vancouver-headquartered mining company.

The recent proliferation of massive stones at Karowe can be attributed to Lucara's investment in X-ray transmission (XRT) imaging technology. The new machines are calibrated to extract 100-carat-plus diamonds by monitoring X-ray luminescence, atomic density and transparency. Previously, large diamonds might have been mistaken as worthless rocks and pulverized by a crushing device.

“The early sampling work [at] Karowe was done with equipment that really was not optimal and they ended up breaking a lot of diamonds,” Chief Executive Officer Eira Thomas told Bloomberg.com. “When we went into commercial production we expected to do better, but we had no idea that the diamonds that were being broken were so much larger. ”

Interestingly, the largest diamond ever found at Karowe — the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona — was actually a chunk of a broken diamond. The other part weighed 373 carats.

The unnamed 472-carat rough diamond is expected to be sold alongside Lucara's other top finds of 2018 at the company's first Exceptional Stone Tender later this year.

Lucara's roster of extremely large stones have generated seven-figure paydays for the company. Lesedi La Rona was sold for $53 million; Constellation earned $63 million; and the chunk that broke off Lesedi La Rona delivered $17.5 million.

While brown-tinted diamonds tend to yield lower prices than colorless or fancy-colored diamonds, Thomas — also known as Canada's Queen of Diamonds — believes the extraordinary size of Lucara's newest find may alter the standard valuation process. She told Bloomberg.com that some manufacturers may actually choose to accentuate the color through polishing.

“They tend to command a lot of interest because there are a variety of views on what can be done with stones of that color,” said Thomas.

The 472-carat diamond currently occupies the 31st position on the Wikipedia list of the largest rough diamonds of all time. Lesedi La Rona rates #2 and the Constellation is #7.

Credit: Image courtesy of Lucara Diamond Corp.
April 17th, 2018
A New Hampshire granny has earned internet stardom after generously gifting her own diamond engagement ring to a young waiter so he could propose to his girlfriend.



"It was just the right thing to do," Concord native Sharon Heinemann told local TV station WMUR. "I just did it, you know. He loved her, and he didn’t have a ring."

Last week, Heinemann and her two sisters ventured to Boston to see rock star Pink in concert. Before the show, they stopped in at Legal Sea Foods and struck up a conversation with their waiter, Mattheus Gomes.

Sister Ginny Krowe explained: "Mattheus, a very handsome gentleman, waited on us and served us, and I got to chatting with him and asked him if he had a girlfriend."

Gomes told the ladies that he was deeply in love with his girlfriend, Maria, who also worked at the restaurant.

He also revealed that he was planning a proposal, but he couldn't afford a ring.

Without hesitation Heinemann plucked the engagement ring from her finger and handed it to Gomes.

The waiter called for his girlfriend and got down on one knee.

Krowe recounted, “He says, ‘Maria, I love you. Will you marry me?' She was crying. She says, ‘Yes, yes, Mattheus.'”



Later on, Maria got to meet the woman who helped make her dreams come true. The two ladies posed with their rings — Maria proudly wearing her new diamond engagement ring and Sharon wearing her diamond wedding band.



Mattheus and Maria have already invited the three New Hampshire sisters to their wedding. When a reporter for WMUR asked who will be attending, all three enthusiastically raised their hands.



Legal Sea Foods made the day even more special by picking up the lunch tab for the sisters.

When asked how she felt about giving up her engagement ring to help the young couple, Heinemann said she felt "immensely happy. It made me feel good."

Heinemann and her sisters are now internet stars, as their story has been picked up by top news outlets, such as Yahoo!, The Sun, The Daily Mail and ABC.

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/WMUR-TV.
April 16th, 2018
One of the world's finest collections of California gold made its debut Saturday at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven, Conn. The exhibition features 23 natural formations of gold, some of which resemble leaves, coral and skeletons.



“The Mockingbird” measures 2.5 x 2.0 x 1.0 inches and features skeletal octahedral gold crystals stacked on minor quartz crystals. It was discovered at the Mockingbird Mine, Mariposa County, Calif.

Most were collected over the past 25 years, although two specimens of crystallized gold were mined in the 1850s during the California Gold Rush.



“The Eagle,” which measures 2.5 x 2.5 x 2.0 inches, was mined in the 1850s in Placer County, Calif. It features clusters of octahedral hopper gold crystals.

“This collection is incredible,” said Richard Kissel, the Peabody’s director of exhibitions and public programs. “The gold specimens on view are of superior quality — impressive physically and stunning aesthetically. The exhibit highlights the specimens’ beauty while offering insight into the history and science of gold mining.”



“Colorado Quartz 2” measures 2.37 x 1.6 x 1.0 inches. The stacked gold exhibits sharp octahedral crystals with minor quartz. This specimen was found at the Harvard Mine in Tuolumne County, Calif.

The Peabody Museum brings the California Gold Rush to life by presenting historical instruments and artifacts. These include a mining pan filled with gold dust, a balance for weighing specimens, an instrument for measuring the velocity of air in mines to ensure proper ventilation, a field chemical lab called a “blowpipe kit,” and a silver candlestick decorated with mining-related symbols that miners used for illumination while underground.



“The Little Flame” is a crystallized leaf gold that weighs 13.05 troy ounces. It was found at the Eagle’s Nest Mine in Placer County, Calif.

“This is one of the finest collections of gold specimens ever put on display anywhere in the world,” said Jay Ague, the Peabody’s curator-in-charge of mineralogy and meteoritics.



“Colorado Quartz 1” measures 7.0 x 5.5 x 5.0 inches and weighs 58.68 troy ounces. The piece has gold plates on and in quartz, octahedral gold crystals and dendritic gold. Its origin is the Colorado Quartz Mine in Mariposa County, Calif.

The exhibition also gives Yale University an opportunity to remind visitors of the school's interesting connection to the California Gold Rush. Seven years before gold was discovered in the American River at Sutter’s Mill, Yale professor James Dwight Dana had completed a tour of California’s Sacramento Valley. A pioneering geologist and mineralogist, Dana identified the region as a potential source of gold, remarking that the rocks there “resemble in many parts the gold bearing rocks of other regions: but the gold, if any there be, remains to be discovered.”

The gold specimens and artifacts are on loan to the Peabody from The Mineral Trust. The collection had previously appeared at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Credits: Photos by Harold Moritz, courtesy of Yale University.
April 13th, 2018
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, a 14-year-old Tiffany Evans sings about a very special piece of jewelry in her 2007 debut single, "Promise Ring."



In the song, the former Star Search Grand Champion in the Junior Singer Division tells her boyfriend that sometimes a girl needs a token of love to show how much she's appreciated for all the things she does. Apparently, her boyfriend was thinking the same thing.

He surprises her with a small velvet box containing a promise ring and makes the following vow: "I promise not to hurt you, I promise not to lie / I promise to befriend you and defend you with my life / I promise you forever, I promise you today, he said / Would you wear my promise ring? I said yes."

Later in the song, Evans sings, "How in the world could a girl say no / I knew it the moment he made my finger glow."

The recurring hook is, "Yes, I'll rock your promise ring."

"Promise Ring" was the lead single from the teenager's self-titled debut album. The song went to #1 on the U.S. Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 list and #66 on the U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs list. The album scored a Top 20 position on the U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop albums chart.

The official video for the song spotlights the teenybopper rockin' her promise ring with a special appearance by Grammy Award-winner Ciara, who was 21 years old at the time. The video has been viewed on YouTube more than 12 million times.

Born in the Bronx, N.Y., Evans rose to fame in 2003 as an 11-year-old contestant on Star Search, hosted by Arsenio Hall. Evans was the only performer in the talent show's history to earn perfect scores on all of her appearances. The Grand Champion in the Junior Singer Division soon caught the attention of Columbia Records, which signed her to a record deal.

Please check out the video of Evans and Ciara performing "Promise Ring." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Promise Ring"
Written by Michael Crooms, Ezekiel Lewis, Balewa Muhammad, Candice Nelson, Bryan Reid and Patrick Smith. Performed by Tiffany Evans, featuring Ciara.

To the beat, to the beat, to the beat 'cause I need
Everybody to the floor, why? 'cause this beat is sick, yeah
It's time to rock, uh, that's what it is
Tiffany's her name, love is the game
And the only way to play is with this promise ring

Sometimes a girl needs to know that she's
Appreciated for all the things she does
With some sorta token of love
'Cause without it her young heart won't know

And right then to my surprise, he
Pulled out a small velvet box, pink ribbon tied
I'm wondering what's inside
He opened it and then he replied

He said, I promise not to hurt you, I promise not to lie
I promise to befriend you and defend you with my life
I promise you forever, I promise you today, he said
Would you wear my promise ring? I said yes

If ya break ya promise we breakin' up
Got a couple things that I want
Walks in the park and sweet things
If I rock your promise ring

I could be your pretty young thing
You could become my king
I gotta know you got me
Yes, I'll rock your promise ring

Yes, I'll rock your promise, promise, promise ring
Yes, I'll rock your promise, yes, I'll rock your promise ring
Yes, I'll rock your promise, promise, promise ring
Yes, I'll rock your promise, yes, I'll rock your promise ring

How in the world could a girl say no
I knew it the moment he made my finger glow
It was good to know I'm who he chose
It was your heart he felt now it shows, now it shows

You know when you see me floss
No way it's gon' get lost, I'll never take this off
I'm older and they call me by your name
I'll wear it on a chain, because I can hear you say

He said I promise not to hurt you, I promise not to lie
I promise to befriend you and defend you with my life
I promise you forever, I promise you today, he said
Would you wear my promise ring? I said yes

If ya break ya promise we breakin' up
Got a couple things that I want
Walks in the park and sweet things
If I rock your promise ring

I could be your pretty young thing
You could become my king
I gotta know you got me
Yes, I'll rock your promise ring

Yes, I'll rock your promise, promise, promise ring
Yes, I'll rock your promise, yes, I'll rock your promise ring
Yes, I'll rock your promise, promise, promise ring
Yes, I'll rock your promise, yes, I'll rock your promise ring

Everybody get up and rock to this beat
My name is Tiffany and why'all know me
All my girls with me, all the boys like me
Come correctly with the promise ring
And you just might be my boo, my boo

Promise that you'll never let me go and boy I'll
Boy I'll wear your promise ring
All you have to do is say the word and boy I'll
Boy I'll wear your promise ring

Just let me know, just let me know, what I gotta do
Just let me know, just let me know
You ain't goin' nowhere, I ain't goin' nowhere
I'll be on for sure but you gotta know that

If ya break ya promise we breakin' up
Got a couple things that I want
Walks in the park and sweet things
If I rock your promise ring

I could be your pretty young thing
You could become my king
I gotta know you got me
Yes, I'll rock your promise ring

Yes, I'll rock your promise, promise, promise ring
Yes, I'll rock your promise, yes, I'll rock your promise ring
Yes, I'll rock your promise, promise, promise ring
Yes, I'll rock your promise, yes, I'll rock your promise ring

If I rock your promise ring
Young thing, my king


Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.
April 12th, 2018
The Mountain Star Ruby Collection, a grouping of four museum-quality gemstones discovered near Asheville, N.C., by self-described rockhound Jarvis Wayne Messer, is being offered for sale by Guernsey’s in New York City. The four star rubies weigh a total of 342 carats and display six-ray asterism.



The auction house will be receiving sealed bids through June 5 and the lot could yield an eight-figure windfall for Messer's widow, family and investors.

Messer, who made his living as a fishing guide, was constantly searching for rare and unusual stones in his native Appalachia.

“I started off as a pebble pup at 6 and worked myself up to a rock hound at 13,” Messer told the Associated Press in 1994. “What began as a hobby led me to one of the finest jewels in the world.”



In 1990, while searching an ancient stream bed in a still-secret location, Messer made the unprecedented discovery of four star rubies, including the 139.43-carat Appalachian Star Ruby and the 86.54-carat Smoky Mountain Two Star Ruby, which displays distinctive stars on both the front and back of the stone.

“When I found the [Appalachian Star Ruby] I did not realize how important a stone it would become,” he said in the 1994 interview. “I knew it was a ruby and a beautiful specimen. But we did not know what we had until we started to cut the stone. I realized what we had found when I made my first cut. The star just popped right out. Right from the beginning I could see it portrayed attributes that no other stone has.”

Guernsey’s President Arlan Ettinger told The Jeweler Blog that the needles are so bright that they "look like neon."

In 1992, the Appalachian Star Ruby became a top attraction at London’s Natural History Museum, where it drew 150,000 visitors in just four weeks, according to Ettinger. The museum's press release described the gem as the "world's most impressive star ruby."



The Appalachian Star Ruby has been compared favorably to the Smithsonian’s Rosser Reeves Star Ruby, which is one carat lighter. Ettinger explained that Messer’s ruby may be superior to the Rosser Reeves because it has six prominent needles, whereas the Rosser Reeves displays only five prominent needles and one broken needle.

After the exhibition, the gem returned to North Carolina, where it rejoined the rest of the collection and languished for more than a decade.



After Messer passed away in 2008 at the age of 52, his widow and family considered selling the collection, but lacked the funds to get the proper gemological testing and documentation. With the help of friends and investors, the stones found their way to the Gemological Institute of America in August of 2011.

Appraisals of the collection have put the value between $91 million and $120 million.



When gem enthusiasts discuss the finest star rubies, they generally invoke the famed gemfields of Burma and Sri Lanka. That Messer sourced his star rubies in North Carolina makes their story that much more remarkable. The collection includes the Appalachian Star Ruby: 139.40 carats, Smokey Mountain Two-Star Ruby: 86.54 carats, Promise Star Ruby: 64.16 carats and Misty Star Ruby: 52.36 carats.

Ettinger told The Jeweler Blog that he's already gotten serious inquiries from "top museum people."

He has yet to set a pre-sale estimate for The Mountain Star Ruby Collection. The four-stone lot will have no minimum reserve.

"There is not a lot of precedence on this," he said. "They will sell for what they sell for. We will do our best."

The Sunrise Ruby currently holds the record for the most expensive ruby ever sold at auction. The 25.6-carat gem yielded $30.4 million. The most expensive gem ever sold at auction is the 59.6-carat Pink Star diamond, which had a hammer price of $71 million.

Credits: The Mountain Star Ruby Collection images courtesy of Guernsey’s.
April 11th, 2018
A series of groundbreaking discoveries have the science community singing the praises of diamonds — especially the ones with inclusions. One physicist compared the precious gemstone, which can ferry material to the surface from hundreds of miles beneath the Earth's crust, to a "tiny indestructible spaceship."



A few weeks ago, we reported on a never-before-seen deep-Earth mineral — calcium silicate perovskite — that had traveled to the surface trapped within a diamond. The unstable material would have normally deformed as it moved to the surface, but within the body of diamond, it remained intact.

Then we learned about the discovery of ice-VII, a type of water ice that forms under enormous pressure. Previously, scientists theorized that ice-VII likely existed in great abundance in our solar system, but they did not think it could naturally occur on Earth. That thinking was turned upside down when traces of the unique crystallized water was found encapsulated in a diamond.

Both the calcium silicate perovskite and ice-VII originated 400 miles deep within the Earth's crust and rode to the surface in volcanic eruptions as diamond inclusions. Neither could have survived the massive pressure change outside the protection of the diamond.

“Diamond is a remarkable vessel for sampling the geochemistry of the deep mantle,” Steven Jacobsen, a mineral physicist at Northwestern University, told EOS.org, “because of its ability to seal off trapped inclusions from the reactive environment during ascent, like a tiny indestructible spaceship.”

As diamonds form hundreds of miles beneath the Earth's crust, tiny bits of their surrounding environment can be trapped inside. What's particularly unique about diamonds is that the inclusions will remain under the same pressure as they were during the time they were encapsulated.

"The diamond lattice doesn't relax much, so the volume of the inclusion remains almost constant whether it's in the Earth's mantle or in your hand," noted Oliver Tschauner, a professor of geoscience at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

A press release provided by the university explained that in the jewelry business, diamonds with impurities hold less value. But for Tschauner and other scientists, those impurities have infinite value, as they may hold the key to understanding the inner workings of our planet. In the most recent case, they revealed that aqueous fluids reside deeper in Earth than anyone ever expected.

The once-elusive ice-VII has 1.5 times the density of Ice-I, which is the type of ice we might put in a soft drink. Ice will progress from ice-I to ice-II, and so on, based on differing pressure and temperature conditions.

"These discoveries are important in understanding that water-rich regions in the Earth's interior can play a role in the global water budget and the movement of heat-generating radioactive elements," Tschauner said. "It's another piece of the puzzle in understanding how our planet works."

The ice-VII findings by Tschauner and his team at the University of Nevada were published in the journal Science. The findings related to the discovery of calcium silicate perovskite by scientists at the University of Alberta were published in the journal Nature.

Credit: Image of 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona courtesy of Sotheby’s.